Facebook F8 – Key features that have got the Photospire team excited

Facebook’s annual developer conference is taking place this week and some of the announcements have got us excited. Below are some new features that are going to change the user experience and greatly enhance the social giants offering.


Augmented reality

Facebook have declared that the camera is the most important part of your phone.

Of course, its already key to sharing photos and videos with friends but the new augmented reality tools will enhance reality when viewing life through the camera. You will be able to place virtual objects and messages into the real world and add more information and detail to your pictures.

Facebook wants you to share photos of your run with your pace and time superimposed over the top and leave your reviews on the windows of restaurants. Pieces of art that can only be viewed through your phone will, in Zuckerbergs own words “have people standing around looking at blank walls”.

Camera Frames and Masks

The new camera effects platform will allow users to enhance their photos along the same lines as Snapchat but with more features.

The new ‘Frame Studio’ is an online creative editor that allows developers to make frames for pictures and images taken with the Facebook camera. In addition they are launching the ‘AR Studio’ to help content creators make their own masks, filters, animated frames and effects. These enhancements will respond to the environment, movement and interactions in live videos..

Messenger Bot Enhancements

Facebook is launching Facebook Messenger Platform 2.0 that uses even more artificial intelligence to connect users with businesses and visa versa.

For example, mentioning on a chat that you want to see a film will trigger messenger’s virtual assistant ‘M’ who will list the times and cinema locations in your area and then help everyone buy their tickets. Facebook want you to use messenger not only as a place to chat with friends but somewhere to organise your social life and more, differentiating it from What’s App.

These are just a few key developments that have come out of F8 so far, we can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeve.


How retailers are engaging customers with digital displays

Retailers have long known that to keep up with their customers’ demands they need to offer an exciting and innovative experience to in-store visits. Today’s shopper wants a more engaged, personal experience when they shop in store and have come to expect the same resources that they have available when shopping online. Oracle’s 2015 Consumer Research report found that 76% of respondents wanted retailers to invest in new technologies that specifically engage customer experience, with 54% saying that converged commerce is key to this.

In answer to this demand digital displays have come to the forefront in helping retailers bring the online and in-store shopping experience together, allowing consumers to interact and connect with brands whilst enriching their shopping experience.

One of the great advantages to in store digital displays is the ease in which they can personalise and add value to a shoppers visit. They can either be controlled by staff on site for a more relevant, customised experience or externally to offer consistency and increase brand loyalty.

Here are some brands that are using this technology to really stand out from the crowd and offer their customers a new approach to how they shop in-store:

Audi City

An early adopter of digital displays, Audi have rolled out digital showrooms in cities such as London and Berlin. This innovative format uses state of the art technology that enables visitors to experience every possible combination of the Audi range in one place. The London dealership has four ‘powerwalls’ – floor to ceiling screens that display the customers chosen car after identifying the model, colour, engine and other specification from touch screen tables. They can then spin the car around, peer inside, open the doors and trunk and even watch it drive off, complete with authentic engine noises.


Argos have opened their first tranche of new digital concept stores. The shops use digital technology to make the customer experience more interactive.  Customers can use tablets in store to browse products (where once was the catalogue) and the mounted screens welcome the customer, showcase the staff on duty and display new products and promotions. The company’s Twitter and Facebook feeds can also be directed to screens, which provides additional content for customers to read while they wait.

The technology displays current pricing and uses live, local stock data to decide which products get promoted. In addition, each store is linked to the local weather station, which enables Argos to promote weather related products on-screen as appropriate.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren successfully integrates engaging graphics within their store displays. They recently showcased an energetic and engaging Polo Sport display in the window of Macy’s New York and at their flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Using props, mannequins and graphic content they grabbed shoppers attention in an energised and theatrical way. The digital displays ran a video loop with fast-paced edits, featuring athletes wearing the apparel that the mannequins were sporting in action poses.


A lot has already been written about Burberry’s flagship Regent’s Street store and it continues to be one of the most innovative shops in the world. The concept has been taken from their web user-experience and applied to the in-store retail space to create a bricks and mortar version of the website. Concentrating on the digital display aspect, customers are greeted by a huge digital screen (the largest of its type worldwide) giving the sensation of physically landing on the home page.

The most highly innovate concept is the stores mirrors that transform into digital screens. A chip hidden inside each product triggers RFID (radio-frequency identification) enabled mirrors on the shop floor and in changing rooms to transform into digital screens, displaying product information and inspiration.

The beauty of digital displays is that they enable brands to impress with fast moving content that can be updated at the press of a button. Used well they can bridge that elusive gap between on-line and in-store shopping and the overall result should be designed to enhance the store experience and assist customers in all aspects of the buying journey.





Why Visual Content is So Important to Your Content Marketing

Photos and videos are vital for any good content strategy as they truly engage your audience and create a genuine connection, making them a powerful marketing tool for your brand. Videos in particular are arguably the most personal form of communication between you and your followers after face to face contact.  As such it is crucial that your video production, as well as its content, is engaging, relevant and true to your brand. Axonn Research found 7 out of 10 people view brands in a more positive light after watching interesting video content from them.

Below are some of the key things to think about when sharing visual content:

Brand Identity
– Videos and photos express your brand’s personality and show your audience who you truly are. It is important to portray your brand’s values through the imagery and incorporate any brand information that you wish to share. For example you may work with a charity and wish to include a clip at the end of a video about the work that you do or you may have a strong connection to your local area that could be incorporated into product photos.

photospire_visual_story_playThe Big Share Photos and videos are by far the most shared type of content on the Internet. The likes of Twitter and Instagram have enabled videos to play in users’ feeds instantly and keep visual content in the news feed much longer than text because people are more likely to click on and share photos and videos. Google now show YouTube content in search rankings as well as sites that contain lots of relevant visual content. In addition Google is beginning to use social indicators such as shares and likes to determine value and relevance. These changes will result in visual content having a much bigger impact on SEO.

EngagementVisual content is so successful because it is more instantly engaging than text. In turn, this allows you to build a stronger connection with your audience and encourages them to interact with your brand. Videos and photos allow you to creatively inform your audience on the key messages you wish to get across. The more engaging the content the more likely your audience are to share with their friends, thus creating invaluable PR and advertising.

Stand out from the crowd – Most companies are actively using social media to market themselves. Blogs, tweets and posts have become an integral part of a company’s marketing plan and are continually managed and reviewed. However, creating and sharing high quality visual content takes more time and involves more work and resources. This means that there is less competition in this area at the moment, therefore paving the way for you to stand out from your competitors. Visual content also allows you to use your creativity to drive your brand to the for front of peoples minds.

Photospire enables companies to auto generate visual stories at the press of a button incorporating real time data, user-generated content and brand identity. To learn more please contact us

5 Key Trends for Retailers in 2015

1) Social networks as shopping platforms

Brands have been using social media to market their products and communicate with their customers for years, however 2015 will be the year that they add ‘selling’ to the list. Facebook and Twitter now have ‘buy’ buttons and Instagram teamed up with Curalate to create their Like2Buy platform. This selling route will continue to grow and become more sophisticated and widespread.

2) Focus on customer loyalty

Retailers need to offer more than loyalty points to keep their customers coming back by delivering more imaginative rewards and incentives. Loyalty programmes of the future will reward shoppers for their engagement and actions rather than just purchases. These rewards will be customised to each individual in the form of offers, services and experiences and in doing so the customer will feel more cherished and will be more inclined to engage and remain loyal.

3) Growth of in-store technology

We are already seeing retailers adopt in-store technology such as beacons, wearables, POS systems and virtual platforms and this will continue to grow in 2015. Cloud based point-of-sale systems have proven to be more efficient than till points in all respects and more retailers will make the switch. Although there has been a lot of talk about Beacons retailers are still finding their feet as to what this technology can do for them. The early adopters of platforms such as virtual fitting rooms and interactive widow displays have lead the way in improving the in-store experience.

4) Continued mobile growth

Mobile devices will account for 30% of global retail e-commerce spending by 2018, according to Adobe. Retailers who know the importance of smartphones and tablets in the shopping journey are starting to introduce mobile loyalty programs where customers can track and redeem their rewards straight from their phones. The number of consumers turning to mobile payments will also increase due to solutions from the likes of Google, Softcard and Apple. Retailers will have to respond to this trend and adopt the technology to offer their customers.

5) Retailers with omnichannel strategies will prosper

Retailers that understand the importance of offering multiple shopping channels to their customers will continue to grow and prosper. Many studies have been carried out showing that consumers are now much more informed on products before they purchase. They expect to be able to research the product online, view and try in-store, talk to sales people who are knowledgeable on the product and then buy from a host of different channels for their convenience. Retailers who can keep up with this and provide a seamless service will continue to reap the benefits.