Brands Adapt as Privacy Concerns Chill Advertising Business

From fast food to sporting goods, companies are harvesting and hoarding consumer data at a record pace in an attempt to maintain ad targeting at a time when government and Big Tech are erecting privacy firewalls. In the past, brands could rely on their platform partners to supply much of the data necessary for focused advertising. All that changed this year when Apple rolled out a new policy restricting how customers could be tracked on its devices. Google is said to be readying a similar revamp for Chrome. Meanwhile, California and Europe have passed new consumer privacy laws.  Continue reading Brands Adapt as Privacy Concerns Chill Advertising Business

ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the first of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Six teams of randomly-grouped students started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 1 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures and Disney Research at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 2. Each member of the winning teams — Meetaverse and Virtual Vinyl — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

Amazon Plans High-Tech Department Store Dressing Rooms

Amazon’s planned department stores will leverage technology to boost clothing sales. The company is testing concepts such as having customers use their phones to scan QR codes of apparel they’re interested in so employees can place the items in a dressing room. Customers could then request alternative items using a touchscreen that may prompt with additional suggestions based on their taste. Amazon is considering opening department stores next year, primarily as a way to sell clothing from Amazon’s private labels as well as select third-party brands that sell on Amazon.com. Continue reading Amazon Plans High-Tech Department Store Dressing Rooms

Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

Amazon plans to open two “Just Walk Out” Whole Foods stores in 2022, in Washington D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, leveraging the same technology used in its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. The company also offers the technology for sale to other retailers. This marks the first time that Amazon is using its cashierless technology at the 500-store Whole Foods, which it bought in 2017. Shoppers enter and leave the store by scanning a QR code in Amazon or Whole Foods apps and motion sensors track their shopping choices. Continue reading Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

During the COVID-19 pandemic, QR codes that allow customers to order and pay for food and drinks caught on in restaurants and appear to be here for good. Retail chains including CVS and Foot Locker have also added them as have marketers. Because QR codes can store digital information and open an app or website that tracks peoples’ personal information, they’re ideal for vendors looking to create their own customer databases. Consumers will soon be served customized offers marketed within QR code payment systems. Continue reading Pandemic Fosters Wider Adoption of QR Codes and Tracking

Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Google is relaunching its Google Pay digital wallet and online payment system for Android and iOS with a raft of new features including the ability to connect to the user’s bank account for a searchable overview of finances. The company also plans to partner with banks in 2021 to offer its Plex, an online checking and savings account within the app. This more fully-featured Google Pay can now serve as a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and other apps and services, as well as an online bank such as Ally. Continue reading Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Amazon Fresh Stores have a very different look from Whole Foods, which the e-commerce giant purchased in 2017. The Fresh Store, which just opened its second outpost last week in Irvine, California, looks like a small warehouse, with Dash Carts offering integrated touchscreens and cameras. The Fresh Store is designed to be as easy as possible to retrofit in an existing retailer space and the look is spartan and appears to be optimized for robots. Prepared foods are available but there’s no place to sit and eat them. Continue reading Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

Spotify is working on a new feature called “Social Listening” that would allow multiple people to add tracks to a social queue so they could all listen to the same songs from different devices in different locations. According to screenshots shared by an app researcher, users can add songs to the real-time playlist for a communal listening experience after scanning their friends’ QR-style Spotify Social Listening codes. The feature, not yet released, is essentially a jazzed-up version of Spotify’s Collaborative Playlists for now, but in the future Spotify could possibly upgrade it for synchronized playback. Continue reading Social Listening: Spotify Developing a Shared Music Queue

LinkedIn Unveils Language Translation Tool and QR Codes

LinkedIn is introducing two new features: the ability to use QR codes for quickly sharing profiles and contact details, and a “See Translation” button that will translate posts into different languages. Currently available for iOS and Android, the QR codes offer users a quick option for accessing someone’s profile or sharing their own code via messaging apps, email, websites or printed materials such as business cards, conference badges and company brochures. The translation tool, available for more than 60 languages, is offered through LinkedIn’s desktop and mobile web versions (and soon via iOS and Android). Continue reading LinkedIn Unveils Language Translation Tool and QR Codes

Wi-Fi Alliance Finalizes the WPA3 Wireless Security Protocol

The Wi-Fi Alliance just unveiled WPA3, five months after it was first announced. The nonprofit organization that certifies Wi-Fi networking standards introduced a certification for two versions of WPA3, the successor standard to WPA2: WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise as well as Wi-Fi Easy Connect, a program that makes it easier to pair Wi-Fi devices without displays. Wi-Fi Alliance vice president of marketing Kevin Robinson dubs WPA3 as “the next generation of security for personal and enterprise networks.” Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Finalizes the WPA3 Wireless Security Protocol

Brands, Marketers Find Success With Snapchat’s Snapcodes

Users have caught on to Snapchat’s Snapcodes, the company’s version of QR codes, scanning over 8 million codes a day. Marketers like how Snapcodes connect traditional and digital advertising and provides data. Even though Snapcodes add production costs and uncertainty about results, Gatorade, Wendy’s and Evian are among an increasing number of brands using Snapcodes which, placed on products and ads, makes it easy for users to use their mobile phones to unlock custom branded filters, lenses, websites and games. Continue reading Brands, Marketers Find Success With Snapchat’s Snapcodes

Bots Could Replace Apps for Microsoft, Facebook and Others

Bots are text or language-based user interfaces to a service rather than ones that are graphical, and they’re getting a boost from several big technology companies, especially those that missed out on smartphones and their apps. Microsoft has described a vision of bots that can do everything from book a hotel room to order pizza, and has debuted tools to make it easier for a developer or small business owner to build one. Now, Facebook has plans to roll out a bot store that connects with its Messenger service. Continue reading Bots Could Replace Apps for Microsoft, Facebook and Others

Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Walmart is debuting Walmart Pay, a mobile payment system integrated into its existing smartphone app, which has 22 million active users. The new system will roll out to the company’s 4,600 stores in early 2016. With Walmart Pay, the company is competing with Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay, neither of which have gained widespread traction. Based on QR code technology and near-field communication (NFC) technology, Walmart Pay’s success — or lack thereof — rests on the consumer experience. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Mobile Payment System, Wide Rollout in 2016

Alibaba Tests Dotless Visual Codes to Fight Counterfeit Goods

Alibaba is facing a growing problem with counterfeit goods that has led to some top brands taking legal action. The Chinese e-commerce giant is debuting a solution in the form of unique tags similar to QR codes. The company is working with Israeli startup Visualead to introduce dotless visual codes, which can be used to scan products to prove their authenticity and then automatically destroyed so they cannot be used more than once. Customers will use Alibaba’s Taobao mobile app to scan the codes when they receive their orders. Continue reading Alibaba Tests Dotless Visual Codes to Fight Counterfeit Goods

Amazon’s Firefly Technology Recognizes Millions of Products

Amazon’s highly anticipated smartphone, the Fire Phone, comes with a new technology that combines image, text, video and audio recognition to make it easier than ever for users to identify (and hopefully purchase) some 70 million products in Amazon’s database. The Firefly technology can also scan QR codes, bar codes, and contact information. In terms of entertainment, the technology recognizes 245,000 movies and TV episodes, 160 live TV channels, and 35 million songs. Continue reading Amazon’s Firefly Technology Recognizes Millions of Products