Facebook Planning Virtual Assistant Service Staffed With Real Humans

Facebook is reportedly planning to add to its Messenger platform a new digital assistant service dubbed “Moneypenny,” which will allow users to ask real people for help researching and ordering products and services, among other tasks. Previously, Facebook had already started letting Messenger users communicate directly with businesses, and this new feature feels like a natural, yet significant, development in building out its messaging platform.

Since this is Facebook, there is no doubt that they will leverage some of the user data it has for better targeting and recommendation. The question here, however, is just how much access the Moneypenny staff will have to the vast amount of data that Facebook has gathered on the users across its various services and platforms. While it’d make for a quicker, more personalized service to let the “Moneypennies” tap into the user data and learn about their customers’ preferences and interests, ensuring user privacy and data security remains a big issue to Facebook.

Source: Business Insider

Weinstein Targets Frequent Movie-Goers With Purchase Data

The Weinstein Company is leveraging big data to target movie-goers who go to theaters at least once a month. Working with data platform Cardlytics, the company is tapping into more than $1.5 trillion of debit and credit-card transactions from over 500 banks to pinpoint the consumers who frequently buy tickets at movie theaters. The studio’s media agency, Palisades MediaGroup then uses the anonymized data to serve up video and mobile ads of an upcoming Weinstein movie to the selected movie-goers.

While a great use of behavioral data for ad targeting, this campaign verges on the murky territory of consumer privacy violation. While the company claims that the banks only use data from customers who have opted in to a rewards program in order to comply with privacy standards, it remains unknown if those who were targeted gave their consent to have their purchases data to be resold to a third-party company for targeting purposes. We laid out some crucial points in using behavior data for ad targeting in our recent POV, and you can click here to read for additional insights on the topic.


Source: Marketing Land

On Trend: Tech Companies Improving User Privacy Measures

On Monday, Facebook announced that it has added support for PGP-encrypted emails, which will help encrypt the maintenance and notifications emails Facebook currently sends. This means that, theoretically, email services like Gmail and Yahoo won’t be able to scan those emails for data-collecting purposes. Moreover, the social network has also reportedly started testing Security Checkout, a new in-feed feature that will prompt users to check important security settings such as multi-device log-ins.

Similarly, Google unveiled a new ‘My Account’ page that aims to serve as the centralized hub for controlling all privacy settings across Google’s myriad of platforms and services. It also includes quick access to its Ad Settings tool , which allows users to easily customize or opt out of Google’s data collection for personalized ads.

Last October, we dissected the delicate balancing act of brands utilizing big data to add value without infringing privacy in a POV deck that centers on winning consumers’ trust. Therefore, it is heartening to see leading tech companies starting to respect user privacy with new services like these to provide better tools for security and self-management of personal data. All brands that collect data to gain insights about their audience need to take notes and act.

How Brands Can Deal With Increasing Ad-Blocking

Earlier last week, a Financial Times report claimed that several mobile network operators in Europe were planning to block online display ads as a way to attack Google’s domination of digital ad revenue. Whether this will actually be implemented is still up in the air, but the tide of ad blocking continues to rise this week as popular ad-blocker maker Adblock Plus launched its Firefox-based web browser for Android with built-in ad blocking. The first of its kind, this new Adblock Brower promises shorter load times, reduced cellular data usage and better battery life. No longer is ad blocking an add-on feature—it is quickly becoming the default and extending from desktops to mobile. Therefore, brands advertising online needs to adapt accordingly.

One good way to cope with such changes is to explore the newer formats of digital ads, such as video or native ads. For instance, yesterday Pinterest unveiled a series of new ad products and services that include an in-house creative arm called Pin Factory, improved audience targeting tools, and a new animated ad format dubbed “Cinematic Pins”, an interesting way to incorporate video ads into the usual static pin boards. As noted in the aforementioned Financial Times report, social “in-feed” ads on the likes of Twitter or Facebook will not be affected, presumably because they are native to the platform. For brands and marketers alike, the right way to combat ad-blocking tools expanding beyond add-ons is to stop making digital ads that look like add-ons.

Seven Trends We Look Forward To At SXSW 2015

Today marks the first day of 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival, and this year, the Lab has seven market trends that we are looking forward to exploring in the following days.

  1. Mobile Engagement Zooms in on Events and Locations
    We will be talking with Gimbal and Estimote, two leading beacon providers, to discuss how event and location-based targeting can help brands connect with their audiences at the right moments and places.
  2. Exchanging Value for Data With IoT
    The balance between personal data security and data-enabled value is a tricky one, and the Lab will be rethinking privacy in the Internet of Things with Kasisto and Button.
  3. The Future Living Room is for Gaming and Streaming
    The increase in streaming and gaming options provided by the likes of Twitch and LyteShot, is pushing the living room experience into new futuristic domain.
  4. The Internet of Things Will Be User-Centered
    With connected devices offering more user-centered experiences, we’ll be interviewing SnowShoe Stamp and WiActs about digital identity in the future of embeddables and wearables.
  5. Connected Car is Getting an Upgrade
    Connected car is changing the way we drive, and brands like Cargo, an open platform for connected cars, indicates that in-car connectivity will soon get another upgrade that could turn our vehicles into moving media channels.
  6. New Media Interfaces Lead the Future of Brand Experiences
    New advanced interfaces such as virtual reality or interactive touchscreens are opening up new opportunities to create innovative and engaging brand experiences. We plan to talk about such a future with Jaunt VR, LittleStar VR content platform, and EyeQ.
  7. Mobile Payment and Ecommerce To Shake Up Retail
    With promising new players like Clover and OpiaTalk emerging in mobile payment and ecommerce, the retail world is looking at a fundamental shake-up in the near future.


Header image courtesy of sxsw.com


By The Numbers: Quantifying Consumers’ Fear About Connected Devices

As we pointed out in last week’s By-the-Numbers, privacy concerns are holding back mainstream consumers from embracing connected home devices. This holds true for all connected devices, as the following AdWeek infographic perfectly illustrates.

Fears about personal privacy and data security, either through company misconduct or malicious hacking, rank as the top challenge for the IoT industry. In addition, a lack of perceived value in connected devices and associated pricing concerns don’t help the industry’s case.

Unsurprisingly, consumers prefer convenient devices, with fitness devices receiving an approving nod.  Meanwhile, the products in the least-wanted basket all share the trait of low practical value—most of the connected functions they offer can be achieved by simply looking at or smelling the items.


fear of connected devices


(Infographic Source: AdWeek)

Apple Promising “Huge” Stability Update In iOS 9

Read original article on: 9to5Mac

While the upcoming iOS 8.3 will soon bring wireless CarPlay, improved Google login, and new emojis to millions of iPhone users, Apple is already looking forward to iOS 9. The next iOS is reported to come with “huge improvements” on the stability and optimization of its operation system. After years of adding flashy new features and designs, this signals a maturity of Apple’s mobile system, as well as underscoring the heightened need for better security measures.

By The Numbers: Which Room Gets The Smart Home Devices

One of the major market trends we observed at CES 2015 last month was that the connected home is quickly becoming a reality. Smart home device shipment in the U.S. market is projected to grow nearly 74% from 20.7 million units to 35.9 million in the next 3 years, while the smart home controllers doubling its shipment.

US Smart home devices 2014-17

As rising product availability and mobile compatibility are readying home automation and monitoring to happen in every room of the house, which room will receive the priority of getting connected?

smart home by rooms U.S. female houseowners

According to a recent Better Homes and Gardens survey of U.S. female homeowners, it’s the shared family spaces like the kitchen and living room that takes the priority. In contrast, private spaces such as the bedroom or bathroom are less likely to be equipped with smart home devices.

Privacy concerns of connected devices

And it’s not hard to see the key reason behind such disparity—privacy concerns of connected devices are the number one reason that’s keeping smart devices from entering every room. Over 80% of U.S consumers worry about data security, according to a recent poll conducted by TRUSTe, as a majority believe they should own the data collected by smart devices. Overall, this means that brands in the connected home market need to do a better job at explaining the way personal data is collected and securely used to provide more benefits for the homeowners.

**All charts are taken from eMarketer.

Event Recap: Three Key Themes from AdClub’s Measurement: Now

On Thursday, the Lab attended the New York Ad Club’s Measurement: Now, a half-day event dedicated to data tracking and responding to the consumer journey. Three key themes emerged from the panels and keynote speeches:

Content and Context: Though the idea of a “consumer journey” isn’t new, brands are now acquiring the ability to target individuals in a specific context—time, physical location, device, point in the sales funnel, and so on—with an appropriate message. What this means is that marketers can develop more nuanced segmentation based on behavior and flesh out personas into real humans. This will increase brands’  relevancy, since as Audrey Hendley, Senior VP and GM, Acquisition & Prospect Engagement of American Express OPEN, noted, data must ultimately answer the question “what does our prospect want?”

Privacy and the Value Exchange: Ad technology is rapidly approaching the point where data from multiple devices (phones, television, and more) will be able to be tied to a unique, comprehensive consumer profile. While this has great potential for brands, “what thrills me as a marketer terrifies me as a citizen,” said Deborah Marquardt, SVP, Managing Director at MediaVest. In order to avoid what Kosta Skoulikaris, VP, Advertiser Solutions, Nielsen called the “icky factor,” brands must safeguard consumer data and provide value in return. 

Redefining ROI: As Aaron Fetters, Director of Insights and Analytics Solutions Center of the Kellogg Company, pointed out, marketers are increasingly accountable for budgets, making it imperative to get the “most of out of the money we spend.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that brands should focus entirely on ROI—in fact, Shelley Zallis, CEO of Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, suggested that ROE, or “return on engagement” may be a better metric.

Beware Of The Privacy Threats Posed By IoT Devices

Read original story on: New York Times

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Tuesday reported that Internet-connected devices presented “serious data security and privacy risks”, urging companies to make data protection a top priority. The announcement came just after Verizon’s supercookie—embedded unique user identifiers that are undeletable—made headlines last week for the privacy threats it poses for customers.

In both cases, the main security and privacy threats originate from non-consented access to and sale of personal data by third-party devices or apps. As estimated by Gartner Research, around 4.9 billion connected devices for consumers, enterprises, and utilities will be in use this year, generating a vast amount of personal and company data that need to be properly protected and regulated.

Update 1/30/2014: NYT reports that Verizon Wireless has decided to make a major revision to allow users to completely opt-out of its “supercookies”.