Selfies keep getting fancier. I'm referring to the invention known as the "selfie stick." Instead of being limited by the length of your arm, mounting a smartphone on an extendable pole makes it possible to capture moments in their wide-range glory. Numerous versions of the selfie stick with prices ranging from $15 to $50 have popped up in stores. Last week, my husband and I saw plenty of these sticks during our honeymoon in Spain. It looked like people were carrying golf clubs as they toured the Sagrada Familia, but no, those were smartphones attached to poles, waiting for their next shot.
Selfie sticks are the latest iteration of self-service tools that indulge our narcissistic selves and lead to more user-generated content. The increasing focus on user-generated content also presents a challenge to marketers who are trying to capture our attention.
Self-service tools for photography are not new by any means. Timers, tripods, and photo editing software allow us to snap photos at our convenience and tweak them until we're satisfied with the result. Technology continues to make it easier to present ourselves in the best way possible. Facebook recently rolled out a feature that automatically enhances photos, following Google+, which introduced a similar feature in 2013.
Our desire to capture the minutiae of our lives through selfies and other user-generated content has also given rise to dozens of publishing and messaging services like Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and WhatsApp. But as we share photos and look at our friends' photos, the bar is rising for advertisers to engage consumers during these intimate moments.
As New York Times media columnist David Carr notes, "Most media outfits are in the business of one-to-many, creating single pieces of text, images or audio meant to be shared by the masses...Getting a media message...into the intimate space between consumers and a torrent of information about themselves is only going to be more difficult."
Indeed, brands are trying to engage users with so-called native ads that are designed to be less intrusive than traditional display ads. And the battle for consumer attention is increasingly being waged on the digital landscape. Digital media is expected to reach 30 percent market share globally in 2015 and it's on track to surpass TV revenue in the U.S. by 2017, according to Magna Global. Time will tell how successful brands are, however, in producing media that's as compelling as a selfie.
Photo credit: Floris Oosterveld via Flickr