The Britton Digital Update—Week of January 30, 2017
Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news
The cost for a 30-second television ad during the Super Bowl is $5 million, up from $4.8 million last year. It’s pretty amazing that brands would spend that much for 30 seconds. Why do they do it? It’s about attention. Marketing is about getting eyeballs to see your message. There is no bigger platform for that level of attention than the big game. For brands, it’s not only a chance for brand awareness. With the right message, it’s also a chance for conversion. Brands could spread that $5 million across YouTube, Facebook, and several other platforms and get millions of impressions, maybe even on the level of the Super Bowl. However, one thing this particular spectacle has is attention. Viewers watch the ads instead of ignoring them and turning on their phone. And that attention, to a brand, is worth a million bucks—well, $5 million, to be exact.
I’m not sure you believed me when I said in 2016 that Mark Zuckerberg wants to take over the world. He has your smartphone, tablet, and laptop, and now he wants your TV. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is working on a new video app that would be utilized on television devices like Apple TV, Roku, and more. This would beam not only the cat videos you love but also premium content to your smart TV.
So would Facebook compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu? It’s very likely. It has the user base (more than 1.8 billion people and growing), and it has the data about what users like and dislike. Facebook plans to invest in creators, but not necessarily long-form content, at least to start. “Over the longer term … people will experiment with longer forms of video as well as all kinds of different things,” Zuckerberg said during this week’s Q4 earnings call. He added that “quick clips are the primary focus for the foreseeable future.”
Don’t forget, the company also has a growing Facebook Live streaming platform that could be beamed to your television. Some premium ads sure would look good in between videos, right? Well, I suppose if you are an investor, they would.
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Social media is never boring. Since the industry is so competitive for users and ad dollars, not a week goes by without new features being tested. Here are some of the beta tests that surfaced this week:
- Snapchat’s changing landscape: According to Business Insider, “Snapchat is working on a feature that can place virtual objects over landscapes and physical objects in the real world.” This means that while you are sporting dog ears, your house could have a fancy cloud or rainbow by using a future lens or filter. The feature is reportedly being tested by employees now.
- Instagram photo albums: Mashable is reporting a new Instagram test that “allows you to select up to 10 photos and videos to combine into a single post.” The photos post “would look like the app’s ‘carousel’ ads that allow you to swipe through multiple photos.” There’s no word on if it will become a permanent feature.
- Facebook’s People Discovery: A new section is appearing on some Facebook mobile apps called People Discovery, which allows users to introduce themselves to others who may be going to the same event, live in the same city, or work for the same employer. Tech Crunch reported that it could be useful for business networking or even dating (which would be eww). Facebook’s goal appears to be creating more connections.
- Pinterest Search ads: Pinterest is launching search ads, which, much like Google product-listing ads, could provide brands great exposure on the platform. Advertising Age reported that Pinterest “users turn to Pinterest three months before making a big purchase and that 97% of queries performed on its platform do not mention brands.” In other words, there are lots of opportunities for brands to get in front of a customer in the research phase.
I’d Like a Refund
Last month we made predictions for 2017 and talked about how artificial intelligence will be utilized more often—through messenger bots, a digital assistant (like Siri), and partnerships with products. H&R Block announced this week that it has teamed with IBM’s Watson to find its customers additional tax deductions. Its system uses artificial intelligence to compare tax documents to the tax code and to find savings opportunities that may not have been found by employees, even with their various areas of expertise. Plus, it uses machine learning to be even more accurate and efficient. For customers, it means fewer taxes to pay. For H&R Block, it means satisfied customers. Of course, the fact that we have a 74,000-page tax code is a whole other issue.
Uber had a rough week after getting caught up in some bad PR amid the taxi strike at JFK Airport and the seven-country travel ban. During the protest at JFK Airport, taxi drivers went on strike, stopping service. Uber announced that its drivers were still servicing the airport, and it even dropped its surge pricing (it raises prices during peak-usage times). A major backlash ensued as people thought Uber was taking advantage of the protest and the strike to gain financially. A public #DeleteUber campaign spread like wildfire through social media, with thousands of users deleting the Uber app. It spread so fast that Uber’s competitor, Lyft, jumped from 39th on Apple’s App Store to fourth. It was good timing for Lyft, which just expanded to dozens of additional markets.
So what can you take from this story? First, it may not always be best to take advantage of news and political events. It can backfire on you, just like it did for Uber. Second, when you do have a PR blunder, do you have a plan to handle it? Or if your competition has a blunder, should you take advantage of it?
One potential future bright spot for Uber involves its UberPool car-sharing service. This week the company filed a patent that demonstrates how the Uber app might use data from Facebook to find commonalities between passengers. The idea is that having something in common to talk about with a fellow passenger would remove a barrier to using the service. Facebook is on board since the service would provide an opportunity for users to make connections and for Facebook to earn some cash for providing the data. Uber would look at not only pairing up friends for the same ride but also at finding people who work for the same company, went to the same school, share the same hobbies, or even grew up in the same place.
The patent hasn’t been granted, so time will tell if this feature makes it to market.
Ransomware in hacking seems to be more and more commonplace. It’s when a hacker installs a virus that disables your device, and then demands a ransom to remove the virus or unlock your device. It can be mighty scary for a business to not have access to the files it needs or to have a hacker access thousands of records. For hackers, it often works. Many businesses—including several hospitals and universities—have paid to get their access restored. Of course, it’s not guaranteed, and even if access is restored, many times the hackers leave a backdoor into the system open to pull the stunt a second time.
Recently, visitors to the Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt luxury hotel in the Alps found themselves locked out of their rooms. According to the Next Web, hackers had overtaken the electronic key-management, reservation, and cash-desk systems. They demanded more than $1,600 to restore the system so that guests could access their rooms. Ultimately, without any other solution, the hotel paid the ransom and access was restored. That’s a pretty scary situation for both the hotel and the guests. The hotel has since announced that it is going to spend the money to put the old-school traditional lock-and-key system back in place. I have a feeling the hotel will also be spending dollars to put some additional cyber-security systems in place.
For the rest of the news this past week, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:
- Apple Leads Samsung in Smartphone Sales
- Walmart to Compete with Amazon Prime
- Lego Creates a Safe Social Network for Kids
- Amazon to Add Hub for Air Cargo
- AT&T to Bring 5G to Indianapolis and Austin This Year
- Report: 300 Billion Passwords at Risk by 2020
- Is the Google Pixel 2 Phone Coming Soon?
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