Evan Spiegel: Snap Update Is ‘Here To Stay’

As you may have noticed, Snapchat has recently redesigned their app, moving stories and personal Snaps to the same section, while creating a separate category for influencer’s and celebrities (or those with large followings).

The redesign has many users confused, frustrated and even forfeiting their Snapchats altogether. CEO Evan Spiegel says that the redesign is here to stay, regardless of the numerous complaints and gripes. Since the update, over 83% of users have reviewed the redesign negatively. They’ve left 1 or 2 star reviews on Apple’s App Store review feature. Yikes.

However, Spiegel wants users to rethink the way that they’re using the platform. He firmly believes that with time, and a new adoption process, users will come to love the new layout. He says, “Even the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes. It’ll take time for people to adjust, but for me using it for a couple months I feel way more attached to the service.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Why It’s Hot: Many people have written off Snapchat, hypothesizing that the platform will be dead within the near future. However, Snap and Spiegel refuse to let that become reality. With this redesign, they’re hoping that it changes not only the way that users interact with each other but how they interact with their cameras as well. This new update could either make or break the platform, only time will tell.

Valentine’s Story in NYC Warns Shoppers About Darker Side of Love

One Love Foundation created a pop-up shop in New York City, that was open for one week only. At first glace, the pink walls and line of teddy bears makes this store seem like a normal Valentine’s Day store. However, when shoppers take a closer look they will see that each gift has a hidden message.

Cards that seem to say “You’re mine”, actually say “you’re mine, so do what I say” and “I miss you” actually says “I miss when you were hotter” in fine print. The display of teddy bears prompt shoppers to press his tummy, making him say things like “your pathetic” followed by “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that.” The messages are taken directly from stories of members of the foundation in order to seem authentic and relatable.

The store is part of the foundation’s outreach campaign to raise awareness of abusive and unhealthy relationships. The organization wanted to use the holiday to shine light on how Valentine’s Day is a time where couples cover up unhealthy relationships with materialistic gifts.



NBA Players’ Union launches new marketing group Think450

This weekend at NBA All-Star Weekend in LA, the National Basketball Player’s Association is unveiling their new marketing business, a branch of the union that will control the rights of the player’s collective likeness when partnering with brands– rights that are worth tens of millions of dollars.

To understand where this group came from, (from FastCo): “For the past 20 years, the NBPA has essentially rented players licensing rights to the league, who in turn would sell them to corporate sponsors, then share the revenue with the union. That share hit about $41 million last year, but during the last collective bargaining agreement, the union decided it wanted control over the players’ likenesses and images. The new deal kicked in last summer.”


It’s not hard to imagine the myriad opportunities for brands and partnerships that the union will attract thanks to the popularity of the players collectively (though obviously individual players still own the rights to their own sponsorships, some with their own business teams and agencies working on their behalf). And while the league does a great job to market the players on-court, as players have become more business savvy and realize their value, this new deal allows the union to consider marketing the collective players off-court. And the opportunities for creative and branding agencies are also evolving– FastCo reported that earlier this week the union announced it has partnered with Japan-based advertising agency network Dentsu Inc. to develop content and create and stage global events that feature the union and its members.



Alibaba gives the elderly some luvin’

Last month, Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba launched an easier-to-use version of its Taobao e-commerce app built with senior citizens in mind. Although the app has a simpler interface, elders can access the same features – such as personalized shopping suggestions and live-streamed content – as those with the original app. It also makes it easier for seniors to register an account and browse products, delivering an improved user experience, from personalized recommendations to after-sales service.

It also includes a new peer-to-peer chat function, allowing family members to share products and consult or help one another in one click, as well as a new “pay-for-me” option to pay for another’s purchases.

Taobao also added a feature that lets seniors get in touch with their families with the touch of a button. Over 30 million Taobao users are 50 or older.

We often hear about tech-driven companies clamoring to cater to millennials and Gen Z-ers. The stereotypes dictate that younger consumers are ‘digital natives’, radically different to older ‘digital immigrant’ counterparts. But that’s not really the case. Consider one recent telling sign of the times: the number of senior Airbnb hosts in Asia is rising faster than all other age groups. Older consumers are increasingly exhibiting the same behaviors (digital and otherwise) and have the same expectations.

  • Alibaba made a simple tweak to an existing service and in doing so gained access to a huge aging population – one we often alienate
  • This also opens up the market for sellers that cater to a very large subset people that would otherwise be hard to reach via brick and mortar
  • Modifying digital commerce services for the elderly makes a ton of sense considering their limited access to transportation and less opportunity for mobility
  • The feed is curated for this demographic and it seems the Asian community dabbles in sexy underwear and flame retardant pants

Source: Alibaba

Cuisine that can communicate

Graphene is the world’s only man-made 2D material. It is much stronger than steel and 100 times more conductive than copper, but so far there has been no breakout application for graphene.

But maybe we can just eat it!

Researchers at Rice University have created a commercial laser that can transform the carbon on the surface of foods into graphene. This can create an edible circuit, including fuel cells to store power, radio hardware to transmit data, all sorts of censors, etc.

“Very often, we don’t see the advantage of something until we make it available,” said the lab’s lead James Tour in a press release. “Perhaps all food will have a tiny RFID tag that gives you information about where it’s been, how long it’s been stored, its country and city of origin, and the path it took to get to your table.” via Fast Co Design.

Why its hot

The possibilities could be endless. An actual apple with 1,000 songs on it? Any bit of clothing is potentially a wearable.

World’s Biggest Pong Game

The Moment Factory, a production company that focuses on immersive environments, has created a giant game of Pong. It is played by two people per side and the players are the paddles, which are controlled by running back and forth.

Why It’s Hot: This is another example of life size interactive AR experiences. While not innovative in any huge way, it is a good example of how we are bridging digital and physical spaces, especially in the realm of gaming.


No more “View Image” on Google Image Search :(

Google has removed the “View image” button, along with the “Search by Image” function. This follows a lawsuit by Getty Images in Europe.

As slashgear says:

Getty’s complaint stems from how Google has made it too easy to lift material without attribution. That is factually true since View Image doesn’t exactly inform users of any copyright or licensing requirements. But there is another aspect to its beef with Google. By delivering the image instantly, users no longer have to go to the source website, which deprives them of page hits and ad revenue from visits.

Search by image is also being removed, as it makes it easier to find the same image without watermarks.

Why it’s hot:

  1. Life is gonna be harder for designers
  2. I think this is interesting because it shows the difference in regulation and enforcement between Europe and the US. There’s a growing divide between the two, particularly in regards to the “right to be forgotten”. Obviously, the Internet is a worldwide entity, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.


What your smart devices are telling companies about you

A Gizmodo reporter set up a smart house using countless gadgets to connect as many appliances to the internet as possible. Her mission was to find out what it was like living in a house where everything was only a voice command away.

At the same time, her colleague set up access to her home’s router, receiving all of the information each device was sending to her internet service provider.

What they discovered is two-fold. The first is that a shocking amount of information is sent, unencrypted, from smart devices. This includes shows watched on Hulu, the images of suggested Netflix content, whether your motion-activated camera has been triggered recently, and whether your smart lightbulbs have come on or been adjusted.

The second is that setting up this type of house on one’s own is a burdensome task. The author buys two separate coffee makers before realizing that a third would have been better suited to her setup. Countless notifications from robot vacuums, coffee makers, security cameras, and more made her anxiety skyrocket, and that was before she even realized how much that data was being shared.

Why it’s hot

It’s exciting to imagine a world where everything in your home works in perfect harmony and effortlessly takes care of your domestic needs, but the reality is that most people only have a couple of smart devices in their homes and don’t take full advantage of the suite of possibilities. When we design smart interactions, we should be mindful of the mental and emotional toll that things like notifications, alerts, alarms, and pings will have on users.

I thought the house would take care of me but instead everything in it now had the power to ask me to do things. Ultimately, I’m not going to warn you against making everything in your home smart because of the privacy risks, although there are quite a few. I’m going to warn you against a smart home because living in it is annoying as hell.


Is Love the Universal Language?

Apparently not! In the days leading to Valentine’s day, the world found different ways to express it’s love from country to country.

Tenor, a search engine for GIFs provided Quartz with data to help identify how people in 45 countries were using animated images to express their emotions. “Valentine’s Day searches were dominated by—as you might expect—the quest for love. But other voices were heard as well, including those searching for “Galentines” (the holiday to celebrate female friendships on Feb. 13), “single,” “forever alone,” “missyou, “eyeroll,” and “50 shades”—all of which saw a spike in activity”

Source: https://qz.com/1206333/this-valentines-day-almost-every-country-has-its-own-gif-to-say-i-love-you/

Their methodology for data collection: 6.1 billion GIF searches and shares from 45 countries between Oct. 2017 and Jan. 2018, using data gathered from Whatsapp and Tenor GIF Keyboard application GIF searches and shares.

Here are a sample of some of the most-searched and -shared GIFs for various emotions, by country, according to Tenor:




Saudi Arabia





The US



The UK


Why It’s Hot

  • People like GIFs a-lot. In 2017 300 million people used 2 billion GIFs every day. Understanding how GIFs are used as a form of communication is crucial to brands hoping to capture cultural moments that put their brand in front of millions, but understanding cultural nuances can help global marketers and advertisers win.

Black Mirror Becomes a Reality


China has launched a social credit system designed to reach into every corner of existence both on and offline. The “social credit score” is described as similar to the American financial credit score system with the addition of political activity, social interactions and purchase history. The data is fed into a computer algorithm that calculates each citizen’s numerical trust score which affects almost every aspect of life.

For example: if you take care of your parents, pay your bills on time and give to charity, you’ll be rewarded with a high rating. High ratings can get you access to visas to travel abroad and access to good schools for your children. If you run a red light, criticize the government and social media or sell tainted food to consumers, you could lose access to bank loans, government jobs and the ability to rent a car. Pilot versions are underway in 30 cities currently & Beijing aims to have the full program running by 2020.


China wants to better control it’s poorly regulated economy, currently the second largest in the world. According to The Week, the social credit system will allow the government to easily punish illegal business people, bureaucrats who take bribes, selling of toxic baby formula or rotten meat. Because China lacks an equivalent to FICO scores that US lenders use to assess consumer credit risks, most Chinese can get credit cards and loans from their own bank. Social credit score system should result in more lending and less fraud, but is mainly a way for the communist party to push citizens toward approved behaviors.


Beijing will score behavior by monitoring the wealth of data generated by people’s smartphones. Smartphone payment methods are overwhelmingly popular there and the payment apps include social networks, ride hailing services, food delivery, hotel booking and even ability to schedule Doctor appointments. That data is then harvested to create the social credit score.

The algorithm assigns users a score between 350 and 950. Higher number = more perks. Lower score means you have to pay larger deposits when reserving hotel rooms, can be shut out of first class seats, etc. Personal traits also factor in highly to your score; how many degrees you have, how much time you spend playing video games, and your even friends scores. And the cherry on top: video surveillance will track everyone through facial recognition. Security cameras in stores and on street corners will be integrated into the surveillance platform & AI will analyze it. Suspicious behavior will be flagged and potentially affect a person’s social credit score.

The system is current up and running in Xinjiang as a testing ground. Authorities are using hand held devices to search smartphones for banned encrypted chat apps and politically suspect videos. Additionally, police checkpoints are equipped with scanners for IDs, faces and eyeballs. The supreme People’s Court blacklist of more than 7 million people who have outstanding fines or judgments will be merged onto the social credit system. When Journalist Liu Hu found himself on able to book a flight on a travel app, he found out that he had entered the incorrect account number when paying a fine which resulted in a blanket ban from all travel (even though he has corrected and paid the fine, he is still on the blacklist). Minor offenses like shoplifting can get you blacklisted as well.

Why It’s Hot

  • The social credit score system has profound implications for life in cities everywhere
  • There’s nothing so distinctly Chinese about it that it couldn’t be scaled up and implemented anywhere else
  • The consequences could be dire if it screws up or a private enterprise gains access to the data
  • Freedoms that were once guaranteed will become contingent on algorithmically determined by good contact

Source: http://theweek.com/print/859/57821/article

Diesel vs. Deisel

Diesel opened a pop-up with a twist. The shop, called Deisel, was situated on New York’s Canal Street – a location famous for its knock-off stores that sell replicas of designer products at cheap prices.

The Deisel pop-up sold a range of hats, t-shirts, jumpers and denim pieces, all branded with the knock-off logo. Prices ranged from $10 to $200: much lower than similar products found in standard Diesel stores.

But what looked like a fake pop-up was a stunt by the brand, supporting its latest campaign, Go with the Flaw. New Yorkers who ended up buying from the Deisel pop-up got their hands on real, limited-edition pieces at knock-off prices.

Why its hot?
If you can’t beat them, join them. 
The counterfeit industry was worth $460bn in 2016, according to the International Trademark Association. The fake goods culture has become so prominent that fashion brands have started referencing it in their collections and marketing activations. In 2016, luxury streetwear brand Vetements launched an ‘Official Fake’ collection and sold it in a garage space in the outskirts of Seoul. Elsewhere, luxury fashion darling Gucci became Guccy for its 2018 spring/summer resort collection – again, a nod to the rise of knock-off culture

AR coming to eBay…

Details are a bit scant, but eBay announced this week it will soon be integrating AR functionality into its app.

Per Fortune, “The San Jose, California-based marketplace said it’s working on an AR kit that, for example, will let car enthusiasts see how the images of new wheels would look on their vehicles before making a purchase. Another feature will help sellers select the correct box size for an item by overlaying an image of the box on the merchandise.”

Why It’s Hot:

While not the newest kid on the block (eg, Ikea has used AR for years), eBay is a massive marketplace where millions of people globally buy and sell things. With physical retail integrating technology to fight back against the convenience of e-commerce, this is an example of e-commerce trying to bring elements of physical retail to the digital world. One of the big disadvantages of e-commerce is usually you’ll only see a bunch of images of a product, which in eBay’s case may or may not be of the actual product you’re buying. The ability to see what something looks like in a virtual 3 dimensions is a major new advantage.

Also to note this week – eBay hired former Twitter data scientist Jan Pedersen to lead its AI efforts.


Twitter’s Transparency Not so Transparent

Image result for twitter ira blog

Mashable reports “Twitter is finally following Facebook’s lead and coming clean about how Russian trolls abused their platform in spreading misinformation ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But even in transparency, Twitter is still clouding the issue by literally deleting the evidence.”

We can give Twitter credit for a certain amount of forthrightness. They recently published a blog post recounting their platforms involvement in Russia’s tampering with the 2016 elections.

“We have now sent notices to Twitter users with an active email address who our records indicate are based in the US and fall into at least one of the following categories:

People who directly engaged during the election period with the 3,814 IRA-linked accounts we identified, either by Retweeting, quoting, replying to, mentioning, or liking those accounts or content created by those accounts;People who were actively following one of the identified IRA-linked accounts at the time those accounts were suspended”

While Facebook is putting together an action plan to properly label “fake news” and use user feedback to properly identify propaganda, Twitter has taken the same measures that they would any unwanted account… suspension and deletion.

Why it’s hot?
By destroying the evidence instead of properly marking it, as Facebook has done, Twitter removes both the cultural context and the cultural learning from the conversation.

I know we’ve spent time talking about bot accounts before but I’m still constantly fascinated that what humans do with AI can have an outsized role in global behavior.

You Down with OTT and Pay TV?


Well wether or not you are, the way we consume content is rapidly evolving and there’s a race to get as much quality original content on platforms as possible. Currently Netflix is winning the user numbers race in a very crowded market but nevertheless the race is on and by 2022 Pay TV and OTT are projected to reach a combined revenue of 283 Billion dollars. The most stable option is the subscription model which is set to triple in revenue while the ad sales model is projected to decline slightly, however subscription adoption still has a long way to go before catching up to ad revenues.

“With more media companies creating TV-like video content for platforms with big content budgets, the over-the-top video market is exploding with new places to watch video. Subscription and ad-funded video-on-demand services have healthy revenue prospects, but media companies struggle to get their video seen in a cluttered landscape.”

Why it’s hot: “For publishers looking to create OTT content, the three biggest challenges are building new and loyal audiences, discoverability of content and monetization, according to Digiday research.”

With new industries come new challenges. The above challenges will eventually turn into opportunities and several of these opportunities are prime for the advertising world and the brand world to take advantage of as you can see in the chart below:


FDA Approves Blood Test That Can Detect Concussions

The FDA has approved the first-ever blood test that can detect signs of concussions, a huge step forward in the quest to make concussion diagnosis faster and more accurate.

The two main ways of detecting concussions now are giving patients a neurological test or, frequently, a CT scan. The neurological tests are not always accurate because the medical professional giving the test often isn’t familiar with the patient’s baseline performance. And CT scans, while a powerful diagnostic tool, expose people to high doses of radiation – about the equivalent of 100-200 chest X-rays – and are very expensive.

So it’s not that we don’t have ways of diagnosing concussions, it’s that our current method is akin to using a sledgehammer to pound a small nail. What’s missing is a way to figure out who should be given a CT scan for further diagnosis, and who doesn’t need it. This is where the blood test comes in.

The blood test works by measuring two proteins the brain releases into the blood after a head injury. The levels of these proteins will indicate whether the patient has lesions on their brain that will be visible in a CT scan or not. And it’s very accurate – it can predict the presence of a lesion 97.5% of the time, and determine who doesn’t have a lesion 99.6% of the time.

Though sports – football in particular – immediately come to mind (no pun intended) on the topic of concussions, the urgency of this drug development was actually a result of military necessity. As traumatic brain injuries have mounted during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the armed forces have been desperately seeking a way to quickly predict whether a blow to the head has caused bleeding or bruising in the brain (and, therefore, what the best plan of treatment is). The development of this blood test, as well as the clinical trials preceding FDA approval, were largely underwritten by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Test results can currently be obtained in 3-4 hours, but the Defense Department is working with the drug company to reduce that window to one hour.

Why It’s Hot: The funding and pressure from the armed forces had a huge impact on the speed of this blood test’s development and FDA approval. It will certainly benefit the men and women serving in the military, but it also has a massive wider impact on the general public, as well as other people at high risk for brain injuries (athletes, etc). What other medtech breakthroughs can we look forward to from unexpected sources?

Learn More: Engadget | LA Times


Google Thinks The Future Of The Web Is Email + A Ghost Story

Google is taking the frustration out of ‘clicking out’ to a web page on accident through a new initiative called AMP for Email.


“Instead of an email from Pinterest just kicking you to some in-app browser or an external app as soon as you tap one of its links, a new AMP-infused Pinterest email is the web. So you can pin to your heart’s content, right inside the email window. With AMP for Email, you never need to leave the message itself to browse web content.” Google is making this possible by letting email developers incorporate its Accelerated Mobile Pages standard, and for now, and Gmail is currently the only email client supporting this.


“Instead of shuttling the user from an email to the web and back, email is simply becoming the web–a deep, browsable entity”

Why it’s hot: While it might seem minor, this has some strong implications for email CRM form both the user and the brand perspective. For the user, it is a more seamless experience with a branded email. For the brand, it encourages further brand engagement and less fear of ‘linking out’.

Source: Co.Design


PLUS……………….. I highly recommend reading this modern ghost story via twitter….. Is it real? I’ll let you decide. P.S It’s real.

“Also, being a Ghost Influencer is now a thing.” – Amanda Z.

Everybody fall in line!

This incisive tweet from type designer James Edmonson of Oh No Type Co looks like a humorous one-liner but is actually a brilliant piece of criticism. In just five words, he summarizes the pervasive tendency towards a visual uniformity that seems to draw in nearly every major tech brand operating today.

Tech company logos

Consider the macro trend of these brands all visually converging alongside the industry’s current mania for design systems. That juxtaposition suggests that we’re far more interested in implementing ideas than we are in ideas themselves.

Put another way, as practitioners of design we’re most comfortable asking questions like “How do we implement our brand’s design language, propagate and scale it, and make sure it’s consistent?” We’re much less comfortable asking questions like, “What’s the larger context for the brand we’re building?

Source: Subtraction.com

Why it’s hot
This post raises valid questions in the age where digital design in general trends towards uniformity over expression.

Welcome to your dystopian future

Hiding behind a locked door won’t save you from rogue killer robots anymore thanks to Boston Dynamics’ new innovation. These new models can handle a doorknob pretty well as evidenced by the company’s new teaser video.

Story on TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot from the perspective of technological achievement. It’s not so hot if you ever need to hide from one of these.

The Future of Access

Latch, a competitor in the smart-lock space, revealed today that they will be the lock maker of choice for Airbnb’s newest housing experiment Niido. Latch is a patent lock system that would allow e-commerce orders to be delivered directly into a home – while offering access credentials to any service.

Latch is only sold to managers running apartments and condos, for the simple fact that those managers buy in bulk and also face more complex problems related to building access. Users can use a key pad, phone or key card to get in to a building. The app allows for residents and managers to send out access codes to whoever they like that expire however long they designate. The delivery of hardware and service is the appeal for Niido – building managers can centrally manage all the Airbnb guest and create an accurate activity log. Every tenant using the service is charged $5 – as the lock itself is only an aspect of Latch’s business model.

What is Niido?

Niido is a new residential design concept specifically for home sharing. Tenants will sign annual leases and will be permitted to home share individual rooms or their entire units through Airbnb for up to 180 nights per year. Tenants who choose to share their homes will be part of Airbnb’s Friendly Buildings Program, in which hosts and landlords share revenues generated from home sharing.

Why It’s Hot

In a sea of smart locks, Latch stood out by targeting real estate developers rather than the average consumer – helping property managers navigate the operational burden with ease. Latch is demonstrating their value as more than a hardware or software company, and instead positioning the brand as a service that offers security, seamless access and simple management to consumers and customers alike. We’re moving towards a future where your user profile replaces your key.


  • https://www.fastcodesign.com/90160614/the-future-of-airbnb-and-amazon-might-hinge-on-a-smart-lock
  • https://press.atairbnb.com/airbnb-niido-to-partner-to-support-home-sharing-in-apartments/
  • http://fortune.com/2017/12/19/airbnb-niido-branded-apartments-investment/

What would Steve Jobs do?

“Apple’s HomePod is a great-sounding but ideologically flawed speaker, and it turns out there’s another major problem with the smart speaker aside from its lack of support for Spotify. Apparently the silicone base of the HomePod can damage wooden furniture, with multiple outlets (including Wirecutter and Pocket Lint) reporting that leaving the speaker on top of wooden surfaces can cause a white ring to form.

Apple has confirmed the issue to Wirecutter, stating that “the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface,” with the company also recommending that users “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method” if the white rings don’t fade. Given that HomePods aren’t meant to be put on a soft surface (the tweeters fire down, so putting it on cloth messes with the reflectivity of the sound), it’s not the sort of problem you can solve by just putting down a cloth underneath it, either.”

Source: The Verge



Reply to customer reviews to drive better ratings

Overview: There’s been an upward trend in brand managers responding to customer reviews–both good and bad ones–for the last few years, particularly in the hospitality industry. Roughly one-third of all reviews receive a response, and nearly half of all hotels respond to reviews. Two professors set out to learn if by responding to reviews, customers would leave better ratings.

Methodology: The research team looked at tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor, which uses a review scale from 1 (terrible) to 5 (excellent). The vast majority of brands only respond to reviews on TripAdvisor, leaving Expedia reviews alone. The research team looked at Expedia as the control group and TripAdvisor as the variable group in an effort to establish a causal link between responses and improved ratings.

Results: They found that when hotels start responding they receive 12% more reviews and their ratings increase, on average, by 0.12 stars. While these gains may seem modest, TripAdvisor rounds average ratings to the nearest half star: A hotel with a rating of 4.26 stars will be rounded up to a 4.5, while a hotel with 4.24 stars will be rounded down to a 4. Therefore, even small changes can have a significant impact on consumers’ perceptions. They also found that when customers see management responds to reviews, they’re less likely to leave lengthy negative reviews.

Implications: Respond to customer reviews. We’re operating in the Age of the Customer, and they expect their comments–particularly the negative ones–to receive attention. While responses can clearly help decrease negative comments and increase brand ratings, reviews also give us a wealth of information about moments that matter, pain points, etc. that exist in customers’ journeys.

Further Reading: https://hbr.org/2018/02/study-replying-to-customer-reviews-results-in-better-ratings

Was The “Tide Pod Challenge” The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Tide?

In 2016 a lesser known YouTube user shared a video of himself eating a Tide Pod. After that The Onion and College Humor posted satirical content about Tide Pods and their new ‘delicious’ flavors. Then in December of 2017 meme accounts suddenly had a new topic to obsess about which resulted in the Tide Pod Challenge going viral.

Suddenly the YouTube challenge culture saw eating Tide Pods as the next opportunity to get more views with the hopes of being seen as funny, not seriously encouraging others to do the same. Unfortunately, after this videos gained some traction many teenagers and children began making their own Tide Pod Challenge videos that eventually were picked up by news outlets. After news stories began breaking, all eyes were on Tide and their concentrated pod product as a safety hazard.

Because of this Tide was in the spotlight and not for good reason. The brand was challenged with protecting their reputation while maintaining their dominance in the category. What marketing tactics could they deploy to distract from a story this big?

Two words: Super Bowl

Tide isn’t new to the world of Super Bowl commercials, however, they knew that it would take extreme creativity to stand out in the crowd of advertisements. Their plan was simple, hijack all of the “Big Game” commercials in order to make every ad a #TideAd.

Throughout the game Tide purchased 4 ad slots to air in each quarter to insert the brand in the conversation in unique ways. This concept was extended into the digital space by having celebrities, such as Betty White, post their own #TideAds to their social platforms.

These ads were among those being praised by viewers and publications in the advertising industry for being the most successful and most entertaining.

Why it’s hot: Tide successfully redirected the conversation around their brand through an iconic advertising strategy. Less than 6% of the 164,000+ mentions of the brand during the game was about Tide Pods. Since these commercials aired on Sunday evening, the general brand conversation is finally outnumbering the Tide Pod Challenge chatter.

Bing Brings Sentiment Analysis, Multiple Perspectives To Search Queries

In one of the most important steps that will give marketers greater understanding of intent in search queries, Microsoft Bing integrated technology often referred to as sentiment analysis, will provide the ability to understand the context of the content, either positive or negative. The engine also has begun to serve up multiple perspectives on the positive or negative topics, which will allow the person querying the information to consider all options.
Is coffee good for you? How many times must I work out weekly to lose weight? So many answers to questions have variables. So, Bing may serve two answers from two different perspectives, allowing the person to decide which is the correct one for them, since there is not one definitive or correct answer to most questions that are asked in searches on the web.
Bing offers clues about what signals they are looking for in sites they rank for intelligent snippets. Here are some of the attributes of the sites they rank:
1. Authoritative and high quality
2. Relevant to the topic
3. Content is easy to crawl and index
4. Good user experience on the web page

The way it works when you type a question:
1. Their Web Search and Question Answering engine selects candidates from web pages.
2. They organize the candidates in clusters to determine similarity and sentiment
3. Bing ranks the most relevant passages from the web pages from each sentiment based cluster

For example, when searching the term “is coffee good for you” on Bing, the search engine will serve up passages as search results that offer two different perspectives on this topic, instead of just one.

Why It’s Hot
The fact that Bing has confirmed they are using sentiment analysis is big news. Google has also announced their intention to add sentiment analysis to their Featured snippets. Sometimes queries can provide incorrect information. Microsoft hopes this multi-perspective approach will improve the experience on Bing. In January, Google said it would use a multi-perspective approach to rid results of bias and a skewed point of view.
Diverse perspectives certainly help to bring a more balanced view of information plucked from the internet and help information seekers obtain a more rounded and well-informed view.

Thumbs Down-ish

People can now downvote inappropriate comments to hide them on Facebook. But what Facebook does with signals about problematic comments could raise new questions about censorship, and its role as a news editor and media company.

The motivation for the button is to create a lightweight way for people to provide a signal to Facebook that a comment is inappropriate, uncivil, or misleading.

When tapped, the downvote button hides a comment, and gives users additional reporting options like “Offensive”, “Misleading”, and “Off Topic”. Those could help Facebook figure out if the comment is objectionable, a form of “fake news”, or just irrelevant. Facebook already has a “Hide” button for comments, but it’s usually hidden behind the drop-down arrow on comments rather than immediately clickable.

Though not a dislike button, its sure acts a lot like it. This has been the most requested Facebook feature, but Facebook has officially never given it. Instead, Facebook built the Reactions options that let you respond to posts and comments with love, wow, haha, sad or angry emoji.

The downvote button ties in with Facebook’s recent push to enhance its users’ well-being by prioritizing News Feed content that drives meaningful interactions instead of passive, zombie browsing. That led Facebook to show fewer viral videos, which in turn contributed to a 700,000 user decrease in U.S. and Canada daily active users — its first decline ever anywhere — and Facebook’s slowest DAU growth rate it’s ever reported.

But one way Facebook could generate more meaningful interaction could be by ensuring the most interesting comments are at the top of posts. Facebook already ranks comments by relevancy based on Likes and replies. But the downvote button could ensure that if objectionable comments rise up and stall discussion, Facebook will know.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Though not a dislike button it sure acts like a dislike button with teeth
  • It’s framed as part of their efforts to address fake news, but the truth is that they have recently experienced their first loss of users and this could be an effort to ensure the most interesting topics to each user rise to the top, and those that are objectionable don’t interrupt the experience
  • It’s going to be very interesting to see results, especially given the options of “misleading” and “off topic” as these are highly subjective…also if these will apply to advertisers


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook’s Latest Headache: Cambodia

Facebook logos

Lawyers for Cambodia’s opposition party have filed a California petition, seeking the release of Facebook ad campaign details for the Cambodian leader, Hun Sen.They claim that Hun Sen has used Facebook to rack up a large amount of likes on fake news via paid promotion as well as make death threats against political foes. Facebook was previously facing pressure to address fake news and concerns that the platform impacted US elections. The Cambodian opposition party hopes to shed light on Hun Sen’s corruption, human rights violations, and tactics to manipulate public opinion of his policies and leadership in the country.

Why It’s Hot:

Facebook is facing a long term challenge as the platform impacts our every day lives as well as public opinion and government. It will be interesting to see how Facebook addresses this case as well as related challenges in the future as the platform continues to pervade our lives.


Who Needs an Ad Budget When You Have a Rocketship?

On Tuesday, Elon Musk made history…twice.

Not only did his private space-flight company, Space-X, pull off one of the greatest feats of engineering in history when they launched and successfully landed the Falcon Heavy rocket, but they managed to turn it into an ad opportunity for Tesla.

Tesla famously has a $0 ad budget, but who needs money when you have your own rockets? Right now, you can go onto YouTube to watch a cherry red Tesla, complete with passenger, nicknamed Starman, floating appropriately through space. The original plan was to go nearly 250 million miles from Earth and approach Mars, according to Space.com. However, a rocket carrying the car overshot, meaning it’ll pass Mars’ orbit and enter the asteroid belt.

Watch Starman here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M 

Why its hot

No need for a green screen or Photoshop when you can literally launch your product into space!



The Case for Breaking Up the Big 4: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon

Big purple octopus representing the big 4 tech companies

By Andrew Rae

This week in Esquire: Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine

Scott Galloway has an interesting article in Esquire this week calling for breaking up the big four tech companies: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

He has a number of reasons why we should be concerned about the power accumulated by “the four”:

  1. They’re really really big
    1. “Together, they have a market capitalization of $2.8 trillion (the GDP of France), a staggering 24 percent share of the S&P 500 Top 50, close to the value of every stock traded on the Nasdaq in 2001.”
    2. “How big are they? Consider that Amazon, with a market cap of $591 billion, is worth more to the stock market than Walmart, Costco, T. J. Maxx, Target, Ross, Best Buy, Ulta, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Saks/Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Sears combined.”
  2. They dominate our every day lives
  3. They don’t pay enough taxes
    1. “Our government operates on an annual budget of approximately 21 percent of GDP, money that is used to keep our parks open and our military armed. Does big tech pay its fair share? Most would say no. Between 2007 and 2015, Amazon paid only 13 percent of its profits in taxes, Apple paid 17 percent, Google paid 16 percent, and Facebook paid just 4 percent. In contrast, the average tax rate for the S&P 500 was 27 percent.”
  4. They make money by employing fewer people, which results in fewer jobs
    1. “The destruction of jobs by the Four is significant, even frightening. Facebook and Google likely added $29 billion in revenue in 2017. To execute and service this additional business, they will create twenty thousand new, high-paying jobs.The other side of the coin is less shiny. Advertising—whether digital or analog—is a low-growth (increasingly flat) business, meaning that the sector is largely zero-sum. Google doesn’t earn an extra dollar by growing the market; it takes a dollar from another firm. If we use the five largest media-services firms (WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, IPG, and Dentsu) as a proxy for their industry, we can estimate that $29 billion in revenue would have required about 219,000 traditional advertising professionals to service. That translates to 199,000 creative directors, copywriters, and agency executives deciding to “spend more time with their families” each year—nearly four Yankee Stadiums filled with people dressed in black holding pink slips.”
  5.  They have so much power that their abuse is a national security matter, but the government feels powerless to stop them
    1. However, the alarm for trust busting, not just regulation, rang for me in November, when Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr pleaded with the general counsels of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, “Don’t let nation-states disrupt our future. You’re the front line of defense for it.” This represented a seminal moment in our history, when our elected officials handed over our national defense to firms whose business model is to nag you about the shoes you almost bought, and remind you of your friends’ birthdays.
    2. It’s not just federal officials who have folded in the face of big tech. As part of their bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, state and city officials in Chicago proposed to let Amazon keep $1.3 billion in employee payroll taxes and spend this money as the company sees fit. That’s right: Chicago offered to transfer its tax authority to Amazon and trusts the Seattle firm to allocate taxes in a manner best for Chicago’s residents.

It turns out those aren’t even the reasons he wants to break them up. These are:

  1. Big tech and the start up economy is destroying the middle class
    1. “It’s never been easier to be a billionaire or harder to be a millionaire. It’s painfully clear that the invisible hand, for the past three decades, has been screwing the middle class. For the first time since the Great Depression, a thirty-year-old is less well-off than his or her parents at thirty.

      Should we care? What if these icons of innovation are the disrupters we need to keep our economy fit? Isn’t there a chance we’ll come through the other end of the tunnel with a stronger economy and higher wages? Already there’s evidence that this isn’t happening. In fact, the bifurcation effect seems to be gaining momentum. It’s likely the biggest threat to our society. Many will argue it’s the world we live in. But isn’t the world what we make of it? And we have consciously shifted the mission of the U. S. from producing millions of millionaires to producing one trillionaire. Alexa, is this a good thing?”

  2. They’re currently under-regulated compared to other monopolies
  3. They’re squeezing out the competition
    1. It’s happening everywhere across the Four, whether it’s the slow takeover of the entire first page of search results that Google can better monetize, substandard products on your iPhone’s home screen (like Apple Music), coordinating all assets of the firm (Facebook) to arrest and destroy a threat (Snap), or information-age steel dumping via fulfillment build-out and predatory pricing no other firm can access the capital to match (Amazon).
  4. Breaking up big monopolies is good for the market; they are “oxygenating events”. At the moment, there is no oxygen in the market
    1. Indeed, the DOJ’s case against Microsoft may have been one of the most market-oxygenating acts in business history, one that unleashed trillions of dollars in shareholder value. The concentration of power achieved by the Four has created a market desperate for oxygen. I’ve sat in dozens of VC pitches by small firms. The narrative has become universal and static: “We don’t compete directly with the Four but would be great acquisition candidates.” Companies thread this needle or are denied the requisite oxygen (capital) to survive infancy. IPOs and the number of VC-funded firms have been in steady decline over the past few years.
  5. No, but really, they are huge monopolies acting like monopolies
    1. Amazon is so big that when they say they will do something, stocks in other sectors fall
      1. “The day Amazon announced it would enter the dental-supply business, dental-supply companies’ stock fell 4 to 5 percent. When Amazon reported it would sell prescription drugs, pharmacy stocks fell 3 to 5 percent.”
    2. They control huge percentages of the market

      34 percent: Amazon’s share of the worldwide cloud business

       44 percent: Amazon’s share of U. S. online commerce

      • 64 percent: U. S. households with Amazon Prime

      • 71 percent: Amazon’s share of in-home voice devices

      • $1.4 billion: Amount of U. S. corporate taxes paid by Amazon since 2008, versus $64 billion for Walmart. (Amazon has added the entire value of Walmart to its market cap in the past twenty-four months.)

    3. Google, for its part, now commands a 92 percent share of a market, Internet search, that is worth $92.4 billion worldwide. That’s more than the entire

      advertising market of any country except the U. S. Search is now a larger market than the following global industries:

      • paper and forest products: $81 billion

      • construction and engineering: $79 billion

      • real estate management and development: $76 billion

      • gas utilities: $58 billion

    4. “Apple is set to spend $1 billion on original content this year. The company controls 2.2 million apps and set a record in 2013 when the number of songs it sold on iTunes hit twenty- five billion. Apple’s library now includes forty million songs, which can be distributed across the company’s one billion active iOS devices, and that’s not even mentioning its television and video offerings. But AT&T needs to sell Cartoon Network?”

Regardless of whether it is actually a good idea to break up the big four, it sparks an interesting conversation around the effects of tech in our lives.

Why it’s hot

These companies have a huge amount of influence on our lives and our economy. Breaking them up would have a massive effect on the economy and the fight to do so would likely be very ugly.




Patagonia Action Works

Patagonia has been involved in a slew of politically and environmentally active campaigns, most recently their “The President Stole Your Land” campaign protecting Bear Ears National Park. They released earlier this week a new digital platform called Patagonia Action Works (I like the idea of referring to it as PAW) that connects people and environmental nonprofits, helping them get involved through events, petitions, and volunteering.

Why It’s Hot: This is just the latest move Patagonia has made in effort of their social impact work and their commitment to environmental and organizing efforts is admirable and unlike many other brands we encounter.


Netflix Pulls a Beyonce After the Super Bowl

Sometimes the best marketing campaign is no marketing campaign at all.

Netflix dropped their newest release “The Cloverfield Paradox” immediately after the Superbowl, with no warning. No campaign, no advanced trailers, just a blurry easter egg of a website and a Super Bowl ad.

Now instead of waiting (but really why can’t I already watch Black Panther), Netflix is giving its audience immediate gratification.

This movie, however, was previously considered unsellable, and Netflix had taken it off of Paramount’s hands, as they didn’t see it as a viable property. By “pulling a Beyonce” Netflix let the movie bloggers do the marketing for them.

Why It’s Hot?

Turns out, Paramount was right about the movie (it’s currently 18% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes)  but was wrong about the potential.

And that’s now Netflix sells a crappy movie as viral gold.