What's on the Horizon in 2023

by Matt Weber, Courtney Chauvenne, Carrie Pickering, & Matt Reed

Read our predictions on trends that will shape the new year.

The world is changing seemingly faster than ever—and in some areas, our industry is leading the charge. With brands making moves into new spaces and all kinds of AI technology rolling out, here’s what we see on the horizon for the new year.

1. Branded Entertainment

By Matt Weber

Brands are leaning heavily into producing their own branded content, with the likes of WhatsApp, Nike, and now Coca-Cola all releasing their own brand films. Coca-Cola (Real Magic Presents) and Nike (Waffle Iron Entertainment) have both started their own in-house entertainment studios to join the likes of Yeti Presents and Apple Original Films, with Apple also partnering with Nike to produce sports films.

What is branded content? It’s content that is funded or outright produced by an advertiser. The core focus is to build a sense of connection with their audience, with 61% of customers saying that they are more likely to buy from a brand that creates custom content. This content helps companies appeal to the hearts and minds of their target audience in a way unachievable by traditional advertising.

Brands that explore this landscape need to make sure to focus on storytelling vs. selling. Branded Content only works when you are not trying to sell your product, rather make a personable connection with your audience. If done right, it feels no different for folks than the content they’re watching on Netflix or Hulu. Make it aspirational or inspirational, but be sure to weave in your brand’s core values.

Watch out Hallmark: Coca-Cola just launched 3 Christmas films as it dives into entertainment.

Did you know? Soap operas were some of the earliest examples of branded entertainment. The very first was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble and was dubbed “soap opera” because the company produced a variety of soaps and detergents. 

2. Social Updates

By Courtney Chauvenne

Every time we log back on, there's a new update to social platforms. Here a quick roundup of the most recent changes that will impact social media platforms in the new year:

+ Instagram and LinkedIn now have a feature that allows users to schedule posts on the platforms. Third-party platforms, like Hootsuite or Loomly, will no longer be needed for this function. 

+ Instagram also added Group Profiles, Candid Stories, and Account Status Updates that might remind some Millennials of AIM away message days. 

+ TikTok is turning the tables again and copying other social media platforms by rolling out a horizontal display format for videos. This follows TikTok embracing a 10-minute video length earlier this year, which, combined with the horizontal video display, makes it increasingly similar to YouTube.

+ Tumblr is making a comeback. With all the turbulence of Twitter’s recent CEO change, Tumblr is taking advantage and launching a new campaign to bring users back to their site. 

+ A new version of Twitter’s verification system called Twitter Blue was recently launched. It is subscription based, costing $8/month for web sign-ups and $11/month for iOS. 

Only subscribers get the blue checkmark now. Accounts will be color-coded: gold for businesses & gray for government accounts. Subscribers will have access to multiple benefits, including the ability to edit Tweets, upload 1080p video, read articles without ads, and take priority in mentions, replies, and search.

3. The Web-volution

By Carrie Pickering

From a high level, we can say that Web 1.0 helped people find things online better, Web 2.0 enables people to experience things better, and Web 3.0 will help people create things online better. Here’s a breakdown of where the internet has been, and where it’s headed:

Web 1.0 (The OG internet):

This was all about being able to add static content in a digital format that anyone with internet access could access and read. Think online encyclopedias, search engines like AskJeeves, static-only websites with no interactivity, etc.—it was an information utility that allowed users to search for data and read in a digital format. Example: Take a real-world dictionary, digitize everything in it, and make it accessible to people online to look at (but not be able to react to it). Boom. That’s Web 1.0.

Web 2.0 (currently in use):

This is where we moved into a participative social internet where users could more easily create our own content and contribute to the internet in their own ways (ie. think blogs, retail, podcasts, social media, youtube/video, etc.). This is the internet as we know it now.

Web 3.0 (what we’re stepping into now):

This is the “read, write, execute Web.” We still have a way to go before we reach the full realization of this type of Web interaction, moving users away from centralized platforms like Facebook, Google, or Twitter and towards decentralized, nearly anonymous platforms. Web 3.0 ultimately lets users interact, exchange information, and securely conduct financial transactions without a centralized authority or coordinator. 

Arguably the most practical aspect of Web 3.0 is really the AI and machine learning, and up until a couple weeks ago, this wasn’t super accessible to the average internet user—but with the introduction of ChatGPT a door has now been opened to massive possibilities…stay tuned for more on that.

Web 4.0?

People think the internet will dive further into decentralization. There’s talk of physical implants that allow for Web access. This is not a far leap given we already have wearable tech in the present—things like FitBits, or heart monitors that can send info to medical professionals. It’s not too big of a move to imagine a device that’s implanted in the user that bypasses the need for a hand-held mobile device. It's quite a ways away but things are going to get interesting in the coming decades.

4. The Rise of ChatGPT & Lensa AI

By Courtney Chauvenne

With AI skyrocketing in popularity recently, ChatGPT and Lensa AI have been splashed across all the headlines and social media trends. You might have spotted your friends as fairies or anime characters in the last few weeks.  

What are these apps?

Chat GPT is OpenAI's chatbot system that recognizes patterns in text from vast amounts of internet data and uses that information to provide helpful dialog. ChaptGPT is powerful and can write a poem, create a nutrition and exercise plan, explain physics, or craft copy for social posts. 

Lensa AI is a photo and video editor known for its "magic avatar" feature, which creates stylized avatars from users' uploaded images. Lensa is built on the Stable Diffusion model and requires users to pay a fee to use "magic avatar."

A few ethical concerns are being raised:

AI Image generators like Lensa may be infringing on intellectual property rights. Researchers are finding that since AI image generators are learning from public internet data, they are pulling from copyrighted images. Artists are concerned that their work is being mimicked without getting consent or giving credit. 

These image generators tend to reinforce stereotypes and display biases. OpenAI published information about DALL-E 2's tendency to produce images "that overrepresent people who are White-passing and Western concepts generally."

Many Lensa users are concerned with privacy. According to Lensa's policies, users' photos are deleted after they create an avatar. However, Lensa retains the rights to all digital artwork created.

5. CREATE-A-TRON

By Matt Reed

We believe we’ve entered the next phase of existence, where robots can augment our creativity. So we created an in-house generative creative intelligence called Create-A-Tron which uses GPT-3 and Open AI’s Dall-e technology to generate never before seen ideas, images, and briefs. Create-A-Tron is made for getting seemingly infinite ideas, quickly. Endless inspiration: unlocked.

The idea is that Create-A-Tron won’t give us the right answer, but it’ll give us jumping off points to let us then overlay our own interpretations and add our creative lens. And although you can use Create-A-Tron alone, it’s more fun in a group. Within minutes, a group can generate hundreds of ideas, create mood boards, and get a rough first draft of a concept. Within minutes

And the fidelity of this stuff has improved by leaps and bounds. A few short years ago, we made some food from recipes that AI came up with, and we had to sift through them to find something remotely usable, and then generate the images ourselves (the redpepper kitchen hasn’t been the same since). If we did the same thing now, we can assure the recipes would be much more accurate, and we’d be able to generate lifelike images without ever flashing a camera or preheating an oven.

A few examples of some fun prompts we’ve fed Create-A-Tron: “touchdown dancing shoes,” “the Nashville zoo holding an electric safari night featuring electric vehicles,” and “tree trunk power charger posts.” Here’s a look at what it fed us back.

The future is now, people. 

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