Immersive Branding

Google is redefining how we perceive the multiple “realities” we have been wrangling to understand to begin with by introducing Immersive Computing.

On one end of the human experience, you have reality. Living, breathing, non-digital reality. It’s great. Usually. In the middle, as technology becomes more “immersive,” you have augmented reality. Basically, graphics start to float in front of your eyes on top of the real world–like a monster in Pokémon Go. Then, eventually, as more and more of these graphics are layered over your perception, you naturally segue into virtual reality. At the right end of the spectrum, all reality has been replaced with pixels.

Basically, this is saying that the existing range of really distinct experiences or technological paradigms, aren’t different, but are all a gradient. And as technology advances and devices merge, immersive computing will allow us to pick and choose how much reality get (or don’t get). It’s the ability to dive as deeply (or shallowly) into the digital world as we’d like, at any time we’d would like, through glasses, or goggles, or a screen, or contact lenses…but preferably a Google device (Wink! Wink!)

And it’s also a way for Google (and brands) to eventually be able to hack our perception at a moment’s notice…In gradients of course.

Why It’s Hot:

New interesting way to frame immersive technologies- one that is more palatable to general audiences

  • By consolidating all their “reality related” interface experiments under one tech genre, Google is positioning themselves as the leaders in the category
  • It’s also an indicator of where they are going to be taking headsets/glasses, and possibly Samsung’s contacts.

Source:

Google takes its Street View cars up to space

Google Street View has finally found an address that won’t be blocked by a giant UPS truck: outer space.


Story on TechCrunch

Click on a blue hot spot and get an explanation of what the item is.

Why it’s Hot
This project can serve as motivation for kids curious about STEM careers, similar to the Lockheed Martin “Field Trip to Mars” project from 2016. Also, it’s a fun way to spend 15 minutes at work.

Watch a bear play in an Alaskan waterfall right from Google Earth

Thanks to Voyager, Google Earth’s storytelling platform, you can now basically take an even deeper look at Alaska without having to leave your couch.

Voyager, which is essentially a collection of guided stories and tours based on maps, began streaming live content Thursday, starting with Katmai National Park in Alaska. There are five live cams in Voyager for people to use to explore.

Google partnered with Explore.org, a multimedia organization that hosts several nature livestreams, to bring this new feature to life.

To access the livestreams, users just open up the Google Earth application and head to the menu icon on the top lefthand corner of the screen. From there, simply click “Voyager,” which is demarcated by a ship’s wheel, and head to the “Nature” tab. The livestreams are branded with “explore.org” in the lower left-hand side. When we watched, we saw a bear splashing around in a waterfall and later on, another casually walking through a river.

Google didn’t say whether even more live cams would make their way to Google Earth (and when that’d be), but Explore.org founder Charles Annenberg Weingarten seems to hint at more to come in a post on Medium.

“So, please join Google and Explore.org and discover the “live world.” Whether it be the brown bears of Katmai National Park, the wild belugas and polar bears of the arctic, the bald eagles of Iowa, the elephants and hippos of Africa, the pandas of China, or a live birth of a puppy who will one day become a service dog for a soldier with PTSD — welcome to our family,” he wrote.

Source: Mashable

Why It’s Hot

Love the immersive nature of what Google Earth is and can become. The possibilities are exciting to think about.

Google giveth, and Google taketh away

Google is playing with my heart again.

Earlier this week Google announced that it will stop scanning the contents of Gmail in order to deliver targeted ads. Google said it’s stopping this practice in order to “more closely align” its business and consumer products. Businesses – who pay for G Suite – have the power to put their foot down where consumers do not.

At the same time Google announced it is launching an auto-reply system that scans emails and generates possible responses to choose from.

gmail

The new functionality, added to the app store versions of Gmail, works by analyzing a large, anonymized body of email to generate possible responses. Machine-learning systems then rank these to pick the “best responses to the email at hand”. Google is keen to emphasise that its system knows its limits. Not everything merits an automated response – only about one-third of emails are covered.

Most email is unnecessary and most email responses are perfunctory acknowledgements – verbal read-receipts. In the war for control of your inbox, Gmail may have given us an important missile defence shield. Nice! Thanks! Love it!

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/shortcuts/2017/jun/27/nice-thanks-love-it-gmails-auto-reply-is-perfect-for-the-lazy-emailer?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Why It’s Hot (or not)
As the behemoths continue to get bigger, their power to impact the ways we interact (or not) continues to grow. The war between ease and humanity continues.

No One Lies to Google

Recently Vox came out with an article interviewing Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. Who said that polling that predicted Hillary Clinton’s win might have been up ended if pollsters had been exposed to data from Google.

Stephens did a deep dive into Google Trends under the hypothesis that people lie to pollsters, but they don’t lie to Google. He saw trends in increased searches of racial epithets and analyzed area data to find intent to vote (searching for polling places, researching candidates, etc.)

“There was a darkness and hatred that was hidden from traditional sources,” Stephens-Davidowitz says. “Those searches are hard to reconcile with a society in which racism is a small factor.”

When asked what he sees as his most startling finding…

I’m pretty convinced that the United States has a self-induced abortion crisis right now based on the volume of search inquiries. I was blown away by how frequently people are searching for ways to do abortions themselves now. These searches are concentrated in parts of the country where it’s hard to get an abortion and they rose substantially when it became harder to get an abortion. They’re also, I calculate, missing pregnancies in these states that aren’t showing up in either abortion or birth rates.

Why It’s Hot:

We are at a point of crisis in polling and electoral faith, if we have Google data to help us match results this might restore confidence in our system. This also can help point us to where people are under served or suffering in our country. By keeping anonymity, this lie free data collection keeps users protected but could use data for good…. or bad, I guess.

Source: https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/6/13/15768622/facebook-social-media-seth-stephens-davidowitz-everybody-lies

Apple and Google to Implement Ad Blocker in Web Browsers

On Monday, Apple at its developer conference that it will start blocking autoplay videos on its Safari web browser and will add a feature that stops ad tracking technology from using a user’s web behavior to target ads to them.

Google also reportedly will officially move ahead with its Chrome ad blocker sometime next year and will block any site which hosts ad units that don’t adhere to a set of third-party standards — basically, most sites on the Internet. The Financial Times also reported that Google is creating a feature that will allow publishers to charge users who use ad-blockers on a page-per-view basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot:

Safari (10%) and Chrome (51%) make up most of the desktop search market in the U.S., according to comScore, and over 68% of mobile traffic in the U.S., which means that their efforts to curb ads that damage user experience will have a significant impact on the marketplace. These changes will force publishers to develop new advertising techniques.

Immediately following the announcement by Apple, ad retargeting firm Criteo’s stocks tumbled. Earlier this year, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO of media and technology firm LUMA Partners, said consolidation in the ad tech space (mostly driven by policy changes and user demands) will cause 90% of the companies to go out of business.

Gone In 6 Seconds

Australian retailer Myer hosted a flash sale using YouTube’s six-second pre-roll ad slots.

The 6 Second Sale ads feature more than 100 Myer products with discounts greater than those available in store and online by 5%. Viewers have only six seconds (the length of the pre-roll ad) to secure the deal being offered, with those that manage to click on the offer in time are taken to a pre-populated shopping cart on Myer’s site.

The campaign created using Google’s Vogon –  customization tool that lets brands create unlimited variations of the same ad by changing the text, audio or images. The targeting used in the 6 Second Sale ensures no YouTube user will see the same ad twice.

The 6 Second Sale is being promoted through Myer’s website, social channels, catalog and print.

Why It’s Hot

-It merges shopping impulse with a platform experience that times out in a very short amount of time

-Leverages scarcity to heighten the need to buy and drive sales

-Great example of a brand “hacking” a platform to drive a campaign

 

 

Brands Taking a Stand

It doesn’t take a political science degree to know that civic discourse in the U.S. is strained. As tensions wear on, brands are entering conversations they might’ve shunned in the past. But how do they ensure their statements and actions ring true?

Ben Jones, creative director at Google, recently spoke with agency and content leaders in a panel conversation at a SXSW conference to unpack how socially conscious brands can take a stand—and remain standing—through a fraught period.

Why It’s Hot: More and more consumers expect brands to be socially conscious and to have a perspective that causes the safe space to disappear. Taking a stand requires genuine and authentic brand actions. Owning the actions is more important than making the statement.

 

From Goggles to Lenses

Google just released Google Lens, and while we are mandated to go into frenzy mode, a closer look makes the unveiling a bit lackluster after all is said and done.
According to Google’s CEO,  “Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based on what you are looking at.”

Sound familiar? It should…

The tech and use cases are not new. Yelp has long been using Monocle, Amazon has already introduced Flow, and Pinterest Lens has been around for a while. Also, this looks more like a Google Goggles 2.0 release. Since people were not ready for that, seems they have modified it to better fit existing behaviors vs. developing new ones.

What sets this apart from the rest is that, with Google being a search-driven platforms, the capabilities of the product are extended. But this may not be a good thing. While Amazon, Yelp, and Pinterest uses are more narrow and specific, resulting in the likelihood of desired results, the vastness of Google increases the chances of the results missing the mark. For example, I point it to a flower expecting to know where to buy it, and instead, it tells me whether it’s poisonous or not.

Now, what makes this unique is how it can integrate with Google Assistant, allowing users to use voice, images, or a combination of both to conduct searches. This also allows it to live across multiple Google platforms, which makes the adoption of the tech more likely.

This is where it gets interesting for advertisers. If this takes off, this gives us an entire new way to connect with consumers across all of Google’s products, and will probably force us to rethink the customer journey. While unknown, it’s exciting given new uncharted “media frontiers” don’t come about that often. From a data collection standpoint, it can also give us new (and hopefully) better way determine use intent.

Why It’s Hot

  • It’s surprising to see a tech giant unveil something so “meh”.
  • On the bright side it’s an opportunity for our brands to begin testing a new tech with a solid potential of adoption.
  • It’s a good example of a tech company pivoting to better suit existing behaviors vs. developing new ones.

Source.

Google wants to make you look funny

 

Google wants to make you look funny with fun bitmojis!

Instead of analyzing a photo of you pixel by pixel, Google’s algorithms recognize “qualitative features” of your face such as eye color, and then turn them over to another algorithm which picks from more than 563 quadrillion combinations to make a funny image that sort of looks like you.

As you might imagine, all of this was quite a challenge for Google’s team of artists and scientists. One issue in particular was avoiding the so called “uncanny valley,” a psychological phenomenon which makes an illustration of a human that’s very similar, but not quite identical to the real thing, creepy to humans.

Why its hot?

  • I feel like bitmoji is getting its mojo back by partnering with Snapchat but this is a fun twist
  • This makes me want to download the app, and i dont care about bitmoji at allllll.
  • The video speaks for itself, its a very interactive app and you can save the emojis to share outside of the platform

googler creates AI that creates video using one image…

One of the brilliant minds at Google has developed an algorithm that can (and has) create video from a single image. The AI does this by predicting what each of the next frames would be based on the previous one, and in this instance did it 100,000 times to produce the 56 minute long video you see above. Per its creator:

“I used videos recorded from trains windows, with landscapes that moves from right to left and trained a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm with it. What you see at the beginning is what the algorithm produced after very little learnings. It learns more and more during the video, that’s why there are more and more realistic details. Learnings is updated every 20s. The results are low resolution, blurry, and not realistic most of the time. But it resonates with the feeling I have when I travel in a train. It means that the algorithm learned the patterns needed to create this feeling. Unlike classical computer generated content, these patterns are not chosen or written by a software engineer.

Why it’s hot:

Creativity and imagination have been among the most inimitable human qualities since forever. And anyone who’s ever created anything remotely artistic will tell you inspiration isn’t as easy as hitting ‘go’. While this demonstration looks more like something you’d see presented as an art school video project than a timeless social commentary regaled in a museum, it made me wonder – what if bots created art? Would artists compete with them? Would they give up their pursuit because bots can create at the touch of a button? Would this spawn a whole new area of human creativity out of the emotion of having your work held up next to programmatic art? Could artificial intelligence ever create something held up against real human creativity?

Google’s New AI Tool is a Pandora’s Box of Possibilities

It’s a simple idea: turn a selfie into cartoon character stickers (emojis) of yourself. Google’s new Allo app, touted by the company as a “smart messaging app” that lets you “express yourself better” includes this new AI feature that uses your smartphone camera and facial recognition technology to generate detailed facial expressions to suit every emotion. According to Fast Co, Google thinks there are 563 quadrillion faces that the tool could generate.

“Illustrations let you bring emotional states in a way that selfies can’t.” Selfies are, by definition, idealizations of yourself. Emoji, by contrast, are distillations and exaggerations of how you feel. To that end, the emoji themselves are often hilarious: You can pick one of yourself as a slice of pizza, or a drooling zombie. “The goal isn’t accuracy,” explains Cornwell. “It’s to let someone create something that feels like themselves, to themselves.” 

Full article here

Why it’s hot:

  • It’s another layer on personalization in social media and messaging apps that Snapchat and Instagram will look to integrate. It could also mean the end of Bitmoji as we know it.
  • On a deeper level, there could be many applications outside of entertainment for this type of technology. If you can use AI to better express how you feel to a doctor or nurse, for example, a whole new world of communication could be opened up.
  • And going broader, there’s a big question: as messaging apps get smarter and smarter, do our interactions through them become more or less valuable? When AI is the go-between, are we better expressing ourselves, or is it a substitute for real interaction?

Publishers fear fallout of Google-backed ad blocker

Publishers are responding to a Wall Street Journal report that Google is reportedly launching an ad blocker for Chrome with official cheer but private skepticism and fear.

Officially — and on the record — publishers are genuflecting at the altar of user experience, welcoming moves by Google or other companies to improve online advertising. But go on background, conversations turn to the inevitable imbalance of power when it comes to the duopoly of Facebook and Google. And for some, the move smacks of hypocrisy. Here’s Google, vacuuming up the largest share of digital advertising, positioning itself as the arbiter of what ads constitute a poor user experience. Don’t expect a half page of ads at the top of a search results page to get dinged, no matter the third-party Google officially christens as the standard bearer.

Google is yet to make an official announcement, but the Journal reported that Google’s criteria for what ads should be blocked, stems from the industry committee-led Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a founding member. That means pop-ups and autoplaying video ads with sound, and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers, formats which the Coalition has previously deemed unacceptable, could be blocked. Most wouldn’t object to these particular ads, but these type of things tend to snowball. And these days, few publishers are in the mood to give any platform carte blanche.

One scenario Google is considering is to block all advertising that appear on sites with offending ads, instead of just the offending ads themselves.  That in and of itself is enough to set off alarm bells for publishers.

While many publishers share Google’s interests in keeping the web safe for digital advertising, publishers aren’t without fear of Google’s dominance. The Coalition is described as a big tent, with Google being a founding member, but some members privately say they consider the Coalition to essentially be a front for Google. As evidence of the search giant’s power, many publishers contacted for this story said they were under strict NDA with Google not to breathe a word about the ad blocking plans. That alone speaks volumes to the power dynamic at play here.

Why It’s Hot

1.) If nothing else, a Google ad blocker could put the onus on publishers to clean up the web (although the fact that it’d be Google making them do it makes it easier to sell it to advertisers).  Higher quality publishers will prevail on the chrome browser.

On the flip side:

2.) While this could be a good thing in general, allowing Google to have more say in thinking they’re leading a brand safety charge concerns me.  After the YouTube issues they’ve had, this is just another step to them gaining more control in their empire/monopoly.  Will they act the same toward their owned and operated categories?

3.) If Google goes ahead with these plans, it can undermine publishers’ own progress in reducing ad blocking. “We may now have to have two ad blocking strategies, one for Chrome and another for everything else,” said John Barnes, chief digital officer at Incisive Media.

YouTube Brand Safety Issues Threaten Sales

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

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

Why It’s Hot

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

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

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

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

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Alexa, we have a problem

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

Google Home

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

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

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

https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2017/03/21/google-home-vs-amazon-echo-for-shopping.html

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

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

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

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

MRC Accredidations Affect Doubleclick Calculations

DoubleClick Digital Marketing and DoubleClick for Publishers are shifting the method used for calculating impressions from “served” to “count on download.” This count on download method follows changes the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC) made in April 2016 to count impressions after a user’s device indicates that creative download has begun. The previous served counting method records an impression when an ad server receives a request for content.

March 1: Active View calculations use count on download methodology

Starting on March 1, Active View calculations that are based on impressions use downloaded impressions. Overall, the change to Active View calculations will likely result in an increase in viewability rates.

Since Active View data is used across DoubleClick Digital Marketing, you’ll see updates throughout the platform wherever this data appears, including Verification in DCM.

Q3 2017: Impressions metric uses count on download methodology

In the final phase of the transition, the count on download methodology becomes the measurement of record for DoubleClick Digital Marketing in Q3 2017. At this time:

  • The Impressions metric will be computed using the count on download methodology that you can preview with the Downloaded Impressions metric.
  • Billing and attribution that is based on the Impressions metric will use the count on download methodology.

Why It’s Hot

Finally, Google is getting their butts in shape and our clients are going to benefit.  Before, Google was counting an impression at the ad call- beginning in Q3 they will count at the actual ad load.  Given that there could be a significant drop off (think up to 40% on mobile*) between the ad call and ad load, our clients will gain efficiency by paying for only ads that people have the opportunity to actually see (bc it loaded!).  This could ultimately improve performance, and we don’t really even have to do a thing!

Source

*Based off information provided by S4M

I hate the idea of “Smart clothes” but its happening. Levi’s and Google to blame.

Some interesting new technology has hit SXSW and is coming to a store near you this fall. Levi’s and Google have partnered to create a denim shirt enhanced with tech for $350 a pop. I don’t know how I feel about it because enough is enough, right? WRONG. According to Juniper Research, wearables are expected to be a $19 billion industry by 2018.

The smart Commuter jacket, which was introduced over the weekend at SXSW in Austin, is aimed at those who bike to work. It has technology woven into its fibers, and allows users to take phone calls, get directions and check the time, by tapping and swiping their sleeves. That delivers information to them through their headphones so that they can keep their eyes on the road without having to fiddle with a screen.

Why its hot!

  • Wearable’s like Fitbit have seen a decline in sales, resulting in job cuts and budget cuts, its interesting that Google and Levi’s have decided to move forward with an idea like this given the market.
  • This is a wearable but its more so about the fabric.
  • Wearables are expected to be a $19 billion industry by 2018 or this jacket could be the first of many new clothing options.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/14/how-google-and-levis-smart-jacket-shows-whats-coming-next-for-wearables/?utm_term=.4079a6ae4642

Android Instant Apps Made Available for Testing

Generally, to use an app on a mobile device, you first need to download and install it. With Instant Apps, an app can run right away — similar to loading a web page — without having to go through the installation process.

Google says that it has been working with a small number of developers to test the user and developer experience over the last few months. The result is a limited test that includes apps from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki. Google plan to roll-out instant apps to more developers once they have collected enough feedback from their current partners.

bh-device

Why It’s Hot:

“Instant Apps is really about re-thinking where apps are going,” saysGoogle VP of Engineering for Android Dave Burke “Web pages are ephemeral. They appear, you use them, and never think about them again.” Installing apps, on the other hand, comes with a lot of friction and users often only want to perform a single action or get a specific piece of information (say pay for parking with an app in a city you don’t often travel to). Ideally, Instant Apps gives you the speed of a light web page with all of the benefits of a native app.

Google Takes on Cable!

 

Google just joined the “skinny bundle” TV war with YouTube TV, a paid subscription service that streams a slew of premium broadcast and cable networks to your mobile device, tablet, computer, and anything with Chromecast.

Just $35 a month gets you six accounts and access to live TV from more than 40 providers including the big broadcast networks, ESPN, regional sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks. Subscriptions include cloud DVR with unlimited storage, AI-powered search and personalization, and access to YouTube Red programming.

YouTube TV joins a growing wave of services, including Dish’s Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and AT&T’s new DirectTV Now, with a similar web TV offering from Hulu expected soon. And like these other options, unfortunately, YouTube still has some holes with its offering.

Big networks like CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox, are on board, but several premium channels, like MTV and CNN, aren’t. You can add content like Showtime and soccer for an added fee, but some content comes with restrictions. If you’re a pro football fan, for example, you’ll have to watch games on your TV or computer because the NFL’s deal with Verizon made it off-limits to your mobile device. And no matter what you watch or what you watch it on, you may see ads.

The company won’t say when the service launches, but says you can expect it in the US in the “coming weeks and months.”

Why It’s Hot

While the offering is new, and we don’t know what they’ll bring to the table in regards to advertising opportunities, this is a smart way for YouTube to gain more ground with quality content and reaching cord cutters (especially ones that are on a budget!).  This is especially pertinent to one of our clients, as we’ve seen higher ROI on TV-like experiences vs. the traditional YouTube or other video buys online.  It will allow us to diversify where we find video content.

Using Tech to Get Away From Tech

 

Consumers are looking for the right balance when it comes to technology. Smart brands are tapping into people’s desires to disconnect.

Dolmio, a pasta sauce company created the ‘pepper hacker’ – a device that automatically disables surrounding Wi-Fi – to help families reclaim dinner time.

 

Why it’s hot….

  1. Using tech to get people away from tech
  2. Keeping consumers top of mind outside of the category

Google Opens Up YouTube and Ad Platforms for Measurement Audit

On the heels of Facebook’s decision to undergo an audit by industry watchdog the Media Rating Council, Google has agreed to have its metrics vetted, too.

The Alphabet-owned site is opening up YouTube ad inventory and ad-buying platforms DoubleClick Manager and AdWords that allow for the MRC to track stats including viewability and how long a video was watched. The audit includes three of Google’s biggest third-party metrics companies: Moat, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science. The audit will examine how the three companies pull their data, including the technology that plugs into YouTube and the methodology used to measure digital metrics. The MRC tapped Ernst & Young to conduct the review.

“The audit will validate that data collection, aggregation and reporting for served video impressions, viewable impressions, related viewability statistics and General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) across desktop and mobile for each integration adheres to MRC and IAB standards,” said Google’s senior director of product management Babak Pahlavan in a blog post.

The move should help add a bit of transparency for advertisers who have increasingly asked for better metrics and insight into their campaigns with Facebook and Google, which receive about 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising. Both Facebook and Google are notorious for being “walled gardens” that do not let measurement companies in and self-report their own metrics.

Facebook has been under particularly high scrutiny with a number of mistakes to its metrics in the past six months. In November, Facebook began revamping some of its metrics and added a blog that focuses specifically on measurement issues.

Why It’s Hot

Getting both Facebook and Google on board with MRC audits could quell marketers’ frustrations as they push for industry-wide standards to grade their campaigns.  It’s been a constant frustration that these partners have not obliged to be measured the same way as pretty much any other partner in the industry, so this will be a step in the right direction for equalizing the playing field in regards to measurement… along with adding a little more comfort to knowing that the metric are legitimate.

 

Google Home Adds Voice Shopping For Everyday Items

Starting today, you can shop using Google Assistant on Google Home from retailers who support Google Express, including stores like Costco, Whole Foods, Walgreens, PetSmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond. The service links directly from Google Assistant, which supports voice search that drives searches for the company’s connected smart speaker, to its Express shopping service.

Consumers will have an option to say things like “Okay, Google, order Scott paper towels,” and as long as the brand participates in Google Express, the order is received and processed. If the consumer doesn’t know the brand, they only need to say “order paper towels” or “buy water” and Google Assistant will run through the options available through more than 50 national and locally available retailers.

For now consumers can order things that cost between $4 and $100. Google Assistant recites back the price that includes tax, which in most cases is determined by the location of the store in which the items are purchased.
All you have to do to get started is input your payment info and shipping address in the Settings menu of the Google Home app.

Why It’s Hot

Convenience and the shopping experience, especially for those everyday purchases like laundry detergent, paper towels and dog food. It was only a matter of time that Google would enter the connected home shopping experience with their voice-activated Google Home. Amazon has allowed us to do this through its own Alexa voice assistant.

Currently, Google Express shopping offers access to over 50 retailers for same-day delivery in 12 states. Similar to Amazon Prime, Google charges an annual membership fee. There’s also a minimum order amount and a delivery fee associated with Express. Until April 30, Google is waiving the fee.

On another note, Amazon and Google are considering another new use for their popular home speakers: becoming the home phone. Amazon Echo and Google Home could be used to make or receive calls. The feature could be rolled out sometime this year. Wouldn’t it be great to not have to carry your cell phone all the time in your house.

I Bet You Guys Are Wondering Why I’m Writing About Dresses…


Hopefully that headline got you – my colleagues in the NYC office – to stop on my post even though I’m not there to present it.

Without leaving you in too much suspense, it’s because Google recently partnered with H&M’s “digital fashion house” Ivyrevel to create something called “Coded Couture”.

The fashion influencers currently (beta) experiencing this new phenomenon will end up with completely bespoke dresses, designed based on data gathered from their activities over the course of a week.

How it ostensibly works is – they will download an app (to be released more broadly later this year), which will monitor “who they are”, what they do, and where they go, and the data captured will inform a design meant to reflect their unique personalities.

In the words of one of Ivyrevel’s co-founders, “The Data Dress enables women around the world to order a dress made entirely for them, that reflects the way they live their lives.”

Why it’s hot so hot right now (pls read in Will Ferrel Mugatu voice)

The idea of creating physical things informed by digital data is yet another example of digital transforming the physical world. Most often previously, data has helped personalize digital experiences, this is obviously data informing a physical object. If this became commonplace (/when it does), instead of choosing from mass produced options, everything we wear and use could be completely tailored for our individual lives/lifestyles.

But most of all, I’m just really curious how I would look in a data dress.

What do you guys think?

Elaborate Click-Fraud Scam Makes Headlines, Questions Digital Integrity

As reported today by AdAge, a Texas jury last week ordered TriMax Media, a digital advertising agency specializing in search engine marketing, to pay one of its competitors $2.3 million for executing an elaborate click-fraud scam.

After TriMax,  lost a client to competitor  Wickfire,  TriMax began bidding on search terms associated with 140 Wickfire clients and clicking on those ads in search results, driving up clients’ search advertising costs.

Wickfire clients became frustrated over the small returns they got from their ad spending, even though it seemed like potential customers were clicking on their ads. “(They) couldn’t believe it,” Chet Hall, CEO and founder of Wickfire said. “I had to spend months talking to them.”

TriMax also created false Google AdWords accounts in the names of key WickFire employees and used them to buy fake ads that looked like they were coming from Wickfire. That made it appear as if Wickfire was in direct violation of contracts with its clients, affiliate networks and Google, creating reprehensible damage to Wickfire and the brands it represents.

Why It’s Hot:

Such high-profile examples of ethical violations are the exception not the norm. They do however, erode the public’s (and business’s) credibility in digital marketing, bad news for all. While brands take diligent, deliberate steps to build their reputations over years and years, it can wash away in a blink with one fowl play. It can easily be indirectly caused by the hand of a partner they trusted to act ethically on their behalf, pressured to differentiate or shave off valuable pennies on a CPC, CPA or CPM to maintain competitive edge.

One of the pillars of digital media is its culpable trackability – reliant on our sources of data and measurement to be accurate and unbiased. But amid several other recent examples of measurement missteps- from bigger entities Facebook and Google, to name a few – we’re reminded how reliant we are on standards, checks and balances (such as those constantly iterated by bodies like the IAB or MRC) to stay far enough ahead of the curve so we can maintain this delicate balance we make our daily trade.

Google Expands Beyond Maps, Plans to Recreate Building Interiors in 3-D

Google already maps the world, but the internet giant has bigger plans for its next location-based technology.

The Alphabet Inc. unit wants to digitally map the interiors of buildings in 3-D down to a resolution of a few inches, and make money in virtual reality along the way, through a project named Tango.

The company plans a big expansion of the technology this year and ultimately wants to make it ubiquitous, according to a person familiar with the situation. Job postings and recent updates to Tango’s developer software show steps toward this ambitious goal. Google will showcase progress at its I/O developer conference near its Silicon Valley headquarters May 18-20.

Tango packs cameras and depth sensors along with other software into Android smartphones and tablets. Fire up the application and point the device at a space and it sucks in images and depth information to re-create the environment on the screen and locates itself within that new digital realm.

Google hopes Tango will support a system for independent developers to create new virtual reality applications and services. Video games could have characters that hide behind real-life furniture. A museum app could show 3-D animations when you walk past an exhibit. A grocery store could highlight sale items and guide shoppers to the right shelf.

Unlike most emerging virtual reality systems, Tango doesn’t need external equipment to re-create the world digitally. And unlike Google Maps it can figure out the details of a space without additional data sources.

“Tango is the indoor extension of their outdoor mapping platform,” said Lex Dreitser, a virtual reality developer who builds Tango applications.

Tango started in a Google research lab more than two years ago, but the company is trying to take it mainstream this year. It’s going into new smartphones from Intel and Lenovo Group and the software has been updated to let it easily run on more devices. And there are signs Google is working on the most important challenge: Making Tango 3-D maps shareable so the company can someday patch them together into a single, detailed digital representation of many of the world’s buildings, rooms and the stuff inside them.

Google Maps is one of Google’s most successful services, used by more than a billion people every month. It’s stitched into other popular Google services, like Gmail, Calendar and Photos. With more detailed maps, Google could build new advertising and location-based services into its products. It could also offer these capabilities to outside developers, letting them create more powerful applications for its Android operating system.

“If Tango could digitize every single physical commerce place, then all of a sudden Google has an exponential opportunity to place very relevant contextual physical advertising in every space,” said Nathan Pettyjohn, Chief Executive Officer of Aisle411, a mobile commerce and location company that has built applications for Walgreens Boots Alliance and Toys R Us. “It literally gives me goose bumps talking about it.”

Tango could also make Google a potent virtual reality rival to Facebook’s Oculus and HTC’s Vive. The Vive and the Oculus need separate sensors along with their headsets to map a room, while Tango does it with components in the phone or tablet. The closest competitor may be Microsoft’s HoloLens, a headset that integrates the technology. Occipital, a startup, makes a device that can be attached to standard Apple Inc. iOS and Android devices to give them 3-D sensing capabilities. Apple may be working on VR and 3-D sensing too through PrimeSense, a company it acquired in 2013.

Gina Scigliano, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment.

In January, Google software engineer Eitan Marder-Eppstein said the technology had “a lot of potential for indoor navigation.” And back in 2014, another Google engineer, Simon Lynen, said the company was researching how to use multiple Tango devices to build large, detailed maps that could be combined and downloaded to devices giving them “a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”

“With I/O it feels like they’re really doubling down on it,” said Andrew Nakas, who has been building Tango applications for two years. “I can do things now I had no expectation I could do back then in 2014.”

Kris Kitchen, an inventor, built an application for the blind using Tango and a backpack-sized speaker called a SubPac. Tango maps a space and passes that data to the SubPac, which vibrates differently according to the proximity of objects. That gives blind people an additional sense — touch — alongside hearing to get around.

For Tango applications like this to reach the most people, 3-D data will need to be easily shareable among devices. That would mean one person could map a museum, and another person could build an application based on the original map, or extend it, saving effort.

Google is working on this by building a system that allows Tango devices to share maps with other devices. It may also weave all these maps together and store the information in its data centers so it can be accessed by even more devices.

Tango will “rely on cloud infrastructure to store, merge, and serve location data to specific Project Tango devices,” Google wrote in a job posting in February for a mobile software engineer to work on the project. The company asked for “experience with Google Maps and other related location products.”

A cloud service would make life easier for developers, according to Pettyjohn. “Right now you have to save these mapping files on the device,” he said. A cloud service would make it so “anytime you need it, you pull down a file on the spot.”

— Bloomberg News

WHY IT’S HOT

This could be an interesting opportunity for retailers to help customers navigate to things they need more quickly, but I question HOW helpful and used it will actually be.  I find the use of Google Maps much more useful since it’s a GPS, but people don’t always need a map of a store.  Could be useful for malls or places where a lot of stores exist in one area.

Google’s AI Bot Wins Again!

Proving that it’s no fluke, Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo won its second game of Go yesterday by beating the #2 human Go champion in the world. Go is described as the world’s most complicated game and it was thought that humans would still prevail when matched against AlphaGo.

As reported in cnet.com, world champion Lee Sedol said, “Yesterday I was surprised (at losing) but today it’s more than that, I am quite speechless.” Two wins in a row was virtually unthinkable. The match is being held in South Korea as part of the Google DeepMinds Challenge. Millions of people around the world are watching as part of a live stream of this five-game competition.

“To put it in context, it’s a game for people who think chess is too easy. The victory has also come as a surprise to everyone, as it wasn’t thought that artificial intelligence, the science of computers that more closely mimic human smarts, was ready to take on humans at Go just yet. It’s a sign that AlphaGo is smarter than we thought.”

Why It’s Hot

AI was not thought to have advanced to the level of winning Go, the world’s most complex game. But it’s now done so twice. Time to worry about AI vs the human brain? According to Mark Zuckerberg, we have nothing to fear. As mentioned in the cnet.com article, he pointed out that we’re “nowhere near understanding how intelligence actually works,” never mind replicating and beating it.

Google’s AMP Is Speeding Up the Web & Changing How It Works

Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages, aka AMP, makes websites load fast. Like, really fast. But that speed comes with a few changes to how the open web works.

AMP achieves its remarkable speeds in two ways. First, it requires web developers to use a narrow set of web technologies to create pages. Most JavaScript is forbidden, which, as we’ve noted before, is a really good way to make web pages load faster. Second, it serves pages from its own servers, at least when you visit an AMP page via a Google search.

To use AMP, you create an alternate version of your site that conforms to the specifications published by the AMP project. These standards are a lot like traditional HTML, but pared down to what Google considers to be the bare minimum. Typically you’ll give your AMP-optimized site a separate address, for example: yoursite.com/yourpage/amp. If you use WordPress, there’s actually a plugin will automatically create these alternate versions and help Google find them. But you could, theoretically, just replace your whole site with AMP optimized pages and it would still work in most modern web browsers, though it might be a bit drab.

With its AMP search results, Google is amassing content on its own servers and keeping readers on Google.

Sites that follow these specifications to the letter will receive special treatment from Google. Starting this week, AMP-optimized new stories now appear at the top of Google’s mobile search results. That sounds great for publishers who have decided to build AMP sites, but there’s a big catch: if readers decide to share a link to an AMP page they’ve clicked on through a Google search, the link points to Google.com (for example, google.com/amp/yoursite.com/yourpage/amp), not to your site. A Google spokesperson confirms that there isn’t a way to both have your AMP-optimized appear in Google’s prioritized search listings without having that content hosted on Google’s AMP Cache servers.

That’s a big change in how the Google search engine works. Historically, Google has acted as an index that points people away from Google to other websites. With its AMP search results, Google is amassing content on its own servers and keeping readers on Google.

In that sense, Google’s use of AMP is similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles service, to which it’s often compared. Facebook Instant Articles gives publishers the option of embedding their content on Facebook’s servers, so that users can read an article without ever leaving the Facebook mobile app. Unlike Instant Articles, however, sites that follow the AMP standard can also be embedded on other sites as well. Twitter and Pinterest, for example, are expected to begin using AMP to embed pages on their sites or mobile apps in the near future.

But What About Ads?

Although JavaScript is mostly forbidden on AMP sites, there are some loopholes that allow publishers to include ads, analytics, and other pieces of JavaScript on a page.


AMP includes a special analytics tag that allows publishers to send data to pre-screened analytics providers such as Chartbeat, Adobe, and Parse.ly. This is handled by a single JavaScript file instead of a separate script for each analytics provider. That file is loaded from Google’s servers, which can speed things up considerably for pages that use multiple analytics providers. Ads work in a similar way. The AMP project vets analytics servers based on performance, security, and privacy, so some of the worst offenders may be screened out. But those who want to use analytics code or other pieces of JavaScript that haven’t been pre-approved can also use the <amp-iframeiframe> tag.

The <amp-iframeiframe> tag, similar to the traditional HTML version of the <iframe>, allows publishers to add chunks of JavaScript hosted on their own websites, but there are some restrictions. Code inserted into iFrames won’t have acess to all the data that a script inserted directly into a traditional page does. AMP always loading the page’s core content before any <amp-iframeiframe> content in order to keep <amp-iframeiframe>s from slowing down pages. And when AMP pages are hosted on Google’s servers, the pages are pre-rendered, so that they still load quickly.

These workarounds enable more freedom for publishers, but it also means there’s still room for them to serve invasive scripts to readers. Improved performance won’t always mean improved privacy. It also means more of the web will be shaped by Google.

WHY IT’S HOT

Like the change from flash to HTML5, this technology shift could lead to quite a few changes in the marketplace.  This news was just released, so I’m sure there’s much to learn.

Source: http://www.wired.com/2016/02/googles-amp-speeding-web-changing-works/

Learn More: https://www.ampproject.org/

Human-like robots edge closer to reality

If you’ve lived in fear of a futuristic robot rebellion, the newest creation from Google-owned Boston Dynamics won’t do much to ease your fears. The Atlas humanoid robot is probably the most lifelike, agile and resilient robot built to date.  As the video shows, it can walk on snow and keep its balance, open doors, stack 10-pound boxes on shelves and even pick itself up from the floor after being knocked down. And that’s where things get a little frightening.

Even though this is only a demonstration, Atlas’ handler abuses it by knocking boxes out of its hands and then shoving it in the back with a stick so it falls on the floor. But much like a ninja fighter, it springs back up and keeps on going. If you hearken back to Robo-cop, all this robot needs is a weapon to turn the tables on its human tormentor.

Why It’s Hot

Robots such as Atlas will some day be doing much of the back-breaking labor humans now do — picking crops, construction, fire fighting. But as the author of the cnet.com article where this appeared says, “Elon Musk once warned that Skynet (the evil artificial intelligence from the Terminator movies) could only be a few years off, and Google is increasingly looking like Skynet.” So while Atlas may act pretty cool and have good applications, it does have its ominous side.

Google is now showing anti-ISIS ads to potential extremists

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Google wants to put its powerful targeted advertising system to use in the fight against terrorism.

Soon, those searching for terms related to Islamic extremism will be hit with anti-radicalization propaganda ads aimed at dissuading potential Islamic State (ISIS) recruits. The nonprofits that create these ads will be able to run them at no cost, thanks to Google’s grant program.

“We should get the bad stuff down, but it’s also extremely important that people are able to find good information, that when people are feeling isolated, that when they go online, they find a community of hope, not a community of harm,” said Google executive Anthony House.

Why Its Hot

This is an excellent demonstration of how we can leverage technology and advertising for the greater good.

Source