Swipe It Forward, Legally

As of this week, it is quietly approved policy for MTA customers to “swipe it forward.” As a customer leaves a station through a turnstile, they can swipe their Metrocard to allow access to waiting customers. This has been a point of contention for years. As recent as last year, NYPD were arresting violators of this MTA policy, as many as 800 a month. The simple act of asking for a swipe or even making a kind of sign language to indicate the request was a prosecutable offense.

Through a concerted and consistent effort, much of it online, activists have affected change. Using the #SwipeItForward hashtag to encourage civil disobedience in the months leading up to the official policy change, activists on Twitter have highlighted the need for new considerations. Paired with on-site protests at MTA stations, their statement was simple: “No one should be arrested or go to jail for $2.75.”

The change in attitude aligns with MTA’s recent increase in fares.

Why Is This Hot?

Much like the easing of industry attitudes about home-taping on cassette decks in the 1980s, this is an industry accepting the profound share-ability of their own technology. Easing prosecution of a difficult to enforce rule allows the MTA to concentrate on other customer service efforts, while giving them the appearance of benevolence, improving community relations in the process.

538 Uses Reddit Math to Get to the Core of Politics

Nate Silver, famous statistician at Five fivethirtyeight.com used the populations of the most popular Donald Trump reddit /The_Donald, to break down user behaviors in other subreddits across the site.

He experiments with deleting and adding user groups to draw conclusions.

“So even adding innocuous subreddits, such as r/europe and r/Games, to r/The_Donald can result in something ugly or hate-based — r/european frequently hosts anti-Semitism and racism, while r/KotakuInAction is Reddit’s main home for the misogynistic Gamergate movement.”

This image below contains offensive (since banned) subreddits and how they trend among supporters of certain politicians. It’s fascinating.

“Subreddits dedicated to politics and news are smack in the middle. r/Feminism is on the Sanders/Clinton side of the spectrum, though slightly closer to Clinton, as is r/TheBluePill, a feminist parody of r/TheRedPill; r/BasicIncome (a subreddit advocating for a universal basic income) is also on the liberal side, though slightly closer to Sanders.

And all of those hate-based subreddits? They’re decidedly in r/The_Donald’s corner.”

Why it’s hot:

This logic can be applied as social listening to any group to get to some of the technographic details we are always looking for. It is also a really interesting look at what human insights data can get us.

Source: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/dissecting-trumps-most-rabid-online-following/

Loyalty Matters

Last week, Forrester’s What It Means podcast topic was “Rethinking customer loyalty.”  The main takeaway is that today’s loyalty programs are seen by brands as a necessary tactic that doesn’t significantly move the needle for incremental sales. The Forrester team argues that most loyalty programs are actually hurting sales and brand affinity since they are largely structured using the same rewards approach from the 80s (you buy more, you get more).

Brands say they want to create better experiences, but what they really mean is “I want to create opportunities to target customers more effectively.” Loyalty programs follow suit in that brands end up seeking behavioral loyalty (incremental transactions) instead of emotional loyalty, which should be fostered along the entire journey.

Why It’s Hot

Over 50% of the customers Forrester surveyed are skilled at shifting spend, are intolerant of poor experiences and say they have an adventurous retail life.

If a loyal customer cannot discern the difference between a loyalty program message and an acquisition message, then we must rethink our approach. Brands need to exceed expectations with their loyalty programs (think Amazon Prime) before their competitors beat them to the punch.

The email example above is from Jane, a consignment store in Princeton. I love their emails — it’s not always sell, sell, sell. They invite me to come meet local artists, sip wine or see a new vintage collection of china. I feel they wholly understand the nature of our relationship: I am a customer who will shop there again, and they want to provide me with benefits for having done business with them.

X-Box One Co-Pilot Mode

X-Box One had an update recently where users can remap the buttons from one controller to be played on two controllers. This allows players that are new to gaming to join more experienced ones playing games. This Extra Credits video explains the feature and its perks.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Audience of people that like to watch games but not play, this gives them a great way to get a taste of the interactive aspects of the products
  • A family mode could be easily added into games so parents can play with their kids
  • Game industry has a big issue with accessibility, this allows people that can’t play a game on one controller remap them to something that works for them
  • No extra work for game developers, feature is right on X-Box and works across all games
  • Could add a whole new genre of Let’s Play channels or e-sports. For example, a competition where 2 people control 1 character in a game

YouTube Brand Safety Issues Threaten Sales

If some of you haven’t heard the news yet, a handful of HUGE brands have completely pulled the plug on spending with YouTube, amid a growing international controversy concerning ads running in tandem with extremist content on the platform. This content includes videos promoting terrorist groups like ISIS, hate speech, gory videos, and other unsavory content.  Brands refuse to re-instate spending until the video site could assure their spots wouldn’t run near offensive content.

Examples of advertisers that have pulled out domestically and/or internationally are big players like Verizon, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, JPMorgan Chase, Ford Motors, McDonald’s UK, and Johnson & Johnson.  To this point in time, YouTube (owned by Google) has been one of the difficult partners out there, who don’t allow 3rd party ad verification partners in to monitor brand safety.  Instead, they bring their own proprietary tools.  DoubleVerify circulated an email to clients on 3/23 stating that the issues of advertisers running next to unsavory content could have been avoided if 3rd party tools were allowed.

Why It’s Hot

This raises so many thoughts/questions about brand safety and how to handle situations like this from an agency perspective.  Our team has been singing the praises of 3rd party ad verification partners for a long time- they police sites and make sure that advertisers are truly protected.  So, I have to ask:

1.)  Are self-policers like YouTube worth running on?  Given this news, how much has their credibility been shattered?

2.)  Were the advertisers doing anything in regards to brand safety before, or was this truly the fault of YouTube not monitoring the content of their site closely enough?  With a pharma client we work on, YouTube has confirmed that we’ve run in safe content because we’ve been so stringent from the start…

3.) Are there implications for a brand (think, from a PR perspective) if they choose to continue to run on YouTube, given this news?  Should brands join the movement of pulling spend JUST to join the movement and make change happen, or should they stay the course (if they’ve been confirmed to be running on brand safe content only?)

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Everything is Relative

Ikea has found a creative way of tapping into consumer journey need states.

By reframing the cost of their furniture relative to everyday items, the furniture giant reinforces their affordability. Ikea Saudi Arabia changed its price tags and saw an 11.4% increase in sales in a year.

The concept is simple, one side of the price tag shows the monetary cost of an item, the other depicts the amount of everyday items (coffee, toothpaste) that the piece of furniture costs.

Why it’s hot?

– Rather than thinking of forking over hard cash, contextualizing the price of a long-life item to disposable no-brainer purchase can help convince the weary shopper.

Ready to put your life in the hands of a driverless drone? Yeah, me neither.

A Chinese company has created the world’s first passenger drone, called the Ehang 184. First unveiled to the world at CES 2016, the passenger drone has been tested in Nevada and by this summer will make its debut as a drone taxi in Dubai. The drone will be able to transport a single passenger weighing no more than 220 pounds, for a distance as far as 25 to 30 miles, and for up to 30 minutes in the air at a time. Since there is no driver in the aerial vehicle, the rider sets their destination using a touchscreen. The drone’s progress will be monitored remotely from a nearby command center.

But, there’s no way for the passenger to steer the drone at all, even in an emergency.

Story at Curbed

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because it seems like a great way to beat congestion when you absolutely have to get to the airport. Realistically, though, this is not something I want to see flying above my house.

How Your Instagram Posts Created a New Starbucks Drink

It’s cold and flu season, and we all hate the sniffling, sneezing, and congestion that comes with it. What would make you feel better – walk into Starbucks and order from their Secret Menu – the Coldbuster, also known as “The Medicine Ball.” This tea drink combines a powerful punch of antioxidants that work as a cold remedy.
Starbucks took notice of all the photos posted on Instagram and just this week the company formally added the cult-favorite tea-based drink to its menu. It now has a standard recipe card and ring code, which helps create a more consistent experience for customers. Starbucks commented that the decision to add a new beverage would have taken weeks or months, but corporate was able to make it happen in one day.

The beverage is a Venti cup with a bag of Jade Citrus Mint Tea and a bag of Peach Tranquility Tea filled half with hot water and half steamed lemonade. It’s finished with a little honey and an pump of peppermint.

The Medicine Ball’s journey into the formal Starbucks system began when a store manager posted in the company’s internal messaging system that his baristas were making more than 20 of the drinks a day. Customers were coming in and requested it after seeing the drink posted on Instagram. The problem was the manager wasn’t sure if his team had the right recipe. The company decided to make the Medicine Ball an official beverage after nearly 40 other managers responded, saying they were selling anywhere from one to four dozen a day.

Why It’s Hot

Instagram has a lot to be excited about – There are now more than 1 million businesses that advertise monthly on its platform – a 400% increase year-over-year. Instagram’s global community now exceeds 600 million users. More than 8 million businesses have profile pages around the world. The impact of Instagram – In just the last month, more than 120 million users visited a business’s web site, retrieved directions, called, emailed or direct-messaged a business via its Instagram page. These are the metrics to win valued, engaged followers who care about your business. As Starbucks shows, their loyal followers on Instagram created enough conversation (and sales) that the Coldbuster was added to their menu.

China’s High-Tech Tool to Fight Toilet Paper Bandits

The toilet paper thieves of the Temple of Heaven Park were an elusive bunch.

They looked like most park visitors, practicing tai chi, dancing in the courtyards and stopping to take in the scent of ancient cypress and juniper trees. But hidden in their oversize shopping bags and backpacks was a secret: sheet upon sheet of crumpled toilet paper, plucked surreptitiously from public restrooms.

Now the authorities in Beijing are fighting back, going so far as to install high-tech toilet paper dispensers equipped with facial recognition software in several restrooms.

Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a machine dispenses a sheet of toilet paper, precisely two feet in length. If visitors require more, they are out of luck. The machine will not dispense a second roll to the same person for nine minutes.

At the Temple of Heaven Park, one of Beijing’s busiest tourist sites, many people said on Monday they were pleased by the new machines.

“The people who steal toilet paper are greedy,” said He Zhiqiang, 19, a customer service worker from the northwestern region of Ningxia. “Toilet paper is a public resource. We need to prevent waste.”

Qin Gang, 63, taking a stroll through the park with his wife, said China’s history of crippling poverty had left some people eager to exploit public goods.

“It’s a very bad habit,” Mr. Qin said. “Maybe we can use technology to change how people think.”

Not everyone was enthusiastic. Some people, frustrated by the new technology, banged their fists against the machines, which park employees said cost about $720 each.

Other visitors had more exacting critiques.

“The sheets are too short,” said Wang Jianquan, 63, a retired shopping mall manager.

Lei Zhenshan, marketing director for Shoulian Zhineng, the company in Tianjin that designed the device, said in an interview: “We brainstormed many options: fingerprints, infrared and facial recognition. We went with facial recognition, because it’s the most hygienic way.’’

Mr. Lei said an earlier version of the device was installed last year at the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing. An official at the Temple of Heaven, who would not give her name, said the facial recognition dispensers there were on trial, and if judged a success, would be placed in all the park’s toilet

Source: New York Times

Why It’s Hot

Somethings technology can go too far. I like the idea of getting creative and using technology to solve low-tech problems, but this seems to have gone too far for what it’s worth.

Mac Daddy

In 2015 McDonald’s put a bottle of their special sauce up for auction on eBay. It eventually sold for $15,000. Then in January of this year, to align with their promotion of new “choose your size” Big Mac options they gave away 10,000 bottles in stores and online, which again found their way online to sell for thousands of dollars. Now, this week McDonald’s announce it would be selling their Filet-O-Fish, Big Mac and McChicken sandwich sauces in Canadian grocery stories.

Start your barbecues. This spring, you can take home Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish and McChicken sauces along with your weekly groceries.

Why It’s Hot: 

  • In today’s world of omni-present branding, taking advantage of your best assets and using them in new and interesting (and profitable) ways can keep you top-of-mind to your audiences
  • Looking to eBay for audience affinities or gauging interest by introducing one-off products on the site is great for market testing
  •  This launch comes as a party of ongoing efforts from McDonald’s to recapture audiences as they have seen sales lag over the last few years. Other new-to-market initiatives include:
    • All day breakfast
    • Mobile ordering
    • 3-sized Big Macs

I sat on my cat because of VR

Virtual reality can whisk you away from your life, but it doesn’t make the things in your life actually vanish. And sometimes that might mean you’re going to sit on your cat.

Katie Goode, the creative director of developer Triangular Pixels, has built a kind of harness for her cat that uses one of HTC’s Vive VR trackers. The tracker is a tiny, crown-looking device that you can attach to a mug, a toy gun, or any other object you may wish to see while you’re inside virtual reality. In Goode’s case, she wanted to see when her cat decided to randomly take a nap in the middle of her room-scale VR space, and so she stitched together what looks like a tiny backpack for her pet.

The result is that anyone wearing the VR headset can now see when the animal comes into the room.

Why it’s hot?
-Wireless VR trackers enable unlimited possibilities as you can bring real life objects into your VR world.. Now you can add to that saving lives of pets and even children

-‘I sat on my cat’ is a very popular search phrase. I would like like to see how long it’ll take to ‘I sat on my cat because of VR’ to join that list

FarmDrive Helps Build Credit For Kenyan Farmers

How do you help build credit for farmers who have no traditional collateral that lenders look for?

More than three-quarters of the poorest live in rural areas and most are smallholder farmers working less than two acres. They often lack the seeds, machinery, livestock, and finance they need to grow, so they struggle to emerge from poverty

Two young entrepreneurs from Kenya have an idea to help: FarmDrive develops credit histories for farmers, so they become more attractive to financial institutions offering loans.

FarmDrive mostly works via SMS. Farmers put in information like seed and fertilizer expenses, their livestock, their revenues, plot dimensions, and personal details. Then FarmDrive combines that with data on weather, soil conditions, typical vegetation levels for that area, and so on. After a few weeks, farmers can start applying for a loan.


FarmDrive is one of several alternative credit scoring startups trying to widen access to finance in poorer countries. Others include Branch and Lenddo, which combine data on social media habits, cell phone usage, and even the quality of someone’s grammar to build a sense of credit risk.

FarmDrive is also a great example of why ethnography and design thinking are so important in solving problems. Much of the success of FarmDrive relies on understanding the mobile usage/behavior of the audience, communication patterns/skills, and access/usage of 3rd party services like weather apps and commodity pricing to fully understand how to assess risk.


Magic Calendar

Kosho Tsuboi, a Japanese product designer from Google’s Android Experiment program has designed a “Magic Calendar”. This physical calendar is made from similar technology as Kindle e-ink. The “Magic Calendar” syncs with a users’ smartphones and can combine multiple users’ calendars. Tsuboi believes users will be compelled by integrating their digital calendar with a physical product that mimics the hand-feel that we associate with touching paper.

Smart Calendar


Why it’s hot: As technology and design continue to evolve, analog and digital products will begin to interact on deeper and deeper levels. It is exciting to think of the ways in which an analog and digital product would interact and how that will impact how the user utilizes the product and the seamless integration into everyday lives.

Association of Medical Media- Agency Panel Recap

The Association of Medical Media hosts an agency panel every year. It is one of the associations more popular events as publishers submit their questions and ask agency representatives questions on industry trends, planning guidelines, digital metrics and buying methods. This year I was asked to be one of the agency panelists. I thought it would be of interest to share some of the Q & A.

  1. What is one thing you would like see from publishers that you’re not currently receiving? Pricing based on KPIs regardless of channel/tactic. For example if you are using a display banner price on vCPM for awareness and CPC/CPE for direct response.
  2. Can you discuss trends you are seeing the industry? Emphasis on POC opportunities, especially with the growing amount of HCPs who are no/low see. This is the space where patient and HCPs come together and can be very impactful for brands. DTC/HCP NPP has been very segmented in the past but this area provides an opportunity to deliver the most powerful messaging to reach both parties at the moment of diagnosis. The problem is that there are not many opportunities in this area. Right now NPP is limited to EHR and Waiting Room/Exam Room TV, and advanced geo-targeting.
  3. What is one of the biggest issues in determining performance? Attribution. Being able to tie the media to the prescription. Three is a lot left to be wanting in the pharma space.
  4. What do you recommend publishers do to provide better viewability? Site Optimizations like floating or sticky ads and working with a third party ad verification.
  5. Who should pay for ad verification- publishers or advertisers? This was a highly contentious question. However a panelist answered with a great analogy. If we go back  before the digital age and look at print advertising- a publication was bought because of the audience they said they could deliver to. Part of buying that ad space was the assurance that the ad would be delivered to your audience. You didn’t go with them to the post office and buy the stamps to make sure it was delivered to the entire mailing list. There was a level of assurance that the publication was reaching the audience they said they could reach. However, using this analogy a publisher mentioned, in terms of viewability, that you weren’t guaranteed that that audience would look at your ad, however you did pay for more premium placement. Aka you should pay more for a viewable ad impression.

Why it’s Hot?

It’s good to see the other point of view within the medical media industry, and discuss trends and points of view on industry topics. Hopefully this panel helped medical publishers to stay up to date on trends and deliver to agencies what we’re looking for in our partners. It also helped to establish open communication and share information on medical media.

Patagonia Launches Its First TV Ad To Protect A Region


Patagonia has had a long history of advocating for the environment. Beyond ‘greening’ their supply chain, the company also gets involved in external affairs, hoping to help save significant natural habitats from human destruction. Believing it is part of their moral obligation, Patagonia has partnered with Google to create an immersive VR series that advocates for the protection of Utah’s Bears Ears region.

The region is home to five Native American tribes and also is known for its rugged terrain that is perfect for climbing. Additionally, there are archaeological treasures that span back thousands of years. The significance of the area led President Barack Obama to declare it a national monument, protecting it from fossil fuel companies. Unfortunately, the Utah legislature requested that the ruling be rescinded in order to transfer this public land to private land so there can be more fossil fuel development.

As a response, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote an open letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, stating that, “Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.” Instead of pulling just a typical PR move, the company has also moved forward to create an amazing VR experience. These short films take anyone to the region to see the landscape for themselves, while telling the stories of tribes and athletes who value the space.

This Is Bears Ears National Monument is available for anyone to see and take action. The site encourages viewers to contact the Utah government to defend the Monument, providing an easy link to do so.

VR technology allows anyone to get a realistic glimpse of how the Bears Ears National Monument looks like and what it means for the people who occupy and visit the land. The brand has partnered with local communities, engaged in phone calls with the governor, and boycotted events to try to protect the territory. This VR film series is directed to galvanize the public to join the fight for the environment because even this large brand cannot change legislation alone.


  • Great use of Virtual Reality and storytelling to urge the public to take action to protect the environment. This type of technology puts the audience in the shoes of Bears Ear’s regions locals to understand the beauty and history of the region, compelling them to want to protect it!
  • Clear CTA for viewers to take action and contact the Utah government
  • Further reinforces Patagonia’s socially responsible brand positioning

Source: PSFK

AR comes to Archer

Floyd County Productions, the animation company behind Archer, will be releasing an augmented reality app alongside the release of Archer’s eighth season. The app uses the phone’s camera to pick up on certain images in the show (or real world objects such as billboards) to give users clues to a mystery in the app that is separate but related to the show. The goal was to give fans a way to explore more of the show’s world without disrupting the experience for casual viewers with no knowledge of the app. Users are rewarded with secret goodies, leading to a nice feedback loop to come back next episode.

The app grew out of mixed-media games and puzzles the Archer team has experimented before: in season 6, a hex code was hidden in an episode which, when decoded, sent users to a microsite to explore the psyche of one of its characters.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Uses tech to give fans a new way to interact with a TV show, an otherwise passive medium.
  • Nice evolution of other games and goodies Floyd County has experimented with before.

Wi-fi in Cars

Following Chevrolet’s lead, Jaguar Land Rover is the latest carmaker to offer an unlimited in-car data plan in the US. The AT&T prepaid data plan will cost $20/mo and allows up to eight devices to connect simultaneously to the in-car Wi-Fi network enabled by cellular hotspot.

Why it’s hot:

Expect this to become more popular as an offering among major automakers, since connections in vehicles is beneficial for both carmakers and drivers. If carmakers can get more car owners to stump up for a subscription fee, they can offset the costs of building in the tech and connecting to the vehicle. Increasingly, the important market opportunity for carmakers is data, too, and offering an in-car connection is one way to help encourage the flow of said information. Audible commands will begin to proliferate car conversations. 

Push-Button Beer Ordering? Miller Lite Gives It a Try

Miller Lite On-Demand

MillerCoors is giving lazy beer drinkers another excuse to stay put: The option to order beer with the touch of a button or a simple voice command.

The brewer and IPG Mediabrands today announced a new suite of connected home services called “Miller Lite On-Demand” that will allow consumers to stock their fridge using a voice-activated Amazon Alexa command, or by using a programmable button known as AWS IoT that is based on the Amazon Dash Button hardware. The delivery requests will be fulfilled within one hour by Drizly, an online alcohol ordering platform, according to the agency and brewer, which have partnered on an incubator program aimed at testing such technologies.

Drizly currently serves more than 40 cities, according to MillerCoors.

The Miller Lite beer button is only available to a preselected group of 500 Drizly customers, according to the announcement. Ordering via Alexa is open to owners of Alexa devices including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Tap. Device owners can enable the option by searching for “Miller Time” in the Alexa skills store. The ordering voice command is “start Miller Time.”


Why it’s hot: Miller Lite has utilized an emerging technology, Amazon Echo, to creatively market their products. Instead of looking to find new buyers, they turned to their loyalists who would consider purchasing a higher volume of Miller Lite if it was delivered to their door. It is also sure to create buzz around the brand in conversations online.

Chipotle- “What E.Coli”?

So we remember that whole E.Coli outbreak at Chipotle a few years back, yes? Chipotle is attempting to scrub up their brand by appealing to families. They are launching an unbranded series on iTunes, which aims to educate kids on where their food comes from. The series comes from the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba and guest stars include professional chefs (Amanda Freitag and Duff Goldman) and Top Chef winners (Michael Voltaggio). The series also features a number of musicians including Wayne Coyne, Biz Markie, Neon Trees, and Portugal. The Man. The series will also kick off a partnership with Discover Education to offer education online around health and science related to food.

Why It’s Hot

This is an example of a company creating content that doesn’t explicitly feel like a commercial. They are courting the YouTube generation, who are micro-influencers on their own. Working with the right kind of influencers can hopefully help to earn back some brand equity. That and lots and lots of hand washing.



Alexa, we have a problem

Google Home is about to offer a feature Amazon’s Alexa can’t match: finds from local stores.

Google Home

The new feature is powered by local inventory feeds sent by retailers that buy ads on Google. In the past year, local shopping queries have increased 45 percent and the search giant has doubled the number of retailers that send local inventory feeds.

With this new feature, Google is offering users something Amazon doesn’t — a way to find merchandise at your local store and try before you buy.

It’s all part of Google’s long-term strategy to develop products and services that use artificial intelligence to make it easier for people to interact with computers – that, in turn, will feed into Google’s ad-based business model.


Why It’s Hot
-It continues the local digital trend that’s grown over the past couple of years
-It’s also another interesting bridge between eCommerce and advertising – with a healthy mix of IoT thrown in

Our Next Item Up for Bid: Your Personal Data


The broadband privacy rules created by the FCC last year and vigorously debated last night are in grave danger after the Senate voted to repeal them this morning.

The rules, which forced internet service providers to get permission before selling your data, were overturned using the little-used Congressional Review Act (CRA). This is now being called “the single biggest step backwards in online privacy in many years” by those that spoke out against the repeal as well as the co-creator of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Sen. Ed Markey.

This is a big deal and a pretty bad idea for anyone even remotely concerned with privacy and limiting the already questionable practices of telecoms and ISPs.

Assuming that this resolution passes through the House, which seems likely at this point, your broadband and wireless internet service provider will have free reign to collect and sell personal data along to third parties. That information may include (but is not limited to) location, financial, healthcare and browsing data scraped from customers. As a result of the ruling, you can expect ISPs to begin collecting this data by default.

To play the devil’s advocate for a second, let’s assume there is some upside for companies in this deregulation: “You want the entrepreneurial spirit to thrive, but you have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want you in my living room.’ Yes, we’re capitalists, but we’re capitalists with a conscience.” states Sen Ed Markey. But with the wireless and cable industries both operating as powerful oligopolies, consumers will be left with zero protection against price-gouging, no advocate for net neutrality, and as today demonstrates, far less control over their own data.

The broadband privacy rule, among other things, expanded an existing rule by defining a few extra items as personal information, such as browsing history. This information joins medical records, credit card numbers and so on as information that your ISP is obligated to handle differently, asking if it can collect it and use it.

There is Nothing Hot about this.

You can see the utility of the rule right away; browsing records are very personal indeed, and ISPs are in a unique position to collect pretty much all of it if you’re not actively obscuring it. Facebook and Google see a lot, sure, but ISPs see a lot too, and a very different set of data.

Why should they be able to aggregate it and sell it without your permission? Perhaps to gain competitive advantage or profit or to cull other aggregators, in order to better target ads or build a profile of you. The FCC thought not, and proposed the rule, part of which was rescinded by the new FCC leadership before it even took effect. *Sigh*

If consumers continue to lose trust in the platforms we employ to market our brands and begin to widely question their safety, security and data usage, we are in big trouble. We’re already challenged by a litany of brand safety concerns – bots, fraud, hackers, malware, viewability –  and solutions aimed to mitigate yet limit marketing effectiveness (ex. ad blocking) continue to gain momentum. While some of this is good digital evolution (flashback to needing a pop-up blocker just to endure an average online session), the lack of consumer trust quickly erodes to lack of brand trust and soon those left behind willingly (or unknowingly) allowing their data to be sold on the open market might not be the ones worth reaching.

ISPs can now sell your browsing history without permission, thanks to the Senate

Senate votes to allow ISPs to collect personal data without permission

‘Tis the Season

Budweiser teamed up with locals artists to create MLB custom designed cans per team and its awesome! Budweiser has done similar things to keep their consumers loyal and attract new ones, such as the America cans launched last summer, but this definitely more of a commitment as far as production.


Budlight partnered with the NFL to slightly customize their bottles that reference certain NFL teams, another great example of understanding your market and who is drinking your product.

Budweiser has been really successful in advertising to their consumer. Their 2015 Superbowl commercial “Brewed the hard way” made statements like “proud marco beer”, “not brewed to be fussed over”, “the people who drink our beer are people who like to drink beer”.


Drones, Drones Everywhere.

While not launching until May 2018, the IndieGogo-funded underwater drone from iBubble has reached the latest phase in its working prototypes, called “Beluga.”

Why It Is Hot?

A. This is yet another testament to the power and longevity of a well-pitched crowd-funded innovation. Even in prototype, iBubble has landed distributors worldwide.
B. When Global Warming melts the Polar Ice Caps, it’s nice to know we’ll still be able to watch each other (and have our packages delivered) by underwater drone.

We All Could Benefit From The Japanese Practice of Forest Bathing

The Japanese practice of forest bathing or is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.

From 2004 to 2012, Japanese officials spent about $4 million dollars studying the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing, designating 48 therapy trails based on the results. Forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes.

Forest bathing works easily: Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.


It’s only recently in human history that we stopped being outside, spending 80% of our time in doors and most of our time in 2D environments. With the onslaught of more screens, AI, virtual reality et al – Its more important than ever for us to understand how our environments effect us, and what we need to not only be happy, but what we need to unlock creativity, empathy, self love, and healing.

More from the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/09/14/how-tech-workers-are-turning-to-the-japanese-practice-of-forest-bathing-to-break-their-smartphone-habits/?utm_term=.c91df83b644d

FOMO by Design

Snapchat: The messaging app worth over 20 billion dollars that “hijacks” our minds and changes the way we talk to one another. WNYC’s podcast, “Note to Self” recently featured the app in a conversation about compulsive user behavior and how apps like Snapchat exploit these behaviors, for better or worse.

Why it’s hot: For us as strategists, the podcast scratches the surface of what’s made Snapchat so very sticky – its deft exploitation of our innate fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s not a platform obsessed with followers, likes or favorites, because only the content creator can see who viewed their snaps. It’s all about making content that lacks permanence – once you miss it, it’s gone, forever. This is a learning we can apply to all content, platform agnostic. Content must be experiential, not merely informative or entertaining. The meaning is in being “part” of it. If you weren’t there, you missed that connection.

In the bigger picture, there are emerging thought leaders in Silicon Valley who are continuing to question and build a case for considering ethics when it comes to how digital experiences are designed.The podcast juxtaposes commentary like this quote from Netflix’s CEO – “Our biggest competitors are Facebook, YouTube, and sleep” – with the need for some form of ethical standard bearers in the industry to keep a watchful eye on how apps and content tap into and take advantage of human vulnerability, considering how far is too far. This hints at what the future of social platforms may look like, as “design ethics” proponents wonder how much we’d pay for a version of Facebook built entirely around helping us spend our time well – by our own definition – vs. simply passing that time with distractions.

Dr. AI Helps Patients Gain Access to Clinical Expertise About Their Condition

According to an article from Access AI, HealthTap is introducing an artificial intelligence engine to triage cases automatically. Doctor A.I., is a personal AI-powered physician that provides patient with doctor recommended insights.

More than a billion people search the web for health information each year, with approximately 10 billion symptom related searches on Google alone. While many resources provide useful information, web search results can only provide content semantically related to symptoms. The new function from HealthTap aims to incorporate context and clinical expertise of doctors who have helped triage hundreds of millions of patients worldwide to provide the most effective course of treatment. Dr.A.I. uses HealthTap’s Health Operating System to analyse user’s current symptoms and cross checks this with the data provided from the personal health record they have created. Based on solutions that it has uncovered from its data, Dr.A.I. will tailor pathways ranging from suggesting the patient reads relevant doctor insights and content, to connecting the patient with a doctor for a live virtual consult, or from scheduling an in-person office visit with the right specialist, all the way to directing the patient to more urgent care, based on the patient’s symptoms and characteristics.

Why It’s Hot

At first glance, the apps looks like WebMD. Patients input their symptoms using a visual interface and the app spits back a diagnosis. Where this app differs though in the level of personalized recommendations that follow the diagnosis.

Through our SENSE and Journey Mapping work across our pharma clients, we know that patients are consulting Dr. Google both before and after they are diagnosed with a condition and prescribed a treatment where they are exposed to virtually limitless information about the condition and drug they’ve been prescribed from all kinds of sources, whether they have clinical expertise or not. In some severe cases, this can even stop patients from filling that prescription and taking the drug do to fear of side effects, intimating costs of the drug/lack of coverage, anxiety around administering the drug and on top of all that, apprehension that this is the correct treatment for them. Dr. AI has the potential circumvent a lot of that behavior by providing clinical expertise about the condition using the same deductive approach as HCP’s in a patient-focused interface.

Self-driving cars: Programmed to kill?

Early data shows us that self-driving cars are safe because:

  • They don’t get drunk
  • They don’t text while driving
  • They don’t get road rage

Nevertheless, there are ethical implications around self-driving cars that have yet to be resolved. Consider this: if the car is programmed to kill the driver in circumstances where it is required to save many more lives, is the general public ready to entrust these decisions to programmer?







Why it’s Hot
While the technology has thus far garnered all of the focus of self-driving cars, there are serious ethical decisions that are not as easy to solve via code or engineering. Ultimately, the most important decisions still must be made by humans.

‘Family Link’ app gives kids their own child-safe Google accounts

Today Google announced the launch of Family Link, an application for parents to keep tabs on what their kids are doing on their devices, especially for those younger than 13. Family Link requires that both parent and child use Google’s Android phones and tablets. The parent will first download the Family Link mobile app to their own device so a Family Group is created on Google, which establishes the parent as the group manager. Then the parent will set up the child’s Google account and when your child signs onto the new phone the first time, the Family Link app will automatically install to complete the setup.
Think of Family Link like parental controls plus monitoring. The app allows parents to do the following:
• Track kids’ location.
• Require permission for new app installation and see which apps kids have installed.
• Put kids’ phones to sleep when it’s time for dinner, homework or bed.
• Set a “bedtime” and sleeping hours during which devices can’t be used.
• Identify which apps are your kids’ favorites. At any time, a parent can see just how much time they have been spending in various apps. And what they have used in the last 7 and 30 days.
• By default, mature and adult-only apps are blocked inside Google Play so your child can’t even see them though parents can alter the settings to be more or less permissive.
• Set a new unlock code if kids forget their own.
• Ring the phone’s ringer to find lost devices.
• Set which apps get access to the camera or microphone.
Parents cannot see things like which websites their kids visited or who they sent messages to or e-books they read. Kids can also find out exactly what parents see, because they have the app, too. “We don’t want kids thinking Google has built spyware,” said Saurabh Sharma, Family Link’s product manager. “That’s where transparency comes in.”
The app is in a limited testing phase for now and Google is open to having testers try it out and provide feedback. Google hopes to make the feature available in the US in early summer and later this year in other countries as they navigates local laws. An iOS version is not yet available, but it is in the works.

Why It’s Hot
56 percent of kids in the US aged 8 to 12 have mobile phones. Family Link addresses the trend of kids accessing the internet at younger and younger ages. Google allows parents to deselect apps they don’t want their kids to use. Android Pay and YouTube are off limits for all kid accounts (though YouTube Kids is available). Every family is different as far as rules around screen time go, so Family Link takes this into account. Google lets you set a different limit for each day of the week, and you can also set a specific Bedtime period, where the device automatically locks up at a certain time of night. Of course, no tool is going to substitute for the guidance, understanding and rules parents will put in place for their own kids. Family Link opens up the conversations between parent sand their children regarding smartphone and online behavior.

The Man Who Fell on Earth Falls on Earth

UK’s Royal Mail has launched a set of special stamps into the sky featuring images of David Bowie’s best-loved albums in homage to the late singer.

52 sets of stamps were attached to helium balloons with cameras and set free. When the balloons burst, after reaching 34,100m at a speed of about 12mph, the stamps began descending at nearly 200mph.

To hype the launch of the new stamps, Royal Post is offering the public an opportunity to win some of the space-traveled stamps. They’ve set up a landing page where users can guess where the stamps ended up after their intergalactic travels and enter a drawing.

They are also activating users to interact with Facebook and Twitter by offering clues on the social media networks.

Why it’s Hot: 

  1. Makes stamps exciting again
  2. Bowie fans are obsessive and everything about the campaign has significance. A nod to Bowie’s role in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell on Earth, the stamps sent to space were postmarked with a special edition thunderbolt for the cover of Aladdin Dane, each stamp features a different album cover
  3. The well-executed marketing stunt launched (no pun intended) on Tuesday and was covered and featured all over the web (mashable, the guardian, gizmodo) the same day.