Amazon’s AI Shopping Assistant Rufus Is Ready for Prime Day

After five months of testing, e-commerce giant Amazon is releasing its AI-powered shopping assistant, Rufus, on mobile throughout the U.S. via the Amazon Shopping app. By tapping the icon, shoppers can access a chat interface and query Rufus on topics such as the best portable speakers or summer dresses under $50. In time for this week’s Prime Day event, the new assistant can also provide status updates on orders. Rufus was trained on the Amazon catalog and other Internet content, so it can provide information on a wide variety of topics and reportedly also answer questions about politics and write short stories. Continue reading Amazon’s AI Shopping Assistant Rufus Is Ready for Prime Day

Netflix Plans to Open Two Entertainment Complexes in 2025

Netflix has selected Dallas, Texas and Pennsylvania’s King of Prussia as the first two cities for its massive location-based entertainment venues, set to open in 2025. Specifying “they’re not exactly theme parks,” the Netflix House destinations will feature shopping, eateries and “regularly updated” experiential activities that tie-in with major franchises like “Bridgerton,” “Stranger Things” and “Squid Game.” Netflix CMO Marian Lee says the company has already launched more than 50 experiences in 25 cities, with Netflix House representing “the next generation” venue for the streaming giant. Continue reading Netflix Plans to Open Two Entertainment Complexes in 2025

Amazon Q1 Profits Surge on Strong Retail and AWS Comeback

Amazon reported $143.3 billion in Q1 revenue, a 13 percent increase year-over-year, excluding the impact from foreign exchange rates, with net income at just over $10.3 billion, a nearly 229 percent surge that set a first quarter record for the company. Both categories outperformed Wall Street expectations, with strong online sales and a booming cloud business thanks to the increased demands of artificial intelligence deployment by enterprise clients credited as driving the boom. Amazon President and CEO Andy Jassy called it “a good start to the year.” Continue reading Amazon Q1 Profits Surge on Strong Retail and AWS Comeback

Amazon Live FAST Shopping Added to Prime Video, Freevee

Amazon has added interactive shopping from Amazon Live to Prime Video and the Amazon-owned FAST platform Freevee. Previously available only via web browser on computers, mobile and Fire TV, Amazon Live now debuts as a “Live TV” tab on Prime Video and Freevee while continuing to be available at Amazon.com/live. With the TV launch of Amazon Live, customers in the U.S. will “have more ways to shop with creators, brands, and celebrities” and will also be offered “shop the show” technology enabling what the company says will be “seamless” browsing, shopping and engagement with content using their mobile device. Continue reading Amazon Live FAST Shopping Added to Prime Video, Freevee

YouTube Adds Shopping Features for Products, Virtual Stores

In 2023, viewers watched more than 30 billion hours of shopping-related videos on YouTube, according to the platform, which reports “a 25 percent increase in watch time” for videos that help people shop. The uptick coincided with the introduction of tagging features for creators, and now YouTube is expanding its retail involvement even further by allowing creators to set up storefronts and sell products in-app, as yet another way to monetize the service. The move comes as TikTok seeks to grow TikTok Shop as high as $17.5 billion in the U.S., a tenfold increase. Continue reading YouTube Adds Shopping Features for Products, Virtual Stores

Streaming Drives U.S. Recorded Music to Record $17 Billion

U.S. recorded music revenue grew 8 percent in 2023, to an estimated record high of $17.1 billion at retail. It was the eighth consecutive year of growth, according to the RIAA, which says streaming continued to be the biggest driver, notching new heights of paid subscriptions, robust growth in ad-supported listening, and healthy increased contributions from new platforms. Streaming accounted for 84 percent of retail revenue, at $14.4 billion including from 96.8 million paid subscriptions. On the supply-side, wholesale revenue grew 7 percent to $11 billion, also a record. Continue reading Streaming Drives U.S. Recorded Music to Record $17 Billion

Figure Unveils Humanoid Robot, Draws Notable Investments

Robotics firm Figure AI is getting a lot of attention for its humanoid robot, Figure 01, which the company unveiled along with news that it has raised $675 million, for a $2.6 billion valuation, from investors including OpenAI, Nvidia, Microsoft and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Pronounced “Figure One,” the general purpose robot looks and moves like a human, and can perform mundane tasks like serving food as well as undesirable jobs like picking up trash. It “sees” using “onboard cameras that feed into a large vision-language model (VLM) trained by OpenAI,” according to Figure co-founder and CEO Brett Adcock. Continue reading Figure Unveils Humanoid Robot, Draws Notable Investments

YouTube, Comscore Integrate Campaign Ratings with Shorts

Comscore and YouTube have expanded their partnership by integrating Comscore Campaign Ratings (CCR) with YouTube Shorts and In-Feed inventory, making available a range of additional ad data specific to those outlets, across connected TV, mobile and desktop. In the months ahead, the toolkit will also add measurement of Masthead inventory. YouTube has been connected to CCR for standard video inventory and YouTube TV since Q4 2021. YouTube Shorts is a fast-growing part of the Google-owned video ecosystem, averaging over 70 billion daily views, according to YouTube and Comscore. Continue reading YouTube, Comscore Integrate Campaign Ratings with Shorts

TikTok Tests Feature Designed to Streamline In-App Shopping

In its continuing effort to expand in-app shopping activity, TikTok is testing an option to allow users to automatically identify products in their uploads — a march toward making all objects shoppable. The test lets select users toggle to “Identify Similar Objects” within a video. When activated, the AI-powered ISO highlights matching products that can be purchased in-app. TikTok has been exploring the feature for deployment in the United States this past year. TikTok parent ByteDance has for some time been using the in-stream shopping feature in the platform’s Chinese sister platform, Douyin. Continue reading TikTok Tests Feature Designed to Streamline In-App Shopping

Walmart Bolsters Advertising Business with Vizio Acquisition

Walmart is acquiring Vizio in a deal valued at $2.3 billion. The retail giant is following a template established by Amazon by expanding into entertainment media and connected TV advertising. The majority of Vizio’s growth from the last five years has come from ads on its WatchFree+ platform, which offers more than 260 channels, Walmart said touting a deal point. Vizio’s primary business is manufacturing value-priced TV sets. It also makes soundbars. The deal will instantly vault Walmart into a mix of players including Amazon, Roku, Samsung Ads and Google’s YouTube. Continue reading Walmart Bolsters Advertising Business with Vizio Acquisition

TikTok Tests a Feature That Tags Videos with Shopping Details

TikTok is testing a feature designed to make all posts shoppable as it goes all-in on creating what the company hopes will be a multi-billion-dollar U.S. e-commerce business. The new technology uses machine learning to identify objects in a video then prompts viewers to “find similar items on TikTok Shop” using links and in-app search. The ByteDance-owned social platform is also reportedly planning to launch multiple live-streaming studios in cities including Los Angeles where creators can go to stream shopping-themed content. The facilities are expected to be able to host multiple studios servicing dozens of creators per day. Continue reading TikTok Tests a Feature That Tags Videos with Shopping Details

CES: Walmart Introduces AI Reorders and ‘Shop with Friends’

In a CES 2024 keynote address, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon and other key execs from the company offered a look at how the retail giant is putting technologies like drones and augmented reality (AR) as well as generative AI and other artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer shopping experience. Walmart unveiled new products, including a pair of AI-powered platforms for managing search for replenishment of products. In addition, a new AR social commerce platform, now in beta, called “Shop with Friends” was also highlighted. Continue reading CES: Walmart Introduces AI Reorders and ‘Shop with Friends’

Cyber Monday Marks Biggest U.S. Online Shopping Day Ever

The U.S. saw record Cyber Monday sales, with shoppers dropping $12.4 billion, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracked roughly 1 trillion retail website visits resulting in purchases of more than 100 million products. Top-selling items included Hot Wheels toys, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X game console, televisions and small kitchen appliances. Spending was up by 9.6 percent over last year’s event, according to Adobe, which crowned Cyber Monday 2023 “the biggest online shopping day of all time.” Although consumers continue to fret about the economy, sales were propelled by discounts and offers to “buy now, pay later.” Continue reading Cyber Monday Marks Biggest U.S. Online Shopping Day Ever

Black Friday Sets Sales and Mobile Shopping Records in U.S.

American consumers set a new online shopping record for Black Friday, spending $9.8 billion on November 24, a record for the famous sales day and a 5.7 percent increase over 2022, according to Adobe Analytics. Thanksgiving Day online sales were also strong, rising 5.5 percent to $5.6 billion, per Adobe, which predicts that Cyber Monday numbers will blow past both those days, projecting U.S. consumer spending of between $12 billion and $12.4 billion for another new record. A notable trend during the holiday shopping weekend was increased reliance on “buy now, pay later” deals. Continue reading Black Friday Sets Sales and Mobile Shopping Records in U.S.

Snapchat Latest Social Site to Link Amazon for In-App Sales

Amazon continues its push into social shopping, partnering with Snapchat to allow sale of some products to U.S. users directly through the app. Amazon’s Snapchat ads will display real-time pricing, Prime eligibility and delivery estimates, as well as product details. Snapchat users will be able to link their Amazon accounts via a one-time set-up, with purchases defaulting to their preferred Amazon payment method and shipping address (unless otherwise specified). Both Amazon products and those through the e-commerce giant’s independent sellers will be included in the program. Continue reading Snapchat Latest Social Site to Link Amazon for In-App Sales