Baidu Begins Integrating AR Into Search And Exploring AR Marketing

What Happened
Baidu, typically regarded as “China’s Google,” has launched an AR lab to develop and deploy AR services in a variety of areas. Baidu has been actively experimenting with augmented reality for two years and has shipped some basic AR-powered features with its Baidu search and map apps. Baidu is also reportedly working with a number of big-name brands including L’Oreal, KFC, and Lancôme for AR ads that allow Chinese consumers to interact with virtual products on their mobile devices. Besides Baidu, Chinese tech giants Tencent and Alibaba have both came out with scavenger hunt-like games that hide AR coupons around real-world locations for consumers to discover.

What Brands Need To Do
Pokémon Go introduced U.S. consumers to mobile AR technology last summer, but brands are only starting to explore the possibilities that AR marketing brings. At this year’s CES, we saw brands like BMW and Gap showcased AR apps made for product demos. New York Times created an AR game for 20th Century Fox to promote movie Hidden Figures. Baidu’s AR initiatives point to many ways that brands can experiment with AR technologies and deliver an interesting customer experience.

If you’d like to get some help to figure out how augmented reality can enhance your customer experience and drive new opportunities for your brand, or simply to try out the HoloLens demo we have to experience the transformative power of AR, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Forbes

Michael Kors Launches Casino-Themed WeChat Game For Alibaba’s Singles’ Day

What Happened
Friday is Singles’ Day, the biggest day for online shopping in the world championed by China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba. With a massive sales volume that keep breaking its own records, many U.S. brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Crayola, and Beats have jumped on board for a piece of the pie. In particular, fashion brands including Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Coach, and Calvin Klein are offering special deals on Alibaba’s T-Mall this year, discounting products as much as 60% off.

Among all the participating brands, Michael Kors stands out with an innovative approach. The company launched a casino-themed game on popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, which offers players random discount codes to use on Singles’ Day after they play some digital poker and slot machines. Kors promoted the game with GIFs posted to its official WeChat account and a casino-themed shoppable blog post.

What Brands Should Do
This campaign from Michael Kors should be of interest to many U.S. brands trying to crack the code for social commerce. Using aptly Casino-themed mini-games to engage with mobile shoppers and reward their interactions with discount offers. this campaign serves as an intriguing example of how brands, especially retailers, can leverage popular social and messaging platforms to engage with and even sell directly to consumers.

To learn more about how brands can use chat bots to better serve customers via messaging interfaces, check out our Fast Forward feature on this topic.

 


Source: AdWeek

Lead image courtesy of Michael Kors blog

Why Walmart Is Investing $50 Million In A Chinese Grocery Delivery Startup

What Happened
Walmart announced on Friday that it is investing $50 million in Chinese online grocery and delivery startup New Dada, a joint venture part-owned by JD.com, Walmart’s strategic ecommerce partner in China. The investment in New Dada, which operates in over 300 Chinese cities and serves 25 million customers, will help Wal-Mart target Chinese shoppers with faster delivery in a highly competitive online grocery market.

What Brands Should Do
Walmart has been leveraging digital tools to modernize its retail experience in order to better compete with its ecommerce rivals. The retail giant rolled out a mobile payment app in the U.S. this summer and partnered with Uber and Lyft for testing on-demand grocery service in Denver and Phoenix. This investment marks a significant step in Walmart’s ecommerce expansion in China so as to better compete with local competitors. Retailers should take a cue from the retail giant and start testing similar on-demand programs to meet the increasing consumer demand for convenience.

To learn more on what retailers can do to reach today’s connected shoppers across sales channels, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: Reuters

Baidu Launches A Medical Chatbot That Acts As A Physician’s Assistant

What Happened
Baidu, typically referred to as China’s Google, launched a medical chatbot that aims to speed up the diagnosing process and help doctors collect patient information. The bot, named Melody, lives in the Baidu Doctor app, which launched in China in 2015 and aims to connect patients to local doctors for inquiries and booking appointments. Melody, only available in China right now, is powered by Baidu’s deep learning and natural language processing systems. It prompts users with generic questions, such as asking for the demographic info of the patient, what medications they are on, and how long a symptom has lasted, in order to gather sufficient information to pass to doctors for diagnosis.

What Brands Should Do
While Melody does not present any marketing opportunity for brands, it is still notable as a rare use case of chatbots in the healthcare field. This chatbot is also notable for its limited capability as Baidu stresses that Melody is not supposed to replace human doctors, but instead acts as a physician’s assistant and does prep work for them. This mirrors the Lab’s take on branded chatbots: they are great for handling basic customer service and other single-focus tasks such as gathering information and feedback. With more and more smartphone users opting to communicate via messaging apps, it is time for brands to consider developing chatbots in order to modernize their customer experience.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about building chatbots. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: The Verge

 

Facebook Updates Slideshow Ads With Text and Music Options

What Happened
Facebook has updated its Slideshow ads, the multi-image ad unit designed for regions with internet connections too slow for video ads. Now advertisers using this ad product can include more images in their slideshows, as well as add text and background music to them. At the moment, Facebook provides some themed music tracks for advertisers to choose from but says that marketers will be able to upload their own music soon. In addition, brands now have the option to specifically target their Slideshow ads against users on 2G networks.

What Brands Need To Do
According to Facebook, brands that use Slideshow ads have seen some positive results. For example, sock company Stance reported their cost per acquisition decreased by 48% and clickthrough rates more than doubled with a Slideshow ad. This update brings more customization features to Slideshow ads, which brands seeking to reach mobile consumers in certain developing global markets should take advantage of.


Source: AdWeek

 

Network-Level Adblocker Shine Signs Deal With African Mobile Carrier

What Happened
After signing deals with Caribbean mobile carrier Digicel and European carrier Three Group, Israel-based ad-blocking firm Shine is now reaching a new continent as it strikes a deal with Econet, an African wireless service provider with 40 million subscribers across Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi, and Lesotho. Econet will install Shine’s ad-blocking technology, which wipes out all in-app and mobile web ads at the carrier network level, for all of its subscribers. Econet is required by government regulations to provide a choice for customers to opt in or out of Shine’s service.

What Brands Need To Do
Shine’s network-level ad blocker prevents most mobile ads from loading, causing severe issues for digital publishers and, to a lesser extent, to online advertisers and brands that rely on reaching customers via mobile platforms. It remains to be seen if more carriers will pick up this practice, but the fact that three global mobile carriers have been willing to give Shine a try speaks to a larger trend of consumers being fed up with the subpar ad experiences currently plaguing mobile sites and apps.

Therefore, brands need to take a proactive approach to deal with consumers’ growing aversion to ads. One good way to do so is to explore new formats of digital ads, such as sponsoring online events and livestreams and producing branded content. Also, since Shine’s software won’t affect in-feed ads on social networks for now, brands may consider increasing their social ad spend. For more information on how brands can fight the increasing usage of ad-blockers, check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: AdExchanger

Dior Dabbled In Social Commerce On WeChat

What Happened
Dior has become the first luxury brand to dabble in social commerce by hosting a flash sale on China’s leading messaging app WeChat. The French fashion brand launched its WeChat shop on August 1st and promoted a limited edition of its Lady Dior bag via its official WeChat subscription account and WeChat Moments, a Facebook News Feed-like stream of social posts that WeChat integrated into the messaging app. The bag, priced at 28,000 yuan ($4,210), sold out within a day.

Social commerce is one of the leading features of WeChat, and it has taken off remarkably among Chinese mobile users. Dior is far from the first brand to host a successful flash sale event on WeChat. Previously, local brands such as smartphone maker Xiaomi and skincare brand WIS Professional have seen great results from their social commerce efforts on WeChat.

What Brands Need To Do
Although messaging app-based social commerce has yet to take off in the U.S., leading messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Kik have been working to emulate WeChat’s success and building out social commerce features in their apps. Some brands, such as fashion brands J.Crew and Madewell, have started experimenting with flash sales on Instagram. As more and more consumers are opting for messaging apps as their main communication channel, brands need to follow the audience and start experimenting with social commerce to sell directly to consumers.

For more information on how brands can effectively reach consumers on messaging apps and other conversational interfaces, please check out the first section of our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: China Daily

 

AMC Networks Launching An SVOD Service For International Gamers

What Happened
AMC Networks has become the latest media company to jump on the eSports bandwagon, as its Iberian subsidiary announced the launch of its first SVOD channel focused on gaming and eSports content. With some help from video gaming network Machinima, AMC International Networks Iberia will be making this new on-demand service available for gaming enthusiasts in Spain and Portugal via pay TV, smart TVs, and mobile apps. Last week, the U.K.’s biggest pay-TV broadcaster Sky also announced it is set to launch a dedicated eSports channel.

Why Brands Should Care
The rapid growth of eSports in recent years has drawn attention from media companies as ESPN, Turner, and Yahoo all entered the field with dedicated online content portals. Turner, in particular, brought eSports programming to primetime on TBS to further broaden its reach. As they race to capture the vast eSports audience, brands, especially those seeking global recognition, should consider leveraging the massive reach of eSports events to get in front of international audiences via sponsorships and ads.


Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Facebook Tests Social Commerce Payments In Thailand

What Happened
Facebook again shows its ambition in conquering social commerce with a new trial that launched in Thailand. Working with local fin-tech company 2C2P, Facebook integrated their digital payment product Qwik into its platform to enable users to pay for products listed on Facebook Pages without leaving the social network. Users will be able to complete purchases with a credit card, debit card, or even online bank transfer online with just a few clicks. Multiple sources in Thailand’s ecommerce space reported that Facebook is planning to roll out the trial to other countries in Southeast Asia over time.

Why Brands Should Care
Facebook has been working on incorporating payment solutions into its platform for a few years now, most recently adding a payment product to its Messenger app to allow users to link their debit card to the messaging app and send payments to their friends by striking up a conversation. This new trial reveals Facebook’s plan to keep the payment process entirely on its platform. Whereas Twitter has all but given up on its Buy Button, Facebook still seems to be rather confident in building out its commerce features and making its platform more business-friendly. Any brands that wish to sell directly on social platforms should heed Facebook’s developments in this domain.

 


Source: TechCrunch

Global Watch: Apple Pay Launches In China, 38 Million Cards Registered in One Day

What Happened
Apple first announced in December that it was partnering with China’s UnionPay to bring Apple Pay to users in China sometime in 2016. Now a year and a half after launching in the US., the Cupertino company officially launched Apple Pay in China on Thursday, and, according to Mashable’s report, it has been an early success as 38 million credit cards were linked on launch day. In fact, many Chinese users complained that they were unable to sign up due to what Apple later confirmed to be a “planned gradual rollout throughout the day.”

Market Impact
Unlike U.S., mobile payment is already widely adopted by mainstream consumers, thanks to the popularity of Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Wallet, which experts suggested would pose challenges for Apple Pay. However, with the backing of UnionPay, the only domestic bank card organization in mainland China, Apple Pay may just stand a good chance at conquering this important global market, as it plays an integral part in Chinese banks’ plan to digitize its offline payment services and compete against the likes of Alipay.

What Brands Need To Do
As Apple continues to push Apple Pay into more global markets, expanding its scope and capturing more users in the process, it is time for brands that have businesses in China start using Apple Pay’s integration of reward programs to connect with the local consumers. As a market that is quite accustomed to offline mobile payment, this also presents new opportunities for retailers with stores in China to incorporate existing reward and loyalty programs into new point of sale systems for a frictionless shopping experience.

 


Sources: 9to5 Mac

Header image courtesy of apple.com/cn