The FCC Repeals Net Neutrality

As you know from recent Hot Sauce posts, the debate of Net Neutrality “going away” has been a big topic of conversation.  As of yesterday, the FCC repealed Obama-Era net neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet.

What does this mean?

Basically, there’s a chance that internet providers can limit the websites that subscribers have access to.  Instead of being able to visit any site ever put into existence, they could in theory sell packages that allow customers to be able to visit certain sites only.  An example would be Package A allows access to top 100 sites, then Package B allows Package A plus some long tail sites, like the gazillions of blogs out there.  Additionally, they can control the speed at which websites load… preferred sites could load quickly while others are loaded at an intentionally slow rate… unless they pay more to get loaded quicker.

Why It’s Hot

Not only can this lead to a limitation of freedom of speech (if internet providers don’t have to provide ALL of the sites, there’s more room for propaganda and stifling voices that corporations don’t side with), but the online economy could change. Think about all of the little blogs that get traction through pinterest or other means.  Internet providers could make access to those sites nearly impossible if they wanted, cutting off income streams to thousands of people.  Only time will tell if internet providers do the “right” thing and let us continue to have our whole internet, the way it was meant to be.


NY Times


Car Search Site Offers REAL People As Concierge

For those of you in search of a new car, like I recently was, you’ll know how much of a pain it can be.  First you have to know what features you want, figure out your budget, etc.  Then, you have to actually go to the dealership and test drive, spend hours haggling, etc.

There’s a new website out there called Copilot Search.  It will help you along the entire car buying process, offering a discovery engine (if you don’t know what car you want, but know what FEATURES you want, it will scape everything available and provide you with recommendations).  Next to that, they have the same tools as dealerships do, so you can truly identify what you should be paying.  What’s most amazing about this site though, is the one on one free concierge service.  When you sign up, there is a real person that can help you through the car buying experience and make your most educated choice.  In a world where chat bots are everywhere, this is taking a step back to truly servicing a customer and their needs, when they’re preparing to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

Why It’s Hot

Sometimes I think businesses get too focused on technology and forget about how to truly service a customer.  This site has strong service (I actually didn’t think my “copilot” was real… that’s how rampant chat bots are- but then I had an actual conversation with him on the phone!) and offers something that has been lacking in the car buying space.  Before I discovered it, I had a spreadsheet (yes, I know I’m anal retentive!) of the features I wanted and the vehicles I was thinking of.  I actually didn’t even know the car I ended up buying existed until I found Copilot and used their Discovery Engine (you don’t know what you don’t know).  As people servicing brands, we always have to keep in mind that service has to be #1- if the technology that exists now creates a lackluster experience, it may not be worth it in the long run.

Note: I’m not getting paid to support this site!

Pharma Trend Spotting for 2018

Going into the final month of the year, we should take a look at what could impact pharma marketers in 2018, and it’s identified half a dozen high-level trends for the year ahead.

Those trends range from maturing technology innovations to marketing around patient hero stories that inspire but also normalize people with chronic conditions. And they’re “changing the opportunities and focus for our clients,” Leigh Householder, managing director of innovation at inVentiv Health, said.

Some of the big-theme trends originated in 2017 or even earlier, but they’re just now maturing to opportunity status. For instance, technology innovations like artificial intelligence and augmented reality will begin to play a bigger role in healthcare next year as they move from novelty experiments to real-world tools. A pilot program by England’s NHS, for instance, uses AI as a first contact point for patients and puts a machine in the place of what would traditionally be a human healthcare provider, Householder noted. The NHS pilot actually incorporates another trend, too: the shifting front door to healthcare.

The shifting front door, whether a new kind of technology interface or pharmacists taking on a larger role in ongoing contact and care of patients, has been evolving for years, but it’s become more important for pharma companies to understand and incorporate it into their strategies.

Another trend she pointed to is the emergence of hero stories, in the past year showcased by individuals who broke through with poignant or meaningful tales of helping others, such as boaters in Texas who braved dangerous hurricane floodwaters to help victims. In healthcare and pharma, those can manifest as showing more real people who are living complex lives with chronic diseases, for instance—people who are simply “living normal,” Householder said.  MRM has partnered with WebMD to showcase how patients with bipolar depression live, and it’s very compelling.


WebMD presents Bipolar Disorder: In Our Own Words

“You can imagine why this is happening now when so many once life-ending diagnoses have become chronic diseases. Whether you’re talking about COPD or cancer, cystic fibrosis or AIDS, people are living for decades longer than maybe they ever expected,” she said, pointing to an outspoken advocate, Claire Wineland, who has cystic fibrosis. Wineland has talked to media outlets about “‘what happens when you have an illness and you’re never going to be healthy? Does that mean you’re never going to be anything other than the sick kid?’ We’re increasingly hearing from voices like that of people who just want to normalize disease,” Householder said.

Another example is the introduction of Julia, a muppet with autism, on “Sesame Street.” Julia helps kids understand what autism might look like in another child, and although she has differences, she’s just another one of the gang.

Householder is working on a follow-up white paper about what these trends mean for pharma, but she offered some initial thoughts about ways pharma can adapt. Understanding how people use technology and creating better user interfaces more quickly, for instance, is one area where pharma can improve. Another is at the new and shifting point of care.

“In the new journey in healthcare, how do we be relevant, useful and impactful at the new points of care? Whether that means an artificial intelligence interface, a call delivery of a prescription or a true care interaction with a pharmacist, how are we going to take the plans we have today and evolve them to the places that people are increasingly receiving care and making healthcare decisions?” she said.

Why It’s Hot

As pharma marketers, we need to evolve with how people interact with not only brands but more importantly, conditions.  Offering support in a variety of ways is a smart way to ensure that patients get as much help as they need.



Meet Graham: A PSA for Driving Safety

Graham, the human redesigned to survive car crashes, wins best of show at some NY festivals.  Project Graham was launched as a PSA to show how vulnerable the human body is in even low impact car crashes.  Graham was created as the only human designed to withstand the impact of a car crash, with an extra fat head (as head trauma is significant) and other bodily adjustments to help absorb shock.  Crash test engineers and trauma doctors were brought in to direct what parts of the body were most affected, and an artist sculpted Graham based on their feedback.

Why It’s Hot

I thought it was an interesting take on a PSA, however the campaign seemed incomplete to me…there could have been more done to bring the full message to light.  Sure, it showed what the human body would ideally evolve to, but what is the end goal here?  They never connected the dots- do they want people to drive safer?  Are there new safety features that are being instated in cars?  Graham is attention grabbing but they could have built so much more on top of him to add more impact.

Adherence Rates for Mental Illness Drugs

I found this interesting infographic about mentally ill patients and drug adherence that I found interesting.  Among all of the stats, which you can find at the link below, I thought this one was particularly interesting.  The more drugs one takes reduces the overall adherence (by a small amount- but still… staying adherent means the person has a more level life).

Why It’s Hot

With one of our client’s patents expiring in the near future, keeping people on drug is going to be ever more important to keep revenue coming in for the client.  This partner, Medisafe can keep people significantly more adherent by using their app.  They’ve found that the average adherence for non- Medisafe users was about 50%, and with use of the app increased to 75%-79%.


Zuckerberg Announces 3,000 New Moderator Hires Post-Heartbreaking Videos

Over the past few weeks, there have been too many FB posts of people posting content of them hurting themselves or others.  Mark Zuckerburg stated:

“If we’re going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly. We’re working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner — whether that’s responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down. Over the next year, we’ll be adding 3,000 people to our community operations team around the world — on top of the 4,500 we have today — to review the millions of reports we get every week, and improve the process for doing it quickly.”

Why It’s Hot:

Facebook has a tremendous amount of clout, and I’m glad that they’re taking a stance and moving quickly on improving brand safety.  People’s abilities to post anything on social media is great for the most part, but also should not be a venue for people to act violently and be rewarded by free press.  Facebook taking a stance for keeping their site safe is important- especially in this time where brand safety is so important.


Mario Kart Takes Over Target

As I walked into Target last weekend, a familiar sound greeted me- the sound of a Mario Kart race beginning.  I had no idea why until now!

With the launch of Mario Kart 8 on the new Nintendo Switch, Nintendo wanted to promote the brand in a big way by having a big out of home campaign in Target.  As you enter the store, you’re greeted by the countdown to a Mario Kart race.

Some of the shopping carts are outfitted as Mario Karts, as well as some cool things interspersed throughout the store as well.

Why It’s Hot

This is a creative out of home execution that I’ve never seen done at this level before, especially in partnership with a given store.  With the flop of the recent Nintendo NES Mini due to huge scale/distribution issues, I just hope that Nintendo has the supply to keep up with the level of demand that this promotion brings!


Publishers fear fallout of Google-backed ad blocker

Publishers are responding to a Wall Street Journal report that Google is reportedly launching an ad blocker for Chrome with official cheer but private skepticism and fear.

Officially — and on the record — publishers are genuflecting at the altar of user experience, welcoming moves by Google or other companies to improve online advertising. But go on background, conversations turn to the inevitable imbalance of power when it comes to the duopoly of Facebook and Google. And for some, the move smacks of hypocrisy. Here’s Google, vacuuming up the largest share of digital advertising, positioning itself as the arbiter of what ads constitute a poor user experience. Don’t expect a half page of ads at the top of a search results page to get dinged, no matter the third-party Google officially christens as the standard bearer.

Google is yet to make an official announcement, but the Journal reported that Google’s criteria for what ads should be blocked, stems from the industry committee-led Coalition for Better Ads, of which Google is a founding member. That means pop-ups and autoplaying video ads with sound, and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers, formats which the Coalition has previously deemed unacceptable, could be blocked. Most wouldn’t object to these particular ads, but these type of things tend to snowball. And these days, few publishers are in the mood to give any platform carte blanche.

One scenario Google is considering is to block all advertising that appear on sites with offending ads, instead of just the offending ads themselves.  That in and of itself is enough to set off alarm bells for publishers.

While many publishers share Google’s interests in keeping the web safe for digital advertising, publishers aren’t without fear of Google’s dominance. The Coalition is described as a big tent, with Google being a founding member, but some members privately say they consider the Coalition to essentially be a front for Google. As evidence of the search giant’s power, many publishers contacted for this story said they were under strict NDA with Google not to breathe a word about the ad blocking plans. That alone speaks volumes to the power dynamic at play here.

Why It’s Hot

1.) If nothing else, a Google ad blocker could put the onus on publishers to clean up the web (although the fact that it’d be Google making them do it makes it easier to sell it to advertisers).  Higher quality publishers will prevail on the chrome browser.

On the flip side:

2.) While this could be a good thing in general, allowing Google to have more say in thinking they’re leading a brand safety charge concerns me.  After the YouTube issues they’ve had, this is just another step to them gaining more control in their empire/monopoly.  Will they act the same toward their owned and operated categories?

3.) If Google goes ahead with these plans, it can undermine publishers’ own progress in reducing ad blocking. “We may now have to have two ad blocking strategies, one for Chrome and another for everything else,” said John Barnes, chief digital officer at Incisive Media.


Wendy’s has struck social media gold thanks to a Nevada teenager. If you haven’t heard of #NuggsforCarter by now you must not be on Twitter. The hashtag began rising in popularity after high-schooler Carter Wilkerson innocently sent this tweet:

Wendy’s quickly responded “18 million,” thanks to Matt Keck, Wendy’s community manager at digital agency VML.

Other brands jumped in…

And pretty soon, the tweet was getting major media coverage, including in USA Today.

As of midday Wednesday, Mr. Wilkerson’s screenshot of his exchange with Wendy’s has garnered more than 2.6 million retweets, ranking it as the second-most retweeted tweet, according to Favstar. He only trails Ellen DeGeneres’s famous Oscars selfie tweet from 2014, which has 3.35 million retweets. VML projects Mr. Wiklerson’s tweet will eclipse Ellen’s tweet.

Mr. Wilkerson looks like a budding marketing executive. He has seized on the publicity by launching his own website where he is selling apparel like #NuggsforCarter T-shirts.

Why It’s Hot

This is a great case of an innocent tweet going viral.  It demonstrates the power of networks and a brand capitalizing on a small opportunity to get viewability.  Very cool!

The Trade Desk Native Ad Brings Value

View Video and Read Article Here

The Trade Desk and Ad Age ran a smart native advertising placement- the focus was a video that highlighted smart devices specifically, and how brands should demonstrate the value that the product will bring on a daily basis for the user to make their lives better/easier.  Take what makes a product attractive, leverage that data, and make it a service or better product that people rely on.  Then, you’ll get more data on how people use it, and improve upon it.  “What is this going to DO for me vs. what is the brand going to SAY to me”.

 Why It’s Hot

I found this interesting for two reasons:

1.) It demonstrates how agencies/advertisers should leverage a product (in this case, smart devices) to show long term value to a consumer.  E.G. Instead of demonstrating just advertising a new electronic lock that a company has, demonstrate how it keeps your family safe on a daily basis.

2.) The Trade Desk used this as a smart native ad to demonstrate how they could provide value to advertisers: a.) to get the data to help power this thinking, via their Data Management Platform (DMP) and b.) act on it via their Demand Side Platform (DSP).

YouTube Brand Safety Issues Threaten Sales

If some of you haven’t heard the news yet, a handful of HUGE brands have completely pulled the plug on spending with YouTube, amid a growing international controversy concerning ads running in tandem with extremist content on the platform. This content includes videos promoting terrorist groups like ISIS, hate speech, gory videos, and other unsavory content.  Brands refuse to re-instate spending until the video site could assure their spots wouldn’t run near offensive content.

Examples of advertisers that have pulled out domestically and/or internationally are big players like Verizon, AT&T, GlaxoSmithKline, JPMorgan Chase, Ford Motors, McDonald’s UK, and Johnson & Johnson.  To this point in time, YouTube (owned by Google) has been one of the difficult partners out there, who don’t allow 3rd party ad verification partners in to monitor brand safety.  Instead, they bring their own proprietary tools.  DoubleVerify circulated an email to clients on 3/23 stating that the issues of advertisers running next to unsavory content could have been avoided if 3rd party tools were allowed.

Why It’s Hot

This raises so many thoughts/questions about brand safety and how to handle situations like this from an agency perspective.  Our team has been singing the praises of 3rd party ad verification partners for a long time- they police sites and make sure that advertisers are truly protected.  So, I have to ask:

1.)  Are self-policers like YouTube worth running on?  Given this news, how much has their credibility been shattered?

2.)  Were the advertisers doing anything in regards to brand safety before, or was this truly the fault of YouTube not monitoring the content of their site closely enough?  With a pharma client we work on, YouTube has confirmed that we’ve run in safe content because we’ve been so stringent from the start…

3.) Are there implications for a brand (think, from a PR perspective) if they choose to continue to run on YouTube, given this news?  Should brands join the movement of pulling spend JUST to join the movement and make change happen, or should they stay the course (if they’ve been confirmed to be running on brand safe content only?)

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MRC Accredidations Affect Doubleclick Calculations

DoubleClick Digital Marketing and DoubleClick for Publishers are shifting the method used for calculating impressions from “served” to “count on download.” This count on download method follows changes the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Media Rating Council (MRC) made in April 2016 to count impressions after a user’s device indicates that creative download has begun. The previous served counting method records an impression when an ad server receives a request for content.

March 1: Active View calculations use count on download methodology

Starting on March 1, Active View calculations that are based on impressions use downloaded impressions. Overall, the change to Active View calculations will likely result in an increase in viewability rates.

Since Active View data is used across DoubleClick Digital Marketing, you’ll see updates throughout the platform wherever this data appears, including Verification in DCM.

Q3 2017: Impressions metric uses count on download methodology

In the final phase of the transition, the count on download methodology becomes the measurement of record for DoubleClick Digital Marketing in Q3 2017. At this time:

  • The Impressions metric will be computed using the count on download methodology that you can preview with the Downloaded Impressions metric.
  • Billing and attribution that is based on the Impressions metric will use the count on download methodology.

Why It’s Hot

Finally, Google is getting their butts in shape and our clients are going to benefit.  Before, Google was counting an impression at the ad call- beginning in Q3 they will count at the actual ad load.  Given that there could be a significant drop off (think up to 40% on mobile*) between the ad call and ad load, our clients will gain efficiency by paying for only ads that people have the opportunity to actually see (bc it loaded!).  This could ultimately improve performance, and we don’t really even have to do a thing!


*Based off information provided by S4M

Merck aims to put Amazon’s Alexa to work on voice-enabled diabetes tools


Alexa? Help pharma find patient solutions.

That’s what Merck & Co. is aiming for in its new partnership with Amazon Web Services to develop digital voice-enabled solutions for people living with chronic diseases.

Using the tech behind the Amazon Echo, Merck plans to initially work on diabetes. Its first initiative will be a call to entrepreneurs, techies and industry types for an innovation challenge expected to begin within the next month.

The yet-to-be-named challenge will be run by strategy and innovation consultancy Luminary Labs. While specifics haven’t been released, the call to action will “be open to solutions broadly enough that innovators of all stripes can come up with really novel ideas but being narrow enough to provide guidance and carefully evaluate submissions,” said Sara Holoubek, founder and CEO of Luminary Labs.

An independent jury will evaluate the submissions based on their use of voice-enabled technology that addresses Type 2 diabetes patient issues.

Merck’s long-term plan is to create tools for other chronic diseases using the same Amazon Lex platform and the voice-enabled Alexa home system.

Analysts estimate Amazon will sell more than 110 million Amazon Echo devices over the next four years, and many are already pointing to healthcare as an important item on Alexa’s eventual to-do list.

“Users will soon go far beyond turning on lights or calling an Uber, and will venture deeper into healthcare, helping people better manage treatments and communicate with caregivers,” Luminary notes on its website. “From reminding people of their nutrition plans to scheduling their insulin dosages, the Merck-sponsored Alexa challenge will call on developers to push the boundaries of voice technology for people with diabetes.”

Why It’s Hot

Through recent discussions about how we’ll use Alexa or any voice-enabled assistants, this is extremely smart.  Leveraging technology to assist those that have a lot to manage with their health can potentially keep people more compliant, and therefore keeping themselves healthier.  Taking annoying tasks to remember off people’s plates so they can enjoy more of their life is a great direction to take this technology.  Expect to see more of this in the near future.


Google Takes on Cable!


Google just joined the “skinny bundle” TV war with YouTube TV, a paid subscription service that streams a slew of premium broadcast and cable networks to your mobile device, tablet, computer, and anything with Chromecast.

Just $35 a month gets you six accounts and access to live TV from more than 40 providers including the big broadcast networks, ESPN, regional sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks. Subscriptions include cloud DVR with unlimited storage, AI-powered search and personalization, and access to YouTube Red programming.

YouTube TV joins a growing wave of services, including Dish’s Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, and AT&T’s new DirectTV Now, with a similar web TV offering from Hulu expected soon. And like these other options, unfortunately, YouTube still has some holes with its offering.

Big networks like CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox, are on board, but several premium channels, like MTV and CNN, aren’t. You can add content like Showtime and soccer for an added fee, but some content comes with restrictions. If you’re a pro football fan, for example, you’ll have to watch games on your TV or computer because the NFL’s deal with Verizon made it off-limits to your mobile device. And no matter what you watch or what you watch it on, you may see ads.

The company won’t say when the service launches, but says you can expect it in the US in the “coming weeks and months.”

Why It’s Hot

While the offering is new, and we don’t know what they’ll bring to the table in regards to advertising opportunities, this is a smart way for YouTube to gain more ground with quality content and reaching cord cutters (especially ones that are on a budget!).  This is especially pertinent to one of our clients, as we’ve seen higher ROI on TV-like experiences vs. the traditional YouTube or other video buys online.  It will allow us to diversify where we find video content.

Google Opens Up YouTube and Ad Platforms for Measurement Audit

On the heels of Facebook’s decision to undergo an audit by industry watchdog the Media Rating Council, Google has agreed to have its metrics vetted, too.

The Alphabet-owned site is opening up YouTube ad inventory and ad-buying platforms DoubleClick Manager and AdWords that allow for the MRC to track stats including viewability and how long a video was watched. The audit includes three of Google’s biggest third-party metrics companies: Moat, DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science. The audit will examine how the three companies pull their data, including the technology that plugs into YouTube and the methodology used to measure digital metrics. The MRC tapped Ernst & Young to conduct the review.

“The audit will validate that data collection, aggregation and reporting for served video impressions, viewable impressions, related viewability statistics and General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) across desktop and mobile for each integration adheres to MRC and IAB standards,” said Google’s senior director of product management Babak Pahlavan in a blog post.

The move should help add a bit of transparency for advertisers who have increasingly asked for better metrics and insight into their campaigns with Facebook and Google, which receive about 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising. Both Facebook and Google are notorious for being “walled gardens” that do not let measurement companies in and self-report their own metrics.

Facebook has been under particularly high scrutiny with a number of mistakes to its metrics in the past six months. In November, Facebook began revamping some of its metrics and added a blog that focuses specifically on measurement issues.

Why It’s Hot

Getting both Facebook and Google on board with MRC audits could quell marketers’ frustrations as they push for industry-wide standards to grade their campaigns.  It’s been a constant frustration that these partners have not obliged to be measured the same way as pretty much any other partner in the industry, so this will be a step in the right direction for equalizing the playing field in regards to measurement… along with adding a little more comfort to knowing that the metric are legitimate.


Awareness Campaign Takes Human Approach

Merck & Co. has a plan for boosting its immuno-oncology treatment, Keytruda, in head-and-neck cancer. And it relies on patients making plans of their own.

The New Jersey-based pharma giant has teamed up with Pro Football Hall of Famer and head-and-neck cancer survivor Jim Kelly for a new awareness campaign, “Your Cancer Game Plan.” The effort focuses on encouraging patients and their loved ones to craft support strategies, taking into account their emotional, nutritional and communication needs.

The particularities of head-and-neck cancer can hit patients both physically and emotionally. The disease sometimes hinders their ability to talk, triggers changes in their facial features or makes it difficult to eat, a Merck spokesperson explained in an email interview.

“Having a ‘game plan’ can help patients and their support teams be prepared for those kinds of challenges and complexities,” the spokesperson said.

Kelly, for his part, knows those “special challenges” firsthand. “My experience taught me so much about the importance of emotional support and taking care of myself, and I hope that by sharing my experience, I can inspire others to take action and know their game plan,” he said in a statement.

Merck first won FDA approval for its cancer star Keytruda in the disease back in August, and until now its patient-education activities have centered on providing information through the Keytruda product website and patient brochures. Going forward, the company’s goal is to continue the new awareness campaign “for some time,” the spokesperson said.

Why It’s Hot

Although the brand is ultimately becoming more widely known, the approach that Merck is taking is more human than many pharma ads out there.  They’re not simply promoting their drug and talking about side effects- they are promoting the campaign by trying to help people prepare and cope with their illness and what can happen to them.  Many pharma brands forget that they’re not talking to a condition- they’re talking to people, with big physical and emotional needs- ESPECIALLY when it comes to cancer.  By becoming a support system (or helping their patients build one), a brand becomes more than just  pill you take… they become a trusted resource.  There should be more brands doing this in the space.



The Five Year Pregnancy

The film was created for the National Partnership for Women & Families, and it touches on a number of sore points: Neither Lauren nor her husband have paid family leave, so Lauren stockpiles vacation and sick days so she can give birth when her baby turns 6. (Ouch.)

 The spot also points out that nearly every country—certainly every developed country—has paid family leave, with the glaring exception of the United States.

“Lauren is every person in our country who has struggled with having to balance work and the inevitabilities of life without the support of a national paid leave policy,” creative director Jessica Coulter tells AdFreak. She adds that the stakes extend to more than pregnant women and their families. It also includes couples who adopt, and people who are caring for infirm loved ones, or who are sick themselves.

Wry smiles aside, the team hopes “A Long Five Years” will trigger action from lawmakers and the public by confronting them with “the absurd reality too many working people and families face,” says Shabo, who represents the organization.

“Millions of people like Lauren are being forced to choose between their health, families and jobs every day. The consequences for families, businesses and our economy are real. Lawmakers who claim to value families need to take a hard look at our nation’s truly absurd paid leave crisis, and commit to advancing a comprehensive solution.”

Citizens especially have a vested interest in saying something. “We shouldn’t accept an America where nearly one-quarter of new moms are back at work within two weeks of giving birth, or where an adult child who leaves the workforce to care for a parent forgoes an estimated $300,000 in income and retirement savings,” Shabo says.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a widely-supported idea. Some “82 percent of 2016 voters—including 95 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of independents and 70 percent of Republicans—say it is important for the President and Congress to consider a national paid family and medical leave law,” Shabo says. “People must keep up the drumbeat for change.”

The ad concludes by telling us that 86 percent of Americans have jobs that don’t provide family leave, and that we can change this—assuming the current administration is compelled to listen.

“The fact that the U.S. is practically the only country in the world that does not have a national paid leave policy is nearly laughable, if it wasn’t incredibly distressing,” says Terry. “Using a hyperbolic scenario—a woman who has spent the last five years basically doing one giant kegel to keep a first-grader in her uterus because she can’t afford to have her baby—made sense to get our point across. And if a 260-week pregnant woman doesn’t move people to act, we don’t know what will.”

Why It’s Hot

Especially pertinent to me now as a pregnant woman, I thought this was an interesting statement to make to potentially influence people and evoke a little more thought about some policies that the government handles.  I have to note- we are some of the lucky ones- with our company recognizing the importance and covering our costs while we’re out.



Trump talks pricing, manufacturing in meeting with pharma

Pharma executives got their wish for an early meeting with President Trump Tuesday, 1/31, a couple of weeks after he accused the industry of “getting away with murder” on drug pricing.

“We have to get prices down for a lot of reasons. We have no choice,” Trump told the pharma pack, which included Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) CEO Stephen Ubl, and the head of Novartis, Merck & Co, Eli Lilly, and Celgene.

Too many pharma companies are making medicines overseas – which he blamed on regulation, and overseas “money supply and devaluation”.  Also in Trump’s sights is what he described as “global freeloading” – foreign price controls on drugs that reduce the resources of US pharma companies for R&D. Other countries should “pay their fair share for US-manufactured drugs”, he asserted.

Trump counterbalanced the tough talk by reiterating his pledge to reform the regulatory process so that new medicines can be approved much more quickly, and changing the circumstances in which experimental drugs can be used in patients. In particular, he said it should be easier to test new drugs in terminal patients.

The promise of looser regulation may appear to play to the pharma companies, but in reality the industry has been alarmed by the initial moves in this area – including an executive order this week that calls for federal agencies to withdraw two regulations for every new regulation they introduce.

Adding that to a second order implementing a federal hiring freeze – and a lack of detail in both cases – and serious questions are being raised about the ability of the FDA to function effectively. In particular, there is concern that the orders could effectively stop the 21st Century Cures Act – one of the last actions of the Obama administration and widely welcomed by industry – in its tracks.  This Act will help to quicken getting new

Why It’s Hot

Trump is making changes quickly… and this could effect our pharma clients and in turn, us.  While lowering the prices of drugs could be a great step in the right direction for consumers (more people would have access to the drugs they need), this could in turn mean a significant loss of profits for pharma companies (though, the volume they could make up may balance things).  Less profits=less advertising dollars (but that’s ok).

We should all just be aware of the looser regulations- depending on how this goes and what gets cut, this could potentially mean that there could be less safety requirements to get a drug passed, which is kind of scary!  We need to be informed about what we put into our bodies.


Google Expands Beyond Maps, Plans to Recreate Building Interiors in 3-D

Google already maps the world, but the internet giant has bigger plans for its next location-based technology.

The Alphabet Inc. unit wants to digitally map the interiors of buildings in 3-D down to a resolution of a few inches, and make money in virtual reality along the way, through a project named Tango.

The company plans a big expansion of the technology this year and ultimately wants to make it ubiquitous, according to a person familiar with the situation. Job postings and recent updates to Tango’s developer software show steps toward this ambitious goal. Google will showcase progress at its I/O developer conference near its Silicon Valley headquarters May 18-20.

Tango packs cameras and depth sensors along with other software into Android smartphones and tablets. Fire up the application and point the device at a space and it sucks in images and depth information to re-create the environment on the screen and locates itself within that new digital realm.

Google hopes Tango will support a system for independent developers to create new virtual reality applications and services. Video games could have characters that hide behind real-life furniture. A museum app could show 3-D animations when you walk past an exhibit. A grocery store could highlight sale items and guide shoppers to the right shelf.

Unlike most emerging virtual reality systems, Tango doesn’t need external equipment to re-create the world digitally. And unlike Google Maps it can figure out the details of a space without additional data sources.

“Tango is the indoor extension of their outdoor mapping platform,” said Lex Dreitser, a virtual reality developer who builds Tango applications.

Tango started in a Google research lab more than two years ago, but the company is trying to take it mainstream this year. It’s going into new smartphones from Intel and Lenovo Group and the software has been updated to let it easily run on more devices. And there are signs Google is working on the most important challenge: Making Tango 3-D maps shareable so the company can someday patch them together into a single, detailed digital representation of many of the world’s buildings, rooms and the stuff inside them.

Google Maps is one of Google’s most successful services, used by more than a billion people every month. It’s stitched into other popular Google services, like Gmail, Calendar and Photos. With more detailed maps, Google could build new advertising and location-based services into its products. It could also offer these capabilities to outside developers, letting them create more powerful applications for its Android operating system.

“If Tango could digitize every single physical commerce place, then all of a sudden Google has an exponential opportunity to place very relevant contextual physical advertising in every space,” said Nathan Pettyjohn, Chief Executive Officer of Aisle411, a mobile commerce and location company that has built applications for Walgreens Boots Alliance and Toys R Us. “It literally gives me goose bumps talking about it.”

Tango could also make Google a potent virtual reality rival to Facebook’s Oculus and HTC’s Vive. The Vive and the Oculus need separate sensors along with their headsets to map a room, while Tango does it with components in the phone or tablet. The closest competitor may be Microsoft’s HoloLens, a headset that integrates the technology. Occipital, a startup, makes a device that can be attached to standard Apple Inc. iOS and Android devices to give them 3-D sensing capabilities. Apple may be working on VR and 3-D sensing too through PrimeSense, a company it acquired in 2013.

Gina Scigliano, a spokeswoman for Google, declined to comment.

In January, Google software engineer Eitan Marder-Eppstein said the technology had “a lot of potential for indoor navigation.” And back in 2014, another Google engineer, Simon Lynen, said the company was researching how to use multiple Tango devices to build large, detailed maps that could be combined and downloaded to devices giving them “a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”

“With I/O it feels like they’re really doubling down on it,” said Andrew Nakas, who has been building Tango applications for two years. “I can do things now I had no expectation I could do back then in 2014.”

Kris Kitchen, an inventor, built an application for the blind using Tango and a backpack-sized speaker called a SubPac. Tango maps a space and passes that data to the SubPac, which vibrates differently according to the proximity of objects. That gives blind people an additional sense — touch — alongside hearing to get around.

For Tango applications like this to reach the most people, 3-D data will need to be easily shareable among devices. That would mean one person could map a museum, and another person could build an application based on the original map, or extend it, saving effort.

Google is working on this by building a system that allows Tango devices to share maps with other devices. It may also weave all these maps together and store the information in its data centers so it can be accessed by even more devices.

Tango will “rely on cloud infrastructure to store, merge, and serve location data to specific Project Tango devices,” Google wrote in a job posting in February for a mobile software engineer to work on the project. The company asked for “experience with Google Maps and other related location products.”

A cloud service would make life easier for developers, according to Pettyjohn. “Right now you have to save these mapping files on the device,” he said. A cloud service would make it so “anytime you need it, you pull down a file on the spot.”

— Bloomberg News


This could be an interesting opportunity for retailers to help customers navigate to things they need more quickly, but I question HOW helpful and used it will actually be.  I find the use of Google Maps much more useful since it’s a GPS, but people don’t always need a map of a store.  Could be useful for malls or places where a lot of stores exist in one area.

Google’s AMP Is Speeding Up the Web & Changing How It Works

Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages, aka AMP, makes websites load fast. Like, really fast. But that speed comes with a few changes to how the open web works.

AMP achieves its remarkable speeds in two ways. First, it requires web developers to use a narrow set of web technologies to create pages. Most JavaScript is forbidden, which, as we’ve noted before, is a really good way to make web pages load faster. Second, it serves pages from its own servers, at least when you visit an AMP page via a Google search.

To use AMP, you create an alternate version of your site that conforms to the specifications published by the AMP project. These standards are a lot like traditional HTML, but pared down to what Google considers to be the bare minimum. Typically you’ll give your AMP-optimized site a separate address, for example: If you use WordPress, there’s actually a plugin will automatically create these alternate versions and help Google find them. But you could, theoretically, just replace your whole site with AMP optimized pages and it would still work in most modern web browsers, though it might be a bit drab.

With its AMP search results, Google is amassing content on its own servers and keeping readers on Google.

Sites that follow these specifications to the letter will receive special treatment from Google. Starting this week, AMP-optimized new stories now appear at the top of Google’s mobile search results. That sounds great for publishers who have decided to build AMP sites, but there’s a big catch: if readers decide to share a link to an AMP page they’ve clicked on through a Google search, the link points to (for example,, not to your site. A Google spokesperson confirms that there isn’t a way to both have your AMP-optimized appear in Google’s prioritized search listings without having that content hosted on Google’s AMP Cache servers.

That’s a big change in how the Google search engine works. Historically, Google has acted as an index that points people away from Google to other websites. With its AMP search results, Google is amassing content on its own servers and keeping readers on Google.

In that sense, Google’s use of AMP is similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles service, to which it’s often compared. Facebook Instant Articles gives publishers the option of embedding their content on Facebook’s servers, so that users can read an article without ever leaving the Facebook mobile app. Unlike Instant Articles, however, sites that follow the AMP standard can also be embedded on other sites as well. Twitter and Pinterest, for example, are expected to begin using AMP to embed pages on their sites or mobile apps in the near future.

But What About Ads?

Although JavaScript is mostly forbidden on AMP sites, there are some loopholes that allow publishers to include ads, analytics, and other pieces of JavaScript on a page.

AMP includes a special analytics tag that allows publishers to send data to pre-screened analytics providers such as Chartbeat, Adobe, and This is handled by a single JavaScript file instead of a separate script for each analytics provider. That file is loaded from Google’s servers, which can speed things up considerably for pages that use multiple analytics providers. Ads work in a similar way. The AMP project vets analytics servers based on performance, security, and privacy, so some of the worst offenders may be screened out. But those who want to use analytics code or other pieces of JavaScript that haven’t been pre-approved can also use the <amp-iframeiframe> tag.

The <amp-iframeiframe> tag, similar to the traditional HTML version of the <iframe>, allows publishers to add chunks of JavaScript hosted on their own websites, but there are some restrictions. Code inserted into iFrames won’t have acess to all the data that a script inserted directly into a traditional page does. AMP always loading the page’s core content before any <amp-iframeiframe> content in order to keep <amp-iframeiframe>s from slowing down pages. And when AMP pages are hosted on Google’s servers, the pages are pre-rendered, so that they still load quickly.

These workarounds enable more freedom for publishers, but it also means there’s still room for them to serve invasive scripts to readers. Improved performance won’t always mean improved privacy. It also means more of the web will be shaped by Google.


Like the change from flash to HTML5, this technology shift could lead to quite a few changes in the marketplace.  This news was just released, so I’m sure there’s much to learn.


Learn More:

The ROI of Patient Empathy

“I read some very interesting articles via my Apple News Feed on MS over the last week.  Having been involved in research with MS patients I am always interested to learn about the needs of MS patients.  The articles range from new potential treatments to living with MS and how it affects your daily life. Unfortunately, not one player in the MS market owns the space for MS news and information even though the research I was involved in clearly showed a strong need for this type of information.  Instead, most Biopharma company’s online presence revolves around the needs and wants of patients.  Instead, their websites contain the basics and sales copy.


Now think for a moment if you were suddenly diagnosed with MS, God forbid.  What would you want to know and what emotional support would you want and need?  This is the way that DTC marketers need to think, but it usually involves weeks or months of meetings and Power Point presentations with some MBA wide ass asking “what’s the ROI?”. What is the ROI of helping patients live with chronic conditions and helping one another with insights and advice?

Novartis recently launched a DTC site around heart failure that has doctors crying foul, but can anyone honestly say that patients are going to run to their doctor to say “I have heart failure and want this drug”?  Today’s primary doctor visits are commonly scheduled at 15-minute intervals, and some physicians who work at hospitals are asked to see a new patient every 11 minutes, according to a 2014 article from Kaiser Health News. Even in that short time frame, doctors probably aren’t listening attentively to their patients. A 1999 study of family doctor practices found doctors let patients speak for only 23 seconds before redirecting them, and only 25% of patients got to finish their statement. Another study, this one out of the University of South Carolina in 2001, found primary care patients were interrupted after just 12 seconds, either by the health provider or a knock at the door. Obviously that’s not enough time to ask about health problems in depth.  The Novartis site aims to help patients and caregivers understand that being diagnosed with heart failure is not a death sentence.


DTC, today, in an era when pharma is in the crosshairs of everyone on the Internet needs to go beyond “selling” .  It has to involve the whole patient experience from diagnosis to management.  It has to provide real answers on how to have a normal life and what to expect when on therapy.  It can’t be med talk it has to be a human conversation, not a used car sales pitch.

There is a reason why online ad blockers have surpassed more than 200 million users and why people are time shifting live TV.  They don’t have the time to be interrupted with advertising because ads today, for the most part, stink. They are irrelevant, boring and intrusive.  DTC can’t fall into this trap.  I know that most pharma people don’t get a cup of coffee without thinking about ROI, but today that’s not your job. Today your job is to convince management that we can enhance our brand and company by helping people not selling them.”

Why It’s Hot

As marketers in the health space continue to invest in advertising, they also have to keep in mind that throwing sales-speak at patients is not necessarily helping them.  Pharma needs to think beyond “marketing” and be more empathetic to patients who become lost in a world where healthcare is in transition.


Are Viewable Ads Actually Effective for Marketers? 10,000-Person Study Sheds Light

IPG Media Lab, Integral Ad Science and Cadreon set out to answer a very simple question, with a 10,000-person sample size: Is a “viewable” ad actually effective for marketers?

The study, which the companies said involved 189 different ad scenarios, found that “viewability is highly related to ad effectiveness,” not a major surprise, but also that some ads that don’t meet the Media Ratings Council’s standards for viewability can still be effective and have impact for advertisers.

The researchers tested banner ads, large format ads, and video ads. For standard banners, the MRC defines ads as “viewable” if they are at least 50% in view for at least one second. For large format ads, at least 30% must be in view for at least one second. And for video ads, at least 50% must be in view for at least two consecutive seconds.

Respondents recalled 5% of ads that were below the MRC’s thresholds for “percent in view,” 4% of ads that were at the standard, 9% that were 75% viewable, and 11% that were 100% viewable.

Ads must satisfy both the “percent in view” and “time in view” requirements, though the study found that ads can have a significant impact (10.4% ad recall) if, for example, the “percent in view” falls below the standard but “time in view” exceeds it. It doesn’t work the other way around, though, as the study concluded that “time in view” is “a much better predictor” of whether a consumer will be able to recall an ad.

While enhanced viewability certainly increases effectiveness, the study concluded that “consumer attention does not necessarily correlate well with ad effectiveness. Even though more people may glance at an ad, it does not guarantee that it is being internalized.”

For example, for ads that met the MRC standards, only 51% of respondents looked at the ad, and 17% remembered it. For ads that didn’t meet the standards, 25% saw them and 17% recalled them, the same figure.

Why It’s Hot

Moving forward, we are trying to focus media efforts on finding MORE viewable inventory, so that each impression we deliver is actually reaching someone’s eyes.  Wasted dollars = higher conversion costs, so this is yet another way of driving efficiency and bringing effectiveness to the campaign.


This Dark, No-Holds-Barred German Ad Will Really Make You Think About Visiting at Christmas

John Lewis found a nuanced, metaphorical way to explore the subject of loneliness and old age at Christmas-time with its Man in the Moon ad, but German supermarket Edeka has no such qualms. It goes straight for the jugular in this spot through Jung von Matt, in which a lonely grandfather finds a pretty shocking way to reunite his family for the holidays.

They’re all too busy and far-flung to come over, and year after year we see him eating his Christmas meal all alone as he listens to an answerphone full of excuses. But there’s a guaranteed way of getting them there; faking his own death. He summons them all for a funeral, and when they appear at his house — surprised to find the table set for dinner — he explains “it was the only way of getting you all together.” Amazingly not one single member of the family freaks out over this (you’d think there would be one); instead, they’re overjoyed and they all sit down together to appreciate the season.

Why It’s Hot

We’re used to grocery stores promoting Can Can sales and slashed price.  This is a very creative way of turning buying food on it’s head to share what’s behind it- love.  Food brings people together.  This is inspiring for me because it proves that people continue to be creative, no matter what the product being advertised is.  Besides that, the commercial pulls on your heart strings and drives the important point home to make the time for your family.

Google Shares Black Friday Location Data for Marketers

Google has been releasing a host of updates and features for marketers and consumers leading up to the holiday season.

Its latest offering will give advertisers a better idea of what’s driving people into their stores. Googs said it will start showing advertisers which keywords people searched for before clicking on the brand’s search ad and eventually ended up in one of the brand’s brick-and-mortar locations. The information is aggregated and anonymized, so advertisers won’t be able to see which individuals clicked on their ads before entering a store.

Google will give those same advertisers a better idea of when people are in their stores by now reporting store-visit figures by month, week, day and hour. That means a consumer-electronics retailer might be able to see that the people visiting their stores on a weekday morning are typically looking for phone chargers because that’s what a lot of those visitors searched for before coming in, and the retailer might decide to stock its phone chargers further back in a store at those times in order to get the people to see more of the store’s products before checking out.

Where consumers shop, according to Google.
Where consumers shop, according to Google. Credit: Google

Google has been adapting to consumer trends as more of them move away from desktop and toward mobile devices and apps. Last week, the company introduced a number of design changes to Google Shopping that are meant to cater to a mobile-first audience, including an app-like layout, faster browsing and information such as inventory levels for specific items at nearby retailers.

The company is also competing with Facebook, which recently announced it will provide marketers with more information about its users who are near their stores, among other things.

Last year, 133.7 million consumers shopped in stores and online during Thanksgiving weekend, down 5% from 2013, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Total spending for the weekend fell 11% to $50.9 billion, according to the survey.

Why It’s Hot
This reporting information isn’t just important for Black Friday- it can be an extremely useful tool for retailers all year round.  The more data and insights they are able to capture about what interests shoppers will only help them give shoppers exactly what they want, and capitalize financially.  With more people “webrooming” (researching online then purchasing in store) these days, it’s smart to keep an eye on searchers’ interests in advance of them actually visiting.

72andSunny Wins Seventh Generation, Breaks Smart Ad Targeting Carefree Millennials

72andSunny just picked up the ad account of Seventh Generation, the environmentally minded cleaning, paper and personal care products company. And its first work for the new client is for Bobble, its water bottle brand—the satirical commercial below is packaged as a takedown of the too-carefree approach to drinking water out of single-use plastic bottles.

The conceit is a touch silly when distilled. The 60-second spot, from 72andSunny New York, consists mainly of twentysomethings bounding around and tossing off empty plastic bottles (all bearing the fictional label “Once”) like confetti.

But the ad so perfectly nails the generically earnest YOLO themes that have plagued advertising (not to mention the broader culture) in recent years, that brilliant sight gags like back seats and swimming pools filled with garbage barely register as out of place—making them all the more entertaining.

And ultimately, that kind of absurdity is the whole point: A message that could easily come across as self-righteous instead reads as charming common sense. (Then again, it probably helps that the argument itself is intelligent—a luxury not every advertisers has.)

Seventh Generation, which also sells green household goods ranging from paper products and detergents to diapers and tampons, announced it has hired 72andSunny’s New York office as its lead creative agency after a review.

Why It’s Hot

I am very interested in environmentally conscious products, and while there are more people that are becoming environmentally conscious as well, we as a society have a long way to go.  This ad was very clever to play off the Millenial idealogy, YOLO, to show that maybe WE only live once, but you should still live for tomorrow, so the world is a great place in the future.  Smart thinking on then agency side.

Meet the First Instagram-Certified Ad-, Marketing-Tech Vendors

Earlier this year Instagram made it possible for ad- and marketing tech providers to build tools that marketers can use to manage their brands’ Instagram accounts, find content to post to those accounts and buy ads on Instagram. More than 100 companies have built such tools, and Instagram has picked 40 companies to certify and join its new Instagram Partner Program.

“Now that that ecosystem is blossoming, we want to make it really easy for partners and the companies that are building these tools to get visibility,” said Jim Squires, director of market operations at Instagram. “And we want to make it easy for businesses and marketers that want to connect with partners to understand what each of the partners does.”

Instagram is certifying companies in three categories. The ad-tech category includes companies that make tools for brands to buy, plan and customize their ads for Instagram. The community management category includes companies that offer tools for brands to manage their Instagram accounts. And the content marketing category encompasses companies whose tools can be used by brands to find content to post to their Instagram accounts.

In addition to the attention boost, Instagram plans to provide certified vendors with training through Facebook’s Blueprint education program as well as resources around how to best use Instagram for business purposes.

There are no economic requirements for a company to gain entry into the partner program, Mr. Squires said. The only requirements are that a company proves its technology is proprietary, demonstrates market leadership, offers resources to marketers, has a successful track record and participates in training, according to an Instagram spokeswoman. While Instagram has picked an initial 40 companies to certify, other tech providers can apply for approval into the program.

Marketers will be able to visit a dedicated site to find out more about each of the companies in the Instagram Partner Program. The full list is also available below with companies sorted by category. Curalate, Percolate, Salesforce and Sprinklr are listed multiple times because they were approved in more than one category.

Ad Tech

Community Management

Content Marketing

  • Curalate
  • Flashstock
  • Olapic
  • Percolate
  • ReFuel4
  • Salesforce
  • Tongal

Why It’s Hot

This will allow social teams all over to organize and launch Instagram campaigns in a much more efficient, thought out way.  Also, for our company specifically, we already work with some of the approved vendors, so it will only broaden the opportunities for us to use our existing tools.

New Viewability Tool Aims to Put Publishers and Marketers on the Same Page

While the subject of viewability has gained plenty of steam among marketers over the past few years, brands and publishers often grade their ads on different metrics.

Today, measurement firm Integral Ad Science hopes to solve that problem by rolling out a new tool called Pub Expert that lets publishers and buyers analyze viewability on individual ad units to determine the best metric to use. From there, agencies and marketers can negotiate viewability and billing rates.  IAS isn’t the only partner doing this, as DoubleVerify just launched a new tool, called Pinnacle, that can do something similar.

“What’s happening today is the publisher and advertiser will come to an agreement on a certain percentage in-view or cost metrics for viewable impressions,” said Scott Knoll, CEO of Integral Ad Science. “Then, the publishers will use their publisher, vendor data, and the marketer will say, ‘I want to use my vendor.’ There are often discrepancies when you’re measuring from a first-party perspective and a publisher perspective.”

Integral Ad Science’s new tool measures publishers’ desktop and mobile Web ads, and the company plans to roll it out to mobile apps early next year.

Lenovo is one brand that’s been testing the new tool. Lenovo’s director of global digital marketing, Gary Milner, said fraud and viewability are still relatively new for the brand.

Lenovo has not started buying ads based on viewability yet, but the brand has experimented with different types of creative, boosting campaigns from 30 percent to 60 percent viewable.

While the tool is limited to direct buys between marketers and publishers, Milner said he also wants to buy programmatic ads based on viewability.  Double Verify, though, has this capability already.

Why It’s Hot

We now understand that significant amounts of impression volume are either non-human or not viewable.  By having a singular way of seeing viewability by placement, it has the opportunity to help both publishers and media people understand performance better by placement.  Although viewability has been a “hot topic” for a while now, it hasn’t been heavily adopted by media buyers yet.  This may push things a little further.

How Under Armour is linking fitness data with customer loyalty

Under Armour and MapMyFitness are working with sports equipment retailer Sports Authority to link workout activity with customer loyalty programs in a data play that is part of Under Armour’s efforts to become a technology company.

The companies are working together to create a new set of “challenges” on MapMyFitness, the workout-tracking app that works with phones, Jawbones, Garmins and Fitbits to track calories and workouts. Under Armour purchased MapMyFitness last year.

The 150 million people within the “Under Armour Connected Fitness” group will get a set of challenges (for example, “run 10 miles a week”), and if they complete it, they can win gift cards and points within “The League,” Sports Authority’s loyalty program.

Warren Kay, vp of advertising at Under Armour said that Sports Authority is looking for a way to invest in technology to strengthen their market position — and using Under Armour’s verified activity feed is a way to get data on those customers and marry it with the rewards program.

MapMyFitness challenges you.

Kay said Under Armour differentiates from competitors because it has opened its API and platforms to other brands and hardware manufacturers like Fitbit or Garmin — and lets its customer play across platforms — instead of creating its own hardware. Still, it requires a lot of resources, and a lot of money.

Under Armour, for example, bought nutrition- and workout-tracking leader MyFitnessPal earlier this year, plunking down $475 million for the company, and also put down $85 million for Endomondo, a social fitness network. Connected Fitness is the part of Under Armour that houses the technology to help its athletes and users: MyFitnessPal, Endomondo and MapMyFitness all live within Connected Fitness unit.

The payoff for Under Armour is partnerships like this one with Sports Authority. Active people that use fitness trackers are likely to buy apparel and footwear. And hopefully, they’ll buy yours.

Why It’s Hot

This is a really smart way for a retail brand to think smart about how to grow itself.  They are transforming the brand to own fitness in general- by providing the clothes people wear when working out along with the apps they need to track performance.  People could soon associate the brand or the apps they bought as more of a lifestyle choice than a simple tool or piece of clothing…which adds brand equity.

How CBS is experimenting with (free) live streaming for football fans

CBS is increasing the amount of college and pro football it plans to stream across digital platforms for the upcoming season.

The broadcaster has rights to two marquee sports properties in the U.S.: SEC college football and the NFL. In the coming year, CBS will live stream its entire “SEC on CBS” schedule, which features one game per week, on and the CBS Sports mobile app. For its NFL coverage, the network plans to stream two regular-season games for the first time ever, plus every playoff game it has broadcast rights to — including Super Bowl 50 — on and across its connected TV apps on Apple TV, Xbox One, Chromecast and Roku.

“Our goal is to provide the best viewing experience possible for fans,” said Jeffrey Gerttula, SVP and GM of CBS Sports Digital. “We look at every sport — all of the rights we have — and we make a decision [on how to provide coverage across platforms] based on what’s best for the consumer and best for our business.”

Right now, this means making certain full games available for free across platforms, without requiring users to authenticate — meaning that people who don’t pay for CBS via cable or satellite TV can also watch these games.

But the company’s coverage plans go beyond the live streams.

With its new “SEC Live” portal on and mobile apps, CBS plans to provide additional content and features to augment the live stream. This includes original pregame, halftime and postgame shows for each game, featuring CBS Sports talent like Gary Danielson, Brady Quinn, Teryn Schaefer and Matthew Coca. For the halftime show, CBS Sports has secured sponsorship deals with Sonic (for a segment highlighting fans on both sides of the matchup), Microsoft (for the segment breaking down the stats from the first half) and Dr Pepper (for a segment featuring fans sharing their “one-of-a-kind” traditions).

Other SEC Live features include what CBS calls its “all-22” camera angle to give viewers an overhead view of all 22 players on the football field; game highlights so viewers can relive a big moment or catch up on what they might have missed; quick reactions from CBS talent on the latest; and additional commentary via Twitter.

The decision by CBS to increase its streaming plans for the coming football season can be partially attributed to the fact that people are watching more video content on its digital platforms. According to comScore, had 2.9 million unique desktop viewers and 39.9 million video views in the U.S. in July.

The idea is to build viewership across mobile and connected TV by experimenting with different types of content, including live sports.

Why It’s Hot

This is a huge move for CBS, even though it’s a test.  They are seeing the value in (almost) disregarding the paying cable customers and realizing that there’s tremendous value in providing great content online.  In my mind, this is another step in the direction of cord cutting.  If networks begin to realize that their audience is becoming more valuable outside of just linear TV, they’re going to go where the people are, vs. limiting them on the linear TV space.


Reasons Why Millenials Follow Brands

eMarketer compiled a list of why millenials follow a brand or company on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.


Why It’s Hot

We live in a world where advertisers need to cater to their client, versus how it was years ago.  For advertisers, understanding the reasons why users follow brands allows brands to give them exactly what they want.  For example, the #3 reason why people go to the pages is to get a coupon, so utilize that knowledge!