College, was it really worth the amount you paid?

65% of jobs require some type of college degree. As tuition skyrockets, how much is it really worth when you can basically learn all the things you actually are interested online.

Trends like the Gig economy, smaller boot camps and more directed programs that don’t take as long are gaining momentum not to mention huge interest in educational classes from places like Lynda, Pluralsight, LinkedIn and Youtube are recognizing the need for knowledge in the market.

This is all happening while tuition’s skyrocket. So is it even worth it?

Georgetown set out to find out. They considered 4500 Schools for non-profit, profit and private schools in the country.

Georgetown Study

Best long-term plan: Four-year private, nonprofit colleges. These pricey degrees take a while to bear their fruits. For example, Babson College, a private college in Massachusetts, ranks 304th in value at 10 years, but 7th after 40 years, with a payoff of $1.98 million—edging out Harvard University at $1.96 million.

Best short-term plan: A two-year certificate or associate’s degree can have a high return on investment after 10 years, particularly in nursing. Veeb Nassau County School of Practical Nursing and Putnam Westchester BOCES-Practical Nursing Program rock 40-year payoffs of $1.4 million, which are in line with the payoffs of four-year degrees from Northwestern University or the University of Chicago. #gonursing

Chart to look it up your school

Was your college worth it?

Why it’s hot:

Because of all the questions it arises!

Is it worth it for some people to go to certain schools? Shines a bit of more light not only on the institution but a bit on the actual attendees.

average age of entry for CUNY schools is higher than private schools. Why is that?

And some of them average 33. So the idea of the typical college grad is different than the norm.

What are the stats for you school?

Sustainable Baby Clothes

UpChoose, a year-old startup, aims ‘to reimagine and redesign consumption in a way that’s less wasteful and more sustainable and efficient’ with its organic babywear rental service.

Body image for Always in fashion

New parents are confronted with endless choices of baby clothes, toys and accessories. Whether they feel pressure to buy the latest products or are given them by well-meaning family and friends, what we think of as an exciting time in our lives, entrepreneur and sustainability advocate Ali El Idrissi, the founder of UpChoose, views the occasion as a source of enormous waste, with many of the products outgrown in a matter of weeks.

But instead of lecturing people to buy less, he’s providing a sustainable and somewhat affordable alternative.

Body image for Always in fashion

Why it’s hot: With UpChoose, El Idrissi is democratizing sustainability. While sustainable subscription services aren’t new, one targeted to new parents seems to be. UpChoose is a way for individuals to help tackle over-consumption in their lives, while governments and companies attempt to tackle it on the larger world stage. Also, depending on where your live, the option to have temporary baby clothes, and eventually even furniture (his plan to expand at some point in the future), could be a real time and space saver for urban families in cities with itty-bitty living spaces (NYC).

Source: Contagious.io

What’s the deal with space?

Under Armour. Samsung. And now Adidas. It’s the latest brand to jump on the intergalactic space wagon. The brand recently signed a multi-year partnership with the International Space Station US National Laboratory. Adidas says the focus of the partnership will be to focus on innovation and product testing in microgravity.

Earlier this year, Adidas delivered soccer balls to the ISS during a cargo mission. The balls were then tested, seeing how they reacted with gravity or air resistance distorting the shape. While those tests are still being processed, the brand said it could lead to alterations into the design of the ball such as what materials or textures are used. But is this truly research for product improvement or just another stunt? Probably, a bit of both.

The commercialization of space over the years. 

It started in 1962. Omega’s Speedmaster watch was worn by US astronaut Walter Schirra during the country’s fifth manned space mission, Mercury-Atlas 8. Aboard the Sigma 7, Schirra orbited the Earth seven times.

Coca-Cola was next in 1985 when they started designing a “space can” for astronauts to drink during missions. Pepsi got wind of the experiment and developed its own. The marketing battle became ugly, with US Senators began lobbying for one brand or the other.

Then there was Kit-Kat (2012), Red Bull (2012), Hyundai (2015), and a slew of others as of late. There’s even a new media brand, Supercluster that was built specifically to get people excited about space again.

And while technically, NASA and it’s astronauts aren’t allowed to accept endorsements while working at the space agency that may soon change. NASA is currently working with two major aerospace companies, SpaceX and Boeing, to send astronauts to and from the International Space Station. And the logos of these companies will be emblazoned on the vehicles and rockets that launch crews into space, which was taboo in the early days of NASA.

On top of that, NASA’s new committee chair is focused on figuring out how NASA can explore commercial opportunities. “Capitalism works really well here on Earth. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be embracing it in [space].”

Why it’s hot:
“Space” just might be a mandatory in the next brief while product placement in space could be the next frontier. Brand logos on the sides of rockets? Astronauts as influencers? We’ll have to wait and see.

The race to get your face in space

Samsung has sent one of its Galaxy S10 5G smartphones into space inside a balloon to allow its users to take selfies with the Earth in the background.

It launched a balloon equipped with a specially designed rig to take the S10 up to 65,000 feet into the stratosphere to receive selfies transmitted from the Earth and send them back to the ground using a 5G network.

The first person to undertake the “SpaceSelfie” mission was Cara Delevingne, an English actress and model, who shared her photo on social media. South Korean football star Son Heung-min will also join the campaign.

Why its hot?
Well, its your face in the space

DIY education continues to grow worldwide

Pearson published its inaugural Global Learner Survey, capturing the opinions of learners worldwide. The group conducted the study so learners in 19 countries could have their say on subjects such as the quality of their nation’s education system; careers and the future of work; and technology.

It’s the first time the world has heard the collective voice of this many learners on such a wide range of education topics. More than 11,000 people, ranging in age from 16 to 70 participated in the study.

Pearson Global Learning Survey

The survey uncovered eight key trends that learners across the globe tell us to characterize the way they seek education in 2019:

  • A DIY mindset is reshaping education.
  • The 40-year career is gone, replaced by life-long learning and diverse career paths.
  • People expect digital and virtual learning to be the new normal in the next decade.
  • Confidence in educational institutions is wavering.
  • Some young workers think you can do OK in life without a college degree.
  • Markets like China and India are leading the world in upskilling while the US and UK lag behind.
  • Learners believe soft skills will give them an advantage over automation.
  • People now cite social media and bullying as contributing factors to school safety concerns

The study also brings to light a new way of categorizing teaching into three various categories: continuous learning; distributed lifetime investment and that it be outcomes-based to deliver the skills and learning that learners and employers seek.

Why it’s hot:
Around the world, learners still place a great deal of faith in education to help them achieve success, but the way they are obtaining an education is changing. People are layering on to their traditional education by mixing and matching what works and what they can afford to get trained up for in a fast-changing economy.

All drinks are on the house

A new bar opened its doors in St. Louis, and it’s charging customers by the hour. According to Open Concept’s website, when you open a tab, you’re paying for access to the space — not the booze. The rates: $10/hr for a regular open bar, and $20 for top-shelf liquor.

The entire experience is powered by a backend technology that the bar developed and owns. Customers are encouraged to buy their time in advance on the bar’s website, though walk-ins are also accepted. (Guests are able to tip the bartenders either in advance at the door or with cash after each order.) Those who booked online will receive a confirmation code to show at the door; all customers also receive text messages at the bar alerting them as to how much time they have left on their booking.

Open Concept also uses its technology to track all of a customer’s consumption and keep the bar in compliance with legal limits.

Founder and proprietor, Michael Butler, who also moonlights as the city’s current recorder of deeds, got the idea from fundraising parties while running for office after open-bar fundraising events were successful during his campaign.

Why it’s hot:
At a time when younger generations are notoriously cutting back on their alcohol consumption, that flat guaranteed rate might be more valuable than hoping customers keep buying more the longer they stay.

Look at this Meme!

When meme’s collide! In order to understand today’s politics — it’s time to KNOW YOUR MEME. In order to understand why a Nickelback song from 2008 is trending on Twitter today.

This story starts at the global turn against the band. There is debate about when the tide turned. It’s either:

  1. A general outgrowing and distaste for grunge that sounds like a copy of a copy
  2. Chad Kroeger’s voice that some might say sounds like “a creepy maroon 5”
  3. A very embarassing UK furniture advertisement:

About the meme: according to Know Your Meme, “On April 27th, 2015, YouTuber Euphemism for Magic uploaded a video titled “Nickelstats,” in which Kroeger is shown holding a framed bar graph while singing “Look at this graph” (shown below). The same day, the video was submitted to the /r/youtubehaiku subreddit, where it received upwards of 4,500 votes (95% upvoted) and 120 comments in the first two weeks.”

It’s since been a long parodied meme and had huge success on Vine.

Apparently Trump tried to use the meme this morning to further his story against Hunter Biden.

However as you can see, Nickelback reported the video for copyright infringement…

Maybe Nickleback is due for a comeback?

Photograph by Nickelback also happens to be Shantie’s favorite song….

Why It’s Hot?

I personally love the depth of understanding that’s required for internet memes. But it’s a language that so many are fluent in, maybe without even understanding all the parts…

Adults acting like children

The Greta Thunberg helpline: for adults angry at a child. A smart way to comment on the madness.

Why it’s hot: Social impact work doesn’t need to be earnest. Comedic elements can work if they honor the intent of the organization and message.

Like this satirical video game from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Players are U.S. representatives trying to avoid pressure from the gun lobby. If they make it to the Capital to sign gun legislation, they receive a message: “Congratulations! You did your job. Now send this game to a member of Congress and tell them to do theirs.”

Taking aim at elected officials who placed part of the blame on the “glorification of violence” (like video games) in society following recent mass shootings, the game proposes that if violent video games can cause gun violence, then a video game can also end gun violence.

Sources: Mashable, AdAge

Kill ’em with kindness

Last week, the University of California opened the world’s first institute to study kindness. The idea would be to pool the knowledge gleaned from researchers and house all of their insight about kindness in one place.

A few topics the institute is looking to dive deeper into include:

  • Why does a person give up his or her seat on the train?
  • Why does somebody volunteer his or her time to help someone in need?
  • How does kindness spread, and does being kind impact our brains?

Researchers even agreed on an academic definition for kindness: an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself.

But it’s not all philosophical. Data from UCLA scientists has already shown mindfulness and kindness alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections.

Why it’s hot
As student enrollment continues to decline and people opt for nontraditional career paths, public and private higher education institutions are adding programs and offerings with seemingly little strategy behind them. Since 2012, 41,446 degrees or certificate programs have been added across the country.

UConn offers a BFA, an MA, and an MFA in Puppet Arts. One can get a degree in bagpiping from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Even Notre Dame offers an interdisciplinary academic field called Peace Studies.

Will these new offerings drive action and shift the “is college worth it” narrative that continues to be omnipresent? The verdict is still out.

Sources: National Center for Education Studies; NPR

Silent Drive-Thru: An Introvert’s Dream Come True?

Multinational fast-food chains conforming their menus to cultural tastes is as old as Pulp Fiction’s Royal Cheese. Agency Superson helped Burger King Finland take this to another level, playing off the stereotype of shy Finns. Understanding it as an experience product, Burger King applied this concept to the drive thru, nodding to the common Finnish sensibility of reticence.

The brief was to increase app use, so they reconfigured the ol’ stand-by of the drive thru, to show how fast and easy it was to order via their app.

The spot is playful and funny, placing fast-food ordering into the realm of a clandestine caper.

And it turns out, it’s not just the Finns who resent talking to the muffled voice of the drive-thru.

Why it’s hot: Nodding to local culture inherently endears customers to the brand. The sense of collective understanding, and feeling known is a powerful bonding agent.

The drive-thru model didn’t align with the value proposition of the app, wherein you could order ahead and pick-up, so rethinking the model required a relatable story to encourage users to do the same.

Source: Contagious

 

Louis Vuitton ventures into esports

Fashion brand Louis Vuitton and video game developer/esports tournament organizer Riot Games have announced a partnership, starting with the 2019 League of Legends World Championships.

For the Championships, Louis Vuitton is creating a one-of-a-kind Trophy Travel Case for holding the world champions’ trophy, called the Summoner’s Cup. Previously, Vuitton has created similar travel cases for other sporting events including a laser-engraved titanium case for the FIFA World Cup.

The trophy case features Louis Vuitton’s iconic logo and design, with additional elements related to League of Legends. It will be unveiled publicly at the Eiffel Tower in Paris and eventually given out Nov. 10 in the same city, where League of Legends is holding its world championship this year.

But wait, there’s more. The partnership also includes the creation of a capsule collection of clothing from Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections, as well as in-game digital assets like champion skins.

Why it’s hot:
Louis Vuitton’s new partnership continues the brand’s embrace of digital endeavors to accompany its physical products and marketing.

The pairing of a luxury non-endemic brand entering the esports scene is not one often seen. However, it creates a huge opportunity for Louis Vuitton, especially in expanding its consumer base. With millennials said to drive about 130% of luxury market growth in the next seven years, the gaming space could be a key area for expansion.

Louis Vuitton joins others including State FarmGilletteRed Bull, and Axe to embrace the esports world. A category in which 2019 revenues are forecast to rise by 27% and estimated to top $1.1 billion.

Pulp Diction

Interactions with Amazon’s virtual personal assistant Alexa could soon become considerably more entertaining – and profane – after actor Samuel L Jackson signed up to lend his voice to the device. Jackson will be the first celebrity voice for Alexa.

For 99 cents, you can hear the Hollywood star read you the news, give you a weather report and even tell jokes. The price will increase to $4.99 post launch. To get the voice, users simply will need to say, “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson” and decide whether they would like the explicit or clean version.

The Jackson feature will allow users of Alexa-enabled devices to interact with an AI version of the actor developed using the company’s neural text-to-speech technology. Jackson is not the first celebrity to feature on Alexa, but previous celebrity voice features have relied upon pre-recorded audio.

Why its hot?
The voice of the assistant is the new ringtone or the voice store could be the new app store
If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing Samuel L. Jackson lobbing profanities at you, Amazon has worked hard to fulfill your fantasy. This is a great way to generate interest in Alexa among people who don’t want a bland sounding voice assistant. But more importantly Amazon has created a new revenue stream – we could very well be shopping for voices in everything for every occasion.

Source: Guardian, CNN, Geekwire, Twitter

Mattel’s Gender-Neutral Doll

On Wednesday, Mattel released a line of customizable, gender-inclusive Barbie-style dolls called “Creatable World.”

The dolls don’t carry traditional feminine or masculine traits. Carefully manicured features betray no obvious gender: the lips are not too full, the eyelashes not too long and fluttery, the jaw not too wide. There are no Barbie-like breasts or broad, Ken-like shoulders. Each doll in the Creatable World series looks like a slender 7-year-old with short hair, but each comes with a wig of long, lustrous locks and a wardrobe befitting any fashion-conscious kid: hoodies, sneakers, graphic T-shirts in soothing greens and yellows, along with tutus and camo pants.

The line alsooffers dolls with a range of skin tones. This customization means children can play with a toy that better represents how they look.

For years, millennial parents have pushed back against “pink aisles” and “blue aisles” in toy stores in favor of gender-neutral sections, often in the name of exposing girls to the building blocks and chemistry kits that foster interest in science and math but are usually categorized as boys’ toys. Major toy sellers have listened, thanks to the millennial generation’s unrivaled size, trend-setting ability and buying power. Last year, Mattel did away with “boys” and “girls” toy divisions in favor of nongendered sections: dolls or cars, for instance.

Why it’s Hot:

After decades of criticism for reinforcing female stereotypes with Barbie, Mattel has finally created something that aligns with society’s ever-evolving views on gender. While the line has already earned its fair share of criticism, there is also huge reward potential among more progressive parents (a growing group as more millennials and Gen Z-ers have children).

As marketers, we need to be aware of shifting perceptions when creating content for younger audiences. They’re growing up in a much more sensitive and inclusive environment, which means relying on old tropes and assumed gender roles really won’t fly with them.

Sources: Time, Mashable

What does food sound like?


Indian food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy challenged people to use Instagram voice notes to create waveforms in the shape of different food items.

They promised a year’s worth of food vouchers to Instagram users who could best replicate various foods from kebab skewers to pancakes in their voice notes. All in all, Swiggy set five daily challenges and handed out 50 food vouchers to competition entrants each day.

To help users with the Voice of Hunger challenge, the brand handed out hints about which sounds created which shapes with all Swiggy food deliveries.

In addition to direct messaging their competition entry on Instagram, Swiggy also encouraged people to upload videos of themselves recreating a food shape and tag Swiggy.

Why its hot? (aside from the clever use of voice notes)
Millions of people are on the Internet wasting their time creating random content. Swiggy’s simply channeled this behavior to create viral content.

 

Source: Contagious

 

 

An Insurance Company that Pre-Pays?

Australian insurer, National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), is refunding customers that spend money to protect their homes from disaster by using claims data to identify homes at risk of flooding, storm damage and other disasters.

It invited people to download Safety Hub, a custom-built app, and rewarded them for carrying out home maintenance tasks that reduced the risk of catastrophic damage.

The app combined geographical data with risk profiles to tell people about personalized tasks that they could complete to lower the risk of damage to their homes.

Each time a task was completed, money was paid straight into the customer’s bank account. If the task required the services of a professional, NRMA would pay for that, too.

By giving customers authority over the safety of their home and rewarding them for completing checks, NRMA can not only reduce how much it must pay, it creates transparency. And giving people partial control over their safety can work to empower those in high-risk communities where they are more likely to suffer disasters.

Source: Contagious

Why it’s hot:

NRMA has the chance to create a new standard in insurance with this new initiative. While it saves the company money, it also demonstrates its commitment to its customers, to help them avoid disasters.

This is a good example of how a company leveraged its first-party data with geographical data to create a predictive model and help incentivize customers to avoid costly disasters.

Tip your (non)local coffee-bean picker

We’re spoiled in the US. We get to drink premium coffee from the best farms in the world, and at a reasonable price. But many of the farm-workers involved in actually making that cortado a reality generally aren’t compensated equitably.

Some people would be willing to pay more for coffee if they knew that increase was going to support the workers who need and deserve it, but making that change through the traditional economy of producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers is extremely difficult. Even direct-trade coffee partnerships are subject to the demands of the global coffee industry, which must feed a voracious worldwide caffeine habit.

Propina is trying to side-step the traditional model of farm-worker compensation by allowing people to support farm-workers by making a direct contribution to a farm-worker’s pension fund when they’re at the till of their favorite coffee shop. In-shop videos like the one above drive awareness while patrons wait in line to make their order. Additionally, similar to the Patreon model, patrons can become recurring contributors and get updates from the farm.

Why it’s hot

1. Using technology to bridge the gap from producer to consumer empowers money-havers to give to a cause they believe in.

2. Technology shrinking the world, making something global feel like more of a local connection.

3. We may see more of these “capitalism hacks” that attempt to use technology to circumvent systemic inequalities that otherwise seem insurmountable.

Why it’s not hot

1. Like the US server-tipping model, this idea could potentially drive down guaranteed wages for farm workers if employers see them gaining any amount of significant external compensation. In a sense, this idea only works well if it remains an insignificant portion of a farm workers livelihood.

2. This model relies on the generosity of the globally wealthy to “support” poor farm workers, instead of creating systems of equitable exchange that account for the needs of all stakeholders. Admittedly, the latter is a much more difficult challenge.

Source: Contagious

Drink beer + shoot virtual deer = help protect wildlife

A great deal of funding for wildlife conservation in the US comes from fishing and hunting permits, but the number of people buying them is declining. It seems fewer members of the younger generations are interested in actually packing out into the woods and sitting in a tree in silence for hours in order to bag an elk for the winter. But what Busch understood was what those younger generations are still interested in is drinking beer at bars and pretending to hunt elk on an arcade screen.

So Busch (Anheuser-Busch) teamed up with the Big Buck Hunter arcade game to sell $5 virtual hunting permits that give buyers access to a secret (branded) level within the barroom game. The funds from the permits (matched by Busch) will go to wildlife conservation. Busch has positioned itself as a beer brand for those close to, and interested in protecting nature, so this campaign is an on-brand extension of that premise.

Alongside the permit sales, Busch is selling limited edition cans through December, with QR codes that give access to a similar AR hunting game on one’s phone.

The campaign just began, so it remains to be seen if it will actually generate a noteworthy amount of conservation funding. At the very least it should raise some awareness and brand recognition for Busch with the younger set.

Why it’s hot:

Sometimes the best way to get people to act for an important cause is to tap into their habits, desires, and interests, and make it fun, rather than appealing to an abstract sense of duty, which many people can easily dismiss as: “Not my problem”.

Also, everybody wins:

  1. Busch probably sells more beer with the curiosity created by the can design and offer of an AR game + gets a CSR halo.
  2. Big Buck Hunter gets more players and press, framing itself as more than just a late-night afterthought.
  3. Awareness and money gets raised for wildlife conservation at a time when it’s desperately needed.

Source: Fast Company

hinge bears a new kpi…

Dating app Hinge recently released its first brand campaign, based upon a simple premise that’s simply delightful. It’s pitching itself as “the dating app designed to be deleted”…since, you know, the whole point is to find someone you like enough to not spend any more time on dating apps.

Why It’s Hot:

While it’s somewhat shocking that no other dating app has ever taken this tack, it’s a smart move for a relatively new brand on the scene. Leveraging its novelty, breaking from category convention is no doubt one way to stand out.

[Source]

How We are AI – by NY Times

Would be hard to summarize this in-depth article/expose from NYT, but…

A.I. Is Learning From Humans. Many Humans.

Artificial intelligence is being taught by thousands of office workers around the world. It is not exactly futuristic work.

  • A.I., most people in the tech industry would tell you, is the future of their industry, and it is improving fast thanks to something called machine learning. But tech executives rarely discuss the labor-intensive process that goes into its creation. A.I. is learning from humans. Lots and lots of humans.
  • Before an A.I. system can learn, someone has to label the data supplied to it. Humans, for example, must pinpoint the polyps. The work is vital to the creation of artificial intelligence like self-driving carssurveillance systems and automated health care.

  • Tech companies keep quiet about this work. And they face growing concerns from privacy activists over the large amounts of personal data they are storing and sharing with outside businesses.

  • Tens of thousands more workers, independent contractors usually working in their homes, also annotate data through crowdsourcing services like Amazon Mechanical Turk, which lets anyone distribute digital tasks to independent workers in the United States and other countries. The workers earn a few pennies for each label.

    Based in India, iMerit labels data for many of the biggest names in the technology and automobile industries. It declined to name these clients publicly, citing confidentiality agreements. But it recently revealed that its more than 2,000 workers in nine offices around the world are contributing to an online data-labeling service from Amazon called SageMaker Ground Truth. Previously, it listed Microsoft as a client.

    One day, who knows when, artificial intelligence could hollow out the job market. But for now, it is generating relatively low-paying jobs. The market for data labeling passed $500 million in 2018 and it will reach $1.2 billion by 2023, according to the research firm Cognilytica. This kind of work, the study showed, accounted for 80 percent of the time spent building A.I. technology.

    This work can be so upsetting to workers, iMerit tries to limit how much of it they see. Pornography and violence are mixed with more innocuous images, and those labeling the grisly images are sequestered in separate rooms to shield other workers, said Liz O’Sullivan, who oversaw data annotation at an A.I. start-up called Clarifai and has worked closely with iMerit on such projects.“I would not be surprised if this causes post-traumatic stress disorder — or worse. It is hard to find a company that is not ethically deplorable that will take this on,” she said. “You have to pad the porn and violence with other work, so the workers don’t have to look at porn, porn, porn, beheading, beheading, beheading

     Source: NYT

Why It’s Hot: All this tech-first talk of AI, this was FASCINATING to me. I did not know this was the reality of “training AI.”

Phone a Friend: a mobile app for predicting teen suicide attempts

Rising suicide rates in the US are disproportionately affecting 10-24 year-olds, with suicide as the second leading cause of death after unintentional injuries. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic, and one that leaves those whose lives are impacted wondering what they could have done differently, to recognize the signs and intervene.

Researchers are fast at work figuring out whether a machine learning algorithm might be able to use data from an individual’s mobile device to assess risk and predict an imminent suicide attempt – before there may even be any outward signs. This work is part of the Mobile Assessment for the Prediction of Suicide (MAPS) study, involving 50 teenagers in New York and Pennsylvania. If successful, the effort could lead to a viable solution to an increasingly troubling societal problem.

Why It’s Hot

We’re just scratching the surface of the treasure trove of insights that might be buried in the mountains of data we’re all generating every day. Our ability to understand people more deeply, without relying on “new” sources of data, will have implications for the experiences brands and marketers deliver.

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

Four Loko teases a hard seltzer with almost triple the alcohol content of White Claw as booze makers battle to win over ‘bros’

Four Loko appears to be entering the battle to become the drink of choice for the modern “bro” with a new hard seltzer.

On Tuesday, Four Loko posted images on Twitter and Instagram showing a Four Loko seltzer labeled the “hardest seltzer in the universe,” with 14% alcohol by volume. For comparison, White Claw has an ABV of 5%.

“Hard Seltzers ran so we could fly,” the caption reads.

The hard-seltzer business is booming, with sales increasing by more than 200% over the past year, according to Nielsen. Over the Fourth of July weekend, the drink was the top-growing segment in the beer category.

Hard-seltzer-loving bros have been crucial to the beverage’s success, Business Insider’s Bethany Biron reported.

“Throw a dart at my fraternity composite, and you’ll find a guy who’s into hard seltzer,” a college junior and fraternity member told Biron.

White Claw — owned by the private company Mark Anthony, which also operates Mike’s Hard Lemonade — currently dominates, with about 50% of hard-seltzer market share. But other companies are eager to cash in on those seeking hard seltzer with higher ABVs, especially as younger drinkers ditch beer.

This week, Natural Light and PBR announced their own hard seltzers. Natural Light’s hard seltzer is 6% ABV, while PBR’s is 8% ABV.Four Loko seltzer’s 14% ABV would be the highest in the increasingly crowded market. Four Loko, owned by the Chicago alcoholic-beverage company Phusion Projects, did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for further information about the drink.

Why it’s Hot
Picking up on trends we talked about a few weeks ago, this hard seltzer business is somehow picking up even more steam, and getting more ridiculous.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Expands “Love Notes” to Even More Children

Last year, the Kellogg cereal brand teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to create specialized “Love Notes” with phrases like “You’ve Got This” to “Love You Lots” written in braille for parents to share with children who are blind. Now Rice Krispies is continuing its mission with a new kind of love note, one designed with children living with autism or on the autism spectrum.

Since not every child communicates love through words, the cereal company partnered with Autism Speaks to create touch-and-feel sensory “Love Notes” so children can actually feel love and support as they transition back to school. The four “lightly reusable” stickers come in a range of supposedly calming colors and different textures, including fleece, faux fur, satin, and velour for sensory-focused kids to feel the love through a tactile experience.

Why it’s hot:
Kellogg’s expansion of its “Love Notes” write-able wrappers demonstrates the brand’s commitment to all parents – providing an otherwise under served audience (parents with children with autism and children who are blind) – helping them provide their children with love and support anywhere they are. They found a simple way to make love notes meaningful to any child.

Sources: Fast Company, Kellogg’s Love Notes

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!

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Source

Weed Gets A Museum

Weed, ganja, grass, herb, whatever you call it, has had a multi-century smear campaign leveled against it, but its time in the golden spotlight of acceptability is nigh.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in key states across the country, cannabis is poised for its big-business debut. And those investing in weed today hope it will become as big as Budweiser. A new kind of bud! (I couldn’t help myself.)

But getting to those household-name numbers requires normalizing a substance that’s historically been presented as a tool of the devil to lure hapless souls into eternal hellfire – or at least make them lazy and braindead – or worse, jam-band groupies!

Devil's Harvest marijuana propoganda

What better way to normalize and educate than by pairing weed with one of our most distinguished institutions of learning and culture: the museum? It’s propaganda for the good guys!

Weedmaps, the Seamless/Yelp/Google Maps of cannabis, has employed the Museum Of (Interesting Thing That Doesn’t Belong In A Regular Museum trend to help establish itself as the thought leader in the cannabis space and break down misconceptions about weed in the process.

Why it’s hot

1. Weedmaps is mainstreaming marijuana by putting its product in the same arena as other very legit things found in museums, such as history, science and art. Duchamp would be proud.

2. Never are you more primed to learn than when you’re immersed in an experience.

3. Most people attending the museum are probably already advocates for weed legalization. This will give them fuel and facts to spread the word more.

Source: Fast Company

Mayonnaise + Leftovers = Gourmet Restaurant?

Unilever-owned mayonnaise brand Hellmann’s is so familiar that it can get overlooked in the fridge, along with other ingredients that often get thrown away when we don’t think we can use them.

In the brand’s newest campaign, Hellmann’s highlights the food waste caused by unused leftovers. To prove that mayonnaise can be a key ingredient that turns leftovers into a meal, the agency opened a temporary restaurant in São Paulo, Brazil: The Restaurant With No Food.

Diners were sent Hellman’s branded cool-bags to bring their fridge leftovers, and invited to dine for free at the restaurant. A handful of celebrity chefs then created gourmet meals from the ingredients and Hellman’s mayonnaise. Following the meal, Hellmann’s gave them the recipes for what they had been served.

During its two-day activation, the campaign generated more than 200 news reports and 50 million impressions. Sales of Hellmann’s went up by 8% and it’s estimated that over 2,700 ingredients were saved. The Restaurant With No Food also received an official endorsement from the UN World Food Programme, and Hellmann’s plans to repeat the initiative in other key markets in Europe this year.

Why it’s hot:

This campaign is a perfect example of what a good insight can do. The brand likely saw the decline in mayonnaise purchases, but this unique insight around food waste allowed them to unlock a solution to the problem in a new way. Viewing their business challenge through a wider lens than just “nobody’s buying our mayonnaise” allowed Hellmann’s to tap into a larger cultural conversation.

Source

How Unpredictable Is Your Subway Commute?

Recently published in NYTimes, this article is a great example of useful data visualization and interactive content.

While the key point is about the factor of variability as an overlooked aspect of commuting data (NYC as particularly guilty of a lot more variability than other cities), I thought the best part was the way they used data to tell a customized story while reporting on the variability aspect.

Source: NYTimes

Why It’s Hot: 

Great use of data visualization and personalized content

Flights by the people. Miles for the people

Every week 600 members of Brazil’s congress fly to the nation’s federal capital, Brasília, to attend the seat of government. The country’s citizens pay for these flights with their taxes, but the politicians keep the air miles they earn. Reclame Aqui, Brazil’s leading consumer protection organization, campaigned to end this unfair practice. The company created a campaign to give these air miles back to the people who helped pay for them.


The Miles For The People platform displays and ranks congress members’ flight expenses and air miles, and Brazilian citizens can use the website to request some of those air miles for themselves.

Applicants must clearly state the reason they need the air miles (for example, surgery or exams). A board of lawyers at Reclame Aqui screens and reviews the documents, and selects applications based on their urgency. Approved applications are then sent to politicians who have sufficient air miles. Should the politician accept the request, they send boarding passes straight to the applicants’ smartphone.

Why its hot?
We are the network that enables brands to play a meaningful role in people’s lives and an agency that helps brands grow meaningful relationships with people. How can we bring ideas that help our clients like Cigna walk the walk?

 

Source: Contagious

First of it’s kind medical gym to debut in London

Leading medical spa operators Lanserhof Group has partnered with The Arts Club, a private members club in central London, to develop a state-of-the-art medical gym.Expected to open in May 2019, the new facility is billed as the ‘ultimate medical and gym facility’, and will be the first of its kind to open in the UK.

Designed by Dusseldorf-based firm Ingenhoven Architects, the six-storey gym will be the first facility of its kind to offer club members an MRI scan as part of its tailored training programme. Members will also have access to additional personalised services and offerings such as cardiovascular screening, body metabolism analysis, and two physical therapy labs.

The facility will also feature a world-class gym, class studios, consulting and treatment rooms, cryotherapy treatment chambers and high-end diagnostic and medical facilities, as well as a carefully crafted menu of healthy food options.

Why it’s hot:

Two reasons:

  1. Experiences today define brands and categories – is it time for a luxury experience for healthcare testing and treatments? By mixing the experience of a gym, spa and a diagnostic center, it redefines what treatment and diagnostic centers should look like and may alleviate some anxiety.
  2. On the other hand, it offers advanced testing to highly health conscious consumers who want to quantify their progress and are hyper aware of their health metrics without having to leave the gym.

 

 

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]