— Greg Swan (@gregswan) November 15, 2017
I believe experiencing augmented reality in the real world fundamentally rewires your brain.
If you haven’t yet played Pokemon Go!, you need to. If you haven’t experimented with Snapchat’s World Lenses, you need to. If you haven’t tested the Microsoft Hololens and solved a mystery in your living room, you need to.
Focusing too hard on the long-term adoption and use cases causes us to see the near-term adoption and opportunities.
This piece in Techcrunch, Why the YouTube of AR won’t be YouTube, tees this up nicely…
This is going to radically change the way we experience (and create) art…
When we think about music or art and context, there’s an example that we’ve all experienced. Compare the difference between listening to music at home vs sitting on a beach overlooking the sunset and choosing a track that’s perfect for that moment. That’s the way in which context is a part of the experience, and emotionally improves it, and in a small way the resulting experience is a collaboration between you & the artist.
AR takes this to a whole new level. An AR device will have a greater awareness of the real-world than any smartphone can have. This means that the ability to match (either automatically or manually) a song or image (or visual effect) to the moment, is far greater than just selecting a track from a playlist.
Facebook Adds Streaks in Messenger Test: Facebook may or may not start requiring us to upload selfies to prove our identity, but they are for sure continuing to copy Snapchat with the addition of “streaks” in a a test with some users this week. This is in line with user behavior – especially teens – who maintain back and forth communications between friends purely for the social glory of maintaining back and forth communication day after day. Streak counters gamify the app experience and can lead to huge engagement. We’re guessing they’ll launch this mainstream in Q1. (LINK)
Snapchat Reinvents Itself: This week Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel revealed the Snapchat redesign – separating the news-heavy Discover page from a user’s friend list. On the redesigned app, users will swipe to the left of the main camera screen to see chats, stories and messages from their friends, and swipe to the right for news, Snap Map and publisher content. The new Discover page reorganizes news from a horizontal scroll to a vertical, in the vein of Facebook’s and Twitter’s seemingly endless feeds. Promoted stories are changing, too. Spiegel’s manifesto on social media is worth a read: “It’s vitally important that future content feeds are built on top of a human-curated supply of content… Curating content in this way will change the social media model and also give us both reliable content and the content we want.” (LINK)
Can A.I. Be Taught to Explain Itself? As machine learning becomes more powerful, the field’s researchers increasingly find themselves unable to account for what their algorithms know — or how they know it. This is both because of the bias of the affluent white men who are programming them, but also because we’re dealing with technology that is more of a mystery than we expected. Key quote from this amazing NYT long read on the subject: “We human beings seem to be obsessed with black boxes: The highest compliment we give to technology is that it feels like magic. When the workings of a new technology is too obvious, too easy to explain, it can feel banal and uninteresting.” (LINK)
Mentally Pleasing Content: Remember the Sesame Street video about how crayons are made? Well, us fully grown adults still love mesmerizing video – but now it’s things like calligraphy, paint being mixed, and slime being poked. These are widely shared on Reddit (Oddly Satisfying), Tumblr (#StimmyStuffs), and YouTube (The Most Satisfying Video in the World). This week Amazon got into the game by posting this amazing video of their fulfillment center on Cyber Monday. We put it on a loop in the office and haven’t gotten a lot done the rest of the day, to be honest.
— Amazon.com (@amazon) November 27, 2017
Cards Against Humanity Trump Wall: This holiday season Cards Against Humanity is saving America. They bought up a piece of the land on the border of the US and Mexico and retained a law firm to make it as difficult possible for the wall to be built. Let’s just say Twitter went wild. (LINK)
The government is being run by a toilet. We have no choice… we are going to save America and attempt to keep our brand relevant in 2017
Join in and for $15 we’ll send you six America-saving surprises this December: https://t.co/o1BFmokO9W
— CardsAgainstHumanity (@CAH) November 14, 2017
Twitter parties = modern day Tupperware parties: Brands are working with influencers to host these hour-long parties and facilitate discussion around branded content as well as give away product to random participants. Yes, it’s 2017 and we’re talking about Twitter parties. But it shows people are still acting on their basic need for connection and consumption — and marketers are taking advantage of it. (LINK)
New Google Maps: Google Maps is getting a partial redesign and colorful update. Google is trying to make it easier for us to find new places with designated icons and colors for different types of destinations. Think coffee shop vs. gas station vs. metro stop. Look for these changes in the next couple weeks! (LINK)
Facebook Mentions is now Facebook Creator: Facebook launched a revamp of their 2014 Mentions app. This new rollout gives influencers all the tools for content creation and community management as Facebook tries to meet a new video objective they’re calling “time well spent.” They want to make Facebook video more appealing than watching TV and using content creators to do it. The previous app used to be available only to verified public figures and pages, but it’s now open to any Facebook user. (LINK)
Thanksgiving social stunts: Brands are gearing up for the holiday and we’re totally here for it. This year, Pringles (LINK) is bringing us an entire Thanksgiving dinner reimagined as chips and Stove Top (LINK) is supplying crazy extendable pants – and they’ve already sold out.
We can’t stop playing HQ Trivia. Work stops at 2 p.m. Bedtime stops at 8 p.m.
Is this the FUTCH?
Another friend of mine called HQ the “embodiment of the futch.”
A few years ago, Joanne McNeil wrote a short essay called “Postcards from the Futch,” describing the un-factcheck-able brand of futurism sold at tech conferences by “idea-ators…who instructed us to keep looking toward the horizon and never look down.”
The futch (pronounced “fyooch”) takes complexity and renders it into simplistic opacity, shined up with gee whiz techno glitter. The futch takes the idea that the future should be legible and transforms it into the dictate that the future should be easy. Interactive TV is up there with flying cars and meals in pill form as far as idealized visions of the future have gone. Everything about HQ, from its push notification demands for attention to the flat plasticky graphics to the well-groomed holoman at the center feels like a gloss on complicated questions about how we want to interact with technology and how we want technology to interact with us. It holds out the promise of interaction while reverting back to broadcast model of attention scheduling and one-to-many communication. It sucks you deeper into your phone with the promise of cash, holding your attention and yourself in place for… something.
We’re familiar with the new-old adage, if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. So what does it mean when the product is paying you?
Source: Is HQ Trivia the future of TV?
Dole’s Lawyers Wade Into Social Brandjacking: Instagram meme king Adam the Creator created a hilarious meme featuring parody “fun-size” bags of mini-salads Dole supposedly created as a healthier Halloween treat. And then, as tends to happen, the lawyers got involved. But this time the legal counsel got into the act, crafting a hilarious warning letter designed for social pickup. Dole’s tweet gained more than 160,000 views, making it the most popular social media tweet the company has ever tracked. Outlets ranging from The Boston Globe to CTV covered Dole’s response to the gag. Hey, it’s better than pencils or fruit, right? (LINK)
— Dole Tweets (@DoleTweets) October 19, 2017
Burger Emoji Debate: A debate sparked on Twitter this week regarding the burger emoji and the order in which the ingredients are supposed to be assembled. Apple and Google seem to have differing opinions and it has led to quite the conversation. Does the cheese go on top of the patty or underneath? Frankly, we’ve never seen a burger built in the fashion Google portrays it. Call us purists. Even Snapchat got in on the action with an adorable AR burger that melted our cheesy hearts and aligned with our core beliefs. Where do you stand on all of this? You should tweet about it. The Internet wants to know. (LINK)
I think we need to have a discussion about how Google's burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top pic.twitter.com/PgXmCkY3Yc
— Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) October 28, 2017
Advertising + Augmented Reality: This week we were transported into the famous living room from Stranger Things, thanks to a sponsored 3D World Lenses for the popular Netflix series. As the leader in mainstreaming augmented reality experiences, Snapchat continues to push AR adoption through compelling brand integrations like this. Also this week, we got some real data from Barcardi, who released a case study from their summer AR lens promotion with Major Lazer where users could be the stars of their own music videos — 18 million of them used it in a 24-hour period, amassing 42 million views. We work closely with Snap on their AR innovations and are excited to see where they’re headed next – and working with them to pioneer new uses for this new technology. (LINK)
iPhone X Animojis: Make way for the new generation of emojis– animojis. These dynamic 3D emojis use Apple’s facial recognition tech to mimic your expression and place it on a handful of the original emojis. There are twelve in total to pick from such as the unicorn, poop face, or fox. It can even record your voice to send ten second voice recordings. So far, people are loving it. We’re already seeing animoji karaoke taking off on Twitter. Our iPhone X’s just arrived today, so as soon as we UNLOCK THEM WITH OUR FACES, we’ll be sharing some Animojis soon. (LINK)
Mush Mush Mush: This week we’re obsessed with this Instagram post that’s going viral featuring Kevin Freshwater, a scoundrel who ruins his friend’s Instagram-perfect plates just before they can snap a pic. It’s so evil, and yet so satisfying. We dare you to try it this weekend and report back. We wil, too.
Instagram Launches Dual Livestream: In the platform rat race, it often feels like one big game of “Who’s copying who?”, but with the company’s latest dual livestream update, it seems like Instagram’s continuing to hang onto its shiny object status. When users start a live video they’re now able to select one of their viewers to go live with them, and can swap users in and out throughout the duration of the stream. One natural extension this update enables is for podcast hosts to give their audiences a visual, but this also has our wheels spinning about all of the potential brand-to-brand and influencer-plus-brand collaborations. We’re excited. (LINK)
Facebook’s Reconsidering the Newsfeed (Again): We all remember the Great Reach Drop of 2012, and while we’re not quite ready to ring the advertiser alarm, we did catch wind that Facebook’s experimenting “with an alternate Newsfeed setup” which would remove page posts from the main Newsfeed and funnel them to the newly expanded “Explore Feed” instead. This experiment is currently running in Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala and Cambodia with News Feed Chief, Adam Mosseri, chiming in to say that it’s born out of Facebook’s user base wanting “an easier way to see posts from friends and family”. (LINK)
Stranger Things meets Machine Learning: October 27th isn’t just iPhone X day today; it’s also Stranger Things 2 day! Thanks to Reddit, a DIY superfan campaign of the Netflix show is making the rounds in social today. This site makes anything you take a picture of “Stranger Things-ified” using artificially intelligent machine learning to identify the object. The results are hit and miss, but it’s a signal that this kind of technology is quickly coming to mainstream marketing. Try it out! (LINK)
Viral Video Throwback: here are a couple of our favorite viral videos perfect for a snowy Minneapolis Friday… I’m a Stupid Cat (NSFW); “Shia LaBeouf” Live; Star Wars Kid; Sneezing Baby Panda; The Future. What are your favorites?
“Me Too” and Cross-Stitch Memes: Following the national conversation spurred by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, millions of women came forward to share their sexual assault stories on their timelines, in hopes it will give the men around them a sense of the scale and “normalization” of the sexual assault they experience on a daily basis. Some men responded poorly, others responded proactively with #HowIWillChange, but one of the worst things we saw was this necklace. Many shared a cross-stitch that said “Boys Will Be Boys” (with “Boys” crossed out and replaced by “will be held accountable for their f—king actions”). Vogue tracked down the original creator — Shannon Downey, aka @badasscrossstitch. The combined Instagram following of the celebrities who shared it is more than 21 million, and that doesn’t factor in everyone else. Why did it spread? It’s unexpected. It’s a remix of an idiom we all know. It’s shareable, meaningful; oh, and it’s cross-stitch. (LINK)
Booking Work Travel? There’s an emoji for that! Marriot scored a headline by partnering with Slack to enable business travel booking via the thumbs up emoji. When teams are making plans within Slack’s chat feature, they simply need to provide their city and dates to receive a plethora of options. Everyone in the chat is then able to vote via Slack’s emoji options. We’ve seen other brands riff on Dominos’ AnyWare, but this is a cool way for a hotel chain to appeal to the younger, tech-savvy business traveler. 👍 (LINK)
Fake Klay Thompson Wins #SportsSocial: This week SeatGeek, a seat-selling website, broke the Internet with their sponsorship of a BigDawsTV (2.9 million subscribers) YouTube prank starring Fake Klay Thompson attending a Golden State Warriors game, taking pictures with fans, and sitting directly behind the real Klay Thompson – which made for quality TV moments. You may know Daws from his Drive-Thru Person Swap prank and others. The Fake Klay video is already at more than 1 million views and hit every sports round-up possible this week. Watch out, Ticketmaster! (LINK)
HQ Trivia: A new live trivia gameshow hit the App Store this week, called HQ. Brought to you by the creators of Vine (RIP), the game features a fun and energetic host that goes live every day at 3PM and 9PM Eastern. Participants answer a series of multiple choice questions within 10 seconds. Only correct answers move forward until the end where the winners share a cash prize (today’s is $250). They’re currently throwing around ideas for prizes that aren’t necessarily cash, which could be interesting for branded opportunities. Be sure to download the app and turn on notifications for when the show goes live. See you at 3PM! (LINK)
Still Need a Halloween Costume? This week, in the biggest meme-fueled costume play since Left Shark, Snap debuted adancing hot dog costume on Amazon for $79.99. As you remember, the dancing hot dog emerged earlier this year when Snapchat rolled out an augmented reality filter that simply crushed news feeds. Since then, the hotdog has moved to Bitmoji and been embraced as one of the top memes of 2017. And now you can trick or treat as one, too. According to the description, it’s “Made of 100% beef, but never starts it!” (LINK)
Facebook Stories Coming to Brands: You know those empty circles at the top of your Facebook app where none of your friends are sharing stories? Soon they will be filled with Stories from brands, news publishers, athletes, entertainers and nonprofits. The feature is rolling out over the coming month to all pages, which Facebook sees as their strategy to drive adoption. With the extreme adoption of Snapchat and Instagram Stories, and the continued rise of disposable media messaging, we see huge potential in brands telling short-form, chronological stories. Adoption has been slow on Facebook, but this could be the tipping point. (LINK)
Snapchat’s Context Cards: This week Snapchat introduced context cards, which add contextual information to geotagged photos and images shared in public stories. Users can swipe up on any snap that displays the word “more” and they’ll see an interactive card pop up with options to engage with OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Lyft and more. Now you never have to leave the Snapchat app! Isn’t that great? (LINK)
Facebook, Bring Me Dinner: Speaking of never leaving the app, this week Facebook announced a new feature that allows users to order food from local restaurants using its app. Users can find the new option “Order Food” in the Explore menu in the Facebook app, where you can then browse area restaurants and click “Start Order” when you know what you want. Some early criticism is that Facebook is doing too many things and ordering food isn’t hard in 2017. But we’re watching for ad units that result in a “Like” for delivery. (LINK)
How Machine Learning Finds You New Music: Every Monday more than 100 million Spotify users encounter a hot new playlist created just for them, and it’s worth mentioning because people LOVE IT. Oh, and robots make the mixtape. It’s called Discovery Weekly, and it’s a playlist of 30 songs that are algorithmically tuned just to you. We’re geeking out on the science of their music recommendation engine: Collaborative Filtering, Natural Language Processing and Raw Audio Models. Sorry friends, we may never take a human-based musical recommendation again. (LINK)
#WomenBoycottTwitter: Sparked by Twitter’s temporary suspension of Rose McGowan’s account earlier this week after she and many others came forward with their Harvey Weinstein stories, women across the world are showing solidarity by falling silent on Twitter for one day. Today. Hundreds of women, including actress Alyssa Milano and model Chrissy Teigen, have said they will not post anything to the microblogging platform on Friday, “in protest of women’s voices being silenced.” Other influential folks like Ava DuVernay chimed in with another perspective, posing questions about which women we’re willing to back and if #WomenBoycottTwitter is truly intersectional. Questlove echoed her sentiments saying he’s on board to support women, so long as we remember that Jemele Hill is also facing backlash for her free speech. We’re watching, but more importantly, we’re listening. (LINK)
AR Art Sparks AR Protests: Snapchat continued to push augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream this week with the launch of a Jeff Koons collab, featuring 3D versions of the artist’s most-popular sculptures at popular sites as an AR scavenger hunt. Of note, the following day artist Sebastian Errazuriz vandalized one of the AR sculptures, Balloon Dog, in Central Park in “a symbolic stance against imminent AR corporate invasion.” This marks one of the highest profile AR-resistance events to-date, highlighting the downside of invisible digital layers on the physical world. There will be more. You just may not see them! (LINK)
Babelfish Comes to Life: This week Google released a line of new products, including a first pair of wireless headphones that support live translation between 40 languages called Pixel Pods. Powered by machine learning, this technology is like having a personal translator in your ear at all times. If you tell it “Help me speak German” and then start speaking in English, the phone’s speakers will output your translated words as you speak them. Then German replies will then play into your ear through the Pixel Buds as English. Amazing. This innovation marks another step toward technology bringing cultures further together. Look for Apple to launch something similar on their AirPod platform as a fast-follow. (LINK)
Comfort Content in the Negative Social News Era: It was an even rougher week for America than normal, and our social feeds show it. Thankfully, The Chicago Tribune put together a listicle of shareable ideas to post that are less partisan, more positive, for those times you (and your followers, friends and family) could use a break from the barrage of negativity. It includes things like: Throwback Thursday, posting photos of food, making a custom meme, posting animal photos and quotes, and sharing America’s Funniest Home Videos online. We’ve been tracking the increase in consumers sharing less personal information but still looking for “safe” things to post, and this list epitomizes that rise in comfort content posts that can serve as a distraction from heavy news and politics. #TGIF (LINK)
RIP AIM: The most successful instant messaging service of the modern era, AOL Instant Messenger, will shut down this fall. Widely used in the late ‘90s and 2000s, AIM was many consumer’s first experience with short-form messaging, messaging slang, and set the framework for today’s SMS text-heavy culture. The closure follows other legacy messaging apps, like MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger, meeting their maker as people move to mobile-first messenging like iMessage, Snapchat and Instagram. In fact, Facebook has multiple billion-user messaging services now — Messenger and WhatsApp. And texting slang endures! C U AIM. TTYL. (LINK)
Hacking Facebook Live’s Delay: Using the delayed audio and video from a Facebook Live stream, the band The Academic created a loop version of their song “Bear Claws” that blew up on Reddit and spread to social feeds this week – nearing one million views already. We thought this was really cool. We thought this was really cool. We thought this was really cool. We thought this was really cool. We thought this was really cool. We thought this was really cool. We thought this was really cool. (LINK)
Greg Swan, Brand Innovation and Emerging Media @ Fallon