Here’s all the news you may have missed:
- Google’s annual developer conference occurred during the week and the IPG Media Lab has a good write up or you can watch the keynote edited down to 14mins. Highlights include:
- the most amazing (and terrifying) demo was Google Duplex, which is “coming soon” and would let Google Assistant make real calls to people to schedule tasks like dinner reservations. A mixture of AI/Machine Learning the computer-generated voice even mimics human speech with slang, pauses, and other tics. Watch the demo video here. Duplex has significant brand implications (not to mention ethical questions) – as Google hinted that Duplex calls could be used to update search results e.g. if Duplex called a store about opening hours during a public holiday, the Google search result would then update with that new information.
- a VR tool called Tour Creator which lets anyone create a 360-degree virtual tour. Launched with an education focus, Tour Creator does open up some great ideas for brands, everything from the obvious travel/tourism category, to tours of areas where a movie has been set, road trip ideas, to recommendations of local running tracks (with overlays of photos and points of interest)
- Google didn’t talk about the privacy/data or fake news issues that have plagued Facebook but did talk about “Digital Wellbeing” and how technology should make lives better not distract from it. A lot of the changes are coming in the next version of Android (Android P) which will let users set daily app usage limits (Yes, even for adults), introduce wind-down mode, have YouTube remind you to take ‘breaks’ and look to limit notifications.
- in the personally life-changing Google I/O update category is a feature coming to Google Maps called Visual Positioning System (VPS). In simple terms, instead of standing in the street trying to work out if you or the blue dot on the map are going in the right direction, you just hold your phone up, the camera kicks-in, and will Google will recognize the building(s) and point you the right way (with an AR guide as well).
- Video AdTech company Videology has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is looking for a buyer. With rumors that Amobee is preparing an offer. Details on the WSJ (paywall).
- You may not remember or only vaguely recall Klout, which was aiming to let anyone get their own influencer score. Klout are closing down May 25th – so your Klout bragging rights will soon be gone (and you can ignore anyone who tries to use a Klout score to show their influencer power).
- Facebook has undergone a management re-organization (WSJ, paywall) with a notable change being that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger will now all report under the one person. So there is an expectation that there will be tighter integration all of the services. One of the more interesting bits to come out of the re-org is that Facebook is setting up a team to focus on blockchain technology. Wired has some speculation on why and what blockchain could mean for Facebook.
- Snapchat has always had a hands-off relationship with creators, but that may change with the recently held invite-only Snapchat Creators summit. Given some mainstream celebrities have quit Snapchat, leaning into the influencer/creator community is a smart move.
- the FCC has said that Net Neutrality will end June 11th. There is Senate vote next week to reject the repeal but it has an uphill battle.
- Facebook’s working on their own version of Snapchat’s Bitmoji. Called “Avatars”, the code for the offering is hidden within the Android app. Avatars fit nicely into Facebook’s overall VR strategy. Also in the yet-to-be-released-hidden-in-code category is a native music sharing/use offering within Instagram.
- as eSports continues to move to mainstream legitimacy, there’s an article on VentureBeat that highlights 4 regulations to expect in eSports including things like drug testing. It makes for an interesting read.
- Google is working on a social gaming platform called “Arcade“. Details are vague and mostly revolve around it being about “mobile gaming with friends” and that it will run out of Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental products and services.
- In a positive move for consumers and as part of GDPR-readiness, Apple has started removing apps that share location data without consent. This could have a big impact on the availability of location data from companies that don’t have native apps. Groundtruth, Foursquare, and Placed should be OK as they are some of the few companies with their own native app ecosystem.
- MAGNA has a study on what mobile ads people prefer. Unsurprisingly, it’s ad-formats that are designed for mobile that win the most favor with consumers e.g. vertical video, 6 seconds. There’s a cool infographic of the findings here.
- There’s also a great MAGNA study on Ad-Skipping, examining the behavior in 10 countries. There are some good tips on how to manage for skipping (including the value of using non-skippable 6 second ads) and surprising insights such as better targeting doesn’t necessarily result in less-skipping. Read the full report here. (PDF link)
Trust & Brand Safety
- the House Intelligence Committee published the ads that the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency ran on Facebook and Instagram between 2015-2017. There are a few GB of content and if you read them you will see how easy it is to create and make divisive content. Also worth a read is the House commentary. In response to the publication, Facebook published the 10 changes they are making to address the problem.
Have a wonderful week.