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Second-year BA (Hons) Public Relations student Mary Davoudi reports on LCC’s recent PR Guest Lecture by Google UK’s Head of Brand Development, Anaïs Hayes.

Anaïs’s engaging speech shared her extensive insights from Google on how technology is changing marketing communications and reorganising brands and businesses.

She reminded us that the rise of technology today is the slowest it has ever been, and it is only going to speed up, as the 2.8 billion people who are online now are expected to at least triple in the next five or six years.

She compared it to Moore’s Law and stated that every single year the number of connections we can fit into a device will double. Not only will it get faster but also smaller and a lot cheaper.

She shared the amazing fact that mobile data in 2014 was 12 times the size of the entire internet in 2000. She reminded us that access to connections is also getting much more global and there are 10 billion devices worldwide; more people have access to a mobile device than a toothbrush!

Anaïs introduced the concept of instant gratification: how as consumers we will wait only two seconds for a webpage to load. Linked to this, it is not only the device or the message that matters, but the speed of the message. If, in those two seconds, the page is not loading, we immediately go to a competitor’s website.

As a result consumer behaviour can be understood by a completely different www acronym. It is not world wide web anymore, it is ‘what I want, where I want, when I want it’ – and if I can’t have that I will go somewhere else.

Baking speed into every concept you present to a client is crucial, Anaïs reminded us. According to her, businesses that support this are the businesses that succeed. Success is now based around ease, fluency and service.

Anaïs also discussed YouTube being not just a digital platform but the largest focus group in the world, where people will comment, like and view things and let your brand know what they like in real-time. As a public relations practitioner or a brand marketer, you can react to these changes immediately.

She highlighted an example of car brand Honda, who launched two different versions of their advert to see which one attracted more people. The one that got fewer views was taken down and all ad spend focused on the most successful one.

During her speech, Anaïs showed us a short video of a child playing with an iPad. In the next shot the child is seen playing with a magazine which she thinks is a touch screen iPad. Instead of turning the pages, she tries to touch them with her fingers.

The video demonstrated that we shouldn’t just be thinking about the current generation but focusing our expectations on future generations who have entirely different ways of thinking and behaving. As public relations practitioners we have to be ahead of the curve to advise our clients on these changes.

Anaïs also introduced another important concept for the future of communications and marketing: permission-based media.

It used to be that if brands showed you something frequently enough, eventually as a consumer you would buy it. Now, when an ad annoys you, you can avoid it.

As a result communications need to become permission-based. People don’t buy from brands. People buy from people. Brands need to work hard to understand how to do this to ‘hear’ consumer’s permission.

Anaïs finished her lecture by reminding us that in the 1920s, messages were presented on cinema screens metres away from us; in the 1960s to 1980s the message was in our living room via television. Then on our laptops and tablets.

Then we start becoming more personally involved and today we have wearable technology such as Google Glass. Is this the future of communications and marketing?

Studies show that the closer information is to cerebral cortex the more effectively it is processed, while it is predicted that in 2020 there will be 250 million wearable devices. What will this do to the discipline?

Words by Mary Davoudi

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