Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Google’s YouTube is planning new original programming with a focus on live specials and interactive content. Ben Relles, former head of unscripted for YouTube Originals, will assume his new role as head of innovation to lead the initiative. Reporting to Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, Relles will be responsible for the development of new scripted and unscripted original programming intended to foster interaction and engagement with viewers. Interactive content has been getting more attention since the success of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Amazon plans to open dozens of grocery stores — distinct from Whole Foods — starting with Los Angeles and then in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia among other cities, said sources. The L.A. store is expected to open as early as the end of 2019, with others scheduled for early 2020. The name of the stores hasn’t yet been disclosed. The move is part of Amazon’s more recent focus on physical retail, especially grocery stores. Now traditional grocers will have yet more competition from Amazon. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Cloud Movie Locker UltraViolet Plans to Close This Summer

Industry consortium Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) plans to shutter the UltraViolet cloud-based digital media locker on July 31. However, users are advised not to delete their accounts. According to the UltraViolet site, “You can continue to access your UltraViolet movies and TV shows through the retailer(s) linked to your UltraViolet Library” between now and the shutdown date, after which, “Your UltraViolet Library will automatically close and, in the majority of cases, your movies and TV shows will remain accessible at previously-linked retailers.” Continue reading Cloud Movie Locker UltraViolet Plans to Close This Summer

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

IBM chair, CEO and president Ginni Rometty made her second CES keynote appearance and focused on artificial intelligence, big data, quantum computing, and closing the skills gap in computer science in a series of onstage conversations. Rometty drew a distinction between big data and deep data as she explained that there is a tremendous amount of information collected for specific analysis, but there is a wealth of analytical and predictive opportunity yet available. As an example, she cited analysis of fingernails as a means of predicting health issues or weather data to better forecast mid-air turbulence. Continue reading Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Amazon is poised to be an advertising behemoth, even as it dominates in online retail, handling almost half of all online sales in the U.S. The company currently holds the No. 3 spot in online advertising, behind Google and Facebook, with a mere 4 percent of the market. But Amazon is on a hiring binge for its advertising division, and, according to eMarketer, is on track to double its ad revenue this year to $5.83 billion. One source of tension is the fact that Amazon’s own products compete with retailers on its site. Continue reading Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Sports Streamer DAZN to Introduce Less Annoying Ad Model

DAZN, thus far an ad-free sports-streaming service, plans to introduce advertising, but in a format that will prevent the annoyance of frequently repeating ads. This format — called “ad frequency” — can replay the same ad six times within a three-hour game, said DAZN Group executive chairman John Skipper, a former ESPN president. His new model, which will debut in the next six to eight months, will focus on sponsored content and product placement. DAZN targets sports deals to be the “exclusive over-the-top provider.” Continue reading Sports Streamer DAZN to Introduce Less Annoying Ad Model

With Free Hollywood Films, YouTube Evolves into TV Network

Last month, YouTube began showing free, ad-supported Hollywood movies including “The Terminator” and “Legally Blonde,” an offering it began to promote in the site’s movie section. Although users have been able to purchase prime-time TV shows and feature films there, this is the first time YouTube has offered a free, ad-supported option. YouTube director of product management Rohit Dhawan would not disclose the terms of the agreement with studios, but noted the movies represent an opportunity for users and advertisers. Continue reading With Free Hollywood Films, YouTube Evolves into TV Network

Nielsen and Microsoft Partner on Cloud-Based Platform for Data

Nielsen Holdings and Microsoft are partnering on a cloud-based platform, Nielsen Connect, to help retailers gain insights from its consumer and operational data related to, respectively, media/TV ratings, and purchases of consumer goods. Nielsen chief technology/operations officer John Tavolieri noted that, given the value of the data, the industry has thus far not found a good way to “unlock” it. Nielsen’s data will be loaded to Microsoft Azure where the latter’s AI tools and APIs will enable users to search. Continue reading Nielsen and Microsoft Partner on Cloud-Based Platform for Data

Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Seattle-based Amazon finally announced that it has selected two locations for its next major corporate outposts. Referring to the planned sites as headquarters, the company will eventually bring 25,000 employees to both Long Island City in Queens, New York and the Crystal City area in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Amazon also revealed plans to build a third facility in Nashville, Tennessee — an operations facility that will house 5,000 employees. The new headquarters are expected to cost $5 billion in construction and investments. Continue reading Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Movies Anywhere Ends First Year With Six Million Downloads

Launched one year ago, Movies Anywhere, a Disney-owned app and service for movies in partnership with 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros., has six million users who have purchased more than 150 million movies. The most watched movie was Disney-Pixar’s “Coco.” Among the six million downloaded apps, Movies Anywhere has 5.8 million user accounts, which have watched 16 million hours in the first year. Although those numbers are miniscule compared to Netflix, they also show robust growth. Continue reading Movies Anywhere Ends First Year With Six Million Downloads

In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

Walmart is upping the ante with rival Amazon by opening a cashierless “Sam’s Club Now” store in Texas, vying with automated Amazon Go stores. Walmart is experimenting with the concept via its members-only Sam’s Club. According to Jamie Iannone, chief exec of SamsClub.com and executive vice president of membership and technology, the store is “very close to opening” and will be the “epicenter of innovation for Sam’s Club.” In the soon-to-open shop, users will rely on a new Sam’s Club Now app to scan items, and a staff member will scan the entire purchase before the user exits. Continue reading Walmart to Test Retail Tech With Launch of Sam’s Club Now

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