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Creativity unlocks technology

The distance between bands and consumers has almost disappeared, and this combined with new technologies has changed our understanding of what creativity is and what it can achieve, writes ROB NEWLAN, head of the Facebook Creative Shop in EMEA.

Today the bar for creativity is extremely high. It starts with people. Anyone can use the phone in their pocket to shoot and edit high quality video – something that would have been unthinkable even ten years ago. Anyone with a mobile phone has a computer in their pocket – from shooting and editing video on a smartphone to banking on a feature phone. Small businesses can shoot a video of their product, market it and accept payment all online. Brands and consumers now exist side to side, and often face to face, in a vast digital landscape. The distance between brand and consumer has all but disappeared, and the resulting intimacy – combined with the ongoing explosion of new technologies – has changed our understanding of what creativity is, and what it can achieve.

We need to inspire people, and more importantly, we need to create value for people. What’s good for people is good for businesses.

The (fast evolving) context 

Digital communication in Africa is booming. The change is so fast paced it’s hard to keep track. Even so, at Facebook one word matters to us above all others. Mobile.

According to ITU data, roughly 685 million Africans have mobile cellular subscriptions, while some 200 million have access to the Internet. 120 million Africans are on Facebook, and more than 80% of them will return to Facebook using mobile devices, predominantly feature phones rather than smartphones.

Mobile is a deeply personal device. Your phone is often the first thing you check when you wake up, and the last thing you check before you head to sleep. Your phone is so much more than a communication device – it is often how you get directions, bank or read the news. And that doesn’t include WhatsApp. The bottom line is people are living their lives on mobile devices.

People are at the core of the Facebook and Instagram experiences. The average user now spends more than 46 minutes a day across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. At Facebook we believe ads can be amazing experiences. Technology unlocks the power to tell incredible stories to the right person at the right time no matter where they are. And the creative community – agencies and brands alike – now have the mobile canvas to tell better stories to people that are relevant, inspiring and impactful.

Video, collaborative creativity and emotional connections

People are increasingly adopting visual language to communicate. As a result, video consumption is sky-rocketing, particularly in high-growth regions. Billions of videos are viewed on Facebook every day, and a full three quarters of these views take place on mobile devices.

We have just started to unlock the potential of sight, sound and motion in a feed-driven world. Two case studies from the recent Cannes Lions festival reveal the power of this transformation.

Despite its long running success for P&G, the Always sanitary pad product recently risked losing relevance with a new, younger audience. The Always #LikeaGirl campaign changed all that by asking every day consumers to explore the meaning behind a common and rather patronising phrase, ‘Like a girl’. (As in “she throws Like a Girl”). #LikeAGirl became the most watched video in P&G’s history, with 48 million views in North America and 76 million views globally. Ad recall was extremely strong, and emotional connection to the brand went up in the target audience, while rivals suffered slight declines. The video was distributed not on TV, but through social media.

Similarly, American sports apparel brand, Under Armour, turned its previously macho male identity on its head with a quirky exploration of the pressures of being female in the 21st century, inclusive of a celebration of women who ‘defy expectations and ignore the noise of outside judgements.’ The campaign centred on the pay off line I WILL WHAT I WANT, and featured two stunning videos, the first highlighting ballerina Misty Copeland and the second model Gisele Bündchen.

Two things stand out in both campaigns.

First, the brands combined science and art to show different audiences various creative ways to discuss ideas that really mattered to them. The end result in both cases was a campaign that genuinely touched people’s hearts and minds. Both brands laid the foundation for consumers to get creative in the realm of personal life philosophy.

Second, in both instances people were a primary creative force. The #LikeaGirl video incorporated real young people, exploring – on camera – gender and life philosophy. The conversation at the heart of the campaign was defined and carried out by the target audience, through the prism of social media. Equally, the I WILL WHAT I WANT videos redefined audience participation. In the video featuring Gisele Bündchen, Facebook user comments were at the heart of the experience: After seeding a teaser film on the platform, we used people’s real online reactions on the platform in our TV ads just two days later. A web experience then became a live interactive experiment.

A custom engine scraped the web for comments made about Gisele. Comments were rendered instantly and displayed on the site. For the first time, the entire online discussion about a single person was happening on one website in real time. Gisele is seen sticking to her routine while contradictory opinions on social media flash behind her, proving will beats noise live.

Collaborative creativity is a vital new force

Facebook cares more about creativity than any other platform. Our goal is to create value for companies and the people who receive it. The Creative Shop wants to be an essential partner to brands and agencies: it wants to help move the industry forward.

Facebook Creative Shop is a team of brand marketers, creative directors and strategists who build ideas to help clients grow their business. We believe that every person’s experience on Facebook should be personal and relevant. Even the ads they see. We work closely with businesses and the larger Facebook team to build tools, processes and creative that drives real world business results and delights people.

To help global businesses show beautiful visual stories in News Feed on every device and connection type, we started Facebook’s Creative Accelerator programme designed to help brands unlock the power of personal storytelling in high-growth countries. For example, in Kenya, Coca-Cola delivered a high impact campaign that had Kenyans sharing their stories of happiness. Nurofen, meanwhile, reached 54% of its target audience through a Moments That Matter Facebook campaign in South Africa.

Facebook recently opened our first African office in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is an important first step in strengthening our partnerships on the continent. People in the creative community are working to “hack” Facebook and Instagram in exciting new ways, to develop new marketing executions. We want to continue to work with the creative community to hack creative on our platforms, and our new office brings us closer to the creative community in Africa.

This expansion has happened because we want to ensure we are able to effectively support the huge range of new advertising formats and communication tools now open to communicators. These include new advertising formats and new connection tools that allow for improved contact with audiences (Book Now buttons are just one such new feature), along with advanced measurement tools like Conversion Lift and Ad tech.

We believe we can work together to create rich creative expressions on Facebook and Instagram that are not just better for marketers but better for people too.

The Creative Shop wants to be an indispensable partner to brands and agencies. We know the future does not build itself. Together with our partners we can build for where people are going.

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Veeam passes $1bn, prepares for cloud’s ‘Act II’

Leader in cloud-data management reveals how it will harness the next growth phase of the data revolution, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

Veeam Software, the quiet leader in backup solutions for cloud data management,has announced that it has passed $1-billion in revenues, and is preparing for the next phase of sustained growth in the sector.

Now, it is unveiling what it calls Act II, following five years of rapid growth through modernisation of the data centre. At the VeeamON 2019conferencein Miami this week, company co-founder Ratmir Timashev declared that the opportunities in this new era, focused on managing data for the hybrid cloud, would drive the next phase of growth.

“Veeam created the VMware backup market and has dominated it as the leader for the last decade,” said Timashev, who is also executive vice president for sales and marketing at the organisation. “This was Veeam’s Act I and I am delighted that we have surpassed the $1 billion mark; in 2013 I predicted we’d achieve this in less than six years. 

“However, the market is now changing. Backup is still critical, but customers are now building hybrid clouds with AWS, Azure, IBM and Google, and they need more than just backup. To succeed in this changing environment, Veeam has had to adapt. Veeam, with its 60,000-plus channel and service provider partners and the broadest ecosystem of technology partners, including Cisco, HPE, NetApp, Nutanix and Pure Storage, is best positioned to dominate the new cloud data management in our Act II.”

In South Africa, Veeam expects similar growth. Speaking at the Cisco Connect conference in Sun City this week, country manager Kate Mollett told Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER that the company was doing exceptionally well in this market.

“In financial year 2018, we saw double-digit growth, which was really very encouraging if you consider the state of the economy, and not so much customer sentiment, but customers have been more cautious with how they spend their money. We’ve seen a fluctuation in the currency, so we see customers pausing with big decisions and hoping for a recovery in the Rand-Dollar. But despite all of the negatives, we have double digit growth which is really good. We continue to grow our team and hire.

“From a Veeam perspective, last year we were responsible for Veeam Africa South, which consisted of South Africa, SADC countries, and the Indian Ocean Islands. We’ve now been given the responsibility for the whole of Africa. This is really fantastic because we are now able to drive a single strategy for Africa from South Africa.”

Veeam has been the leading provider of backup, recovery and replication solutions for more than a decade, and is growing rapidly at a time when other players in the backup market are struggling to innovate on demand.

“Backup is not sexy and they made a pretty successful company out of something that others seem to be screwing up,” said Roy Illsley, Distinguished Analyst at Ovum, speaking in Miami after the VeeamOn conference. “Others have not invested much in new products and they don’t solve key challenges that most organisations want solved. Theyre resting on their laurels and are stuck in the physical world of backup instead of embracing the cloud.”

Illsley readily buys into the Veeam tagline. “It just works”. 

“They are very good at marketing but are also a good engineering comany that does produce the goods. Their big strength, that it just works, is a reliable feature they have built into their product portfolio.”

Veeam said in statement from the event that, while it had initially focused on server virtualisation for VMware environments, in recent years it had expanded this core offering. It was now delivering integration with multiple hypervisors, physical servers and endpoints, along with public and software-as-a-service workloads, while partnering with leading cloud, storage, server, hyperconverged (HCI) and application vendors.

This week, it  announced a new “with Veeam”program, which brings in enterprise storage and hyperconverged (HCI) vendors to provide customers with comprehensive secondary storage solutions that combine Veeam software with industry-leading infrastructure systems. Companies like ExaGrid and Nutanix have already announced partnerships.

Timashev said: “From day one, we have focused on partnerships to deliver customer value. Working with our storage and cloud partners, we are delivering choice, flexibility and value to customers of all sizes.”

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‘Energy scavenging’ funded

As the drive towards a 5G future gathers momentum, the University of Surrey’s research into technology that could power countless internet enabled devices – including those needed for autonomous cars – has won over £1M from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and industry partners.

Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has been working on triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), an energy harvesting technology capable of ‘scavenging’ energy from movements such as human motion, machine vibration, wind and vehicle movements to power small electronic components. 

TENG energy harvesting is based on a combination of electrostatic charging and electrostatic induction, providing high output, peak efficiency and low-cost solutions for small scale electronic devices. It’s thought such devices will be vital for the smart sensors needed to enable driverless cars to work safely, wearable electronics, health sensors in ‘smart hospitals’ and robotics in ‘smart factories.’ 

The ATI will be partnered on this development project with the Georgia Institute of Technology, QinetiQ, MAS Holdings, National Physical Laboratory, Soochow University and Jaguar Land Rover. 

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and the principal investigator of the TENG project, said: “TENG technology is ideal to power the next generation of electronic devices due to its small footprint and capacity to integrate into systems we use every day. Here at the ATI, we are constantly looking to develop such advanced technologies leading towards our quest to realise worldwide “free energy”.

“TENGs are an ideal candidate to power the autonomous electronic systems for Internet of Things applications and wearable electronic devices. We believe this research grant will allow us to further the design of optimized energy harvesters.”

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