Opioids Haven’t Solved Chronic Pain. Maybe Virtual Reality Can


Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles is one of an increasing number of teaching hospitals testing the technology of how virtual reality can improve patient outcomes. Dr. Brennan Spiegel, one of the clinical researchers leading the charge is focused on pain management. Over the past few years he’s conducted clinical trials that show a pair of 3-D goggles can reduce the experience of pain — all kinds, from joint injuries to cancer — by a quarter. Now he is tackling chronic pain. More than 25 million Americans are afflicted by chronic pain. All too often, addictive painkillers are the only treatment option for those patients. And with opioids claiming the lives of nearly 100 people every day, doctors are scrambling to find non-addictive alternatives. Virtual reality might soon be one of them, if the science can show it really works.

Scientists started probing the power of VR to ease suffering more than 20 years ago. VR pioneer Hunter Hoffman, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, launched the first pain studies in the early 2000s, using an eight-pound helmet hooked up to a computer the size of a small refrigerator. Today, companies, such as AppliedVR, are building collections of 3-D content designed to combat pain, like a VR version of Netflix. “We’re trying to figure out how to prescribe the right experience to the right person based on their needs and their interests,” says President Josh Sackman. So far his team has designed two dozen worlds, each one falling into one of four categories: distraction, relaxation, escape, and education. Patients could choose a variety of experiences, like swimming with dolphins or flying over the fjords of Iceland in a helicopter, or just sitting on a beach and thinking about life. A voice in your ear might talk you through a breathing exercise, or ask you to contemplate the people and things that bring you joy. VR works by distracting your brain. Playing a game distracts the pain by closing down pathways that would transfer pain signals from your peripheral nervous system. The more immersed you are, the less pain you feel.

Why It’s Hot
As Americans learned last week when President Trump declared the opioid crisis an public health emergency, wouldn’t it be great if people coming out of surgeries recovering from an accident could walk out of a hospital with a set of VR goggle instead of a painkiller prescription. In his next study, Dr. Spiegel is working with a major insurance company to evaluate whether or not virtual reality can reduce the number of opioids taken by people who’ve been recently injured on the job. Hopefully, VR will continue showing a strong case that it is an effective way to reach patients. And that it becomes the one, smart alternative to a prescribed painkiller.

Bumble Launches Bizz, a Safe Career Networking App for Women


It’s a simple premise, but for the multitudes of women who report being routinely harassed by men on popular job-hunting sites like LinkedIn, it’s one that holds a lot of promise—something that Bumble’s latest app, Bumble Bizz, hopes to fulfill. In an effort to create a secure space for women to discuss their careers—and to curb the sexism and discrimination often found on professional networking sites—Bizz is putting emphasis on its “women first” experience, where, after swiping right on a prospective professional male connection, women have to be the first to send a direct message. “We’ve stayed focused on creating a community with a foundation built upon positivity, respect, confidence and encouraging women to make the first move,” explained the founder and CEO of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Herd.

To use Bumble Bizz, users create a LinkedIn-style digital resume. You can upload education and professional experience details, write a professional bio, and note what kind of opportunities you’re looking for. There’s also a skills section to list talents and awards, and the option to include examples from your portfolio. Bumble Bizz will include a photo verification tool designed to help ensure people are who they say they are. It is also geo-targeted to make it easier to find someone who matches your job criteria and in your neighborhood and ready to connect. Age is also less important on Bumble Bizz – profiles don’t contain a user’s age – making it easier for potential business partners to focus on each other’s ability and skillset.

Bumble has more than 21 million users around the world and has facilitated more than 350 million women-led first moves. With the launch of Bumble Bizz, the company says it wants to “empower women to have the confidence to make the first move within a professional environment.” Bumble Bizz launched in the US, Canada, UK, France, and Germany on the App Store now and is coming to Android on October 18th.

Why It’s Hot
Despite the obvious comparisons to LinkedIn, Bumble seems set on distancing itself away from the platform, insisting that the app is designed for “networking and mentoring, not job searching or recruiting.” Women have recently encountered harassment on professional platforms, enduring uncomfortable and unwanted conversations. Bizz is designed to eliminate abuse and inappropriate behavior. Women have to make the first move!Currently in our social environment, this app is just what women need to feel empowered and in charge of their lives.

Facebook Is About To Launch Household Targeting For Ads

Facebook is about to take hyper targeting to a whole new level as the company is getting ready to launch new capabilities that will let brands direct ads to entire families or to specific people within a household. The tool, which the company announced today, will help brands target ads to the people who influence the purchase decision, while serving different ads to the people actually making the purchase. Here’s how it works: It starts with a custom audience, uploaded to Facebook that represents their customers based on an email list or CRM data. By selecting to activate the household audience feature, advertisers will be able to reach the person they are actively targeting and also other people in the same household. Facebook knows who lives in your house, based on different signals, such as your marital status and family members you declare on your profile, the frequency of shared check-ins and activities, or through your Internet access IP. So whether you are a retailer, or a brand selling products direct to consumers, you will soon be able to serve ads across all of the purchase funnel ecosystem: from the person who influences the decision to buy, all the way to whom is actually going to buy that product or service.

Why It’s Hot
It’s a marketer’s dream come true: being able to speak directly to the purchase decision maker within a household. Facebook explains several of the uses for how brands might want to target household audiences. A travel brand might want to target ads at the person paying for a trip — flights and hotels, but the marketer might also want to make sure the people voting on the destination also see the ads. For gifting, if one person might benefit from getting something from a certain retailer, then the ads might be directed at people in the household likely to be buying rather than receiving the gift. The tool might also be used to reduce wasted ad spend. For example, if someone has already bought a household-specific product or service, such as a Netflix subscription or an Airbnb reservation, then based on the customer database, the marketer and Facebook would stop showing ads to that household.

Facebook Will Soon Let Brands Target Ads at Entire Families or Specific People Within Households

Warning! Your Car May Be A Decepticon

The fictional battle between the Autobots and Decepticons will be coming to the real-world freeways this summer through a partnership between out-of-home media company Lamar Advertising and Paramount Pictures, the company releasing the latest “Transformers” movie. Using technology created by Vehcio, billboards in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and four other markets will deliver personalized messages to passing drivers about which side of the intergalactic war their car is on. A driver of a Honda Civic, for instance, may see a message declaring “Attention! Your Honda Civic is an Autobot” The technology had previously been used for a campaign for Chevrolet. The campaign uses cameras mounted 1,000 feet ahead of the digital billboards, scanning vehicle grills to identify cars. Once a make and model are identified, the board switches from a generic “your car” message to one identifying the passing car. The technology takes into account traffic speed to calculate the precise moment and length of time to display the personalized message.


Why It’s Hot

Today, the technological capabilities of digital advertising takes out-of-home advertising to a new level. You would definitely get an element of surprise when seeing your car called out on the billboard. It’s a great way for the new Transformers 5 movie to create a one-to-one conversation with drivers. Now, if I saw my car announced on a billboard, I might drive off the road. But it would definitely get my attention and I would be sharing this with my friends.

Amazon Echo Gains Sponsored Messages Ad Platform

Voice analytics firm VoiceLabs on Thursday rolled out the advertising platform, Sponsored Messages, for Amazon Echo, giving brands a way to engage with consumers using the voice-activated device. The platform launches with ad partners ESPN, Progressive Insurance, and Wendy’s, each signing “long-term” agreements, said Adam Marchick, CEO at VoiceLabs. Sponsored Messages are clearly noted as advertising. They are 6-15 seconds long, and inserted at the start and end of conversations, where they can naturally lead a consumer into an experience or converse with the consumer as they exit. They can tell a brand story over the course of multiple user sessions. Here’s how it works: someone listening to a podcast might not hear a sponsored 6-second advertisement such as “Thank you for supporting us by listening, and thank you to our sponsor, Progressive, until the fifth time. Five podcasts later, the listener might hear a 15-second message by the spokesperson Flo from Progressive.
The advertising platform runs on top of the company’s analytics platform for Alexa. VoiceLabs created a myriad of tuning capabilities to make sure the right ad is inserted at the right time, and the consumer does not get too many Sponsored Messages. In addition, high-quality Alexa developers Federated Media, XAPPmedia, TWiT.tv, Appbly and many independent Alexa skill developers are participating in the launch of Sponsored Messages. The sponsored messages thank consumers for supporting Alexa developers.
One key piece of data that will become crucial for search marketers is not yet available — the ability to identify when Echo owners searched for a product or a service on the device or on their smartphone after hearing the sponsored message.

Why It’s Hot

VoiceLabs is ushering a new era of interactive audio messages, where the consumer has the power to ask for more information, add products to their Amazon cart and provide feedback to the advertiser. The Amazon Echo consumer is interested in trying new things, and Echo devices are placed in the kitchen, living room and other important places in the home. With Sponsored Messages, brands can deliver a message about a new cuisine right as a consumer is planning their shopping list, or announce that a new show is premiering that night on their TV. Each Sponsored Message is delivered to a relevant user demographic and related to the application’s content.

Viewers Pay More Attention To Connected TV Ads, Study Finds

A new multiscreen viewability study that measured consumer attention to advertising reveals that overall attention to pre-roll ads is highest among connected TV (CTV) watchers.
Eye tracking showed that 89% of a CTV pre-roll ad was viewed, compared to 81% on mobile and 78% on desktop. The multiscreen viewability research, conducted by Nielsen and video ad tech firm YuMe, found that CTV ads achieve a higher level of attention, recall, favorability, and purchase intent, all key brand metrics.
The study compared the actual time a viewer spent watching an ad (according to eye tracking) against the total time the ad was viewable for CTV, desktop, and mobile campaigns. The study defined a viewable ad as the total time an ad is in view in seconds.

Among the study’s findings:
–Unaided ad recall is highest on CTV. Pre-roll ad recall for CTV was 73%, compared to 69% on mobile, and 65% on desktop.
–Nearly all CTV ads meet the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Media Ratings Council standard for viewability with 98% of all CTV ads tested exceeding the minimum mobile viewable display advertising impression standard of two seconds and 50% of an ad in view.
–Time spent viewing an ad correlates with overall brand lift. Across all the devices and ad formats tested, length of viewing time correlated with higher recall and purchase intent.

“It’s a credit to an experience that closely mirrors broadcast and cable TV viewership,” Michael Hudes, chief revenue officer, YuMe, told Real-Time Daily via email. “Given the positive brand resonance, CTV should be considered core to marketers’ cross-screen strategies.”
Hudes noted that the findings build on insights gleaned by YuMe through a study with IPG’s Media Lab, in which pre-roll was found to be the most engaging and least intrusive video format.
Ads from auto, consumer packaged goods, financial services, and retail marketers were viewed by consumers for the study. YuMe said 400 respondents interacted with video content across CTV, desktop, and mobile to compare viewability.

Why It’s Hot

Connected TV users are forecast to reach 202.1 million by 2020, and represent 60.4% of the US population, up from 56.1% in 2016, according to eMarketer. The trend is led primarily by the popularity of smart TVs and streaming devices from Amazon, Google and Roku and from subscription services, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Marketing Implications – SVOD subscriptions are particularly strong among millennials and families with kids, according to Frank N. Magid Associates. The company noted that 72% of US internet users subscribed to an SVOD service in 2016, but the percentage among millennials was considerably higher, at 86%. Families with children in the household also indexed higher.
Connected TV allows marketers to marry the visual appeal of TV-style ads with the targeting and measurement capabilities of digital.

Infield Chatter Social Network Lets MLB Players Interact With Fans

The Major League Baseball Players Association launched this week, Infield Chatter, a social media app that lets players interact with fans. Infield Chatter already has more than 1,000 players on board, which means all the players on Major League Baseball’s 40-man rosters for each of its 30 teams are signed on. (MLBPA says about 500 major leaguers are on the site, but minor leaguers and retired players can also contribute.) “We asked for a better way to communicate directly with fans and learn more about them, and make it easy for them to learn more about us,” Minnesota Twins pitcher Hector Santiago said via email. “We believe this is the way to go, a true baseball community so that we can just be ourselves.”

Members of the Infield Chatter community will enjoy special features designed to connect players and fans in a number of ways, including:
•Sharing photos, videos, and original artwork, with the ability for both sides to comment
•Regular video chats, where fans and players can conduct two-way Q&A sessions
•Hosting contests and competitions, where fans can win “player-hosted experiences,” autographed items and more.

With so many people loyal to massive platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, it’s hard to persuade even die-hard fans to download yet another app. However, the association is pitching Infield Chatter as a way to hone in on its specific audience, as fans increasingly want details about players’ lives outside of the game.

Why It’s Hot

The MLBPA said the Infield Chatter app was created at the request of MLB players, who wanted a better way to interact with their fans. The app meshes well with MLB’s own initiatives to create youth appeal for a sport that is losing younger fans. Infield Chatter reaches a distinct, pinpointed community in ways that social media can’t. In a press release, Kris Bryant, a player for the Chicago Cubs, commented on the app: Every player understands how important it is to connect with the fans. They’re the main reason this game is so special. The fact that Infield Chatter was built with this interaction in mind as the top priority really helps us share and connect in ways that we haven’t been able to anywhere else. Major leaguers who come from around the world – with numerous differing interests and insights – will now be able to engage with fans on a host of subjects, all in the palm of their hand.

How Your Instagram Posts Created a New Starbucks Drink

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot

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

‘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.

How LIKEtoKNOW.it turned a screenshot into a shopper’s heaven

If you’re into social media and fashion, you may be familiar with LIKEtoKNOW.it. If you look to Instagram for style inspiration and seen something your favorite fashion blogger wore in a #ootd post but couldn’t figure out where to get that outfit, now you can shop that look. The service lets users create an account tied to their Instagram profile, then every time they “like” a influencer’s photo on Instagram they receive an email with the “to buy” link to purchase the item. That’s how LIKEtoKNOW.it was born in 2014.
Today so many people take a screenshot as a way to remember the things they really want to buy. LIKEtoKNOW.it launched a standalone app to take advantage of the screenshot-as-shopping-list phenomenon, as well as opening up ‘closed’ social networks like Instagram and Snapchat to retailers and consumers alike. To use the new app all you have to do is take a screenshot of a photo you want to shop. Since screenshot functionality is developed and maintained by device manufacturers it’s platform-agnostic.

Why It’s Hot

LIKEtoKNOW.it is finding a way to go around the walled gardens. Screenshots – a favorite way to remember what you like is your link to shopping around the web. This app will now let users (both influencers and shoppers) migrate more easily between social platforms. If the next Snapchat pops up tomorrow, Influencers can start posting content on day one, since all their audience has to do is take a screenshot to shop the content. Essentially the app means it no longer has to worry about its service fitting within the rules of each social platform, or even a new platform that pops up which doesn’t take kindly to links (or API workarounds).

YouTube launches its own streaming TV service

YouTube, the most popular video service on the web that recently announced it streamed one billion hours per day, is now launching a live TV service called YouTube TV. The offering will mix live-streams of broadcast and cable television programming with the wealth of online video found on YouTube. The service will exist through a new YouTube TV site and a new YouTube TV mobile app.
For $35 a month, subscribers get all four major networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX — and about 35 cable channels, most of which are owned by their parent companies, such as ESPN, Bravo, the Disney Channel, and Fox News.
That price covers six accounts, so each member of the household can have a personalized account that offers recommendations tuned to their taste. roll out in the next few months. The service will arrive first in major markets.

Why It’s Hot
Some of the features included with a YouTube TV subscription are:
• DVR-style recording for your favorite shows with unlimited storage space in Google’s cloud.
• Works with Chromecast, Google Home, computers, iOS and Android phones and tablets
• Watch up to 3 concurrent streams at a time

YouTube is trying to reach a generation that is increasingly unfamiliar with linear TV and will never buy into traditional cable TV. Connected TV viewing grew by 65% last year and advertisers are eager to get into OTT because it promises the quality and engagement of television with the enhanced targeting of digital. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki calls it the evolution of television, and a bid to “give the younger generation the content that they love with the flexibility they expect.”
And marketers can’t ignore YouTube. YouTube remains the key online video provider, with its massive audience and wealth of information on the viewers who are watching, and with its parent company Google, which handles about 93% of all online searches, the potential of the platform cannot be ignored.

It’s Official: Facebook Is Launching Mid-Roll Video Ads

Facebook wants to show more ads to people who watch its videos and start making money for the people who supply it with those videos. Video is Facebook’s most valuable content format and it is about to be monetised. Industry sources say the social network is going to start testing a new “mid-roll” ad format within on-demand video (uploaded videos that are not live-streamed). Instead of front-loading ads which play at the beginning of a video, the way YouTube does, these will appear in the middle of publisher’s videos, kind of like TV commercials. The new Facebook ads can only run once a viewer has watched a video for at least 20 seconds, and they can only appear in videos that run for at least 90 seconds. Ads must be at least two minutes apart.
Facebook is testing the new ads with a small group of U.S. publishers, and will split ad revenue with them — 55 percent to the publisher and 45 percent to Facebook. That’s the same split offered by YouTube, which dominates the online video ad business.
Facebook has been running mid-roll ads on some live videos, and those efforts are expanding. The criteria for live video ads is slightly different. If a publisher has at least 2,000 followers and has hit 300 concurrent live viewers in a “recent live video,” they’ll be able to insert ads as well – assuming the broadcast has been running for at least four minutes. Each ad runs for only 20 seconds.

Why It’s Hot

By 2106, people were watching over 100 million hours of video on Facebook, per day.
All those views on Facebook videos are actually very valuable and they’re valuable to publishers. This will be the first chance publishers will see ad revenues from their videos running on Facebook.
The parameters of the new ads suggest that Facebook is placing more importance on the time people spend watching videos, rather than the total number of videos they watch. Up until now, Facebook has defined a “video view” as any time a user watches a clip for a minimum of three seconds. That’s been a source of controversy in the media business, especially since Facebook automatically plays videos when they show up in users’ feeds.

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.

Pinterest Announces Search Ads to Help Businesses Tap Into User Interests

In the past couple of years, Pinterest has been working to become “the world’s catalog of ideas” where site visitors can search and share inspiration on everything from home designs to gourmet recipes. It has become the search platform of choice for many looking for a muse, attracting site visitors from mature platforms like Facebook. Over 150 million people worldwide are active users on Pinterest monthly. In their latest effort to transform their platform into a fully-fledged e-commerce machine, Pinterest has announced a new search ads offering, giving marketers the chance to tap into the more than two billion searches conducted on the platform every month.
“We’re rolling out a full suite of features, including Keyword and Shopping Campaigns that are shown in search results, along with powerful new targeting and reporting options.” Pinterest’s search ads function much as you’d expect – when a user conducts a search for a key term (or key terms) that a business has targeted, their Promoted Pins show up, similar to how Google search ads are used. It’s a new way to connect with people searching for products and services.

Why It’s Hot

People love saving and searching for inspiration on Pinterest. Discovering ideas is easy here because everything’s visual, including search results. The majority of their two billion monthly searches are for products and services that people want to buy. The opportunities for businesses are expanding: 97% of Pinterest’s top searches last year were non-branded, opening the door to businesses to reach browsing buyers. People on Pinterest start searching as much as three months before they purchase, so a business can reach them while they’re still deciding what to buy. Pinterst has surged ahead of other social platforms in terms of purchase intent and shopping potential. So while Pinners may not be searching as much, when they do search, they’re doing so with an intent to buy – in fact, Pinterest’s own research has shown that 93% of active Pinners use the platform to plan for purchases, while 87% have purchased something because of Pinterest. The reach may be smaller, but the potential is still significant.

Note: Pinterest is growing the number of visitors on its site who are clicking and sharing content. eMarketer estimates that Pinterest will grow 9.2% this year to reach 69.0 million U.S. users versus the 58.1 million that eMarketer projected in August 2016. Last year Pinterest’s estimated U.S. user base sat at 63.2 million.

The Best Sound for Video Ads on Facebook is Silence

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If you’re one of those people who’s complained about video ads playing automatically with the sound blaring, Facebook has heard you. Loud and clear. According to Facebook’s own research, 80% of people react negatively when mobile video ads begin playing loudly in content feeds and blame both the advertiser and Facebook itself. But on the other hand, it found that 41% of video ads don’t communicate their message effectively unless they have the sound on. Now Facebook wants advertisers to rethink their ad strategy: it’s not TV ads. It’s TV ads with the sound turned off. To help address this issue, the social network plans to begin automatically putting captions in video ads running in its newsfeed, which play automatically with the sound off by default. Facebook will roll out the automatic video ad captioning later this month in the U.S. and Canada.

Brands can already add captions to their videos on their own, but now there is a tool that does it all for them (advertisers can review and edit before posting the video ads.)

Facebook is also addressing its viewability concerns. They say that 55% of people who watch the first three seconds of an ad will watch the next 10 seconds. And 45% will make it all the way to the end. Facebook counts three-seconds as a “view.” Facebook has announced it is extending its “100% in-view” buying option – so marketers can opt to pay only when an entire ad has passed through the newsfeed. They are also introducing new measurement metrics so advertisers can see the percentage of people who have viewed their videos with the sound on versus those that watched with the sound off.

Why It’s Hot

People are now watching over 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day – and many of those users are watching autoplay videos on their mobiles, which silently play in the news feed. As Facebook is asking advertisers to rethink “video,” they are introducing the automatic captions for the video ads. Captions help give the users context when they are scrolling through their silent newsfeed. Facebook says that in their internal testing, adding captions on video ads actually increased view time by an average of 12%. Facebook is encouraging advertisers to make their videos more mobile-friendly – design them to be played silently, visually appealing and intriguing so consumers will want to stay.

Make Priceless Family Memories on Thanksgiving, StoryCorps-Style

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StoryCorps is beloved for its intensely personal interviews, one of which airs every Friday morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. Earlier this year the non-profit released an app that allows even an inexperienced interviewer to become a documentarian, with guidance on where to hold the phone’s microphone and how to think up great questions. StoryCorps is now leading an initiative called The Great Thanksgiving Listen to encourage thousands of younger family members to use the app to record interviews with their elders. It’s a great conversation-starter and groundbreaking way to archive the wisdom of the generations. Interviews can be uploaded to the Internet and made publicly available, as well as being preserved in the Library of Congress, for use by curious historians of the future.

Why it’s Hot

Instead of using our electronic devices to zone out and disconnect from those around us, the StoryCorps app actually uses technology to help people listen and connect with each other—face-to-face and from the heart. The Great Thanksgiving Listen is “a project about generosity – love and listening,” said StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay, “so doing it around a holiday that centers around gratefulness and giving made sense.” The StoryCorps interview lasts no more than 40 minutes. There are helpful users guides, suggested questions and interview tips, and the app has a built-in tool to create your own customized list of interview questions to make it go smoothly. Have a glass of water and a box of tissues nearby. Crying is not only OK — it happens in the majority of StoryCorps interviews, even if you’re not talking about death or loss, a veteran StoryCorps facilitator commented. “My interview subjects were often caught off-guard by how intense their memories felt, and how quickly their 40 minutes were up.”
At the end of an interview, you save and upload it, but the StoryCorps app asks you to do two things first: Enter a series of keywords, a critical step if you want your interview to be found by future historians. Then the app asks you to take a photo with your subject.
You may edit your interview on a computer before posting to the Internet and upload audio files directly to StoryCorps.me on a Web browser.

Facebook Unveils ‘Reactions,’ Emoji Buttons That Go Beyond ‘Like’: What the Buttons Mean for Brands

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Facebook is rolling out a new feature called “Reactions,” which allows users to add one of six emojis to their “Likes” to convey a bit more meaning than a simple “thumbs up.” Most of the emojis are iterations of the classic yellow “smiley face,” with options including “Haha,” “Yay,” “Wow,” “Sad,” and “Angry.” There’s also a “Love” button that’s just a heart. Facebook is testing the Reactions emojis in Spain and Ireland before introducing them to the rest of the world. The new reactions buttons will work the same way as the like button. To access them, a person would need to hold down on the like button, and then move their finger or mouse over the reaction they want to use to respond to someone’s post. Counts for each reaction type will be shown towards the bottom of a post, next to where the like count has long appeared.

Why It’s Hot
For businesses, these reactions will offer a new, potentially more accurate way to measure sentiment. They’ll provide greater feedback, knowing more about how viewers feel about the brand. “Reactions gives businesses a really crisp way of understanding on a multi-dimensional level how people are feeling about the things that they’re posting,” said Richard Sim, Facebook’s director of monetization product marketing. Businesses will be able to see reaction counts within Facebook’s page insights tool.
It’s easy to click on the ‘like’ button, but if a person takes the time to select one of several buttons, resulting in a higher level of engagement. In the future, reactions would give Facebook a new signal to use when deciding which posts to show in people’s news feeds, such as by showing posts that get more “angry” reactions to someone who clicks the “angry” reaction on a lot of posts. For now Facebook’s news-feed ranking algorithm will count reactions as likes. Over time, Facebook will get a better understanding of how these different reactions impact what people want to see in their news feed. There’s no timeline yet for when reactions will roll out worldwide.

Pocket Points Rewards Students For Staying Off Their Phones

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There’s a new addiction sweeping college campuses, and it’s not a drug. A Baylor University study last year noted that “approximately 60 percent of college students admit they may be addicted to their cell phone, and some indicated they get agitated when its not in sight.” Students spend nearly 21% of class time using a digital device for an unrelated activity like email or social media, according to conducted by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. They also check a digital device 10.5 times per class day on average.

Pocket Points is aiming to rehab students with its app that rewards users for not using their phones during class. The company just raised a $600K seed round, and is now live at over 150 schools, with over 100,000 users on the platform. The app was developed by two students at the University of California, Chico campus.

Here’s how the app works: Academic buildings on campus are geofenced by the company, and once inside a student can open the app and successfully check in. Students then lock their devices and accrue points for every minute that they stay off their phones while remaining in class. It takes about 20 minutes to earn one point, but there is potential to gather points faster. The more students who are using it on campus at the same time, the faster the points add up.

Why It’s Hot


Pocket Points rewards students for keeping their phones locked during class by offering them discounts at local businesses, including restaurants, clothing stores, merchandise at the college bookstore and tickets to athletic events. For local businesses in college towns, this is an opportunity to reach their target market – the students on their mobile devices.

From a parent’s perspective, college is an expensive investment. We know there are a lot of distractions and students have to be motivated to attend class and study. So if we need to reward our kids with pizza and subs in order for them to pay attention to a one-hour lecture seminar, then it’s a good thing.

How Facebook’s Autoplay Videos Are Ushering in a New Era of Silent Storytelling

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Getting aurally blasted by a loud, autoplaying video ad while you’re browsing online is certainly one of the more annoying experiences you can have on the Internet. But when the volume default setting on such an ad unit is set to mute—giving viewers the choice to unmute—and when the video is embedded rather than storming the screen, the annoyance factor drops drastically. This is what Facebook has done with its silent autoplay in-feed videos, a format that has advertisers eagerly investing, and it’s an approach that is also attracting plenty of competitors. Twitter unveiled a similar system last January, Instagram got on board shortly thereafter.
Facebook launched its in-feed silent autoplay video ad service in December 2013. When it was first tested, it showed a 10% increase in people watching, liking, sharing and commenting on videos. It was a better experience for people, leading to increased engagement. Social platforms are content-discovery platforms. “Facebook offers advertisers what they loved about mass media — reach, frequency and time spent — along with sophisticated targeting,” said Mitchell Reichgut, CEO of ad company Jun Group. “Advertisers simply cannot ignore [Facebook’s] massive scale, and Facebook’s video approximates television in that it appears in between content.”

Why It’s Hot

“A recent study showed that native Facebook video ads have higher interaction rates than videos on any other platform,” said Greg Manago, lead/executive producer at MindshareContent+ and Entertainment. “And because Facebook’s nature as a platform of social sharing, Facebook native videos are shared more than YouTube links.” Video autoplay is here to stay and far from being the shouty, uninvited guest to the party. From launching new products to shifting brand sentiment, this video format is ideal for marketers who are looking to make a large-scale impact, and for people who will discover more great content in their News Feeds.

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Facebook’s new live streaming feature can only be used by famous people

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Facebook has rolled out a live streaming feature to rival the likes of Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope, but it is presently reserved for ‘public figures’ only. Actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, and other influencers can share their live videos through the Facebook Mentions app.

Facebook Mentions, launched last year, is an app that’s strictly for those who merit a verified account. The app’s members number in the thousands (compared to the Facebook’s 1.49 billion monthly users), and it lets those public figures host a Q&A with fans, share announcements, and engage with their fans – all in real time.

When a celebrity starts a Live video, it will appear in the News Feed of their fans to comment, like, and share with their friends. Frequent visitors to the celeb’s page will also receive alerts via push notifications when a live event will begin. Fans can post comments that appear in real time. Celebrities can respond to comments during the broadcast or hide them.
Once a live stream has ended, the video will be published to the celebrity’s Page so that fans who missed it can watch at a later time. There is also an option to remove it from the Page at any time.

Why It’s Hot

Facebook isn’t cool anymore, especially among teens through college grads. So how to make Facebook more relevant and bring back this demo? Videos, especially real-time videos of their favorite celebs. A notification that a famous person you follow is about to go live is a guarantee that you’re about to see content that you literally can’t anywhere else. You can leave comments and possibly have them respond in real time. You can see what your friends are watching. And should you miss a video, you can find the recordings either in your News Feed or on the page of your favorite famous friend.
It is unclear whether or not the feature will eventually become available to everyone. Live for Facebook Mentions could be considered a pilot program, checking to see its broadening appeal or is it just a fad. Facebook is always looking for way to expand its product offerings, so we will see what the future holds. Video is huge. The number of video views on Facebook increased from one billion per day in the third quarter of 2014 to four billion per day in the first quarter of 2015, with 75% of this viewing taking place on mobile.

Facebook Live Streaming

KFC has totally reinvented the chicken bucket

KFC is rolling out a high-tech chicken bucket to celebrate its 60th anniversary in Canada. The “Memories Bucket” is a chicken bucket that doubles as a Bluetooth photo printer, which connects to your phone wirelessly to print pictures. As the bucket states, all you have to do is “Snap. Select. Send. Share.” KFC’s Facebook account indicates the company will be giving “a few” of these special buckets away, so for now it doesn’t look like they will see a wide release. KFC bills it as a way to capture the family memories you make while sharing its chicken.

Why It’s Hot or Not?

Fast-food meets technology gimmicks are all the rage at the moment. Pizza Hut Hong Kong turned a pizza box into a working movie projector for your smartphone. (Both Pizza Hut and KFC are owned by Yum! Brands.) In Germany, KFC introduced the Tray Typers – a Bluetooth keyboard installed into food trays, which sync with customers’ smartphones and tablets. Now you can type without getting your phone greasy! Not sure we need to see pictures of our friends happily eating greasy drumsticks, but the creative merging of technology and packaging is innovative.

Democracy works just a little more efficiently with an Internet assist

USA

Demo

Internet Makes Contacting Your Elected Officials as Easy as 1-2-3
– Enter Your Address
– Select Your Representative and/or Senators to contact
– Type your message and hit send.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) launched a new simple tool today, Democracy.io, which allows users to contact their senators and representative in Congress in an incredibly easy manner. The process begins with the user entering in their address which pulls up a list of their representatives and allows them to start typing an email to them immediately, all from one single website.

Why It’s Hot

Being able to contact your elected representatives is a critical component of a democracy. The process shouldn’t be so difficult, but it is. Democracy.io has streamlined the process so that we can connect with our lawmakers in a easier way, letting them know how we feel and to be more accountable.
Democracy.io follows best practices for protecting the privacy of users. EFF does not control or influence the messages sent through Democracy.io. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world.

Instagram Revamps Search, Looks To Become Real-Time News Site

Instagram

Instagram began tapping into the 70 million photos and videos posted daily to its service to put its 300 million users in the middle of current events. Instagram has reimagined its search feature to become more of a source for images and videos during breaking news events. The improved Search tool make it easier to find images related to any topic, and it will feature hand-selected collections, such as extreme athletes or deserted islands, to help users discover interesting material. The Search tool will also feature a section for trending places and hashtags. The updated Explore button, which will first appear in American versions of the app, will show users the most important photos from events and places in their regions and across the country, as determined by the service’s algorithms.

Why It’s Hot

Social sites want to become the go-to place for people to search and find images from community sources and citizen reporting — not just those taken by news agencies like Reuters or Bloomberg. The stream of photos and videos posted on Instagram, from celebrities as well as from ordinary people, can deliver a better you-are-there feeling, whether it’s a Houston flood or a Brooklyn blizzard. It’s allowing our community to connect to the world as it happens.” remarked Mr. Systrom, chief executive and co-founder of Instagram.

Marketers, Creative Ad Execs Adjust to Video Ads With No Sound

It’s never been easy for advertisers to get people to pay attention to them. It’s even harder when millions of people literally can’t hear their commercials. But in a world where Americans are consuming more and more Web video on mobile phones, or in Web environments where video ads play without sound – particularly on Facebook – brands and top creative executives are having to adjust quickly to the new reality of video ads. Executives at top digital media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all consulting brands on how best to advertise using Web video without sound. The ad must capture interest in the first three seconds, as you have a person scrolling over the newsfeed and have to get his attention quickly.

Why It’s Hot

Ben and Jerry’s ice melt

Creative strategies are different than the ones used to create 30-second TV commercials, which are shot assuming most viewers are watching a full-screen experience with the sound turned up. But this type of ad offers unlimited creative possibilities. Ben & Jerry’s has been producing video ads that aim to communicate just as well without sound, as well as a video featuring a pint of ice cream trapped in a slowly melting block of ice. One new rule of thumb Heineken has learned: if you have a celebrity, show them right away. That’s something the beer brand has used to great effect with stars like Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Stewart – faces that are easily recognizable in news feeds. As advertisers spend billions on mobile video ad spending in the next few years, creative teams will need to rethink the way they produce this new format, bringing new creative challenges and exciting possibilities.
Source: WSJ

Check Out How JetBlue’s Window Display ‘Avatar’ Hysterically Duped Passersby

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JetBlue set up an all-digital-looking window display on Sixth Avenue in New York one weekend in mid-May, surprising a couple thousand people who happened to walk by. There was a huge, fully functional touchscreen that incorporated what looked like a state-of-the-art avatar of an airline stewardess giving instructions to people when they approached. For example, she initially said to each person, “Hello. Welcome to the JetBlue experience. Please select a topic to get started.” There were a handful options, and the seemingly robotic flight attendant would offer helpful information after people made their selections. But then, she would comment on something particular about each individual like what they were wearing.

Why It’s Hot

A hidden camera captured people’s reactions when they realized the avatar was an actual person — a real-life JetBlue flight attendant who would sometimes leave the window display and go outside. She gave away 100 complimentary flight vouchers to the people who most engaged with her. The marketing also served a digital-research purpose; JetBlue recorded the topics selected on the touchscreen interface as most important to participants. For example, twice as many people chose legroom compared with other JetBlue features. JetBlue’s experiential marketing effort, titled, The Better Wingman” definitely blurs the lines between digital and real life. The following video show the reactions of some of the over 2,600 interactions.

Taco Bell Foundation Launches Recognize Potential Campaign

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To drive awareness, inspiration and support towards earning a high school diploma, the Taco Bell Foundation has launched #RecognizePotential, its first and largest-ever marketing campaign aimed at inspiring more teens to ignite their full potential – beginning with earning a high school diploma. #RecognizePotential calls on teens to share and celebrate their potential online via the campaign hashtag, in their communities and in Taco Bell restaurants nationwide. The campaign includes a national fundraiser in all 6,000 Taco Bell locations through June 8th, driving awareness of unrecognized potential across its 42 million weekly customers.

Why It’s Hot

As the CEO of the Taco Bell Corp.,Brian Niccol says, “When teens don’t graduate, potential is lost. As a brand, we don’t come into neighborhoods and build restaurants; we build and empower communities to have an impact where people live, work and play. The #RecognizePotential campaign and helping the next generation of leaders tap into their potential and earn their diploma is a huge part of that.” To culminate Taco Bell’s celebration of teens and graduation season, Taco Bell Foundation partnered with Get Schooled, and invited teens to share their compelling testimonies, which will be featured in the annual Graduate for Más Times Square Yearbook. More than 600 teens will be spotlighted in the largest virtual yearbook on billboards in the middle of Times Square, NYC on June 10. Taco Bell Foundation and Get Schooled have a shared passion for igniting the next generation of leaders and helping teens stay on track to achieve their goals. Today, more than 350,000 teens have made the promise to graduate. Let’s celebrate these new graduates.

Nordstrom’s Innovation Revamp Leads to E-commerce Texting App

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With fashion and technology growing at a rapid pace many retailers understand the need for them to get smarter and learn new ways to use mobile phones to their advantage. Many retailers like Nordstrom’s are doing just that by rethinking the offline shopping experience to meet the needs of mobile shoppers. The giant retailer launched the very first texting app to let shoppers buy shoes, clothes and other products suggested via text messages from in-store sales associates. With the TextStyle messaging app a salesperson can chat and share images with customers who opt in to the service. Customers can buy a product immediately by texting a unique code to Nordstrom.

Why It’s Hot

Nordstrom has always prided itself on cultivating a close relationship with its sales associates and customers. This is the next step in creating great personal service and the opportunity to buy with the convenience and simplicity of a text message. Nordstrom’s is currently the only retailer in the U.S. that offers customers who opt in the ability to shop and buy with a text message.

Honda Brings Back ‘The Fastest Seat In Sports’ For IndyCar

/honda
https://fastestseat.honda.com

Honda Performance Development has several Formula super-cars in this IndyCar race season, and the field is bearing down on the Indy 500 on May 24, the most iconic race in the series. Now you can take one of Honda’s open-wheel racers for a drive around your neighborhood, at 200 mph. Honda’s interactive experience at FastestSeat.com lets you
enter your address, then Google Maps forms a custom racetrack, and gives the user a virtual street-view drive from the driver’s seat in the Indy car. It’s part of Honda’s yearly program to celebrate the iconic open-wheel super-car race.

Why it’s Hot

This is Honda’s fourth year with its “Fastest Seat in Sports” campaign, including a sweepstakes, new advertising and the interactive experience, the IndyCar Speed Simulator, at FastestSeat.com. After people play the simulator game, they are prompted to enter the sweepstakes. Participants can win a chance to ride in the IndyCar 2-seater with Mario Andretti at the wheel and also trips to next year’s Indy 500 or one of 12 races this season. Everyone loves the thrill of fast cars and being in the driver’s seat. Honda is hoping to reach the auto racing enthusiast who also happens to be in market for a car.

That Same Day Puppy Drone Delivery Service Is Really A Humane Society PSA

There’s no doubt that two of the coolest things to come out of the 21st century so far are Amazon same-day delivery and drones (and obviously the coming combination of the two). And people love puppies. So just imagine the excitement when the possibility of same-day puppy delivery by drone appeared. Last week, Same Day Pups launched what appeared to be an ambitious plan to become the “Uber” of puppies. Now the Humane Society of the United States has revealed the organization was behind the ad to raise awareness about puppy mills and drive people to adopt instead of purchasing pets online. The video of drone-delivered puppies drives to a site with photos of adorable pups for sale. Clicks revealed the reality behind buying a “purebred” dog from an unknown breeder or store.

Why It’s Hot

OK, we know there is no such thing as puppy drone delivery. The video sparks your interest and you click on the site, samedaypups.com. The headline reads: “A puppy is not a product.” The site is part of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign from the Humane Society. This organization is stressing that you need to be aware of professional-looking websites that hosts pictures of adorable dogs. Don’t be duped by these sites, which may have questionable operations. Take the puppy pledge online and promise to visit a breeder or consider adopting from a shelter or rescue. The video is endearing and then clicking on the site is like bam, what just happened, this is a serious message and the sweetness of the video fades away.

Blippar app visual overhaul aims to identify everything around you

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There is now a new and exciting way to search and interact with the world around us. The Blippar app, which was first created as an image recognition platform, has been reinvented. The re-launched app focuses on non-brand visual search, allowing users to delve more deeply into an array of both products and real world objects. Blippar uses the camera on your smartphone to look at an object. This image activates Blippar’s digital search and serves up relevant information directly from the local area. Blippar’s CEO and founder Ambarish Mitra seeks to expand the app’s focus into an all-encompassing and universal visual search engine to complement text- and link-based engines like Google and Bing.

Why It’s Hot

The service is being launched in waves and for now it is only available for use on English language album covers, movie posters, fiction books, and DVD covers. Eventually, any object in the physical world will be fully searchable. Our ability to find out more about the world around us will be limitless – all from your smartphone screen. As the app is developed, it will incorporate artificial intelligence and location-based technology to personalize and refine results for the user. It will be faster than the traditional web search, so instead of scrolling through pages of search results, you can receive key information in an instant.

Blippar brings out the curiosity in all of us. For example “when you blip a puppy” said Mitra, “you know what puppy it is, its history and genealogy, how to look after it, if there’s a vet nearby, the dog sitters and dog walkers — all the connecting points of information. It’s almost like that puppy becomes its own portal.”

Blippar is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.