Amazon Allows Brands To Surface Video Content Via Alexa

What Happened
On Thursday, Amazon introduced a Video Skill API to its Alexa Skills Kit to allow developers to create Alexa skills that are integrated directly with Alexa’s video capabilities. This means that Alexa users can easily find and consume video content without invoking a specific skill. Through this new API, Alexa is aware of the video devices and services your customer has or subscribes to. While most Alexa-enabled devices are screenless speakers, Alexa does support devices like the Fire TV lineup and new Echo Show that are capable of displaying videos.

What Brands Need To Do
Brands can make good use of this new API to better integrate their video content with Alexa, making it easier for your existing customers to engage with your video content in their home. For brands with an established roster of video content, this is a great way to boost content discovery for existing fans. Entertainment brands in particular should integrate with this API when developing a voice experience for Alexa to make sure their content is easily accessible for users.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

 


Source: Amazon Alexa Developer Blog

Google Confirms “Preinstalled Ad-Filter” Is Coming To Chrome

What Happened
A month after the initial reports about Google planning to integrate ad-blocking features into its Chrome web browser, the search giant confirmed the plan on Thursday, announcing that it will preinstall an ad filter in Chrome starting early 2018. Chrome is the most used web browser in the world, owning over 54% of the global market share of web browsers as of this month.

As previously reported, the ad-blocker will aim to filter out ads that are deemed “annoying” by the standards of Coalition for Better Ads, a group that Google formed with advertising companies to improve online ad experiences. Google says it will give publishers at least 6 months to prepare for the ad filter coming next year, offering a self-service tool for analyzing ads on their sites to make sure they meet the standard set by the Coalition.

What Brands Need To Do
Back in 2015 when ad blockers were taking off and became a hot topic in the media industry partly thanks to Apple’s decision to enable ad-blocking extensions in Safari in iOS 9, we advised brands to counter the trend of Ad Avoidance – subpar online ad experiences and increasingly ad-free options are driving online users to actively avoid ads – by trying new ad formats, sponsored and branded content, and generally improving their online ad experiences. Two years later, new unblockable ad formats, such as sponsored selfie lenses and VR product placements, have emerged or become viable for brands to explore.

Since then, ad-blocker adoption has continued to grow worldwide, particularly on mobile. The 2017 Internet Trends report by Mary Meeker pointed out that nearly 400 million mobile devices ran ad blockers last year. This upcoming Chrome ad-blocker will only serve to accelerate the mainstream adoption of ad-blockers, further pushing publishers to optimize their ad experiences. For brands, this should be an opportunity to start exploring digital ad formats that are better integrated into the user experiences.

 


Source: AdAge

Audi Sponsors The Washington Post’s First Entry Into AR Content

What Happened
The Washington Post is launching a new mobile content series that uses AR technology to learn more about cool stories behind famous buildings around the world. The first installment is a 10-second-long AR experience that readers can activate on their smartphone via the Post’s iOS app to learn about the unique ceiling design in the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, Germany. Audi is the sole brand sponsor of the series. Its first ad will appear as a visual, but the Post it will work with Audi to create branded AR stories in upcoming installments.

What Brands Need To Do
This is an exciting example of a brand leveraging a publisher’s AR efforts to experiment with new ways to reach mobile consumers. While Snapchat has been credited as the pioneer in popularizing AR camera effects, Facebook made a big AR move last month with the launch of its Camera Effects platform, which offers brands a platform and the tools they need to create interactive experiences which use the camera as an input. As more and more media platforms and publishers start to get on board with mobile-based AR technology, it is up to brands to find the right content creator to partner with to explore camera-based AR experience to reach customers.

 


Source: Digiday

London Bar Offers VR Tour Of Distillery To Accompany Your Drink

What Happened
The Lobby Bar at the One Aldwych Hotel in London is using virtual reality to enhance how its patrons experience one particular drink. The bar’s special whiskey-based “Origin” cocktail comes with a virtual reality headset that transports you to the Scottish distillery where the whiskey is made. The drink is made with 12-year-old Dalmore whisky, and the accompanying virtual reality experience aims to showcase the origin of its ingredients, as well as the beautiful scenery of the Scottish Highlands where the distillery is located at.  

What Brands Need To Do
This is a pretty cool on-site activation for a spirit brand to leverage VR technology to showcase their brand identity and enhance the product experience in bars. Other brands should start to explore similar ways to use VR for this type of experiential marketing that truly engages with your target audiences through the immersive storytelling that VR content provides.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Quartz

Sony Creates HoloLens Mixed Reality Game To Promote New Smurfs Movie

What Happened
To promote the release of the new Smurfs reboot movie, Sony Pictures is inviting moviegoers to explore the Smurfs village in a mixed reality generated by Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets. Collaborating with media agency OMD, AOL advertising content creators Partner Studio, and VR production company UNIT9, this mixed reality experience asks players to explore various exotic locations taken from the movie and eventually find a “Lost Village.” After placing on the headset, players can use flat surfaces and tabletops as foundations to activate the experience.

What Brands Need To Do
This is a commendable effort on Sony’s part to leverage interactive HoloLens content to drive engagement and interests. While HoloLens is still limited in its availability and therefore low in consumer adoption, it provides a platform for brands to create cutting-edge immersive experiences that will stand out from the run-of-the-mill VR content many brands have started dabbling in. In the long run, this type of interactive experience will provide the digital assets crucial for establishing franchises. When it comes to picking the right immersive content platform to develop content for, brands need to take its long-term value into considerations and chose one that best fits their campaign objectives.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: VRScout

Header image courtesy of AOL Global Partner Studios

Facebook Expands Branded Content And Marks Them As “Paid”

What Happened
On Thursday Facebook updated several policies regarding branded content on its platform, enabling more pages to share it and updating its branded content tag to include the word “paid.” The social network first started allowing verified Pages to publish branded content last April, before adding branded content options to its Instant Articles last June. Now, non-verified pages can submit applications for access to the branded content tool, which will be available on iOS apps and the web, with Android support to come in the coming weeks. In addition, Facebook now also allows logos, watermarks and graphical overlays to persist throughout a video to help brands and publishers to distinguish their content.

What Brands Need To Do
This update marks Facebook’s latest efforts to make its platform more brand-friendly by facilitating brands to serve their content to Facebook’s billions of users worldwide. At a time when an increasing number of consumers are turning on ad-blockers and opting for ad-free subscription services to actively avoid ads, branded content provides an un-blockable way to organically reach customers and influence their purchase intent. For brands looking to leverage branded content to engage customers, Facebook’s update should come as a welcome addition as it allows more influencers to post branded or sponsored content.

 


Source: Marketing Land

Sony Sponsors NCAA “Boss Button” For March Madness Viewers To Promote PlayStation Vue

What Happened
Sony took a fun and unorthodox way to promote PlayStation Vue by creating a branded “Boss Button” for basketball fans who are watching the NCAA March Madness games at work. Also known as a panic button, the Boss Button allows slackers watching the game on NCAA’s site to quickly switch to a normal-looking PowerPoint file titled “Progress Score” whenever someone important walks by (this doesn’t work in offices with an open floor plan, obviously). If they happen to take a second look at the presentation, they will find that it is actually an ad for PlayStation Vue, Sony’s OTT TV streaming service. NCAA has been putting Boss Button on their online media player for March Madness games since 2006, but this is the first time a brand has been integrated into this goofy feature.

What Brands Need To Do
This is a cool example of how brands can think outside the box to reach customers in unexpected places. At a time when ad blockers and ad-free streaming services are helping millions of viewers avoid ads, brands and media owners need to take proactive measure and experiment with new ways, such as sponsored content and native integrations a la this Boss Button, to win back the eyeballs.

 


Source: ReCode

 

Header image courtesy of Sony and NCAA

HBO Launches Campaign On Whisper To Turn Secrets Into Branded Content

What Happened
HBO has launched a hybrid content campaign to generate buzz for its upcoming new series Little Big Lies. Partnering with anonymous secret-sharing social network Whisper, which has since pivoted into a “digital media publisher that helps brands develop content,” HBO will images from “Big Little Lies” will pair with people creating Whisper posts about lies they told.  Whisper employs machine-learning technology to analyze the site’s data and identify the most popular posts. The popular and most interesting ones will then be curated into stories and videos to be posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Whisper’s homepage.

What Brands Need To Do
This campaign smartly combines organic user-generated content with branded content (in this case, images from the show) and repackage them into share-worthy content with the help of algorithms powered by machine learning. With subpar mobile ad experience drives many users to use ad-blockers, it is becoming more and more difficult for brands to reach their desired audience via traditional digital ads. In fact, a new study shows that over 40% of millennials now browse the internet on a device that has an ad blocker enabled. Therefore, brands should take a cue from this HBO campaign and be open to exploring new forms of advertising such as sponsored or branded content.

 


Source: AdAge

Molson Canadian Packs VR Viewers Into Its Beer Cases

What Happened
Canadian brewing company Molson is targeting hockey fans with a VR hockey experience that they can unlock with the makeshift VR viewers that Molson is including in some of its beer cases. Lucky customers will be able to use the VR viewer to watch six upcoming NHL games in 360-degree view from a front-row seat. The company partnered with sports media company Sportsnet to distribute the VR content via the latter’s VR compatible mobile app.

What Brands Need To Do
The immersive power of VR makes it a natural match for sports viewing, and Molson is smart to strike the media partnership with Sportsnet to cash in on the growing consumer interests in VR and 360-degree content. With the quickening pace of VR content development and an increasing number of ad platforms testing new formats in VR and 360 video, brands need to start working with content creators today to produce branded 360-degree and VR content.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: NHL

Hasbro Launches Children’s Lifestyle Brand Led By Branded YouTube Series

What Happened
Toy maker Hasbro is launching a new children’s brand called Hanazuki. The new brand is based on and driven by the company’s first ever digital cartoon series that debuted this month on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app. The branded series, produced by Hasbro Studios in collaboration with Titmouse Studios, contains 27 11-minute-long episodes and follows the space adventure of Hanazuki and her friends inspired by whimsical characters originally created by two Amsterdam artists.

Hasbro plans to launch a Hanazuki digital app in April, with branded consumer product offerings to follow throughout the year. A toy line inspired by the series will launch this summer featuring over 175 collectible figures and plush items, as well as a wearable device that “enables kids to share their moods.”

What Brands Need To Do
Launching an entire new product line based on a new cartoon series is a pretty ballsy move for toymakers, who typically relies on licensing existing IPs that are proven popular with children to introduce new products. However, the advance in digital video distribution and shifting habit in media consumption have made it possible for a cartoon series on YouTube to attract a sizeable audience to launch a new franchise off. In fact, a recent eMarketer study shows that about half of the U.S. children and teens spend over 3 hours watching YouTube every week.

This example shows that it is time for brands to reconsider their content strategy in the face of shifting media consumption and fragmented audience attention and start take advantage of the zero-cost digital distribution channels like YouTube and Twitch to reach a global audience.

 


Source: PSFK & Hasbro YouTube