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By: Eric Hamblett 

Music identification company Shazam is growing their services in the direction of TV fashion identification. If accomplished successfully, Shazam is in position to challenge search engine middlemen and deliver content directly to viewers.

Currently, Shazam works by tagging audio content and informing users of its details. The new TV feature will build on this foundation and also allow users to tag TV shows and discover content. This could include anything from cast biographies, to trivia and even merchandise. By increasing consumer engagement, viewers have the potential to tag a specific show and then be directed to a shop that has merchandise the characters are wearing. 

An initial release of this feature will be deployed with the audio-tagging example above, and the company will unveil its image recognition technology when it’s finalized. What’s exciting for Shazam’s move into fashion is it establishes immediate and scalable conversations with TV producers. As for consumers, these new interactive possibilities could be the foundation for an engagement disruption. 

Can marketers use Shazam to make commercials more appealing? Will we suffer from even more brand saturation? It will be exciting to see how this technology impacts B2C and B2B relationships.

By: Eric Hamblett

Music is an emotional force that has the ability to influence brand experiences and ultimately our purchasing decisions. It is not typically included in a pitch portfolio, however has definite positive potential. Think about the music you encounter in your daily life, the songs that wake you up, put you to sleep and make your mind wander.

Enter the world of marketing through playlists. Brands have begun exploring this tactic by engaging with streaming services, the most notable being Spotify, Grooveshark and Pandora. When Spotify first came to the United States, Chevy leveraged its limited access invites by becoming an “exclusive automotive advertising partner” and gave away registration codes. Though this was a national PR push by both firms, success can still be achieved on a smaller budget with a more targeted audience.

Curated playlists seem to be most effective when they accompany a blog post, a product, an event, or a social campaign. Music adds an intangible factor that makes an experience more memorable and interactive.

Let’s take a look at TIME Magazine’s Spotify campaign. The company named “The Protester” as 2011 Person of the Year and to accompany this selection, they created a playlist titled “Protest Songs”. The songs essentially added more of a human context to the words, creating an experience as an extension of original content.

For the 2012 Presidential race, the Obama campaign created a Spotify playlist representative of their energy and promise. Comparing this to TIME’s, both playlists were themed and included 30 songs a piece.

While there may be opportunities for brands to assist with music discovery, current examples show that brands prefer to curate and organize.

Another unique approach for brands is to directly leverage their online community. A brand can host a contestand make a call for submissions to offer a grand prize. Or they can create a “collaborative playlist” and invite members to edit it. Companies may even use this as an internal morale booster, letting office members submit songs they work to or find interesting.

Overall, marketing through playlists is an atypical approach, however, something that can solidify a brand message if accomplished correctly. One thing to remember is that it must seem organic, relevant and exist as an extension of a campaign. While this may be difficult for brands that do not have a clear relationship with music, playlist marketing exposes a welcomed opportunity to deliver a refreshing message.  

By: Eric Hamblett

AT&T is currently exploring how they can use best practices and learnings from online ad campaigns to create more effective TV targeting tactics. This is kind of a big deal because their technology could create better experiences for viewers while also making TV network’s smarter and more profitable as a result.

Right now TV advertising requires too much human capital to collect ratings and surveys. This information is essential but it relies too heavily on the judgment calls of executives who are often limited by budgets and voluntary participation. In direct contrast, online advertising relies on software to match ads and provide valuable data-driven insights and results. It is more of a formulaic and much more specific process.

Current TV techniques are decades old and ripe for this kind of disruption. AT&T is pushing for real time ad scheduling that calibrates based on specific viewership. Think of Facebook’s targeted campaigns and how much control the campaign manager has over their budget and demographic scope—now apply that to TV.

I am curious how TV networks will react to this technology because the same executives making placement decisions for commercials may see their expertise at risk. AT&T is already testing a product called AdWorks that offers advertisers ways to measure TV campaigns using set-top-box data. Their measurement mechanism is Return on Impressions (ROI) and the next product iteration may have targeted software capabilities.

If online ads can be targeted and provide metrics to their success, why can’t TV advertising? Seems like that’s about to change and that’s exciting!

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By: Eric Hamblett

The first human-interacting autonomous robot has been approved by the FDA for use in hospitals. It is made by iRobot, the same company that created the Roomba, and has potential to change the face of healthcare (pun intended). The human sized machine is named RP-VITA and will function as a resource for doctors to remotely interact with patients. With this “telepresence,” doctors can interact with a number of patients through an iPad application, without having to physically troll halls and corridors.

The VITA is packed with state of the art features and powered by high resolution cameras that transmit doctor and patient faces. It integrates digital medical records and can connect to stethoscopes, otoscopes and ultrasounds.  This all works to create the highest quality consultation, improving efficiency and decreasing cost. 

Even though the robotic technology will optimize hospital experiences, it will be important for patients to understand its usefulness. Critics worry about technology replacing human jobs, and though this appears to be a step in that direction, the VITA is there to help. With live digital records and collaborative consultations, it will be interesting to track what new discoveries are made. 

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By: Eric Hamblett 

Up 57% from last year, Facebook now has 680 million mobile active users. For the first time, it has seen higher growth on mobile than desktop and their $305 million ad purchases in Q4 supports this claim. People want a Facebook presence and they want it badly.

Many have been skeptical over Facebook’s ability to monetize mobile, yet as their user base grows it is only anchoring itself. Mobile ad revenues now make up 23% of total ad revenue. To maintain this trend, it will be critical for Facebook to create more relevant ads that do not jeopardize the user experience. I am curious how the newly announced graph search will impact advertising budgets and strategies. Will we soon see ads that are creepily relevant?

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Facebook made a big decision last December 2012 to halt working on software that would open their platform to third party advertisers, a service similar to Google’s AdSense. Instead, it decided to allocate resources towards producing higher quality newsfeed ads. This demonstrates the company’s commitment to optimizing for users, wanting to buy more time to sell more ads. We should all be prepared for things to get personal.

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By: Eric Hamblett

Auto companies Ford and GM are allowing software developers to create applications that run on their car infotainment systems. The reasoning for exploring the new onboard technology is marketing driven. Ford and GM want to attract younger buyers, and bleeding the ‘app’ experience into cars allows their product to be an extension of already popular tools. In response to this news, I could not help but think about the popular analogy: “Why can’t we take as good care of our bodies as we do of our cars?”

I began thinking about how marketing driven health-tech companies could use the body as a playground for apps. How could the living experience benefit from internal technology? Putting research aside, what consumer apps could be created and implanted in our organs, blood stream, even hands and feet? Imagine newborns being implanted with Nike+ chips to track physical progress.

The reality is closer than you may think. A company named PositiveID Corporation has already developed an advanced biochip that can monitor health by tracking measurements such as temperature, blood pressure and sugar levels. Yet, the device was pulled in 2007 after identical implants in lab animals caused cancer. Similarly, from a safety perspective Ford and GM cannot allow potentially hazardous apps to entire vehicle systems.

Where and when will we find the balance between healthcare and implanted consumer technology? While there are thousands of medications that pay subjects for clinical studies, I have yet to see one that relies on gamification elements. From tattoos to piercings and plastic surgery, I predict the human race will continue having fun with its body. It will be interesting to see if this creates more reliance on technology or instead pushes it away because of health or information security issues.

By: Eric Hamblett

In a study published from data aggregator, Starcount, Samsung leads all brands in social media engagement. The company recently released two products, the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy Note 10.0. They poured record marketing budgets into them and the buzz has certainly picked up. On YouTube alone, Samsung received over 8 million hits last week. The Galaxy Note promo video received 2.5 million of those. Despite ongoing disputes with Apple, Samsung’s PR and marketing do not appear weak.

Starcount measures social popularity by using metrics from 11 networks. This infographic depicts their results and also reveals two other interesting trends. Amazon’s Facebook activity exploded this month and Red Bull broke 30 million fans on the social network. 

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By: Eric Hamblett



A report from the Wesleyan Media Project has revealed that TV ads in the current presidential race carry substantially more negative remarks than previous campaigns. Compared to the 2008 election, whose ads were 40% negative, the current race amounts to 75%. This is also drastically higher than the 34% in 2004 and 18% in 2000. As we near voting, it is interesting to note how aggressive the attention shifts from positive personal endorsement to negative opponent slandering. Between September 9 and 30 of this year, less than 8% of ads were positive!

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By: Eric Hamblett

Kellogs has just launched an innovative marketing campaign at their new pop up shop in London. Named the “Kellogg’s Tweet Shop,” the company is giving away free bags of their new Special K chips in exchange for a positive tweet on Twitter. Visitors have the choice of picking one of three template tweets to send out, or they can craft their own. Brand manager Sarah Case is excited about the campaign because she says Kellogs is the “first company to literally use social currency instead of financial currency to launch a new product.” It will be interesting to see how other companies harness the power of positive endorsements, and if they can gain similar PR exposure in the process. 

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Bing Starts TV Campaign Challenging Google

By: Eric Hamblett

Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, is throwing itself into the spotlight and calling out arch rival Google. Using a campaign named “Bing it On,” the company is creating an internet version of the Pepsi Challenge. Through a combination of a TV ad and an online challenge, Bing wants to prove they yield higher quality results. The challenge is essentially a blind search, where people can type in whatever they want, compare results and then pick which engine is the most successful. While Google commands 69% of search market share and Microsoft only 29%, this is a great way to get people thinking about their online activity. 

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By: Eric Hamblett

IKEA has been taking strong steps to position itself as the go-to source for moving and furnishing. One of their recent campaigns in Montreal, Canada has just won the company a North American Gold Effie — yet the increased customer engagement was the real prize. Partnering with ad agency Leo Burnett Toronto, IKEA decided to help everyday city folk during a popular moving day. They put up cardboard posters around the city that could transform into moving boxes. The cardboard included unique copyright, discounts on new furniture and moving tips. As a result of the campaign, store traffic in the area has risen by 14% and sales by 24.5%! This is proof that understanding the fundamental needs of customers can go a long way. What other companies have you seen provide free value?

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By: Eric Hamblett

According to a recent report by Gartner, global revenues from social media are set to grow 43.1% in 2012 and reach $16.9 billion. Advertising leads the surge with $8.8 billion, followed by social gaming contributing $6.2 billion. Subscriptions are the third most successful, accounting for $278 million. What is interesting about these figures is that the U.S. commands around 53% of the revenues. While social media ad spend will continue to rise, overall growth rate will decline by 2014, but still remain higher than 10%.

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By: Eric Hamblett



For many, there is nothing better than a cup or shot of Nespresso in the morning. Now, if you purchase the latest Pixie machine from the company you can feel even better about your choice. The aluminum on the machine is made with 98% recycled capsules! This is a creative move for Nespresso, as they are reusing waste and reducing environmental impact. Dubbed a “mini-revolution in eco design,” it will be interesting to see how the product is used in marketing efforts.

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By: Eric Hamblett

A new collaboration between CNN and Facebook is set to make voting more social. The two are creating an application named “I’m Voting” that will enable Facebook users to endorse specific candidates and issues. Users can commit to voting for a candidate and then have this information displayed on their timeline and news feed. CNN hosts are expected to use the app as a “second screen” and poll users on issues real time. While the app does not allow users to actually vote, it is a new way to track voters’ sentiments and create awareness. Do you think social media will play a role in your decision process this November?

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By: Eric Hamblett

Following its Board of Governors meeting, the NBA has tentatively approved placing advertisement patches on team uniforms. They are planned to be sewn on the shoulder area of jerseys and be implemented for the 2013-14 season. NBA Deputy Commissioner, Adam Silver, reported that the ads could generate at least $100 million for the NBA and its 30 teams. This decision will make the NBA the first of four major sport leagues in America to accept sponsorships on uniforms. Fan reactions are ranging from anger to acceptance and it will be interesting to see who ends up bidding for the ads. It is unlikely the corporations that own stadiums will be happy with other companies printing their logos on jerseys, which are such a focal point of the game.

Tags: NBA, Advertising, Sponsorship

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