Netflix Adds New Instagram Stories Sharing Function

A new sharing feature integrating Instagram and Netflix is letting users share what they’re watching on the streaming service as a Story. Once you share to Instagram, users can add all the normal Story functions like GIFs and polls on top of the Netflix creative.

Each story will live for the normal 24 hours, but Netflix adds a “watch on Netflix” button to facilitate traffic to the service. Integration with Stories is going to be huge for brands moving forward as the format continues to gain in popularity.

Why its hot

Stories are huge and being able to share to Stories is going to be important for any brand looking for engagement with the format.

Is it the End of Embarrassing Birds and Bees Conversations?

Last year Planned Parenthood started testing a chatbot that aims to answers teenagers plethora of questions around sex. Knowing kids probably don’t want to ask their parents about the more intimate aspects of their love lives, the organization has partnered with a digital agency to strategize, design and brand the chatbot that will be launching on Thursday.

Working with teenagers form Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Math, Engineering and Sience academy on the project. The charter school students have helped design the gender-neutral, friendly chatbot aimed at 13 to 17 year-olds.

Since so many teenagers get health information online, the artificial intelligence-powered bot is meant to give fast answers in a judgment-free, anonymous setting in a manner that’s comfortable for the audience — instead of kids going to unchecked online sources or YouTube for important information.


Users can find all sorts of information, from puberty to sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and masturbation. If the right information can’t be found, Roo will direct users to other sources like live educators. The experience lives on and is best experienced on mobile devices.

Why it’s Hot:

User first thinking really shows here. Teenagers are looking everything up online but when it comes to sex talk, they are embarrassed to have anyone find their search history. This solves for that, it’s completely anonymous! Also, it solves for them finding accurate and trustworthy information.

Young designers make a living building tiny houses on The Sims

A young Australian graphic design student got into Sims while studying abroad and getting a stomach bug. Today, “Deligracy“, has 810,000 subscribers and even sells merchandise, like sweatshirts, mugs, and phone cases.Deligracy’s  channel has become so popular that she quit her job as a junior graphic designer because she was making more money from YouTube. Some of her most popular videos, which get tens of thousands of views, aren’t of the most elaborate houses Deligracy can dream up: Instead, her audience is obsessed with tiny homes.

For James Turner, another Australian who runs a popular channel called The Sim Supply, with 1.1 million subscribers, building tiny homes is an ideal challenge. “I love making them, it’s like trying to put a puzzle together, I know what I want it to look like, and what tiny space it has to fit within, but it’s a matter of getting the game to actually work the way I want to and have everything be functional for game play.” One of Turner’s early tiny house videos, in which he designs a fully functional Sims house with kitchen, bathroom, bed, and dresser that can fit within a four-by-four square (a square is the standard building unit in the game), has 4.7 million views. Players can also download the house to play with themselves.

Why it’s hot: Knowing that there is a large millennial audience highly engaged with home design, and knowing that millennial home ownership is down — can this be leveraged to spike millennial home ownership?

Source: FastCo

What’s Better Than One Fyre Festival Documentary?…Two!

Festivals are all the rage with this generation: millennials. From Cochella to Burning Man to Lollapalooza, it’s a time to get away from all their troubles, which sure does help a lot. When new festivals pop up, asking this demographic, “Wouldn’t you like to get away?,” thousands of young adults flock to the desert or into the middle of a city to hang among their peers and dance the night away. However, not all of these festivals go smoothly.

In 2017, entrepreneur Billy McFarland attempted to put on a fantastical music festival in the Bahamas called the Fyre Festival. This elitist and very expensive event ended up being a total disaster. Now, both Netflix and Hulu have competing documentaries about this moment in history, but which one should you watch?

Both of these movies pretty much come to the same conclusion, that event coordinator Billy McFarland is a functioning sociopath, compulsive liar, and a modern-day snake oil salesman. However, how both these films come to that conclusion is very different.

Netflix’s Fyre and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud recount the events leading up to the Fyre Festival and how it all came together, which was way too quickly and without any experienced leader running it all. From having to switch the island where it was going to be held, to FEMA tents being used instead of villas, to the bands dropping out the last minute, it is the story of someone who desperately wants to be something he is ultimately not, a tech billionaire.

Fyre, Netflix’s documentary about the event, has a bit more of a mature take on the events and presents them as seriously as possible. This is one of director Chris Smith’s best documentaries, which is saying quite a lot as he also directed 2017’s Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond for Netflix and 1999’s cult classic American Movie. The story is delivered as more of a mystery, asking the audience, “What went wrong?” It’s apparent, from the get-go, that the problem was lack of planning and trying to rush out a product–which rests squarely on the shoulders of Billy McFarland.

The subjects being interviewed for the piece are those who worked on the festival, from the ones who set up the stages and “sleeping” areas to those involved in the planning of the event. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that it’s nothing short of a “clusterf***,” with McFarland’s response to most problems being something along the lines of, “think positive and it will all work out.” It doesn’t.

Fyre feels like a smashing success as it is a wonderfully engrossing movie from start to finish. It is essentially a rollercoaster ride of a story, for those who are only semi-familiar with what happened at the event.

Over at Hulu, Fyre Fraud almost has a comedic bent to the entire piece, especially with the musical cues transitioning between each scene, which is hard to take in when the thesis for the film is that Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland was knowingly defrauding everyone around him. Fyre Fraud lets the audience know that everything about this festival was a part of the malicious intent that McFarland had. It’s clearly a leap away from what Netflix’s Fyre.

It feels as though Fyre Fraud is geared much more to a younger audience, yet at the same time, a chunk of an early portion of the movie focuses heavily on what “celebrity influencers” and “social media” are, so choices like that are a bit bizarre. Additionally, the movie jumps around quite a bit in the Fyre Festival timeline.

Fyre Fraud is much more about a Cliffsnotes version behind-the-scenes before and after the event–including from people that attended the event–but the one thing Hulu’s documentary has over Netflix’s is interviews with Billy McFarland. However, it’s not as in-depth as you may hope for. There are even portions left in the movie where McFarland states he refuses to answer questions or simply says, “I don’t know.” However, the McFarland interviews alone make it worth your while to watch Fyre Fraud. Additionally, the Hulu documentary makes it a point mention that Jerry Media produced the Netflix documentary, and Jerry Media who were behind the social media marketing for Fyre Fest, and needless to say, Fyre Fraud is not kind to Jerry Media, while Netflix’s documentary tends to paint them in a much better light.

Why It’s Hot:

Although Fyre Festival was an epic failure and Billy McFarland refuses to admit to any wrongdoing his marketing campaign was genius. McFarland was able to utilize the FOMO culture and influencer marketing on social media perfectly. He knew his target audience, affluent millennials, would jump at the opportunity to go to an exclusive “once in a lifetime” event. Fyre Festival highlighted the stereotypes older generations love to attribute to millennials and in the end the desire impress strangers online enabled McFarland to cheat partygoers out of millions of dollars.

#Mute: Soon Spotify Will Let Users Block Problematic Artists

On January 3, an explosive documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly” was released on Lifetime. The six-part series resurfaced decades of abuse allegations against the popular R&B singer and within a weekend, the social media campaign #MuteRKelly was a top trending topic.

But as tweets and Op-Eds put pressure on R. Kelly’s music label to drop him and for police to investigate him, streams of the artist increased 116% after the doc aired.

Streaming services have been caught in the crossfire when problematic artists are allowed to still benefit financially from their art.  Spotify tried and failed to remove R. Kelly from the streaming platform back in 2018 when a Buzzfeed article leveled serious allegations against the singer.  The backlash was swift and Spotify was forced to re-instate Kelly’s catalogue when powerful artists like Kendrick Lamar rallied around the singer.

In the wake of a crop of new allegations and new investigations, what is the responsibility of a music streaming service when an artist becomes problematic?

Spotify’s solution this time, gives the ultimate veto power to its users.

Spotify is about to launch a feature within the app that will allow users to mute artists they don’t wan to hear on the platform.  The feature is currently being tested in the latest iOS version of the app.  The feature will allow a user to block an entire artist from playing.  That means content from a blocked artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list or even a radio station.  Currently the block feature only works for content by an individual artist, but doesn’t apply to tracks that are collaborations that might feature that artist.

Read More: The Verge

Why Its Hot: In the social media age, a trending hashtag is all it takes to put pressure on brands and businesses.  And increasingly, brands are being asked to use their power to right wrongs, be that removing an ad from a controversial news program as in the case of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, or to remove controversial artists from their platforms.  This solution, if it takes off, may be a way for streaming services to side step having to take a public stand, but in the end give its users the final say over who they want to block…and #Mute.

Image result for lil yachty remote gif

Let’s Make This the Most Liked Hot Sauce Post of All Time

Why it’s Hot? 

Well it’s not quite hard boiled it is still hot. Kylie Jenner lost the world record for having the most-liked photo on Instagram to the photo of this egg, which was first posted online to the account world_record_egg by the “Egg Gang” on Jan. 4.

This is an incredible social feat if you think about it. From a social behavior POV it shows us either one of two things:

  1. There are two types of people on the Internets — those who follow Kylie Jenner and those who will like an egg to dethrone Kylie Jenner
  2. Those on the internets know the dichotomy of our own behavior and are possibly more self aware as humans than in any other time. This means our ability to hold cognitive dissonance is more powerful than ever.

You decide.

Eco Six-Pack Rings

Marine plastic, who’s not thinking of it? From the notorious Pacific plastic mass to metal straw adoption, the topic is on our mind and seemingly one of the easiest to solve with some human behavior modification. What if that’s not feasible though — as is the case with the plastic rings that hold canned six-packs together? Those buggers not only contribute to marine plastic pollution, but also inflict some quite unnecessary damage to the species we share a planet with.

Well, enter Florida craft microbrewery, Saltwater Brewery, and their manufacturing partner, E6PR, who designed a eco friendly six-pack ring.

The cool part of the ring is not only is it biodegradable, but it’s also edible for wildlife.

While Saltwater Brewery seems to be the only brewer using these six-pack rings, E6PR is in talks with other brewers to adopt the innovation.

Why It’s Hot

We’re starting to see more innovations that are designed to be used, rather than to wow. This innovation falls into that role, but takes it a step further and does no harm.

L’Oreal Skincare Device Analyzes Wearer’s Sweat To Recommend Products

My Skin Track is a soft wearable that can analyze a person’s epidural pH via perspiration and suggest subsidiary La Roche-Posay’s products to prevent further skin irritation.

Made in collaboration with Epicore Biosystems, the My Skin Track pH is a patch that analyzes a person’s sweat to measure their pH. Using microfluidic technology, the wearable can deliver an accurate reading in 15 minutes, and through the integrated app, can read the results through a camera sensor. From there, the app will recommend a La Roche-Posay (L’Oréal’s skincare brand) product to help correct any imbalance that could lead to skin responses like dryness, eczema and atopic dermatitis.

The wearable will be available at select La Roche-Posay dermatologists in the United States as it continues to test and research the project further before releasing a consumer version.

Why it’s hot: This is a kickass way to utilize a wearable that directly correlates with solving a skincare problem (and selling products).

Source: PSFK


Giant Robots in Giant Supermarkets

The supermarket chain Giant Food Stores is starting to roll out an 6’3” autonomous robot named Marty whose mission is to keep stores safe. Marty is the result of a partnership between parent company Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch food retailer, and autonomous robot company Badger Technologies. This marks the largest front-of-store deployment of robots in a retail environment.

Marty has a laser-based detection system to guide him through the store. His sole purpose is to identify in-store hazards like spills and trip hazards, so employees can take action faster. While rolling down the aisles, he can also identify out-of-stock items and do price checks. Potential applications for Marty in the future include identifying food that is nearing its expiration date, continuously monitor inventory to forecast supply chain issues and reduce waste, and giving executive teams more in-store visibility to improve operations.

A message on the back of the robot reads, “This store is monitored by Marty for your safety. Marty is an autonomous robot that uses image capturing technology to report spills, debris and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience.”

Giant says customers been more excited than freaked out by Marty. Many are even taking selfies with him as he is beginning to be identified as a brand ambassador for the supermarket. Giant has stated the Marty improves in-store efficiencies and free employees to better serve their customers. Giant plans to bring him to all 172 stores across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia this year.

Why it’s hot: Although I don’t think Marty would fit in so well in a crowded New York City Trader Joe’s, it will be interesting to see how this technology continues to improve in-store experiences and automate worker tasks. As cashiers are continuously replaced with self-checkout options, Marty will fuel even more automation and replacement of jobs in the retail space.



Want to see a water fall? Go to Singapore Changi Airport.

Set to open this year, Jewel Changi Airport re-imagines the center of an airport as a major public realm attraction. It will offer a range of facilities for land-side airport operations, indoor gardens and leisure attractions, retail offerings and hotel facilities, all under one roof. A distinctive dome-shaped façade made of glass and steel adds to Changi Airport’s appeal as one of the world’s leading air hubs.

It represents an innovation in the world of lifestyle/retail design, with a one-of-a-kind relationship between garden and marketplace. In addition, nowhere in the world has a building been constructed that integrates the public realm with an airport facility so closely. The building extends Changi Airport’s principal function as a transit hub, to a public gathering space for Singaporeans and international travelers, establishing a new model for airports as discrete destinations for shopping, entertainment, and social activity.

Why it’s hot: Travel is no longer just about the destination, it’s also about the in-betweens.


Neutrogena rescuing 3D printing

Neutrogena is launching a 3D-printed sheet mask that is designed to perfectly fit a user’s facial shape and cater to her particular skincare needs.

Neutrogena MaskiD is made up of six different colour-coded zones: the forehead, eye orbital, nose, cheeks, chin and nasolabial folds. The mask works with the Neutrogena Skin360 app to measure the user’s skin and then recommend a different blend of ingredients for each area of their face, in order to hydrate and brighten the skin, as well as combat issues like redness, uneven tone and wrinkles.

To create their personalised mask, the user first needs to take a selfie and create a 3D image of their face using Neutrogena’s app. The app is compatible with any smartphone with a 3D camera or one fitted with Neutrogena’s Skinscanner camera attachment. Next, the 3D-image is analysed to ascertain the right combination of ingredients for each area of the face. The custom-fit hydrogel mask is then 3D-printed and shipped to the client.

Why its hot?
Beyond all the usual stuff like personalized skincare, finally there is a 3D printing idea that is marginally useful for consumers in everyday use

Mobile Supermarkets IRL

If the people don’t go to the grocery store, have the grocery store come to them. Stop & Shop is planning to pilot driverless vehicles that bring the grocery store to the customer rather than the other way around. 

Due to launch in the spring in Boston, the initiative will use autonomous electric vehicles from Robomart Inc. to carry an assortment of produce, meal kits, and convenience items to customers.

The process works as follows:
– Stop & Shop customers use a smartphone app to request a shopping visit from the closest Robomart.
– When the vehicle arrives, customers go outside, unlock the vehicle’s doors and then pick the fruit, vegetables and other products they want to buy off the shelves inside.
– After taking their items, they just close the doors and send the vehicle on its way.
– The vehicles’ RFID and computer vision ”grab-and-go” technologyautomatically records the products customers selected and charges them.
– Receipts are e-mailed in seconds.

Answers to questions you may be asking yourself:

  1. Stop & Shop store associates will be restocking the teleoperated vehicles with fresh items throughout their journey to ensure the best selection.
  2. Perishables will be kept fresh via purpose-built refrigeration and temperature control.
  3. Pricing and fees are still undetermined.

Why it’s hot: This solution could potentially eliminate the biggest pain point in online food delivery, allowing the customer to select their own produce.

Robot future not as scary, or efficient, as once imagined

Last year, Hotsauce reported on a hotel in Japan called Henn-na which was staffed and run primarily by robots. While hospitality workers worldwide decided it was time to tear through a Learning Annex booklet, some were skeptical that a hotel experience based solely on human/robot interaction could work.

Alas, the skeptics have been proven correct!

The Wall Street Journal reports that the robots were so bad at their jobs (and annoying the guests) that they are getting rid of half of them.

As Futurism put it…

“Some of the problems stem from creative ideas that didn’t pan out, like a robot velociraptor that staffed the check-in desk. […] Churi, the personal assistant robot found in each room, could handle basic tasks but pales in comparison to the personal assistant that comes standard with any new smartphone.

In case after case, these robots proved too annoying or broke down too often to be worth the trouble, according to the WSJ. The velociraptor couldn’t handle foreign guests, for instance; human employees had to come over to photocopy their passports.

Churi could change a room’s temperature and respond to basic small talk, but couldn’t answer any questions about the area or other attractions. Meawhile, Henn-na Hotel’s management was so confident in the robots’ abilities that they didn’t equip rooms with phones. Later on, management made up for Churi’s limitations with the cutting-edge solution of placing a human employee at the front desk to answer questions.

Meanwhile, Churi would reportedly wake up guests again and again after mistaking their snoring for a question that the robot couldn’t quite understand.”

The keyboard robot couldn’t actually play anything.

Story on the WSJ

Why it’s Hot

It’s always great to imaging a new future but it should be tempered with reality. Perhaps using robots in more than just a support capacity is premature at this time.

Harmless meme or massive data mining initiative?

WIRED op-ed writer Katie O’Neill tweeted last week, somewhat in jest:

In the article this conversation spawned, she unpacks the hypothetical that any mindless data we share (as part of this week’s viral sensation, or any other future social media trend) could unknowingly feed technologies behind the scenes. Exploring the implications of facial recognition technology, particularly for age progression, is a fascinating (and somewhat horrifying) thought experiment. And while FB insists that nothing of the sort is happening, the reaction to O’Neill’s tweet signals the growing overall awareness (and wariness) towards big tech – and the healthy dose of skepticism that people are beginning to direct towards the platforms they use every day.


It’s not a question of that FB could do what O’Neill writes, but more a matter of users’ awareness and attention to the use of their personal content, information, and likeness across all channels.  O’Neill summarizes: “Humans are the connective link between the physical and digital worlds. Human interactions are the majority of what makes the Internet of Things interesting. Our data is the fuel that makes businesses smarter and more profitable.

We should demand that businesses treat our data with due respect, by all means. But we also need to treat our own data with respect.”


Nike Goes Back to the Future

After unveiling their self-lacing HyperAdapt 1.0 sneakers in 2017, Nike is finally bringing their most ambitious footwear technology development to the sports world with the Nike Adapt BB, the first basketball performance sneaker with the Beaverton-based footwear giant’s automatically-cinching power laces.

Much like in the popular 1985 film Back to the Future, which featured a glimpse of what was to come, Nike’s Adapt shoes have special laces in the sneakers which will be powered by a tiny motor and controlled by the owner through either a button provided on the shoe, or operated by a specialized app on the owner’s smart phone.

In a January 15 news release, Nike provides more detail about how the shoes will work:

“When a player steps into the Nike Adapt BB, a custom motor and gear train senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly to keep the foot snug. The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing is able to pull 32 pounds of force (roughly equal to that of a standard parachute cord) to secure the foot throughout a range of movement.

That’s where the brain, or FitAdapt tech, kicks in. By manual touch or by using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone, players can input different fit settings depending on different moments of a game. For example, during a timeout, a player can loosen the shoe before tightening it up as they re-enter the game. In a forthcoming feature, they can even prescribe a different tightness setting for warm-ups. Plus, players can opt in to firmware updates for the FitAdapt technology as they become available, sharpening the precision of fit for players and providing new digital services over time.”

Why It’s Hot:

Are bluetooth enabled, self tying basketball shoes necessary? Absolutely not
Are they cool? Definitely.
Will the Nike Adapt BB set a new trend and have we seen the last of shoe laces? Only time will tell.

The Best a Man Can Be: Gillette Shines Light on “Boys Will be Boys”

Proctor & Gamble has not been shy about using its voice to step in to political and cultural conversations.  In 2017, the CPG giant sparked some controversy with it’s award-winning spot, “The Talk” and its 2018 Winter Olympics “Thank You Mom” proudly advocated for love over bias.

This time, P&G’s Gillette brand took a stance on toxic masculinity, bullying and harassment in the age of “Me Too” with a spot questioning the “boys will be boys” excuse.  The spot was launched on the 30th anniversary of the razor brand’s famous tagline, “The Best a Man Can Get.”  In a tweet, Gillette asks, “Boys will be boys”? Isn’t it time we stopped excusing bad behavior? Re-think and take action by joining us at .

P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard spoke at the 2018 ADCOLOR conference on why he felt it was so important for P&G to continue to speak out on controversial topics and take a stand saying, “If not now, when?  If not us, who?”

Watch his full speech here.

Why Its Hot:

It all come down to the bottom line.  Consumers are demanding more from the brands they give their money to, and those brands that aren’t willing to take a stand are at risk of losing two generations of customers.  A 2018 Nielsen study found that 73 percent of millennials and 72 percent of Gen Z are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies dedicated to social and environmental change.  Additionally, 70 percent of Gen Z would actively engage with a brand that could help them make a difference.

Read more from AdWeek here.




Bada Bing! HBO Celebrates the Sopranos By Giving Brands Show-Inspired Nicknames

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking HBO show, the network decided to have a little fun and give brands who asked for them Sopranos-style nicknames only Tony could love.  

Image result for sopranos gifs

Via AdWeek:

HBO’s Twitter account today has been having a blast coming up with Sopranos-inspired nicknames for just about anyone who wants one, especially if it’s a brand or celeb with a decent-sized following.

Brainstormed in real-time by the in-house HBO Digital team alongside creatives from agency Engine, the nickname thread quickly became one of the most entertaining ways to spend your Thursday afternoon.

Obviously Wendy’s, queen of the Twitter cool kids, wanted in on the action:


A day on Twitter without Lin-Manuel Miranda is like a day without content, so clearly he needed to be a part of this moment—especially given his Sopranos cameo before Hamilton made him a household name.

Fresh off his stellar comeback via advertising, Macaulay Culkin got a perfect nickname from his Home Alone days:

You know what they say about Olive Garden. When you’re there, you’re…

Poor Jack Dorsey. He just wants to have some fun on his own platform, but even HBO can’t let him forget the global chorus of users asking for an “edit tweet” button. He seems to have taken it in stride, though, changing his display name to “Jackie No Edits.”

Personally, I probably laughed the hardest at this one for HBO’s own svp of digital and social, Sabrina Caluori:


Can you even call it an HBO party until Game of Thrones rides in on dragonback?

Why Its Hot: Brands playing with other brands in a cheeky continue to viral success.  Social media is about human interaction and tapping into emotions whether that be humor or outright snark (see Wendy’s).  If brands want to be on social media, they have to work to use the platforms like their consumers do.  Engaging other brands is an easy way to show a brand’s sense of humor…when done well.  HBO did a good job here, but when it comes to brands killing it on social media Wendy’s still holds the crown and no one is taking that away any time soon.

Amazon’s Free Sample Ad Strategy

Amazon is testing a program that partners with brands like Maybelline and Folgers to send free samples to potential buyers through Amazon’s delivery service – all based on what they know you’re likely to buy. 

While most of Amazon’s $5 billion ad revenue comes through targeted ads online, the company believes combining the free sample approach with customer data will provide “a higher conversion than display ads.” Analysts also predict the samples will create opportunities for Amazon to sell more of its own packaged goods and products.

How it works: the program uses machine learning based on Amazon’s customer data, samples of new products are selected and sent to certain customers. It will allow brands to put their products in the hands of the right customers and drive product awareness and conversion.

While some test subjects were perplexed after receiving targeted samples, a recent survey of 1.5k individuals found that only 33% were wary of their data being shared with 3rd parties. And with more than 100M Prime services subscribers, analysts believe this is a major breakthrough in its efforts to take on Google and Facebook’s ad dominance.

Why it’s hot: Free samples will become the new targeted ads which only strengthens Amazon’s position as a trusted delivery service. Amazon has the data and infrastructure to offer samples which could be even more effective than display ads on Facebook or search ads on Google. This in turn could result in increased revenue for Amazon and increased awareness and conversion for brands.


barclay’s saves you from yourself…

Just a few weeks ago, Barclay’s became the first big bank to give its customers unexpected control over their spending. Via Barclay’s app, you can now “switch off” your debit card so that it can’t be used for five specific types of purchases – gambling, “premium-rate websites and phone lines”, restaurants/pubs/bars, gas, and groceries. Once a type of purchase is switched off, any transaction you try with your card at the relevant type of retailer or business will be automatically declined. The idea is to try and help people manage their spending impulses, and is aimed particularly at those with mental health issues or addictions. But, it can also be used to protect yourself from others trying to make fraudulent charges, if you’re worried about that. Barclay’s says it will do the same for credit cards in the near future.

Why It’s Hot: 

It’s a bold move for a bank to offer its customers a way to not spend their own money, but it’s clearly aimed at helping people. Unexpected, and a great example of putting people over profits and thinking about the customer experience beyond just transacting with the bank itself. It’s only a halfway house, given that the feature is completely within each person’s control. But even the cue of having your card declined and having to go into the app to turn whatever type of purchase back on would likely make someone who can’t help themselves think twice.


Twitter Will Give You a New Way to Stream NBA Games

Starting on February 17th, Twitter will be live streaming NBA games–but only the second half, and only with an isolated view of one player. The interesting premise stems from existing second screen behavior. Instead of competing with fans who will watch the game on TV, Twitter wants to offer an interactive and complimentary experience.

During the first half of the game, fans can tweet to vote for which player they want to see in Twitter’s stream. Then, the “iso-cam” will stream on @NBAonTNT.

If the player selected happens to be benched or fouls out, the view will switch to a camera behind the backboard — still giving viewers a different perspective than what TNT will be airing on TV.

Why It’s Hot

This is a unique way to capitalize on the existing behavior of scrolling social media while watching sports. Twitter is giving people a reason to tune into their live stream to not miss out on the action that only they’ll be able to capture.


Advances to Phone Technology… Finally?

It’s 2019, Why Are We Stuck with Decades Old Tech?

Am I the only one who has wondered how it can be 2019 and fundamental call technology has not changed since the late 1990s. (VOIP was the last real technology and that rolled out to businesses in 1995, gaining widespread adoption a decade later.) Yet, those of us who live on conference calls for a living have remained largely overlooked — creating quite a few problems for workers who need their phones to be, uh, a phone.

Problem #1: The Conference Call Lag

Anyone who’s dialed into a conference call knows how stilted they sound. It’s because everyone’s communication is delayed to broadcast. While it’s not the 7 seconds you get on live radio and t.v., it’s long enough to disrupt the flow of normal conversation. When you don’t have the nonverbal cues you gain from seeing someone, these lags can kill the productivity of a conference call. I hypothesize this is the number one reason people tune out on conference calls — the lag that makes a stilted conversation.

Problem #2: Codes, Codes and More Codes

When we talk about friction in systems, conference codes and leader pins top the list. If you’re calling from your mobile, you need your mobile to see the code. Or if you happen to be lucky enough to have your computer in front of you, the code is usually buried at the bottom of an email, in print that is too fine to read. (Well, maybe that last part just relates to me.)

Problem #3: The Quagmire of Web Conferencing

So you want to host a web call so you can see your colleagues face to face. This will likely be your journey – download the proprietary software onto your computer and make sure it works before the web conference. Then at the time of the web conference, connect via web first, then get a code for the dial in or audio enablement. So. Many. Steps. Sure Google Hangout and Skype make things slightly easier, but they are primarily computer-based also (not mobile).

Relief on the Horizon?

In November of 2018, I posted my quandry about why we still needed conference call dial ins and codes when it seems that we should have advanced past that and one of my friends drew my attention to NetLines. NetLines is essentially an app that turns your smart phone into a conference call, business-doing, productivity machine.


Why It’s Hot

As I mentioned above, phone features of mobile (and other phones) have been ignored for two decades. It’s about time someone brought a lower friction solution to market. I’m just surprised they haven’t gotten more buzz about this.

Google Brings Amusement to CES

Taking event content marketing to another level, Google has built an amusement park style ride to promote its virtual assistant. Showing off their storytelling prowess, they have created a full arc with a beginning, middle, point of tension and end.

They built a two-story building right in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, and the ride takes up the entire upper floor. From the pre-ride line experience (complete with animatronic Grandma talking with guests in line), to a holding room that uses clever projections to tell a story (Don’t forget the cake for Grandma’s birthday party! Assistant can help!), to the ride itself… it’s just ridiculous. The work and engineering that went into this — and the quality of what they built for something that’ll only be here for a few days — is seriously absurd.


Why it’s hot: Getting noticed at tradeshows is not easy, especially at CES. Finding a creative, wow-factor solution to promoting an otherwise boring-to-demo product can get you the attention your brand is looking for.


Harley’s First Electric Motorcycle

Harley-Davidson announced that it will begin taking preorders for its highly anticipated electric motorcycle, LiveWire, this fall and expects to have them on the road IRL by August.

And, for all you rough-ridin’ traditionalists worried that going electric may strip your street cred, Harley-Davidson released some specs that may bring you peace as you roll into Nazareth and take a load off that fanny.

The LiveWire will rev from 0 to 60 in under 3.5 seconds, can travel 110 city miles on a single charge, and — for those who need that Harley rumble — will reportedly produce a “new signature sound.”

But it isn’t going to be cheap: The LiveWire’s list price starts at almost $30k, which is significantly more expensive than other electric motorcycles poppin’ wheelies into the market today.

For example, Zero (hailed as the “Tesla of motorcycles”), which starts north of $10k and has seen a compounded annual growth rate of about 40% each year since it hit the road in 2006.

The motorcycle industry as a whole has struggled since the recession but, as emission standards change, demand for alternative transportation is expected to increase — hence H-D’s push into EV.

But it’s not just Harley. The moto market as a whole is accelerating, expected to grow nearly 42% by 2021, with around 40m units projected to be sold by 2023.

Why it’s hot?

With a US sales drop of 13.3% and an inability to attract the attention of young customers, Harley decided to add an new layer to its brand identity. Focusing on a environmentally conscience audience they are hoping to replicate the success of Tesla by becoming the manufacturer of the latest “cool” electric vehicle.

Jordanian Airlines ups the sarcasm, succeeds bigly

Royal Jordanian Airlines came up with a campaign ahead of the 2016 election encouraging their Muslim travelers to “Travel to the U.S. While You’re Still Allowed To,” in response to Trump’s proposed travel ban on Muslims. It was just supposed to be a clever ad, but it turned out to be prophetic.

Why It’s Hot

The tag line obviously resonated with a cynical population that probably believed that he would win more than the average American voter. It is truth well told.

Barclays customers can now ‘switch off’ spending

A bank is helping it’s customers not spend money, yes you heard correctly. British Bank, Barclays is allowing its customers to manage their spending at certain venues to help them save money rather spend it.

How does it work?

Customers are not able to block specific retailers, but instead can decide which categories of spending are allowed.

These are:

  • Groceries and supermarkets
  • Restaurants, takeaways, pubs and bars
  • Petrol stations
  • Gambling – including websites, betting shops and lottery tickets
  • Premium rate websites and phone lines, including TV voting, competitions and adult services

Customers who want to select any of the categories above can do so via the Barclays app (see below). However, they will need to download the latest version of it.


Why it’s hot? 

A brand, specifically a bank, is using digital to fix a true customer pain point such as exorbitant debt and gambling/shopping addiction. Why does this make sense from a business perspective? Retention, loyalty, and trust. Three things that brands are fighting for everyday and spending tons of money on by digitally transforming themselves to learn more about the customer and deliver value. Barclays is doing just that – delivering value that matters to their customer.

Uber Self Driving Cars Return

Eight months after one of Uber’s self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian, the ride-hailing company is close to putting its autonomous vehicles back on the road in a drastically reduced version of earlier efforts. Uber was driving its autonomous vehicles on public roads in four cities — sometimes at night — at speeds as high as 55 miles an hour when testing was halted after the accident. Starting within a few weeks, it plans to run the vehicles on a mile loop between two company offices in Pittsburgh. They won’t operate at night or in wet weather, and they won’t exceed 25 m.p.h.

But even as the company has lowered expectations, its autonomous car technology has faced considerable issues. The cars have reacted more slowly than human drivers and struggled to pass so-called track validation tests, the last step before returning to city streets, according to a dozen Uber documents and emails as well as interviews with seven current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly about the company. The scaled-down street testing would be a humble return for a cutting-edge effort that Uber’s executives once considered a key to its prosperity.

While Uber is growing fast and is expected to make its debut on Wall Street next year, it is wildly unprofitable. The company lost $1 billion in its most recent quarter.

In conjunction with Uber’s request to resume testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, Uber also published a safety report, a letter on safety from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and a summary of internal and external safety reviews. Uber also linked to the full 56-page external safety review completed by the law firm LeClairRyan.

Self-driving cars were supposed to help cut Uber’s losses by eliminating the need for drivers, perhaps the company’s biggest expense. But expectations were well ahead of the technology.

While Uber’s cars have been off the streets, its competitors have pushed ahead with similar projects.

Google’s autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo, started a driverless ride-hailing service in Arizona on Wednesday. Another contender, Lyft, started a robotic ride-hailing service in Las Vegas this year with the manufacturer Aptiv. General Motors acquired the self-driving start-up Cruise in 2016, has since netted major investments from SoftBank and Honda, and has been testing the vehicles in San Francisco and other locations.

Why its hot: Once fully implemented the self driving cars will be the key to Ubers profitability while eliminating a vital source of income for countless drivers.

The Top 10 Fake News Stories on Facebook in 2018

Facebook is working hard to eliminate fake news on its site, but these were the top fake news stories from 2018 according to engagements. Some of these are obvious nonsense and their humor probably aided their virality, but fake news is still and issue. It’s surprising that more serious, yet fake stories, weren’t among the top.

BuzzFeed News recently examined the biggest fake news stories which gained traction on The Social Network in 2018. According to BuzzFeed’s report, the top 50 fake news stories on Facebook generated around 22 million total shares, reactions, and comments for the year, which is 7% fewer than the 23.5 million engagements generated by to top 50 Facebook fake posts of 2017, and slightly more than the 21.5 million engagements for fake reports on the platform in 2016.

Foldable Phones Coming in 2019

Consumers wanting the absolute latest and greatest in smartphone technology may find Samsung’s foldable phone appealing. The company has been talking about the device for years and finally showed off a prototype in November. It uses a new display technology called Infinity Flex Display that lets you repeatedly open and close the device without screen degradation.

The device will be a compact smartphone when closed and a more expansive tablet when fully opened. Apps will seamlessly transition between the display sizes, letting you pick up on the tablet where you left off on the smartphone. And you’ll be able to use three active apps on the bigger display.

The first version of the Galaxy X/F will probably be sold in small quantities as Samsung perfects the user experience and app developers come on board. The device won’t come cheap. Samsung may view foldables as the future of the mobile market, but it still has to give us a reason to view the device as more than a gimmick.

Why it’s hot: If it does in fact come in 2019, the next 5 to 10 years will see shifts in how advertising is delivered across these dual phone-tablet devices.

Doctor Influencers or Un-certified Hazards

Doctor Influencers or Uncertified Hazards There’s a rising trend in Instagram star plastic surgeons. They go by names like “Dr. Miami” and “Dr. BeFixnIt”. Their streams are covered in before and after shots and videos of the surgeries, they are performing. They even host Q&As, drawing questions from their pool of followers.

People are loving it, especially the doctors who are seeing a huge increase in the number of new patients referred by social.

“It’s a trend that has gone fully global. Just searching through the #plasticsurgery hashtag on Instagram will take you into an operating room on nearly every continent.”

Patients have consented to have their surgeries filmed, but what these doctors are increasingly seeing are others using their videos and photos as proof of their own work.

“Social media is inherently unregulated like the Wild West,” she said, and “it’s hard to know what’s real,” says Dr. Lara Degvan who has herself found images of her patients and work posted on other less qualified doctors pages.

“A 2017 study found that when searching one day’s worth of Instagram posts using popular hashtags—only 18% of top posts were authored by board-certified surgeons, and medical doctors who are not board certified made up another 26%.”

Why it’s hot: when working with brands, we must keep in mind that parsing who’s legitimate and who’s not from a social media profile is incredibly difficult for consumers.



I’m Just Here For the WiFi

The New York Times reports that hotels are evolving past outdated ‘business centers’ and are moving to create more co-working spaces in the lobbies. Various hotel chains are revamping their lobbies and featuring free wi-fi and bathrooms in order to appeal to a more dynamic, digital clientele.

Hotels are starting to create lobbies and common spaces that are a designation for not only guests, but also locals. The hotel lobbies act as community gathering spaces with long tables, snacks and coffee from noon to 4am. Marriott has 80 locations in the works for its hotel brand created in 2013, Moxy, which features larger common spaces and “cozier” guest rooms. They don’t have a front desk, and require you to check in at the bar for your key & complimentary drink. Sheraton has also invested in overhauling 450 of its current lobbies to include “productivity tables,” equipped with outlets, USB ports, and drawers that users can rent and lock. They will also feature private phone booths and meeting rooms available for rent.

This trend is in part a response to the rise of co-working spaces like WeWork. WeWork is trying to catch up and capitalize on the trend with WeLive, a line of fully furnished short-term apartments in NYC and DC, available for short-term basis rentals.

One Amsterdam hotel founder calls the category a hybrid between a home and office with hotel services – almost like a mix between Airbnb and WeWork. The benefit for hotels is that the more locals they attract, the more genuine and authentic experiences will feel.

Why it’s hot: For freelancers and people working remote, this emerging hotel trend means there will be a larger, trendier selection of free co-working spaces available. For travelers, it means more options that working in a quiet hotel room or renting a cold conference room for collaborative work sessions. For hotels, it means more revenue as locals stream in for coffee or lunch. Win-win-win.