How modern life is transforming the human skeleton

Mobile technology has transformed the way we live — how we read, work, communicate, shop and date.

But we already know this.

What we have not yet grasped is the way the tiny machines in front of us are remolding our skeletons, possibly altering not just the behaviors we exhibit but the bodies we inhabit.

New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion.

The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck.

In academic papers, a pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, argues that the prevalence of the bone growth in younger adults points to shifting body posture brought about by the use of modern technology. They say smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form, requiring users to bend their heads forward to make sense of what’s happening on the miniature screens.

The researchers said their discovery marks the first documentation of a physiological or skeletal adaptation to the penetration of advanced technology into everyday life.

Why it’s hot: Should human bodies adapt to technology or should it adapt to us?

Source

Siri Is Listening to You Have a Heart Attack

In the not-too-distant future you may be able to ask Siri if you’re having a heart attack—even if you’re not touching the device.

Because smart speakers are always passively listening, anticipating being called into action with a “Hey Google” or “Alexa!” they are the perfect device for listening for changes in breathing. So if someone starts gasping and making so-called “agonal breathing” (add that to your Scrabble repertoire) the smart speaker can call for help. Agonal breathing is described by co-author Dr. Jacob Sunshine as “a sort of a guttural gasping noise” that is so unique to cardiac arrest that it makes “a good audio biomarker.” According to a press release, about 50% of people who experience cardiac arrest have agonal breathing and since Alexa and Google are always listening, they can be taught to monitor for its distinctive sound.

On average, the proof-of-concept tool detected agonal breathing events 97% of the time from up to 20 feet away.

Why is it so good at detecting agonal breathing? Because the team created it using a dataset of agonal breathing captured from real 911 calls.

“A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota. “We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there’s no response, the device can automatically call 911.”

Why its hot

What other medical emergencies can be diagnosed through voice products like Siri? We saw the OOH unit that diagnosed dog health issues with their pee. Could there be an in-house doctor that analyzes your health without having to even see a doctor in person?

A Case of Mistaken Identity

With over 20K signatures, accusations against the TV show “Good Omens” are causing a raucous. A US Christian group called the Return to Order has launched a petition to cancel the show saying it presents “devils and Satanists as normal and even good, where they merely have a different way of being, and mocks God’s wisdom.”

Protests and requests for show cancelations are not rare or new. So what’s causing the raucous? The group has petitioned Netflix to cancel a show on Amazon Prime Video.

Why it’s hot:

Brand recognition is EVERYTHING!

 

“Can You See Me Now?” – Introducing Surveillance-as-a-Service

Amazon is gearing up to disrupt another category in the same way it disrupted IT over the last decade*, but its real intent might be to create an entirely new category.

[ * In the world of IT, AWS’s consumption-based business model fueled a game-changing shift from businesses owning on-premise data centers (CapEx), to “renting” the outcomes they need, and using Amazon’s data centers accessed through public cloud (OpEx). Beyond the obvious financial advantages this model delivered to businesses, it also freed up IT teams to shift their focus from “break-fix” to DevOps” – finding new ways of using technology and data to drive business growth. ]

It’s easy enough to connect-the-dots between Amazon’s $1B acquisition of Ring last year, and their patent application for a drone-based surveillance service, and draw the conclusion that it’s all part of a big home security play. Surely a consumption-based model, in which people pay for security in the same way they do utilities, would lower a few barriers to entry and grow the home security category. It would also decrease the need for installed devices (buying or renting them, waiting for the guy to come out and install – between 8am and 4pm), and also eliminate the need to be locked into a service contract and pay a regular, flat monthly fee.

As cringe-worthy as the idea of marauding flocks of “eyes-in-the-sky” might be, a few minutes spent thinking about the potential business applications of this kind of service might make you want to move to a remote desert island. But the question of whether this scares you or inspires you comes down to who’s paying for the service (homeowners, business owners, corporations?), who “owns” the data, and what how they’re using or monetizing that data.

Why It’s Hot: In a world rapidly being reduced to 1’s and 0’s, consider how real-time video surveillance data (possibly with things like facial recognition being run through the cloud), comes together with all of the other data streams Amazon has been cultivating. What do your online purchases, streaming video choices, Alexa conversations, Whole Foods shopping lists and physical movements say about who you are, what you might want and how/where/when you can be reached? What might that mean for marketers?

“Alexa, am I having a heart attack?”

Almost 500,000 Americans die each year from cardiac arrest, but now an unlikely new tool may help cut that number. Researchers at the University of Washington have figured out how to turn a smart speaker into a cardiac monitoring system. That’s right, in the not-too-distant future you may be able to ask Siri if you’re having a heart attack—even if you’re not touching the device.

Because smart speakers are always passively listening, anticipating being called into action with a “Hey Google” or “Alexa!” they are the perfect device for listening for changes in breathing. So if someone starts gasping and making so-called “agonal breathing” (add that to your Scrabble repertoire) the smart speaker can call for help. Agonal breathing is described by co-author Dr. Jacob Sunshine as “a sort of a guttural gasping noise” that is so unique to cardiac arrest that it makes “a good audio biomarker.” According to a press release, about 50% of people who experience cardiac arrest have agonal breathing and since Alexa and Google are always listening, they can be taught to monitor for its distinctive sound.

On average, the proof-of-concept tool detected agonal breathing events 97% of the time from up to 20 feet (or 6 meters) away. The findings were published today in npj Digital Medicine. Why is it so good at detecting agonal breathing? Because the team created it using a dataset of agonal breathing captured from real 911 calls.

“A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota. “We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there’s no response, the device can automatically call 911.”

Why It’s Hot

Despite the rather creepy notion that Amazon is always listening, this innovation is rather cool. What other kinds of health issues could this predict? As a parent, having a speaker able to predict whether a cough is run-of-the-mill or of the scary croup variety would be invaluable. For health events that need an aural translation, this is one application in the right direction.

Source:Fast Company

The Meeker Report

Image from Medium.com

Every year, venture capitalist Mary Meeker releases a lengthy report on the state of digital marketing. Grab the full report and access an archive  here: https://www.bondcap.com/report/itr19/#view/1

Summary from Medium here, and some 2019 highlights via Recode:

  • E-commerce is now 15 percent of retail sales. Its growth has slowed — up 12.4 percent in Q1 compared with a year earlier — but still towers over growth in regular retail, which was just 2 percent in Q1.

  • Internet ad spending accelerated in the US, up 22 percent in 2018. Most of the spending is still on Google and Facebook, but companies like Amazon and Twitter are getting a growing share. Some 62 percent of all digital display ad buying is for programmatic ads, which will continue to grow.

  • Customer acquisition costs — the marketing spending necessary to attract each new customer — is going up. That’s unsustainable because in some cases it surpasses the long-term revenue those customers will bring. Meeker suggests cheaper ways to acquire customers, like free trials and unpaid tiers.

  • Images are increasingly the means by which people communicate, as technology developments like faster wifi and better phone cameras have encouraged a surge in image taking. More than 50 percent of Twitter impressions now involve posts with images, video or other media; Twitter used to be text-only.

  • The number of interactive gamers worldwide grew 6 percent to 2.4 billion people last year, as interactive games like Fortnite become the new social media for certain people. The number of people who watch those games — rather than participate — is swelling, too.

  • Health care is steadily becoming more digitized. Expect more telemedicine and on-demand consultations.

Regarding the rising cost of customer acquisition in particular, the report cites the effectiveness of free trials or “freemium” tiers of service that can effectively get new customers in the door and convert to loyal subscriptions or users. The other driver highlighted was recommendations – the ability to deliver personalized, curated products and content to potential customers, a la personal stylist companies like Stitch Fix or Trunk Club.

Why it’s hot: It’s worth a read as it’s often a source of intelligence on the client-side, and may help to explain why certain topics of conversation suddenly seem to be cropping up in client interactions. It may help you uncover some blind spots during planning and is a good starting point for hypothesizing with data.

How Spotify Uses Emotional Surveillance for Profit

We all know Spotify’s curated mood-based playlists ranging from “Happy Hits” and “Mood Booster” to “Rage Beats” and “Life Sucks.” But what users may not know though, is that Spotify has been selling access to that listening data to multinational corporations.

Spotify is the world’s biggest streaming subscription service, with 207 million users in 79 different countries. And as Spotify has grown, its advertising machine has exploded. Of those 207 million users, it claims 111 million users are not paying subscribers, meaning they rely on the ad-supported version.

Spotify’s enormous access to mood-based data presents a major value to brands and advertisers, allowing them to target ads on Spotify by moods and emotions. And since 2016, Spotify has shared this mood data directly with the world’s biggest marketing and advertising firms. As of May 2015, advertisers were given the ability to target ads to users of the free ad-supported service based on activities and moods. For example, Coca-Cola’s ‘Open Happiness’ campaign would play when people are listening to mood-boosting music.

In Spotify’s world, listening data has become the oil that fuels a monetizable metrics machine, pumping the numbers that lure advertisers to the platform. In a data-driven listening environment, the commodity is no longer music, the commodity is user’s moods and listening habits as behavioral data. Today, marketers want mood-related data more than ever, to fuel automated, personalized ad targeting. In 2016, WPP struck a multi-year partnership with Spotify, giving the conglomerate unprecedented access to Spotify’s mood data specifically.

Why it’s hot: Music streaming platforms are in a unique position as they hold tons of data related to our emotional states, moods and feelings. As the largest streaming subscription service, Spotify and their mood playlists have become the data-collecting solution for brands struggling to reach skeptical millennials. On the Spotify for Brands blog, the streaming giant explains that its research shows millennials are weary of most social media and news platforms, feeling that these mediums affect them negatively. Spotify is a solution for brands, it explains, because it is a platform where people go to feel good.

Source: https://thebaffler.com/downstream/big-mood-machine-pelly

Forget a Thousand Words. Pictures Could Be Worth Big Bucks for Amazon Fashion – Adweek

Amazon is rolling out StyleSnap, its AI-enabled shopping feature that helps you shop from a photograph or snapshot. Consumers upload images to the Amazon app and it considers factors like brand, price and reviews to recommend similar items.

Amazon has been able to leverage data from brands sold on its site to develop products that are good enough or close enough to the originals, usually at lower price points, and thereby gain an edge, but its still only a destination for basics like T-shirts and socks. With StyleSnap, Amazon is hoping to further crack the online retailing sector with this new offering.

Why It’s Hot

Snapping and sharing is already part of retail culture, and now Amazon is creating a simple and seamless way of adding the shop and purchase to this ubiquitous habit.  The combination of AI and user reviews in its algorithm could change the way we shop when recommendations aren’t only based on the look of an item, but also on how customers experience it.

 

Source: Forget a Thousand Words. Pictures Could Be Worth Big Bucks for Amazon Fashion – Adweek

Other sources: https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-stylesnap-uses-ai-to-help-you-shop-for-clothes/

LinkedIn Stories: Fail or Employer Branding Dream?

In late 2018, there were rumblings that LinkedIn would launch its own version of a stories feed. Critics believed it was just another platform itching to conquer Snapchat.

Now it’s June 2019, Instagram is the true leader in stories and LinkedIn is still preparing for launch. LinkedIn stories could be a huge fail or it could be an employer branding dream.

Companies have struggled with doing away with the polished workplace culture videos as they try to find a balance between quality and authenticity. Adding a story feature to LinkedIn automatically allows these companies to officially be less polished or well-thought-out while prospective employees gain a behind the scenes look at a company. 

LinkedIn is slated to go live with their stories feature at any moment. Meanwhile, they’ve revised the logo, developed their own custom font and defined a new color palette. LinkedIn is the woman that cuts her hair when she’s overcome a personal crisis.

Why it’s hotter than an IG story from Rihanna: Will this do anything to change the issues with job descriptions or the application process? I foresee the trendy companies using stories as a way to promote new jobs and asking people to swipe up to learn more. I’m unsure if all of these new ways to communicate are making us better or just further complicating processes that could be simplified. Look out for intern takeovers, content from the company thought leaders and IBM dominating the feature with kick-ass content about all the things they create.

The Revolution Will Be … Heavily Effected by Digital

With some major changes happening globally, its interesting to note the ways that the digital world around us are affecting where attention falls and how we perceive international events. Two examples from this week, the massacre in Sudan and the protests in Hong Kong are key to understanding how innovation is not only affecting how we take in global media but how events unfold.

Protesters in Hong Kong wait on huge lines to pay cash. 

Use of octopus cards to show proof of demonstration was used to convict the “Umbrella 9”  in 2014.

In this case, protesters are being deliberate about the digital footprint they are leaving, something that protesters in 2014 didnt know to be wary of.

Instagram gets close and personal with Influencers from Sudan 

Mashable reports: “On Thursday, Shahd Khidir, a Sudanese influencer and blogger who mainly shares beauty, fashion, and lifestyle content, went “off-brand” to raise awareness to her nearly 64,000 Instagram followers about the dire situation in Sudan. Khidir, who is based in New York City, posted a photograph of herself crying at her desk along with a heartbreaking story about her friend, who she learned had recently been murdered in Sudan.”

I noted amongst my friends (a HIGHLY informal poll) that those who tended to use instagram were talking about the Sudan, while Twitter users were talking about Donald Trump’s interview with George Stephonopoulos.

The hashtags #IAmTheSudanRevolution#SudanUprising, and #Sudanese_Protest are trending and a much younger group than those typically concerned with international news.

Why It’s Hot? 

Imagine the Tienemen Square protests on social and how the Arab Spring was affected by social and digital. Our world is evolving around these innovations and will continue to change as our digital world evolves

Uber is Ready to Make Drone Food Delivery a Reality

Uber Elevate is betting on drones as the future of food delivery. And the future is coming as soon as this summer, with drone service set to launch in San Diego.

relates to Uber Wants Your Next Big Mac to Be Delivered by Drone

At the launch of the program, drones will not be delivering food directly to customer’s homes due to safety and noise concerns. Instead they’ll be landing in designated zones for pick up by couriers, or directly on the roofs of Uber vehicles, for drivers to complete the delivery.

Reaching speeds up to 70 mph, Uber Elevate’s drone can lead to significant time and cost savings in a food delivery market that is projected to grow 12% a year over the next four years. For a delivery 1.5 miles away, drones can make a trip in 7 minutes as opposed to 21 minutes via car.

Why It’s Hot

As more and more companies are looking to make use of drones as soon as possible, it’s significant that a car service company is leading the way. Beyond revolutionizing food delivery, Uber Elevate can help pave the way for how drones can solve other problems including last-mile delivery.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-12/uber-announces-plans-to-deliver-big-macs-by-drone-this-summer

Airbnb launches ‘Adventures’ – a step towards “extreme tourism”

Today, Airbnb is introducing Adventures, a collection of three- to seven-day trips that allow travelers to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world. The all-inclusive trips include guides, meals, on-the-ground transport, and accommodations, along with any necessary gear.

To list their trips on the platform, operators need to apply, much like they did for Experiences. Airbnb company has said in the past that it turns away more than 80% of applicants for Experiences. For Adventures, Airbnb says it ensures that all the operators it lists on its platform have the necessary certifications and licenses to run their tours.

Over the past three years, Airbnb has been expanding into new kinds of travel experiences, part of its larger effort to position itself as an all-in-one travel company. First came Experiences, its version of day tours, then it bought Canada-based Luxury Retreats to expand into full-service accommodations. It even it integrated Resy’s reservation booking tool into its platform. Airbnb has since extended into Airbnb Plus, a collection of verified, high-quality house rentals. Their newest extension of Adventures signals Airbnb’s first real attempt at offering end-to-end travel.

Adventure and activity-based travel is a growing business, a 2018 survey of tour operators conducted by the Adventure Travel and Trade Association (ATTA) and Travel Leaders Group, found that 86% percent of respondents had experienced growth in their adventure travel sales over the past three years. According to the ATTA, the worldwide adventure travel market has grown from $98 billion in 2009 to $683 billion in 2017.

Airbnb thinks it can set itself apart from the typical adventure fare by coming up with unique trip and thoroughly vetting operators. Most of the operators on the platform are regional and not widely known, and many are offering trips that are exclusive to Airbnb. Adventures will range from $79 to $5,000, depending on the length of the trip and the complexity of the journey. On average, Airbnb says these trips will cost $750 for seven days, or $110 a day, which is on the more affordable end.

Why it’s hot: Airbnb continues to push their offerings of their platform to expand beyond expected tourist experiences, and offering more ‘adventures’ that help push travelers out of their comfort zones. Since they are such a reputable brand and service, it will be interesting to see which adventures they choose to offer on their platform – and in turn, the local businesses they choose to support. As marketers, this is a perfect example of how we can push our clients to integrate more offerings/services to meet the interests and needs of their audience vs. evolving just messaging

Source: FastCo

Making pollution masks fun for kids

Fine particle pollution is Seoul is dangerous to health, especially for growing children, but most kids don’t wear masks, because they don’t like them and they don’t really understand the threat. To overcome this, the Peekaboo Mask was created to make masks relevant to Korean kids. Masks designed with fun characters on them, which transform as kids breathe, created a playful, interactive experience that raised the perceived value of mask wearing through the lens of what resonates with kids.

To get kids interested in the masks, kid-sized mask vending machines with digital displays told the story of the dangers of dust pollution with animated emoji characters, using real-time pollution data. On days when pollution was severe, animated videos addressed kids passing by about the dangers of dust. On less dangerous days, the machine stayed quiet until interacted with.

A pilot program showed promise: “According to the agency, over 300 children interacted with the digital vending machine, and 90% of them understood the importance of wearing masks on a ‘bad dust days’. Meanwhile, 88% didn’t want to take off their Peekaboo Masks.” –Contagious

Why it’s hot:

– Project addressed the audience where they were in the real world, integrated with digital storytelling modeling good behavior, which jumped into the physical world with interactive masks allowing kids to join the story and play out the designed experience.

– Seemingly human-centered design from the start (integrated throughout objects, digital interfaces, delivery, and an awareness ad campaign) made a previously irrelevant subject relevant to the target audience in a way that felt seamless to their routine. This ultimately changed perception and behavior.

– Real-time data informed the way machines interacted with people, giving kids approachable information on their health at the moment of “sale”, delivering the product when they’re most engaged.

Source: Contagious

coke’s “search of a lifetime”…

Being young is about searching – for who you are, what you want to do with your life, even simply what to do tomorrow. Hooking into this, Coca-Cola in Israel created “The Search of a Lifetime”. Using the top searches among young Israelis, they created targeted content to answer the life-defining questions they were asking around work, school, travel, etc. What’s more, they predicted and created content addressing what would likely be peoples’ next questions after answering the initial query. Ultimately, helping them find the answers, to make the decisions that would make them happy.

First, not enough brands use search to create meaningful connections with people. It’s a direct way to help them by answering the questions you know they’re asking. Second, more brands should be thinking beyond the initial interaction. Coke could have just answered the first question and moved on. Instead, they endeavored to understand how a young person would fully explore these topics, and made sure they completed the conversation.

[Source]

Purina Street Campaign Tests Dogs’ Urine To Assess Health

Pet product brand Purina knows how much pet owners love their furry friends, and wants to encourage routine vet visits. Accordingly, its latest campaign in France involves an outdoor billboard that can check a dog’s health via its urine.

Special billboards use pheromones to attract dogs to urinate on them, and then will run the sample through several tests to tell the owner the results. The tests look specifically for four common problems— diabetes, kidney issues, urinary infection or cholesterol. The results even recommend a particular Purina diet or to take the dog to the vet’s office for a checkup.

The goal is not just to make sure people’s pets are healthy, but also to encourage customers to associate Purina with health and wellness for their pups. “Purina’s objective is to provide simple and efficient solutions to improve the wellness of our pets. We wanted to raise awareness on the importance of veterinary checkups, but also to offer a solution that fits in the daily lives of pet owners—the daily walk on the street or in the park,” Véronique Herman, marketing manager specialist at Nestlé Purina Pet Care, says in a statement.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot: 

A good way to show a brand’s dedication a a broader cause for it’s audience, as well as execute on more innovation OOH marketing.

 

Volkswagen confronts its terrible past

Volkswagen has debuted the first tv ad of a new campaign called “Rebirth” to introduce its new electric Microbus, a modern update to the 60’s hippie classic. The ad confronts the emissions cheating scandals from a few years ago head on, then comes Simon & Garfunkel’s classic “Sounds of Silence.”

Story on Fast Company

The ad is bold in that brands generally avoid reminding people about the terrible thing they did. That terrible, terrible thing. It’s a gamble: will people feel empathy or punish the brand for wallowing in self-pity?

Why it’s Hot

Maybe the old brand rules don’t apply anymore. Maybe it’s ok to spend a ton of money to apologize through a tv commercial. Maybe the electric Microbus looks really cool and the ad could’ve avoided bringing up bad feelings. Consumers will decide.

Applying AI for Social Good

By Ankita Pamnani

Interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has dramatically increased in recent years and AI has been successfully applied to societal challenge problems. It has a great potential to provide tremendous social good in the future.

Real-life examples of AI are already being applied in about one-third of these use cases, albeit in relatively small tests. They range from diagnosing cancer to helping blind people navigate their surroundings, identifying victims of online sexual exploitation, and aiding disaster-relief efforts.

AI has a broad potential across a range of social domains.

  • Education
    • These include maximizing student achievement and improving teachers’ productivity. For example, adaptive-learning technology could base recommended content to students on past success and engagement with the material.
  • Public and Social Sector
  • Economic Empowerment
    • With an emphasis on currently vulnerable populations, these domains involve opening access to economic resources and opportunities, including jobs, the development of skills, and market information. For example, AI can be used to detect plant damage early through low-altitude sensors, including smartphones and drones, to improve yields for small farms.
  • Environment
    • Sustaining biodiversity and combating the depletion of natural resources, pollution, and climate change are challenges in this domain.

Some of the issues that we are currently facing with social data

  • Data needed for social-impact uses may not be easily accessible
    • Much of the data essential or useful for social-good applications are in private hands or in public institutions that might not be willing to share their data. These data owners include telecommunications and satellite companies; social-media platforms; financial institutions (for details such as credit histories); hospitals, doctors, and other health providers (medical information); and governments (including tax information for private individuals).
    • The expert AI talent needed to develop and train AI models is in short supply
      • The complexity of problems increases significantly when use cases require several AI capabilities to work together cohesively, as well as multiple different data-type inputs. Progress in developing solutions for these cases will thus require high-level talent, for which demand far outstrips supply and competition is fierce.
    • ‘Last-mile’ implementation challenges are also a significant bottleneck for AI deployment for social good
      • Organizations may also have difficulty interpreting the results of an AI model. Even if a model achieves a desired level of accuracy on test data, new or unanticipated failure cases often appear in real-life scenarios.

 

Wearables & Augmented Reality: Your New Workstation

By Brian Lee

Unless you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the ocean, you probably remember Google Glass, the sleek, futuristic looking smart glasses that Google released back in 2013. While it wasn’t the first piece of wearable smart technology, it was the most significant product announcement in the space for multiple reasons. At the time wearable tech was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Google was a $250 billion company and by far the biggest name to release a product of this type. And yet, with all the hype, fanfare, and the Google branding, the product failed to catch on with the world as hoped.

While Google Glass did a great job in stimulating the imagination with all of its potential applications, there was no stated purpose. Finding the demand or a problem in the world should be a prerequisite to developing the product that solves that problem, not the other way around. It was unclear whether this product would be best served for enterprise users, or if this was a consumer product, aimed at making the day-to-day of users’ lives easier. Rather, it was a hotbed of ideas without proper execution.. Or maybe it was the $1,500 price tag. Maybe it was too futuristic. Looking back, they were simply a pair of glasses that lacked vision.

Why it’s Hot

Google Glass was discontinued in 2015, reborn in 2017 as an enterprise solution, and earlier this week, the latest version was announced as Glass Enterprise Edition 2. With a price tag of $999, it becomes the latest product in an increasingly digital world where businesses are adopting smart technology and AR solutions to market to their customers, as well as to enhance their workplace efficiency, innovation, and collaboration.

Currently, the benefits of augmented reality and smart technology in the workplace are most evident in industries where manufacturing, production, and design are key functions. Healthcare is also a field where AR technology is being applied. Companies in these fields are well in the process of adopting and implementing this technology. However, the benefits and the incremental efficiencies of using such tools are not as clear for the corporate desk warriors that many of us here at MRM are. With more companies adopting tools like Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens (Microsoft’s AR headset), it’ll be interesting to see all the applications that become preferred solutions and how we could apply those to the work that we do as a digital creative agency.

Imagine being able to use an AR headset for analyzing and visualizing massive data sets, being able to see more rows of a spreadsheet than what a screen limits you to, or projecting charts in front of you and walking around it like the guys below (as an analyst, I chose to use spreadsheets and charts as examples, but you can think of your own applications.. journey maps, creative concepts, Gantt charts, etc).

And yes, the guys above are looking at a city not a chart, but if you think about it, city skylines and bar charts are basically the same thing.

These tools already exist. They’re not mainstream yet, because laptops are still the preferred work machines of choice, but when the eventual shift happens, it’ll fundamentally change how we do things. From collaboration to efficiency, to how we present to our clients, it opens up a whole new set of tools for the world to learn and become experts at. Before you know it, working on laptops and monitors will be as antiquated as pen and paper. This will be the new normal, so prepare yourselves accordingly.

Sources/further reading:

https://9to5google.com/2019/05/20/glass-enterprise-edition-2-launch/

https://mytechdecisions.com/unified-communications/augmented-reality-in-the-workplace/

https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/20/google-glass-enterprise-edition-2-levels-up-with-qualcomms-xr1-and-smith-frames/

Can you own your data?

The question is interesting and one that carries a number of issues and questions. In the U.S. marketers are hungry for the best data – the mantra of delivering the best message to the right target at the right time is contingent on what data we can leverage at the individual level. Today we have very good access to data for targeting and messaging, and it’s getting better every day. Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are at the forefront (or rather the store front) of that data revolution and are commanding robust ad revenue as a result.

Everything from what you…

  • Like on Instagram
  • Search on Google
  • Check in on Facebook
  • Post on Twitter
  • Tell Alexa
  • Buy on Amazon
  • And more!

…can be used to ascertain your tastes and interest in products and services.

But with the privacy and trust concerns from recent snafus (i.e. Facebook), consumers are wondering how best to protect their data. Some are even pondering if there’s value in “owning” their personal data. But how? We don’t own the databases. We’ve already checked off on the privacy policy and kissing our data away…right?

At least one company is tackling the issue: https://hu-manity.co/

Hu-manity is hoping for a critical mass of users to claim data and set choices. If willing to share data, the app would allow users to reap monetary rewards.

“With the #My31 App consumers can claim a property interest on inherent human data, consent for privacy, authorize for permitted use, and elect for compensation if desired.”

Why it’s hot

If this catches on, it will undoubtedly do two main things: 1. Make data less accessible (and less timely), and 2. Make data more expensive. Marketers may end up depending more on statistical models based on limited data to reach the target audiences.

In an era where marketers have great access to data are becoming even more data-driven, we need to account for a future where greater restrictions and limitations may be put in place.

 

Other Companies:

https://datum.org/https://wibson.org/

Further Reading:

https://bryanjohnson.co/your-data-is-your-property/

https://medium.com/hub-of-all-things/can-you-own-your-data-8a185976ea7d

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612588/its-time-for-a-bill-of-data-rights/

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180921-can-you-make-money-selling-your-data

Pharma Budgets Soaring, but Marketers Closely Watching Washington

According to the 2019 MM&M Deloitte Consulting Healthcare Marketers Trend Report, marketing budgets increased 26% when compared to the previous fiscal year. The mean budget jumped from $8.3 million to $10.5 million, and 92% of respondents reported a year-over-year increase! This growth has been fueled by a record number of approvals of new treatments, as well as the Trump Administration’s Laissez-faire approach to the industry. This recent growth, however, faces numerous challenges in the near-future. The political climate present when such issues are addressed will strongly influence their outcome, and experts have agreed political action is inevitable.

Joe Plevelich, a commercial operations executive for a pharmaceutical company commented:

“If you look at some of the leading potential contenders for the presidency and some of the platforms they are trying to establish, [many] are talking about better controls and transparencies around pharma pricing and profits. I think there are definitely changes afoot. Whoever is going to be in power is going to have an impact on pharma pricing and our recent ability to continue to raise pricing on a whim.”

As we embark upon an active and critical time in healthcare regulation, development, and modernization, both democrats and republicans agree pharma is an industry worthy of attention.

The following have been identified as key discussions to watch as we approach 2020:

  • A reduction or elimination of tax deductions for marketing expenses (expected this year)
  • Requiring list prices of drugs to be included on TV advertisements
  • Price caps on drugs (Congress has already opened hearing on rising drug prices)
  • Investigations into sales and marketing practices

Why It’s Hot

The outcomes of these and similar healthcare regulatory topics will strongly impact pharma marketing budgets, and will determine if they will remain as fruitful as they are today. Many are concerned an unfavorable decision in any of these issues, could lead to significant change. Pharma marketers should remained tuned into the latest developments in these and other healthcare related issues, as well as the 2020 presidential election.

Source

How will Netflix react to the new Disney stream service?

For nearly two years the world has been waiting for Disney to officially announce the release of their new streaming service. Well Disney+ has officially been announced and will be launched Nov. 12, and will cost $6.99 a month — or $69.99 annually (which works out to $5.83 a month). Disney will rely heavily on their deep catalog of Disney classics, Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar franchises to bring in the initial audience. Disney+ will launch with plenty of originals as well: 25 new episodic series and 10 movies in its first year. By its fifth year, the former number will hit 50, executives said, but the number of films will remain constant.

It will be interesting to see how Disney+ will disrupt the streaming business. Netflix remains the giant, with over 140MM subscribers’ worldwide, with a number of new (Apple/Disney) and old (Hulu) players beneath them.

Netflix recently raised the cost of their service to $13 per month for a standard subscription. The company is looking to boost top-line revenue to offset its ballooning content costs, which were projected to hit $13 billion on a gross basis in 2018. To fund its content-spending binge, Netflix has raised billions in new debt: It reported $8.34 billion in long-term debt as of Sept. 30, up from $6.50 billion at the end of 2017. It’s also continuing to burn cash, and most recently projected negative cash flow of more than $3 billion for 2018 (versus negative free cash flow of $2 billion a year prior).

If Disney is able to “steal” subscribers or stunt the growth of Netflix globally, Netflix may look at additional lines of revenue, including the long rumored advertising model (similar to Hulu). With Hulu’s ad revenues predicted to surpass $500 million by 2020 it is an option that many expect will be necessary for Netflix’s long term profitability and content expansion.

Source: Variety, Washington Post, eMarketer

Podcasts: The New Wild West

The IAB expects podcast advertising to exceed $500 million in 2019, which represents growth of about 65% in just two years. It’s a fast growing medium with limited standardization where only a small handful of categories have had ongoing success.

Part of podcasts’ allure (to brands) is the quality of its core demographics, which skew ages 25 to 40 with higher income levels and education. This is often an audience that’s tough to reach and they’re not typically watching a lot of TV.

The other allure is credibility. Most listeners are highly engaged when tuned into a podcast and usually don’t mind hearing ads. Ads tend to be kept to a minimum and are relevant to the program’s content, often via host-read ads. Trust and brand recall for podcast ads is also high when compared with other ad formats.

Based on data from nearly 50 custom studies Nielsen has conducted over the last 18 months, podcast advertising has demonstrated that it can move the needle on many important key metrics like awareness, ad recall, affinity, recommendation and purchase intent.

US Podcast Penetration

Podcast Ad Effectiveness

Why Its Hot?

The podcast advertising market in the US is poised for strong continued growth in listenership and ad dollars, but without meaningfully addressing current friction points, it might remain a niche advertising vehicle primarily suited to direct-response advertisers in the near term.

The ability for sellers and buyers to talk the same language is holding back the value proposition for brands more than anything else. There is a question of scale and fragmentation still – with only a few programs reaching the masses and many more reaching only smaller, niche audiences at far less frequent intervals than other media.

Newspapers existed before the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Radio existed before Arbitron, TV existed before Nielsen and the internet existed well before the IAB and comScore.  Podcasts are still living in this dawn of pre-standardization and governance, and how downloads and audience size is measured from one show or network to another is varied, making it harder for larger brands to execute – and measure – any meaningful effort.  Anyone want to start up an independent 3rd-party measurement company?

sources:

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2019/how-podcast-advertising-measures-up.html

https://content-na1.emarketer.com/podcast-advertising-2018?li=1

Microsoft’s New Surface Hub 2 Will Revolutionize Agency Work

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gifLast week Microsoft announced their latest attempt to change agency teamwork forever, and they call this attempt the Surface Hub 2.

They’re branding it as an “interactive whiteboard for business.”

Imagine you’re about to present in a meeting, and in the room with you is ten people and a 50-inch easel with a touchscreen. You scan your fingerprint on the side of the Hub, it recognizes you, and logs you in. Suddenly, everything you just saw at your desk pops up right there on the Hub. You go through your presentation, and someone from the Creative team walks in with their Hub and pushes it next to yours. Now you have an even bigger screen, where you can collaborate seamlessly. Something like this…

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

This is Microsoft’s dream. They want collaboration in environments like ours to be seamless. The Hub 2S (which launches in June) is aimed at business, not end consumers like you and me. This thing is meant to be bought in bulk by agencies like MRM to help the disparate departments come together and collaborate easier than ever before.

Why It’s Hot

This is hot because it innovates on something we all take for granted. This proves hardware like the Hub 2 can disrupt the agency status quo and bring a sense of experimentation and exploration into the agency’s culture. And that’s something we at MRM can’t get enough of.

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

If done correctly, Microsoft could be onto something. These devices could do wonders for the work we do. Or, if Microsoft half-asses the experience, or agencies can’t justify owning ten of these at $9,000 per unit, this could flop. Hard.

But their intention, to upgrade and streamline how we all do what we all do, is a damn good one.

Source: https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-surface-hub-2

#PRN

A safe space to practice sexting


Juicebox has launched Slutbot to teach people how to do sexting properly. Slutbot is a chatbot experience that shows you how to talk dirty in real life. In response to users’ most common request, the “relationship and intimacy” startup Juicebox has developed its chatbot experience to show you how to send sexy SMS messages in real life.

Not to be confused with artificial intelligence, Slutbot is a chatbot that allows users to practice sexting and dirty talk. The SMS experience can be erotic and tackles important issues like consent and communicating desires as it normalizes conversations about sex. The team had to create a human-like chatbot that didn’t kill the mood.

Juicebox makes the Juicebox app, which provides direct access to personalized sex and relationship advice and coaching. The same team has also made Slutbot, which is available to anyone on iOS or Android as an SMS-based chatbot.

Why its hot?
They not only acted on an obvious user need but created a safe space for users to improve 
Roughly half of adults sext, but there’s still a lot of anxiety around doing it. Slutbot was born out of the most common request the Juicebox team received from users of their iOS app: How do you dirty talk?
And they acted on a human truth to stay true to their brand mission
‘If you can’t share your desires, you’re really holding yourself back’

 

Source: Mashable

McDonald’s Personalizes the Drive-Thru Menu

Next time you pull up to a McDonald’s drive-thru, you might see exactly what you’re craving front and center. Menus will be personalized based on factors like weather, local events, restaurant traffic, and trending items.

This new technology will be powered by their acquisition of personalization company Dynamic Yield. The menu can be programmed against triggers with scenarios such as offering ice cream and iced coffee when the temperature rises above 80 degrees, or pushing hot chocolate when it starts to rain.

Once a person starts ordering, the menu will offer add-ons based on the previous selections made. For example, a person ordering a salad may be offered a smoothie instead of fries.

Why It’s Hot

McDonald’s already builds off of customer’s cravings. Now that these cravings can be predicted, personalized, and optimized over time, there’s a high likelihood that customers will be ordering more at the drive-thru window.

DeepMind? Pffft! More like “dumb as a bag of rocks.”

Google’s DeepMind AI project, self-described as “the world leader in artificial intelligence research” was recently tested against the type of math test that 16 year olds take in the UK. The result? It only scored a 14 out of 40 correct. Womp womp!

“The researchers tested several types of AI and found that algorithms struggle to translate a question as it appears on a test, full of words and symbols and functions, into the actual operations needed to solve it.” (Medium)

Image result for home d'oh

Why It’s Hot

There is no shortage of angst by humans worried about losing their jobs to AI. Instead of feeling a reprieve, humans should take this as a sign that AI might just be best designed to complement human judgements and not to replace them.

AI Voice Assistant

Such tasks, historically performed by a personal assistant or secretary, include taking dictation, reading text or email messages aloud, looking up phone numbers, scheduling, placing phone calls and reminding the end user about appointments. Popular virtual assistants currently include Amazon Alexa, Apple’s SiriGoogle Now and Microsoft’s Cortana — the digital assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10.

Why it’s hot:

  • Intelligent Personal Assistant: This is software that can assist people with basic tasks, usually using natural language. Intelligent personal assistants can go online and search for an answer to a user’s question. Either text or voice can trigger an action.

  • Smart Assistant: This term usually refers to the types of physical items that can provide various services by using smart speakers that listen for a wake word to become active and perform certain tasks. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s HomePod are types of smart assistants.

  • Virtual Digital Assistants: These are automated software applications or platforms that assist the user by understanding natural language in either written or spoken form.

  • Voice Assistant: The key here is voice. A voice assistant is a digital assistant that uses voice recognition, speech synthesis, and natural language processing (NLP) to provide a service through a particular application.

Tractica is a market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology. Their reports say unique consumer users for virtual digital assistants will grow from more than 390 million worldwide users in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. The growth in the business world is expected to increase from 155 million users in 2015 to 843 million by 2021. With that kind of projected growth, revenue is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021.

At Unilever, Resumes are Out – Algorithms are In

The traditional hiring process for companies, especially large organizations, can be exhaustive and often ineffective, with 83% of candidates rating their experience as “poor” and 30-50% of candidates chosen by the company end up failing.

Unilever recruits more than 30,000 people a year and processes around 1.8 million job applications. As you can imagine, this takes a tremendous amount of time and resources and too often talented candidates are overlooked just because they’re buried at the bottom of a pile of CVs. To tackle this problem, Unilever partnered with Pymetrics, an online platform on a mission to make the recruiting process more predictive and less biased than traditional methods.

Candidates start the interview process by accessing the platform at home from a computer or mobile-screen, and playing a selection of games that test their aptitude, logic and reasoning, and appetite for risk. Machine learning algorithms are then used to assess their suitability for whatever role they have applied for, by matching their profiles against those of previously successful employees.

The second stage of the process involves submitting a video interview that is reviewed not by a human, but a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm examines the videos of candidates who answer various questions, and through a mixture of natural language processing and body language analysis, determines who is likely to be a good fit.

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of the job interview process can be anticipation of the feedback loop, or lack thereof – around 45% of job candidates claim they never hear back from a prospective employer. But with the AI-powered platform, all applicants get a couple of pages of feedback, including how they did in the game, how they did in the video interviews, what characteristics they have that fit, and if they don’t fit, the reason why they didn’t, and what they believe they should do to be successful in a future application.


Why it’s hot:
  Making experiences, even hiring experiences, feel more human with AI – The existing hiring process can leave candidates feeling confused, abandoned, and disadvantaged. Using AI and deep analysis helps hiring managers see candidates for who they are, outside of their age, gender, race, education, and socioeconomic status. Companies like Unilever aren’t just reducing their recruiting costs and time to hire- they’re setting an industry precedent that a candidate’s potential to succeed in the future doesn’t lie in who they know, where they came from or how they appear on paper.[Source: Pymetrics]

An actually engaging banner ad? I’m all ears.

Last week I was Googling some movies to watch. I clicked on a search result that led me to IMDB. To my surprise, I was greeted by Dumbo, who flew around my screen overtop of the content I was trying to view. After falling out of frame, he reappeared in what seemed to be a static banner on the side.

What did I just witness? Did I just see an elephant fly? It was unexpected. It was irrelevant. But it was kinda cool. I then proceeded to engage with the banner, wondering if Dumbo knew any more tricks. After clicking on the “watch video” button, Dumbo came back to life, flew out of the ad and back across my screen, leaving behind a pop-up of the trailer.

Sorry, no video—I took one on my phone but it was too large to upload. Hoping to share live.

Why it’s hot:

Upon closer inspection, this AR-like experience was nothing more than a cleverly placed pop-up that interacted with another cleverly placed banner ad. And although this technology is nothing new, it got my attention. In fact, this is probably the first time I intentionally clicked on a banner…ever? Let alone the first time I engaged with a banner that had nothing to do with the content I was viewing, or even anything I was remotely interested in. It was a smart idea with smart execution, which led to a click. What more could you ask for?

I’ve been returning to IMDB to see if there were any other cool ads like this. So far there haven’t been, although there was a somewhat similar pop-up for the Lion King, but it wasn’t nearly as innovative.

Ultimately, I believe this experience can best be summarized by the words of a particularly talented murder of musical crows:

But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see a elephant fly

When the rest of the world zigs, Burger King zags

On April 1st, 2019, Burger King introduced a meatless burger to the menu: the Impossible Whopper. They duped several BK customers and filmed their reactions to eating a fake Whopper.

April Fools, right? Wrong.

Burger King really is beta testing the plant-based Impossible Whopper at several locations around St. Louis.

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because BK picked a day when they knew everyone would be on the lookout for April Fool’s stunts. They knew they were going to get attention on April 1st and took advantage of it to introduce a new product.