TikTok is looking to expand into more live broadcasts and educational content as the social video app diversifies away from the dance and music videos that have fueled its rapid growth in the past two years.
According to Tiki’s Tok, people are spending more time watching videos on the app during the pandemic, while creators are broadening the range of content they share to include sports, gaming, cooking, fashion and beauty videos.
Diversifying its content slate could help TikTok extend its audience beyond the 16-to-24 demographic that makes up 43% of its user base and appeal to brands that want to reach consumers with greater spending power. Live video has certain advantages in creating a sense of immediacy among viewers, while educational content can help to cultivate the types of enthusiasts that are important for niche marketing. Both are areas that have experienced a sharp uptick in interest due to the coronavirus pandemic, as people spend more time on social media to stay entertained and informed while outdoor activities are restricted.
While TikTok could be gunning for more older users over the long term, its predominantly young core users are a large draw for advertisers that struggle to reach those groups elsewhere. TikTok’s expanded range of programming may become a bigger threat to rivals like YouTube and Instagram that also are dominant among younger audiences. U.S. children ages 4 to 15 spend an average of 82 minutes a day on TikTok — twice as much as last year — compared with 86 minutes for YouTube and 50 minutes for Instagram, per a recent study by digital safety app maker Qustodio.
Why it’s hot: It’ll be interesting to see if Tik-Tok can expand to attract older audiences while keeping its cool factor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
A lot of communal events are taking place on Zoom, a videoconferencing app now being used by many classrooms and businesses (thus transforming it into one of the few companies doing well on the stock market). But it’s not just Zoom.
There are, for example, a small but highly vocal number of people gathering in the digital plazas, pet stores and pizza shops of Club Penguin Online. There are happy hours being held on Google Hangout, and poker games taking place over FaceTime. There are flute meditation sessions on Instagram and thousands of people participating in dance raves that are broadcast on Twitch.
It’s a lot for the internet. On Monday, Discord, the chat app popular with gamers, announced that it would increase its capacity by 20 percent to keep up with demand; it crashed shortly thereafter.
A V.I.P. Game Night in Hollywood
Jeff Baena, a film director, loves organizing social activities; it was at one of his game nights, in fact, that he met his girlfriend, the actress Aubrey Plaza. The couple have been in self-quarantine since March 11, and were feeling extremely antsy.
“Our house is one of those hubs where people are always over and hanging out,” Mr. Baena, 42, said by phone this week. “It’s strange to not be able to do that. I was kind of jonesing.”
So he got people together virtually. At 9 p.m. on March 14, a dozen friends — including the actress Alia Shawkat, who said she left the set of a television series she was working on early, before it had been officially shut down because of the new coronavirus — joined a group chat for a few hours of Quiplash and other games by Jackbox, an internet game company.
In order for remote players to see the game screen, Mr. Baena joined FaceTime from two devices, with one camera aimed at his TV.
Of course, the pandemic loomed large over the course of the night. At one point, someone coughed and a chorus of concerned voices wondered who it was.
“It was me!” said Almitra Corey, 40, who is currently working as the production designer for the final season of the Netflix show “GLOW.” (Filming was paused, as for all other Netflix shows, last Friday.)
“I just smoked weed,” she said. “Relax.”
A Remote Rave for 5,000 Guests
In New York this past Sunday, the city’s hottest nightclub was a virtual day rave. Nine hours of electronic music were streamed from an empty warehouse in Brooklyn to nearly 5,000 guests from around the world, including some in Berlin and Seattle, all of whom were watching on Twitch.
The event, which showcased nine electronic musicians, was put together by Christine McCharen-Tran, a founder of Discwoman, a talent agency in Brooklyn and collective of femme and nonbinary D.J.’s and music producers.
“I texted all the D.J.’s that I know that need support right now,” Ms. McCharen-Tran, 31, said. After gatherings of more than 500 were banned in New York on March 13, she said, “I was seeing so many artists being affected directly.”
So last Friday, she reached out to a lighting designer friend named Michael Potvin, who provided a physical space and a domain name (harrisonplace.nyc). Ms. McCharen-Tran got to work building out the site and booking artists.
By the afternoon, harrisonplace.nyc was live and vibing.
“For all of the talk about tech distancing us, it felt very intimate and joyful,” said Jess Ramsey, 35, in a phone interview. Ms. Ramsey, who works on hardware and gaming partnerships at Spotify, projected the rave onto her living room ceiling.
“We’re the most stressed we’ve probably ever been, and there’s no place to go, but you can dance in your living room,” she said. “It was the first time we had danced in a week, and it felt really special.”
Strict safety and hygiene protocols were in place even in the empty warehouse. All D.J.’s wore latex gloves and had access to disinfectant wipes and soap. The suggested size of gatherings has shrunk daily and rapidly, from 500 people to 50, and most recently to 10. At the time, Ms. McCharen-Tran’s 10-person maximum was out of an abundance of caution; now it would be pushing the limit.
Many other bands are performing in empty concert halls for the digital masses. The metal band Code Orange performed a record-release concert with an elaborate multimedia production to an empty room, for example, streaming to more than 12,000 fans.
In order to help fans support the artists in real time, Ms. McCharen-Tran and other producers of these events display the Venmo user names of artists at the bottom of the screen during their sets.
A Google Hangout Happy Hour
Lauren Ashley Smith, a TV writer from St. Louis who lives in Los Angeles, turned to Google Hangout this past Saturday to host a digital happy hour with a few close friends. That turned into 57 close friends, and then, over 60 once her sisters invited friends of their own.
“I know it seems like I invited a lot of people,” Ms. Smith, 34, said, “but I did carefully curate the people that were invited.”
To fit the criteria, a guest had to be someone Ms. Smith felt “wouldn’t take it too seriously” and who was “more extroverted — or would be willing to talk to a bunch of strangers they didn’t know.”
She knew everybody was just home alone, bored or scared. So, she said, “I made a run of show.”
The activities include a game Ms. Smith invented (“in 30 seconds,” she said) called “Who’s That Girl?” She would hold up photos of celebrities (saved on her phone) to the laptop’s camera, and players earned points by being the first person to correctly type the subject’s first and last name in the chat section of the Hangout window.
The celebrities were “obscure, to some,” Ms. Smith said. (They included Lala Kent from “Vanderpump Rules,” the singer Keke Wyatt, Christine Brown from “Sister Wives” and Esther the Wonder Pig, whom Ms. Smith described as “a pig influencer on Instagram.”)
The winner received a prize of $50 on the cash-sharing app Venmo. It was ultimately donated to the Downtown Women’s Center in Los Angeles, which provides services to currently and formerly homeless women.
After the hangout, Ms. Smith said she received “a lot of heartfelt messages” from participants thanking her for including them. She “absolutely” intends to do it again.
“It’s really easy,” she said. “Social distancing is for the greater good of everyone. And you can still make it really fun.”
Before the event, it struck her that she and her wife had yet to host a party at their new home. “But now I feel like we have.”
Conspiracy Theories on Club Penguin
There once was an online Disney media platform called Club Penguin, which was a kid-friendly social media hub where users could interact as animated penguins in a virtual world. It was formally discontinued in 2017.
But the internet being the internet, there are still multiple simulacra of Club Penguin around: unlicensed duplications hosted on independent servers, filled with the same population of late-born millennials and first wave Gen Z-ers that flocked to the Disney version by the hundreds of millions.
Last Friday, masses of users assembled in a popular fake iteration of the original pretend world — this one called Club Penguin Online — to share their anxieties, wishes and predictions for the uncertain future, and to ask everyone where they were from. Also, to keep frantically serving one another digital pizza.
There existed eerie similarities between the cartoon penguin world and humanity’s own, under quarantine. The sports stadium was devoid of chatting penguins. The skate park was nearly empty; ditto the dance club.
In other corners of the penguin universe, users delighted in that activity increasingly outlawed by public health officials: congregating in large groups.
Although conversations can be hard to follow on Club Penguin Online — a user’s typed message appears briefly above his or her representative penguin’s head wherever on the screen that penguin happens to be standing (or dancing), before disappearing forever — the pizza shop became, around midday, a kind of political salon.
One penguin asked another penguin that purported to be from Italy if, in real life, the grocery stores were out of pasta. Other flightless birds lamented the quality of their officials’ responses to the crisis.
A penguin in a chef’s hat approached and said, “They aren’t telling anyone anything,” before walking away to take another penguin’s pizza order.
Outside, in the plaza, a navy blue penguin was spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories. This penguin had presented itself as an expert on the novel coronavirus, imploring fellow penguins to pose to it any medical questions.
One penguin wondered how likely it was to become infected; the blue penguin replied confidently: “if ur under 60years old odds are 0,2.”
“Do you think someone created coronavirus?” a coral pink penguin said.
This was the opening the blue penguin had been waiting for. “YES,” it said. “Have u heard of 5g”? It went on to describe (in halting increments, because messages typed in Club Penguin Online have a limit of 64 characters) an online conspiracy theory that attributes virus symptoms to radiation caused by wireless internet.
The penguins in the plaza did not seem convinced.
Online social gatherings are also taking meditative forms. Justine Stephens, 27, guided a live flute meditation on her Instagram account last weekend to help about 40 friends and viewers deal with stress and anxiety during the pandemic.
“Needed this and didn’t know it. Super anxious about the start of the week,” read one comment during the livestream. “Thank you for curing my Sunday scaries,” someone else added.
This past Sunday, Mikael Acatl, an energy worker and shaman who uses the pronoun “they,” held a healing session from their Brooklyn apartment, surrounded by plants, burning copal and bathed in golden-hour light.
And Josh Peck, 39, and Eliza Philpott, 31, who operate a retreat space in the Hudson Valley in New York, livestreamed a sound bath for about a hundred digital participants. They used two high-end microphones to funnel dual sources of audio to listeners simultaneously, which created the sensation of being in a three-dimensional space.
Other soothing practices included a reading by the writer Ashley C. Ford, of poems by Pablo Neruda. More than 100 people tuned in to the half-hour broadcast on YouTube.
There was also free “mom” advice dispensed by Mary Laura Philpott, an author in Nashville, who tweeted that she had “Big Mom Energy to spare. (Seriously, my teenagers are over it.)”
“I was like, Who needs the mom to tell you to drink your water, to wash your hands, that it’s going to be OK, to get off the internet?” Ms. Philpott said by phone. (She was surprised that the answer was: lots and lots of people.)
Gamers are getting into it, too. On Twitch, Nick Polom, a streamer with some 400,000 subscribers, took a break from streaming rounds of Apex Legends starting on March 11, to share more timely “Just Chatting” broadcasts.
Each is hours long, with names like “Doomsday cooking stream” (in which he livestreamed his stir fry, grocery rundown, and jokes about frozen chicken tenders) and “Girlfriend and Boyfriend stuck in quarantine!” (in which he livestreamed himself playing virtual reality games with his partner, for a remote audience of thousands).
As the novelist Sarah Schulman put it after a reading of hers was canceled in New York (and she offered her own individual readings by phone): “If all the institutional theaters are closed and all the competitive curated spaces are closed, we’re back to just entertaining each other.”
While long-distance Twelve Step recovery has existed since at least World War II, and moved to email and online chat and video with the rise of the internet, much of Twelve Step recovery still relies on in-person meeting.
With the health guidance for people to not congregate in large groups, those who rely on Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups have organized quickly. Many meeting chairs across the country are creating regular meetings on Zoom.
“Many of us have been saying in these online meetings that if we were still drinking and using drugs this would be the perfect environment to self-destruct — fear of the unknown, lack of support, isolation, financial insecurity,” said Nanea, who asked to be identified by only her first name in accordance with recovery guidelines.
“We need to have a way to share our experience, strength and hope to new people struggling with addiction and alcoholism,” Nanea said. “I know a lot of people, not just people in recovery, are afraid and feeling isolated right now. I feel very fortunate to have an active community that knows how to support each other.”
And Virtual Religious Occasions
On Sunday morning, the Redemption Church in Costa Mesa, Calif., set up its first livestream, in part to broadcast two infants’ dedication ceremonies.
Kristin Castillo, 30, a brand and marketing consultant, and her husband, Nate, 30, had originally planned to gather their family, friends and loving congregation (about 200 members strong) to witness and participate in the religiousservice, which would officially welcome their newborn son into the church. Afterward, there was to be a celebratory lunch.
Instead, Kristin and Nate’s in-person guest list was trimmed to one of each of their parents. When the ceremony reached the point where their infant’s “spiritual aunts and uncles” were meant to affirm their support, the family and friends that were asked to accept this duty participated remotely.
“They were texting us in real time: ‘Yes! Yes!’” Ms. Castillo said.
While she found the experience of being on camera “nerve-racking,” she described their baby, nearly 8 months old, as “surprisingly cooperative.”
“Watching a crazy little guy having a good time, hopefully that lifted someone’s spirits,” she said. “And, ironically, by stripping all of the social trappings away, it helped us focus more on the intent of the actual ceremony.
Why it’s hot: The internet has meant a lot of things to many people, it first brought many together far and wide, and then got a bum rap for making us feel like we’re closer to others when we’re actually just voyeurs into other people’s lives. But now, in the time of COVID-19, the internet and social media are enabling a more positive mandatory social distancing experience. From conference calls for work to concerts and raves, games nights and virtual happy hours, to religious celebrations, people are leveraging creative ways to use the internet in a time that could lead to excessive isolation and depression – way to go internet age!
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to recycling and reducing waste is in educating people on what it is, why it matters, and how to do it, all while not boring people to death about it, or coming off as preachy. Hefty takes on that messaging hurdle with a little humor and smartly keeps the details vague.
Another issue with marketing a brand’s waste reduction is in equating it to something people can understand. How do you wrap your head around the fact that globally we produced 275 million metric tons of plastic waste in 2010! You can’t. People need a frame of reference to understand these abstract numbers, and this campaign does that with the help of a somewhat goofy strongman pulling a passenger jet, which represents the weight of the plastics that Hefty has managed to reclaim.
Once interest is piqued, people are taken to a micro-site that explains in more detail Hefty’s sustainability efforts: Hefty Sustainability.com
And what they’re doing is actually pretty cool and innovative. They have created a special bag in which to put hard-to-recycle plastics (those that are not accepted by most residential recycling programs) such as plastic food packaging, straws, candy wrappers, etc., which would otherwise most certainly end up in a landfill, in a tree, or choking the windpipe of a seabird.
Why it’s hot:
1. It doesn’t require you to identify as “green” in order to get it: A lot of “sustainable” brands lean into the lifestyle of the eco-conscious in their messaging, but that can turn off a lot of people who don’t identify that way. For a nationwide brand like Hefty, it makes more sense to stay away from identity and focus on their product and accomplishments.
2. It’s not much of an accomplishment actually, but it’s a start, and it’s backed up by action:Given the fact that more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year, a well-informed consumer might scoff at Hefty’s accomplishment of converting one measly airliner’s worth of hard-to-recycle plastic into new materials. But they have a model that helps collect plastics that you can’t normally recycle, and uses their product in a way people are already using it to do so.
3. Mining trash is actually a way to generate revenue: This is a mostly untapped market for raw materials, which is essentially TerraCycle’s business model, of gathering material others can’t (or won’t) and reselling it, which had it earning $20+ million in revenue in 2018.
In Ukraine, a lack of people taking eye examinations combined with increasing mobile device usage has led to a national eyesight problem, so Luxoptica, a Ukranian optician, decided to leverage the problem device to get people to take eye exams, all on their own accord.
Luxoptica ophthalmologists created an eye test that sat within Instagram Stories. All users had to do to take the test was tap on the brand’s Instagram story and hold their smartphone at a distance, then text appeared on the screen. If they could see the letters clearly, they would be instructed to tap to the right, which took them to the next text – in smaller type.
As soon as users could no longer see the writing, they were instructed to swipe up. The result of the test then appeared on the screen with a prediction of their visual ability and a recommendation about what to do next.
If the vision score was below normal, Luxoptica recommended a visit to an ophthalmologist to prevent further reduction in vision and provided a direct link to book an appointment at any Luxoptica store.
Why it’s hot: Luxoptica was smart in its “show don’t tell” strategy by providing consumers with a free experience of an eye exam instead of lots of medical claims and reasons to go to your optometrist to get an exam. Its creative use of Instagram stories made their message easily accessible to their target audience, mobile phone users, giving them the freedom to experience the exam on their own time, ultimately driving 1 in 7 people to an optician for an eye exam, over 6,800 visits.
The Alabama football coach, has long been peeved that the student section at Bryant-Denny Stadium empties early. So this season, the university is rewarding students who attend games — and stay until the fourth quarter — with an alluring prize: improved access to tickets to the SEC championship game and to the College Football Playoff semifinals and championship game, which Alabama is trying to reach for the fifth consecutive season.
But to do this, Alabama is taking an extraordinary, Orwellian step: using location-tracking technology from students’ phones to see who skips out and who stays. “It’s kind of like Big Brother,” said Allison Isidore, a graduate student in religious studies from Montclair, N.J.
It also seems inevitable in an age when tech behemoths like Facebook, Google and Amazon harvest data from phones, knowing where users walk, what they watch and how they shop. Alabama isn’t the only college tapping into student data; the University of North Carolina uses location-tracking technology to see whether its football players and other athletes are in class.
Greg Byrne, Alabama’s athletic director, said privacy concerns rarely came up when the program was being discussed with other departments and student groups. Students who download the Tide Loyalty Points app will be tracked only inside the stadium, he said, and they can close the app — or delete it — once they leave the stadium. “If anybody has a phone, unless you’re in airplane mode or have it off, the cellular companies know where you are,” he said.
But Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog, said it was “very alarming” that a public university — an arm of the government — was tracking its students’ whereabouts.
“Why should packing the stadium in the fourth quarter be the last time the government wants to know where students are?” Schwartz said, adding that it was “inappropriate” to offer an incentive for students to give up their privacy. “A public university is a teacher, telling students what is proper in a democratic society.”
The creator of the app, FanMaker, runs apps for 40 colleges, including Clemson, Louisiana State and Southern California, which typically reward fans with gifts like T-shirts. The app it created for Alabama is the only one that tracks the locations of its students. That Alabama would want it is an example of how even a powerhouse program like the Crimson Tide is not sheltered from college football’s decline in attendance, which sank to a 22-year low last season.
The Tide Loyalty Points program works like this: Students, who typically pay about $10 for home tickets, download the app and earn 100 points for attending a home game and an additional 250 for staying until the fourth quarter. Those points augment ones they garner mostly from progress they have made toward their degrees — 100 points per credit hour. (A regular load would be 15 credits per semester, or 1,500 points.)
The students themselves had no shortage of proposed solutions.
“Sell beer; that would keep us here,” said Harrison Powell, a sophomore engineering major from Naples, Fla.
“Don’t schedule cupcakes,” said Garrett Foster, a senior management major from Birmingham, referring to Alabama’s ritually soft non-conference home schedule, which this year includes Western Carolina, Southern Mississippi and New Mexico State. (Byrne has set about beefing it up, scheduling home-and-home series with Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, but those don’t start until 2022.)
In the meantime, there is also time for students to solve their own problems, which is, after all, the point of going to college. An Alabama official figured it would not be long before pledges are conscripted to hold caches of phones until the fourth quarter so their fraternity brothers could leave early.
“Without a doubt,” said Wolf, the student from Philadelphia. “I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s the first game. There will be workarounds for sure.”
As for whether the app, with its privacy concerns, early bugs and potential loopholes, will do its job well enough to please Saban was not a subject he was willing to entertain as the sun began to set on Saturday. He was looking ahead to the next opponent: South Carolina.
Why It’s Hot:
Another example of a brand/institution using gamification to influence behavior, this takes it a step further – pushing towards the edge of the privacy conversation, and perhaps leading us all to consider what might be an acceptable “exchange rate” for personal information.
The chicken wars. If you thought they were over, think again. Refresher – Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich, it sold out nationwide in just two weeks, and left people craving its fried goodness. Realizing it clearly had grabbed a share of the attention economy, Popeyes didn’t just simply let things be. Instead, it is now urging people to “bring your own bun” and make a chicken sandwich out of three chicken tenders, if you can’t wait for it to reload its sandwich supply.
Why it’s hot:
When you have momentum, ride the wave. Popeyes itself even acknowledges this isn’t ideal, but at least it gives people an idea and a reason to still come into Popeyes, even if the item they wanted isn’t currently available.
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.
Dream Team has roughly 10 people publishing regular football video content on its own site and social platforms. Dream Team had over 100 million video views in July, up from 50 million, according to Tubular Labs. Facebook and Instagram is a good funnel for acquiring news audiences, but the team needed to do more to nourish its existing fan base, said Edward Bearryman, head of content and communities at News UK.
“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.
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.
A new project from Google’s in-house incubator, Area 120, aims to help people find things to do and others who share your same interests. Through a new app called Shoelace, users can browse through a set of hand-picked activities, or add their own to a map. For example, someone who wanted to connect with fellow dog owners could start an activity for a doggie playdate at the park, then start a group chat to coordinate the details and make new friends.
The end result feels a bit like a mashup of Facebook Events with a WhatsApp group chat, perhaps. But it’s wrapped in a clean, modern design that appeals more to the millennial or Gen Z user.
Why it’s hot:
If Shoelace is successful at bringing like-minded and like-interested people together, the functionality could be used by clients, like Enfamil, that are trying to inspire real-world and real-life connections between moms, in an authentic and less brand-centric way.
As of 1/1 Germany’s new anti-hate-speech law has come into effect. The new law promises fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million, £44 million) for non compliance.
The law requires social networks to remove hate speech in under 24 hours from when it’s flagged by a user. Networks are given one week to deal with less clear cases.
Hate speech has seen a recent up tick online. YouTube stars accused of anti-Semitism; Trumps tweets against immigrants and Muslims.
Why it’s hot?
The real question is whether this has a positive effect on the rest of the internet. With geolocation, it’s possible to keep the hate speech ban specific to Germany and German citizens. Depending on how tight the laws were written….the rest of us just might be in luck….
Also, fun fact. There’s a word in german for this kind of speech Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”
Everything you think you know about content consumption on the internet is true.
Notre Dame researchers recently found that 73% of Redditors who volunteered for their study didn’t actually click through to links they upvoted, 84% clicked on content in less than 50% of their pageloads, and 94% did so in less than 40% of their pageloads.
Why it’s hot:
As people, it’s not. We’ve become a headline society.
As we all know, “fake news” is now a legitimate cultural phenomenon, and the lack of investigation and questioning the accuracy or legitimacy of content, opinions, ratings, even social media accounts means manipulative powers that can and have been misused by those with nefarious objectives.
But as marketers, before we make any ad, digital experience, tweet, product, or even business decision, the headline test has never been more important.
A good exercise is to write the positive headlines you hope to see as a result of what you’re thinking of doing, and the potential negative ones. Look at both, then decide the fate and/or form of your effort.
On a much lighter note, as a bonus, Google’s Santa Tracker experience is now live with Santa’s Village. Leading up to the holidays, it’s offering “access to games, a learning experience about holiday traditions around the world, and a Code Lab teaching kids basic coding skills” and an advent calendar unlocking a new game or experience each day between now and Christmas.
IKEA responded to GOT costume designer’s reveal of using IKEA rugs on the show with their do-it-yourself instructions in the company’s typical style showing people how to prepare for winter as summer is coming to an end.
IKEA named the mock product Vinter, the Swedish word for winter.
Why it’s hot: being playful and entertaining on social media can go a long way. IKEA wisely leveraged and amplified earned media.
After seven years, the digital band, Gorillaz, are releasing a new album, and as part of their promotion, a new app is encouraging people to find the color magenta to unlock unique content.
Deutsche Telekom has created the Lenz app that will unlock new content for users whenever they hover it over something magenta — the brand’s corporate color.
The brand has teamed up with the virtual band, Gorillaz, to launch the Lenz app, which was created by Saatchi & Saatchi for the Deutsche Telekom music and lifestyle platform, Electronic Beats. With the new app, when a user finds something magenta (it could be a t-shirt, a flower or anyting that matches the Pantone range), they can hold their phone over it, to reveal new content from Gorillaz, including the first ever “live” interview with the band using motion capture and composition technology, and exclusive clips from the band’s new album “Humanz,” dropping on April 28. The app uses Chroma Keying technology to use the color to unlock the content.
This is a really cool activation. It is great positioning for Deutsche Telekom because it’s not overly intrusive or brand-heavy. And Gorillaz of course gain additional buzz around their upcoming album. I think this is a great example of a brand involving itself in a moment without trying to take it over.
It’s time for marketers to change how they select and reward influencers.
Until now, brands have practiced three levels of influencer marketing.
Level 1 uses PR to send free brand product and information to target influencers, hoping for earned media (or at least a response).
Level 2 allocates media spend to pay relevant influencers with desirable audiences to create “cool” content that showcases the brand in a positive light.
Level 3 builds meaningful, advocate-level relationships with influencers who authentically love and embrace the brand in a way that spans beyond a video, campaign or launch.
Enter the next level
Today’s influencers are operating as businesses, not just communities—and as businesses, they want more from the brands with which they work.
Welcome to level 4, where marketers treat content creators as businesses, help them add value to their brands while bringing value to their audiences—and both sides see greater benefits.
It begins with marketers giving creators access to the newest products before they hit shelves, and moves into sharing audience data, helping identify growth opportunities, and even providing production assistance including studio time, professional content editing and fresh collaborations.
In exchange, influencers can offer brands preferred rates, disruptive creative, faster speed to market, higher credibility and, ultimately, sales.
After reviewing numerous Instagram posts by various social influencers, Federal Trade Commission sent out letters reminding influencers and marketers that influencers should clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.
The letters were regarding influencer advertising on Instagram, and Instagram posts reviewed by FTC staff. They mark the first time that FTC staff has reached out directly to educate social media influencers themselves.
The FTC’s beef is that if there is a “material connection” between an endorser and an advertiser that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless it is already clear from the context of the communication. A material connection could be a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the gift of a free product. Importantly, the Endorsement Guides apply to both marketers and endorsers.
The letters also addressed one point specific to Instagram posts — consumers viewing Instagram posts on mobile devices typically see only the first three lines of a longer post unless they click “more,” which many may not do. The staff’s letters informed recipients that when making endorsements on Instagram, they should disclose any material connection above the “more” button.
The letters also noted that when multiple tags, hashtags, or links are used, readers may just skip over them, especially when they appear at the end of a long post – meaning that a disclosure placed in such a string is not likely to be conspicuous.
Some of the letters addressed particular disclosures that are not sufficiently clear, pointing out that many consumers will not understand a disclosure like “#sp,” “Thanks [Brand],” or “#partner” in an Instagram post to mean that the post is sponsored. When it comes to video, the FTC calls for disclosure to be said out loud or displayed on screen. It can get even more complicated on Snapchat, where there’s not an obvious place to put a hashtag, and the videos are only a few seconds.
Why Its Hot:
Personal endorsements are as old as advertising itself, and there’s always been abuse. So when the FTC highlights influencer marketing as having a disclosure problem, it can come across as unfair.
It’s up to the FTC to be more clear and consistent about their policies and enforcement, because more influencers than not want to adhere, be transparent and maintain their own credibility in their trade. It also should create a statement that is valid across all influencer-leveraged platforms, not just Instagram.
A lot of influencers think they are following the rules, but in fact are falling short. More than 300,000 sponsored posts on Instagram in July used hashtags like #ad, #sponsored and #sp, up from about 120,000 a year earlier, according to Captiv8.
With such a huge increase in the influencer channel in recent years, companies have been pouring marketing dollars into social media endorsements, paying everyone from a Hollywood celebrity to a mom who regularly Instagrams her baby snuggling with a puppy. But marketers need to remember that even the most renown celebrity endorsement is meaningless if it’s not authentic and maybe even harmful if not true to brand and voice.
FTC announcement, as posted yesterday, can be read here.
We’ve all seen Facebook political rants and now Facebook is giving you an outlet to take it to the next level. Enter your location and Facebook will prompt you to follow or message your local rep and Facebook is calling it “Townhall”. Facebook lets you call, message, email and go to the Facebook Page of each representative listed. Messages are sent through Facebook Messenger.
Facebook officially released a tool Monday that lets its users — all desktop and mobile users in the U.S. — easily contact their local officials.
Why its hot
Facebook is giving people the opportunity to get involved in something they play a big role in.
Allows young people to get involved.
This could be the beginning of a larger effort for Facebook to be more involved in politics.
Facebook officially released a tool Monday that lets desktop and mobile users in the U.S. easily contact their local officials. It’s called “Town Hall” – reminiscent of what Facebook likes to see itself as, especially in political discussion.
Here’s how it works:
1. Find the “Town Hall” tab in your Setting pages on the Facebook app or go to facebook.com/townhall.
2. Enter your address. This will let you see which representatives are in your district.
3. See the list of representatives. You can choose to follow their Facebook Pages to see updates in your News Feed. You can also press contact.
4. Facebook lets you call, message, email and go to the Facebook Page of each representative listed. Messages are sent through Facebook Messenger.
The feature is integrated into the News Feed. If you choose to like or comment on a post by one of your local representatives, you’ll see a way to contact your representative after the post.
Diversity and Inclusion, specifically with regard to race, is increasingly becoming a top of mind consideration for brands as our melting pot of a country continues to diversify. Additionally, sensitivities around race and ethnicity are extremely high and brands must be cautious whenever launching any D&I initiative.
Gucci recently launched its pre-fall fashion week campaign on Instagram. It’s a series of audition videos that features ONLY black talent. This is a pretty clear and stark change for the brand as it typically only ever features one token(or two) black model among a larger white troupe.
While the campaign itself is a noble effort, publishers are questioning the motives behind the initiative. Is Gucci making this move because this is a part of a creative vision? Or are they just another brand trying too hard to be diverse?
Why this is hot:
Diversity is important for all brands trying to be relevant in the social space.
Brands have to be genuine when making strides to becoming more diverse.
People just want to see representation among the larger group so D&I campaigns aren’t always the answer. There’s a happy medium and it’s our responsibility as marketers to find it for our brands.
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.
Facebook announced they’d begin experimenting new features on mobile that helps you distance yourself from your former relationship. Once it sees your relationship status change, Facebook will prompt you to try a new set of features.
“Afterward, they’ll be shown the option to “see less” from that person, as well as limit what that person sees from you. You’ll also be able to make changes to past posts and photos.”
This will provide a bit of digital space before you decide to unfriend or block the person, which makes the separation more obvious.
Why It’s Hot: Facebook is developing product features that are more involved in personal social behaviors. The emotional aspect that it addresses feels different from previous product tests, and indicates a movement toward a bit more intuitive platform, something akin to artificial intelligence. In addition, Techcrunch noted, “these kind of tools that guide you through the process of making privacy changes to better reflect your real-world relationships would be welcome in other areas of our digital lives, as well. For example, by making sure grandparents didn’t see your wild parties, or that casual acquaintances couldn’t see so deeply into your life.”
Lastly, there is an interesting tension that’s a result of people being hyper-connected and therefore needing to hide certain parts of their lives from others. In this case, Facebook is the facilitator of both situations.
“Global warming is an obvious and imminent threat that’s already wreaking havoc in some communities. But this ad, from the environmental group Defend Our Future, doesn’t really tap into the audience’s lizard brain and strike fight-or-flight nerves the same way an approaching inferno would. In other words, however clever the approach, it seems more suited to observational musing than lighting a fire under those content to keep living life as if the human race weren’t engineering a far less habitable planet, largely by inertia and indifference. It’s certainly notable enough to spark conversation, and hopefully some action. The organization is challenging would-be-participants to commit to using reusable water bottles (perhaps a Bobble, if you’d like some snark with your purchase), start a bike share or write a letter to a governor. Though any one of those things might be asking too much of someone who’d rather breathe through a shirt than leave a room thick with fumes.” – Gabriel Beltrone
From a social perspective, we see that people are more inclined to do something/follow a trend when they see others participating. Examples: Selfies, Ice Bucket Challenge, etc. This video is a prime example of the classic social psychology experiment on bystander apathy.
Nissan has locked down sponsorships for 100 colleges and universities — from the University of Alabama to the University of Wisconsin — in what the automaker is calling the “widest-reaching sponsorship in the history of collegiate sports.”
The four-year-deal includes permanent Nissan signage in hundreds of stadiums and arenas and gives the company the rights to use school logos in TV ads. All told, the pact will cover 22 men’s and women’s sports at the schools, allowing the automaker to reach 22 million alumni and 188 million fans nationwide, according to estimates provided by Nissan.
“We saw this as a white space,” he said in an interview. “There is no one activating it in automotive at this scale nationally 11 months out of the year, always on.”
Nissan, he said, created a custom marketing playbook for each school. So for instance, regional and local TV ads for Nissan and its dealers will be tagged with logos and slogans for the local university — such as a “Hook ’em Horns” message in Nissan ads in Texas. Plans also include print, radio and social media ads as well as in on-campus publications.
There will be plenty of on-the-ground marketing, too. This weekend, for instance, Nissan is setting up face-painting booths at several campuses at which the deal begins immediately, including Ohio State and the University of Southern California.
To hype its new association, Nissan is launching a “Diehard Fan” app that allows fans to virtually paint their faces in their favorite team colors. Fans can choose from designs representing nearly all 100 collegiate teams in the new deal. The app allows fans to put virtual face paint over an existing picture or portrait. The designs were created by hand-painting them on human models and then digitally remastering them for the app.
Overall, this is a cool idea for this brand to become involved in ads promoting one of the most popular American sports which will allow them to appeal and target to a younger demographic. Also, this type of app/sponsorship opportunity ties nicely into the Superbowl hype which is already a tough day for brands to showcase their work and stand out. Knowing this, Nissan has already claimed an advantage over other automotive brands.
“The ads take advantage of recent calls for vertical video and image capability. When users click on an ad on Facebook on their smartphone, they are taken to an immersive slideshow of images.”- Carianne King
Read this too: http://marketingland.com/facebook-starts-testing-immersive-mobile-ads-141364
Why It’s Hot
The concept and idea for the ad was built out of the conversations held at the Cannes Lions Festival this year. I love how this ad is extremely interactive and will keep users more engaged for longer on mobile. Considering that social users are preferring mobile to desktop, this ad will be a great area for many brands to explore!
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.
This year, Instagram made a lot of changes and updates to compete with other social channels, particularly in the messaging sector. One update that the platform tweaked was their Direct Messaging feature that enabled fans to interact with brands on a more personal level.
See how DKNY is using Instagram Direct to engage with fans: “In an intiative conceived under the creative directors and DKNY’s first Chief Image Officer Hector Muelas, the brand will use Instagram’s newly updated messaging feature, Instagram Direct, to provide fans personalized content on how Mr. Osborne and Mr. Chow conceived those designs, ranging from explanatory videos to sketches to behind-the-scenes images.” – Ann-Christine Diaz
Fashion Week is the center of the fashion industry where people flock to the show to get an inside look into trends and work of the designers. To launch DKNY’s new collection, they decided to create personalized messages for fans engaging with them on social media. This was a very great way for the brand to show appreciation to their fans and it was a creative way to showcase their latest line on the ultimate creative platform.
“Ziploc gives a twist to the traditional back-to-school ad with a campaign in which the “kids” are actually played by animals. A series of spots entitled “Little Beasts,” by Energy BBDO, show adults playing the teachers and parents, while “beasts” like llamas, monkeys and goats play the students. All the ads carry the endling: “Kids are a trip. Pack accordingly.” – Alexandra Jardine
Why It’s Hot
Because what’s funnier than commercials with animals! These ads are captivating and hilarious. I love how this ad targets both parents and children at the same time to tie in the theme of back to school. I think this was a great idea for Ziploc and is socially shareable.
When coping with his own anxiety, UK-based illustrator, Toby Allen, found that drawing his worries and fears as little monsters would help him think about them differently and make his anxiety feel more manageable. Allen imagined that his anxiety could be overcome by giving it a physical from, giving it a visible weakness that he could learn to exploit.
From his creatively ideated coping mechanism, Real Monsters was born, creating a series of drawings that aim to raise mental health awareness – by depicting different disorders and conditions as monsters.
Allen’sReal Monstersseries is a collection of 16 illustrations (with another eight in the pipeline) that tackle everything from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.
After receiving a positive response on his Tumblr-shared illustrations, Allen decided to tackle a variety of other conditions as part of a larger project. “I also wanted to try and educate people about mental illness and maybe even reduce the stigma surrounding it, through helping viewers to understand what it’s like to have one of these conditions,” he explained.
“I begin each monster design by researching the condition or disorder extensively, often relying on real life case studies or first person stories to get a better understanding of the illness I intend to draw,” continued Allen. “Of course each person’s experience with a mental illness will differ, so I try to create something that many people will find familiar.”
Allen said he regularly receives emails from people who thank him for creating the work.
“I have received so many wonderful messages from people who live with one or many of the disorders I have drawn, each telling me how much the work means to them and how it has helped them to think about their condition in a different or more positive way,” he said. “Of course, due to the sensitive subject matter, I have also received some negative feedback but that’s to be expected and I respect people’s opinions on the work.”
Why It’s HOT: The destigmatization of mental illness has reached a much deserved tipping point, in which, discussing mental health has overcome countless cultural, gender, and age barriers due largely in part to raising awareness through social media. Today the sharing of one’s mental health condition often feels philanthropic in nature giving the person sharing and their journey through coping and living through managing their own challenges great meaning when used to help others.
Toby Allen’s Real Monsters series exemplifies the power of social to share one’s personal coping mechanism to help others while letting others know that are not alone.
This concept marries well into the average Instagram users state of mind. When a person goes on Instagram, they are drawn towards images that evoke creativity. Therefore, this simple idea is very noteworthy because one simple concept like this can start a trend across digital. It’s all about keeping things simple while still thinking outside of the box.
“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.