Holy contextual bandits batman!

Netflix is at it again – schooling us all on what personal really means.

For a long time, Netflix has been perfecting personal recommendations on what to watch. Now it’s delivering a new feature to enhance how it makes those recommendations – personalized artwork.

Netflix

So OK, that’s cool enough thinking about the thousands of titles, millions of users and all the potential key art variations needed to meaningfully personalize content. But what’s equally cool is their approach to measuring the performance of recommendations. It’s basically impossible to control for all the variables behind personalized artwork to understand what works best. So Netflix employed a methodology called Contextual Bandits.

Netflix

You’re going to have to read the blog post to really understand it (and then explain it to me!) but here goes: contextual bandits are a class of online learning algorithms that trade off the cost of gathering training data required for learning an unbiased model on an ongoing basis with the benefits of applying the learned model to each member context. In other words, rather than waiting to collect a full batch of data, waiting to learn a model, and then waiting for an A/B test to conclude, contextual bandits rapidly figure out the optimal personalized artwork selection for a title for each member and context.

Anyway, it’s all pretty fascinating. And you can read more about it on the Netflix tech blog.

Why It’s Hot
Netflix takes the idea of dynamic creative to a whole new level, continuing to set the bar for 1-to-1 marketing.

Timeline Plugin for Sketch

There are a lot of great Sketch plugins but this is the first one I’ve seen that let’s you animate right in Sketch. Currently, to make animated prototypes you’d have to make wireframes in Sketch and then import them into Principle or a similar program to animate them.

It’s only available for pre-order at the moment but should be releasing in about 11 days.

Why it’s hot:

  • Awesome plugin to streamline the wireframing to prototype workflow
  • Invision Studios is also releasing later this month too, it’ll be a good month for new prototyping software!

More info here: https://timeline.animaapp.com

The world of Assassin’s Creed Origins included an archeological discovery before it was discovered…

Catch up on the exploratory mode in Assassin’s Creed Origins in this post from Betsy

In early October of this year, a new discovery was announced in the Pyramid of Giza. “Scientists had discovered a previously undetected open space in Egypt’s 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza.” [Kotaku]

The discovery was made possible through the unlikely intersection of archaeology and particle physics. By making meticulous measurements of muons—elementary particles that rain down on Earth from deep space and are capable of traveling through solid objects—researchers were able to characterize the densities within the pyramid, revealing the presence of an empty space that measures at least 100 feet (30 meters) in length. [Gizmodo]

The void in the Pyramid of Giza as featured in Assassin's Creed Origins

The void in the Pyramid of Giza as featured in Assassin’s Creed Origins

But before November, this space–which researchers specifically avoid referring to as a “chamber” or other architectural-sounding term, preferring instead to call it a “void”–was merely a “disputed theory by French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin about how the entire pyramid was built.” [Kotaku]

So how did it get into a video game that released the same month? Assassin’s Creed developers worked closely with historian Maxime Durand to create the latest iteration of the popular franchise. According to Durand:

“We have long believed that Jean-Pierre Houdin’s theories about the inner ramps and royal circuit with two antechambers inside the Great Pyramid are probably the most credible, which is why we decided to use them in the game, […] We were betting on the fact that these secret locations inside of the Great Pyramid would probably be discovered in the near future, so we wanted to allow players the chance to visit them in advance.”

Origins’ depiction of a room that would have been used for turning the heavy blocks as they were dragged up long straight internal ramps and stacked to continue building the pyramid from the inside out.

“Origins’ depiction of a room that would have been used for turning the heavy blocks as they were dragged up long straight internal ramps and stacked to continue building the pyramid from the inside out.” – Kotaku

Why it’s hot

Including the void in the game experience allows users to explore speculative history. While the entering the pyramid is optional, the developers put an tempting side challenge inside, encouraging players to explore and learn more about what the interior might have looked like. Most importantly, perhaps, this fortunate inclusion has given the news of the discovery a second audience in players eager to explore the latest discovery in a way that would otherwise be impossible.

Learn more about the feature in Assassin’s Creed Origins at Kotaku.com, and read more about the discovery of the void at Gizmodo.com

Mastercard Demystified Millennials

Millennials seem to be the toughest demographic to crack, as they’re viewed as narcissistic, entitled, superficial, and several more descriptive adjectives. So Mastercard Australia made it their mission to understand what millennials really wanted from their new debit rewards program. The “Millennials Demystified” experiment was conducted by researchers at the University of South Wales and the purpose was simple, to find out what millennials really desire. Participants of the study were given 2 choices in which they had to choose which one they desired the most, the catch was that their neurological impulses let the researchers know exactly what they truly desired out of the two choices. The results? Simple. Millennials are human after all and they want to do more good than harm the world, contrary to what seems to be common belief.

Why it’s hot:
Turns out millennials aren’t soulless zombies that want to watch the world burn.

Mastercard AU

Why Design Systems Fail

More and more brands are looking to design systems to unify their products. Designers love them because they make prototyping fast and easy, and devs love them because they make starting a new project a synch. But without the proper support, design systems can fall apart. Some considerations for keeping a design system going:

  • Successful design systems need investment of resources. Neglect the system and it quickly becomes out of date (and who wants to use dated code?). Small incremental updates over time keep the system working.
  • A team should own the system, and be responsible for supporting, developing, evangelizing, and managing the whole thing. This makes it more likely that the system stays relevant.
  • Continuous communication with designers and developers is crucial. Both should feel heard, although a final decision must be made about what to include and exclude.
  • People need to want to use the design system. Make it the path of least resistance and show value by recording wins and evangelizing.
  • Good design systems should scale, so plan the architecture in advance.
  • Most importantly, if it’s harder for people to use than their current system, people just won’t use it. Just because it might be an internal tool, don’t treat it as an afterthought – simplify until it’s easier than the ad-hoc systems designers and devs are using.

Parker the stuffed bear

Say Hi to Parker, your augmented reality bear. He’s filled with nothing but love and stuffing but he’s so much more than that. When you purchase Parker for $60 you can get the whole Parker kit that’s compatible with your iOS devices! It comes with Parker, a wooden stethoscope, wooden thermometer and a few other miscellaneous items. The idea is to promote STEAM from a young age.

It’s a great way to integrate AR with a classic toy for kids. The greatest part is that you can also purchase the $40 extension bedtime kit for more fun! Purchases aside, at least the app itself is free.

Why it’s hot:

STEAM integration is becoming more and more important and it’s an amazing way to let kids explore from the get go. But is Parker worth $100?

source: https://www.macworld.com/article/3236200/ios/parker-your-augmented-reality-bear.html

Spotify’s Wrapped feature is awesome

Spotify’s annual Wrapped feature is now up to give users insights into what they streamed over the past twelve months. Wrapped, which replaced Spotify’s personalized Year in Music feature last year, tells you the amount of time you spent streaming music in 2016 and how many songs and artists you listened to. Then it quizzes you to see how well you know your own listening habits before making a personalized playlist of 30 songs you might have missed this year. (check it out: 2017Wrapped.com)

Why it’s hot: Yet another way that Spotify is leveraging user data for audience engagement. This is a bit of a step up from their ‘year in review’ in-app experience, and they are providing an extra value add at the end. They are showing you 30 new songs that you might not know of yet, and proving how well they know you and your taste. Could they get any better?!

Bonus: Un-related, fun, Friday Instagram post that you never knew you needed. Enjoy.

This is my favorite thing I’ve ever read. Swipe left and tell me which dish you’d make. (@prozacmorris_)

A post shared by Sloane Steel (@iamsloanesteel) on

 

An AI for Fashion

New York startup Finery has created an AI-powered operating system that will organize your wardrobe.

It provides an automated system that reminds women what options they have, as well as creating outfits for them – saving users a lot of time and money (as they won’t mistakenly buy another grey cashmere jumper if they know they already have three at home).

Users link The Wardrobe Operating System to their email address, so the platform can browse through their mailbox to find their shopping history. All the items they’ve purchased online are then transferred to their digital wardrobe (with 93% accuracy).

Any clothing bought from a bricks-and-mortar shop can be added as well, but that’s done manually by either searching the Finery database for the item or uploading an image (either one you’ve taken or one from the internet). Finery uses Cloud Vision to identify what the object is (skirt, dress, trousers, etc.), the color and the material – then the brand and size can be added manually.

Once your clothing is all uploaded, the platform uses algorithms to recommend outfits based on the pieces you own as well as recommending future purchases that would match with your current items.

Users can also create and save outfits within the platform. And, if they give Finery access to their shopping accounts, the startup will aggregate all their unpurchased shopping cart items into a single Wishlist and alert them when said items go on sale.

Finery will alert its users when the return window for an item they’ve purchased is closing. And it will also let them know if they already own an item that looks similar to one they are planning on buying.

Finery has currently partnered with over 500 stores, equivalent to more than 10,000 brands, to create its online catalog. ‘That covers about ninety percent of the retail market.

Next, the company will be expanding into children’s clothing, and then men’s fashion. And it’s working on developing algorithms to suggest outfit combinations based on weather, location and personal preference, as well as a personalized recommendations tool for items not yet in user’s closets.

 

Why It’s Hot:

  • This personal “stylist” gives courage to fashion-handicaps (like myself) to shop online with confidence
  • It helps avoid unnecessary fashion splurges – BFD considering the average woman spends $250 -$350K on clothes over their lifetime
  • Acts as a fashion-dream catcher that helps grant your wish list by making purchases easy

Source: Contagious

P.s. Apologies for using a Fox News video but it’s the only one decent one I could find (YUK!!!!)

Pharma Trend Spotting for 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

WebMD presents Bipolar Disorder: In Our Own Words

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

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

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

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

Why It’s Hot

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

 

Source: https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/pharma-marketing-trends-for-2018-include-hero-stories-technology-maturity-and-frontline

New, cutting-edge technology lets you… call a website on your phone.

Ok, so maybe it is not on the forefront of new technology, but artist Marc Horowitz’s new website makes wonderful use of existing and familiar technology to bring the experience of a guided museum tour into a new light.

A conceptual artist, Horowitz felt his work needed additional context to be fully appreciated, but did not want to go the traditional route of adding lots of text or creating a video for his portfolio. Instead, created an experience that is part audio tour, part podcast, and part interactive website.

At first glance, HAWRAF’s design looks like a pretty standard portfolio. There are tabs at the top, with images below that represent 32 projects dating all the way back to 2001. But the designers, inspired by the audio tours you’ve probably experienced at a museum or gallery, added another element of interaction. In big block text at the top of the website, it says, “Call 1-833-MAR-CIVE.” When you do, you can hear the artist himself tell you stories about each project by simply dialing the reference number below each image.

As an added bonus, users can choose to read the descriptions rather than dial in, making the experience not only unique, but also accessible for the hearing-impaired.

Why it’s hot

As brands and agencies scramble to adopt bleeding edge technology and embrace the latest trends, it’s worth remembering that existing tools and technology can still be harnessed in interesting and new ways. Fitting the experience to the needs of the brand and the user will always result in a more useful and lasting experience than something ill-suited but fashionable

Learn more at 1833marcive.com or on fastcodesign.com

Petlandia – Personalized Story Book About Your Pet!

Petlandia is a service that allows users to edit an avatar to look like their pet and then puts them into a story book. I went through it with my cat, Miso.

Miso, for reference.

I started off by editing an avatar to make it like Miso. Colors and pattern seem to be the major customizable features.

Then I entered details about him and his owners (me and my girlfriend Meg).

And that was it! I had a book all about my kitty.

AAAAWWWEEE

There’s about 30 pages in the book that I could purchase it for $30.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

I browsed their site about after purchasing the book as a Christmas present to my cat (I hope he likes it!) and found that they have an app where you can make stickers for your pets to send in chats. …I had to try it.

I downloaded the app from the App Store.

There’s no logging in, so I had to make Miso’s avatar again. Look at him with his cute lil face!

I sent a sticker to Meg on Facebook, but she reminded me that we have two cats and I can’t play favorites.

So back to the app which allows you to create multiple pets to make some Allister stickers.

Meg was happy with the results.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Quick and easy way to personal merchandise
  • The app is like Bitmoji, but for pets

Here’s their site so you can make your own pet books: https://www.petlandia.com/usa/

 

 

 

 

Snapchat looks to separate social from media. And I like it.

Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel, announced an app redesign on Wednesday, one that focuses more on our interpersonal relationships. It looks to separate those one to one moment’s from our always on connection to the media cycle.

The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media. We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.

Evan is looking at a longer view of social media success instead of immediate gains. I think this separation is notable and valuable.

Why its hot?

We live in a world where our social lives are wrapped up among news and clickbait. We’ve long seen the trend of younger users moving to 1:1 messaging apps and dark social. It’s the natural response to the “public” requirement of social media. This change begs the thought: “Well… of course these things have been too unnaturally intertwined. Why haven’t thought of that!”

 

D&D is cool now, just maybe not in the way you’d expect

Published in 1974 and long used as a shorthand for kids that got shoved in lockers, Dungeons & Dragons has found a new uprising in popularity, in no small part thanks to online platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and podcasts.

What was once relegated to basements and the back of boardgame stores is now front and center in online culture and beyond, as evidenced by the popularity of the D&D-loving crew of Stranger Things. Much like a Netflix show, D&D has become wildly popular as performance art, a spectator sport of liveplay gaming. And the genre of role-playing games (RPGs) have been gaining popularity at an incredible pace in the past few years, with D&D having its most profitable year ever in 2016, and being on track to pass it in 2017.

According to [Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons], the total unique hours of D&D liveplay content on Twitch have doubled every year since 2015. These are mostly grassroots productions, but Stewart says the Dungeons & Dragons team is now “aggressively” investing in the scene as well, filling its official Twitch channel with more than 50 weekly hours of liveplay programming…

The programs on D&Ds Twitch channel intentionally span locations and demographics. “We’re trying to show a pretty diverse group of people playing D&D,” Stewart says […] “It’s a value of the company. We want people to feel accepted and welcome in our groups.”

Force Grey is a popular livecast that has featured movie stars, comics, voice actors, and writers and is led by voice actor Matthew Mercer. The episode below is the first of a series starring Chris Hardwick, Shelby Fero, Ashley Johnson, Jonah Ray, and Utkarsh Ambudkar.

Why it’s hot

At the core of most of these shows is a group of friends playing a game and having fun together. It’s collaborative and cooperative in a way that the rest of the world often isn’t, and online platforms provide viewers a window into that space.

For more videos, podcasts, and interviews, visit The Verge or Polygon

Sideways dictionary is like a friend who knows more about technology than you…

…and is really good at explaining it in fun, and sometimes weird, analogies.

This project, a collaboration between The Washington Post and Google’s Jigsaw, offers users the chance to look up technology and information security terms like “Blockchain” and “OAuth” and have them explained without technical jargon or nerdy derision. For instance, “Machine Learning” is described as:

It’s like the game Pictionary. If you have to draw a sheep, you don’t spend three days crafting a photo-realistic, intricately textured representation of a particular breed. You sketch the basic defining characteristics – fluffy body, four legs, head – and hope your team-mate isn’t overly literal. 

Users can add analogies and up-vote existing examples they found interesting or helpful. So if “It’s like the Berners Street hoax that took place in London in 1810” doesn’t immediately help you understand “DDoS Attack,” then maybe “It’s like 20 sumo wrestlers trying to get through a revolving door at the same time” will make more sense.

Why it’s hot

Knowing more about technical terms helps when information security is on the line, and Sideways Dictionary ensures that anyone can start from wherever they are in technical know-how. It might not teach you the ins and outs of how to use a VPN to protect your credentials, but it will at least make sure you understand that a “Virtual Private Network is like Harry Potter and his Cloak of Invisibility.”

Hi Alexa. I need you to drop off my prescription.

Buzz, such as reports this week and last, around the increasing number of states in which Amazon has acquired wholesale pharmacy licenses, currently at 12, as well as forays into redefining other aspects of the healthcare experience, has been increasing.

The challenge is that these licenses lack an additional component, a Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor (VAWD) Certification which is authorized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and officially permits companies to distribute pharmaceuticals. The current level of certification limits them instead only to distribution of medical-surgical equipment, devices, and other healthcare related equipment which they currently already offer.

Why It’s Hot

Current estimates state that only 10% of scripts are filed via Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs) leaving plenty of room for expansion in that market with the vast majority of scripts being filled by local pharmacies.

The biggest potential benefit Amazon can bring is its core excellence in product distribution. Just as applying their infrastructure to Whole Foods offers people anywhere the opportunity to engage with the Whole foods brand, prescription drug distribution offers the opportunity for patients to experience the customer experience they expect with Amazon.

Even the biggest advantage the local pharmacy can offer, its ability to give the patient face to face access to their pharmacist, has the potential to be challenged. Considering Amazon’s significant investment in voice-activated tech, Alexa, or her virtual co-worker name TBD, can surely provide quicker, friendlier service with the ability to access a catalog of knowledge larger than any human pharmacist can manage.

It will also force significant portions of a US $440 billion market to rethink how it serves its customers. After all, why shouldn’t the process of having your Advair script refilled be just as simple as clicking your Bounty paper towel or Scott toilet paper Amazon Dash Button?

Any way you slice it, Amazon should be able to win in the pharmaceutical distribution experience.

HQ Provides a Glimpse Into the Future of Mobile Gaming and Live Video

Everyone reading this is playing HQ, right? It’s pretty amazing. A live trivia game is hardly anything new – dating back to not only television but radio! – but it’s very well done. And it feels like one of those things that is right place/right time.

HQ is a new live mobile trivia game for iOS from the creators of the late short-form video app Vine. Each day, at 3PM and 9PM ET, the app comes to life for around 13 minutes. A well-dressed host — either New York-based comedian Scott Rogowsky or British on-air personality Sharon Carpenter — then rattles off 12 multiple choice questions live on camera, while a busy live text chat flows at the bottom of the screen. Answer every question correctly and you’ll be one of a small handful of people that splits a $250 prize pool.

Why It’s Hot:

So much of technology in recent years has been about allowing us to connect on our own time, remotely. Perhaps counterintuitively, HQ works because it forces everyone to be playing the game at the exact same time. It’s thrilling in a way that no other social service has been able to provide. It challenges the “on demand” trend and focuses on getting everyone participating to the same thing, at the same time.

 

UI matters more than you think

Turns out the USS McCain collision was ultimately caused by UI confusion.

The US Navy just issued its report on the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain and found that both collisions were avoidable accidents. And in the case of the USS McCain, the accident was in part caused by an error made in switching which control console on the ship’s bridge had steering control.

The ship’s commanding officer noticed the Helmsman having difficulty maintaining course while also adjusting the throttles for speed control. So the CO ordered the watch team to split the responsibilities for steering and speed control. “This unplanned shift caused confusion in the watch team, and inadvertently led to steering control transferring to the Lee Helm Station without the knowledge of the watch team,” the report found.

McCain Console

In the commotion that ensued, the commanding officer and bridge crew lost track of what was going on around them. The Lee Helmsman corrected the throttle problem, but the recovery didn’t come in time. “In the course of 3 minutes of confusion in a high traffic sea channel, the McCain was in irreversible trouble. These actions were too late, and…the JOHN S MCCAIN crossed in front of ALNIC’s bow and collided,” the report states.

Read more here.

Why It’s Hot
Good design matters to more than just aesthetics and sales. As seen from this example, sometimes it’s literally life and death.

HoloPlayer One – A Three Dimensional Holographic Interface

This past weekend I went to the PlaycraftingNYC indie game expo and saw a bunch of aweosme innovative games and tech. The one that stood out to me the most is the HoloPlayer One by Looking Glass Factory. It’s a three-dimensional interface that allows multiple people to interact with holograms with full-color, fully dynamic floating 3D worlds/objects with a touch of their fingers.

 

The 3D worlds are visible from a range in front of the device, so multiple people can view the world without the use of VR glasses.

 

 

The interface detects touch in a three-dimensional way, so you can create 3D objects by just touching the air inside the hologram.

 

 

I got to sculpt a 3D object the same way you would with clay, move lighting around a 3D world, and even use a sword to slice up fruit in a 3D version of Fruit Ninja.

 

The team is based in Greenpoint and said we can come by anytime to check it out or have them come in to give us a demo of it. They have a free Unity3D SDK that developers can use to create experiences for the HoloPlayer One. The device is set to launch at the end of November.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Unique three-dimensional interface
  • VR without needing googles
  • Based in NYC and can come in to demo it for us

More info: https://lookingglassfactory.com/product/holoplayer-one/

They just announced a class through PlaycraftingNYC to teach you how to create hologram experiences: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hack-the-hologram-with-unity-tickets-39410817817?mc_cid=7b7c55772a&mc_eid=7dee0694e7

How Europe Is Taking Online Privacy to the Next Level

The GDPR is coming, the GDPR is coming!…but WTF does it mean?

EU’s General Data Protection Regulation sounds pretty scary, and I think it is. Scary moreso because of the unknowns: How strict or lenient will some of the provisions be interpreted? How will they be enforced?  Will brands ever be able to engage European audiences the same again? Why would anyone eat haggis?

A recent study published this week summarized some of the European sentiment around their data usage and protection, and they did us an awesome favor by providing some nifty charts.

  1. Value Exchange: 83 percent of EU respondents said they prefer free online content with accompanying ads over paying for content, and 69 percent said they would allow their browser data to be accessed in exchange for the free experience.
  2. Constantly giving consent is a drag, man.  Half of Europeans prefer to have access to information that explains how their data is being used for advertising, with the option of stopping any use of their data that they object to, instead of having to approve the use of cookies every time they visit a site.
  3. 3rd Party vs 1st Party data struggles: Publishers feel consumers will give consent if their site access is reduced as a consequence of not consenting — a similar approach to what publishers have done to deter ad blockers.However, the GDPR has banned publishers from reducing site access if users don’t consent.

4. Publishers don’t feel so great: The majority (64 percent) of respondents said they weren’t confident that people would agree to share data with other companies, and only 21 percent said they were “moderately confident.”

5. A place for Online ads: 42 percent indicated that they’re fine with sharing their browsing data for advertising purposes, saying they don’t mind seeing personalized ads in exchange for free news, content or services. Only 20 percent, however, said they were OK with sharing their data with third parties for advertising purposes.

Source: GfK/IAB Europe; PageFair

Why its Hot:

We sometimes take the data that powers our precise targeting for granted. We’ve fed off the cookie for years although some day I’m sure we’ll all look back and say: ‘remember the times we had to rely on a cookie to target our campaigns?’ just like we have flashbacks now about putting tracking codes in print ads (yea the old dude said it).

The point of this is, in a very large, important corner of the world, today, they are making huge strides to regulate personal data and protect consumers. It is not just being talked about, it is happening. It will have tremendous implications on how we conduct our business on global campaigns, potentially limiting scale and targeting options and creating disparity within select audience segments who adopt opt-out behaviors or fail to see value of content that is funded by ad dollars on quality publisher sites.

 

See the full findings here.

 

Netflix Show Narcos Allows You To Build An Empire Within Facebook Messenger

To promote the new season of Narcos, Netfrecentlynlty launched Narcos: Cartel Simulator, a game created to be played fully within the Facebook Messenger app.

The game takes place in 1994, and the aesthetic was drawn from games designed for graphing calculators and other LCD screens in the ’90s.

In the new Messenger game, you play a small-time drug dealer who owes money to the Cali Cartel. It’s essentially a game of supply and demand, as you travel drug marketplaces around the world, trying to buy low and sell high.

Why It’s Hot:

Facebook Messenger is popular among mobile users and quite easy to build within making it a great platform to promote things like new television shows on. The Messenger interface is perfect for a game like this, with most options, served to users as text-only multiple choice. Despite the minimalism, there’s enough to keep you engaged and, in the opening gameplay, quite stressed about your fate if you fail to give the cartel its due.

 

Increased Use of Point of Care Tactics Offer Opportunity For Better In-office Experience

MM&M announced this week that “up to 20% of pharma brands are moving digital media spend to point-of-care tactics” which was grounded in a study fielded by ZS Associates. To a certain extent, this is unsurprising as many forms of digital media such as social and display continue to face increasing scrutiny around the topic of ad fraud.

This will have an impact on two key audiences in healthcare marketing – patients and providers – which if well thought through, should be overwhelmingly positive.

Phreesia Patient Intake Platform

Patients

Platforms such as Phreesia offer patients the opportunity to engage with content as part of the intake process. The biggest challenge here will be placements that are relevant to the specific patient as there is a potential to spend effort on poor placements. Case in point; when I took my son to the pediatrician for his flu shot this year, I was offered the opportunity to “Learn More” about a branded product. The only thing I can recall about the brand is that is had nothing to do with why I was there and wouldn’t be appropriate for my son. Contextual relevance will be critical to success in these moments.

epocrates advertising platform from athenahealth

Providers

HCPs, particularly PCPs, are the target of massive amounts of marketing. Overwhelming is an understatement here. When you consider the necessity of staying abreast of current trends and new therapies, to a certain extent, they need to be exposed to these messages. However, when it’s all said and done, the moment that matters is when the Rx decision is made. The opportunity to be a relevant part of that moment as part of the HCPs workflow in the EHR/EMR offers pharma companies an incredible opportunity. When you consider the number of drugs that don’t have the budget for mass DTC advertising, the HCP really is the decision maker in the therapy of choice.

Why It’s Hot

While contextual relevance for audiences is improving and offers plenty of potential, the real win will be when a brand can own the conversation across the moments in an office visit.

Consider a diabetes patient checking in for a check-up who is offered a message around potential therapy they may be eligible with a DTC ad based upon key factors pulled through from their EHR.

Then, at the end of the appointment, the HCP if offered a targeted message in the EHR with a savings offer the patient can print and take with them.

With brands doubling down on these POC channels, we have the opportunity to take the in-office experience to new levels.

Adobe’s VR Sound Design Project – #SonicScape

One of Adobe’s newest project involves giving users a 360 interface to edit 3D sounds. Instead of needing to figure out the exact panning, echoing, delays, etc to fake a 3D sounds, this project lets sound designers see and move their audio files in 3D space. This is pretty similar to what I’m used to doing already in 3D games with Unity, but it’s great to see it available for 360 sound design in general.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Innovative way to deal with an interface issue
  • Allows sound designers an easy way to create 360 sounds

It’s just a prototype for now, but may be making into into an Adobe product in the future.

Marriott + Slack = Thumbs Up

 

Marriott has introduced a new Slack extension that lets teams browse and book hotel rooms directly in their chats. There is even an emoji feature.

The user provides a city and dates, and the extension will serve up a handful of options. Everyone in the chat can then vote using Slack’s emoji reactions on which option they want. When the votes are in, you can book the winning hotel right within the slack chat.

The extension is limited to hotels affiliated with Marriott’s Rewards program, but the company promises the Slack tie-in will aways turn up the lowest possible rate.

“Marriott also has the distinction of being the first hotel chain to have a dedicated Slack experience, though the hotel chain has previously dabbled in messaging, with a bot for Facebook Messenger and an iMessage app.

The extension was was built by a company called Snaps, which also makes emoji apps for businesses (and Kim Kardashian, as it turns out), so it’s not surprising they’d bring an emoji component to Slack as well.”

Why it’s hot: This takes some of the pain out of booking hotels (especially for business travel through concur) and allows multiple parties to weigh into booking decisions. Additionally, this further positions Marriott as a leading hotel chain leveraging technology to make their guests lives easier (recently launched an AI chat bot for in-hotel experience).

Source: Mashable

Adaptable Crosswalks

Umbrellium, a London-based design firm, created a prototype of a new, digital cross walk that embeds LED lights in strong high-impact plastic that can withstand the weight and impact of cars.

Here is how the designers thought about prioritizing the pedestrian and adaptive environments:

“Typically, when we hear about road technology, it’s almost always about cars, autonomous vehicles, traffic light control systems, but what we wanted to do is create a pedestrian crossing technology that puts people first, responding to their needs,” he says. In this case, “technology enables a more interactive, fluid, and adaptive relationship between pedestrians and the street–you might almost think of it as a ‘conversational interface’ with the road.”

Here are some examples of how the crosswalk adapts:

  • When raining or if a child runs into the road, the crosswalk creates a larger buffer zone.
  • Near a school, the crossing could create a larger buffer zone when a polluting vehicle is waiting.
  • Early in the morning, when few pedestrians are out, the crossing won’t appear until someone approaches.
  • The crosswalk will adapt over time to the natural path and shortcuts that pedestrians take.

Why It’s Hot: This prototype is still in the beginning stages, but the design firm seems to be on the mark about how to use research and machine learning to create an adaptive system that reflects the variety of needs of a crosswalk and prioritizes the pedestrian. As they continue to develop this prototype they are planning to expand its capabilities, such as providing audible signals for the visually impaired.

Source

Ikea acquires TaskRabbit

Both Ikea and TaskRabbit have confirmed that the Swedish retailer has acquired the gig-economy startup in a deal on Thursday. According to recode:

TaskRabbit had already struck a pilot partnership with Ikea around furniture assembly in the United Kingdom and also had marketed its workers’ ability to put together Ikea items in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The heads of TaskRabbit and Ikea Group: Stacy Brown-Philpot (left) and Jesper Brodin

The heads of TaskRabbit and Ikea Group: Stacy Brown-Philpot (left) and Jesper Brodin

Why it’s hot

Ikea has already shown that it wants to get serious about digital innovation with the launch of it’s Ikea Place AR app. TaskRabbit’s firm ties to Silicon Valley – with its CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot, a former Google exec and a board member at HP Inc. – will mark a larger step into tech space for Ikea.

Learn more: https://www.recode.net/2017/9/28/16377528/ikea-acquisition-taskrabbit-shopping-home-contract-labor

Google and Levi’s Make a Connected Jean Jacket

The jacket is Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google—is the result of a partnership between Levi’s and Google to integrate a conductive, connected yarn into a garment. It’s still early days, but the jacket offers a glimpse into connected clothing.

The jacket looks like most jean jackets, except for a small device on the left cuff. The black tag contains a wireless radio, a battery, and a processor, but the most important tech in the Jacquard Jacket remains invisible. A section of the left cuff is woven with the special yarn that turns the bottom of your arm into a touchscreen. You pair your phone through a dedicated app, and after setup it asks you to define a few gestures (What happens when you tap twice on the conductive yarn? What if you brush away from yourself, or toward yourself? What should it mean when the light on the tag illuminates?)

Someone who tested out the jacket while riding her bike home explains how her experience worked:

A double-tap on my left arm now sends a ping to Google Maps and delivers the next turn on my navigation, either through the speaker on my phone or whatever headphones I’m wearing. (All the Jacquard Jacket’s connectivity comes through your phone.) If I swipe away, it reads out my ETA. The small motor in my jacket sleeve buzzes and the light comes on when I get a text or phone call. You can change tracks in your music with a swipe, or to count things like the miles you ride or the birds you see on your way home. The jacket was designed with bike commuters in mind, and the functionality follows suit

Right now, the designers say they’re looking for more feedback. They want to know what people do with the jacket, and what they wish it could do. It goes on sale for $350 in a couple of high-end clothing stores on September 27, before hitting Levi’s stores and website on October 2.

Why it’s hot:

Although this is not yet a revolutionary item, it gives us a peek into the capabilities and use cases for connected clothing – whether that be commuting bikers or city-dwellers looking for directions, or someone wanting to change their music without taking out their phone. This could also have implications for the vision-impaired trying to navigate their way through a metro area, etc.

Source: Wired

Where Walmart’s Marc Lore Is Trying to One-Up Amazon

Tapping brick-and-mortar network for an edge

The head of ecommerce for Walmart, Marc Lore, acknowledges that the company has work to do to catch up with Amazon in some respects, but that doesn’t mean Amazon has the advantage in every digital matchup.

Lore said Walmart’s more than 1.2 million employees in the US, as well as its more than 4,600 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the US population, are among its “unique assets.” They give Walmart advantages, he said, such as the ability to offer online ordering for grocery pickup, currently available in 1,000 stores.

The comments came only days after the company announced its partnership with smart-lock startup August Home to test delivering fresh produce straight to customers’ refrigerators.

As Amazon continues to expand into various areas of consumers’ lives and reshapes how people shop via its successful Alexa-powered voice assistants like the Echo devices, Walmart is partnering with Google to offer a feature where consumers can shop for Walmart items via Google Assistant voice shopping. The partnership also involves Walmart integrating its “Easy Reorder” feature to Google Express so Google can recommend a personalized weekly shopping list based on consumers’ prior purchase history.

How this deal came about also highlights the importance of the partnership for Google. In fact, Google was the one that approached Walmart first about the partnership.

“It’s been a perfect partnership,” Lore said. “We are a retailer. We don’t claim to be a tech company. … Google has more tech prowess. We are looking through the lens of how we can be the best merchant in the world. … The two of us are stronger than anyone alone.”

Why it’s hot:

  • Fascinating to see how the power of voice is continuing to be at the forefront of brands’ priorities when it comes to understanding and responding to consumers’ needs
  • The boundaries of cool vs. creepy keep getting pushed (would you be ok with a brand delivering food and restocking your fridge for you when you aren’t home?)

buy your next couch online…

Campaign may be to furniture what Casper is to mattresses. Finally you can get the previously mythical combination of quality furniture that is shippable using normal delivery methods, and that requires minimal assembly. It’s also billed as being “built for life”, with prices on par with Crate and Barrel, or West Elm, and ships for “free”.

Why It’s Hot:
Great products are designed around removing pain points from the customer experience. The long transit times (and coordinating final delivery) that can come with freight shipping (+the cost), and the overly frustrating and laborious assembly required with other furniture purchased digitally are two major headaches when buying furniture online. Campaign solves for both. Meanwhile, IKEA is still trying to figure out how to make a flat-packable couch.

Play with your food before you eat it

Kabaq is an augmented reality menu that will let you preview a 3D version of each dish before you commit to it. Users who want to see their order before they are served can the menu item and interact with a 360-degree simulation. This helps visualize ingredients, portion sizes, and side dishes. The app is meant to inspire cautious eaters to try new dishes.

Currently, 15 restaurants have signed on to test out Kabaq, with around 150 food items onboard. The AR service costs between $150-$200 each month. Aside from menu previews, the 3D models can also be used on websites, social media, and marketing materials, as well as accessible in the Kabaq AR app. The startup is working on an API to make the 3D food library accessible for food delivery, cookbooks, catering and menu prep services in the future.

Source: PSFK

Why it’s hot/not:

This might help some restaurants from a ‘wow’ factor perspective, however I do think this is not a great thing for a few reasons.

  • This has the risk of increasing the time patrons spend at restaurant tables, increasing the turnaround time for new customers – which might threaten overall restaurant revenue and user experience (longer wait times)
  • Unless the restaurants have some great, photo worthy food, this might deter some users from ordering what they might have previously.

Google and Walmart Partner With Eye on Amazon

Google and Walmart are testing the notion that an enemy’s enemy is a friend.

The two companies said Google would start offering Walmart products to people who shop on Google Express, the company’s online shopping mall. It’s the first time the world’s biggest retailer has made its products available online in the United States outside of its own website.

The partnership, announced on Wednesday, is a testament to the mutual threat facing both companies from Amazon.com.

But working together does not ensure that they will be any more successful. For most consumers, Amazon remains the primary option for online shopping. No other retailer can match the size of Amazon’s inventory, the efficiency with which it moves shoppers from browsing to buying, or its many home delivery options.

The two companies said the partnership was less about how online shopping is done today, but where it is going in the future. They said that they foresaw Walmart customers reordering items they purchased in the past by speaking to Google Home, the company’s voice-controlled speaker and an answer to Amazon’s Echo. The eventual plan is for Walmart customers to also shop using the Google Assistant, the artificially intelligent software assistant found in smartphones running Google’s Android software.

Walmart customers can link their accounts to Google, allowing the technology giant to learn their past shopping behavior to better predict what they want in the future. Google said that because more than 20 percent of searches conducted on smartphones these days are done by voice, it expects voice-based shopping to be not far behind.

“We are trying to help customers shop in ways that they may have never imagined,” said Marc Lore, who is leading Walmart’s efforts to bolster its e-commerce business.

Google is a laggard in e-commerce. Since starting a shopping service in 2013, it has struggled to gather significant momentum. Initially, it offered free same-day delivery before scrapping it. It also tried delivery of groceries before abandoning that, too.

If Amazon is a department store with just about everything inside, then Google Express is a shopping mall populated by different retailers. There are more than 50 retailers on Google Express, including Target and Costco. Inside Google Express, a search for “toothpaste” will bring back options from about a dozen different retailers.

Google said it planned to offer free delivery — as long as shoppers met store purchase minimums — on products purchased on Google Express. Google had charged customers a $95 a year membership for free delivery. Amazon runs a similar program called Amazon Prime, offering free delivery for members who pay $99 a year.

Source: NY Times

Why it’s Hot

Amazon has been considerably powering forward of late — when it comes to partnerships, integrations, and expansions — and one was left wondering where the competition would net out. The future implications about data and voice integration are more interesting than the retail implications today, since Google is king at data integration.