CES: Streaming Digital Citizenship as a Societal Experiment

After years of development, direct-to-consumer streaming is poised to actively provide new choices for how the world consumes entertainment content. While it started as a response to the one-size-fits-all model offered by cable companies, it now offers choice of separate walled gardens, each with a different gate. Aggregators in the streaming space are quickly bulking up to what traditional providers charge based on the cost of channel acquisition. To some consumers this will seem like déjà vu. Others will choose carefully among the direct offerings to customize the content entering their world.  Continue reading CES: Streaming Digital Citizenship as a Societal Experiment

CES: Anticipating New Era of Streaming Digital Citizenship

It’s almost a new year and a whole new crop of technology is about to introduce a phase change into our collective psyche. It’s time to reflect before we dive into the shameless and enthusiastic possibilities it portends. Let’s take a moment to muse about our new realities. With 5G no doubt to be pervasive at CES 2020 next month, some of the new effects of the streaming marketplace will soon be apparent to the consumer. As each entertainment giant introduces new streaming services at what appears to be astounding value, when cobbled together they increasingly grow to approximate a consumer’s old aggregated service bill from a cable provider.  Continue reading CES: Anticipating New Era of Streaming Digital Citizenship

The Human Interface: What We Expect From AI at CES 2020

We’re not going to lie: the annual “heads up CES” piece on artificial intelligence is a major exercise in hit or miss. This is because technology rarely evolves on an annual time scale, and certainly not advanced technology like AI. Yet, here we are once again. Sure, 2019 was as fruitful as it gets in the AI research community. The raw debate between Neural Networks Extremists (those pushing for an “all neural nets all the time” approach to intelligence) and the Fanatical Symbolists (those advocating a more hybrid approach between knowledge bases, expert systems and neural nets) took an ugly “Mean Girl” turn, with two of the titans of the field (Gary Marcus and Yann LeCun) trading real insults on Twitter just a few days ago.  Continue reading The Human Interface: What We Expect From AI at CES 2020

Verizon, Snap Team to Create 5G-Enabled AR Experiences

With an eye towards 5G apps, Verizon inked a new tech development/marketing deal with Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. The companies plan to work together at Verizon’s 5G Labs to create augmented reality experiences for consumers as well as engage in exclusive distribution and co-marketing projects, such as Verizon preloading Snapchat on some 5G phones. The Snap Originals video series will also feature Verizon as a premium sponsor. Director Harmony Korine made a short experimental film with Snap’s Spectacles 3 camera. Continue reading Verizon, Snap Team to Create 5G-Enabled AR Experiences

Nielsen Will Split into Two Firms Following Activist Pressure

Following pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, Nielsen Holdings announced plans to split the media research firm into two independent publicly traded companies. Nielsen revealed it would create two separate companies by spinning off its Global Connect business. In a deal expected to close in 9-12 months, the two companies will be named Global Connect and Global Media. “Both the Global Media and Global Connect businesses are independently essential to the industries they serve, but each business has unique dynamics,” explained CEO David Kenny, who will stay on as chief exec of the Global Media business.  Continue reading Nielsen Will Split into Two Firms Following Activist Pressure

Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Apple’s debut of its streaming service, Apple TV+, has garnered outsized attention. But an examination of Apple’s spending on marketing indicates the Silicon Valley company’s main priority is its new iPhone. In September and October this year, Apple spent a total of $71.9 million on iPhone ads and $40.3 million on Apple TV+ ads. In October, for example, Apple spent $19.9 million on television commercials for Apple TV+, but, according to measurement company iSpot.tv, only $38.6 million on the new iPhone. Continue reading Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Brands Rethink Use of Influencers Given Widespread Fraud

Companies that have been paying social media influencers billions of dollars to promote their brands are thinking twice about the practice given there is no practical way to measure its impact. Some influencers have also alienated brands by deliberately inflating their number of followers or angered consumers by promoting products they don’t actually use. Early adopter Ipsy, an online cosmetic brand, for example, has recently pulled back on using online influencers, whose posts have been compared to 30-second TV ads. Continue reading Brands Rethink Use of Influencers Given Widespread Fraud

KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

Continue reading KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

Amazon is stepping up its e-commerce domination with same-day shipping, even for products that cost less than $5, according to analysts at Edgewater Research. Rather than having to combine your “add-on” item to a larger purchase in order to reach a $25 minimum order to qualify for Amazon Prime shipping deals, the company is providing members with free same-day shipping, even if the only item is a $2 roll of dental floss. Amazon’s willingness to lose money on such a model illustrates its desire to compete with stores like CVS, Target and Walmart, where consumers often go for convenient purchases. Continue reading Amazon Offers Same-Day Shipping For Low-Cost Products

TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Local TV station executives are increasingly aware that viewers watch content on all kinds of devices. Accordingly, NBCUniversal and Hearst have stopped using traditional ratings and switched to total viewer impressions, which will count all the ways a show is viewed. Other local TV groups vowed to do the same by 2020. At the same time, national TV executives also plan to add in those who view shows outside the home, in offices, hotels and the like, into final ratings. Nielsen has long dominated ratings of linear TV viewership. Continue reading TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the push for the privacy law that passed in the state, has a new plan to establish a data protection agency to make sure the law is enforced. The goal is to amend the law via a ballot initiative; it will take the valid signatures of more than 620,000 registered voters to put it on the ballot. The California Consumer Privacy Act now gives consumers the right to see what personal data has been collected, to delete it and to prevent companies from selling it. Continue reading Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Instagram Aims to Reduce Influencer Impact on Young Users

Facebook’s photo- and video-sharing app Instagram announced its plans to restrict certain content, including posts that promote cosmetic surgery procedures and weight-loss products, from users who are younger than 18 years of age. While some posts will be hidden from young users, other posts will be removed altogether from both Instagram and Facebook, including those from A-list celebrities such as the Kardashians. The move is part of an effort by the social networks to address growing concerns regarding the significant impact of influencer marketing on children. Continue reading Instagram Aims to Reduce Influencer Impact on Young Users

MoviePass Officially Shutters its Cinema Subscription Service

MoviePass notified its subscribers last week that its cinema plan would interrupt service on Saturday, September 14. At one point, the MoviePass subscription service enabled customers to watch up to one movie per day in theaters for $9.95 per month, a model that proved unsustainable. Parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) announced that it is considering options, which includes a possible sale of the MoviePass company. While the business model was seen as a bold experiment by some, the company reportedly burned through cash, ultimately disappointing its shareholders. Continue reading MoviePass Officially Shutters its Cinema Subscription Service

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Snap added new features to Lens Studio, its easy-to-use desktop app that lets users create augmented reality lenses. To make it more appealing to creators, from novices to professional 3D modelers, Snap introduced the Landmarker template, which supports 14 new real-world locations; six new facial templates; and an interactive how-to for newbies. Available for free download, Lens Studio runs on Windows 10 and macOS 10.11 or later. Over half a million Lenses have been developed since Lens Studio debuted in late 2017. Continue reading Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

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