Experience Virtual Travel from Yosemite to Amsterdam with These Livestreams

Virtual Travel: Webcams activated around the world are giving millions of shut-ins access to new ways of keeping cabin fever at bay. A low-fi solution for people facing bandwidth challenges, or burned out on Netflix.

Why It’s Hot: In a world where people are disconnected from one another in so many ways – unified by a common tragedy, but primarily “seeing” one another through the lens of news media – it’s nice to nice to have real, unfiltered reminders of the amazing and beautiful things that are still out there, connecting us all to one another.

As more cities around the world feel the effects of the coronavirus and government shutdowns, virtual travel is becoming more of a necessity. Cities and hotels around the world are opening up webcams, so you can tap into life far, far away from your own home. These live streams let you see Hawaii’s oceans, Croatia’s islands, Tokyo’s streets, and Kenya’s highlands (among others) in real time, making it even easier to picture yourself in far-off places. So grab a plate of your favorite food, snuggle up in your comfiest chair, and get ready to virtually visit some seriously beautiful destinations.

Sydney, Australia

Easily one of the higher-quality videos on this list, Webcam Sydney provides a gorgeous livestream of the Sydney Harbour. You can easily spot the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and The Rocks in the panoramic shot; make sure to sneak a peak when the sun goes down (which is about when the sun comes up in the U.S.) to see the harbor’s glittering nighttime lights.

Watch the livestream here.

Northern Lights, Canada

Trying to spot the elusive Northern Lights usually involves camping out in the cold in the middle of the night, desperately hoping for perfect weather and conditions (and even then it still might not happen). This Northern Lights webcam in Manitoba, Canada, makes the process much easier, letting us watch the night sky from the warmth of our homes. If the idea of waiting for a spark of light on your computer screen is still too much effort, the site also shows a highlights reel and lets viewers post screenshots of their findings.

Watch the livestream here.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Possibly the most famous fountain in the world, the Trevi Fountain is a Baroque masterpiece depicting Neptune atop a chariot pulled by sea horses. The Roman landmark is typically surrounded by masses of tourists, but currently sits quiet thanks to Italy’s nationwide lockdown. The resulting livestream really shows off the fountain’s design—and it’s strangely relaxing, too.

Watch the livestream here.

Yosemite Falls, California

The Yosemite webcam is one of our favorites. It streams the 2,424-foot-tall waterfall’s top section, Upper Yosemite Falls, in its scenic, roaring glory. The peak flow occurs in early summer as the snow starts to melt, but it’s looking pretty awesome right now.

Watch the livestream here.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls is on display, thanks to a live webcam.


Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

Sailboats, yachts, sunsets: What more could you want while stuck at home? This webcam gives viewers an all-encompassing look into the waterfront life of Bermuda‘s historic Royal Naval Dockyard, which is still used to house cruise ships, museums, and artsy shops.

Watch the livestream here.

CN Tower, Toronto

Get sweeping views of Toronto from this webcam located on top of the CN Tower, the city’s tallest—and most iconic—landmark at 1,815 feet. You can switch between east- and west-facing cameras, letting you see Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands, the Royal Ontario Museum, and much more.

Watch the livestream here.

Hvar, Croatia

The country’s most popular island for nightlife and yachters, Hvar is also Croatia’s sunniest spot. Luckily for those of us stuck with cramped quarters and cloudy weather, the Croatian island offers a 24/7 panoramic webcam showing off its port and the Pakleni islands in the distance. The view is especially gorgeous during sunrise and sunset.

Watch the livestream here.


Thailand has just about everything we’re craving right now: Beautiful beaches, rich culture, and some of the most luxurious resorts on the planet. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has a live stream view conveniently located on YouTube, where people can take a look at a number of Thai destinations (arranged in a tidy collage) from the comfort of their home.

Watch the livestream here.

Cancun, Mexico

The beach is the main attraction at NIZUC Resort & Spa, located on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. Anyone craving some waves and sunshine can now tune into the resort’s live webcam, which offers a perfect shot of the shoreline and stretches of water.

Watch the livestream here.

Shibuya Crossing, Japan

The Japan National Tourism Organization is currently encouraging people to satisfy their wanderlust remotely, with virtual experiences showcasing the best of the country. Our favorite is the Shibuya Crossing webcam, which overlooks Tokyo’s busiest intersection. It’s not quite as crowded as usual these days, but it’s still pretty crowded by current social-distancing standards—you might even end up grateful for your quarantine situation after watching the “Shibuya scramble” for a few seconds.

Watch the livestream here.

Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing is usually packed with pedestrians.


Kauai, Hawaii

Bring some real-time Hawaiian surf into your living room, courtesy of rental company Great Vacation Retreats. Their webcam faces the popular PKs surf break on Kauai, showing off the island’s natural landscapes among the killer waves.

Watch the livestream here.

Niagara Falls

While most of Niagara’s tours and visitor facilities are closed (on both the Canadian and U.S. sides), the surrounding state parks and trails are still open—for now, at least. But if you want to practice true social distancing, we recommend checking out the Niagara Falls live webcam, presented by the Hilton Fallsview Hotel in Ontario. The sound of the crashing water is pure white noise bliss, and the camera’s aerial view is better than what you’d see in person.

Watch the livestream here.

Dam Square, Amsterdam

Like many major cities around the world, Amsterdam has closed its attractions, restaurants, and bars to curb the spread of COVID-19. We love this webcam of Dam Square (the city’s hopping central spot), which oscillates to provide great shots of the area’s streets, sculptures, and stunning architecture. And if you’re feeling really lonely, there are still a few residents strolling around.

Watch the livestream here.

Central Kenya

Situated in the highlands of central Kenya, the Mpala Research Centre is a 48,000-acre “living laboratory” that welcomes scientist and researches from around the globe. Their webcam provides a 24/7 feed of one of the watering holes on their property, where you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot hippos, leopards, zebras, and more at any given moment. (I’m watching three very hungry giraffes as I type this.)

Watch the livestream here.

Wildlife webcams, multiple locations

Do you want even more action in your livestream life? Be sure to check out our compilation of wildlife webcams around the world, showcasing elephants in South Africa, endangered gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and tons of sea creatures in zoos and aquariums. The eerily hypnotic sea jelly cam at California’s Aquarium of the Pacific is a personal favorite.

Brands tap into growing ASMR Video trend

We all know tax season is a stressful time, especially if a) you’ve never done it before and b) you have to do it yourself (Turbo-Tax-style). H&R, known for its vast network of tax experts,  uses humor and the popular ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) which is “the experience of a tingling season on the skin often triggered by specific auditory and visual stimuli such as whispering”, to de-stress and help millennials feel more relaxed during tax season.

The fact that the brand can actually back up the idea of ‘peace of mind’ by having real people available to talk to (unlike Turbo Tax which mostly focuses on their online tool) makes this entertaining piece of content more believable and endearing.

JetBlue also tapped into this growing trend very recently to create a 9-minute long soundtrack YouTube video with the purpose of calming passengers during the extra stressful holiday traveling season. The video is called “AirSMR” and it features sounds of a standard JFK airport Terminal: suitcases rolling, fingers tapping a keyboard, and planes taking off and touching down (but none of the really annoying sounds of TSA agents or crying babies of course).


JetBlue shared the video on YouTube and other social media channels like Instagram, which, interestingly, resulted in 100% negative comments due to general negative airport experiences shared by customers. While it’s nice the brand is trying to stay relevant by tapping into this growing trend, it’d have been even better to have released this idea in conjunction with actual meaningful improvements to customers’ travel experiences, or, to have done like H&R Block which used the trend to make their own ads more pleasant.

Why it’s hot: Today’s always-on, overstimulated lives are causing extreme levels of burnout. Smart brands will look for ways their advertising and/or their experiences can  help today’s burnout consumers de-stress, reset and reboot.

Immortalized in Film…? Not so fast.

Tencent Shows The Future Of Ads; Will Add Ads In Existing Movies, TV Shows

One of China’s largest online video platforms is setting out to use technology to integrate branded content into movies and TV shows from any place or era.

(Yes, a Starbucks on Tatooine…or Nike branded footwear for the first moonwalk.)

Why It’s Hot:  

  1. Potentially exponential expansion of available ad inventory
  2. Increased targetability by interest, plus top-spin of borrowed interest
  3. Additional revenue streams for content makers
  4. New questions of the sanctity of creative vision, narrative intent and historical truth

Advertising is an integral part of any business and with increasing competition, it’s more important than ever to be visible. Mirriad, a computer-vision and AI-powered platform company, recently announced its partnership with Tencent which is about the change the advertising game. If you didn’t know, Tencent is one of the largest online video platforms in China. So how does it change the advertising game, you ask?

Mirriad’s technology enables advertisers to reach their target audience by integrating branded content (or ads) directly into movies and TV series. So, for instance, if an actor is holding just a regular cup of joe in a movie, this new API will enable Tencent to change that cup of coffee into a branded cup of coffee. Matthew Brennan, a speaker and a writer who specialises in analysing Tencent & WeChat shared a glimpse of how this tech works.

While we’re not sure if these ads will be clickable, it’ll still have a significant subconscious impact, if not direct. Marketers have long talked of mood marketing that builds a personal connection between the brand and the targeted user. So, with the ability to insert ads in crucial scenes and moments, advertisers will now be able to engage with their target users in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Mirriad currently has a 2-year contract with Tencent where they’ll trial exclusively on the latter’s video platform. But if trials are successful in that they don’t offer a jarring viewing experience, we can soon expect this tech to go mainstream.

Blurring the media lines, in a world where content is king

Dream Team, the fantasy football offshoot from U.K. tabloid The Sun, has had a retention problem. From one year to the next, the free-to-play game would have to reacquire two-thirds of its audience who signed up to play the previous year, which is typically around 1 million subscribers. As well as wasted effort, re-acquiring audiences costs more than retaining them.

To address this churn, Dream Team built a new content vertical including a newsletter and YouTube series around fantasy football last summer. Now it has begun to bear fruits: Dream Team retained 68% of last year’s customers this season, increasing annual audience retention rate 21% year-on-year, and won new branded content clients; however, the publisher was unwilling to share exactly how many people subscribed for the 2019 season.

“We are building a more franchise approach to content,” he said. “As many brands in the digital space find, bringing in audiences with content is easy, but digital content brands can struggle with loyalty and retention.”

After hearing that audiences wanted more fantasy football content — rather than generic football news content — at the start of the football season in August 2018, Dream Team also launched an email newsletter, Dream Team “Coach,” devised in part by Jimmy Lloyd, content development editor. The newsletter, written by football expert Nick Elliott, to add a more personal feel, goes out every Thursday and features tips and hints on which players are likely to play well that weekend for subscribers to switch around their fantasy football teams.

The newsletter now has over 1 million subscribers and an open rate of between 15% and 20%, according to Bearryman. The content is mostly self-contained content, so it doesn’t track click-through rates via links to external stories.

“That was the big shift and was a battle in many ways; people are used to using email a certain way,” said Bearryman. “We looked at Red Box [political newsletter from News UK’s subscription title, The Times of London] and what audiences want from email. Like other off-platform distribution, audiences don’t want to be thrown around.”

As an extension to the newsletter, in February, Dream Team launched “Coach TV” on YouTube, a weekly 20-minute chat show focused on football news. Videos typically get up to 20,000 YouTube views, last season had over 500,000 unique viewers. Over the course of 12 months, viewer retention rate doubled retention rate from 20% to 40%, according to Bearryman. Watch time on season two is over six minutes compared with three minutes last season.

Publishers like BuzzFeed are increasingly making series over one-off episodes in order to bring people back more regularly. It’s this regular viewing that attracts brand budgets too. The success of “Coach TV” was instrumental in signing bookmaker Betway to a season-long branded content campaign. As well as Betway badging alongside the Dream Team logo, the bookmaker gives exclusive betting odds and offers for the “Coach TV” audience. It’s a natural fit as 50% of Dream Team managers have an active betting account. The season-long campaign, exclusive to Dream Team rather than The Sun, cost £1.04 million ($1.27 million). According to Bearryman, the conversion rate of traffic referred to Betway is 2.5%, which compares favorably with Dream Team’s internal content conversion rates.

Over the last year, Dream Team itself has run between 10 and 12 other branded content campaigns across other sub-brands or franchises. One such sub-brand is “Hometown Glory,” a weekly show where former England football player Alex Scott takes other football players back to their hometown. Dream Team is currently in talks with two consumer goods brands for sponsorship for the season.

More franchises are in the works, according to Bearryman.

“We want to build other online sub-brands and franchises to become famous for and reach new audiences,” he said.

Why It’s Hot

A good example of the power Relationships built around common interests – authentically activated across channels, platforms and formats, and orchestrated over time.

IKEA and National Geographic take on “Bedroom Habits”

National Geographic and IKEA® come together to capture and document the human species in one of the most challenging habitats the world has ever seen — the bedroom. 
Ikea isn’t just about meatballs and couches. With its latest campaign, the Swedish retailer wants to be known as sleep experts, so it partnered with National Geographic on a series of films called ‘Bedroom Habitats.’

The faux-nature series looks to capture and document the human species in one of the most challenging habitats — the bedroom. The films cover everything from a comically small mattress to the unrelenting threat of clutter.

 Created by National Geographic with Wavemaker, the four videos in the series will highlight different consumers with varying sleep challenges. The first, ‘Small Bed Battle,’ shows a couple fighting for space in their tiny bed as a narrator gives a documentary style blow-by-blow of the epic struggle. A positive outcome surfaces after the couple goes to Ikea and gets a reasonably-sized bed.

The series will be hosted on a dedicated National Geographic Bedroom Habitats microsite, along with sleep challenges and shoppable solutions, and on National Geographic Instagram stories and its Facebook page. The series will also be supported with paid social and display units.

A complimentary campaign titled ‘Save Our Sleep,’ features the same nature documentary style, highlighting the issue that one-in-three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep, with Ikea offered up as the sleep hero.

Produced by Ogilvy, the ‘Planet Sleep’ television spot showcases how a comfortable bedroom sanctuary can help save endangered sleep through the implementation of simple and affordable sleep solutions, like new lower priced mattresses and ergonomic pillows. It starts by showing tired people in stressed out urban lifestyles. They only become happy as they realize that Ikea is the solution to their sleep problems.

“Trends show that a good night’s sleep might very well be going extinct. Globally, the average number of hours slept has fallen significantly in the past 50 years from eight hours to just a little over six,” said Joy Kelly, US media manager at Ikea. “Having conducted years of extensive research into how people live (and sleep) at home – and implementing those learnings to create a better everyday life – we know Ikea has the complete quality bedroom solutions that can help everyone achieve a good night’s sleep, so we wanted to be sure to showcase that.”

These quirky films mark the start of a larger, year-long campaign by Ikea to combat decreasing sleep levels in today’s society, positioning the retailer as one that is creating hope for the future of sleep.

“With the year-long ‘Save Our Sleep’ campaign, we hope to inspire consumers with simple, affordable bedroom solutions that will go a long way towards a better night sleep,” added Kelly. “Sleep-deprived consumers can be rest assured that Ikea is committed to saving our sleep in 2019 and beyond.”

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.


ASMR: Sounds and Videos That Feel Good

ASMR was once a YouTube niche trend, but now it’s appearing in museums and ads, and funding creative empires. KFC was one of the first brands to capitalize on this phenomenon, but others will likely follow suit.

But what is ASMR?

ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a sensation triggered by soft sounds like whispering, hair brushing, or page turning. Not everyone feels ASMR, but those who do describe a tingling sensation in the base of their skull or the back of their neck. The trend emerged on YouTube in 2008 and shows now sign of slowing down. According to Co. Design,

As of [August 2017], there are over 9 million ASMR videos on YouTube. According to Google’s internal data, ASMR grew over 200% in 2015 and continues to grow consistently. […]


The term ASMR is pseudo-scientific; there hasn’t been any major academic research yet on this subject. Early adopters of ASMR would compile clips of “tingling triggers”—the rustle of trees in nature documentaries, for example, or the sound of typing in a commercial. Bob Ross, the famously ‘fro’ed host of 1990s instructional painting videos, turned out to be a popular source of ASMR found footage. As the community grew online, people began making their own videos. Since ASMR triggers can be different person to person, DIY videos offer up a spectrum of different scenes and scenarios. Some are made of tightly cropped shots of hands popping bubble wrap, crinkling paper, or scratching rough surfaces. Others feature ASMRtists—mainly women—speaking directly into the camera, usually at a whisper (for some, intimate attention triggers ASMR). Still others feature role play and fantastical settings, giving narrative context to the sounds that provoke ASMR feelings. […]


[B]y and large, most people in the ASMR community consider it to be more about relaxation and self-care. Many watch the videos to ease anxiety, insomnia, or depression. Even people who don’t feel the tingling sensation can find the videos therapeutic.

Why it’s hot

ASMR’s is not simply growing in the fringes of the internet. The power that this experience gives artists and others to connect with audiences in a physical and visceral way is bringing it fully into the mainstream. IKEA is one of the brands quick to capitalize on the trend, releasing an ASMR audio version of their traditional catalog.

Read more at Fast Co.

Facebook’s Next Power Grab for Your Attention

Two weeks ago, Facebook talked with dozens of media companies including news outlets such as The New York Times, NowThis and The Washington Post in New York  about their content and monetization product roadmap for 2017. Conversations covered Facebook’s plans to fund original shows, the platform’s focus on getting publishers to distribute more long-form videos for Facebook’s video tab and soon-to-launch TV app, and mid-roll advertising products for live and on-demand videos.

Many publishers agreed it was a step in the right direction for Facebook, which has struggled to build an ad product that helps media partners generate consistent revenue on the platform. What’s troubling some hard-news publishers, however, is that Facebook’s new plans don’t really seem to have their specific interests top of mind, according to multiple news media executives that were in attendance.

Facebook is looking for scripted and unscripted shows covering light genres like entertainment, lifestyle and sports — not hard news. It’s unclear how much Facebook is willing to spend on original content, but the company has been making the rounds in Hollywood to speak with L.A.-based studios and producers, far from New York, where most of the news media is headquartered.

Why? Facebook is after TV money, and the big money on TV is for entertainment content, not the latest atrocity in a war zone.

Why Its Hot:

As Facebook begins to pursue TV studio content , their goal is to provide a better reason to get people to go to the video tab on their phones and their video app. To do that, they’re going to need programming that’s differentiated, and not what people already get in the news feed. It’s a growing trend of original content that we’ve seen over the past several years from the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and cable entities that continues to fragment our options and vie for our ever-increasing time spent staring at screens. However, with more options come more niche targeting possibilities. Something to keep an eye on for brands as original content creation the platforms struggles to be….well, original.

Facebook Is Expanding Ad Breaks for Live and Uploaded Video

Facebook is back at it AGAIN… developing new ways to monetize their platform. The social network will soon be introducing 15 second ad breaks for Facebook Live videos within Facebook’s own app and ad breaks for publisher videos uploaded to Facebook.

It was stated that ad breaks will only be available after 4 minutes of streaming. “Facebook didn’t disclose exactly what the revenue split might be. However, it said pages and profiles with more than 2,000 followers and live audiences of more than 300 people will be able to take advantage of earning money from ads. Facebook ad breaks will only be available after four minutes, with additional ad breaks available after every five minutes.” – Marty Swant

Why It’s Hot:

Ad Breaks will allow brands to take breaks for ads during their live videos. When the broadcaster chooses to take an ad break, people watching the video will see an in-stream ad of up to 15 seconds in length. The broadcaster will earn a share of the resulting ad revenue.

The action of offering in-stream video ads shows that Facebook is trying to capitalize on the success that Google has seen from its YouTube ad offerings. I believe the beauty of live videos is that this raw content isn’t interrupted by the noise of ads so its going to be interesting to see how brands leverage this new feature and if it will result in drop-offs on their live video content.

Learn more here and here.

Growing Number of Americans want Telehealth

American Well ran a Harris Poll to 4,000 consumers in 2016 to ask them about their thoughts on telehealth. In today’s fast-paced, on-the-go world it’s not surprising that a projected 50 million Americans would switch to video visits vs. scheduling an appoint for an in-office visit.

50M Americans would switch their PCP to a doctor who offers telehealth

Telehealth is an important shift in how patients access doctors. 67% of consumers say they delay seeking medical help due to high costs, long wait times, and busy schedules. Consumers still are loyal to their own doctors but want to be able to access them more easily. As such 1 in 5 Americans who switch to a doctor who has telehealth vs. one who does not.

66% of Americans would be willing to see a doctor via video. The highest demographic that are likely to utilize telehealth? Parents with children under 18 and/or those between the ages of 45-54 at 72%.

The applications that patients want to apply to telehealth include:

  • Chronic care condition
  • Post-surgical or hospital stay follow-up
  • Middle of the night care
  • Elderly care
  • Prescription refills
  • Birth control

Why it’s Hot:

The impact of having easy access to healthcare professionals could be huge for Pharma. If patients have more touch points with HCPs and if they were less likely to switch PCPs, would adherence increase?

What would it mean for pharma marketers?

  • Need for increased HCP/Patient shareable digital resources
  • Patient Apps
  • Long Term- decline in HCP office hours? More limited salesforce access?

The Battle Continues: Google Reacts to Facebook’s Latest Video Announcements


This week, just one week after the F8 conference that was so highly focused on Facebook’s commitment to video, Google has made two large announcements concerning its digital video tools.

This week, YouTube and Oracle Data cloud announced that they would begin tracking sales data for select CPG campaigns to connect the power of YouTube campaigns to in-store purchases. Google announced that early tests showed 61 percent of skippable YouTube ads (TrueView ads) generated significant sales increases.

This Gatorade TrueView ad generated $13.05 in sales for every dollar the brand invested in the ad and also generated a 16 percent lift in new buyers who viewed the ad versus those who did not, according to Google.

Also this week, YouTube released its 360 degree feature to creators and brands—kicking off with a T-Mobile sponsored stream of the Coachella festival. This releases comes just a week after Facebook’s announcement of its 360 video and live content hub, demonstrating the growing trends and interest in publishing live content to users.

On the other side, Facebook and Instagram released a beta program this week for interactive video ads, which would allow users to explore products deeper or even be directed to quizzes simply by hovering over a CTA button in the corner of the video. On mobile, the interactive features are available by swiping on the video and going to a landing page. This new format has proven to increase engagement rates significantly.

Why It’s Hot: As YouTube and Facebook go back and forth to claim dominance in the digital video space, both are opening up new features to brands. There is now more opportunity for brands to livestream content to viewers as well as more engaging videos. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see which platform can out-innovate the other, and what new capabilities are most effective for brands.





Excedrin Migraine Experience uses Empathy and Virtual Reality

Excedrin is aspirin, one of the first miracle drugs. As one of the US largest and most memorable brands it is well positioned for headaches, but also for low-level migraines.

To stay vital and relevant, large older brands often reach into the “insight hat” and develop a campaign around that insight. Clearly, in the case of the Excedrin Migraine Experience, the insight was: “as a migraine sufferer, no one really understands what you go through, but let us help.” The impact of empathy can be a strong brand differentiator.

The brand chose different pairs of people — loved one’s, couples, friends — and used the VR experience of what a migraine feels like (which is nauseous and awful) to those people who don’t understand how bad it truly is. The execution is well done and the strategy is powerful: Technology delivering empathy, with a brand helping to bridge the empathy divide between those who do an do not suffer.

“I’ll never doubt you again,” is the title of one testimonial.  On YouTube in less than a week they have over 300k views.



Excedrin mifriane VR HC hpome page 4.14.16Why is this Hot? This demonstrates that even large, older retail brands are trying new strategies to stay relevant and gain new attention. Relevance, in this case, is embracing technology to deliver emotion. The amalgam of Empathy and VR technology is a strategy that while in its nascent stages, is important to watch as it evolves and matures as a strategy for differentiation.

Working in the health vertical, it is clear that between poor reputation, bad User Experience, and stale content, the entire healthcare industry could really use the power of empathy. At the very heart and soul of empathy are the many employees, the creators of miracle after miracle, who could channel that passion to communicate to patients and create greater connection and perhaps treatment favorability. Delivering Empathy through technology might be having a VR experience of how the brain of an ADHD sufferer is wired is one example — for a parent with a child just diagnosed with ADHD that would be very compelling.

It is important to note that Excedrin is an “aisle” brand — pure retail. The real strategy is re-activating awareness of Excedrin and downloading coupons.

Excedin samples page 1 GHS 4.16.16

Netflix signs social media star for scripted series

As a recent “cord-cutter,” my family and I have found more programming on Hulu, Netflix, SlingTV, Kodi, AmazonPrime, ChannelPear than we could watch in a lifetime. Good programming, too. Many of the Golden Globe winners earlier this week were not from network TV programming but from Prime, Netflix, and others.

YouTube is also part of the cord-cutting phenomena. My 6-year-old son can attest to that as he watches Minecart Dan talk about Minecraft playing strategies for hours at a time. We have to rip the tablet out of his hands. Dan and others rack up millions upon millions of views and make big bank with advertisers and content companies.

Well, it appears that social stars and over-the-top programming such as Netflix are joining forces. Netflix just signed a deal with YouTube star Miranda Sings for a scripted series. It will be Netflix’s first scripted series using a social media star, and one of very few examples of social stars crossing over.

Miranda has more than 5 million followers on YouTube and averages around 1.5 MM views per video. Some of her videos have received as many as 17 million views.

The series will be called Haters Back off.

Why It’s Hot

It further shows how the lanes between social and mass market TV are continuing to blur. As more and more people cut the cord and use their ubiquitous access to broadband to stream whatever they want, the paradigm of who the content creators are and what platforms are in demand and being used continues to be in flux. Advertisers will need to keep pace with these changes if they want to continue to reach their target markets.


Red Bull’s Psychedelic BMX Video Cycles Through An Incredible Optical Illusion

Over the past few decades, BMX cycling has evolved from a niche activity for kids who wear jean jackets and listen to punk rock, to a marquee event at the X Games, to a bonafide Olympic sport. But despite all this, the freestyle form—with the jumps, ramps, and stunts—still holds plenty of outsider appeal.

This new video from Red Bull, featuring Scottish BMX pro Kriss Kyle, explains part of how and why Freestyle BMX remains so interesting. The video—called “Kaleidoscope”—transforms a fairly complex course into a giant optical illusion, and sets Kyle loose to ride through both the illusory effects that change around him, and the practical, but complicated, elements.

In addition to the video, Red Bull created a site where fans can learn more about the sport, Kyle, and, of course, Red Bull.

Source: FastCreate


Why This Is Hot?

It’s Red Bull’s DNA, and it’s very well done, which means it appeals to everybody, not just BMX fans.



Nike Launches “Snow Day” Campaign

Nike’s ahead of the game with their first winter campaign of the year to promote their Hyperwarm baselayer apparel, says Adweek. As you can see below, the video spot to kick of this campaign is everything we expect from Nike. It’s packed with athletes, the music is on-point, it’s funny and it makes you want to run out to your nearest retailer, buy some gear and get out there to play your sport of choice. Here is the video for your viewing pleasure:

What’s special about this campaign though is, surprisingly, some of the ad-placements. Not only is Nike kicking off this campaign with another strong video, but they’re also leveraging new, hyper-relevant in-app ads to promote the new clothing line. According to the New York Times, Nike has ad placements within the Weather Channel App that targets specific workout gear to users depending on the weather in their area and, once clicked, directs those users directly to the Nike store where they can purchase these items on either desktop or mobile.

Why It’s Hot

The beauty of this campaign truly lies in the details as this is a great example of a brand creating a strong campaign from top to bottom. It’s both entertaining and convenient for consumers to engage with the brand and it targets consumers to purchase it’s products when they’re in the right mindset.

Wendy’s Challenges BBQ Fans To #CrackTheMasters In Interactive Video Ads

Wendy’s is taking a shot with a new integrated interactive effort promoting limited-time pulled pork menu items. Wendy’s wanted to go beyond the lean-back experience that video ads typically offer, and therefore conceived of a “choose your own adventure”-style creative called #CrackTheMasters.

The resulting video, which is appearing in organic and paid placements on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, introduces viewers to three pitmasters with differing styles: Sauce Master, Smoke Master and Hip Master.

As viewers watch, they’re asked to choose a master to try to “crack.” After making their selection, they’re shuffled to another video featuring the chef they’ve chosen. They must then choose how to convince the master to share his secret recipe. The approaches users can choose from correspond with the three sauce options Wendy’s is offering with its pulled pork sandwich and pulled pork cheese fries: sweet, spicy or smoky.

Once an approach is chosen, a new video — featuring the pit master’s reaction — plays. Viewers are either told they’ve “cracked” the master, or they’re offered the opportunity to try again. With three pitmasters and three different approaches, there are a total of 13 videos to watch for the full experience.


Why It’s Hot

Many digital video ads are either not compelling enough or are targeted too broadly to get most viewers to watch more than the first 5 seconds. By creating an interactive experience targeted to “barbecue-interested” users and millennials, Wendy’s is enjoying positive social engagement, over 300K views on YouTube, 490K views on Facebook and several thousand likes and shares in under two weeks.




Gatorade Puts Audiences Behind the Plate as Bryce Harper

Leveraging Google’s YouTube 360 platform for creating immersive brand experiences, Gatorade is giving users a chance to step up to bat and get in the mind/body of MLB Nationals star Bryce Harper.


Audiences who watch the branded experience are dropped into the world of Harper as a virtual reality imagination of what it’s like to go to bat in a baseball game. The inner monologue, the lights, the warping of time, and of course sponsorships. The Gatorade team used a 14-camera rig to create the real-time video/CGI engagement.

Why It’s Hot

Gatorade demonstrates the power that engaging content marketing can have. Brands can embed themselves into meaningful, powerful experiences… not just float around the periphery as an advertiser that gets in the way of a person’s interest. Gatorade succeeds because they created something visceral that grips viewers, surrounding them with subtle brand experience that suggests what it might be like to use, experience or benefit from the product… without ever directly saying it.

Via AdAge

Friskies Long Form Commercial Kills

I don’t know if anyone else has seen this ad, but Friskies has been running this ad on YouTube and is not only hilarious (well, hopefully it’s funny to all of you!) but engaging.  The POV is an older cat giving a kitten advice on different things in life.  The video is almost 4 minutes long, and is skippable very early on (when shown as pre-roll).  My husband, who HATES ads, laughed with me through the whole thing, not ever asking if we could skip.

Why It’s Hot

1.) Smart way to put a brand message out.  The video doesn’t push the brand too much, but you see just enough to know it’s for Friskies

2.) Engaging: Whoever made the ad ensured that it was funny enough to engage people to watch the whole thing.  It was posed one week ago and already has over 2.2MM views.

3.) Interesting use of a YouTube brand channel: Friskies is posting a bunch of “Dear Kitten” videos in this series.  Being part crazy cat lady, I subscribed… the videos are entertaining!

VW Listened and They Crafted

“Volkswagen Netherlands aired a TV spot in April in which VW owners had great expectations for their other possessions—including one mother who couldn’t understand why baby strollers don’t have automatic braking.”

VW then decided that their ad was relevant enough to share with their Facebook fans so they did just that! However, they didn’t realize what could come of this post. The most-liked comment came from a fan who suggested that VW build a futuristic stroller, just like the one seen in the commercial. And leave it to VW, they did just that and created a video to showcase the process.

In the video, you’ll notice that it includes a cameo from the Facebook fan himself, and also shows some humorous footage of the stroller in action.

Why It’s Hot

“People don’t want to be paid, they want to be paid attention to.” Ultimately, VW truly leveraged social listening and was able to deliver relevant content that was specific and demanded by their audience. This allowed them to establish engagement organically, which is something that is becoming less common on Facebook.

Periscope Live Feeds from Around the World

According to Mashable.com, Periscope, the live video streaming app was just updated to make it “possible to jump in and out of live streams across the globe.”

You can hop from Paris where you can watch people at the Eiffel Tower to a restaurant in Brazil by browsing the map for these locations and pop into people’s streams at your leisure.

“The app is now at version 1.1 and has support for 29 languages. The update also lets you replay streams instantly, without having to wait for the video to upload. Another new feature lets you tweet a link to streams you’re watching.”

Read more here.


Why It’s Hot

While this is a big update for Periscope, the article notes that the app is still pretty bare. Users can search for people to follow, but can’t search for streams by hashtag, for example, despite the acquisition by Twitter.

“Periscope was launched just as competing live-stream app Meerkat was picking up steam. Meerkat was hyped to be the next breakout app until Periscope launched and took off quickly.”

Brands such as Spotify and Mountain Dew have already jumped on the Periscope bandwagon.


The Golden Touch Of Interactive Videos

Recently, a famous Japanese pop star released her new music video that was both fun and interactive. The video is “reminiscent of the classic Canadian campaign from Skittles that played around with the same idea.”- Gabriel Beltrone

Undoubtedly, videos that create user experiences create brand recognition. Also, considering the pool of video content now being displayed socially, brands are finding it more difficult to stand out and engage with their audiences organically. This is certainly an interesting, share-worthy idea that grasps the viewers attention.

Why It’s Hot

Everyday we see the effect that video content has socially but what makes these videos truly interactive is that they create user experiences. This simple concept made me watch the entire video clip from start to finish and was able to keep me entertained and acknowledge the brands.

Connected TV Penetration at 56%

Leichtman Research Group says 56% of all U.S. homes have at least one television set connected to the Internet from a smart TV, video game set-top box, blu-ray player, and/or an Internet-connected TV-video device, such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV. This is up from 44% in 2013, and 24% in 2010. 52% of households have a subscription video on-demand service from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu Plus.


Some 33% of adults on a daily basis, and 58% weekly, watch video on non-TV devices — home computers, mobile phones, iPads, tablets, and eReaders. This is up from 27% daily, and 53% weekly two years ago.

Why It’s Hot: We currently leverage connected data sets (assignment of unique user IDs to all devices used/owned) to understand how people are reached by our TV commercials and to use digital video channels to provide a more optimal video experience to those people; e.g., delivering more exposure to those who are under-reached, exposing those who have been viewing our competitors’ commercials, et al. However, TV still dominates in terms of penetration and offers almost no control over message delivery (e.g., targeting, frequency management). As more HHs convert to connected TVs and as viewing shifts from linear TV to on-demand, subscription-based TV, marketers will have much more control over message delivery and theoretically, will deliver an experience that is better for the consumer (no more message bombardment caused by marketers who are trying to attain 1% more reach) and for business.

Millennial-Mobile “How-To” Searches Explode On YouTube

“Explainer” videos an often overlooked content marketing opportunity. Well, not anymore…

Google says that “how-to” searches on YouTube have grown 70 percent year-over-year, adding that “more than 100 million hours of how-to content have been watched in North America so far this year.” And guess what, much of this activity on YouTube is happening on mobile devices.

youtube-iconsbkgd-1920According to Google, “91 percent of smartphone users turn to their smartphone for ideas while doing a given task.” Google also reports that the largest demographic group doing these “how-to” lookups is Millennials.

Perhaps most interesting to marketers, the company points out that roughly 30 percent of Millennials report buying a product as a result of watching a how-to video. Google refers to these “how-to” mobile queries as “moments of intent.”

And some companies are already taking advantage of this. For example, paint brand Valspar’s YouTube channel has content that spans from project inspiration and color guidance to painting processes and tools, helping people throughout the purchase journey. According to Heidi Petz, VP of Marketing at Valspar, “seeking content can happen early in the project for those who plan in advance, during store visits to guide purchase decisions, and even in the middle of painting a room for those who didn’t prepare or want to ensure they are ‘doing it right, and Mobile is increasingly becoming the dominant way [consumers] access our content.”

To get familiar with Google’s best practices to leverage this “trend?” read the full article here


Why this is hot? At the beginning of the social revolution, everybody was talking about “bringing value to consumers’ lives”. Today, the motto is still valid, but not necessary exclusive to social.

Geico Makes Clever Pre-Roll Ads That Are Basically Unskippable

Viewership rates for YouTube preroll ads are generally abysmal. According to some research, 94 percent of preroll gets skipped immediately after the first five seconds (which are unskippable). And in fact, that number seems low.

Part of the problem is, very few marketers specifically tailor ads to pre-roll—they prefer simply to run their TV spots unchanged. But that ignores the fact that those first five seconds are crucial. If you don’t hook people then, you’ll lose them.

Geico understands this, though, and is rolling out some fun new digital ads on March 2nd—from The Martin Agency—that really put the emphasis on those first five seconds. Absurdly and comically so. The ads will run as :15s, :30s and even longer spots, but what happens after the first five seconds is part of the humor.

Two executions, “Family” and “High Five,” rolled out 3/2 in various lengths. Two more are coming soon.

Why It’s Hot

It’s a constant challenge to get the message of your video ad across in the first few seconds of a pre-roll spot.  Many times, ads have a 5 second skip, where users can move on to what they planned to watch after 5 seconds.  If users watch for a longer period of time, it’s great… but not many people watch the whole commercial.  This is a great example of a cheeky way to 1.) get your message across quickly and 2.) get people to watch your full video (note that they had the Geico logo across the screen in the entire video).  I’m interested to see how their completion rates turn out!

While consumers tune in to TV often, they mentally tune out, quickly

On average, television holds a consumer’s attention only 39% of the time — a rate that pales in comparison to the attention rates that laptops (70%), tablets (76%) and smartphones (77%) command. That’s according to a new report from Nielsen and YuMe, a digital video ad tech firm that commissioned the study.

nielsen attn to tv

Over a two-month period, Nielsen and YuMe conducted in-lab observations on 200 consumers in Las Vegas. The consumers were told to engage with any of the devices (TV, smartphone, tablet and laptop) as they would at home for 20 minutes, and their actions were recorded. Nielsen and YuMe ended their experiment with 50 hours of video footage, and they claim the footage was then analyzed “second-by-second” to measure consumer attentiveness. The full study will be released later this week.

Why It’s Hot: Many marketers’ channel plans continue to be television dominant, even as consumers continue to shift viewing time toward other screens. Studies like this are proving that, in addition to the purchasing efficiency of digital video (particularly for longer spots), this developing channel does a better job of capturing consumers’ attention with programming as well as advertising. While digital video doesn’t offer the penetration of TV yet, and therefore isn’t a replacement, it has demonstrated that it can produce better returns for many marketers.

Foot Locker’s video suggests untapped potential to target users based on location

Foot Locker’s effort made the top Instagram video chart among retailers, picking up nearly 28,000 likes and comments since Jan. 29 with a post for its Penn Station location in New York City.

But Foot Locker’s successful post ran nationwide, since Instagram doesn’t offer marketers a location-targeting feature, raising an intriguing question: Should the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app incorporate the ability to zero in on consumers based on their whereabouts?

The short answer is yes. Location-based targeting features are a must for large retailers with multiple locations, and mobile is the key to driving customers  to the local store, which gives Instagram, both a visual and mobile platform, the upper-hand in the mobile, traffic-funneling retail game.


Why this is hot?

Brands will be able to serve relevant videos to users on Instagram, whenever they need it, and wherever they are, increasing traffic to their locations in a more engaging way.


Source: AdWeek


YouTube To Block “Middleman” Video Sponsorship

Google has revised its YouTube advertising policy in a move that tries to centralize all ad messaging through Google—shifting the power to solicit content sponsorship away from creators, YouTube stars and publishers.

The tactic in question is the use of “graphical title cards,” which can be persistent or temporary visual overlays to the video content, displaying a sponsor’s brand/product logo throughout the length of the video. Moving forward, the only way to get that type of message in a video will be to buy it directly through Google as part of a larger media plan purchase. Note: according to Google, text-only title cards are still allowed.


Google says the policy change is meant to moderate the number of ads that users see in a given visit, but critics say the move is intended to be more of a revenue “land grab” that takes a slice of content creators’ revenue.

Playing into the trend towards short-form video advertisements, Google has introduced a new six-second pre-roll ad unit that enables brands to insert quick messages before the intended video is viewed.

Why It’s Hot

YouTube has become a critical component of how social media stars and vloggers have gained their internet stardom. Google is making a bold statement on who controls sponsored messages on its platform, at the expense of the content creators themselves. Only time will tell if publishers curb to these new demands, or whether video starlets try to migrate away from the all-mighty video platform.

Source: DigiDay

The Future of Online Sports Viewing Is Bright for Both Fans and Marketers

Television, the long-dominant medium for sports consumption, is quickly losing ground as audiences everywhere turn to computers, phones, tablets and streaming set-top boxes to watch their favorite games online. These digital platforms are winning the battle for audience attention by providing the kind of flexibility and control that consumers can’t get from standard cable contracts. For example, if you live in New York but root for a team in Chicago, in all likelihood you can’t consistently watch your team’s games on TV. Online streaming solves the problem wherever there’s an Internet connection.

Why It’s Hot
These advantages are already driving impressive audience growth in the digital space. According to Adobe Digital Index (ADI), the average consumer viewed 4.2 authenticated sports videos per month in Q3 2014, a healthy 10.5 percent increase year-over-year. Furthermore, audiences will soon to be able to stream ESPN and other channels that broadcast sports, such as TNT and TBS, for as little as $20 per month on emerging Web-TV services. Cord cutting even
took a chunk out of TV ratings from the Big Game this past Sunday. NBC reported that a peak of 1.3 million people streamed the broadcast concurrently, a record for a championship game.

Marketers may consider reaching fans more efficiently with a less expensive, multi-channel digital campaign that can be both targeted and measured than moving forward with a seven-figure TV ad. There is potential for brand lift, as ADI explains, online viewers see 66 percent more ads per video when watching sports content than they do when watching non-sports content.
The digital space will also have a huge impact on how major North American sports leagues compete for international attention. While leagues, sponsors and sports networks won’t be able to easily reach audiences abroad via TV, the barriers to entry online are so much lower. According to ADI, the major basketball, football and baseball leagues have already generated respectable social buzz outside of the United States. This should continue to increase as steaming services and other digital options give fans access to games from remote locations. Sports

This information shows how much the playing field has shifted for sports media in recent years, and how much potential there is to keep evolving. Just as radio broadcasts gave way to TV, it’s clear sports consumption has entered a new, digital era.

Broadcast Ad Budgets Are Finally Shifting to Video

Broadcast ad dollars are finally starting to stream into digital video budgets.  In a study sponsored by AOL Platforms, 40 percent of media buyers say they will move funding for traditional TV buys to digital video.

This up about 76 percent since last year. Cable has seen a similar shift, with 35 percent of media buyers planning to move part of that budget to digital video (up 40 percent since last year).

This may signal a surge in confidence in digital over its traditional counterpart as seen in the graphic below:


There are even more changes on the horizon for digital video. Check out the full report to see how:

  • Video ad growth is impossible to ignore.
  • Programmatic is overtaking publisher-direct buys.
  • Viewability vexes both buyers and publishers.

Why It’s Hot

1- For us as a digital agency, taking share from traditional TV buyers outside of our company can get us more business.  Besides just that, we can actually put tracking in place and MEASURE performance- something traditional TV can only directionally hypothesize about.

2- This is particularly timely for our media team, as our client has considered giving digital media a larger share of the overall budget because of the success that’s it’s brought the campaign, versus TV, which is not measurable.  Can we beat TV’s ability to drive awareness?  No, nothing can replicate it, but can we try to bring a comparable experience at a fraction of the cost?  Absolutely.

Read the full article here.

Brands in a Dash to Test Hyperlapse

Early this week, Instagram announced the release of Hyperlapse and already Instagrammers are flocking to the new video platform.  While some notable public figures like Jimmy Fallon have created videos using the app, major brands have already jumped on board to play with the platform’s creative new storytelling capabilities.

Hyperlapse is a standalone mobile application that allows users to easily create “cinema-like” time-lapse videos, that speed up the footage by up to 12x the original speed. Hyperlapse also features an image stablization algorithm to reduce the shakiness inherent to handheld videography.

Given the nature of time-lapse videos, a common theme among everyday users has been to capture transportation.  Trains, cars, even animal crossings can be made more amusing with Hyperlapse.

But for brands?  Hyperlapse becomes another tool in their storytelling arsenals. For instance brands like Foot Locker are showing new ways to “unbox” products, while Oreo has shown a new way to create branded “surprises” with their #minidelivery campaign.

Why It’s Hot

Hyperlapse is a new way for short-form video to enhance brands’ expressiveness digitally. As more brands adopt Hyperlapse, we will begin to see creativity flourish. While the likes of Oreo have made successful time-lapses purely about product, I more immediate application seems to be around “experience brands.”  Brands need to think about how Hyperlapse can help tell the story their customers can create with their brand, not just the showcasing a product at 12x speed.

Source: AdWeek and SocialFresh