Facebook wants newsfeed to be more ‘meaningful’

Facebook really, really wants your experience to be “meaningful.” In a recent blog post, Facebook researchers announced changes to the algorithm that controls its newsfeed that will put greater emphasis on content from friends and family, and give more weight to posts that encourage users to interact and comment.

This change is so “meaningful” that the word “meaningful” appears seven times in the blog post!

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

Facebook wants your experience to be less about how long you spend on the site, and more about what you do while you’re there. Comments are more important than likes, and posts with longer comments will get more weight than those with shorter ones. Shares of videos will also matter more than a video’s overall popularity.

Why its hot

These changes are going to have a big impact on how news surfaces in your newsfeed. If users aren’t sharing and engaging with a news story, it’s less likely to spread organically. But opinion pieces that usually generate more debate in the comments section will have a better chance of being seen. And Facebook has always put the emphasis on engagement with posts to determine how content surfaces.

Facebook is constantly making changes to its algorithm to “improve” the experience you have on the site, but in the end Facebook’s business depends on turning your attention into dollars. Sure, organic reach is going way down, and publishers are always trying to keep up with changes to Facebook’s performance, but money will always cut through all the changes.

Explore the largest early map of the world

Drawn by hand in 1587 by Italian cartographer Urbano Monte, the above map is the largest known early map on the world, now digitized for the first time at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at Stanford University.

This is the first time anyone can see the map as a single unit, as Monte intended 430 years ago. It is available for viewing using AR Globe, an iOS augmented reality app, or via download in Google Earth.

Rumsey told Fast Co. Design, “the 60-plus sheets “were digitally assembled by Brandon Rumsey using Photoshop” totally by hand, without having to use distortion or custom programming, just “alignment of layers and edges” tools.”

The map uses azimuthal equidistant projection, a circular projection of Earth from the North Pole, which Monte believed shows the world more accurately by showing a three-dimensional sphere as a two-dimensional surface.

Why its hot

My favorite thing about technology isn’t the new things it can create, but the old things it can preserve. This incredible piece of history is now available to just about anyone, anywhere in the world, right on their mobile phone. Technology has increased access to history, which I think gives us lessons that will inform our future.

Your Ad on the Moon




A Japanese spaceflight company called Ispace plans to fund future missions to the moon by selling ad space to brands looking to literally leave their mark in space.

Ispace hopes to finance a manned mission to the moon by 2020 and it will be branded like crazy, according to Bloomberg. The company was started through Google’s Lunar Xprize, a competition that will award $20 million to whoever can land and drive a spacecraft on the moon’s surface. It’s worth noting that the target date for the program’s first mission was 2012.

Why its hot

Which brands could you see being first to jump at a chance to put their name on the moon?

Private space flight has become the big thing in tech thanks to companies like SpaceX. Funding will be crucial to keeping missions going, so perhaps there is a “space” for brands to get in on the fun.

Stock Photos of Dads Evolve Along With Fatherhood

As dads, statistically, become more involved with raising kids at home, stock image leader, Getty, is evolving the photos usually used to depict fatherhood.

The two most-downloaded photos from Getty in 2016 and 2017, respectively, depict a dad wearing a feather boa and a tiara while painting his daughter’s nails and a dad holding a rolling pin, helping his kid bake something. Ten years ago, the top-selling stock photos were the typical ideas of fatherhood—dads roughhousing, playing football, etc.

By 2013, images were showing fathers taking care of babies. In 2015, they showed dads reading to their daughters and helping with chores.

Via Mashable:

The evolution of fatherhood in stock photos didn’t occur in a vacuum. In 2013, the same year dads nurturing babies took the spotlight, Getty noticed photos of women adjusting, too. Women began to transcend the dominant “sexy look” of years past. And this year, the “gritty woman,” a Getty photo trend that features women getting sweaty, unconcerned with how they look, came to the foreground. By 2015, a new advertising trend nicknamed “dadvertising” was in full force, with several Super Bowl commercials focused on fathers and their kids. The clueless, aloof father figure of the past was transforming into an emotionally available guide and supportive partner.

Getty’s made big strides, but there’s still more work to do to accurately reflect fathers, and families, of today. Families are multiracial, and it’s not just mom-and-dad any more. Getty searches for “gay dads” and “single dad” are up 53 percent and 60 percent respectively over the past year. But when one searches “gay dads” in Getty’s public-facing collection, roughly 1,700 results pop up. Comparatively, there are about 325,000 results for “mom and dad.”

Why its hot

Stock images are interesting because they present the way we see ourselves and the world. They are the idealized versions of the world around us. And as those ideas evolve, and our priorities change, so much stock images.

Facebook Wants to Improve Disaster Relief

Using a aggregate user data funneled to their new Community Help API, Facebook hopes to make it easier for disaster relief organizations to target their aid.

According to Fast Co., the Red Cross and NetHope will be the first partners to use the new API, which will take data collected through Safety Check, Community Help, a classified ad-type section where users can ask for help or offer goods, and Disaster Maps, which uses Safety Check data and other publicly-available data to develop an aggregate picture of an area after a disaster.

The Community Help API will show organizations how many people are calling for a specific type of aid, but also where they are coming from thanks to geotagging.

Why its hot

Facebook has a lot of data. A LOT of data, and it’s nice to see it using all of that information in constructive, and even life-saving ways. That said, it will be interesting to see how organizations are able to handle sorting the data from Facebook and what exact role Facebook itself will have past collecting the data. Could this be the first step toward a nonprofit arm of Facebook? Facebook-branded disaster relief?

Check-pocalypse on Twitter

What started as a simple way for Twitter to show who was really who on their platform has turned into a major headache. Last week, Twitter “verified” Jason Kessler, the white supremacist organizer of the Charlottesville rally in August that left one woman dead.

Less than a month after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recommitted to eliminating hate speech, hate symbols, and violent groups from the platform, Twitter goes ahead and, in the eyes of many users, legitimizes a noted racist. The Twitter verification badge was never meant to act as an endorsement, however. It was simply to establish authenticity so no one could impersonate a celebrity or notable personality.

The backlash to Kessler’s verification was swift and this week Twitter decided to throw it all out the window and remove check marks from a handful of prominent white nationalists and far-right conservatives, including Richard Spencer, Laura Loomer, and Tommy Robinson.

Unsurprisingly, those who lost their check marks (and it’s important to note they were not suspended from Twitter) were upset.


This was Twitter’s response:

Why its hot

Honestly, this is Twitter’s own fault. Verification started in 2009 and over time verified users were given access to special privileges, including analytics normally only available to advertisers. For years there was no obvious way to apply for a badge; either Twitter reached out to you or you knew someone at the company. This made the badge a symbol of prestige or authority—a status symbol.

And application of the badge was always inconsistent. Milo Yiannopoulos was de-verified in January 2016, yet Twitter verified Kessler? Why?

Twitter’s lax and inconsistent verification process led to the badge being viewed as an endorsement mark and anyone who had one, someone worth following and their opinions worth listening to.

So far, backlash to Twitter recent decision to remove badges has been countered only by those who lost their badges or those agree with the views of those users.But this opens up the discussion to exactly which views will have your badge taken away or your account suspended. Twitter is all over the map when it comes to enforcing their rules. I personally have been suspended for tweeting angrily at the MTA about subway service. Until Twitter creates clear terms of service and enforces them fairly and consistently, these sorts of stories will continue.


IBM Wants to Design the “New Helvetica”

IBM is hoping to be everyone’s “type.”

The company hopes its new bespoke typeface, IBM Plex, launched in beta this week, could become the next iconic type. The official version won’t be released until early 2018, according to Fast Co. Design.

“When I came to IBM, it was a big discussion: Why does IBM not have a bespoke typeface? Why are we still clinging on to Helvetica?” Mike Abbink, the typeface’s designer and IBM’s executive creative director of brand experience and design, says in a video explainer. “The way we speak to people and the conversations we need to have and we’d like to have, is that still the right way to express ourselves? We should really design a typeface that really reflects our belief system and make it relevant to people now. Helvetica is a child of a particular sect of modernist thinking that’s gone today.”

Looking back to IBM’s postwar years, Abbink’s team saw a contrast between hard edges and curves. The typeface is still a work in progress, but the company is sure about what the end result will be, at least–as Abbink proclaims in the video, “IBM Plex is the new Helvetica.”


Why its hot

Typeface is often overlooked for something we literally look at every day. It’s easy to forget how much time and effort goes into designing the look of letters and symbols, the message trying to be conveyed, hiding within the words themselves. Even the books we buy usually contain a note about the typeface used. It’s a reminder to take a closer look at things.

Fake News and Faker Faces

As if fake news isn’t a big enough issue, soon we may have to debate whether a person is real. Electronics manufacturer, Nvidia has debuted a new method for generating unique faces. The technique uses a generative adversarial network (GAN), “a class of algorithm where researchers pair two competing neural networks against each other,” according to Sploid. In a GAN, one of the two neural networks is put to a generative function (like rendering images or trying to solve a problem) while the other is put in an adversarial role, challenging the first’s results.

Nvidia writes:

We describe a new training methodology for generative adversarial networks. The key idea is to grow both the generator and discriminator progressively, starting from low-resolution images, and add new layers that deal with higher resolution details as the training progresses. This greatly stabilizes the training and allows us to produce images of unprecedented quality, e.g., CelebA images at 1024² resolution.


Why Its Hot

Right now this system can only create static images. Could we get to a point where we can generate faces for people that don’t actually exist to be used in ads? If this technology advances to the point of animation and video, we could create movies with no real people or even fake events and news.

Twitter Says It Overstated Monthly Users for 3 Years

Twitter said it uncovered an error in the way it has calculated the size of its user base since 2014.

Twitter admitted it had overstated its monthly-user figures since 2014 after mistakenly including data from third-party applications, according to The Economic Times.

The revelation comes as Twitter reported that its number of daily active users had risen 14 percent. And despite this news, Twitter shares were up 10 percent in pre-market trading Thursday and Twitter said it could turn a quarterly profit for the first time ever.

From The Times:

The company said it had discovered that its measure of monthly active users had been improperly including figures from third-party applications that used Digits, a software-development program. Digits is part of the Fabric mobile application platform that Twitter sold to Alphabet, Google’s parent company, this year.

As a result, Twitter lowered the number of monthly active users by 2 million for the first and second quarters of this year and by 1 million for the fourth quarter of 2016. Jack Dorsey reported Twitter has 330 million active monthly users in the quarter ending September 30.

Why its hot

Twitter turning a quarterly profit for the first time is a big deal, but the platform still faces an uphill battle. From increasingly louder calls from users to curb hate speech and harassment, to revelations of foreign advertisers trying to influence the election (Twitter just banned RT and Sputnik from running ads on the platform), Twitter is having to make quick adjustments while also apparently combating an inability to accurately assess user numbers.


NYT Issues New Social Media Guidelines for the Newsroom

Image result for new york times

Last Friday, The New York Times announced an updated an expanded set of guidelines for their journalists’ use of social media, posting them publicly online.

“The new guidelines underscore our newsroom’s appreciation for the important role social media now plays in our journalism, but also call for our journalists to take extra care to avoid expressing partisan opinions or editorializing on issues that The Times is covering.”

Some key points:

• In social media posts, our journalists must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts The Times’s journalistic reputation.

• Our journalists should be especially mindful of appearing to take sides on issues that The Times is seeking to cover objectively.

• These guidelines apply to everyone in every department of the newsroom, including those not involved in coverage of government and politics.

• On that same note, we strongly discourage our journalists from making customer service complaints on social media.

• If you are linking to other sources, aim to reflect a diverse collection of viewpoints.

Why its hot

Employers often don’t pay attention to what their employees are posting on social media until there is an actual problem. Some people will include their work information in their public social media profile, leaving them open to repercussions from angry followers. It’s certainly not uncommon to hear about a post going viral and the author losing their job.

In this case, The New York Times is in an interesting position. As journalists, they should remain impartial and report on news and current events. However, most people won’t follow a particular journalist just because they like their writing; they follow because they want a certain viewpoint. If journalists aren’t able to freely express themselves on social media, will people be less inclined to follow them? Additionally, should journalists express themselves publicly at all? Our country has perhaps never been more divided in terms of where we choose to get our news, and journalists have increasingly found themselves having to draw a line in the sand and defend themselves publicly from criticism. Taking their power away on social media makes this more difficult.

Bookmark your tweets!

Twitter's Adding a New Bookmarks Feature to Help Keep Track of Tweets | Social Media Today

So much content, so little time. I see so much throughout the day that I cannot read it all, so I save links as much as possible. Facebook lets you save articles and videos, and even reminds you about unread saves, but Twitter has only just now added a save function.

Previously, most users would “like” a tweet to be able to come back to it, or email the link to themselves. “Liking” a tweet is a public action, and not all users want that event out in the world for all to see. Also, a “like” will influence Twitter’s algorithm and what ads and recommended accounts they show you. The ability to bookmark tweets makes it easier for users to save what they’re interested in and improves overall platform performance.

Why its hot

Bookmarking tweets seems like an obvious idea, even if it flies in the face of Twitter’s position as the “live news” platform. I like this change as someone who frequently sees content I’m interested in, but don’t have time to read it. I am also curious to see if “bookmarks” becomes a part of Twitter’s standard analytics offered to brands and publishers.

Instagram Adds New Features to Stories

Instagram Adds Polls in Stories, New Creative Tools | Social Media Today

Instagram has added three brand new additions to Stories that will make creating engaging content easier.

A new sticker options for Instagram Stories lets users add polls easily and see the results from their followers. The votes are not anonymous. Like stories, the pull and results will disappear after 24 hours.

Color Picker
Users can duplicate the tone of any color in an image and use it in text. Tap on the eyedropper and you’ll be able to select any part of the image to duplicate its tone.

Instagram Adds Polls in Stories, New Creative Tools | Social Media Today

Alignment guide
The new alignment guide helps users avoid placing content anywhere it might get covered up when someone watches a story. When you rotate text or a sticker, the new guides will help snap the sticker back to horizontal.

Instagram Adds Polls in Stories, New Creative Tools | Social Media Today

Why its hot

These new features make it easier to create more personalized, better composed stories in Instagram. The poll feature is especially interesting since Facebook, which owns Instagram, has pushed down the reach of “live” videos that use reactions in voting. These updates will be especially useful for brands creating stand-out content in Stories.


Snapchat Announces New 3D AR Lenses for Ads

Snapchat Announces 3D AR Lenses as a New Ad Option | Social Media Today

Snapchat’s 3D World Lenses are now available as an ad option, according to Social Media Today.

The new ad format, unsurprisingly, will be at the higher end of Snapchat’s ad options, and can only be purchased through Snapchat’s direct sales team, not the platform’s recently launched self-serve platform.

The campaigns will be available in two formats – as explained by Marketing Land:

  1. They can run as traditional Sponsored Lens campaigns, where they’ll only show up when people swipe through the gallery of Lenses to apply one to their post. As with a normal Sponsored World Lens campaign, a Sponsored 3D World Lens must be bundled with a traditional Sponsored Lens that’s available through the phone’s front-facing camera in order to appear in the Lens gallery, according to a Snapchat spokesperson.
  2. Or they can be attached to a Snap Ad and be promoted outside of the Lens gallery. Users can swipe up on the vertical video ad to use the Lenses, marking the first time that a Lens can be used as a Snap Ad attachment.

Why Its Hot

Seems like every week we’re talking about new applications for AR. As an ad buying option, it will be interesting to see which brands are able to take advantage of AR. With the high price tag, Snapchat will have to make sure they’re delivering the ROI buyers are looking for.

Chili’s Latest Menu Item Is Healthcare Advice

Image result for i feel god in this chili's tonight

Everywhere you look, people are talking about healthcare. The issue has become so complicated that one curious Twitter user turned to Chili’s for advice—which they gave.

Colin Gray (@subtlerbutler) ranted that people should talk to each other for information outside of the internet, even if it means asking your local restaurant for help. Another user wanted to know what his question for Chili’s would be. The exchange:

After that, Twitter jumped all over Chili’s with questions of their own.

Why its hot

It’s risky for any brand to wade into a current issue, and healthcare is probably never a good idea, especially now. But this was a low-risk moment to chime in, and the question had an easy answer. I imagine they checked and double checked though. It seems people like when their favorite brands get political—as long as their politics are the same. The lesson here could be helpful advice: yes, political opinions: no.

Facebook Lets Advertisers Target ‘Jew Haters’

According to a report by ProPublica, Facebook’s self-service ad-buying platform allowed you to direct content to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics “Jew hater,” “how to burn jews,” or “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.'”

ProPublica paid $30 to target three promoted posts to those groups and all three ads were approved within 15 minutes. After ProPublica contacted Facebook, the categories were removed. Facebook famously takes a hands off approach to ad categories, letting an algorithm do all the work, and generating ad categories based on what users share on the platform and what they convey in their online activity.

“In all likelihood, the ad categories that we spotted were automatically generated because people had listed those anti-Semitic themes on their Facebook profiles as an interest, an employer or a “field of study.” Facebook’s algorithm automatically transforms people’s declared interests into advertising categories.”

ProPublica’s ads reached 5,897 people, generating 101 clicks, and 13 engagements.

An anonymous Facebook official claimed that these targeting categories were not widely used.


Why Its (Not) Hot

Last week Facebook announced $100,000 worth of ads had been placed during the 2016 presidential election by “inauthentic” accounts that appeared to be affiliated with Russia. Last year ProPublica was able to block ads from being shown to African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Whatever Facebook is trying to do to limit hate speech and promote a healthy social environment, it’s not working.

Kentucky Fried VR

We’ve entered a new reality of fried chicken.

KFC has started using VR to teach employees how to cook their famous original recipe. The chicken chain claims they can teach employees in just 10 minutes compared to the usual 25 minutes in the real world. According to The Daily Dot, the program is titled “The Hard Way—a KFC Virtual Training Escape Room.”

The VR program teaches employees the five steps to creating the delicious fried chicken: inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking, and pressure frying.

“In 1940 the Colonel was just one man frying chicken by hand. Now we have nearly 19,000 trained cooks across the U.S., but they’re still doing it by hand,” said George Felix, KFC’s U.S. director of advertising. “Our cooking process hasn’t changed much in 70 years, but the way we can train our cooks using modern technology sure has.”

The VR training program, despite it’s apparent rapid education, is not replacing the normal training program for employees; it is merely an ad-on.

Why its hot

As more companies look to VR for training, and products like Oculus become more available to the public, it may be a matter of time before we’re able to access a “hands on” education in just about any subject. It could revolutionize not only how we learn, but what we learn.

Instagram Inception

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

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

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

Read more here.

Why its hot

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

‘Watch’ Out YouTube

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

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

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

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

Why Its Hot

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

Microchip Implants for Employees? One Company Says Yes

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

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

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

British ASA Takes a Hard Line Against Stereotypes

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

Why Its Hot

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Why Its Hot

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

Get Your Kicks on Instagram

Buy Nikes on Instagram.

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

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

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

Read the full story here.

Why Its Hot

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


IBM’s Watson Serves Up Highlights at Wimbledon

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

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

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

Full story

Why Its Hot

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

Facebook Has a New Mission

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

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

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

Why Its Hot

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

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

The Incredible Weed Whacking Robot

Tertill Cutting a Weed

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

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

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

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

Why Its Hot

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


Would You Mind?

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot

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

Name That Tune

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

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

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

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

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

Why Its Hot

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

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

Someone Please Buy This Guy’s Car!

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot

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


Can Facebook Turn Blue Into Green?

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

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

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

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


Why its hot

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

Monkeys in Magenta

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

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

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


Why It’s Hot

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