Brands Put Pressure on Agencies to Develop Alexa Capabilities

“As the Bezos behemoth continues along its unstoppable, disruptive path, brands are increasingly requesting Amazon-tailored services. Agencies have been ramping up their capabilities on the platform and even launching dedicated practices as a response.”

“Many marketers now view Amazon as a legitimate competitor to Facebook and Google, according to 22squared vp, director of media planning Brandy Everhart. ‘What they bring to the table is an extensive data set that you can’t get anywhere else,’ she said. ‘We’ve seen a lot of successful campaigns that are focused on driving conversions on the Amazon platform.’

Even brands that don’t sell on Amazon are asking questions due to the power of its search reach and the benefits of its data sets. ‘Clients want me to increase their engagement in every possible way,’ said Matt Bijarchi, founder and CEO of digital brand studio Blend. ‘We’ve learned ecommerce is also a brand-building opportunity.'”

Article here

Why It’s Hot

This is hot for 2 key reasons: data and customer engagement.

As VRT devices like Alexa and Google home start to infiltrate the home and the office, it will be increasingly important to understand what information users are asking these devices for, and what content people are consumers – making it a perfect addition to our SENSE offering.

For pharma specifically, Alexa and similar devices offer opportunities to support and engage both patients and HCPs in office and at home. Building relevant skills for these audience could help:

  • support physician discovery and work as a valuable sales resource
  • Provide guidance for patients when self-administering at home and track adherence
  • Help patients track symptom improvement
  • Improve infusion experiences at home and in-office with original and curated content tailored to patient’s interests/needs

Podcasts: Trust, Immersion & Convenience

Podcasts are far from new. However, they provide opportunities to reach and engage a very active group of consumers in an environment that they trust, for long periods of time during moments that are convenient for them.


Why It’s Hot

Trust content is hard to come by these days. Additionally, consumers increasingly expect information that’s tailored to their needs and interests. Podcasts provide opportunities to engage these consumers around complicated topics for long periods of time when it’s convenient for them.

For pharma companies looking to engage and educate HCPs around new treatment options or opportunities in digital health, this could provide opportunities for content creation and/or partnership. The same can be said for B2B and technology.

‘We Are Alfred’ VR Experience Helps Us Empathize With Patients

Virtual reality is changing the lives of patients and physicians alike. In the future, you might watch operations as if you wielded the scalpel or you could travel to Iceland or home, while you are lying on a hospital bed. Embodied Labs created “We Are Alfred” by using VR technology to show young medical students what ageing means. Everyone can be the hypothetical Alfred for 7 minutes, and experience how it feels like to live as a 74 year-old man with audio-visual impairments. The developers’ ultimate goal is to solve the disconnection between young doctors and elderly patients due to their huge age difference. Fostering empathy between caretakers and their charges is much easier when physicians can see things from the patients’ perspectives.

Why It’s Hot

  • Improve relationships/appointments between patients and HCPs
  • Help caregivers and family members better understand what patients are going through


Dr. AI Helps Patients Gain Access to Clinical Expertise About Their Condition

According to an article from Access AI, HealthTap is introducing an artificial intelligence engine to triage cases automatically. Doctor A.I., is a personal AI-powered physician that provides patient with doctor recommended insights.

More than a billion people search the web for health information each year, with approximately 10 billion symptom related searches on Google alone. While many resources provide useful information, web search results can only provide content semantically related to symptoms. The new function from HealthTap aims to incorporate context and clinical expertise of doctors who have helped triage hundreds of millions of patients worldwide to provide the most effective course of treatment. Dr.A.I. uses HealthTap’s Health Operating System to analyse user’s current symptoms and cross checks this with the data provided from the personal health record they have created. Based on solutions that it has uncovered from its data, Dr.A.I. will tailor pathways ranging from suggesting the patient reads relevant doctor insights and content, to connecting the patient with a doctor for a live virtual consult, or from scheduling an in-person office visit with the right specialist, all the way to directing the patient to more urgent care, based on the patient’s symptoms and characteristics.

Why It’s Hot

At first glance, the apps looks like WebMD. Patients input their symptoms using a visual interface and the app spits back a diagnosis. Where this app differs though in the level of personalized recommendations that follow the diagnosis.

Through our SENSE and Journey Mapping work across our pharma clients, we know that patients are consulting Dr. Google both before and after they are diagnosed with a condition and prescribed a treatment where they are exposed to virtually limitless information about the condition and drug they’ve been prescribed from all kinds of sources, whether they have clinical expertise or not. In some severe cases, this can even stop patients from filling that prescription and taking the drug do to fear of side effects, intimating costs of the drug/lack of coverage, anxiety around administering the drug and on top of all that, apprehension that this is the correct treatment for them. Dr. AI has the potential circumvent a lot of that behavior by providing clinical expertise about the condition using the same deductive approach as HCP’s in a patient-focused interface.

Decoding Human Emotions With Machine Learning

Day 3 of Social Media Week NYC brought some great thinkers and doers together to discuss the impact of social listening and intelligence, as well as the broader idea of quantifying and contextualizing human emotion that’s expressed in text, pictures and emoji’s (to name a few) on the internet.

Microsoft’s Emotioin API

Why It’s Hot

In our continuously evolving digital world, I think there are two assumptions we can make about the future: technology will continue to get better and people will continue to use and shape it. As digital marketers, the more tools and approaches we have towards understanding human behaviors in using this technology – and more importantly the emotions or motivations behind those behaviors – the better suited we will be in creating experiences that add value to both their lives and our brand’s bottom line. These new resources (while still new and working out the kinks) are a great indication of what’s to come to help us do so.


WeChat Wallet On the Rise in China

In the U.S., you may pay for your coffee from the Starbucks app, book a car on Uber and place orders with the Amazon shopping app. But in China, you can do all of these through WeChat Wallet alone.

WeChat Wallet functions like Apple Pay, which allows users to purchase products and services with select credit or debit cards (mostly from Asian banks; Chase and Bank of America are not available, for instance.) Unlike Apple Pay, WeChat Wallet has integrated its parent company Tencent-owned services to let its 800 million-plus monthly users do things like pay for utilities and manage personal finance, within WeChat. It has also partnered with a limited number of third-party companies to make them more discoverable on the platform.

WeChat Wallet interface Customize your Starbucks coffee gift.

Why It’s Hot

WeChat is an incredibly popular 1:1 networking platform that successful global brands have recognized as a key platform for reaching the Chinese market. This, coupled with tech like WeChat Wallet and the growing functionalities of ChatBots thanks to sophisticated AI, lays the ground work for countless opportunities for brands to monetize their 1:1 efforts in key markets.

Starbucks – a long time early tech adopting brand – is already getting in on the opportunity for WeChat Wallet in this market.

For some of our global brands where China is a key market, like ETS, this is definitely a trend to watch.

Amazon Echo Releasing Data to Agencies & Developers

According to an article published by Ad Age this week, Amazon has opened up some high-level information derived from consumer interactions with Alexa, it’s voice-activated home IoT platform. The data is limited, but developers, digital consultancies and analytics startups are clamoring for it. For now, developers and brands can track usage patterns such as the number of unique customers accessing the games or content streams they develop, or the total number of “utterances” related to their applications — which in Amazon parlance are known as “skills.”

Why It’s Hot:

This has direct implications for how we (MRM//McCann) gather and analyze conversational and linguistic data as part of our SENSE offering, as well as how we create and distribute content/experience for our clients.

Content & Experiences: Right now, the data is limited to brands and agencies that produce content through Alexa, with the goal of driving more of them to do so. This, coupled with the news that Facebook will start to allow brands to deliver audio-only content and the continued rise in popularity of podcasts, requires us to think more broadly about how we create and distribute content across all channels, social and otherwise.

Social Listening/SENSE: As Amazon Echo’s continue to gain popualrity, this will be an incredibly valuable source of linguistic data that can help us better understand our audiences behavior and motivations with digital technology.

Snickers to Run First-Ever Live Super Bowl Ad

Snickers, a Super Bowl favorite, will be running the first ever live ad during the 2017 Super Bowl. The teaser (below) announces this and highlights the involvement of Star Wars and Girls actor Adam Driver.

Why It’s Hot

Anyone who has opened their Facebook or Instagram feed lately has undoubtedly seen that live streaming content is everywhere. Users, brands and publications/news outlets alike are getting in on live content trend and taking advantage of all the benefits of live content in their viewers news feeds. In many cases across social platforms, live and/or raw video content is even preferred to some of the more highly produced video content we see from brands and publications. Yet this is a bold (albeit inevitable) move for a brand in that it is the first live ad to be aired on TV, let alone in the biggest TV night of the year. If done successfully, this will undoubtedly be the spark that leads to more and more brands experimenting with live content across channels.

Houzz App Lets Users Build Their Digital Dream Home

Over the past 6 years, Houzz has developed a reputation as one of the premier brands for helping customers build their dream homes. Now, with the launch of it’s new app, Houzz gives it customers the tools to do just that in the digital space. According to an article from The Next Webthe new app is complete with “sketch” and “collaboration” features that lets users take photos of their own space and annotate them in real-time using various tools features to construct their dream home/rooms.


Why it’s Hot

As we all know, today’s consumers don’t just interact with brands in one place. They want (and expect) to be able to connect with the brands that they support in both the physical and digital world. This app allow Houzz to build off of the already successful in-store experience that consumers know, love and expect; and translate that into an experience that consumers can begin from the comfort of their own home, or wherever inspiration hits them.

Nike Launches “Snow Day” Campaign

Nike’s ahead of the game with their first winter campaign of the year to promote their Hyperwarm baselayer apparel, says Adweek. As you can see below, the video spot to kick of this campaign is everything we expect from Nike. It’s packed with athletes, the music is on-point, it’s funny and it makes you want to run out to your nearest retailer, buy some gear and get out there to play your sport of choice. Here is the video for your viewing pleasure:

What’s special about this campaign though is, surprisingly, some of the ad-placements. Not only is Nike kicking off this campaign with another strong video, but they’re also leveraging new, hyper-relevant in-app ads to promote the new clothing line. According to the New York Times, Nike has ad placements within the Weather Channel App that targets specific workout gear to users depending on the weather in their area and, once clicked, directs those users directly to the Nike store where they can purchase these items on either desktop or mobile.

Why It’s Hot

The beauty of this campaign truly lies in the details as this is a great example of a brand creating a strong campaign from top to bottom. It’s both entertaining and convenient for consumers to engage with the brand and it targets consumers to purchase it’s products when they’re in the right mindset.

San Francisco Artist Creates “No Tech Zones”

Park-goers in San Francisco have recently been greeting with new, official-looking signs that notify them they are in “No Tech-Zones.” The (fake) signs were created by an artist named Ivan Cash in an effort to pull people’s attention out of their devices and back into the world around them. Cash states that he is also guilty of being too consumed with technology and writes: “I hope these signs put a smile on people’s faces. I hope they spark conversation about what role we want technology to play in our lives and our environment. I hope they inspire us to think more critically about technology and maybe even to leave our phone at home one day a week. Or resist the impulse to check our phone the moment we walk out of a movie theatre. Land in an airplane. Stop at a red light. Wake up in the morning. Sit on a park bench. Or finish reading this.”

This project comes after San Francisco recently finished an initative to bring free wi-fi to parks around the city, with the tally currently at 30 parks and plazas. The first batch of signs were quickly removed from the park, but the artists continue to put up more. For more details, read the full article on Fast Company here.


Why It’s Hot:

As digital marketers, we rely on our customers frequent and consistent use of various forms of technology. Without that, digital marketing would be a very different, and probably less successful endeavor. However, given the role we’ve seen advertising play in culture over the last hundred years or so, we should also think about what kind of culture we’re perpetuating and look for opportunities to improve it.

The role of technology in our lives is a constant topic of discussion and the potential dangers that it poses are being shown vividly by these artists, which is a conversation that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime so. So, the question for marketers that comes out of this is, how can we use technology to enhance our consumers experiences in the physical world rather than pull them out of it?

San Francisco Artist Creates “No Tech Zones”

Park-goers in San Francisco have recently been greeting with new, official-looking signs that notify them they are in “No Tech-Zones.” The (fake) signs were created by an artist named Ivan Cash in an effort to pull people’s attention out of their devices and back into the world around them. Cash states that he is also guilty of being too consumed with technology and writes: “I hope these signs put a smile on people’s faces. I hope they spark conversation about what role we want technology to play in our lives and our environment. I hope they inspire us to think more critically about technology and maybe even to leave our phone at home one day a week. Or resist the impulse to check our phone the moment we walk out of a movie theatre. Land in an airplane. Stop at a red light. Wake up in the morning. Sit on a park bench. Or finish reading this.”

This project comes after San Francisco recently finished an initative to bring free wi-fi to parks around the city, with the tally currently at 30 parks and plazas. The first batch of signs were quickly removed from the park, but the artists continue to put up more. For more details, read the full article on Fast Company here.


Why It’s Hot:

As digital marketers, we rely on our customers frequent and consistent use of various forms of technology. Without that, digital marketing would be a very different, and probably less successful endeavor. However, given the role we’ve seen advertising play in culture over the last hundred years or so, we should also think about what kind of culture we’re perpetuating and look for opportunities to improve it.

The role of technology in our lives is a constant topic of discussion and the potential dangers that it poses are being shown vividly by these artists, which is a conversation that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime so. So, the question for marketers that comes out of this is, how can we use technology to enhance our consumers experiences in the physical world rather than pull them out of it?

Social Media Makes Us Look on the Bright Side of Things

According to a recent article by Adweek, social media can actually make users happy by encouraging them to look on the bright side of things. The article looks at how users share micro-moments of their life on the platforms and analysis the sentiment behind these moments. As we see on social everyday, people try to make even the most mundane or even disappointing circumstances look appealing to their followers. The example used in the article is when it rains on your vacation- people will post a picture of them huddled up with a good book and a glass of wine saying “nice relaxing weekend inside is just what the doctor ordered.”

thegratitudediaries-hed-2015 (1)
Why It’s Hot
Knowing this information about what makes our brands’ audiences share will ultimately help us in developing social content and CTAs that get them to share content around our brand.

Clever Movie Poster Makes Bad Review Seem like Good One

A new movie called “Legend,” starring Tom Hardy, was recently released and has been making waves with critics. Unfortunately, not all of these have been good. According to Adweek, The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee only gave the movie 2 stars. That did not let the movies marketing team stop them from promoting the movie and highlighting all reviews. In the tweet below from Lee, you’ll see how the poster was created to make the most of his 2 stars.


Why It’s Hot

Admittedly, this is not breaking news in the advertising or digital marketing world. However, this ad does propose an ethically questions that’s worth discussing. As the Adweek article states, the movie’s marketing team technically didn’t do anything wrong and took a very clever approach so showing all reviews, good and bad. However, anyone who looks at the poster can see that it is a bit misleading for that particular review. So, the questions stand, was this ethical on the part of the marketing team? What would the alternative be? Was anyone tricked here? Does it matter compared with all the other good reviews?

It’s Time for Viral 2.0

Everyone loves viral videos. Consumers love viral videos because their funny, shocking, tear-jerking, depth-defying, etc. Brands love the idea of viral videos because of the seemingly free reach. And while that’s great in theory, the mass rush of all brands and marketers to create viral videos seems to to have made people forget some of the basics to creating impactful content, according to an article titled Here’s the Problem With All Those Viral Videos written by Jonah Berger, a Professor at Wharton and Author of the NYT Bestseller, Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

In Jonah’s article, he argues that we need to move past the goal of creating viral content because it is very often unrealistic and doesn’t start with the brand’s target audience in mind. He then offers 4 “laws” to guide our thinking as we look to create content that drives results, which you can find summed up below. I’d urge you to read the full article above as well to get the full story.

Law 1: More Than Online

Social is great because it allows brands to communicate with large numbers of people very quickly. However, only 7% of word of mouth marketing happens online so we need to consider how our content translate to offline conversation and optimize for that.

Law 2: 10 Million Views Doesn’t Matter

Getting a lot of views on your content is a very flashy metric to wave in front of people. But are the people viewing your content even interested in your product? In focusing purely on views, we lose sight of the real goal: turning consumers into advocates through content or services that means something to them.

Law 3: Shares Are More Important Than Views

While views are an easy metric to track, they’re the wrong one to focus on. Instead focus on shares as this is a truer indication of resonance. Viewing is passive, sharing requires action.

Law 4: Not Just Viral, Valuable Virality

Don’t lose sight of your brand, and the value it provides, for the sake of creating viral content. If people can’t connect the content to the brand, or remember who made the video in the first place, the content ends up just being entertainment.

Why It’s Hot

As agency marketers, it is our job to truly understand the way effective communication works both on and offline and leverage that to meet our client’s business goals. The information provided in this article is rooted in the basics, however, with the internet producing a flashy new toy what seems like every other day we need to understand what can work and what may not be relevant to the brands we work on. Additionally, we need to be able to explain that to our brand partners. This article provides a refresher course on the basics that is rooting in the very popular trend of creating viral content, and should help us put things into perspective.

With Reddit on thin ice, ‘Voat’ gains popularity

Reddit has recently been cracking down on the types of content shared on the site. Mainly, from a harassment and indecency standpoint. While most people can sympathize with these efforts, there has been some backlash from the community who worries that this will start to have a negative effect on the freedom that this platform has previously offered. To learn more about Reddit, see these articles from Digiday and The Verge.

So, where are die-hard redditors to go as their beloved platform goes through this transition? From the sounds of things, they will go to Voat. According to an article from We Are Social, Voat is a link-sharing platform that began as WhoaVerse back in 2014 and switched names 6 months ago. Voat is very similar to Reddit, but with one main difference: no subject is out of bounds, as long as it is legal. According to its own Twitter account, Voat saw its traffic explode, with 700,000 unique visitors just in the last 30 days.


Why It’s Hot

While Reddit has had minimal impact on social media marketing efforts in the past, it still remains a powerful tool for grass-roots social listening on virtually any topic. So, with Reddit in turmoil and potentially loosing participants, we’ll need to know where they go. Voat, then will be very interesting to watch.

What Makes Ads Unskippable?

Think With Google posted an article this week that discusses what makes an ad unskippable and how that translates across different devices. Specifically, Google’s “Unskippable Labs” initiative seeks to find out:

“What resonates with people in mobile video advertising? And how is that different from what resonates on TV?”

To find the answers to these questions, they leveraged YouTube TrueView and partnered with Mountain Dew, BBDO NY and OMD Worldwide to understand what mobile video advertising people are most likely to watch and how their views impact brand metrics. They used Mountain Dew’s Kickstart “Come Alive” spot- a popular ad on TV and TrueView that had been running for 2 months and earned nearly 9 million total views on YouTube – and made two new versions of it to see how it performed across different devices.

You can find the original ad below. This ad features the classic story arc with a clear beginning, middle and end. Ideal for TV platforms and YouTube accounts where viewers are searching for video content.

The second version below, titled “Big Punch.” As you can guess, this ad is optimized for current trends in mobile- putting the brand in the beginning before the viewers can skip the ad. The story line isn’t as clear in this ad but still has some action and works towards the goal of driving brand awareness.

The third ad, below, is titled “Pure Fun” and completely flips the script on what we’d think a success ad (especially on mobile) is. It’s much longer than the others (1:33) is a bit confusing at first, has no perceptible story and the brand is featured much less explicitly than in the first two ads.



When looking at the view-through rate metrics on desktop, there was no clear winner. However, when looking at the VTR’s on mobile, the third ad “Pure Fun” was viewed at a 26% higher rate than the other ads. How did this happen when the ad was three times longer than the others? Think With Google speculates that people were intrigued by the mystery of what they saw with the last ads so they were more interested in watching through the whole ad- compared to the others which may have been more predictable. That makes sense.

The other piece of this puzzle is branding. The third spot was significantly lower than the others (54%) driving brand lift on mobile. However, brand awareness for all three cuts on mobile was equal. This shows that despite the second ad “Big Punch” having the logo right in the beginning of the ad, it did no better the other two spots in lifting brand awareness.

Why it’s Hot:

So what’s the point of all this?

The big takeaway here is that nothing is set in stone with mobile. While the current trends of keeping it short and making sure the branding is in the first 5 seconds make sense- there is still room for experimentation and innovation. As the article put it :

While there wasn’t one clear winner across all the metrics we looked at, we did find that mobile may offer a fresh canvas, inviting creatives to ditch ad norms and have a little more fun.”

For the full analysis, check out the article here.

Fiat’s Got Your Back, and Your Bumper

Fiat has designed and released a series of billboards in Germany that helps motorists parallel park their cars. Please find the article here and the video below.

Why It’s Hot

This is a very clever example of a brand taking a customer pain point that is associated with their category, and creating a resource that helps them to overcome it- with a little bit of style I might add.

Happy Birthday YouTube

YouTube celebrated its 10th birthday this week and Business Insider celebrated by asking advertisers to rate the top YouTube ads of all time. Here were their selections:

Why It’s Hot:

There has been a lot of talk recently about who is winning the social media video wars; Facebook or YouTube. While it’s true that Facebook has experienced strong growth in native video uploads over the past few months, its worth mentioning that YouTube is still the undisputed destination for video searching. The conversation here regarding videos on these two channels is constantly about which is reigning supreme, when really it’s more relevant to discuss how the two channels differ in usage regarding video viewing. Facebook is a great platform for accumulating engagement around video content as many users will passively view videos on Facebook. YouTube, on the other hand, is still the premier destination for actively seeking out video content and sharing it with friends, family etc. via email and other social networks.

Baristas Are Terrible Therapists

In Your Corneran online resource where users can connect with licensed therapists and certified coaches through video chat and text sessions, just released a clever new ad spot that highlights the importance of seeking advice from experts and the dangers of not doing so.

According to the interview on Adweek, the spot is meant to address the insight that people are hesitant to seek actual, professional therapy when in need, but still get it from other sources like friends, relatives, etc. It is also puts a modern twist on the bartender/patron relationship of advice-seeking and giving.

Why It’s Hot

This is great example of brands using audience insights to create relevant and impactful ads. Additionally, the added dramatization of this cultural happening is another example of marketers having fun with a brand whose product/service does not easily lend itself to that.

Influencer Marketing: Hard Stats

Influencer marketing is an industry trend that has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Everyone knows it’s important and can be a great tool in helping your brand get the awareness it needs from trusted resources. But how important is it really and where are the stats to back it up? According to an article from We Are Social Media called Why Influencer Marketing Is The New King Of Content, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people over branded content. That’s huge, and all the more reason for us as marketers to explore relevant opportunities to incorporate influencer marketing into our social and digital strategies.

For more stats, check out the article at the link above and the infographic below:


Why It’s Hot:

This is hot because, as a major trend in digital marketing, it is worth exploring no matter which brand we were work in which discipline. As you can see in the “there are influencers in every industry” section of the infographic, this trend permeates pretty much every industry and has a positive effect. Additionally, as strategists, the more informed our strategies are with data the more impactful they will be both when presenting to clients and in rolling out to the masses. This infographic presents a ton of great data to help guide your influencer strategy.

Client Feedback on Famous Novels

To promote a British fiction writing content for advertising writers, The Winston Fletcher Fiction Prize released a series of ads poking fun at the agency, client relationship. Within the ads, we see fake client feedback to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22  and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. The adweek article, which you can find here, also includes some interesting information about these authors’ past advertising careers.


Why It’s Hot

This is obviously a great example of knowing your audience and creating content that truly resonates when them.

In addition to that, there’s an underlying message to advertisers that is worth noting. That message is to defend your vision. As strategists, we spend countless hours doing research to put ourselves in the mindset of the consumer in the effort of creating the best possible strategy for various campaigns and other initiatives. We have a vision for projects that sometimes, unfortunately, get’s challenged and changed due to both internal and external forces. Now I’m not saying that we should be ignoring feedback at all, however, this campaign is a nice reminder to defend our original ideas if we really believe in them because they may end up becoming masterpieces.

Two Sides to Homelessness

Depaul and Publicis London recently launched an outdoor campaign to raise awareness for homelessness with a clever copy trick. As you can see in the article here, the campaign uses corners of buildings on to illustrate make the point that there are two sides to homeless, and it’s easy to only see one.

Why It’s Hot

This is a great example of brands thinking outside the box to create truly impactful work. These ads don’t shy away from some of the public opinion around homelessness. Instead, they tackle the public’s hesitancy straight on and then flip the perspective to show what it’s like for some people who struggle with homelessness. Finally, they bring it all together with a CTA to drive people to volunteer.

Facebook Messenger for Brands

During the F8 conference, Facebook announced that its Messenger app would be getting a few new updates. One of these updates is that Facebook is opening up Messenger to brands. With the rise of social media, customers turn to the available platforms to communicate with brands. It’s no secret that social networks have become a key player for customer services teams to participate in everyday conversations with customers and prospect buyers. Messenger for Business seems to be the next evolution of that.

According to David Marcus, Facebook’s head of messaging products, Businesses on Messenger was designed to enhance communications and interactions between people and businesses. For instance, upon completing a product purchase, users will get to opt-in to receive updates from the brand through Messenger. Such updates could include order confirmations and shipping status updates. Moreover, Marcus said that users will be able to perform basic actions like modifying, tracking or returning an order


Why Its Hot:

This has major implications for how we engage on a 1:1 level with our audiences on Facebook. Moving a lot of these customer services centered conversation off the timeline, allows the focus to really be about the content we’re producing and the conversation we’re trying to stimulate that really drives value. This allows us to focus on that in public places and direct these more personalized interactions into a more private setting where we can provide customers with quality, customer assistance.

Meerkat Making Waves at SXSW

Meerkat is a new video streaming app that has been taking off at SXSW this week. Similar to Periscope (recently acquired by Twitter), this app allows people to live stream video content to their followers. If the buzz around SXSW is any indication, live streaming apps like these are the next step for video sharing on social media. For more information on Meerkat at SXSW, visit Adweek and WeRSM.



Why Its Hot

The rapid rise in popularity of Meerkat is turning a lot of heads, especially at SXSW. The 3 week old app had 120,000 users going into SXSW and has experienced growth at 30% per day. Additionally, this app seems to be thriving in spite of all the work that social giant Twitter is doing to slow it down. Last week, we heard that Twitter acquired live streaming competitor Periscope to integration into it’s platform. Additionaly, Twitter pulled the graph capabilities from Meerkat to further thwart it’s progress. Despite all of this, Meerkat is thriving and I for one am exciting to see the growth of this app in the coming months.

Twitter Acquires Periscope Live Streaming App

Accordingly to an article from We Are Social MediaTwitter has acquired a streaming video app called Periscope. The article states that Twitter will be working with Periscope to closely integrate their functionality and allow Twitter users to broadcast videos live in their Twitter feed.


Why It’s Hot

Twitter already has video-sharing capabilities, but streaming is a whole other story. This would allow Twitter to further establish itself as the king of real-time information sharing on social media. This has huge implications for sports, fashion and other event-based marketing. It may also push marketers to create more physical brand activation’s that they could use the streaming service for. One thing is for certain, this places even more emphasis on the importance of video content on social for 2015 and beyond.

1one Productions Goes Biblical With their New Promo Video

1one Productions, a company that specializes in stunt executions for various brands, has just released their new promo video aimed at brands and agencies looking to use stunts in their creative. This spot brilliantly recreates a scenario that anyone whose ever worked in marketing knows all too well using a context that is unexpected to say the least. Check out the full spot below:

Why Its Hot

This is a fantastic example of a brand speaking to their audience in a language that they already know. This religiously grounded and fictitiously enhanced spot takes a scenario that marketers know all too well and inserts their brand services directly at the center of it. It’s funny, has great shock value and made to be shared. Job well done.

Social Textiles: Social Networking You Can Wear

MIT’s Tangible Media Group and Fluid Interface Group are currently working on a new project called Social Textiles that wants to turn fashion into a social network you can wear. Right now, Social Textiles is currently available as a t-shirt (thought it could be any article of clothing). How does it work you ask? Well, the shirt is a pattern printed in thermochromatic ink, with a thin circuit membrane underneath. Pairing to your smartphone thru Bluetooth, the Social Textile shirt detects when other people are in the room who share your interests, and sends a buzz through the shirt’s collar when you’re within twelve feet of each other. But it goes one step further than that. If you actually touch the person you’re simpatico with, by clapping them on the shoulder or shaking their hand, a capacitive sensor in the t-shirt can tell. Then, the Social Textiles shirt lights up, revealing symbols on the front of the shirt showing what you and your new friend have in common.

To read the full article and watch the video, click here.



Why It’s Hot

This is yet another example of how social networking is becoming more and more involved into everyday life and all it’s different facets. The question is, is this too pervasive? Does this take away from the spontaneity of meeting people and making friends in more traditional, organic ways? These (and many others) are questions that we, as members of the digital age, should keep top of mind and new technologies come to be.

Brands Cash in on the Super Bowl without Breaking the Bank

The Super Bowl may be the biggest event in Advertising for the whole year. As such, brands and marketers across the globe spend millions of dollars creating the perfect ad spot and buying the precious air time during breaks in the game. However, with the continued rise of digital and social media, a TV spot isn’t enough to be successful during the big game. Brands need solid digital and social strategies to make sure their messaging is not only received, but remains top of mind in the weeks leading up to and following the game while providing opportunity for engagement during the game. It’s a tall order considering you’re already spending tons of money on the air time.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen brands start to take different approaches to juggling these two executions for the game. Many brands even go so far as to forgo spending the money on air space during the big game and take a strictly digital/social approach to joining the conversation around the Super Bowl. Below, please find a few examples of brands that are seeking to remain relevant during the Super Bowl without breaking the bank.



Why It’s Hot

Similar to the craziness that surrounds Black Friday, there has to be some kind of tipping point to how much brands will spend or how outrageous they’ll be with their marketing during big events like the Super Bowl. How do you cut through the clutter and make an impact during an event when it seems like every single other brand is trying to do the same thing? The brands above do a solid job of creating unique opportunities for engagement and innovating laterally to make sure their messages are heard and remembered. For example, Volvo made their own spot (not being aired during the game) that calls viewers to tweet with #VolvoContest during any other auto brand’s commercial for a chance to win a new car. This allows Volvo to (quite brilliantly) keep their brand and products top of mind during every single one of their competitors spots. Another example, Staples (not an official sponsor) maneuvers around the restrictions of saying Super Bowl in their ads by using #SuperConcaveServingVessel. This allows them to tap into the conversation in a funny way without having to dish out the cash.

These are just a few examples of brands who are innovating laterally around the Super Bowl in fine fashion. It will be interesting to see where this trend goes and exciting to see how it’s done.

Articles for reference: Volvo, Staples, etc.