The Invisible Prank Challenge: In what may be the cruelest and/or funniest meme of the year, people are convincing children they can become invisible by putting a blanket over their heads, casting a “spell”, taking a photo where the kid clearly isn’t in the picture, and laughing as they melt down. We don’t condone it. But we may have laughed once or twice. It’s spreading quickly this week, but here’s the original that started it all (trigger warning – this is emotional!!).

 

Vertical Video Ads are Coming to YouTube: At Dmexco this week, YouTube announced they are introducing vertical video ads to let brands “provide a more seamless mobile experience” for viewers. Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, advertisers can now fill up that entire mobile screen when users are viewing content on YouTube’s mobile app. With more than 70% of YouTube watch time happening on mobile devices (and the popularity of vertical format for user-uploaded videos), we’re thrilled for this change and excited to make creative for this space.

 

Your Instagram is More Secure than State Department Emails: Like many apps and email programs, Instagram allows users to use two-factor authentication (e.g., SMS text code when you log-in) to reduce their risk of being hacked. According to a General Service Administration assessment of federal cybersecurity the US State Department is using even less security for sensitive government correspondence. The Department is required to answer by Oct. 12 and explain what actions it will take in response to its designation by the Department of State’s Inspector General as “high risk” for its lack of cyber preparedness. Do you have two-factor authentication enabled on your Instagram account? If not, update it!

Photo illustration of Instagram opened up on smartphone with lock over it.

 

A Bot Wrote This Insane Morrissey Song Using Amazon Reviews of P90X: In a masterpiece of music and peak physical fitness, a Seattle-based startup used a predictive text generator to combine Amazon reviews of the P90X Home Workout DVD System with Morrissey lyrics (“I’ve gotten bored with this desire to get ripped” and “I’m so sickened oh my god it really works”). The result is an A.I.-sub-pop-art-masterpiece that’s actually quite catchy called “Bored With This Desire to Get Ripped.”

 

 

Your Next Favorite Podcast: Over seven episodes of “Inside Jaws,” podcaster Mark Ramsey takes listeners through a narrative journey of the early days of Steven Spielberg’s childhood, career and his work on Jaws. But it’s not just a documentary – it’s an extremely well produced narrative that puts the story of Jaws into context with Spielberg’s rise to fame, the public fear of killer shark attacks, and more. Listen to Inside Jaws on WonderyApple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, and TuneIn. But stay out of the water!

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#ScooterDeath: In a story about electric scooters disrupting the Portland market, the Willimette Week dissects the permit applications for Lime, Bird and Skip, which revealed some interesting stats. Like the fact that Lime’s average scooter lifespan is 120 days. That’s only four months! So at six trips per day and an average trip of 1.6 miles, that’s about 720 trips and 1152 miles traveled over the life of the scooter before it kicks the bucket. Skip’s permit application claims its competitors are “hypocritical” because they dump scooters in landfills rather than repairing them. The company also talks about paying people who are homeless and giving them a hot meal in exchange for riding low-battery scooters to charging centers. The scooter wars are just getting started – what a ride!

 

(Sam Gehrke)

 

The Latest Facebook Declination Study: Facebook Watch may be becoming more and more popular for active users, but this week the Pew Research Center published new research suggesting Americans have become more cautious and critical in their use of Facebook over the past year. Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months. Around 4 in 10 (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone. All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year. Read the whole study findings here.

 

42% of Facebook users have taken a break from the site in the past year

 

Digital Share of Shelf: Search rank is the new shelf space as grocery and CPG retailers expand online and consumers increase their digital shopping habits. Gartner just released their Digital Share of Shelf tool update for 2018, including data from Amazon, Walmart, PeaPod, and Kroger. The visualization depicts the share of organic search results owned by each brand on select e-tailers against category-specific terms. Data includes 139 brands ranked in the Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index: Food US 2018, as well as private label brands from each e-tailer. Pick your favorite CPG product and get nerdy on search!

 

 

IG Shopping and Superzoom: This week it was reported that Instagram is working on a new standalone app dedicated to shopping. The app, which may be called IG Shopping, will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app. No word when this app may launch, but we’re on the lookout for it. In more tangible news, this week Instagram launched six new Superzoom effects, including a heart-filled fog with romantic music, super aggressive paparazzi-style camera flashes, fiery flames with metal music, a sad emo filter, and a big red nope-style X. Features are being rolled out slowly to users, so update your app try them out!

 

#FyouCC: A long time ago in a land far far away there was a Prince named Charles whose infamous infidelity with his now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles started the end of his marriage to Princess Diana. But that move also kick-started Princess Di’s fashion evolution, now aptly dubbed Diana’s Revenge Looks on an underground Instagram account. User @ladydirevengelooks share’s Diana’s “sassiest post-divorce looks” complete with captions like “The talk to my lawyer revenge look” and “The Charles whom? revenge look.” It’s absolute 🔥and a must-follow for Princess Di fans.

 

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The settlement shopping trip revenge look #FyouCC

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The no extra baggage revenge look #FyouCC

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Is this the real life/Is this just fantasy: There has been a flurry of clever Twitter reveals recently, where a user has spent the last weeks or months covertly encoding messages or song lyrics into their tweets (and no, we’re not talking about QAnon). The latest is a woman who snuck ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ lyrics into four months of tweets and then revealed it this week. The University of Minnesota student crafted every one of her outgoing tweets so that the first word in each tweet spells out the lyrics of the Queen hit song in its entirety. The reveal tweet has more than half a million likes already. Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go!

 

These Major Global Beauty Trends are Taking Over Pinterest: With over 8 billion beauty ideas and 207 million beauty boards, Pinterest users offer a lot of insight into beauty trends based on their pins. This week Pinterest released their Global Beauty Report 2018, which shows trends like purple eyeshadow and braids are up in the U.S., pixie haircuts are up in Germany, and the U.K. is all about the side bun. See the whole report here.

pinterest global beauty report 

A short story about a ‘very good birb’ named Henry: Astronomer Alex Parker made friends with a wild blue jay he dubbed Henry after the bird arrived in his yard looking “scruffy” and thirsty. The pair developed a friendship as Henry gained back his strength. This is their story.

Snalien Abduction: Our new favorite Instagram account is @aleia, an artist who takes actual living snails and puts them in miniatures scenes, for shots like snails at work, snails at work, romantic mountain with wine. The culmination of this snail couture? A music video featuring live-action snail goodness.

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Late night at the office 🐌🥃📠🕘🕜🕙

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Hey, This is Another Note to Myself, to Stop Getting In My Head and Worrying About What Something Looks Like, And Give Into the Process of Making Something. It Has Always Been Something That Made You Feel Good, Sad, Confused, So This is Really No Different. Stop Trying To Control These Steps. You Have Made Things In The Past That You're Proud of, And You Will Continue to Surprise Yourself. Every Time You Stop Yourself From Making Something Because You Think It Is Not Good Enough, You Become More of a Stranger to Yourself. Get To That Place Where You Make Something Small, And Then the Next. Keep Following Your Little Creative Gut Out Of Things. Open It Up When You Want To And When You Don't, Savor This Secret Ugly Mess Because There is Something Beautiful Brewing In Here Just Waiting To Come Out 🐌🍇

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Be Kind; Rewind: Now that the final Blockbusters in Alaska have closed, Bend, Oregon is home to the last bastion of an American entertainment icon and this week it got its own commemorative craft beer from 10 Barrel Brewing. Haven’t visited a video rental store lately? This video walkthrough of the store is a blast from the past and this unofficial Twitter account is a must follow because of tweets like, “Just a reminder that while Netflix was busy adding commercials to your experience we were busy adding ant traps to give you an ant free experience.” RIP Blockbuster.

 

Google’s Fake Pizzeria: Google created a fake pizza brand called Doctor Fork to test a wide number of creative strategies, including some that may not seem pragmatic. They used stock footage to create 33 ads and then served them up on YouTube… reaching 20 million real impressions with fake ads. They were specifically testing the effect of sensory cues on ad effectiveness and how much human presence there should be in food ads. The findings? 1) Viewers want edge-to-edge food in their food ads, 2) Short-form ads should separate visual clips from audio/supers, 3) Explicit instruction to imagine increases both recall and favorability, and 4) Younger audiences responded better to first-person perspectives (POV) than older audiences. Watch the playlist and see what you think.

 

Alexa, open Yo Yo Ma’s Musical Moments: This week Amazon announced a new Alexa experience featuring renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In 36 short episodes produced just for Alexa, Ma will walk listeners through classical compositions from Johann Sebastian Bach in this initial series. This is the first experience of its kind and music industry insiders are saying Yo-Yo Ma is likely the first of a flurry of upcoming musicians to be featured by Amazon, with Alexa as a core component. Amazon says the content will be available as an Alexa skill and the Classical Flash Briefing on any Alexa-enabled device. Get it here.

 

 

WalmartVR: Would you shop in a virtual reality Walmart, putting virtual items in a virtual cart and searching your virtual purse for a virtual coupon? Walmart thinks you may, and this week we learned they have patented a VR helmet experience paired with sensor-laden gloves that would allow consumers to interact with a Walmart store in a virtual world. This comes after patents in December for “virtual reality shopping stations” where users step into a small pod at a shopping mall or office building and explore a VR interface that could make it seem like they were inside a full-size Walmart store. This could completely redefine People of Walmart.

 

 

Two Bit Circus Launches in L.A. With the success of the Instagram-bait experiences like the Museum of Ice Cream and 29 Rooms (which was just picked up for a CPG licensing deal) comes the next generation of experiential brand experiences. It’s called the Two Bit Circus, and it’s a physical space rooted in pixels — with custom escape rooms called Story Rooms, VR Cabanas (private rooms), VRcades, reimagined arcade games, free roam VR, and live interactive game shows. And it has a “lovestruck omnisexual robot bartender, Guillermo del Pouro.” Now that’s worth standing in line for.

 

 

The Maury Povich Show of Twitter: This week everyone’s talking about Relationships.txt (@redditships) that tweets out curated screenshots of hilarious, ridiculous, shocking and confusing posts from Reddit’s r/relationships. It’s a voyeuristic look into love, dating and the Maury Povich Show of the internet. Give it a follow to spice up your Twitter feed.

 

Can a Supreme Logo Make Anything Cool? Yes, yes it can. Streetwear brand Supreme is known for the limited fashion drops and collaborations, and the latest was the cover of the New York Post this week. And there are currently individual papers selling on eBay for bids starting at $50.

 

 

Rick Rubin’s Twitter Account is a Must-Follow: Rick Rubin, the famous producer known for his work with Beastie Boys, Run–D.M.C. and almost every important band in the last 20 years, has turned his Twitter account into the latest must-follow account. Rubin only tweets a couple times a week, only quotes himself and allows one tweet to be live at a time — promptly deleting the previous tweet when the new one is posted. He’s quoting himself saying wholesome, yet over-the-top things like, “By paying attention to one thing over another, you’re making a choice.” Give Rick a follow.

 

This account shows everyone is living the same life on Instagram: Avocado toast. The perfect latte. A gorgeous waterfall. Everyone isn’t living the same life, but they are increasingly posting the same things on Insta. The account @InstaRepeat has come on the scene to curate these copycat posts and expose just how uncreative we may all be. See if your photos have been curated here.

 

 

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Person standing at the end of a centered dock

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Alexa coming to Windows; Cortana to Alexa: Amazon and Microsoft are collaborating to allow people to voice shop on Amazon, and to hear e-mails and set up calendar appointments from Microsoft Outlook on Amazon Echo speakers. “The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life—at home or work, and on whatever device is most convenient,” Microsoft’s Jennifer Langston wrote in a company blog post. It’s a smart and collaborative way for Amazon and Microsoft to compete with Apple’s Siri and Google Home. Look for more features and collaborations to come in this space.

Image result for microsoft amazon cortana

 

Humans less likely to turn off robot when it begs to stop: Would you unplug a robot if it was begging you to stop? New research found humans were more likely to listen to the robot if it objected to being turned off than when it didn’t respond… particularly when it begged for mercy, “No! Please do not switch me off! I am scared that it will not brighten up again.” Sometimes the Hollywood sci-fi is more real than we think.

Journal Pone 0201581 G001

 

The Song ‘Hey There Delilah’ Is Being Turned a TV Series:Remember that Plain White T’s song “Hey There Delilah” from 2005? Well, the band is pitching a romantic comedy and drama TV series they describe as a “contemporary fairy tale” based on the song. The idea is to expand the story in the lyrics of the song somehow… lyrics that like this, “Hey there Delilah, What’s it like in New York City?, I’m a thousand miles away, But girl, tonight you look so pretty.” We guess anything can be a TV show these days.

 

HBD Instagram Stories: More than 400 active daily users celebrated the two-year birthday of Instagram Stories this week. Since introduced back in 2016, IG Stories have normalized the idea of “casual sharing” and “self-expression,” almost eclipsing the amount of engagement on “normal” Insta posts. In the past year the social network has added features like GIF stickers, location stickers, songs, fonts, Superzoom, highlights, questions and the poll sticker. So much goodness for being the age of a toddler. Expect to see a lot more about IG Stories in the coming years.

 

Tinder > Snap? Tinder is projecting to bring in more than $800m in revenue this year, doubling last year. Generating almost all of its revenue via Tinder Gold subcriptions (at $14.99), the dating app continues to be a highly engaging money maker. In Q2, Tinder added almost 300k new subscribers, which brings them to almost 3.8 million. According to Recode, the dating app is growing almost as fast as Snap’s business was last year — except Tinder is projected to bring in $320m in profit this year, versus Snap losing $353m in Q2 alone.

Image result for tinder gold

 

New Facebook Page Research: New research this week analyzed more than 43 million posts from the top 20,000 brands on Facebook in one of the largest studies of 2018. The key findings: 1) Top Pages are posting a lot more, 2) Overall Page engagement is declining, 3) Facebook engagement is own for videos, images, and links, 4) Posting 5 times per day resulted in highest overall engagement, 5) Top Page categories experienced 49-70% overall drop in engagement. The research also showed a large part of a brand’s Facebook marketing strategy should be focused on engagement, interacting with your audience, and increasing the ROI of each post, instead of simply broadcasting your message. Lots to dig into here.

 

Number of Facebook Business Page Posts - Facebook Marketing Strategy

 

Facebook Business Page Engagement - Facebook Marketing Strategy

 

This robot uses AI to find Waldo, thereby ruining Where’s Waldo: A new algorithm called “There’s Waldo” uses a Raspberry Pi, robot arm and facial recognition to take a photo of the page, identify possible Waldo faces, analyze them within 95% confidence and then use a weird robotic tiny hand to point to him. Watch it here. More like Waldon’t.

RIP Musical.ly: The massively popular lip-sync app Musical.ly this week was scuttled by its new Chinese owner, Bytedance, who paid $1 billion for the service last year. User accounts were ported to Bytedance’s Vine-like video app called TikTok. These apps are not as similar as you would think, and the public outcry of users this week was fierce. And some of us are still getting ads for Musical.ly on TikTok itself. The social singing trend is not going away anytime soon, however. Look for Facebook’s Lip-Sync Live and Talent Show to emerge as strong alternatives in the coming months.

 

Smart Mirror Madness: “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest tech-company-with-a-scan-of-my-naked-body-stored-on-their-servers of all?” This week 3D body-scanning startup Naked Labs raised $14 million and started shipping its first product —  a $1,400 smart mirror that uses biometric scanning technology to assess your health and fitness, and offer training and nutrition tips. Naked is in talks with ecommerce companies about using this data to personalize clothing and shopping, too. Amazon recently acquired a 3D body scanning startup of its own and has been testing “commercial applications,” such as custom-fit clothes. Will mirrors be the future of fitness and shopping? Probably not. But the trend of having a 3D biometric scan of yourself to shop and get health advice is one to watch.

 

Midterm Meddling Underway: This week Facebook announced it had deleted 32 pages and fake accounts that it says are part of a false influence campaign designed to influence the midterm elections. The company did not link the pages to Russia, but Facebook officials said the tactics they used were similar to those of the Kremlin’s Internet Research Agency. By proactively disabling the accounts but not directly placing blame, Facebook is testing a new strategy to be seen more as a platform than a responsible curator of content.

Here’s a key quote from Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos: “Companies like ours don’t have the necessary information to evaluate the relationship between political motivations that we infer about an adversary and the political goals of a nation state. As a result, we don’t think it’s appropriate for Facebook to give public commentary about the public motivations of a nation state.”

 

Amazon Patents a Real-Time Accent Translator: You know that feeling where you and another person are speaking the same language but their accent is so thick you’re having trouble understanding? Well, Amazon has applied for a patent for an audio system that detects the accent of a speaker and changes it to the accent of the listener, potentially eliminating that breakdown. Given advances in natural language processing, Alexa’s deep base of audio sampling, and our continued outsourcing of customer support — with millions of phone calls between people in distant countries where accents can be a barrier – it’s exciting to think about new maching learning technology that would improve the quality of communication.

 

The 6 Kinds of Terrible Yelp Posters: We love Yelp, especially when exploring restaurants in a new city. But after a while you can start to suss out themes, patterns, and troll behavior from the reviews you’ll see – no matter the locale. This week The Outline published a hilarious article about the six kinds of terrible posters on Yelp, including The Self-Proclaimed Newbie, The Fearful Reviewer, The Language Police, The Way Too Long Review, The Expert Review and The Harping on Service Review. 5 out of 5 you’ll never read a Yelp review the same way again.