Read your EKG Instantly on your Phone with KARDIA

The world knows no deadlier assassin than heart disease. It accounts for one in four fatalities in the US. Early detection remains the key to saving lives, but catching problems at the right time too often relies upon dumb luck. The most effective way of identifying problems involves an EKG machine, a bulky device with electrodes and wires.

Most people visit a doctor for an electrocardiogram. That, too, is no guarantee, because the best detection means being tested when a potential problem reveals itself. Otherwise, early signs of heart disease might go undetected.

At-risk patients might find a compact, easy to use EKG machine a good option. Like so many other gadgets, portable EKG machines are getting ever smaller—just look at products like Zio, HeartCheck, and QuardioCore.

The Kardia from AliveCor is about the width of two sticks of gum. Stick the $100 device on the back of your phone or slip it into your wallet, place a few fingers on it for 30 seconds, and you’ve got a medical-grade EKG reading on your phone.












But the bigger story is not in the gadget’s size, but in what happens with the heart data it collects. The company uses neural networks and algorithms to identify signs of heart disease, an approach it hopes might change how cardiologists diagnose patients.

The company was successful at convincing FDA, MayoClinic and the investors that devices’ ease of use will lead to more frequent testing and increase the likelihood of early detection. About a month of use builds a heart profile and then Kardia’s data-driven algorithm can detect if something goes amiss. Your doctor receives a message only when the anomaly is detected.

Why it is hot: Future of diagnostics is in data-driven approach. With IBM Watson and other innovations in machine learning, we are up for a healthier future!!!



Leo Burnett Found the Perfect Spokesbird for This Cute, Clever Samsung Gear VR Ad

Samsung has done plenty of commercials for the Gear VR showing humans wearing the virtual reality headset—which we can all agree is usually kind of weird. But in the new spot—which premiered 3/29 at a Samsung event introducing the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones—the marketer tried a different species of VR wearer.

The ostrich, clearly, is perfect, both as a creature that might fulfill its own destiny via VR and as a metaphor for Samsung itself—a grounded bird that’s become a bit of a joke, but could soar if it only just believes.

Why It’s Hot. Creativity and advertising again serve a noble purpose of helping a brand after product debacle (Note 7). Everyone, including a brand, deserves a 2nd chance if it dares to create one.

Moscow Billboard Targets Ads Based on the Car You’re Driving

The rise of digital billboards spawns the idea of targeted highway ads, with tests in the U.S. planned for this summer.

Last November if you were driving a BMW x5 or a Volvo XC60 on the highway ringing Moscow, you might have noticed a digital billboard on the side of the road flash an ad just as you approached, one for a new SUV from Jaguar.

If it was evening, you saw an ad with a dark background, helping the car stand out. In bad weather, you saw it maneuvering in the snow.

A startup called Synaps Labs has brought targeted advertising to the physical world by combining high-speed cameras set up a distance ahead of the billboard (about 180 meters) to capture images of cars. Its machine-learning system can recognize in those images the make and model of the cars an advertiser wants to target. A bidding system then selects the appropriate advertising to put on the billboard as that car passes.

Marketing a car on a roadside billboard might seem a logical fit. But how broad could this kind of advertising be? There is a lot an advertiser can tell about you from the car you drive. Indeed, recent research from a group of university researchers and led by Stanford found that—using machine vision and deep learning—analyzing the make, model, and year of vehicles visible in Google Street View could accurately estimate income, race, and education level of a neighborhood’s residents, and even whether a city is likely to vote Democrat or Republican.

As the camera spots a BMW X5 in the third lane, and later a BMW X6 and a Volvo XC60 in the far left lane, the billboard changes to show Jaguar’s new SUV, an ad that’s targeted to those drivers.

Synaps’s business model is to sell its services to the owners of digital billboards. The Jaguar campaign paid the billboard operator based on the number of impressions, as Web advertisers do. The traditional billboard-advertising model is priced instead on airtime, similar to TV ads.

The company is planning a test in the U.S. this summer, where there are roughly 7,000 digital billboards, a number growing at 15% a year. (By contrast, there are 370,000 conventional billboards.) With a row of digital billboards along a road, they could roll the ads as the cars move along, making billboard advertising more like the storytelling style of television and the Internet.

Why it’s hot: Truly innovative step in combining targeting technologies, recognition software and advertising.



Botnets of Things

The relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets is creating dangerous side effects that figure to get even worse.

Botnets have existed for at least a decade. As early as 2000, hackers were breaking into computers over the Internet and controlling them en masse from centralized systems. Among other things, the hackers used the combined computing power of these botnets to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks, which flood websites with traffic to take them down.

But now the problem is getting worse, thanks to a flood of cheap webcams, digital video recorders, and other gadgets in the “Internet of things.” Because these devices typically have little or no security, hackers can take them over with little effort. And that makes it easier than ever to build huge botnets that take down much more than one site at a time.

In October, a botnet made up of 100,000 compromised gadgets knocked an Internet infrastructure provider partially offline. Taking down that provider, Dyn, resulted in a cascade of effects that ultimately caused a long list of high-profile websites, including Twitter and Netflix, to temporarily disappear from the Internet.

The best defense would be for everything online to run only secure software, so botnets couldn’t be created in the first place. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Internet of things devices are not designed with security in mind and often have no way of being patched.

What do hackers do with them? Many things.

Botnets are used to commit click fraud. Click fraud is a scheme to fool advertisers into thinking that people are clicking on, or viewing, their ads. Similarly, botnets can be used to evade spam filters, which work partly by knowing which computers are sending millions of e-mails. They can speed up password guessing to break into online accounts, mine bitcoins, and do anything else that requires a large network of computers.

Why it is hot: Botnets are disrupting larger and larger swaths of the Internet—and getting harder to stop. Our clients are going to start asking us about risks more and more. Value of advertising will be questioned more and more. Effectiveness of advertising will have to be proven over and over again.


The Insanely Popular Chinese News App That You’ve Never Heard Of

But might use very soon…..

Toutiao – meaning “headlines” – boasts some 700 million users in China, with more than 68 million active daily users. The company and its app is essentially a news aggregation service that tailors the chosen headlines to users’ clicks.

The success of Toutiao has been achieved, in large part, by using machine learning to figure out users’ interests and tastes, and tailoring its offerings accordingly to get more clicks. Facebook and Twitter also use machine learning to refine recommendations, but they rely more heavily on social connections.

In the coming year, Toutiao aims to develop more AI-focused services, and to expand internationally. The ultimate goal is to become the worlds’ number-one online content destination, eclipsing the likes of Facebook and Twitter, as well as the likes of the New York Times and Buzzfeed in their own markets.

So, how does the AI come into play? Toutaio team created an artificial reporter, called Xiaoming, that’s capable of generating short news reports on European soccer games. So, the idea is to use machine learning to get the relevancy correct, and the AI – to transfer that relevancy into a product.

Platform also has several ways to identify fake news. In China this mostly consists of dubious health recommendations. It does this using a mix of human reviewers along with automated analyses of posts and comments related to them.

Why It’s Hot:

The company currently gets most of its revenue from advertising, which is also tailored to users’ likes and interests. The app should be on the radar for potential use in China and US (for Chinese expats).

This Robot Will Carry Your Stuff and Follow You Around

Vespa maker Piaggio’s new robot servant is yet another sign of the transportation industry reinventing itself. Meet Gita.

The robot is an experimental new way of transporting stuff. The top of the robot opens up, allowing it to store up to 40 pounds of whatever you might otherwise lug around yourself. The company is about to begin testing Gita in a number of industrial settings, including factories and theme parks. But the hope is that the robot may also appeal to consumers who might want a robot assistant as they walk, run, or ride a bike (it has a top speed of 22 mph). Video here!!!

Gita balances itself as it travels, keeping its cargo level. The robot runs for eight hours, and can recharge in a regular outlet. It has three different modes: following someone, driving autonomously, and platooning with other Gita vehicles. The company has not announced a price.

Still, as with many of the ideas being tested by transportation companies, including self-driving taxis, semi-automated trucks, and delivery drones, the underlying technology, as well as the potential applications, remain a bit unproven.

Why It’s Hot: Gita is a clear sign of the technological revolution currently shaking the world of transportation. As new technologies start to upend modes of mobility that have changed barely at all in decades, the automotive world is rapidly reinventing itself.


Google Aims to Make VR Hardware Irrelevant Before It Even Gets Going

Smartphones have sidelined digital cameras and other special-purpose devices. Now Google thinks mobile phones will shove virtual-reality headsets like the Oculus Rift into the shadows, too.

Google Cardboard, as both the phone holder and the accompanying app are called, transforms the computer in your pocket into a virtual-reality headset. It’s something of a gimmick. But it’s also a serious attempt to create a new mass communication and entertainment medium. “Virtual reality will have an important role to play in entertainment, communications, work, and learning,” says Clay Bavor, who leads Google’s virtual-reality project. “Cardboard will be the way that we make these immersive experiences available for everyone.”









cardboard_2x519 cardboard_3x519Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, also thinks virtual reality will change the world. He has predicted that it is “the next major computing and communication platform.” But Zuckerberg and Google are trying to make it come true in almost opposite ways. In 2013, Facebook spent $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR, a company developing a sophisticated virtual-reality headset called the Rift (also on Hot Sauce) that is held to your face with a thick elasticated strap and attaches via a cable to a powerful PC. The Rift goes on sale early next year. The price is unknown, but a version that until recently was available to developers cost $350, and an Oculus-approved PC to power its forthcoming headset costs at least $950. Facebook has also collaborated with Samsung on a $99 headset called the Gear VR, which can use some Samsung smartphones as a screen, and boasted that it will widen virtual reality’s audience this way. But Samsung is unlikely to make the Gear VR compatible with its competitors’ devices, and Facebook’s main project is the high-end Rift experience.

In contrast, Cardboard works with iPhones and almost any phone running Google’s Android software. Google has released the design of the Cardboard phone holder for free, and other companies sell versions for $10, or more if you want one in plastic, metal, or wood. Google estimates that it and other companies have sold or given away more than a million Cardboard kits. This weekend the New York Times will send out over a million more to its subscribers, to promote a virtual-reality documentary on children displaced by war. Google has also begun sending Cardboard kits to schools with a special version of the app that lets a teacher take a class on a 3-D tour of a coral reef or Machu Picchu.

The Rift offers a far better experience than Cardboard and has spurred tech and media companies to invest hundreds of millions in virtual-reality startups, content, and copycat headsets from companies such as Sony and phone manufacturer HTC. But the technological tide that made the Rift possible also works against it—in Cardboard’s favor. Even as the smartphone industry slashed the costs of the displays and sensors needed to build a good virtual-reality headset, smartphones have made people less inclined to spend money on PCs or on single-purpose gadgets such as cameras or GPS devices—and perhaps virtual-reality technology.

Why It’s Hot: VR will transform entertainment, collaboration, medical, education industries for the better. The applications are vast and exciting. Google will make it happen faster and more affordable, so the testing and improvement can take place immediately.


Stripe Bets on Twitter for Mobile Purchases

Though 60 percent of Web traffic occurs on mobile devices, only about 15 percent of online purchases are made through that medium.

The online payments company Stripe is betting that people want to buy things via mobile but are hamstrung by the annoyance of entering personal data and lengthy credit card info on a small screen.


Its solution is Relay, a new service within the Stripe API that a retailers can use to simplify mobile purchases by embedding a simple “buy” button in native apps or even in a tweet. Twitter is an active launch partner with Stripe on this product and has incorporated Relay into its mobile app. Using Relay, retailers can embed a “buy” button in tweets, which will launch a simple Stripe purchase confirmation dialog box to those customers who have chosen to save their credit card info in the Twitter app.

The new feature comes as Twitter searches for new ways to make its service useful – and profitable. Twitter will allow third-party retailers to charge transactions through their feeds for free, though that could change in the future.

There are two ways Relay works. By enabling purchases directly from Twitter feed. Once the customer clicks on a buy button, a secure interface box from Stripe opens, asking for confirmation and then completing the transaction instantly, assuming that the user has opted in to save credit card information in the Twitter app. For security reasons, Twitter will not save the information itself – it delegates that encryption headache to Stripe.

Other companies with less Twitter-centric business models will incorporate Relay directly into their mobile apps. ShopStyle is a fashion-oriented search engine that works with hundreds of retails, like Target, Sacks, etc. Using Relay, ShopStyle customers would have to enter card and personal data just once. Then they would be able to shop from all retailers searched across the app.

Why It’s Hot: Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and retailers could see a surge in online sales if the buying process were easier.



Facebook’s Like Buttons Will Soon Track Your Web Browsing to Target Ads

Facebook’s “Like” buttons have been logging data on our browsing for years – now the company will start using that data to target ads.

Facebook’s ad targeting algorithms are about to get a new fire hose of valuable and controversial personal data.

Starting next month, the millions of Facebook “Like” and “Share” buttons that publishers have added to their pages and mobile apps will start funneling data on people’s Web browsing habits into the company’s ad targeting systems. After the change, the types of sites you visit could be used to tune ads shown to you inside Facebook’s social networking service, its photo-sharing service Instagram, and mobile apps that use Facebook’s ad network.

Facebook first offered the Like button to publishers in 2010 as a way to help people tell friends and the company what was interesting. The buttons take the form of a snippet of code to be added to a page. That code directs a person’s browser to contact Facebook’s servers, allowing them to know the page you’re visiting, and to see the “cookie” files that Facebook pushes to its users’ browsers to identify them.

The company said in a blog post Tuesday that it will now officially start using the logged data to target ads. The post also announced a new privacy setting that lets you opt out of seeing ads targeted based on data collected on your online activity.

Why It’s Hot: How Facebook collects and uses its data has implications on privacy and the online ad business.

IBM Media Campaign – Creative Overview

An IBM cloud media campaign on MIT Technology Review caught my attention today. The compelling creative, eye-catching formats mixed with more subdued ones, common theme with intelligent looking faces and matching landing pages – all converged into a campaign that made me pay attention. Great execution, IBM!

Banner Executions. Each one leads to unique landing pages where benefits are explained. Look and feel is extended from banner to landing page. Example of one landing page is below the banners.







Landing Page Example:
Landing Page

Why It’s Hot: memorable execution and exceptional follow-through with banner campaign.

Smarter Smartphone Alerts Come In When You Want Them

Smartphone notifications can be annoying if they interrupt you while you’re working, eating, or sleeping. A startup, called Triggerhood , says it has a way to make sure they’re always helpful.

How it works. It has built software that developers can add to their apps to collect data from an app itself—such as how long it’s been operating, when it’s opened, and when it’s closed. This information is combined with location data and signals from smartphone sensors that indicate whether the phone’s user is running, driving, or tilting the device, and is sent anonymously to Triggerhood’s servers, where an algorithm determines whether you’re likely to find it a good or bad time to get a notification.

It takes a few days to build a personal profile for a user before Triggerhood can determine that, say, a news app should send you notifications about articles after you go running rather than during your run. The information it collects isn’t personally identifiable or linked to a user’s identity.

Why It’s Hot: Such technology focuses on each user individually allowing app developers to maximize their communication with each one separately. The result is optimized for any kind of behavior driven product.

Future of Mobile Web Advertising is Influenced by Ad-Blocking Technology

New mobile apps heading to Apple’s iTunes store this fall promise to make your Web browsing faster and safer, your battery life longer, and your data bills smaller by blocking online ads. Of course this will escalate a growing controversy over the effects of ad blockers on publishers. Ad blocking is not new on desktop, but mobile space was largely out of reach in the countries where app stores are controlled by Apple of Google.

Ad blocking iPhone apps are coming because a new version of Apple’s mobile operating system due this fall adds support for apps that filter content in Safari, the default browser on iPhones and iPads.

Several developers are now testing such apps in anticipation of new release and preliminary tests suggested that they might become quite popular. Names of apps to look for: Crystal, Purify, Murphy add blocking app.

How popular the new apps will be is unclear because simple ad blocking tools have not previously been available through the mobile app stores of Apple or Google. Apple’s software didn’t support them, and Google, whose business is built on ads, actively bans them from its app store. Desktop ad blocking is more popular and some of the tools like uBlock are widely known.

A survey of U.S. Internet users by PageFair, which tracks ad blocking usage, found last year that more than a quarter said they used ad blocking—likely referring to desktop use. Mobile ad blocking apps are already extremely popular in places where many phones based on Google’s Android operating system use app stores that Google does not control, such as China, India, and Russia, says Sean Blanchfield, PageFair’s CEO. The companies behind two leading mobile browsers, UC Browser and Maxthon, which have built-in ad blocking, together claim over 600 million active users.

PageFair, Eyeo and SourcePoint are the companies to be aware of that sell ad blocker-defeating technology on desktop. They will most likely become active in mobile space as well.

An agreement that PageFair has with Eyeo, the company behind AdBlock Plus, a desktop blocker claiming 50 million active users, lets it sell ads guaranteed not to be blocked because they meet Eyeo guidelines for “acceptable ads.” Other companies, such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, even pay Eyeo in return for a promise it won’t block their ads that meet the rules.

Adkisson (cofounder of SourcePoint) calls those paid deals “extortion.” Sourcepoint is working on the idea of letting people choose how publishers make money from them, for example by opting to see conventional ads, or to watch one video ad per day, or even paying a few dollars per month to wipe out ads across a bundle of top sites.

Apple has its own ideas about the future of publishing, though. The iOS9 update will also bring a news app that repackages content from different publishers in a slick interface, with ads sold through Apple. Facebook recently launched a similar feature, called “instant articles.”

Why It’s Hot: the issue is relevant for the consumers, publishers, advertisers and technologists and has a disruptive element that may give rise to different pricing models in advertising and new mobile formats as well as subscription-based web

Self-Charging Phones Are on the Way, Finally

A handful of companies are coming up with ways to extend your phone’s battery life when you’re far from a power outlet.

Energy harvesting technologies are getting their way into the cell phones. Imagine a cell phone case that doesn’t look weird but it’s doing something pretty out of the ordinary: capturing some of the radio waves that the phone transmits when connecting to cell-phone towers and Wi-Fi routers, converting them to electricity, and feeding that power back to the phone’s battery. Produced by Nicola Labs and potentially available next year for $100. Gives about 25-30% charge back.

Moore’s Law, which predicts that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years, has held steady since 1975. Yet battery technology hasn’t kept the same pace, probably because its evolution is dependent on advances in chemistry. So while smartphones have gotten increasingly capable, with faster processors, better displays, and higher-resolution cameras, it can still be a challenge to get the battery that’s powering all these features to last throughout the day.

A French solar technology company called Sunpartner Technologies is already working on this with a thin, see-through overlay called WYSIPS Crystal (the acronym stands for “what you see is photovoltaic surface”) that sits between the glass and touch-screen layers on a smartphone or other mobile gadget. The WYSIPS layer is covered with small solar cells; when the phone is exposed to artificial or natural light, it captures the light and converts it to an electric current. A connection to the gadget’s battery would enable the layer to send power directly to it.

Much chunkier but perhaps more suited to that job is a wearable charger from Ampy, a startup based in Evanston, Illinois. The device contains a battery you fill up by moving around. The charger, which is the size of a deck of cards, contains inductors — essentially, magnets moving within a coil.

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Why it Matters: Almost two-thirds of Americans have a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. This number varies by country and continent and is expected to grow.


How Ads Follow You from Phone to Desktop to Tablet

Advertisers are increasingly using technology that targets users across multiple devices, and it’s working.

Imagine you slack off at work and read up online about the latest and greatest in coffee makers. On the way home, you see an ad for the same model on your phone, reminding you this is “the most desirable coffee-maker ever.” Then before bed on your tablet, you see another ad with new details about the machine.

You may think it is your destiny to own this coffee-maker right now!

For advertisers, the process is divine in its own right. Over the past year, companies have substantially and successfully stepped up repeat ad targeting to the same user across home and work computers, smart phones and tablets. The strategy is fast becoming the new norm.

But what happened? What drives this growth of interest? One of the reasons has been greater sophistication of companies engaged in “probabilistic matching,” the study of millions of Web users to determine who is likely to be the same person across devices. For example, Drawbridge, which specializes in matching users across devices, says it has linked 1.2 billion users across 3.6 billion devices—up from 1.5 billion devices just a year ago.

Another trend making all this matching possible is the continuing transformation of Internet advertising into a marketplace of instant decisions, based on what companies know about the user. Firms you have never heard of, such as Drawbridge, Crosswise, and Tapad, learn about your devices and your interests by tracking billions of ad requests a day from Internet ad exchanges selling in real time. Potential buyers see the user’s device, IP address, browser, and other details, information that allows for a sort of fingerprinting.  “We are getting very smart about associating the anonymous identifiers across the various devices,” says Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, founder and CEO of Drawbridge.

For example, a cell phone and tablet accessing the same IP address at home would be one clue, as would searches for the same product. You might look for “Chevy Cruze” on your phone and then search for the same thing on your laptop. The same geographic location of the searches within a short time period, combined with other information, might suggest the same user.

In the last six months or so, these companies say they have sharply increased the accuracy of probabilistic matching. A Nielsen survey of Drawbridge data released in April found 97.3 percent accuracy in linking two or more devices; an earlier Nielsen survey of Tapad found 91.2 percent accuracy.

Another wave feeding the fast growth of cross-platform advertising is the stampede onto mobile devices. Just last month Google announced that users in the United States, Japan, and eight other countries now use mobile devices for more than half of their searches. U.S. mobile traffic soared 63 percent in 2014 alone, according to a report from Cisco.

Many consumers search on mobile devices but buy on larger-screen computers, giving advertisers ever more incentive to track across multiple screens. Ad agencies are also breaking down traditional walls between video, mobile, and display teams to forge a more integrated approach.

Why it Matters: Probabilistic advertising is pushing the cross-platform matching to the heights it has never seen before allowing advertisers engage with consumers continuously and verifiably.

Oculus Shows Its First Consumer Headset And Circular Hand Controls

Oculus reveals its first consumer virtual-reality headset, Oculus Rift, and hand controls for interacting with digital objects and making gestures. oculusx519_0

Oculus Rift, won’t be released until next year and a price has not yet been revealed, but it got a little closer to reality today as the company officially unveiled it along with a unique pair of circular controllers.

The device is perhaps the most anticipated of the coming virtual-reality headsets. The company, which was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, plans to release it during the first quarter of next year.

“It’s really lightweight, it’s comfortable,” CEO Iribe said. “You can slip it right on.” Oculus founder Palmer Luckey also showed prototypes today of hand controls called Oculus Touch that the company hopes will make it easy to use your hands in virtual reality, whether you want to pick up and fire a gun or give a friend a virtual thumbs up. The gadget looks like a tiny game controller for each hand, complete with buttons and a trigger, surrounded by a black semicircle. It will be released in the first half of next year.

Luckey said the controllers are meant to allow precise, quick control of virtual objects without requiring the user to really think much about it. With the controllers, users can also make hand gestures like pointing, waving, and giving a thumbs up, he said, and developers can add haptic buzzes to games that you’ll feel with the controllers.

In addition to the small handheld controllers, Oculus is partnering with Microsoft to include a wireless Xbox controller with the Rift headset, and the Rift will work natively with Windows 10. The Rift will also work with games made for Xbox; Oculus created a virtual cinema where the games will be available.

While a number of gaming companies—including Gunfire Games and CCP Games, who were on hand today—are already making games for the Rift, the work with Microsoft will make many more games available for the platform right off the bat, and could entice more game developers to build games expressly for Oculus.

Why Its’ Hot. Virtual and augmented reality could enable all kinds of applications from gaming to health care. 



Planning Mobile Campaigns – Do Geos Matter

According to mobile agency and creative shop Fetch, when planning your mobile campaign, traditional geographic regions are not the most efficient way forward. Here is a map of traditional regions for the purpose of most planning done:


Countries from the same region show disparate levels of responsiveness to ads

 The graph below shows each individual country plotted by CPI (cost per install) and CTI (click to install). From this you can observe different clusters of countries with similar responsiveness to mobile advertising. Each country is colored according to its traditional region, so again we can see vast differences in behavior within these groupings. You can click on the picture to expand.

In the top right are countries that are expensive to reach but also responsive to the advertising they see.

The top left is countries that are also expensive to reach, but are also hard to engage. The Nordic countries and developed APAC nations like Korea and Japan reside here, and this is a grouping that reoccurs frequently across different data.

The bottom right section has countries that are relatively cheap to both acquire and easy to engage with.

Last, the bottom left is made up of less developed mobile markets, cheap to acquire but not very engaged with mobile advertising.

High-cost users to acquire live in countries with high smartphone penetration

The two graphs below show the relationships between CPI, Mobile Uptake and GDP
per capita of each country. Click to enlarge.

This further establishes that countries where users are expensive to acquire have high smartphone penetration and likely have more expendable income. These users are valuable so advertisers bid more aggressively for them.

Similar clusters can be seen in this graph, such as the Nordic countries and high tech APAC markets; their smartphone users are comfortable spending on mobile and are expensive to acquire.

Why It’s Hot:

First, it is worth considering if we need to follow traditional region groupings when planning and budgeting. Our customers are mobile and we should be, too. Second, there is a wealth of knowledge that can be shared between countries. They may sit in different regions, but what you have learned in Japan is likely to be very useful to inform campaigns in Sweden. Your optimization strategy in Canada may work very well in Brazil but not necessarily in Russia.


The Future of Shopping – Topman Case Study

Topman customers were increasingly expressing interest in setting up sessions with private stylists and getting real-time fashion advice from the comfort of their own homes. The challenge the brand faced was providing the same level of service online that it offered in-store. Staffed by a team of fashion experts, Topman launched its Personal Shopping program to simplify the shopping experience and bring the latest trends to its customers, thereby offering them a more tailored experience.

With Personal Shopping, interested customers can book a video chat via the website or app. They can flag their favorite Topman styles and trends before their appointments to help the stylists provide them with more personalized service. After the appointment, customers will be re-directed to the Topman site where they can purchase items they selected just like any typical online transaction.

Topman used animated GIFs on its Google+ page to introduce the stylists. It also hosted a live Hangout with TV presenter Nick Grimshaw and the personal shopping team to coincide with the launch.

Why it’s hot: Use of social media and technology advanced and enhanced the way the brand interacts with customers, being more accessible and innovative.

How Pretty Are Your Email Subject Lines? And What Media Can Learn From It.

What do “still time” and “prettiest” have in common for retailers? According to February 2015 research by Return Path, they’re the most effective keywords used in retail marketing email subject lines, with respective average read rates of 33.73% and 32.50%. “Cheapest” ranked third, while command words “download” and “register” rounded out the top five, all with read rates hovering around 25% on average.


Return Path also looked at what not to do for retail email subject lines. “Get rid of” was the least-read, with an average rate under 5%. Despite the effectiveness of “offer,” other money-saving phrases “2-for-1” and “half off” didn’t fare as well. And while “expire” and “hurry” were relatively well-read, other urgency keywords “extended” and “running out” landed in the bottom 10.

It takes more than choosing the right words to drive readership; length matters too. The research found that retail marketing emails with between 61 and 70 characters had the highest average read rate, at 17%. Interestingly, the second-most-read emails jumped to subject lines with between 91 and 100 characters.


Why It’s Hot: Testing email subject lines can help retailers figure out what to use, and not use, when sending a message out to the masses. Email marketing is one of the industries where most testing is done. Potentially such research can be applied to digital advertising like banners, native and paid social.

Online Fact-Checking Tool Gets a Big Test with Nepal Earthquake

Shortly after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, social media lit up with unverified reports of people trapped and buildings damaged. But how could humanitarian organizations know where to respond first? How could they know which accounts were actually true?

To weed out false rumors that can waste precious time, Justine Mackinnon, the president of Standby Task Force, has enlisted some local volunteers to use an experimental Web tool to crowdsource rumor verification as quickly as possible.

Fact: Standby Task Force is a group of volunteer “digital humanitarians” that becomes active after disasters at the request of international agencies and local relief organizations. They are often put in charge of a massive effort to sift through hundreds of thousands of tweets from people in Nepal to help workers identify priority areas.

Often, a large number of tweets coming from the same place and reporting the same general thing is enough verification, says Mackinnon. But sometimes the team encounters tweets “that don’t quite fit” with what the crowd is saying. Often these are untrue, but it is crucial that they be verified as quickly as possible in case they contain vital information. To do this, her group posts a “verification request,” in the form of a yes or no question, on a new Web platform called Verily

Users can go to Verily’s website and read short tutorials on simple, established ways to verify things like the source of an image or the date and location of a report on a social network. They can answer yes-or-no verification questions about reports, provided they supply a piece of evidence supporting their answer—a corroborating photo, for example. Users can also share verification requests with their own social networks. Based on the evidence posted by Verily users, Mackinnon’s team can pass information along to relief organizations. The idea is to “crowdsource critical thinking,” says Patrick Meier, one of the creators of the tool and a co-founder of Standby Task Force.

Tools like Verily are only powerful if lots of people use them, and Mackinnon says that building a community has been the biggest challenge in Nepal, as well as during the first trial of the platform after a cyclone hit the nation of Vanuatu in March. For the past couple of days, the team has been teaching some 200 Nepali volunteers how to use the platform, with the hope that they can recruit others from their personal networks.

More about preventing the misinformation in critical moments:

Youtube TedX talk on Digital Humanitarianism: WHATCH HERE




Landing Page Optimization – The Discipline to Do It

How Can Marketers Improve Landing Page Optimization? Recent eMarketer study revealed the LPO remains a challenging and often overlooked practice.

Landing page optimization (LPO) is critical for any marketer looking to turn site visitors into leads—and eventually, customers. Indeed, increasing conversions ranked as the most important objective of an LPO strategy among marketing professionals polled worldwide by Ascend2 earlier this month by a long shot, cited by 93%.

However, despite the importance of the landing page, just 27% of respondents said they were “very successful” at LPO. More promising was the fact that 54% were “somewhat successful.” What was preventing respondents from reaching the “very successful” level? The chart below shows:


Testing is key when it comes to landing pages, as A/B testing ranked as the most effective tactic to execute for LPO—and even better, it was the least difficult. Interestingly, though, just 18% of respondents conducted “extensive testing” of landing pages for optimization purposes, while 59% ran “limited” tests, and 23% did none. A/B testing may have been easy and effective, but the story wasn’t the same for many of the other effective tactics, with other leaders such as segmentation and targeting and copy optimization also landing among the most difficult. Landing pages are relatively common among marketers.


In November 2014 polling by Salesforce Marketing Cloud, 42% of marketers worldwide said they used landing pages. This ranked as the fifth most popular digital marketing channel or tactic used—but trailed Nos. 2 to 4 by just 2 percentage points.

Why it’s hot: For marketers to make the most of the landing pages they build, they’ll need to master LBO by improving internal skills, creating conversion-worthy content and mastering the most effective tactics.

Facebook Custom Audience CTRs Show Huge Promise For Advertisers

Full content of this eMarketer article can be accessed here

The truth: Average CTR for WCA more than 10 times that on FBX. Where WCA = Facebook website custom audience. and FBX = Facebook exchange retargeting.

There’s been plenty of buzz that FBX is dying, and recent research by Kinetic Social found that click through rates for WCA were dominating those on FBX. In December 2014, the average CTR for US retargeted display ads run on WCA was 1.25%, vs. just 0.12% for FBX.Facebook-WCA

WCA placements saw average CTR rise nearly 1 percentage point between January and December of last year. In comparison, CTR for FBX increased just 0.09 point.

Kinetic noted that comparing FBX and WCA retargeting display ad CTRs is “apples to oranges” to some degree, as FBX ads are desktop-only, while WCA placements are run on both desktop and mobile. As consumers spend more and more time with the social network via smartphones and tablets—eMarketer expects mobile to account for 61.5% of time spent with Facebook per day by US adults this year, vs. 38.5% for PCs—reaching users on such devices is critical.

Why it’s hot: Newer way to reach a consumer with brand message. Mobile advertising does solicit more CTR, but brands need to go beyond this interaction and close the loop of experience in a meaningful way.


“A selfie is only as good as it’s stick…”

Every year, marketers and agencies take a stab at April Fool’s Day. It’s a great opportunity for good, safe fun that vaguely carries brand messaging. This year, we also got some interesting messages.


Zappo’s Fools Day – STFU Service

Why It’s Hot: As we grow up, April Fools Day sort of looses its funny grip on us. The pranks are rare and the fun is predictable. On a gray, used-to-be-fun April Fools Day, advertising agencies are braving to bring the fun back.



Compulsive Behavior Sells – implications in personal life and work

I want to introduce you all to a notion of habit-forming technologies and how it changed over the years and its future. As advertisers, we create customer experiences for the purpose of, let’s be frank, investment.

I will introduce you to a must-read blog in this field:

It is authored by Nir Eyal and is about intersection of psychology, technology, and business and encompasses user experience design, behavioral economics, and a dash of neuroscience. He is also an author of best-seller book ‘Hooked’ a guide to building habit-forming technology, written for product managers, designers, marketers, and startup founders to provide:

  • Practical insights to create habits that stick.
  • Actionable steps for building products people love and can’t put down.

Also, I suggest to go beyond the morality aspect of ‘addiction-forming behavior’ (because it is not about that…) and try to see the implications and applications in personal life and work, which are vast, spanning from efficiency-forming habits, weight-loss, copy-writing, user-experience etc, etc.

Here is a little history of habit-forming science development to get you started



Searching for Love on Valentine’s Day and beyond

Love changes everything—what we buy, how we make purchase decisions, and who influences those decisions. On Valentine’s Day and beyond, the web plays a big role. In this infographic, we explore online moments of love and how marketers can win them.


Why It’s Hot: The best ads hit us on an emotional level. By understanding how people find and fall in love, brands can uncover fundamental human truths and develop creative and messaging that truly resonate on Valentines Day and beyond.


IBM Verse – a solution to increased email productivity

IBM’s new messaging software uses algorithms to learn how to organize your e-mail better.

Over 100 billion work e-mails are exchanged each day, but research suggests that only around a quarter of those are actually essential. IBM hopes to lighten that load. Later this month the company will open up a trial of a new online e-mail service called Verse, which uses algorithms to work out which messages and people are most important to you.

After Verse is launched as a product sometime this spring, IBM plans to add a personal assistant powered by the Watson software that beat two human Jeopardy! champions in 2011. The finished version of the service will be free for personal or small-business use, but larger companies will have to pay, depending on data usage and the number of users.

Verse combines an e-mail client, a digital calendar, internal collaboration tools, video chat, and content from social networks including Twitter and Facebook into one interface. It analyzes your communication patterns to try to understand which people matter to you most. It then highlights important e-mails accordingly. A toolbar provides one-click access to the latest messages from the people judged to be your most crucial contacts. (The user can override Verse’s decisions about which contacts are important.)

Why It’s Hot: This solution, hopefully, will help with work email overload issue and will be a life-saver for someone who has to multi-task and multi-prioritize.

How College Students Connect with Brands

Amid their interest in millennials, marketers look to the 19 million-plus US college students as an audience worth courting. After all, it is a mostly millennial subset that already deploys considerable spending power and (with degree in hand) will be poised to outearn and outspend noncollege millennials for decades to come.

An October 2014 Student Monitor survey probed students’ preferences in the media through which they learn about products and services. Internet ads got more mentions than TV ads, albeit not by a vast margin. Email messaging had a significant constituency, despite the popular notion that young people regard email as hopelessly old-fashioned. Not registering in double digits (and, hence, not included in the chart here) were ads in campus or national newspapers, printed catalogs and information on a company’s Facebook page.

The proliferation of social networks and mobile messaging services has provided college students (and others) with social options beyond Facebook. But Facebook remains the social venue where students are most likely to interact with brands, according to a July 2014 survey by, where 86.2% of US college students said they followed brands on the social network. (One caveat: This poll was conducted via Facebook.) The Facebook-owned Instagram was runner-up, at 43.3% of respondents.

Smartphones and tablets also come into play in students’ shopping, especially for research. But as a July 2014 survey for the National Retail Federation found, this tendency has plenty of abstainers. More than four in 10 respondents said they did not plan to use their phone or tablet for researching or buying back-to-school items.

Given the high incidence of mobile usage among students, brands naturally see it as a channel for reaching this audience with ads. Research by Ball State University, as summarized in an April 2014 release, might prompt second thoughts. According to Michael Hanley, advertising professor and director of the university’s Institute for Mobile Media Research, “research continues to show young people are annoyed by mobile ads. About 65% of students report receiving mobile ads, and 70% of them don’t like it.”

Reebock – Live Free Range

At Reebok, we believe in breaking free from monotonous, unmotivating fitness routines and taking on a more inspiring approach to lifelong health and fitness. That’s why we promote a new type of physical activity—one that doesn’t shackle us to machines. The fitness we champion is a lifestyle that goes far beyond physical benefits and has the power to affect all facets of our lives for the better.

Campaign website: contains the video, inspiration message, 2-3 styles to shop right now, social links and a map to find the store – all streamlined to one single page.

Why it’s hot: Beautifully done. Inspirational. Right timing. And most of all – lives in consumable moments that touch a variety of audience.



A Zippier Way to Share Big Files

A startup called Keyssa has developed technology to wirelessly transfer large amounts of data, like movies and music collections, from one gadget to another in seconds, rather than the minutes (or  longer) it can take with a USB drive or over Wi-Fi.

Kiss Connectivity features:
– you can share, sync and store your data and video—simply and securely
– sharing videos with friends, files with coworkers or health data with your doctor becomes secure and simple. Just touch one device to another.
– Show content, without connecting a thing. Simply ‘kiss’ your device to an HD display and let the show begin on the big screen.
– Download an HD movie in seconds. With Kiss Connectivity, you can download a 1GB movie in as little as two seconds.

The company created a chip that uses high-frequency radio waves to transfer data extremely quickly between two devices that are touching each other. The plan is to put the chips in gadgets like laptops, computer docks, tablets, and smartphones.

Keyssa expects the first products containing its connectors to be released in the second half of 2015.


Mobile Search Will Surpass Desktop in 2015

According to eMarketer, 2015 will see mobile search reach the tipping point—the stage at which the majority of spend, organic traffic and paid clicks comes from smartphones and tablets, surpassing traditional desktop/laptop search activity, according to a new eMarketer report, “Key Digital Trends for 2015: What’s in Store—and Not in Store—for the Coming Year.” (unfortunately only available to corporate accounts, I will see if I can get it)

For marketers, there is an important caveat: Return on investment (ROI) has not reached a similar tipping point. ROI on mobile search is improving, but it will continue to trail desktop search ROI next year—and further into the future, until mobile performance measurement, particularly in relation to the impact on sales in physical stores, gets more precise.

But the ubiquity of smartphones, and consumers’ growing use of phones in almost every waking moment of the day, means that search will be more mobile than desktop next year. The importance of search in the digital experience makes this a trend that bears watching.

eMarketer-Search-MobileWhy it’s hot: While the industry is not settled on ROI and how to tie in mobile performance to sales and other back-end metrics, I think agencies and their analytics arms should be on the forefront and try to come up with scenarios that would work for the clients in the meantime.