Turning the camera on Big Brother

NYTimes is analyzing the music used by candidates at their rallies. Music is a powerful emotional signal, transmitting a message deep into the emotional brain where we feel connection. So, it is helpful to know how candidates are using this psychological messaging tool to reach voters.

Extrapolating meaning from data sets, such as song tracks used in political campaigns, can bring to light information that would otherwise not emerge. The growing trend of using big data to help us understand and manipulate the world may be coming more into the hands of the public.

Why it’s hot: Knowledge is power. Whoever has the data and the processing power, has the knowledge and can learn things about the world that no one would have discovered otherwise. Primarily this power has been with brands and governments. But what if more of that power came into the hands of the people? This article points to a possible future where open-source data mining could help us learn things about governments and companies that could level the playing field in the war over territory in our collective consciousness.

If big data was in the hands of the people, what would we do with it? How would it effect our relationship with brands and products.

Source: NYTimes

Service connects tourists with locals for real-time advice in South Korea

Launched in July 2019, the Sidekick platform lets tourists visiting South Korea chat with locals and receive help and recommendations in real-time. It works with a user’s live chat platform of choice (LINE, WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat) and provides access to local ‘sidekicks’, who provide tips on restaurants, shopping, etiquette and culture. Tourists are connected with either Korean, English or Japanese speakers who are available from 7 am to 5 pm. The service can be purchased as a one-day, three-day or five-day pass and prices start at USD 20.

Why it’s hot:

  • This points to the future of travel moving away from typical “touristy” things to more bespoke and personalized experiences.
  • It’s a media or channel evolution: From travel guides to channels to blogs to Youtube videos (10 best things to do in X city) to social media travel influencers – to a real time chat service that let’s you live like a local.
  • It also lets you navigate and move around confidently in a country where you aren’t familiar with the language and/or culture.

Source: Trendwatching

Good deals come to those who haggle with a bot


Flipkart, India’s biggest ecommerce retailer, created a voice-based experience enabling customers to haggle for a better deal.

Flipkart gave its online shopping experience a more traditional touch with Hagglebot, which used Google Assistant’s voice technology. When Flipkart shoppers used Google Assistant it encouraged them haggle down the prices of products using their voice.

Flipkart launched several limited-edition products available exclusively via the Hagglebot during its sales promotion. Each day, it released two new products during the sale and crowned the shopper who drove the hardest bargain the ‘Boss’. Whatever deal the ‘Boss’ secured then became the official Flipkart price of that product.

The Hagglebot was created with Google Zoo, the creative think-tank for agencies and brands. Before building the experience the team travelled to thirty bazaars across three cities to identify different bargaining strategies that were commonly used and then simulated them on Hagglebot. The Hagglebot worked with all devices that support Google Assistant, including Android and iOS phones, as well as the Google Home speaker.

Flipkart’s total sales revenue through products offered on Hagglebot reached $12.23m. The experience also had an average engagement time of 6 min 5 seconds, 200 times the average Google Assistant engagement rate, making it Google Assistant’s most engaging experience to date.

Why it’s hot?
A great way to enable adoption of voice technology by merging it with a deep rooted cultural behaviour
In India, the Hagglebot builds on existing cultural behaviour. Bargaining is a deep-rooted part of Indian culture. The Hagglebot humanised transactions to make its Indian consumers feel more at home when purchasing online and, in doing so, bridged the divide between old traditions and new digital experiences.

 

Source: Contagious

Move Over, Alexa

Voice command devices, like Alexa and Siri, enable humans to engage, operate, and interact with technology thanks to the power of voice, but these technologies fail to account for the voiceless among us. Many people— including those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, paralysis, or traumatic brain injuries— are unable to take advantage of such voice-user interface (VUI) devices. That’s where Facebook Reality Labs (FBR) comes in.

Image result for brain computer interface facebook

FBR has partnered with neuroscience professionals at UCSF to give a voice back to the voiceless by attempting to create the first non-invasive, wearable brain-computer interface (BCI) device for speech. This device would marry “the hands-free convenience and speed of voice with the discreteness of typing.” Although BCI technology is not new, the creation of BCI technology capable of converting imagined speech into text, without requiring implanted electrodes, would be.

Image result for brain computer interface gif

In a recently successful—albeit limited—study, UCSF researchers demonstrated that brain activity (recorded while people speak) could be used to decode what people were saying into text on a computer screen in real-time. However, at this time, the algorithm can only decode a small set of words.

Although promising, such results are preliminary, and researchers have a long way to go until the power of this silent speech interface technology can be harnessed non-invasively and in wearable form. What is more, researchers believe this BCI technology “could one day be a powerful input for all-day wearable [augmented reality (AR)] glasses.”

Why it’s hot

Such a radical innovation would not only help those who can’t speak, it could alter how all people interact with today’s digital devices.

Sourcehttps://tech.fb.com

Print Gets Targeted

Hearst is beginning to roll out MagMatch, a service that translates online behaviors into targeted print ads.

By tracking what readers are doing online, MagMatch will allow Hearst to create personalized ads for subscribers of its magazines. For example, if a Marie Claire subscriber’s online behaviors (searching, reading, clicking on ‘buy’ buttons) suggest an interest in a particular beauty product, Hearst could work with the brand of that product to deliver a targeted ad that appears in that reader’s next issue of Marie Claire.

For subscribed readers, that could look like an ad that addresses them by their name, which is the route that skincare company StriVectin took in the latest issue of Elle as the first brand to buy into the ad offering. The ad (shown above) includes a brief message from Elle and is addressed to the magazine subscriber alongside a picture of StriVectin spokeswoman Lauren Hutton.

Subscribers don’t even need to be logged onto the magazines’ sites for Hearst to capture their first-party data: the company anonymously matches their behavior using third parties.

Why it’s Hot:

Print has come under fire for its lack of targeting capabilities for decades, but will this new tool be enough? While it’s undeniably a step up from the print of the past, these new ads can only be targeted to subscribers, which is a dwindling community. Plus, the extensive lead time for print means people could be served ads for a product they were looking at months prior. For new product releases in specific categories (ex. beauty), however, this tool could be helpful.

Source: Contagious, Adweek

 

The Ethical Tightrope of Targeted Ads

I’m one of three people on MRM’s Programmatic team. Not a lot of people understand exactly what we do or how we do it, but usually what I tell people who ask is:

You know how you’ll have a dream about a specific product and then you wake up and see an ad for it? It’s my job to show you that ad.

On the Programmatic team we build campaigns with very specific parameters set to buy ad space on websites all across the internet, in real-time, without the need for setting up  private deals with those publishers. We utilize audience data (which we get from Google and about a million other data providers) to find the people most likely to engage with our clients’ ads. So, for the GRE we’ll target recent grads, webpages that contain the word “MBA” or “Career” (and thousands of related keywords), etc. For Latuda, we may want to target people who are up late at night playing video games and eating food, as these activities can go hand-in-hand with bipolar depression.

It gets much more granular than that “in the field.” This infinite complexity creates a gap between the Programmatic traders and the people seeing the ads. The general public doesn’t fully understand why they’re seeing ads that are so damn relevant to them, and that’s no accident. While we on the Programmatic team use our powers for good, it’s easy to abuse. As uncovered in the investigation into Russian election hacking, we know that Russia went and used programmatic channels to target very specific demographics and show them what’s essentially propaganda disguised as ads and Facebook posts. This helped weaken some centrists’ more liberal views and strengthen most conservative viewpoints to sway voters toward the right. This isn’t all they did, but this is what’s pertinent to this article.

To shrink this gap in understanding between the advertiser and the consumer (and thereby increase people’s understanding of what data is collected), the New York Times bought their own audience lists and served ads to people all over the internet. Not to get them to subscribe to NYTimes.com, but also to show them what kind of data is out there on you and me. The Times’ ads looked like this:

Image result for nyt this ad thinks

The live ads don’t have the blue text at the bottom, but that is there to show how we use disparate data points to uncover larger psychological and sociological trends. The ads can get even more drilled down, like this one:

Image result for nyt targeted ads

Each of these blue explanations is derived from audience data that’s bought and sold billions of times every day on the Open Exchange, which can be thought of like eBay for ads all over the internet. New York Times bought ad space and audience data from data providers like Acxiom (owned by our own parent company IPG). Here’s an example of what Acxiom (and your friendly neighborhood Programmatic team) does:

Acxiom…makes predictions by comparing specific people to a much larger group. For example, it might predict whether you’ll buy an S.U.V. by looking at people who did buy S.U.V.s, then checking whether you live in a similar region, or whether you’re around the same age and share similar interests. If you’re similar, they’ll put you in a bucket that says you’re highly likely to buy an S.U.V.

For us, a lot of that highly personal audience data is anonymized (so no, I don’t know if you personally are about to buy an SUV even though I can show you SUV ads).

In the title, I refer to my own industry, and indeed my own job, as an “ethical tightrope.” The reason behind this is what makes this subject so hot. At MRM we use our data to inspire people to get their Master’s degrees (GRE), come to America (TOEFL), get life insurance (AAA), and improve their mental health (Latuda). We target people who can be helped best by our ads not just because it makes our KPIs look better, but because that’s the entire point of advertising; showing people how they can improve their lives. What NYTimes did that’s so hot is show the public how easily we can find out personal information about them based on seemingly innocuous points of data. And that this is just the beginning.

You might not be able to fully stop publishers from getting your data, but at least you know a little more of how it works, and why Programmatic is set to become a $69 billion industry by next year.Image result for programmatic ad spend over time

If that’s not hot as hell, I don’t know what is!

//

Source

Apple and New Museum launch AR art tours

A new way for people to experience the city!

A new way for artists to engage the public!

A new way to think about experiencing space!

Brought to you by Apple! Apple’s brand and value proposition permeates this entire experience.

Why it’s hot

Apple is positioning itself as a brand that can bring a new magical realm to life. As we work out the ways in which AR will play a role in our lives, this project sells AR in a surprising and fun way, perhaps warming people up to the idea that a life lived with a layer of AR mapped over the physical world would be desirable.

Source: Dezeen

Make getting drunk great again

British data science company DataSparQ has developed facial recognition-based AI technology to prevent entitled bros from cutting the line at bars. This “technology puts customers in an ‘intelligently virtual’ queue, letting bar staff know who really was next” and who’s cutting the line.

“The system works by displaying a live video of everyone queuing on a screen above the bar. A number appears above each customer’s head — which represents their place in the queue — and gives them an estimated wait time until they get served. Bar staff will know exactly who’s next, helping bars and pubs to maximise their ordering efficiency and to keep the drinks flowing.”

Story on Endgadet

Why it’s Hot

Using AI to help solve these types of trifling irritations is better than having to tolerate other people’s sense of entitlement, though it also highlights the need to police rude behavior through something other than raising your kids well.

Don’t hold the phone

Soli Pixel 4 Sensors

For the past five years, our Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) has been working on Soli, a motion-sensing radar. Radar, of course, is the same technology that has been used for decades to detect planes and other large objects. We’ve developed a miniature version located at the top of Pixel 4 that senses small motions around the phone, combining unique software algorithms with the advanced hardware sensor, so it can recognize gestures and detect when you’re nearby.

Pixel 4 will be the first device with Soli, powering our new Motion Sense features to allow you to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls, just by waving your hand. These capabilities are just the start, and just as Pixels get better over time, Motion Sense will evolve as well.

Why it’s hot?
The beginning of the end of touchy feely devices.
How can we bring the insights that inspire our teams to create ideas using project soli?

 

Smart Diapers – it’s about more than just poop!

Pampers has announced a new product called Lumi by Pampers, a “connected care system” to monitor your baby. The package includes a special “smart” diaper, which tracks your baby’s pee and sleep patterns, a mobile app, and Logitech video monitor. The one thing it doesn’t track? Poop.

Introducing the world's first all-in-one Connected Care System

Pricing has yet to be announced, but as a disposable product, they’re likely to become expensive. The bigger question is why, especially since this tracker tracks everything except your child’s poop patterns. This is a bigger trend in the diaper and baby industry overall. Getting “smart” keeps companies and products relevant and as people are starting families later and having fewer babies, Pampers, and other big diaper brands (Huggies) are trying to maintain their bottom lines.

Why it’s hot:

In addition to the “smart” revolution in which we’re currently in the midst, these types of innovations and new utilities don’t always come naturally to every brand. It’s interesting to see how the diaper industry is trying to find its way. We’re also seeing this challenge on Enfamil, which is trying to partner with companies to show their commitment to both babies and moms — while not every baby needs this type of monitoring, it could be an interesting partnership opportunity for the brand.

Article source: Mashable
Additional product links: Pampers

Burger King Sweden: Meat Roulette

Burger King Sweden recently released two plant-based burgers, the Rebel Whopper and Rebel Chicken King.

To introduce the burgers, and to show customers that plant-based burgers make convincing meat substitutes, the food retailer created 50/50 Menu. Customers who order a Whopper or Crispy Chicken Burger from the 50/50 Menu could instead receive the Rebel Whopper and Rebel Chicken King. Customers can then guess if they are eating a plant or meat-based burger, and they can find out if they have guessed correctly by scanning the box using the Burger King app. There is no reward for guessing correctly, but the 50/50 Menu is cheaper.

Since the campaign (which lasts three weeks) launched on Monday, July 7th, 60% of customers have guessed correctly and 40% have been unable to tell the difference.

Why it’s Hot: 

As the conversation around plant-based meat substitutes continues to grow, Burger King’s activation successfully answers one of skeptics’ main concerns: do they actually taste good? The activation’s challenge-style approach and simple tech integration make trying plant-based burgers fun, even for those who aren’t on the plant-based bandwagon.

Source

A monkey has been able to control a computer with his brain


Neuralink graphic
N1 sensor.
The N1 array in action.

Neuralink, the Elon Musk-led startup that the multi-entrepreneur founded in 2017, is working on technology that’s based around “threads,” which it says can be implanted in human brains with much less potential impact to the surrounding brain tissue versus what’s currently used for today’s brain-computer interfaces. “Most people don’t realize, we can solve that with a chip,” Musk said to kick off Neuralink’s event, talking about some of the brain disorders and issues the company hopes to solve.

Musk also said that, long-term, Neuralink really is about figuring out a way to “achieve a sort of symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” He went on to say, “This is not a mandatory thing. This is something you can choose to have if you want.”

For now, however, the aim is medical, and the plan is to use a robot that Neuralink has created that operates somewhat like a “sewing machine” to implant this threads, which are incredibly thin (like, between 4 and 6 μm, which means about one-third the diameter of the thinnest human hair), deep within a person’s brain tissue, where it will be capable of performing both read and write operations at very high data volume.

These probes are incredibly fine, and far too small to insert by human hand. Neuralink has developed a robot that can stitch the probes in through an incision. It’s initially cut to two millimeters, then dilated to eight millimeters, placed in and then glued shut. The surgery can take less than an hour.

No wires poking out of your head
It uses an iPhone app to interface with the neural link, using a simple interface to train people how to use the link. It basically bluetooths to your phone,” Musk said.

Is there going to be a brain app store ? Will we have ads in our brain?
“Conceivably there could be some kind of app store thing in the future,” Musk said. While ads on phones are mildly annoying, ads in the brain could be a disaster waiting to happen.

Why it’s hot?
A.I.: you won’t be able to beat it, so join it
Interfacing our brains with machines may save us from an artificial intelligence doomsday scenario. According to Elon Musk, if we want to avoid becoming the equivalent of primates in an AI-dominated world, connecting our minds to computing capabilities is a solution that needs to be explored.

“This is going to sound pretty weird, but [we want to] achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence,” Musk said. “This is not a mandatory thing! This is a thing that you can choose to have if you want. I think this is going to be something really important at a civilization-scale level. I’ve said a lot about A.I. over the years, but I think even in a benign A.I. scenario we will be left behind.”

Think about the kind of “straight from the brain data” we would have at our disposal and how will we use it?

 

 

Facebook announces new cryptocurrency

This week, Facebook revealed their plan to create Calibra, an alternative financial services system that will rely on Libra, its own cryptocurrency powered by blockchain technology. Facebook is planning to launch Calibra’s first product by the first half of 2020 – a digital wallet app that will also be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, allowing users to buy things and send money.

But how will this work? In a nutshell, people will be able to cash in local currency at local exchange points, get Libra, spend it like its normal money (but without high transaction fees or their identity), and then cash out whenever they want.

To protect users’ privacy, Calibra will handle all crypto dealings and store payments data. As a result, users’ data from Libra payments will never mix with their Facebook data and will not be used for ad targeting.

According to Facebook, Libra is meant to address the challenges of global financial services and promote financial inclusion. For example, today about 1.7 billion adults remain without access to a bank account and $50 billion are lost annually  due to exploitative remittance service charges. With Libra, people will be able to send and receive money at low to no cost, small businesses will be able to accept digital payments without credit card fees, and overall financial services will be more accessible.

However, despite these potential benefits, Facebook’s venture into the financial services industry has raised some concerns. People are questioning Facebook’s motives as well as the usefulness, stability and transparency of cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, given Facebook’s troubled history with privacy breaches, its commitment to protecting user-data and privacy is under scrutiny.

Why it’s hot: 

This is the first time a “mainstream” company attempts to get involved in the world of cryptocurrencies and, if all goes to plan, this new digital currency could fundamentally change global financial systems forever.

Sources: FacebookTechCrunch

Purina Street Campaign Tests Dogs’ Urine To Assess Health

Pet product brand Purina knows how much pet owners love their furry friends, and wants to encourage routine vet visits. Accordingly, its latest campaign in France involves an outdoor billboard that can check a dog’s health via its urine.

Special billboards use pheromones to attract dogs to urinate on them, and then will run the sample through several tests to tell the owner the results. The tests look specifically for four common problems— diabetes, kidney issues, urinary infection or cholesterol. The results even recommend a particular Purina diet or to take the dog to the vet’s office for a checkup.

The goal is not just to make sure people’s pets are healthy, but also to encourage customers to associate Purina with health and wellness for their pups. “Purina’s objective is to provide simple and efficient solutions to improve the wellness of our pets. We wanted to raise awareness on the importance of veterinary checkups, but also to offer a solution that fits in the daily lives of pet owners—the daily walk on the street or in the park,” Véronique Herman, marketing manager specialist at Nestlé Purina Pet Care, says in a statement.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot: 

A good way to show a brand’s dedication a a broader cause for it’s audience, as well as execute on more innovation OOH marketing.

 

Wearables & Augmented Reality: Your New Workstation

By Brian Lee

Unless you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the ocean, you probably remember Google Glass, the sleek, futuristic looking smart glasses that Google released back in 2013. While it wasn’t the first piece of wearable smart technology, it was the most significant product announcement in the space for multiple reasons. At the time wearable tech was not as ubiquitous as it is today. Google was a $250 billion company and by far the biggest name to release a product of this type. And yet, with all the hype, fanfare, and the Google branding, the product failed to catch on with the world as hoped.

While Google Glass did a great job in stimulating the imagination with all of its potential applications, there was no stated purpose. Finding the demand or a problem in the world should be a prerequisite to developing the product that solves that problem, not the other way around. It was unclear whether this product would be best served for enterprise users, or if this was a consumer product, aimed at making the day-to-day of users’ lives easier. Rather, it was a hotbed of ideas without proper execution.. Or maybe it was the $1,500 price tag. Maybe it was too futuristic. Looking back, they were simply a pair of glasses that lacked vision.

Why it’s Hot

Google Glass was discontinued in 2015, reborn in 2017 as an enterprise solution, and earlier this week, the latest version was announced as Glass Enterprise Edition 2. With a price tag of $999, it becomes the latest product in an increasingly digital world where businesses are adopting smart technology and AR solutions to market to their customers, as well as to enhance their workplace efficiency, innovation, and collaboration.

Currently, the benefits of augmented reality and smart technology in the workplace are most evident in industries where manufacturing, production, and design are key functions. Healthcare is also a field where AR technology is being applied. Companies in these fields are well in the process of adopting and implementing this technology. However, the benefits and the incremental efficiencies of using such tools are not as clear for the corporate desk warriors that many of us here at MRM are. With more companies adopting tools like Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens (Microsoft’s AR headset), it’ll be interesting to see all the applications that become preferred solutions and how we could apply those to the work that we do as a digital creative agency.

Imagine being able to use an AR headset for analyzing and visualizing massive data sets, being able to see more rows of a spreadsheet than what a screen limits you to, or projecting charts in front of you and walking around it like the guys below (as an analyst, I chose to use spreadsheets and charts as examples, but you can think of your own applications.. journey maps, creative concepts, Gantt charts, etc).

And yes, the guys above are looking at a city not a chart, but if you think about it, city skylines and bar charts are basically the same thing.

These tools already exist. They’re not mainstream yet, because laptops are still the preferred work machines of choice, but when the eventual shift happens, it’ll fundamentally change how we do things. From collaboration to efficiency, to how we present to our clients, it opens up a whole new set of tools for the world to learn and become experts at. Before you know it, working on laptops and monitors will be as antiquated as pen and paper. This will be the new normal, so prepare yourselves accordingly.

Sources/further reading:

https://9to5google.com/2019/05/20/glass-enterprise-edition-2-launch/

https://mytechdecisions.com/unified-communications/augmented-reality-in-the-workplace/

https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/20/google-glass-enterprise-edition-2-levels-up-with-qualcomms-xr1-and-smith-frames/

Can you own your data?

The question is interesting and one that carries a number of issues and questions. In the U.S. marketers are hungry for the best data – the mantra of delivering the best message to the right target at the right time is contingent on what data we can leverage at the individual level. Today we have very good access to data for targeting and messaging, and it’s getting better every day. Companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are at the forefront (or rather the store front) of that data revolution and are commanding robust ad revenue as a result.

Everything from what you…

  • Like on Instagram
  • Search on Google
  • Check in on Facebook
  • Post on Twitter
  • Tell Alexa
  • Buy on Amazon
  • And more!

…can be used to ascertain your tastes and interest in products and services.

But with the privacy and trust concerns from recent snafus (i.e. Facebook), consumers are wondering how best to protect their data. Some are even pondering if there’s value in “owning” their personal data. But how? We don’t own the databases. We’ve already checked off on the privacy policy and kissing our data away…right?

At least one company is tackling the issue: https://hu-manity.co/

Hu-manity is hoping for a critical mass of users to claim data and set choices. If willing to share data, the app would allow users to reap monetary rewards.

“With the #My31 App consumers can claim a property interest on inherent human data, consent for privacy, authorize for permitted use, and elect for compensation if desired.”

Why it’s hot

If this catches on, it will undoubtedly do two main things: 1. Make data less accessible (and less timely), and 2. Make data more expensive. Marketers may end up depending more on statistical models based on limited data to reach the target audiences.

In an era where marketers have great access to data are becoming even more data-driven, we need to account for a future where greater restrictions and limitations may be put in place.

 

Other Companies:

https://datum.org/https://wibson.org/

Further Reading:

https://bryanjohnson.co/your-data-is-your-property/

https://medium.com/hub-of-all-things/can-you-own-your-data-8a185976ea7d

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612588/its-time-for-a-bill-of-data-rights/

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20180921-can-you-make-money-selling-your-data

Podcasts: The New Wild West

The IAB expects podcast advertising to exceed $500 million in 2019, which represents growth of about 65% in just two years. It’s a fast growing medium with limited standardization where only a small handful of categories have had ongoing success.

Part of podcasts’ allure (to brands) is the quality of its core demographics, which skew ages 25 to 40 with higher income levels and education. This is often an audience that’s tough to reach and they’re not typically watching a lot of TV.

The other allure is credibility. Most listeners are highly engaged when tuned into a podcast and usually don’t mind hearing ads. Ads tend to be kept to a minimum and are relevant to the program’s content, often via host-read ads. Trust and brand recall for podcast ads is also high when compared with other ad formats.

Based on data from nearly 50 custom studies Nielsen has conducted over the last 18 months, podcast advertising has demonstrated that it can move the needle on many important key metrics like awareness, ad recall, affinity, recommendation and purchase intent.

US Podcast Penetration

Podcast Ad Effectiveness

Why Its Hot?

The podcast advertising market in the US is poised for strong continued growth in listenership and ad dollars, but without meaningfully addressing current friction points, it might remain a niche advertising vehicle primarily suited to direct-response advertisers in the near term.

The ability for sellers and buyers to talk the same language is holding back the value proposition for brands more than anything else. There is a question of scale and fragmentation still – with only a few programs reaching the masses and many more reaching only smaller, niche audiences at far less frequent intervals than other media.

Newspapers existed before the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Radio existed before Arbitron, TV existed before Nielsen and the internet existed well before the IAB and comScore.  Podcasts are still living in this dawn of pre-standardization and governance, and how downloads and audience size is measured from one show or network to another is varied, making it harder for larger brands to execute – and measure – any meaningful effort.  Anyone want to start up an independent 3rd-party measurement company?

sources:

https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2019/how-podcast-advertising-measures-up.html

https://content-na1.emarketer.com/podcast-advertising-2018?li=1

Microsoft’s New Surface Hub 2 Will Revolutionize Agency Work

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gifLast week Microsoft announced their latest attempt to change agency teamwork forever, and they call this attempt the Surface Hub 2.

They’re branding it as an “interactive whiteboard for business.”

Imagine you’re about to present in a meeting, and in the room with you is ten people and a 50-inch easel with a touchscreen. You scan your fingerprint on the side of the Hub, it recognizes you, and logs you in. Suddenly, everything you just saw at your desk pops up right there on the Hub. You go through your presentation, and someone from the Creative team walks in with their Hub and pushes it next to yours. Now you have an even bigger screen, where you can collaborate seamlessly. Something like this…

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

This is Microsoft’s dream. They want collaboration in environments like ours to be seamless. The Hub 2S (which launches in June) is aimed at business, not end consumers like you and me. This thing is meant to be bought in bulk by agencies like MRM to help the disparate departments come together and collaborate easier than ever before.

Why It’s Hot

This is hot because it innovates on something we all take for granted. This proves hardware like the Hub 2 can disrupt the agency status quo and bring a sense of experimentation and exploration into the agency’s culture. And that’s something we at MRM can’t get enough of.

Image result for microsoft surface hub 2 gif

If done correctly, Microsoft could be onto something. These devices could do wonders for the work we do. Or, if Microsoft half-asses the experience, or agencies can’t justify owning ten of these at $9,000 per unit, this could flop. Hard.

But their intention, to upgrade and streamline how we all do what we all do, is a damn good one.

Source: https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-surface-hub-2

#PRN

An actually engaging banner ad? I’m all ears.

Last week I was Googling some movies to watch. I clicked on a search result that led me to IMDB. To my surprise, I was greeted by Dumbo, who flew around my screen overtop of the content I was trying to view. After falling out of frame, he reappeared in what seemed to be a static banner on the side.

What did I just witness? Did I just see an elephant fly? It was unexpected. It was irrelevant. But it was kinda cool. I then proceeded to engage with the banner, wondering if Dumbo knew any more tricks. After clicking on the “watch video” button, Dumbo came back to life, flew out of the ad and back across my screen, leaving behind a pop-up of the trailer.

Sorry, no video—I took one on my phone but it was too large to upload. Hoping to share live.

Why it’s hot:

Upon closer inspection, this AR-like experience was nothing more than a cleverly placed pop-up that interacted with another cleverly placed banner ad. And although this technology is nothing new, it got my attention. In fact, this is probably the first time I intentionally clicked on a banner…ever? Let alone the first time I engaged with a banner that had nothing to do with the content I was viewing, or even anything I was remotely interested in. It was a smart idea with smart execution, which led to a click. What more could you ask for?

I’ve been returning to IMDB to see if there were any other cool ads like this. So far there haven’t been, although there was a somewhat similar pop-up for the Lion King, but it wasn’t nearly as innovative.

Ultimately, I believe this experience can best be summarized by the words of a particularly talented murder of musical crows:

But I be done seen ’bout ev’rything
When I see a elephant fly

Keurig of Cocktails or Juicero of Cocktails?

Drinkworks Keurig for Cocktails 6

Drinkworks, a joint venture between Keurig and Anheuser-Busch transforms pods of distilled cocktails into single-serve drinks such as gin and tonics, Mai Tais and Old Fashioned. It’s price point, $399, reminds us of the now infamous Jiucero’s price, not cheap.

Cocktail culture is thriving in the US as more and more Americans ditch beer and the industry giants are ready to play in the field. Each capsule will spout out a single-serve drink and act as an automated bartender for cocktail lovers and home entertainers alike.

“You can get a cocktail in a can, but it’s not the same experience,” Drinkworks CMO Val Toothman told Business Insider. “Cocktails … are a culture. It’s an experience. You want something crafted, freshly made.”

 

 

Why it’s hot: Pod machines are under more scrutiny since the Juicero scandal and companies have to bring a real products that really innovate to solve real needs to market.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/keurig-cocktails-drinkworks-makes-cocktails-from-pods-2019-3#each-sleeve-contains-four-pods-each-cocktail-pod-costs-399-with-beer-which-we-didnt-test-costing-225-per-pod-3

The AI Judge holds a digital gavel: can you trust them?

So, you have a small claims court 8K law suit against a neighbor. The verdict? In Estonia, it could be “guilty” from an A.I. judge.

AI and Justice is a subject discussed from the most recent WIRED magazine: In Estonia, the 28-year-old chief of data sciences for Finland’s government, believes AI can make all aspects of government run more efficiently – to the benefit of saving money and serving citizens better. But while we hear about all sorts of efficiency applications of algorithms and AI, Mr. Verberg has a new challenge: he was asked to create a “robot judge” to handle small claims court backlog.

Why is this hot? Well, first, according to the U.N., a formal system of Law is the backbone of a democratic society (along with a free press and open education to all people in a society). But does using AI instead of a human to make a monetary judgement undermine the belief in the fairness of the law?

WIRED note other examples already exist, but nothing that goes this far: “Estonia’s effort isn’t the first to mix AI and the law, though it may be the first to give an algorithm decision-making authority. In the US, algorithms help recommend criminal sentences in some states. The UK-based DoNotPay AI-driven chatbot overturned 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York a few years ago. A Tallinn-based law firm, Eesti Oigusbüroo, provides free legal aid through a chatbot and generates simple legal documents to send to collection agencies.”

But as we all know, no matter what the backlog is, I do not see anyone trusting an AI judge with their 6k to 8K lawsuit — unless they turn Judge Judy into a robot.

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Burger King wants to burn the competition. Literally. So much so that, in Brazil, anyone who opens their app and points their camera at a competitor’s ad will see that ad engulfed in flames and replaced with a coupon for a free Whopper.

It’s cheeky, engaging, and hot.  You can read more about it here.

Why It’s Hot
Well, it’s on fire. But that’s not all. The use of augmented reality is engaging, but it also creates an implicit hierarchy which puts BK at the top, conquering it’s competition.

But what really makes this a hot idea is how it can be a springboard. Thinking about how this idea could take shape in healthcare marketing elicits some big ideas.

Living healthy is often about making choices; choosing healthy foods, making time for fitness, avoiding bad habits. If a healthcare brand creates an app like this that treats a fast food restaurant, the comfortable couch, or a pack of smokes as the competition, it can drive people to healthy behavior by helping them to make better choices and rewarding them in an engaging way.

Advantage: Walmart?

What’s Going On

Not a day passes when we are not more acutely aware of Amazon impacting and possibly winning the business of retail. Let us not forget the first competitor in the mega sales business, Wal-Mart. As Fast Company puts it, “[Wal-Mart is] currently locked in a battle for consumers’ dollars with Amazon that dominates online shopping.”

We’ve known Wal-Mart to change the game of business and it appears they’re thinking that way still/again. Using this one key fact, Wal-Mart hopes to leverage that to their advantage to beat Amazon.

  • Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store

What They’re Doing

Walmart has realized the importance of this fact, the increasing consumer empowerment and are leveraging it into many different ways to help consumers get what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

1. Fast, customized deliveries: In order to do this, Walmart plans to have their stores double as warehouses. So users create shopping baskets online and schedule them for delivery whenever they want, adding items up until the night before the scheduled time.

  • Plus: Walmart plans to use a machine learning algorithm to predict which items frequent shoppers will want every week. Apparently our habits make customization easy as a Walmart executive says that shoppers order the same items they ordered the previous week 85% of the time.
  • Bonus: Given that most of the cost in e-tail is shipping, the proximity of a Walmart to most homes in the U.S. really helps solve that cost of the last mile that plagues many retailers.

2. Convenient pick up: If you’re the type of customer who would rather click and collect, Wal-Mart can support that control and expediency that you want. Walmart stores now feature large vending machine-like towers where you can pick up an online order, and lockers for even bigger delivery items.

  • Bonus: Sure this sounds a lot like the Amazon lockers placed in convenient locations like 7-11. The problem for Amazon is that they have to rent that space the lockers are located on. Walmart owns their land, so there’s another area of profit advantage for them in the convenience game.

3. The stock problem: By making their stores double as warehouses, Walmart runs the risk of running out of a particular item faster than if it were just a store. But of course, they’ve thought of this. Walmart is rolling out a robot that is designed to look at inventory on shelves. Equipped with cameras and a map of what’s supposed to be on the shelf, the robots stroll around hunting for missing items. If it finds one, it alerts a store employee to restock the item or alerts logistics to bring more items in.

https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_webm/wp-cms/uploads/2019/03/i-2g-90319615-the-clever-way-walmart-is-trying-to-beat-amazon.gif

Why It’s Hot

While the increasing demands from consumers usually means more expense to businesses, Walmart realized that something true about their brand (their presence) could be an advantage. And their profits are trending upwards. In 2018, Walmart’s online sales grew 40%.

Fast Company sums it up perfectly, “By using technology to put the company’s colossal retail footprint to work for online deliveries and orders, Walmart is showing how tech can transform traditional retail into something of a hybrid.” [Heads up USPS team.]

[Source: Fast Company]

Taking the ‘His’ Out of History

His Story

You probably remember your elementary, middle and high school history books. There were stories of conflict, resolution, triumph and innovation. These are the stories of how the United States became the country it is today.

And the main characters in most of these stories? Dudes. Studies show that 89% of the history textbook references reference men as the main characters. Stories about men, written by men for men. Some academics accuse history as literally being his story.

HerStory

But a new augmented reality app aims to bring the other half of the population into the picture, literally. “Lessons in Herstory” shows students that there are women to remember as well. If students scan an image of a male historical figure in A History of US, Book 5: Liberty for All? 1820­–1860 (California’s most popular U.S. History text), the app unlocks a story of an important female historical figure from that same period. For example, if you scan President Zachary Taylor, and you’ll see an illustration and story of Cathay Williams, the first African-American woman to enlist in the army during the Civil War, when women were prohibited from entering the military.

[The app was created by the ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and currently features stories of 75 women from the 19th century. The project was born from a panel at Cannes Lions last year.]

Why It’s Hot

The novelty of AR has led to many frivolous uses of it as the industry struggled and grappled with how to make it useful. This application shows off AR in the best way possible – literally allowing it to augment our history lessons to tell a full story. Plus, this quickly allows us to recognize more to our history without having to rewrite history books.

Going Paperless in a Brick and Mortar

Lush is known for its colorful soaps and bath bombs, but the brand has consistently prioritized going green above all else—and its very first SXSW activation was no exception.

The brand set up its bath bomb pop-up to showcase its 54 new bath bomb creations using absolutely no signage. Instead, attendees could download the Lush Labs app, which uses AI and machine learning to determine what each bath bomb is with just a quick snapshot. “At Lush, we care about sustainability, and we wanted to take that same lens … and apply it to the way we are using technology,” Charlotte Nisbet, global concept lead at Lush, told Adweek.

Nisbet explained that three decades ago, Lush co-founder Mo Constantine invented the bath bomb when brainstorming a packaging-free alternative to bubble bath. (The new bath bombs are being released globally on March 29 in celebration of 30 years since Constantine created the first bath bomb in her garden shed in England.)

“But we were still facing the barrier to being even more environmentally friendly with packaging and signage in our shops,” Nisbet said.

Enter the Lush Lens feature on the Lush Labs app, which lets consumers scan a product with their phone to see all the key information they’d need before making a purchase: price, ingredients and even videos of what the bath bomb looks like when submerged in water. “This means that not only can we avoid printing signage that will eventually need to be replaced, but also that customers can get information on their products anytime while at home,” Nisbet said.

Why It’s Hot

The application sounds cool but is this a sustainable direction for more stores to take? As brick and mortar stores continue to struggle, we could see many start to experiment with ways to bring digital experiences to consumers already plugged into their smartphones in retail spaces.

Source: Adweek

Online therapy gaining traction

From Bustle:

In recent years, websites and apps that offer remote access to trained therapists have risen in popularity. The convenience of communicating with a therapist via smartphone and the relatively low cost are some of the drivers behind why people use these services; even the American Psychological Association recognizes online therapy as a resource on its site. Well-known platforms include BetterHelp, which matches users with an online counselor they can communicate with live via text, phone, or video starting at $40 a week, and Talkspace, which allows the exchange of text, audio, and video messages with a therapist beginning at $49 a week. Other platforms include MyTherapist and telehealth services available through employee assistance programs (EAPs). While these apps and services aren’t replacements for traditional face-to-face therapy, as the respective FAQs for BetterHelpTalkspace, and MyTherapist note, these platforms can help users get more familiar with their mental health.

Ashley Batz/Bustle

See this additional article in The Guardian for more. 

Why it’s hot: Patients say that therapy apps have been a cost effective way for them to gain judgement-free access to mental health care that they otherwise may not have even pursued, lowering the barrier to entry to address extremely common but often ignored issues. The convenience factor also plays a big role, as patients don’t have to worry about scheduling or getting to appointments, and can receive on-demand therapy when they need it – to cope with a loss, for example – or ongoing therapy for chronic mental health disorders like anxiety.

Woebot – Highly Praised App for Mental Health

AI counseling is the wave of the future. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy administered by a smart chatbot, via an app relying on SMS, has become highly popular and well reviewed. Woebot isn’t just the face of a trend, it’s a notable player in technology transforming healthcare.

Why It’s Hot

It’s not new. It’s better. The first counseling software was called Eliza. It was ~1966. Part of the difficulty was it required human intervention. Ironically, in 2019 when many believe a lack of human contact to be part of the problem, that void actually addresses a barrier in therapy. Perceived lack of anonymity and privacy. Sure therapist visits are confidential blah blah but people naturally have difficulty opening up in person. Plus there’s the waiting room anxiety. With an app, studies have shown that people get to the heart of their problem quicker.

Why it Matters

There’s a ton of demand for “talk therapy” and others. Human counselors can’t keep up. People wait weeks and months for appointments. That’s in the U.S. where they’re compensated well. In this On Demand age, that’s seen as unacceptable. Woebot, and others, address the market need for immediate gratification care. Another issue is cost. Therapy is expensive. Apps are obviously a solve here. No co-pay.

Obligatory Statement

All the apps remind users they’re no substitute for human counselors but they are helpful in reflecting behavior patterns and emotional red flags back to their users. At the very least, it’ll help you make the most of your next therapy visit.

Smart cat shelter uses AI to let stray cats in during winter

For stray cats, winter is almost fatal. Using AI, a Baidu engineer has devised an AI Smart Cattery to shelter stray cats and help them survive Beijing’s cold winter.

It can accurately identify 174 different cat breeds, as to let them enter and exit as they please. A door will slide open if the camera spots a cat, but it won’t work on dogs. Multiple cats can fit inside the space.A fresh air system monitors the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels to ensure the small space is well-ventilated.

Another neat camera feature is that it can be also used to detect if the cat is sick — it can identify four common cat diseases, such as inflammation, skin problems, and physical trauma. Once a cat is identified as needing care, associated volunteers can be informed to come and collect it.

Why it’s Hot: A neat implementation of AI for good – it pushes us to think beyond using AI for just marketing purposes and lets us imagine it’s role in helping solve human (and animal) problems. 

 

Are you ready for some robots?

MLB announced a partnership with the independent Atlantic League to test out “the use of technology to call balls and strikes,” which already exists on television broadcasts of baseball games on networks such as ESPN and FOX.

The experiment lets MLB use an independent league as a testing ground to see what happens over a full season of baseball. If results are good, it could become a future recommendation to enhance the MLB game to improve accuracy of balls and strikes calls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is NOT what the new robo umpires will look like.

Story at the Sporting News

Why it’s Hot

Baseball is the most traditional, time-honoured and stodgy of all American sports. In addition to instant replay instituted a few years ago, tech has a lot to add to a deeply flawed and outdated rule book.

Stealing Your Attention

Last week, while perusing my LinkedIn feed at breakfast, this post from NYC ad agency DeVito/Verdi caught my attention:

“Last night, it seems that 3 carts full of advertising awards were stolen from our NYC office. We have it on security cam. Dozens of trophies — One Show pencils, Cannes, 4A’s Best Creative Agency (6 of them), Andy’s, Addys, Art Directors. Many clients (#CarMax, #Macys, #Sony, #herbchambers, #greygoose, #Gildan, #meijer, #mountsinai, #duanereade, #legalseafoods, #OfficeDepot, #steinmart, #solgar). We can only imagine which agency stole them. Who else would want these? Help us find #DVCulprits”

It was posted by their president, Ellis Verdi, and accompanied by this video:
https://dms.licdn.com/playback/C4D05AQGbOh-2vzfGYA/c2fe783cb20d4654ad43acb1af50aa3c/feedshare-mp4_3300-captions-thumbnails/1507940147251-drlcss?e=1551286800&v=beta&t=Ev1JWamZhJoznhR5ECFe9dW2k5aFjCCdeUlCBVPnZko

Why It’s Hot
Unlike lots of other self-promotional content, this approach really caught my attention, and I was not alone. There were plenty of comments (some of whom obviously missed the point and were organizing vigilante squads) and the underlying message, that this agency has won 3 shopping carts full of awards, is now inescapably branded into my awareness.

This illustrates how activating emotion can be done in a variety of ways, some very unorthodox and highly effective.