Facebook Watch isn’t doing so well, so they’re expanding it

It’s still too early to say whether Facebook’s video play Watch will actually become a success. Early reports have indicated that Watch is not gaining significant traction, and this week, Facebook has released its own usage data, which highlights both the potential and challenges ahead for the platform.

“Three months since our global launch, there are already more than 400 million people monthly and 75 million people daily who spend at least one minute on Watch — and on average, these 75 million daily visitors spend more than 20 minutes in Watch. We’re seeing that people are regularly coming back to catch up on the videos they care about and watching for longer periods of time.”

400 million people per month equates to around 17.6% of Facebook’s MAU count, so less than a quarter of Facebook users are checking into Watch at all, at any time. Now, that probably isn’t so important to Watch publishers if they’re seeing significant view counts – if you’re getting 100 million dedicated viewers per month, that’s a pretty good result.

But in all likelihood, publishers aren’t seeing that. When you break down the next set of stats, Facebook notes that 75 million people daily are spending at least one minute on Watch. That’s not a very high retention rate – “at least a minute”? Facebook then says that, on average, those 75 million spend more than 20 minutes in Watch – but that average is clearly skewed by a much smaller percentage watching a lot – otherwise, why would Facebook report that ‘one minute’ view time stat at all?

Essentially, Facebook’s latest figures show growth, but highlight the significant barriers to entry Facebook has to scale in order to challenge Netflix (130m subscribers spending more than an hour per day viewing, on average), YouTube (1.8b MAU) and other video on demand players.

But Facebook is pushing ahead – The Social Network has also announced that it’s expanding Watch availability to desktop and to Facebook Lite, while it’s also making ad breaks available to eligible Pages in 40 countries around the world, boosting monetization potential.

In addition, Facebook has greenlit second seasons for four of it’s most popular programs – ‘Five Points’, ‘Huda Boss’, ‘Sacred Lies’ and ‘Sorry For Your Loss’.

why it’s hot

Facebook Watch has potential – and you would think that piggy-backing on the most used online platform in the world would definitely be a big advantage. But it’s also still got a way to go – and that advantage hasn’t proven significant, at least not yet

Postmates’ Food Delivery Robot

Postmates has introduced Los Angeles to Serve, a robot that will deliver food. Serve, which looks like a cooler on wheels with digital eyes, moves at walking speed and can carry up to 50lbs of food. In one charge, it can cover 30 miles.

Customers will be able to order food via the Postmates app, and then will receive a code to unlock the robot to retrieve their food when it arrives. They can also alert Postmates of any issues by interacting with Serve’s digital touch screen.

Serve is outfitted with lidar sensors to ensure it avoids obstacles, and uses a turn signal light to indicate to passersby that it is changing directions.

Postmastes calls Serve a socially aware navigation system, saying, “Serve’s personality is all about understanding people. Nothing about Serve’s intelligence is artificial.” In their announcement about their newest team member, they note that they are trying to be more city-friendly, as they will no longer be contributing to heavy street traffic.

Why It’s Hot

Postmastes has come up with a smart solution to enhance their delivery service while being environmentally conscious.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/612605/postmates-has-launched-a-delivery-robot-that-will-bring-lunch-to-your-door/

this year in search…

If you’ve never seen Google’s annual year in review, let that end now.

There isn’t much to say about this video that it doesn’t say for itself, but each year, Google analyzes what terms spiked that year vs. the previous year, and compiles all the moments/people/content/etc. related to those things into two minutes that help us reflect on the 12 months we just experienced.

This year, Google trends determined that people searched for “good” more than anything else.

Why It’s Hot:

From a human standpoint, it’s an important reminder that in a year with many downs, it was the ups we sought out most. But from a marketing standpoint, it’s a great example of transforming data into emotional storytelling. Data isn’t just numbers, it’s a story waiting to be told.

 

“Electric” bandages that heal wounds quicker

Researchers have known for several decades that electricity can be beneficial for skin healing. Some engineers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison developed a device that’s convenient in the form of a bandage that goes on people’s skin. It stimulates healing using electricity generated from the body’s natural motions.

The device can reduce healing times to three days compared to nearly two weeks for the normal healing process.

Why it’s hot: This device could potentially improve the quality of life for people that suffer from acute and chronic wounds.

Source

Getting Travelers In & Out of the Airport as Quickly as Possible

Hertz announced that it will team up with biometric kiosk maker Clear to cut down on the painstaking amount of time it takes to pick up a rental car. Hertz and Clear are calling the test program “Fast Lane” and launching at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

With the addition of Clear, members will be able to drive cars right off the lot by showing their faces to one of the facial-recognition kiosks upon exit. Hertz claims that the process will take about 30 seconds to complete, an estimate 75% faster than it takes now. The Clear cameras are said the be able to take measurements and identify minute differences in facial features.

Clear is most known for getting members through airport security more quickly but the company is beginning to broaden their horizons to other forms of travel. They are currently teaming with Seattle sports stadiums to utilize state-of-the-art biometric payment method for concessions. If “Fast Lane” takes off, Hertz and Clear plan to expand to over 40 additional locations, including LAX, JFK, and SFO by next year.

Why it’s hot: This is the first time Clear will be identifying members based on facial recognition rather than their iris or fingerprints and could influence an entire new way to pay, check in, and validate your identity in various settings.

Source: https://apnews.com/0853260708a64136b983eadbfef694b7

Christmas Advertising: The I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying Edition

John Lewis & Partners Christmas advertisement is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated annual ad campaign. And for good reason. Year after year, the retailer launches beautifully crafted stories that tug at the heartstrings of millions about the beauty of the season. And every year, those who follow the ads wonder how they will make a better ad next year. But they do.

Titled, The Boy & The Piano, the ad tells the true story of how a Christmas gift – a piano belonging to Elton’s grandmother – went on to inspire the music icon’s life, working backwards chronologically from the present day to the moment he received the present from his mum as a young child.

As the ad highlights Elton’s proudest career moments, his most famous tune ‘Your Song’ provides the soundtrack to the 2-minute-and-20-second film.

Why It’s Hot

Simply put, it’s pitch-perfect storytelling.

Accenture Among Final Bidders to Acquire MDC Partners Network

Accenture is reportedly among a small group of bidders seeking to acquire MDC Partners. Agencies under MDC include Anomaly, 72andSunny, Assembly, and CP+B. There’s been a lot of speculation around MDC and its potential moves including selling itself, in whole or in part, to an outside investor. Included in the rumors are Deloitte and Bain Capital amongst others.

Some agencies within MDC have been trying to buy themselves out, but their offers have been getting rejected by MDC’s board of directors, which supports the theory that a buyout is likely.

With over $1 billion in debt and struggling to find ways to grow cash flows, MDC has limited options. If Accenture, or another consulting company, ends up acquiring MDC, it will be interesting to see what steps it takes to deal with the debt and restructure the company and agencies to optimize it for the future.

Why It’s Hot: With all acquisitions by consulting firms to enter the advertising and marketing space, it will be interesting to see how they deal with a holding company. The agencies they’d divest from the portfolio and the way they’d use the remaining agencies would be a good look at how they perceive the future of advertising and marketing.

Lyft Cares for the Commuter

“When New York City’s L train shuts down for maintenance for 15 months from April 2019, an estimated 275,000 daily subway riders will need alternative means of transportation.”

To show solidarity with those affected, Lyft is dropping the letter L from its logo and marketing materials as part of an OOH campaign called Something’s Missing.

Lyft has also created a website, yftpan, offering commuters advice and outlining the brand’s efforts to alleviate the inconvenience.

 

Why It’s Hot

Lyft’s campaign is an example of a business stepping in to fill a void left by a government or municipal institution in a non-partisan manner. The looming L train closure and resulting disruption will negatively impact thousands of New Yorkers. But this creates an opportunity for Lyft to demonstrate that it is a force for good amid the chaos.

How the Redesigned Duolingo Mascot Triggers User Behavior (and memes)

The developers at Duolingo know that when people stop using the app, it’s not because they’ve signed up for a language class and are learning elsewhere – it’s because they have stopped learning altogether. To protect against the high risk of distraction when it comes to using a mobile app, they have taken a creative strategy for staving off churn – sending emails of their adorable (and newly designed) mascot Duo the owl, crying in a pool of tears in your inbox and begging you to come back to your lessons. You won’t want to disappoint Duo.

And it’s more than just the emails where Duo shines. “The developers at Duolingo know this email campaign works, because they’ve A/B tested several iterations of the crying owl, down to how many teardrops he sheds. Today, the company is launching its biggest redesign in five years, and Duo is at the forefront. Now the owl’s illustration has been simplified to make it easier to animate, and he’s been given a wide array of expressive emotions in hopes that users will become more attached to the mascot. He’ll even cry animated tears in your inbox now. “It’s so sad and pathetic :(,” a Duolingo spokesperson told me.”

WHY IT’S HOT:

It’s more than an improved illustration or app reskin – it’s an entire approach to user behavior. As the app’s Mascot has developed, so has the overall design of the game itself and the tactics it uses to keep users engaged and learning. The subtle use of psychological triggers and gamification establishes an emotional connection with an otherwise innocuous mascot (most games have a mascot that players forge an emotional connection with; think: Mario – who emotes and responds to your progress and performance) and nudges and other tactics (e.g. Hot streaks) keep users incentivized to continue learning.

 

And so far their strategy seems to be working – the Duolingo bird has had a “profound effect” on people. Yes, there have been successful metrics reported back on app engagement, and the bird has also become a meme in its own right. “People have Photoshopped exaggerated e-mail blasts that could be mistaken for real ones, and the app has even been parodied in a Clickhole article titled, “Duolingo Is Reporting Any User Who Goes 10 Minutes Without Opening The Duolingo App As A Missing Person.”

^ one of the parody emails

SOURCE: https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/13/18137843/duolingo-owl-redesign-language-learning-app

Podcast analytics just got RAD

Today, NPR announced RAD, a new, open-sourced podcast analytics technology that was developed in partnership with nearly 30 companies from the podcasting industry. The technology aims to help publishers collect more comprehensive and standardized listening metrics from across platforms.

Specifically, the technology gives publishers — and therefore their advertisers, as well — access to a wide range of listener metrics, including downloads, starts and stops, completed ad or credit listens, partial ad or credit listens, ad or credit skips and content quartiles.

However, the technology stops short of offering detailed user profiles, and cannot be used to re-target or track listeners, the site notes. It’s still anonymized, aggregated statistics.

It’s worth pointing out that RAD is not the first time podcasters have been able to track engagement. Major platforms, including Apple Podcast Anlytics., today offer granular and anonymized data, including listens.

Why It’s Hot: 

This isn’t your average tracking platform. It’s open-source and connects anonymized data that cannot be used to track and re-target listeners, while providing a tracking mechanism everyone can use. RAD helps creators and advertisers know which part listeners actually hear to improve the listener experience.

Source:

Podcast industry aims to better track listeners through new analytics tech called RAD

 

Powering customer journeys in the age of AI

 

Double exposure of Engineer or Technician man with business industrial tool icons, enguneer using tablet with industrial business concept. Industry 4.0 conceptAI is at the top of every executive’s to do list embarking on a digital transformation, however CIO’s are still trying to figure out how to maximize the full strength of artificial intelligence. Most companies don’t have a full understanding around the complexities of AI and therefore don’t have the right strategy in place to execute relevant and purposeful interactions with customers.

“So, how do businesses go about unlocking these information systems to make AI a reality? The answer is an API strategy. With the ability to securely share data across systems regardless of format or source, APIs become the nervous system of the enterprise. As a result of making appropriate API calls, applications that interact with AI models can now take actionable steps, based on the insights provided by the AI system — or the brain”

The key to building a successful AI-based platform is to invest in delivering consistent APIs that are easily discoverable and consumable by developers across the organization. Fortunately, with the emergence of API marketplaces, software developers don’t have to break a sweat to create everything from scratch. Instead, they can discover and reuse the work done by others internally and externally to accelerate development work.

Additionally, APIs help train the AI system by enabling access to the right information. APIs also provide the ability for AI systems to act across the entire customer journey by enabling a communication channel — the nervous system — with the broader application landscape. By calling appropriate APIs, developers can act on insights provided by the AI system. For example, Alexa or Siri cannot place an order for a customer directly in the back-end ERP system without a bridge. An API can serve as that bridge, as well as be reused for other application interactions to that ERP system down the road.

At their core, APIs are developed to play a specific role — unlocking data from legacy systems, composing data into processes or delivering an experience. By unlocking data that exists in siloed systems, businesses end up democratizing the availability of data across the enterprise. Developers can then choose information sources to train the AI models and connect the AI systems into the enterprise’s broader application network to take action.

Why it’s Hot?

If we can help our clients develop customer strategies in tandem with a strong data and API strategy then we’ll be able to deploy 1:1 interactions with customers like the example below.

“Businesses haven’t truly realized the full potential of AI systems at a strategic level, where they are building adaptive platforms that truly create differentiated value for their customers. Most organizations are leveraging AI to analyze large volumes of data and generate insights on customer engagement, though it’s not strategic enough. Strategic value can be realized when these AI systems are plugged into the enterprise’s wider application network to drive personalized, 1:1 customer journeys. With an API strategy in place, businesses can start to realize the full potential AI has to offer.”

 

 

 

‘Tis the Season for Cute Christmas Spots: Lonely Hedgehog Finds a Squad

It’s unclear what the connection to banking is, but the cuteness cannot be denied.

Via AdAge:

German banking group Erste worked with animators at Passion Pictures to bring to life adorable woodland creatures in this heart-tugging Christmas ad.

It’ tells the sad tale of a hedgehog who’s ostracized because of his spikes — nobody wants to sit next to him on the bus, play with him or even kick a football around as they always get in the way. Eventually, the other animals come up with an ingenious solution (although we’re not quite sure if it’s environmentally sound) and he finally gets to feel some holiday love.

Passion directors Kyra & Constantin worked with Jung von Matt/Donau on the film, bringing a tactile and “fuzzy” feel to the CGI characters.

While it’s doesn’t seem to have much to do with banking, it’s a charming story, and the tagline “believe in yourself” is one that everyone can appreciate at this time of year.

Source: AdAge

Why Its Hot: A good spot is a good spot.  Sometimes brands may not think their brand lends itself to emotional storytelling, but a good idea will draw people in introduce new people into the conversation. I think this spot will have a lot of people asking, “What is Erste?” this holiday season.

 

Burger King Trolls McDonalds, Gets 1 Million App Downloads.

The Art of the Troll. #Petty

Burger King got national attention this week for offering 1-cent Whoppers to those who drove up to a McDonald’s location (and then, presumably, drove away to redeem their BK coupons). Key to the stunt was the brand’s smartphone app, which unlocked the offer when it detected users approaching within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.

The “Whopper Detour” sent customers to a rival’s doorstep, and it worked, in terms of both publicity and app downloads.

Burger King today said its app was downloaded more than 1 million times since Whopper Detour launched on Tuesday, and the app is currently No. 1 among free software in the Apple App Store. That puts Burger King’s app, for now at least, above app giants like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon.

(The McDonald’s app, in case you’re curious, is currently at No. 42.)

Why It’s Hot:

Brands trolling other brands has become a sure fire way to go viral, this uses brand trolling in conjunction with location based apps to drive people to a competitor and it worked to drive sales and app downloads.

 

Source: AdWeek https://www.adweek.com/creativity/after-trolling-mcdonalds-burger-kings-app-was-downloaded-1-million-times-and-hit-no-1/ 

The new home security outfit: Drones

The home security industry is about to be disrupted by drones. Startup Sunflower Labs has developed a personal home surveillance drone aimed at a med- to low- density target market (think: Suburban America). The idea is that with a drone monitoring your property 24/7 will serve as more of a deterrent to potential threats/intruders/etc than a traditional home security system that has no real deterrent function.

Here’s how it works, from The Verge: “Part of the Sunflower system involves the Sunflowers, the small, roughly 1.5-meter bulbs filled with sensors that are disguised as garden lights. “The sensors can detect people, pets, and cars. Vibration sensors detect footsteps, car engines… even if you’re running a coffee maker.” The Sunflowers are placed around the home to help create a map and triangulate people and other objects within the space. But the real draw of the Sunflower system is the drone that flies itself. The drone is called the Bee, and its base station is called the Hive.”

WHY IT’S HOT:

Sunflower Labs represents a new type of drone company – they specialize less in the physical hardware or camera technology, and have more of a focus on the application of the technology.  They are exploring the possibilities of what this technology provides to a consumer to solve for a specific need. As they develop both consumer and commercial business models (they already have investment from Stanley Black & Decker) Sunflower is “taking advantage of the fast-maturing drone market to sell the promise of aerial video surveillance to both the home consumer and the security industry at large.”

SOURCE: https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/18129308/sunflower-labs-system-drone-surveillance-bee-hive-home-security-startup

 

Know how Organic, Non-GMO, Sustainable Your Tech Is

Much like we look for labels to help guide our food choices, we will now be able to know how much data your connected device is sharing. How are you supposed to know which smart lightbulb you can trust?

Enter the Trustable Technology Mark. It’s like being certified organic, but for the Internet of Things. Supported by the Mozilla Foundation, NYU Law, the University of Dundee, and other institutions, the trustmark–a phrase for a logo that signifies a certification of some kind–aims to recognize companies building connected devices that have stellar data and privacy practices, are transparent and secure, and have some guarantee of longevity.

In a world awash with sketchy technology that doesn’t communicate how personal data is being used, the Trustable Tech Mark is a way to give kudos to companies that are actually operating responsibly. Right now, there’s no way for consumers to know which products won’t put their data at risk–nor for companies to prove that they’re trustworthy.

Why Its Hot: Visibility into tech could perhaps hasten adoption amongst the last tech holdouts.

Source: FastCo

Facebook Testing Ability to Let Users Block Certain Words

Facebook looks to be testing a new option that would give users more control over the content which appears, or can appear, on their personal profiles, with a new keyword blocking feature that would eliminate comments which include specific terms from your stream.

Spotted by Facebook code hacker Jane Manchun Wong, who regularly discovers upcoming social network additions, the new option, as you can see here, would enable users to choose whatever keyword/s they didn’t want to appear within the comment streams on their personal posts. Those comments would still be visible to the poster and their connections, but not to anyone outside of that, which is similar to how comment hiding works.

The option is much the same as personal comment filtering tools available on both Instagram and Twitter and would help to provide an extra level of reassurance to those who are having trouble with trolls and/or harassment – or who simply don’t want to see particular comments.

Already on Facebook, Page admins can block chosen keywords from appearing in post comments, while you can also mute certain keywords for a selected period of time to avoid seeing any updates about a chosen topic.

Facebook hasn’t officially announced this new feature as yet, but as noted, Wong regularly uncovers new additions well ahead of launch time.

3 Online Holiday Shopping Predictions

Online Holiday Shopping Will Hit New Heights
Consumers will spend $124.1 billion online this holiday season in the U.S., which accounts for nearly $1 of $6 spent shopping overall during the November-December period, ADI forecasts. That’s 14.8% YoY growth.

Mobile Will Be Key In Influencing And Driving Holiday Revenue  
Fifty-seven percent of retail visits will come from mobile devices (tablets and smartphones), accounting for 37% of total online purchases, ADI predicts. Indeed, Schreiner said, “commerce has moved beyond any storefront and into the hands of consumers.”

Drilling down, ADI predicts nearly half (48%) of all visits to retail websites will come from smartphones. And 27% of all online revenue will come from those smartphone visits. Tablets are on the decline, and will account for 9% and 10%, respectively.

The Hottest Products Will Go Fast
Just 1% of product SKUs will drive 70% of online holiday sales, according to ADI. For comparison purposes, 1% of product SKUs typically drive 54% of online sales on an average day.

Spending Green

Swedish fintech startup Doconomy launched the first of these tools: DO, a credit card that tracks the carbon footprint of everything you buy, with a goal to “future-proof planet earth.”

Each purchase’s environmental impact is logged in the DO app. It includes in terms of how much CO2 and how much cash you should donate to charities to counteract the damage. By that it means it will provide people with the tools they need to make eco-friendly choices as easily as possible.

Why it’s hot

Doconomy removes the need for consumers to rely on brands’ sustainability claims. Instead an algorithm will assess their purchases and the user can decide whether they want to repeat them – becoming more aware and knowledgeable in the process.

Teach safety from disaster

Volkswagen in Australia created fake videos of pranks and stunts going wrong and participants only narrowly missing disastrous injuries as part of a campaign to highlight its cars’ safety features.

In one film, someone sits inside a tyre tube and rolls down a hill, towards a road. The hapless joker looks set to hit an oncoming vehicle but miraculously the car (a VW Polo) brakes in time and calamity is avoided.

The unbranded film was viewed more than 38 million times as well as being featured on US TV show Right This Minute, which airs viral videos.

Volkswagen later posted to its social channels a video revealing that the original film was a hoax to promote the Polo’s emergency city brake feature.

Other films in the Unfail series show a virtual reality demonstration going wrong and a freak water-slide accident.

Why its hot?
Using the psychology of fail videos to promote safety features.
Since, only 4% of young people care about safety and 68% people of general have no idea about safety features of their car, VW tricked people into watching its content through fail videos

 

Light Up Dr. Bear

Despite Children’s Hospital renowned success, they still struggle to bring in donations year after year. So this year, they turned to creative partner SmithGifford to help solve this problem of donor fatigue.

The solution? Light-up bears (the unofficial mascot of Children’s National) are placed strategically around the city where by a simple text donation, anyone can donate $10. The delight is that your texted donation lights up both the bear in front of you and a bear in the room of a child staying at Children’s, completing that necessary feedback element of knowing the impact of a donation.

Why It’s Hot

Rather than tugging at the heart strings (solely) the way many giving campaigns do, this one gives both the donor and patients feedback as the donations are happening. Plus, wouldn’t you pay a small price to see the Dr. Bear light up and know you gave to a worthy cause?

A demographic snapshot of Post-Millennials or Gen Z

New data from the Pew Research Center gives us a demographic breakdown of the newest generation many marketers will be targeting, if they’re not currently targeting them.

The oldest members of this generation have already reached adulthood.

The generations defined

Nearly half of them are non-white, they’re more likely to attend college than previous generations, and their own parents are more likely to be college educated than previous generations as well.

Nearly half of post-Millennials are racial or ethnic minorities

They’re significantly more likely to be Hispanic than previous generations, slightly more Asian, and noticeably less likely to be white.

One-in-four post-Millennials are Hispanic

They’re more likely to have foreign-born parents than millennials are, but slightly less likely to be foreign-born than millennials were in 2002.

Post-Millennials, especially Hispanics, are less likely than Millennials to be foreign born

Why It’s Hot: Gen Zs are a unique generation like any other and understanding them demographically and psychographically will be important as more marketers begin to target them.

Source: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/

A Smart Restaurant

Haidilao, China’s biggest hotpot chain, partnered with Panasonic and equipped a restaurant in Beijing with a fully robot-run kitchen. That means no humans are involved in the food preparation process.

The location has an automated cold room where robots prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh vegetables according to the orders placed by customers through an iPad at each table.

The soup base is also prepared by robots with machine-like precision that caters to individual tastes and specific requirements based on special combination of spices, various oil and key ingredients. Each individual combination is automatically documented and uploaded into the cloud.

Why it’s hot: These robots reduce wait time, adds consistency and increases the level of food hygiene.

Source

Voice Fraud Prevention

Voice is becoming a major interface for consumers to communicate with machines, fueled by the rise of artificial intelligence and the explosion of new voice assistant devices in the space. As a result, a new area of opportunity has emerged for malicious hackers in the area of voice fraud. A security startup called Pindrop is building software to protect our vocal identities. Security Magazine asserts that the rate of voice fraud grew 350% from 2013 to 2017 with no signs of slowing. Voice fraud increased by 47% between 2016 and 2017 alone. As we continue to use phones and voice assistants to do more complex tasks (disable home security systems, open a new credit card), hackers have more opportunities to infiltrate our private info.

Pindrop just raised a $90M Series D to develop voice “fingerprinting” tech that analyzes “1,400 acoustic attributes” to verify a call or a voice command. This platform claims to be able to  identify even the most sophisticated impersonations and hacking attempts. Not only is this going to keep kids from ordering toys and candy from their parents’ Alexas, but more importantly, it will stop hackers from order stuff on Amazon or even commanding your smart home to unlock your front door. The funding is going to help Pindrop expand from customer service scenarios — the vast majority of its business today — into any applications that use voice interfaces; connected car platforms, home security devices, smart offices and smart home speakers. Pindrop works with call centers in eight of the top ten US banks to identify phone scams using unique audio characteristics and signifiers like type of device, carrier, and location to identify repeat callers and repeat scammers.

Why it’s hot: This type of ‘trend adjacent’ technology will ultimately allow us to use our voices instead of passwords and fingerprints (or having to remember your first pet’s name or favorite high school teacher security questions).

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/05/pindrop-raises-90m-to-bring-its-voice-fraud-prevention-to-iot-devices-and-europe/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosprorata&stream=top

 

Drink beer while you pee in a hotel shower

A Scottish brewery named Brewdog has opened a hotel on their premises. The hotel is called The Doghouse and a location just opened in Columbus, OH.

Check it out on their website here.

Why It’s Hot

If you spend a few days a week morning drinking then it’s probably your dream come true. For most of us it’s an interesting experiment hospitality marketing.

Finding the space for brands in the world of voice

HBO has created applications — known as “skills” on the Amazon Echo devices — to promote its shows and characters. This year, it introduced Westworld: The Maze, a choose-your-own-adventure-style game for superfans of “Westworld.” (A dramatic trailer for the game ends with a narrator intoning, “Alexa — open Westworld.”) More recently, it introduced a skill starring characters from its new show from Sesame Workshop, “Esme & Roy,” in which children can use the speaker to answer questions and play along. Both games can be played without the aid of screens.

Unilever has created a recipes skill under its Hellmann’s label, while Procter & Gamble has introduced features from Tide and Oral-B. Those using the Tide application can ask Alexa how to remove juice or grass stains from clothing, while Oral-B’s offers a tooth-brushing timer.

On Google Home, where the term “skills” is replaced by “actions,” Estée Lauder has one for personalized beauty advice and Disney has some games for children.

Marketers have been rushing to figure out where their brands fit in a world populated by voice assistants and smart speakers. While questions remain about privacy and security, data from Comscore in October showed that more than 20 million homes in the United States, or 22 percent of those with Wi-Fi, use the devices. By 2022, more than half of American homes will have a smart speaker, according to Juniper Research.

“We feel like this voice-based interaction is not going away,” Ms. Caluori said. “It’s starting with speakers, but it’ll very quickly be TVs and cars and all these other places.”

The “Esme & Roy” skill, which was created with Sesame Workshop, showed the potential for smart speakers with children and their parents. Amazon has been seeking child-friendly voice applications, particularly now that it sells an Echo device meant for children, Ms. Caluori said. At the same time, she said, young parents such as herself are keen on smart speakers, partly because they’re a screen-free alternative to tablets and phones.

Marketers say the data they are getting back from Amazon and Google has been relatively thin so far. It can include the amount of time people spent engaging with a skill and the number of sessions that were started and completed, Ms. Klaassen of 360i said.

Ms. Reubenstein said her firm typically got basic data on which questions to Alexa were completed or not. But once, in a meeting with Amazon, the firm briefly got a deeper look, seeing snippets of queries for one client’s Alexa skill that showed how customers can still be easily frustrated when navigating a voice application.

“We started seeing a lot of cuss words in the user flow,” said Ms. Reubenstein, who declined to name the client. She said they were able to identify at what point most users were getting frustrated and adjusted the skill to address the issue.

These are still early days for marketing on voice devices. Ms. Reubenstein compared it to when brands began making apps for mobile devices. But over time, she said, voice interactions will begin to replace many of the activities that people are conducting on screens.

WHY IT’S HOT

It is still early for marketing on voice devices – but we’ve seen creative efforts this year from brands who’ve experimented in the space. Gary Vaynerchuk even hosted the first-ever ‘VoiceCon’ focused on the rise of voice and digital audio. With the increasing importance of ‘voice’, it will be exciting to see where it goes in 2019 and how we can utilize this thinking for our clients as we define their customers’ experiences.

Lyft broadens its transportation scope; debuts new bike share design

Lyft has finalized its acquisition of the bike share company Motivate, and has launched the design of its new bike.  The company announced the acquisition in July, “saying Lyft would acquire Motivate’s technology and corporate functions and the company would be known as Lyft Bikes. (cnet).

The ride sharing program will allow bikes to be reserved through its app, in an effort on the heels of its carbon neutrality pledge and increased initiative to offset the documented stress put on cities by ride sharing services.

WHY IT’S HOT: 

Motivate Exec Chairmain Steve Koch says: “How we get around cities is changing rapidly, and the combination of Lyft and Motivate will bring tremendous new resources and energy to making sure that bikeshare plays a fundamental role in the new urban mobility,” … “Together, we believe that integrating our services in partnership with the public sector will transform the urban transportation landscape, increase bike ridership, and make our cities better.”

Throwing the gauntlet to Uber!

SOURCE: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/29/lyfts-pink-wheeled-shareable-bikes-will-be-available-to-rent-soon/

A New Kind of e-Tail

Good, Cheap and Fast (GCF for short), is an e-tail website designed to take the effort out of e-shopping.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90274504/hate-browsing-amazon-this-is-the-ultimate-no-frills-shopping-site

To that end, the site doesn’t waste effort on frills like “bandwidth-hogging images” or “spill[ing] 10,000 words of digital ink on…mundane appliances.” To DeFeo–a former designer–the job to be done here is simple: “save people time,” he says. Thus GCF’s Craigslist-esque, all-text aesthetic. (It does have nicer fonts, though.)

GFC’s design is based on the philosophy that not everyone is a maximizer: people who, intimidated by the internet’s abundance of options they want to know which one is the best. Who they are targeting is users who they call “satisficers” – people who just want something good enough without breaking the bank.

The site is curated by using a combination of existing shopping tools and plugins that filter out suspicious or spammy product reviews and then eliminates more by “measuring the relationship between 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-star reviews, with an eye toward quality control issues.”

Why It’s Hot: 

Sometimes we need to remember that less is more.

We don’t have enough time left

A Spanish liquor brand has created a holiday campaign to remind people how little time they have left to spend with those they love.

Ruavieja’s seasonal campaign is called Tenemos Que Vernos Mas (We Have To See More Of Each Other).

The campaign is led by a four-minute online film that is framed like a social experiment. Friends and family members are asked about their relationship, how often they see each other and their respective ages. The interviewer then uses this information to calculate how much time they will spend together before (statistically) one of them will die. When the answers are revealed in days and hours many of the participants are shocked and begin to cry.

At the end, the ad then juxtaposes the time people typically have left to spend with loved ones with how long they will spend doing meaningless activities. For instance, over a 40-year period, people on average spend six years watching TV and eight years on the internet (admittedly, the internet figure could also encompass communicating with loved ones), according to the ad.

Ruavieja has also created a website where users can enter their details and see how much time they have left to spend with their loved ones.

Why it’s hot

A human insight brought to life with data. It’s the perfect marriage of data and emotion as they used data that moved people to tears.

Source: Contagious

 

Payless performs a social experiment for PR and advertising

Shoe retailer Payless recently took over a former Armani store in Santa Monica, CA, stocked it with Payless products, and then invited fashion influencers to attend a “party” celebrating the store’s opening.

These influencers were made to believe that they were attending a store opening for a new high-end designer called “Palessi”.

These influencers paid between $200 and $600 for Payless shoes traditionally priced between $20 and $40. Many called their purchases “sophisticated” or “made with high quality materials”.

Of course, later, all the influencers that made purchases did get back the full amounts and got to keep the shoes.

Why it’s hot: It’s easy to fool anyone with the right marketing, branding, and positioning. And Payless had the opportunity to prove that its very affordable shoes could pass off as high-end designer shoes.

Source

This Cafe is Staffed By Robots Remotely Controlled By People with Disabilities

A new Tokyo cafe is staffed by robots that are remotely controlled by people with severe physical disabilities.

The cafe, which has the catchy name of Dawn ver.β, utilizes five OriHime-D robot waiters, which take orders and serve food at the cafe. The high-tech radio-controlled robots are designed so people with disabilities, spinal cord injuries, or diseases like ALS can operate them from home. They transmit audio and video footage wirelessly to the robot’s controller, who can direct them via tablets or computers.

This iteration of the cafe is only temporary, closing on December 7, but the partners hope to launch a permanent cafe before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and come up with new ways to promote employment assistance for people with disabilities.

The cafe stems from a collaboration between the Nippon Foundation, ANA Holdings Inc., and Ory Lab Inc., who makes the robots. The idea was to help get people stuck at home back into the workforce, offering part-time jobs and minimum wage (1,000 yen per hour) and some independence, too.