Instagram Inception

Instagram has released a new feature which lets users interact with the photos and videos messaged to them in private conversations.

If you receive a photo or video, you can take that photo and draw on it, and then respond back with that photo in your new photo. If you’re replying to a video, Instagram only saves the first frame for replies.

Apply a filter, draw on your photo, add stickers, write text, and send it back with the original message included. According to TechCrunch, if you’re watching a story, you can either send a text reply, or you can send a photo/video, adding context to when someone is replying to part of your story.

Read more here.

Why its hot

Instagram is giving you more reasons to stay within the app, messaging more with your friends. You can do more than just watch a story or reply to a message with another message. This is much more engaging, allowing users to actually interact with the messages themselves and include them in a fun way to tell an even richer story.

‘Watch’ Out YouTube

Yesterday, Facebook launched Watch, a new service providing live or recorded video content. It has only rolled out to a handful of users and would appear as a tab in Facebook’s mobile, desktop and TV apps. Watch showcases channels, called Shows, and currently features content from a limited pool of content creators, including Nas Daily, which features one-minute clips from around the world each day, and motivational speaker Gabby Bernstein.

Perhaps most notably, Watch will feature a different game each week from Major League Baseball.

According to The Next Web, “[Facebook] is funding some shows and inviting independent creators to sign up to the platform on their own as well; once they’re in, they’ll get a Show Page (similar to Pages for brands) that fans can follow and find clips on.

For viewers, Facebook has included a watchlist that lets you save episodes to catch later; you’ll also be able to discover videos based on how people interact with them, in sections like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh,” (which includes shows where people have hit the “Haha” reaction button), and “What Friends Are Watching.”

Why Its Hot

Facebook may be out to eat YouTube’s and Netflix’s lunch, but will people want to spend even more time on Facebook? Of course, Facebook has a massive user base of two billion people monthly worldwide, and the eventual introduction of ads could attract major brands. This will come down to a question of quality. If Facebook can bring in major talent to produce content, combined with their user base, it could mean a real challenger for video king YouTube.

Microchip Implants for Employees? One Company Says Yes

On Aug. 1, employees at Three Square Market, a technology company in Wisconsin, can choose to have a chip the size of a grain of rice injected between their thumb and index finger. Once that is done, any task involving RFID technology — swiping into the office building, paying for food in the cafeteria — can be accomplished with a wave of the hand.

The program — a partnership between Three Square Market and the Swedish company Biohax International — is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, but it has already been done at a Swedish company, Epicenter. It raises a variety of questions, both privacy- and health-related.

“Much to my surprise, when we had our initial meeting to ask if this was something we wanted to look at doing, it was an overwhelming majority of people that said yes,” said Todd Westby, the chief executive of Three Square, noting that he had expected more reluctance. “It exceeded my expectations. Friends, they want to be chipped. My whole family is being chipped — my two sons, my wife and myself.”

British ASA Takes a Hard Line Against Stereotypes

Earlier this week, British regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Authority, announced plans to take a “tougher line” on “ads that mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes” in order to better serve the public. While the ASA cannot outright ban offensive ads, it can publicly recommend that certain campaigns be pulled. Most U.K. media companies follow the guidelines of the ASA.

Why Its Hot

Could something like this happen in the U.S.? There is no ASA-equivalent in the United States and consumers are more than happy to vote with their wallets and voice their disapproval loudly on social media. We all know the stories of brands having to pull ads after intense consumer backlash. And we’ve also seen several brands, such as Carl’s Jr. and Unilever, moving away from racy and stereotypical ads. With the shift into the digital age, it’s also harder for brands and agencies to justify their need for stereotypes.

The United States and Great Britain have effectively come to the same conclusion in very different ways as brands realize that stereotyping one or more segments of their audience will not help boost sales.

This New ‘Brandless’ Online Grocery Store Sells Everything for $3


Hate chain stores or big brand items? A new start-up, Brandless, has what you’re looking for. Co-founder and CEO, Tina Sharkey, writes in a post on Medium, “For us, Brandless is about more than any individual product we sell. It is about the true democratization of goodness. Meaning everyone deserves better stuff at affordable prices.”

Perhaps best of all? Every item is $3! Black beans? $3. Fair-trade Colombian coffee? $3. Peanut butter? You guessed it, $3.

But, as The Wall Street Journal points out, not every item is a money-saver. “The 115 products that will be initially available are generally more expensive than their big-brand rivals,” it notes. Jif beats Brandless by nine cents per ounce on peanut butter, for example, while Kraft is a 42-cent cheaper option for macaroni and cheese.

Brandless also doesn’t do anything perishable, which means no produce, meat, bread, dairy, or frozen goods. But the ostensible trade-off is that with Brandless, you get products that are non-GMO, enviro-friendly, and free of preservatives or other artificial ingredients. In addition, “well over half” are organic, the company says.

Why Its Hot

With Amazon seemingly taking over and changing how people shop, shoppers are looking for brands that are different, and what can be more different than a non-brand-brand? Despite their intention, however, you have to market yourself, and Brandless is a brand. It will be interesting to see if Brandless is able to find a foothold in the market or if their goods become just an interesting item you find in your friend’s kitchen.

Get Your Kicks on Instagram

Buy Nikes on Instagram.

After recently announcing a pilot sales program on Amazon, Nike has announced they will “seamlessly” offer shoes to consumers on Instagram. The new commitment positions the sneaker brand as one of the first major companies to invest its resources in Instagram as a way to sell products directly to consumers.

Most other brands have only experimented with shoppable tags since Instagram introduced the e-commerce feature in November. Brands can tag their photos with links to products that show up the same way a tag of a friend or another Instagram user would. Instagram, for its part, is still navigating how to support brands without turning the app into an e-commerce site.

Selling through social media is a way of circumventing wholesale partners such as department stores, and taking more control of their distribution. Nike’s initiative highlights this idea, as it is aimed at selling athletic gear directly to customers.

Read the full story here.

Why Its Hot

There is a delicate balance to be struck between being social and pushing sales. Social media is like a friend you want to spend time with. You wouldn’t like it if your pal turned round and started flogging you a new handbag. Instagram is not taking a cut of any revenues generated from shopping through the app. But there’s always a possibility that strategy could change in the future. Many luxury brands have a huge following on Instagram, so it will be interesting to see which other brands follow Nike if they experience success.


IBM’s Watson Serves Up Highlights at Wimbledon

The Wimbledon tennis tournament begins this Monday, and IBM’s famous AI, Watson, will be joining the coverage to serve up video highlights from matches, analytics, and take guests on a tour of the All England Tennis Club, where the tournament is being held.

A voice-activated digital assistant called “Fred,” named after British tennis great Fred Perry, will help those attending Wimbledon find their way around. Another IBM technology will help fans find matches that are likely to be the most exciting to watch by analyzing player statistics.The systems on display at AELTC, called SlamTracker with Cognitive Keys to the Match, will also give fans insights into the game, highlighting what kinds of tactics each player is likely to use against that particular opponent. It will also predict, at any given moment, which player is most likely to prevail based on the state of the game and their past performance.

IBM will also be using artificial intelligence to automatically compile highlight reels for matches taking place on six of Wimbledon’s courts. This system will look at everything from the importance of a point to the game’s outcome, the noise of the crowd reacting to that point, the volume and sentiment of social media posts and even facial analysis of the players themselves, to determine the best portions of video to include in a highlight reel for that game. Willis said the technology will be able to put together highlight videos in less than 30 minutes — compared to 45 minutes to an hour for the human editors.

Full story

Why Its Hot

The automatic generation of highlights is something that’s going to become increasingly important in all sports, as fans have an insatiable appetite for them, and it’s simply not feasible for even the most dedicated technicians to keep up. Maybe not so fun if your job is to cut and post these highlight videos, however.

Facebook Has a New Mission

As Facebook approaches 2 billion monthly users, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed a new mission statement, to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

Zuckerberg announced the change today at the Facebook Communities Summit for top Group admins where it announced new Group management tools. “For the last decade or so we’ve been focusing on making the world more open and connected. But I used to think that if we just give people a voice and help some people connect that that would make the world a whole lot better by itself,” Zuckerberg admits. “Look around and our society is still so divided. We have a responsibility to do more, not just to connect the world but to bring the world closer together.”

Rather than have the new mission be just a philosophy, Zuckerberg says Facebook is turning it into a goal. “We want to help 1 billion people join meaningful communities. If we can do this it will not only reverse the whole decline in community membership we’ve seen around the world… but it will also strengthen our social fabric and bring the world closer together.” Right now Facebook considers there to be only 100 million meaningful group members.

Why Its Hot

Given Facebook’s issue with “fake news” and inconsistent enforcement of community guidelines, it will be interesting to see what changes they implement as part of their new mission statement. There are many, many communities in the world and they tend to clash with one another. How will Facebook “bring the world closer together” while also keeping abusive, harmful, and “fake” content offline? And how will they determine that content?

Additionally, how do ads fit in? We’re already seeing 15 sec. ads on just about every video. Will Facebook put its mission statement ahead of their bottom line?

The Incredible Weed Whacking Robot

Tertill Cutting a Weed

The ‘Tertill’ by Franklin Robotics is an autonomous robot that takes care of those pesky weeds growing in your garden. It’s solar-powered and waterproof, so you can leave it outside without worry.

Created by roboticist Joe Jones – inventor of the Roomba – Franklin Robotics’ Tertill is designed to live in your garden and take care of the weeding, come rain or shine.

Tertill patrols the garden daily, avoiding plants and obstacles while looking for weeds to eliminate. Tertill has a very simple method: weeds are short, plants are tall. A plant tall enough to touch the front of Tertill’s shell activates a sensor that makes the robot turn away. A plant short enough to pass under Tertill’s shell, though, activates a different sensor that turns on the weed cutter. A guard placed around smaller plants keeps them safe from Tertill.

Tertill has raised over $78,000 of its $150,000 goal on Kickstarter.

Why Its Hot

Just another way robots are changing the way we work. With AI and robots already replacing humans in everything from factories to bars and restaurants, soon we won’t even be doing our own gardening at home.


Would You Mind?

In an attempt to close their gap with Amazon, Walmart is offering employees the opportunity to deliver online customer purchases on their way home for pay.

Currently running at two stores, one in New Jersey, and one in Arkansas, the program aims at using one of Walmart’s biggest assets – more than a million U.S. store employees. Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said the program is entirely voluntary. He declined to specify the pay, but said finding the right compensation is part of the test. And he said the retailer will comply with all applicable state and federal labor laws, such as those covering overtime.

Walmart says they also considered having other customers deliver packages, but said having employees do it allowed for greater control.

Why It’s Hot

Often under fire from labor groups, Walmart is betting they can compete with online giant Amazon by giving their employees more work (for more pay). Why not just have employees deliver packages during the work day? The employees will be paid extra, but how far out of the way are they expected to go? Seems like a program that has more questions than answers if Walmart wants to dominate the e-commerce scene.

Name That Tune

We’re so used to the apps we use every day just working. When Twitter or Facebook or Google go down, everybody panics! But what happens if our favorite apps simply forgot what they were supposed to be doing.

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam—the ability to forget.

“The Day Shazam Forgot” was a collaboration in which Shazam appeared to have trouble remembering the songs people asked it to identify. When the app finally “remembered” the track, users were driven to a call to action about Alzheimer’s disease and invited to donate to the cause.

The campaign also used Shazam’s existing Shazam Again feature to promote its message.

The effort ran through the month of April in the U.K. In mere hours, the agency says, “The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page. (Hopefully they remembered their credit card information.)

Why Its Hot

It can be difficult for nonprofits with a singular focus to find marketing opportunities within existing apps. Finding the right audience is one challenge, but so is fitting your message in a way that actually makes sense.

This is a great example of cause marketing and the types of engagements you can create when the right partnership presents itself.

Someone Please Buy This Guy’s Car!

Last moth, Eugene Romanovsky posted an ad to sell “my best friend,” his 1996 Suzuki Vitara on YouTube. This absolutely amazing video has amassed over 3.9 million views and reportedly two thousand offers to buy his car.

Eugene’s “adventures” with the Vitara include evading the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, thundering down the desert dunes alongside Mad Max and the War Boys convoy in Mad Max: Fury Road and diving into the depths of the ocean to swim with sharks.

In case you’re wondering, Eugene is Creative Director/ VFX Supervisor/ Head of Motion GFX dep. at Gravity – an international Creative, Design, Animation and Effects group, situated in sunny Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Why It’s Hot

Just because your objective is simple—like selling a car—doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box and have fun!


Can Facebook Turn Blue Into Green?

Can advertisers target teens when they’re feeling sad? Facebook might want to help them find out. Facebook came under fire this week when leaked documents showed Facebook Australia promoted advertising campaigns that exploit Facebook users’ emotional states—and how these are aimed at users as young as 14 years old.

According to the report in The Australian, the selling point of this 2017 document is that Facebook’s algorithms can determine, and allow advertisers to pinpoint, “moments when young people need a confidence boost.” If that phrase isn’t clear enough, Facebook’s document offers a litany of teen emotional states that the company claims it can estimate based on how teens use the service, including “worthless,” “insecure,” “defeated,” “anxious,” “silly,” “useless,” “stupid,” “overwhelmed,” “stressed,” and “a failure.”

The data is specific to teens in Australia and New Zealand only.

Facebook responded to the report: “Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state. The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook. It was never used to target ads and was based on data that was anonymous and aggregated.”

Why its hot

Facebook knows everything about us and this ability to gather incredibly intimate data raises obvious ethical questions. Should a pharma brand be able to target medication to mother’s with sick children? Should a sports supplement brand be able to target kids who feel weak?

Monkeys in Magenta

After seven years, the digital band, Gorillaz, are releasing a new album, and as part of their promotion, a new app is encouraging people to find the color magenta to unlock unique content.

Deutsche Telekom has created the Lenz app that will unlock new content for users whenever they hover it over something magenta — the brand’s corporate color.

The brand has teamed up with the virtual band, Gorillaz, to launch the Lenz app, which was created by Saatchi & Saatchi for the Deutsche Telekom music and lifestyle platform, Electronic Beats. With the new app, when a user finds something magenta (it could be a t-shirt, a flower or anyting that matches the Pantone range), they can hold their phone over it, to reveal new content from Gorillaz, including the first ever “live” interview with the band using motion capture and composition technology, and exclusive clips from the band’s new album “Humanz,” dropping on April 28. The app uses Chroma Keying technology to use the color to unlock the content. 

Why It’s Hot

This is a really cool activation. It is great positioning for Deutsche Telekom because it’s not overly intrusive or brand-heavy. And Gorillaz of course gain additional buzz around their upcoming album. I think this is a great example of a brand involving itself in a moment without trying to take it over.

Can 4/20 Be the Healthiest Day of the Year?

When people think about 4/20, they’re probably not thinking of healthy activities, but cannabis health and wellness company, Hmbldt wants to change that—with the help of their products, of course.

The company’s product line consists of vape pens that are designed to distribute controlled hits of cannabis designed to help to alleviate common ailments such as pain and insomnia — without getting its consumers high.

Yesterday, the company rolled out “GO420,” a social effort that will highlight 420 healthy ways to enjoy April 20 via the hashtag #GO420. Gifs and videos offer tips like “Go make a dream come true,” “Go take a pottery class,” “Go tell your partner you love them,” “Go do push-ups in the park,” “Go tell your partner a sexy secret.”

Why It’s Hot

  • Putting the consumer first by leveraging what is likely their biggest moment and making it about personal health rather than buying a product.
  • Campaigns like this create excellent affinity and lifelong ambassadors for a brand.