The Story Wars Continue

Snap is rolling wide the ability for users to share Snapchat Stories beyond the app itself. You’ll be able to hold down a tile on any public Story and send it to someone in a text, an email, or even through other social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook.

The company hopes that by moving some of its content beyond the fortressed walls of the Snapchat app, it can attract new users and give its content greater longevity.

Twitter Inc. showing indisputable signs of resurgence is also working on a new Snapchat-style feature that makes it easier to post videos in app. The network reportedly has a working demo of the camera-centered product, but the timing of its debut has not been finalized. The goal of the new feature is to entice people to share video clips of what’s happening around them.

Lastly, social leader Facebook Inc. has famously borrowed innovations from Snapchat across Facebook and Instagram, so many suspect there will be continued enhancements on that front, providing the makings of a Stories War.

Why It’s Hot

Having three pretty disparate networks in their own lanes vying over one tactical execution suggests what we’ve known to be true for some time, that content creation and story telling lives solidly in the hands of the masses. While these behemoths battle it out, brands and advertisers will again find themselves in new battle terrain, as more user perceptions and real-time experiences start to significantly affect their brands. The narrative shift is nearly complete. Your brand story will be written for you. Watch this space.


Is There Room For Innovation in Music? We May Find Out Soon.

Billboard is reporting that music titan Jimmy Iovine will exit his role at Apple Music this August. When the founder of the most lucrative brands in music fires himself, predictions start running wild.

Iovine joined Apple Music in 2014, at the same time of the Beats Electronics acquisition, which Iovine was a founder. For the past two years, Iovine has been responsible for negotiating many of the streaming deals for the service which has grown to 30 million subscribers.

To say Iovine is a visionary is an understatement. He pitched an online music subscription service to Steve Jobs back in 2003! In the 70s he earned his chops as a recording engineer for John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Then, in 1990 he co-founded Interscope, where he was personally responsible for signing Tupac Shakur, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga and more.

Why It’s Hot

The timing of Iovine’s departure aligns with the vesting of stock he acquired when he first joined Apple. He could just be taking his hard earned money and riding off into the sunset. Or, at 64 years young, this titan may be investing in the next music frontier. He’s done it twice already.

Source: Billboard

It’s Totally Safe To Take Nudes Again*

*If you have an iPhone and download the Nude app. Does not currently work with video. Costs $1 per month. Still susceptible to hacking.

Nude is a new app from two 21-year-old entrepreneurs from UC Berkeley. Its key innovation is using machine learning libraries to automatically scan your camera roll for nudes and move them to a private vault. The app is now available on iOS and is coming soon to Android.

Chiu says she became interested in nudes-related business models after speaking with Hollywood actresses as part of a movie project she’s working on. Then, When Chiu returned to Berkeley, friends would pass her their phones to look at recent photos they had taken, and she would inevitably swipe too far and see nudity.

Why It’s Hot

This AI provides peace of mind by automatically vaulting nudes, and not relying on the manual transfer of images to vault apps. As we saw during the 2014 Celebgate hack, photos stored online using services like iCloud can be vulnerable to breaches. Jessica Chiu and Y.C. Chen, who built the app together with a small team, said they received constant inquiries when promoting the app at the recent TechCrunch Disrupt conference. “Everyone said, ‘Oh I don’t have nudes — but can you tell me more?’” Chiu said. “Under the surface,” Chen says, “we’re all human beings.” And human beings in 2017 are sending lots of naked photos.




Artist virtually vandalizes Jeff Koons’ x Snapchat collab in protest

On Tuesday 3 October, Snapchat launched a collaboration with Jeff Koons which placed virtual, 3D versions of the artist’s best-known sculptures in international tourist hotspots via augmented reality. A day later, New York-based artist Sebastian Errazuriz virtually “vandalised” one of the sculptures, the Balloon Dog, in Central Park in order to make a statement.

The team made an identical 3D AR Balloon Dog covered in graffiti, including a graffiti tag from phenom Klops, and geo-tagged it to the exact coordinates in “a symbolic stance against imminent AR corporate invasion,” Errazuriz expressed to It’s Nice That. “It is vital to start questioning how much of our virtual public space we are willing to give to companies.”

Why It’s Hot

No matter the motive for this statement by Errazuriz, he brings to light a growing concern. An increasing amount of our social interactions are occurring virtually. As we move toward more utilitarian applications for AR, we’ll need to ensure that the space is not over crowded with “cool” brand activations. Branded content should continue to enhance social interactions, not just seek to disrupt them.

In Branding, Diversity < Inclusion

“I wanted things that I love,” [Rihanna] told Refinery 29. “Then I also wanted things that girls of all skin tones could fall in love with…so you want people to appreciate the product and not feel like: ‘Oh that’s cute, but it only looks good on her.’”


Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty debut last week took the beauty world by storm, simply doing something it should have done a long time ago…offering 40 different foundation shades, taking advantage of an ongoing void in the marketplace.


Social chatter has been consistently strong with celebrity endorsements of all hues trickling in daily, and sentiment is insanely positive. UGC also indicates that sales are strong, with fans and customers sharing pictures of the darker shades being completely sold out in their local Sephora stores and on

Why It’s Hot

The resounding success of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty launch put other beauty brands on notice. Kylie Cosmetics and Nars were quick to post images of darker models on Instagram to try and harness the growing chatter. These attempts to showcase diversity were widely met with negative feedback. Customers can see through the semblance of diversity through imagery and now require inclusion, especially from industries that have historically struggled to meaningfully engage with people of color.



Fake Love: When Brand Ambassadors Cause Pain

There’s much chatter about whether influencer marketing is still a viable strategy. There are plenty of persuasive arguments on both sides but Hypebeast has added their .02 on the topic, questioning whether ambassadorship means anything when celebrity influencers are prone to scandal and hop from brand to brand.

Writer Jason Dike breaks down some notable celebrity influencer activations that went south:

  • “In [Kendrick] Lamar’s case, his verse on Big Sean’s 2013 song “Control” featured the line “And I ain’t rockin’ no more designer s**t/Only white T’s and Nike Cortez.” While this clearly pledged the rapper’s love for Nike, Lamar would team up with Reebok in December 2014.”
  • “But perhaps the most egregious example of what nakedly looks like an artist chasing a check was A$AP Rocky’s deal to become the face of Under Armour’s lifestyle category — a brand he had rarely, if ever, been seen wearing before the deal was signed.”
  • “When a video of A$AP Bari allegedly committing sexual assault surfaced on the internet, it rightfully became worldwide news. Because the VLONE designer’s most prominent cosign had come from Nike, just about every mention of Bari’s crimes came with a mention of the sportswear brand.”

Why It’s Hot

This article makes a compelling argument that is conspicuously absent of any analytics. How can we claim ambassadors are dead when we don’t know how these influencer activations performed? It can be argued that the bad press negated any measurable wins. That’s fair, but signaling the death of influencers is presumptuous. The evidence of activations gone bad serves as a strong reminder that the onus resides with the brand and its agencies to vet influencers for brand affinity. When things go wrong, we cannot simply blame the influencer. The essence of influencer relationship management is the managing of the relationship with our influencers and our audiences. We do not introduce our friends to potential dates that we think will leave on a whim, or put them at risk for public ridicule. We obviously need to treat brands with the same care.

Futurology: from mobile silos to open ecosystems

In the May 3rd “What It Means” podcast, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Michael Facemire describes a technology future that seems obvious, but also fundamentally disruptive. He posits that we have the technology (AI, connected devices) to automate much of what we do in our daily lives but are not leveraging properly. An executive that travels to the same client location and uses his Delta, Hotels Tonight and Lyft apps (he calls these mobile silos) to plan the exact same trip is a poor use of time, even for travel professionals. This future, open ecosystem not only choreographs repeated actions but can detect issues we may miss. For example, if your morning flight to your client meeting in Atlanta is late, the system will signal the hotel and driver that the flight is shifting. If this morning flight is repeatedly late, the system will book an afternoon flight with a higher success rate of arriving on time. Once this automated process works for you and you declare it a success, the open ecosystem should create similar experiences for people who look a lot like you.

Why It’s Hot

  1. Using data available to us we should imagine how our client’s brands can play in these new “pattern magic” open ecosystems. The outcome should create solutions that feel truly made for individuals in the context that they are currently in.
  2. These Forrester podcasts are gold. Educational, conversational and a pleasure to listen to while working. If you haven’t already, please add “What It Means” wherever you listen to podcasts.

Loyalty Matters

Last week, Forrester’s What It Means podcast topic was “Rethinking customer loyalty.”  The main takeaway is that today’s loyalty programs are seen by brands as a necessary tactic that doesn’t significantly move the needle for incremental sales. The Forrester team argues that most loyalty programs are actually hurting sales and brand affinity since they are largely structured using the same rewards approach from the 80s (you buy more, you get more).

Brands say they want to create better experiences, but what they really mean is “I want to create opportunities to target customers more effectively.” Loyalty programs follow suit in that brands end up seeking behavioral loyalty (incremental transactions) instead of emotional loyalty, which should be fostered along the entire journey.

Why It’s Hot

Over 50% of the customers Forrester surveyed are skilled at shifting spend, are intolerant of poor experiences and say they have an adventurous retail life.

If a loyal customer cannot discern the difference between a loyalty program message and an acquisition message, then we must rethink our approach. Brands need to exceed expectations with their loyalty programs (think Amazon Prime) before their competitors beat them to the punch.

The email example above is from Jane, a consignment store in Princeton. I love their emails — it’s not always sell, sell, sell. They invite me to come meet local artists, sip wine or see a new vintage collection of china. I feel they wholly understand the nature of our relationship: I am a customer who will shop there again, and they want to provide me with benefits for having done business with them.

Comcast rolls out new service targeting cord-cutters today

cord cuttingIt’s easier to avoid paying for cable now more than ever with services like Netflix and Hulu and devices like Xbox One and Chromecast that deliver content to the living room. Comcast is well aware how these changes are reshaping the industry, and is seeking to turn the tables.

Today marks the launch of Comcast’s Stream TV service, which will initially be offered to the company’s Internet-only customers in Boston and Chicago. For $15 a month, subscribers will be able to watch a library of on demand content as well as live streaming television from channels like HBO, ABC and FOX.

Stream TV does not require a cable box or subscription. A national rollout of Stream TV is expected to follow the trial in Boston and Chicago.

Why Is This Hot?

In Q3 alone, Comcast lost 48,000 cable customers.There is no greater motivator than loss. While it remains to be seen whether Steam TV is too little too late, it is good news for consumers as cable companies start shifting toward a la carte plans — which mimics the way content is actually consumed by almost half of TV viewers today.


Facebook offers the power of video to more people, in more places

Yesterday Facebook debuted an ad unit called Slideshow that uses three to seven photos and autoplays them as a slideshow — essentially as a substitute for video.

fb gif

The ad unit is targeted at emerging markets where consumers have older phones—not iPhones or Androids—and sometimes have slower connection speeds. The ads also use less data than videos.

Coca-Cola vouched for Slideshow by running a brief campaign in Kenya and Nigeria, reaching 2 million consumers and raising brand awareness by 10 points for its Coke Studio Africa project.

Why It’s Hot

Aside from providing a solution to help marketers deliver eye catching content to markets with slow or intermittent connections, Slideshow offers up an impactful alternative to costly and time consuming video production for all brands big and small.

Adele’s new album to reverse slump in digital downloads

adele-25-coverAlthough Adele did not confirm a release date, industry rumours suggest 25 is set to be unleashed on November 20. After three years out of the spotlight, Adele is tipped to launch the album in the US with guest appearances on Saturday Night Live and NBC’s Today show.

The focus on the US, where 21 sold 11 million copies, indicates the weight of expectation resting on 25. Although Adele is signed to the independent XL Recordings label in the UK, she is represented by the Sony Music giant in North America.

25 is the music industry’s best hope of a fourth-quarter sales revival. In the UK, digital album sales crashed 22.8% over the past three months, with CD sales recording a further 10% decline. 

Single downloads have slumped 18%, a consequence of the rise in streaming, up 76% for albums, which promises longer-term returns for artists and labels over the cash injection delivered by hit records, often stored up for the pre-Christmas rush.

Why It’s Hot
It’s not. Please support your favorite artist by subscribing to streaming services, or buying direct. Don’t steal music.

Microsoft Monopolizes Free Time With Messaging App, Send

This week Microsoft introduced Send, a short-form email app that works more like instant messaging. Send will help you quickly send a co-worker a message like: “don’t send the presentation yet!” or “let’s chat in 10,” for example. This WhatsApp-like app is available for iPhone in the US and Canada from the iTunes store, and is coming soon to Windows and Android phones. It currently only works for those with Office 365 business and school email accounts, but the plan is to make the app more broadly available in the months ahead.

send app 3

Why It’s Hot:

Send connects to your Office 365 business or school email account in order to find your most frequent and recent contacts, and then puts these right on its home screen. You can tap on any of these contacts to start a conversation, or you can swipe on them and choose a built-in quick reply like “on my way,” or “I’ll get back to you.”. And if you’re running to a meeting and don’t have time to type a detailed response, Send will give you the option of swiping in from a number of short, pre-programmed responses.

While text messaging and IM are great for short messages, you often don’t have your co-worker’s cell phone number or an IM app on your work phone. Send gives you the simple, quick text message-like experience while allowing you to reach all co-workers and have all of your communications in Outlook for reference later.