The Psychology of Pokémon Go – Augmented Reality Creates ‘Augmented Self’ and more...

The Psychology of Pokémon Go – Augmented Reality Creates ‘Augmented Self’


Within a week of launch, the location-based augmented-reality game Pokémon Go already enjoys more daily active users in the US than Twitter, more minutes per user than Facebook, and has supplanted Candy Crush as the most successful mobile game of all time. The formula seems simple – take an old mobile game developed by Google (Ingress) and slap on a popular franchise with a track record in viral success (Pokémon, Pokémon cards…).

But Ingress – now rebranded as Pokémon Go – also sports the three critical success factors identified by psychologists for successful games. It’s the ARC of happiness again – games have greater appeal if they promote a sense of Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competence – the three psychological drivers of human happiness according to the much-researched and influential self-determination theory.

  • Pokémon Go promotes a sense of autonomy by opening the door to an augmented world, and empowering you to explore freely. In other words, the game promotes a sense of self-navigation, of individual autonomy. In other words, augmented reality creates an ‘augmented-self’ (or extended-self)
  • Pokémon Go fosters a sense of relatedness – feeling connected to others – with both in-game social interaction and by providing a new (conversation-worthy) but inclusive experience with few barriers to entry. The free-to-play, easy-to-play formula can create a sense of ‘we’ relatedness through a cultural activity that has conversational currency. We play Pokémon Go and we feel part of something bigger than ourselves.
  • Pokémon Go builds a sense of competence with challenges, achievements,  levels, feedback and rewards. Providing players with an enhanced sense of competence and mastery (sometimes in stark contrast to the real world that knock us down time after time) is a standard game mechanic that has been linked to increased levels of participation)

Whether Pokémon Go points to the augmented-future of OOH (out of home advertising) and installation art – thought-provoking virtual installations on and in landmarks that you see via your digital eyes – remains to be seen (but check out this video).  But say hello to the Augmented-Reality game Pokémon Go, and you’ll be saying hello to your Augmented-Self.




The Psychology of Brexit – the ARC of Happiness

Brexit ARC of Happiness

Here’s a simple psychological rationale for why people voted for Brexit and to leave the European Union.  People strive for happiness, which according to a well-researched influential model in psychology – self-determination theory – is driven by three things: the ARC of happiness – a sense of Autonomy, a sense of Relatedness, and a sense of Competence.

  • Does the EU foster a sense of individual autonomy – or should we take back control?
  • Does the EU enhance our sense of personal relatedness with other EU citizens – or is EU migration a problem?
  • Does the EU improve a sense of competence in how our affairs (and our money) are run – or are EU institutions wasteful?

With this psychological lens, we can understand how people’s emotional reaction to the EU is not happiness. And since we may tend reject those things that do not make us happy, the United Kingdom has gone ahead and ditched the European Union. This is not a political point, it is a point of insight (For the record, I am a committed European internationalist and profoundly concerned about the consequences of leaving the EU – including the potential loss of the 1/3 of startup investment deals in the EU that went to the UK.  So why did the UK leave the EU? The EU did not deliver on the ARC of happiness.

Now it’s easy to provide post-hoc rationalisations for why things happen after the fact, but the smart thing to do is to learn from them – spot a pattern and then profit from it.  So the big opportunity for business, branding and innovation is to realise that the ARC of happiness matters, and now act on it. Do you foster a sense of Autonomy, Relatedness and Competence for your customers? If you do, you may flourish and grow; if you don’t, your customers may desert you – just as the British have deserted the EU.


From CB Insights


Customer experience is worthless.  Memories of customer experience are priceless.


At last week’s Digital Innovation Day 2016 in Frankfurt, I outlined a new vision for CX – one not focused on people’s problems but on people’s wellbeing, and using insights from positive psychology – the science and practice of improving wellbeing – to redesign products, services and experiences with people’s happiness in mind.

One example I spoke about in the positive vision of customer experience was how something called the Peak/End rule could be used in experience design.  The peak/end rule explains how happy we feel with an experience and is based on simple formula – quality of experience is the average between how you felt at the end of the experience with how you felt at the most emotionally intense moment (‘peak emotion’).  So no matter how many touch points you have in your customer journey – the only two points that matter from this understanding of customer experience is the point at the end, and the point when emotion is at its most intense.  Why? Because these are the moments (the peak and end moments) that get encoded into your memory – we tend to forget the rest. And because it is our ‘remembering self’, the self built on our memories that informs our judgements and  behaviour (such as buying more or again, or recommending), memories are what matter. In other words…

Customer experience is worthless.  Memories of customer experience are priceless.

The Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman demonstrated the Peak/End rule in practice by looking at the customer experience of a colonoscopy.  What he found is that customer experience is better with a far longer uncomfortable procedure but that has a less uncomfortable end (patient B), than with a far shorter procedure that involves less pain, but that has a more uncomfortable end (patient A).  As a result, doctors sometimes leave patients on the table at the end of a procedure, when there is less pain and discomfort – to engineer a better customer experience.


Two simple takeouts…

  1. If your customer journey map has an intimidating number of touchpoints to manage, focus first and foremost on what really matters to the customer experience – the last touchpoint and the most emotionally intense touchpoint.
  2. Stop focusing on customer experience itself, and start focusing on memories of customer experience.  CX is about memory making.  We are memory makers.

#UberInsurance – This is what the future of insurance looks like [download]


Today, we’ve been speaking at the Accenture-sponsored FinTech Innovation and Disruption 2016 in London, presenting a disruptive UberInsurance concept based on the Uber model. You can checkout the presentation below (and download it here)- but here are the key points

  1. Insurance is ripe for disruption, and investors know it – $650M investment in #InsurTech in Q1 2016 alone
  2. But the InsurTech scene is complicated – just check out the Periodic Table of InsurTech – so many shiny new startups, and most will fail.  Where should we invest?
  3. Follow the money – if you take a look at where the money is going – so called ‘Unicorns’ (startups valued at $1Bn) they are investing in #ConvenienceTech and #EgoTech – tech that saves us time and effort and panders to our fragile ego. #ConvenienceTech + #EgoTech = Unicorn DNA
  4. Uber is a combination #ConvenienceTech (tap for automagic service) and #EgoTech (puts you at the centre of the world – all those car icons running around the screen are your slaves…)
  5. Applied to insurance, the UberInsurance is about more than insurance for gig economy; it’s about easy on-demand personalised insurance that uses realtime robo-broking to ensure you’re always getting the best deal and the best coverage, when you need it. In other words it’s #ConvenienceTech + #EgoTech
  6. Think of UberInsurance as the on-demand service from trōv/sure/cover/fitsense combined with the robo-broking (personal digital concierge) of insurify’s evia / knip / brolly.  Like Uber, UberInsurance is all about owning the relationship but not the costs (smart intermediation), whilst combining #ConvenienceTech (tap for automagic service) with #EgoTech.


The 10 Advertising Strategies That Work [The Advertising Effect – Speed Summary]


If you’re in advertising, then The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour is probably one of the best books you can read on your craft right now.  Basically, it’s Nudge for advertisers. Outlining ten evidence-based effective advertising strategies, each with a scientific underpinning, Adam Ferrier (psychologist and founder of Naked) is up there with fellow Antipodean Byron Sharp in terms of must-reads for marketers.

Ferrier is a fan of ‘Action Advertising’ – influencing people by influencing actions rather than perceptions. Drawing on the evidence that advertising is notoriously poor at direct persuasion, Ferrier outlines 10 ways to influence actions instead.  The underlying logic is that the easiest way to persuade someone is to allow them to persuade themselves – and this will happen quite naturally if you prompt (nudge, spur) people to act in a way consistent with a desired behaviour. Why? Because we tend to align our perceptions with our actions to avoid the mental discomfort of cognitive dissonance. In other words, if you influence action, you influence perception.

Moreover, because perception-change is only a means to an end, the end being behaviour-change (buy, buy more, buy for more) – Action Advertising orientates advertising to what really matters, actioning behaviour change. For Ferrier, advertising is and must be about behaviour change; ultimately if no behaviour is changed as a result of advertising, advertising is valueless.

Action Advertising Framework

At the core of The Advertising Effect is the action advertising framework that plots motivation to perform a behaviour against ease of performing that behaviour. The more motivated and easier to perform the behaviour, the higher the behavioural propensity. So to influence behaviour you need to influence behavioural motivation and behavioural ease.

Motivation Drivers

  • Individual Incentives: What’s in it for them? Will they be rewarded and to what extent?
  • Social Norms: What will others think of them if they undertake that behaviour?

(Motivation Ad Strategies = ‘Utility’, ‘Modelling’, ‘Reframing’, ‘Evocation’, ‘Ownership’, ‘Collectivism’, ‘Play’ – Examples + explanations below)

Ease Drivers

  • Ability: Do they have the resources, competency and skills to do the behaviour?
  • Opportunity: Does the environment allow the behaviour to happen?

(Ease Ad Strategies = ‘Skill-up’, ‘Eliminate Complexity’, and ‘Commitment’ – Examples + explanations below)

Action Advertising Behavioural Framework

This is a fabulously simple clear framework for thinking about and doing advertising, based on sound psychology (motivation, ability and opportunity are indeed the core components of behavioural intention).  And Ferrier subsumes this framework in an equally simple nonsense-free four step model to effective advertising

  1. Clearly define your business goal
  2. Identify the specific behaviour change required to achieve goal
  3. Select one of ten behavioural strategies (‘action spurs’) that will facilitate this behaviour change
  4. Develop a creative idea based on the selected ‘action spur’

Action Advertising Process

Motivation Strategies

  • ‘Utility’ Strategy: Advertising as a service – advertising that adds value by helping people achieve their goals (value = ability to meet my goal/cost (money, time, effort). e.g. Tesco HomePlus


  • ‘Modelling’ Strategy: Using aspirational high-profile personalities – celebrities and experts – to inspire or inform behaviour. e.g. George Clooney Nespresso campaign


  • ‘Reframing’ Strategy: Ads that reframe a target behaviour a positive light, by tapping into pre-existing assumptions and behaviour. e.g. Reframing carrots as junk food


  • ‘Evocation’ Strategy: Ads that stir powerful emotions to motivate behaviour. e.g.Google’s ‘Dear Sophie’ campaign for Chrome


  • ‘Ownership’ Strategy: Inviting the audience to be part of the campaign, so they own it as their own (endowment effect) e.g. Share a Coke campaign

  • ‘Collectivism’  Strategy: Reinforcing or creating social norms of appropriate and desirable behaviour. Dove Campaign For Real Beauty Evolution Sketches


  • ‘Play’ Strategy: Making the desired behaviour enjoyable by embracing the principles of structured play or gamification. e.g. Speed camera lottery campaign


Ease Ad Strategies

  • ‘Skill-up’ Strategy – ads that show someone either how to do a target behaviour, or how to do it more easily. e.g. Amazon’s Echo campaign


  • ‘Eliminate-Complexity’ Strategy – ads that remove or reduce barriers – real, imaginary or anticipated – to undertaking a target behaviour, making it as effortless as possible. e.g. Westpac’s Impulse Saver Campaign 


  • ‘Commitment’ Strategy – ads that invite an initial small action that is consistent with the target behaviour. e.g. Transport Accident Commission SpeedKills campaign 




The ten Action Advertising strategies in The Advertising Effect are not exhaustive, but they provide advertisers with a broad range of options within an elegant framework. And whilst the no-nonsense style makes Ferrier’s model appear uncontroversial, it succeeds in overcoming two pervasive problems in ad land.

First, Ferrier’s model is business-led rather than idea-led in an industry where the tyranny of the creative director still rules. Ferrier’s model flips the agency hierarchy on its head, the creative director is subservient to the business goal and selected strategy.

Secondly, because Ferrier’s model is behaviour-led rather than idea-led, it flips the AIDA awareness-interest-decision-action model of advertising on it’s head. Rather than using ideas to influence minds by generating interest and persuading, Ferrier’s model is about influencing behaviour by making decisions easier – through framing choices in a favourable way and nudging people’s action towards desired behaviours.

In other words, The Advertising Effect is Nudge for advertisers.



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