Mozilla’s newly released 2019 Internet Health Report offers insights from more than 200 experts examining what’s key to a healthier internet. The report is an open source compilation of research that tracks the internet and general technological progress. The findings center on three key areas: the need for better machine decision-making, rethinking digital ads, and the rise of smart cities.
Better machine learning
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are the
next generation of computing. They enable more powerful automation, prediction,
and personalization. As AI intelligence works its way into our daily lives, we
need to question the ethical decisions and potential risks associated with it.
Industry experts are concerned that the large tech companies
that control social media and e-commerce, are also shaping the AI agenda. Given
Facebook’s, Amazon’s and Google’s ability to gather large quantities of
training data, they are developing powerful AI technologies. An ethical
assessment of their algorithms is important to ensure the consumer’s
fundamental rights are protected.
Digital ads monetize online content and services and are the key driver of the advertising economy. Many researchers contributing to this report are alarmed by Google and Facebook’s combined control of approximately 84% of the global digital ad market outside of China. Their access to user data as a source of global market power in business negotiations is a major concern. Targeted ads used by these companies exploit their users. A scandal uncovered a few months ago included ads on Facebook demographically targeted to exclude people of a certain race from housing ads. Another example, also on Facebook, allowed advertisers to use available data on the service to create an affinity group to target ads to “Jew Haters.”
Some brands and marketers are stepping away from YouTube and
Facebook but many still purchase their inventory for targeting campaigns. As a
result of these scandals and others, users want to take control of their data.
New software initiatives are being explored to offer a decentralized solution,
giving consumers control over who has access to their personal data.
Rise of smart cities
Smart cities exist when the internet and connected devices
are applied to solving problems from energy efficiency, transportation to
government services. Similar to rethinking digital ads, collecting neighborhood
data must be thought about carefully. Smart cities face challenges with regards
to establishing policies and processes to guide the usage of local data with
regards to privacy and transparency.
Steps to a healthier internet
Many of today’s biggest internet companies still access
users’ clicks, likes, friends, emails and downloads to fuel their business
models. However, some companies are thinking about alternative business models
and new technologies to give users control of their data. One such initiative
is Purpose Foundation. It
promotes “steward-ownership,” a legal structure to prioritize a mission over
profit revenue model. It involves users in the ownership of the company to ensure
consumers benefit in the economic growth. Importantly, involving consumers in
internet innovation and safeguarding personal data are key steps to a healthier
All of these trends are likely to further disrupt media markets and digital content companies. Of them, blockchain is getting a lot of attention at the moment. And rightfully so.
A growing market
Identified last year by PwC as one of eight breakthrough technologies that “will be the most influential on businesses worldwide in the very near future,” it’s an innovation which has excited investors, business and governments around the world.
One proponent, Comcast Ventures, the VC affiliate of the Comcast Corporation, recently joined IBM, the technology community Galvanize, and the VC Boldstart Ventures, in supporting a growth lab for early stage blockchain startups. Led by MState, a press release for the initiative notes that “more than 100 Fortune 500s companies have active blockchain initiatives and the number is growing fast.”
“[Blockchain is a] distributed electronic ledger that uses software algorithms to record and confirm transactions with reliability and anonymity. The record of events is shared between many parties and information once entered cannot be altered, as the downstream chain reinforces upstream transactions.”
This 3 minute video from PBS also sums up the technology very effectively, with the visuals perhaps being an easier way – for some people – to make sense of this system:
The global blockchain market is predicted to grow from USD 411.5 million in 2017 to USD 7,683.7 million by 2022, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 79.6%. The technology has the potential to impact multiple areas of interest to media companies, including: payments and contracts, as well as content distribution and digital asset management.
Commenting on an earlier study by the same company (Research and Markets) Business Wire noted in April 2017: “The media and entertainment vertical is expected to witness the highest CAGR during the forecast period.”
According to one advocate for blockchain, Gil Beyda, Managing Director of Comcast Ventures, there are good reasons to be excited by this nascent technology.
“The internet connected people and businesses with near zero cost of distribution. However, the network still required intermediaries (website, etailers, etc.) to aggregate people and content/goods and provide a trust layer for transactions,” he explained in an email to Digital Content Next.
“Blockchain fundamentally changes that model by creating trust between individuals and companies that are unknown to each other. This allows new decentralized business models that were not possible before.” Beyda acknowledges that “It is still in the early days. ” However, he points out that blockchain is a “horizontal technology that has the potential to touch nearly every business from, supply chain management to commerce, to content consumption.”
As a result, Comcast, like a number of other media companies – such as Spotify – are exploring the potential afforded by blockchain to create (and support) new, and existing, business models.
“Comcast has announced the Blockchain Insights Platform with NBCU+Disney+Altice+Cox and others to match audience datasets — without sharing data — to better plan, target, execute and measure advertising,” Beyda told us.
The initiative, launched at Cannes Lions last summer, sees Comcast partner with NBCUniversal, Disney, Altice USA, Channel 4 (UK), Cox Communications, Mediaset Italia and TF1 Group (France) in order to deliver “a new and improved advertising approach which would facilitate the secure exchange of non-personal, audience insights for addressable advertising.”
Marcien Jenckes, President, Advertising, Comcast Cable, argued at the time: “This new technological approach would make data-driven video advertising more efficient and consumer data more secure. We’ll work with the participants in this initiative to improve ad planning, addressable targeting, execution and measurement, to ultimately create even more value for the television advertising industry.”
“Another internal project enables IoT devices in the home to use blockchain to secure and control access. Others at Comcast at looking at consumer loyalty programs and energy management,” Beyda says.
Comcast’s entry into this space goes beyond their traditional content role, to include expanded home automation services (offered, their website states, to more than 15 million customers at no additional cost) supported by a blockchain based tool. This will enable consumers “to easily grant, revoke and tailor access to any IoT device in a way that is safe, private and highly resistant to tampering.”
As Noopur Davis, Chief Information Security Officer, Comcast Cable, observed in a recent blog post: “Blockchains may be most commonly associated with cryptocurrencies [like bitcoin, Ed], but the underlying technology provides a powerful, flexible and secure platform that can support many types of sensitive transactions where privacy and reliability are critical.”
With Intel predicting that the average household will have 50 connected in-home devices by 2020 (up from ten in 2016), Comcast join Google, Amazon and others at the intersection of media and tech, who are operating in the increasing busy connected-home market.
Other potential benefits
Outside of these areas, Beyda also highlights how “early application of blockchain in media companies might include identity, royalty tracking, digital rights management and content distribution.”
Arguably it’s the payment and distribution opportunities afforded by this technology which will pique the interest of many content creators and rights holders.
As Deloitte commented in a recent paper (Blockchain @ Media | A new Game Changer for the Media Industry?): “Blockchain technology permits bypassing content aggregators, platform providers, and royalty collection associations to a large extent. Thus market power shifts to the copyright owners.”
Further possible blockchain uses identified by Deloitte include “new pricing options for paid content,” improved “distribution of royalty payments,” as well as “secure and transparent C2C sales” and “consumption of paid content without boundaries.”
Although adoption and the evolution of this technology still has some way to go, and several of these ideas – such as a micro-payment future have been hotly anticipated before – Deloitte nonetheless suggest:
“Possible applications and technical innovations will have a far reaching impact: content creators may be able to keep a close track of their playtimes, royalties and advertising revenues could be shared in an exact and timely manner based on consumption, and low cost content could be purchased efficiently, even if priced at mere fractions of cents.”
Meanwhile, companies like MetaX are exploring how blockchain can address issues of viewability and ad fraud by recording and storing detailed real-time ad impressions, and others have argued that blockchain technology (which allows users to trace, chronologically, any changes) can also be used to address issues of fake news and content manipulation.
“The media industry is stuck with licensing, distribution and collection structures that are pre-Internet,” Bruce Pon – founder of BigchainDB, a Berlin based blockchain database – wrote recently on Medium.“The blockchain enables new ways to think about the value exchange between creators, middlemen and consumers.”
Dan Williamson, CEO and co-founder of The-BLOCK.io, agrees: “We believe blockchain technology will have a huge impact on the media industry,” he told Digital Content Next.
“It will help revenue-strained media companies raise finances through ICOs and allow their readers and advertisers to participate in micropayment-friendly ecosystems. The immutable and tamper-proof nature of the blockchain will help advertisers and media owners guard against the widespread fraud and mistrust that plagues the industry. [And] it will also allow companies and individuals to distribute content in ways such that it is impossible to take it down: a double-edged sword.” Although Pon believes that “media companies are sleepwalking into this next technology maelstrom, without knowing what’s going to hit them,” the experience of Gil Beyda and his team at Comcast Ventures indicates that there are some blockchain cassandra’s out there in medialand.
“I believe we’ll see applications of blockchain technology in production in the next 1-2 years,” Beyda predicts, suggesting that the evolution of this technology – and the myriad of benefits it could potentially unlock – might become more mainstream sooner than you might realize.
“If successful, it will disrupt Google, Facebook and the entire digital advertising industry,” he says. “What happens then? It could herald new economic era for the internet, whereby content creators are rewarded for their work and users are rewarded for their data.”
As a result, as Dr. Nelson Granados – an Associate Professor of information systems, and Director of the Institute for Media, Entertainment, and Culture at Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business – has argued:
“If you are in media and entertainment, 2018 will be a year to closely monitor and possibly experiment or invest in blockchain innovation, if you haven’t done so yet. Otherwise, you could be left behind.”
And no discerning media company wants that.
Matthew Schroder, a Doctoral Student at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication contributed to the research for this article.
Given its effect on pretty much everything people do, weather sits at the sweet spot between content and commerce. However, it’s also information that companies can harness to do much more than trigger a purchase. AccuWeather, a weather information and digital media provider, is focused on platforms and partnerships that deliver accurate weather content and data in the proper context at the appropriate moment. The company, which counts over 30 billion data requests daily, is pursuing a strategy that spans multiple channels and touch points – ranging from apps and bots, to watches and wearables, to connected cars and devices in the home. Peggy Anne Salz – mobile analyst and Content Marketing Strategist at MobileGroove – catches up with Steven Smith, AccuWeather President of Digital Media, to discuss how the company, established in 1962, has evolved with technology, devices, and IoT to power content and services with a personal touch.
PAS: AccuWeather brings together weather information and digital media. What is the role of the data you provide across the products you power and the partnerships you pursue?
SS: To be clear, it’s more than weather data; it’s a type of content that makes what we offer part of the equation in people’s everyday lives. It is content geared towards helping people plan their day, plan their lives, plan everything around it.
It’s also part of a concept we call Weather 2.0 – making our content relevant to the user ‘in the moment.’ That moment is influenced by the decision people want to make and dictated by the device they’re using at the time. To be relevant to their needs and their context ‘in the moment,’ you have to be on the traditional platforms – including browsers and mobile apps. But you also have to integrate into a range of other platforms, devices, delivery vehicles – or whatever you want to call them.
PAS:AccuWeather has a presence in the connected car. This makes it possible for drivers of Ford SYNC 3 cars to operate the AccuWeather app using voice commands or buttons on the vehicle display screen. What did you have to consider in order to deliver, as you put it, “meaningful impact?”
SS: Obviously, a five-day forecast is probably not the most useful piece of information at that time, in the moment. So, the product we’ve developed here tells you when it will start raining along your route, and answers key questions: When do I need to slow down? When will that heavy snow start? And it’s the same approach for a whole variety of IoT devices – whether it’s wearables for fitness or wearables for health. It’s why we have put forth several initiatives to tailor those products and the content we provide, to be contextually relevant. It’s the reality of what our content – and really all content today – needs to be.
PAS:I hear Accuweather is making a personalization play as well as a platform play. Is one more important than the other?
SS: From the browser products all the way to the traditional flagship apps, it’s about being on the relevant platform. And we make our platform choices by watching our audience. We have 300 million monthly active uniques interacting with our core digital properties. It’s activity and usage that allows us to see where there is a desire to use a product.
For me, connected car tops the list of practical platforms, which is why we are developing a product that provides users with minute-by-minute forecast along their route. The product has been developed to support driving, whether that’s a person in their car, a ride-sharing platform or an autonomous self-driving car. So, you can see how our content is transcending beyond being a feature within an app to become the heart of the driving experience. Right now, it’s contextual content, just-in-time. There’s a safety aspect as well as just what is going on with the weather.
PAS:Where do wearables come in?
SS: Wearables is also at the top of our list, and we break those down into categories. There’s Fitness, where we’ve had a partnership with Garmin for a number of years that’s geared around providing weather content related to the fitness activity like running. Our Minutecast, which is minute-by-minute forecasting for basically every exact GPS point on the route, provides the user what they need based on where they are, or will be, for that period. We also have a partnership with Samsung and a number of others in that space that we haven’t announced yet. Another category is Health. It’s where our content focuses on conditions that tangentially impact to health. So, how air quality impacts asthma, for example. We have partnerships, where our big data on the back-end is used to personalize and predict conditions.
PAS:It’s all about delivering accurate and actionable content – regardless of platform. You offer an AI-powered weather assistant for Facebook Messenger. What is the fit with bots?
SS: Imagine a scenario where there is a major line of thunderstorms coming. That’s where you want advice and help, not just the weather. It’s where a bot experience meets the requirement of the individual for real assistance in the moment. It’s why we launched a Facebook bot, and we just did the same on Google. It all gets to your point that there are scenarios when the consumer needs to make a life-management decision, and a bot is a good fit.
Voice is similar, in this respect, which is why we consider it a future path for the delivery of content and – more importantly – interaction with the consumer. We have been active in that field for a while. In fact, we power the weather on the Amazon Alexa product and the Echo. This quickly taught us how to create a voice experience and meet the consumer expectation for an answer coming back within milliseconds.
PAS:What about the role of content in effective and relevant advertising? You have a partnership with Swirl, a mobile marketing platform provider, giving them access to your weather data sets to tailor and trigger in-door shopping experiences based on the user’s local weather conditions…
SS: Weather is a universal language. It’s the classic conversation starter, regardless of language or dialect. It has relevance in all our lives all around the globe. Of those 300 million monthly active users I mentioned, 65 percent come from outside the U.S. The reality is, as an organization, we have to be global-first, and this also applies to partnerships. On the handset side, our partners range from Samsung to Sony. We also work with Naver, the popular search engine in South Korea. Globally, we have a joint venture with the Chinese Meteorological Agency within China, as companies must be licensed by the Chinese government to distribute weather data.
In all these partnerships it comes down to the same principles and paving the way to deliver meaningful content and experiences regardless of the platform consumers prefer. Advertising is also about delivering experiences. Imagine a user who’s looking at a flu index, because we create flu forecasts influenced by weather conditions. It’s not inappropriate at that point to present a product that will help with the types of conditions the user is interested in at that moment and in that context. It’s all about the ability to wrap contextual advertising around something that we know a user will find interesting.
We’ve been talking about consumer-facing scenarios, but AccuWeather is also very much a B2B partner. We help companies, do everything from logistics planning and supply chain planning, to a product by product roll out. Weather heavily influences what consumers want and product usage, so we also help companies to make decisions around where to place those marketing and advertising dollars.
SS: That’s an interesting one. We have also partnered with Spotify, on a new site titled Climatune aimed at giving music fans around the world the perfect musical score for any weather. That’s a perfect example of how we are at the intersection of where weather meets and mixes with another data set – and it shows how companies can deliver experiences by taking our unique data set and combining that with another data set to offer a service that is unique and personalized. Frankly, we’ve been doing this type of big data look-up for years, long before brands and marketers got a hold of it and understood how weather influences consumer preferences and behavior. The Spotify example is interesting because it provides insights into mood and what people do musically.
PAS:We agree that weather content must be contextual and can be incredibly valuable to users. What is the best way to get it in front of consumers in a way they will appreciate, and not find annoying?
ISS: n our product team, we talk about push moments, as opposed to pull moments. Before everything was about the user pulling information. They opened an app, went onto a website, entered an environment to access content. As a content company, you tried to triage the three pieces of information about the user to decide what to present them. Today, it’s about creating push moments, where content and information is front and center – right in front of the user at the right time, and when they want to see it.
PAS: So, we’re right back at personalization?
SS: Yes, it’s personalization, and it also takes contextual awareness into account. Am I at the office? Am I at home? In each case, the content and information will differ. But what’s really key is how you craft that delivery. We all know what it’s like to have too much clutter – like 17 notifications on your smartphone and more coming in. The push I’m thinking of adds value by delivering what people expect in the way they need it right then and there. This why much of our product development going forward focuses on technologies to avoid clutter. Whether it’s a push technology or some of the new notification technologies on the market – or whether it’s a wearables device or a connected car – it’s about using the right platform to bring that content – that experience – to life for that user in that moment.
Peggy Anne Salz is the Content Marketing Strategist and Chief Analyst of Mobile Groove, a top 50 influential technology site providing custom research to the global mobile industry and consulting to tech startups. Full disclosure: She is a frequent contributor to Forbes on the topic of mobile marketing, engagement and apps. Her work also regularly appears in a range of publications from Venture Beat to Harvard Business Review. Peggy is a top 30 Mobile Marketing influencer and a nine-time author based in Europe. Follow her @peggyanne.
Amazon Echo Show, Alexa, and Google Home have been positioned as the next big thing for companies and consumers. Content companies, marketers, and advertisers have scrambled to get up to speed on the technology behind them and are actively trying to figure out how to incorporate them into their planning. Certainly, there are a slew of companies anxious to get in on the Internet of Things (IoT) home automation game. However, they all realize that what will make them the most money is delivering their messages on the home automation system that reaches the most number of households.
Nevertheless, home automation is a new game with a whole new set of rules. The winner of this space will be whomever can master a very different skill set: providing subsidies through tax credits and insurance claims, and developing tight relationships with residential and commercial general contractors.
There are two main obstacles to mass adoption of home automation:
1. It’s too expensive: To get the full effect of the IoT transformation, a homeowner would have to replace every appliance in their house. That includes everything from the garage door, the thermostats, and doorbell to every light bulb, roof, pool pump, possibly even an entire music library, and more. Not many will be able to afford this.To reach mass adoption, someone else will have to pay for it. But who?
Using smartphones as an example, they didn’t hit mainstream until carriers helped subsidize the cost of the phone by rolling it into the service plan. Similarly, broadband effectively crossed the chasm when it started getting bundled by default with TV and phone service. Providers and appliance companies need to figure out a way to subsidize the cost of every upgrade. This can be accomplished through tax credits and subsidies for environmental upgrades or through insurance companies willing to foot the (partial) bill to replace elements of the home due to age and wear-and-tear.
2. Integration is too difficult: Seamless integration is another major obstacle to the adoption of home automation. Setup is prohibitively difficult. Many products won’t work together because they’re made by competing companies. Users often are forced to use separate apps or hubs for each appliance.
Thus, whichever company can offer a full-package solution has the best chance of solving this integration problem. And whichever company has the capacity to work closely with residential and commercial general contractors will have the advantage since selling a “full package” is only financially realistic when rolled into the mortgages of new-build homes. There’s a domino effect here since the solar roof you choose will require a battery store, and that battery store will work best with the related fuse box, which might act as the control hub to the rest of the house. This, in turn, will determine most of the other appliances, such as wall switches, light bulbs, thermostats, ceiling fans, etc.
Who Will Win?
One may argue that there is already a company set up to dominate the home automation market, which already has cachet with consumers, and is both full of shine and substance. Tesla is the only major tech company making it an integral part of their business to embrace the complexities of insurance companies and residential and commercial general contractors. This is necessary for them to drive adoption of their Solar Roof. They are also already masters of helping consumers with government subsidies that come with environmental tax credits from buying their cars. These are the types of moves needed to, gradually over 20 years, deck out a house, top to bottom, with a seamless, consistent, single-vendor solution that was paid for by rolling it into standard maintenance costs or mortgages.
There’s another reason why the winner in home automation won’t be one of the usual giants in consumer tech today. This will be unfamiliar territory for them since they focus on glamorous consumer electronics rather than practical products meant to last a generation of home ownership. Apple will miss the boat by trying to “design” their way to success. But let’s face it: Home appliances are not “objects of desire” like jewelry. Amazon will try to reach success by slashing margins but “cheap” is still more expensive than subsidized. Google will try winning by having smarter devices than their competitors but most devices only need to be smart enough to turn themselves on or off.
For now, it’s a dream state as we wait to see how home automation can work together for an entire household in a way that’s not cost-prohibitive. It must also be seamlessly integrated into the home. Until these hurdles are “solved problems,” home automation—and the opportunities that come with it for content companies of all types—simply cannot cross the chasm.
Rylan Barnes is the co-founder of ShopSavvy, one of the largest shopping/deals apps, that is part of Purch’s portfolio of brands, and Vice President of Software Engineering – Mobile and Emerging Platforms at Purch.
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has been around for generations in the form of billboards, posters, public transport hub walls, bus benches and more. While these paid media placement opportunities are still around, they’ve been quietly undergoing some significant digitally-enhanced upgrades, including programmatic bidding, viewability tracking and intent-oriented targeting.
As a result, OOH is the first “offline” media realm to join the ranks of connected digital media platforms. Let’s look at how this trend is taking shape.
Why Media Buyers are Looking for Better Digital Options
In the early days of the internet, display ads were all marketers needed for their messages to be seen. Now, however, the vast majority of display ads, both on desktop and mobile, don’t command much attention at all.
This is largely because audience members have become desensitized, developing “banner blindness. However, there are plenty more issues in play: ad blockers, viewability measurement challenges, bot traffic and rampant fraud, all of which are making alternative digital ad media types increasingly attractive to buyers. One study from Integral Ad Science found that just 43% of online display ads are “human-viewable.”
Naturally, as a result of these challenges, advertisers and media brokers are hunting for new ways to reach eyeballs. If no one pays attention to your ads, then you’re simply wasting your money.
Why Media Buyers Struggle to Justify Unmeasurable Placements
In the age of granular conversion tracking and sophisticated attribution modeling, media buyers need to have the ability to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) on their placements. This type of measurement is relatively straightforward when buying ads on Facebook, for example, but most offline media simply can’t compete in this regard.
If they can’t prove how many people saw or remembered the ad, and then gather data suggesting the extent to which the ads impacted sales, they can’t determine whether the buy was any good. It’s easy to run an ad continuously – knowing how many people saw and paid attention to it is the challenge.
Online media has, to a large extent, spoiled the viability of buying offline media. We have access to all this big data – nearly anything done in the digital world can be traced with ease – which makes it easier for marketers and other professionals to see what’s happening as a result of advertising. That’s why there’s rising demand today for similar tracking in offline media too.
The day may come when print publications use internet of things-enabled nano-chips to track ad views and attention biometrics to collect data that will later be used for audience segmentation, automated nurturing and strategy refinement. In the meantime, only outdoor advertising has the one-to-many reach to justify investing in better transparency and reporting for advertisers and media buyers. That said, smart industry players are evolving cautiously, as “big brother” privacy concerns come into play whenever behavioral tracking comes up.
Digital out-of-home media is therefore steering clear of keeping records associated with individual audience members, with several initiatives now in play that can provide performance metrics based on attention-correlated eye movements. Trade groups like Route and TAB now offer media measurement and audience estimates for OOH advertising in the UK and the US respectively.
How Digital OOH Is Addressing Offline Media Accountability
OOH sellers are investing in development as well. Clear Channel Outdoor Americas is partnering with mobile carriers like AT&T to track whether people who see billboard ads eventually buy the products promoted. “In aggregate, that data can then tell you information about what the average viewer of that billboard looks like,” Andy Stevens, senior VP of research and insights at Clear Channel recently told the New York Times. “Obviously that’s very valuable to an advertiser.”
Following a successful pilot last year, with 1000 screens placed in 20 supermarkets across Canada, Montreal-based Impax Media recently hired Dominick Porco and Bill Ketcham, both alumni of the Adspace Digital Mall Network executive team, to oversee the relatively new company’s push to take over the US.
The Impax platform offers digital advertising on screens mounted at the checkout line at grocery stores and other retail outlets. Impax’s screens can be seen whether the lane is closed and locked or open and in use. Each screen provides advertisers with the information they need to track ROI on media spends, while protecting viewer privacy. The screens are set to display brand-sponsored content and store announcements, running in a loop.
“Our plan is to install an average of eight screens per month in each of 167 supermarkets, starting in August of this year,” says Porco. “At that rate, Impax will be active in 10,000 supermarkets within five years, reaching over 130 million shoppers every four weeks, on a network that will consist of 80,000 screens – by far the largest digital network in the US.”
The Internet of Things Makes Programmatic Booking Possible
For those interested in enabling it on their smartphones, beacon technology allows people to receive notifications about sales at stores as they pass by them. With beacons and near-field communication (NFC), advertisers can more accurately target people based on their location away from home, when they are 41% more receptive to advertising. So advertisers can already target people based on where they are, whether serving up messages via mobile push notifications or via video clips on big, wall-mounted screens.
With programmatic bidding currently under development for the OOH industry, buyers may soon be able to more accurately target their appropriate audiences, and sellers will benefit from being able to offer a fully optimized media asset.
Imagine the power of being able to serve up messages to individuals, no matter where they go in the real world. Creepiness aside, this is personalization at its most extreme. pers
Programmatic DOOH will allow marketers to reach audience members in high proximity to points of purchase, across multiple touchpoints, and on a budget that works for the client while also meeting business objectives. With the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure on the rise and back end targeting processes ready to take place in real-time, this type of contextual relevance is around the corner.
The Benefits of Today’s OOH Placements
In the age of complex, individualized customer journeys, media buying success hinges on omni-channel exposure, and digital OOH is proven to be a major performer in this regard. A study from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America found that when people see OOH ads and eventually interact with advertisers online, nearly a quarter of these interactions take place within 30 minutes of viewing.
DOOH is proven to be cost-effective, too, with CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) starting at $1.50 and maxing out at about $35, according to one recent industry-wide inventory assessment. The only media channels that are less expensive – radio, magazines and static billboards – feature zero viewability reporting capabilities.
OOH advertising’s joining of the digital paid media mix means people are exposed to promotional content that they actually want to see. This increases the chance they’ll respond to the ads positively, boosting conversion rates and profits for the advertisers, while earning money for venues as well.
Joe Liebkind is a Berlin-based writer. He has worked with startups in sales and marketing roles in Berlin and New York. Find him on Twitter.
The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to build traction and gain ground as the leading force in connected ingenuity. Nowhere was this more apparent than at TU-Automotive Detroit 2016, a recent automotive industry expo and conference that centered on the connected car.
The leading enterprises in the tech and auto industry showcased their concept platforms and concept cars all geared toward accessing more and better data while driving. Though participation was international, the show could be seen as the pinnacle of an American ideal – with each user’s vehicle representing their autonomy as an individual and all available cloud-based data as new horsepower to help drive their daily lives.
With each new device and implementation, IoT continues to fire users’ imaginations and build momentum, but there has been a dynamic shift in IoT, one which lends not only speed but also trajectory. Perhaps we are even defining a destination – from high-velocity data to useful and user-friendly information, all by applying greater context.
Context is King Recently, Google introduced the new Android Awareness API, which brings together all of the data drawn from the sensors on mobile devices to provide the clearest picture of the user. The API will offer data from seven signals including time, location, places, beacons, headphones, activity, and yes, weather.
What the API offers is the “next big thing” in IoT – contextual relevance.
Now content publishers and their advertisers continuously strive to find new ways to offer just the information users need when they need it, all driven by greater temporal and geographic resolution. With better practices for aggregating and parsing available data, we can now not only tell where users are, we can tell how fast they are traveling. We can tell based on their rate of travel whether they are walking, biking, or driving and even build a sense of what they are doing and where they might be going. Needless to say, this information goes a long way toward delivering on that objective:
If the user is driving on the highway between New Jersey and New York, it may be relevant to tell them about the road closure 25 miles away. Much more relevant than if they are walking down the street in Minneapolis. If it happens to be cold and flurrying snow, we might want to remind them about hot coffee available in the next ten miles.
What we are moving toward is a generation of user-friendly devices that provide information on a predictive basis. Publishers and advertisers can provide content relevant to not only where the user is but also where she is headed, which cuts out the static of unnecessary data and creates a better experience.
Forward Looking Solutions
At the TU-Automotive Detroit show, AccuWeather demoed a concept with NNG for a state-of-the-art connected car with AccuWeather’s MinuteCast Along A Route™. The map-based minute-by-minute forecast shows forecasts with Superior Accuracy for every step of their trip. This new level of personalization will help users make decisions about when to keep driving and when to take breaks to avoid severe weather – saving time, keeping users safer, and providing an extra level of peace of mind.
In this connected car concept, we can tell not only where the user is but also make educated guesses about where the user is going and how fast they are traveling based on changing locations. That way we can provide warnings on dense fog or slowed traffic 50 miles away – warnings which would not be useful to someone making a ten-mile crawl into a metropolitan area for their morning commute.
Of course cars offer a pretty flashy context for this concept. However, the same idea of greater temporal and geographic resolution can be applied to other implementations, such as wearables. Each device has the opportunity to add its own unique information to the overall visibility into the user’s actions, often provided directly by the user:
If a user is wearing her brand new Samsung Gear Fit 2, she is able to track her activity on a regular basis and volunteers that information. The user is also getting regular forecasts and alerts from AccuWeather, so we know what kind of exercise she’s interested in and can help her stay out of the rain while doing it.
Of course, with all this data anonymously aggregated these connected devices are opening new possibilities for big data driven studies, like the one we did with Withings which correlates weather and levels of activity for major cities across the world.
Reaching the Goal for Publishers Users may be daunted by this rush of new data that’s being collected; Enterprises could be similarly stunned by the sudden range of feedback that can be collected and correlated by users to the publishers and device manufacturers. While there are serious considerations such as balancing user experience vs. user privacy (AccuWeather addresses this by anonymizing all user data), you need to keep moving forward so that you don’t miss out on massive opportunity.
Whether your content is news and entertainment or transactionally based, the same principles of knowing your customer better, providing your content or service in a more relevant way, and building stronger relationships and opportunities for you and potential advertisers apply.
Each new form factor and device seems to present a new set of available data. Google valued whether the user was wearing head phones enough to make it one of the seven parameters for its Awareness API, which is logical since it says something about what the user is doing and how they can be approached. Particularly relevant information since voice command is opening up new types of IoT implementations an innovators like AccuWeather partner SoundHound are making that possible for just about any connected device.
With the proliferation of IoT devices, comes the challenge of coding your content for so many platforms. But what could be viewed as audience fragmentation is really a broad opening up of a ubiquitous global audience that can build a relationship with a savvy brand that is able to consistently deliver valuable content with context that would have been unthinkable ten years ago.
Whether your audience is wearing your data on their wrists, around their necks like headphones, or listening and interacting through speakers, you will have a better idea than ever of what they need and how and when to deliver it to them.
Of course, a trusted brand and quality content will always stay in style. You can already find the world’s most trusted, accurate forecasts from big weather data leader AccuWeather just by looking at your smart TV app, glancing at your refrigerator display, or talking to your wireless speaker. Or smart home center. The data has become as plentiful and varied as the people who use it and the possibilities are enormous.
In David’s role as Vice President of Digital Media, Emerging Platforms, he is responsible for AccuWeather Inc.’s suite of universally-accessible mobile and connected products within the emerging platforms marketplace. He spearheads the integration of current and new weather data sets within emerging platforms – including smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and appliances, wearable devices, smart cars, and smart homes.
The promise of the “smart TV” is that it will do much more than just provide a guide for channels—that it can personalize our experience, serve up the channels we want, connect us to the Internet, add in streaming options and more. And the more connected it becomes, the more chance for advertisers and publishers to target users with messages and content.
While the smart TV hype has outshined reality so far, the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas brought some potential good news for smarter TVs.
The Korean electronics giant LG, for example, is adding more than 50 streaming channels to its latest generation of smart TVs. Switching from cable networks to streaming content from publishers such as BuzzFeed, Wired and the Wall Street Journal is now as easy as the click of a button. LG partnered with the startup Xumo to fuse Internet content into television’s traditional environment, and partnered with Watchmi, a German Internet video startup, to give 300 more international streaming channels to its new TVs.
Samsung also announced new features at CES, positioning its products at the center of the Internet of Things ecosystem. The ability for its smart TVs to recognize add-on boxes such as an Xbox is one such boon. It makes the life of a consumer a lot less complicated because it eliminates the need for any extra remote controls, as the main remote control can commandeer these other devices.
Streaming updates Sling TV, the live streaming service introduced at last year’s CES, announced this year that it’s planning to overhaul its app entirely. Its new app will allow consumers to easily identify their “must-see TV.” Viewers will also have the option to store their shows for up to three days in the cloud, and navigate recommendations provided by Sling on what to view next. And let’s not forget that streaming behemoth Netflix activated its service in more than 130 countries during a CES keynote address.
But beyond the hype at CES and the positive attributes of smart TV are some of its pitfalls. One big one is that for all the bells and whistles these TVs offer, few people take advantage of them. The market research company NPD estimated in an August report that “roughly a third of smart TVs in the U.S. weren’t actually connected to the Internet.” In comparison, the number of Americans using streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV is climbing even faster than the number using smart TVs (and their functions), according to researchers at the Parks Associates.
And that’s because these different devices are solid competition for smart TVs. “If you’re a streaming media box (maker), you’ve got much more ability to push new features out into the market at an affordable price,” Barbara Kraus, Parks Associates’ director of research, told the Associated Press.
Overcoming ambivalence The influx of more apps on these devices could put a strain on the popularity of smart TVs if they don’t institute them as well. Ali Kani, general manager for Nvidia’s Shield Android TV device, said that while smart TVs satisfy the need to watch video, the future living room will be “revolutionized by apps.”
Underscoring this and the general ambivalence about smart TVs is the simple fact that new technology gets old pretty quickly as even newer technology emerges. If companies such as Samsung put new features only in its latest generation of products and don’t state whether older smart TVs will ever get this new technology, it leaves consumers hanging, and not in a good way.
This applies to the “so-called ultra high-definition 4K television” as well, according to the New York Times’ personal tech columnist Brian X. Chen. He argues that given its expense and the underwhelming digital enhancements meant to come with this kind of high-definition television, it’s not in the consumer’s best interest to buy. Topping that off is the dearth of quality programming average viewers would want to see, including arguably America’s most popular show, “Game of Thrones.”
“My advice: Wait at least another year or two before buying it,” Chen wrote.
Perhaps that’s a good piece of wisdom all prospective smart TV owners ought to take. Not to mention any publishers hoping to make a splash in the added streaming channels on smart TVs.
Albert Einstein, noted physicist and author of the only advanced physics equation most people have committed to memory, spent the latter part of his life trying to find a general theory of relativity with electromagnetism. Trying to find a harmony with his earlier success in relativity and the nature of…nearly everything else, he was ultimately unsuccessful despite being ahead of his time.
Of course, everything is increasingly connecting through a combination of technology and demand. We have yet to finish Einstein’s work, but we are making leaps in connectivity; connecting the outdoor temperature, humidity, chance of precipitation and the needs of our lawns with smart sprinkler systems. We are combining optimal activity conditions and our running goals to create optimal programs for healthy activity on our smart fitness trackers. We are integrating live video feeds with local alerts in home monitoring systems to make our homes safer and more convenient. This combination of data sets with a focus on form and practical function has become what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Going Beyond Big Data To anyone living in the connected world, data overload is a daily reality. Like a Dr. Seuss narrative, data keeps “biggering and biggering,” with questionable results. Why? Because consumers don’t necessarily want more data: Rather, they need solutions that help them make their lives easier. IoT makes the connection where “Big Data” can’t, bridging from big data sets to a form factor that fits into people’s lives.
So how can your company’s content successfully play a role in the expanding world of IoT? The answers will ultimately be provided by the consumer, but there are a few basic principles to follow:
The whole can be more than the sum of its parts. In other words, if you have the best data available for traffic, that’s the basis for a valuable app – but not a revolutionary app. If you can combine traffic with flight delay information, or movie times, or live event start times, you have created an invaluable tool for people who need a simple answer to a paramount question at a specific moment in their lives.
Make it easy. Studies have shown that while smart device users download many apps, just a few get used every day. If you want to be an essential part of a user’s life, you have to make answers not just relevant, but reliable, quick, and easy to access.
Form is as important as function. Smart devices in general, starting with smart phones and then moving onto tablets, wearables, and a whole universe of IoT devices, have already caused disruptive change in users’ lives. Look for places where you can change your approach to meet the existing habits of your user. Watches for example have significant restrictions in screen size, but the form factor appeals to users because they fit rather neatly into an existing space in users’ lives (or rather on their wrists) and so have taken off as the most commonly adopted form of wearable.
Imagination is key. Even if your content seems strictly B2B, don’t discount the potential consumer value when put into a form that is easy to use and shows the consumer how the information can be applied. An app that measures the pressure of contained fuel may not seem to have consumer appeal, but combined with other data sets it could help users predict the mileage for their commute or when they need to buy heating oil or gas for their homes.
I’ve been fortunate to work with content that is wanted and needed by nearly every kind of consumer and business all over the world. That has made my role leading emerging platforms particularly exciting, but since there are so many potential uses for data on something like weather, we’ve kept a particularly open mind about how the data could be of benefit to people.
For example, AccuWeather recently cross-referenced our data with Withings, leaders in the connected health revolution and makers of great activity tracking devices, to come up with some interesting findings on how weather impacts peoples’ desire to be active and provide insight into the optimal temperatures and conditions for activity according to location and demographic.
Of course, other practical examples already on the market include Garmin wearables, smart TVs, smart appliances, smart homes, smart cars, and every kind of implementation that shows promise where weather is a good fit for the users of the device.
In IoT, the consumer is showing technologists the way even as advances in technology make new things possible for consumers. As the global leader in weather data, we are ready to meet our audience on the “next big thing” no matter what that might be.
As the market continues to innovate and available data moves more rapidly than ever before, reliable, easy to use solutions only grow in relevancy. We at AccuWeather are excited to meet all the future challenges brought by whatever revolutionary platforms or form functions the market chooses with our forecasts with Superior Accuracy™, and so should your company.
This is truly an exciting time to be at the forefront of maximizing the value of human interactions with the confluence of smart technology and big data.
In David’s role as Vice President of Digital Media, Emerging Platforms, he is responsible for AccuWeather’s suite of universally-accessible mobile and connected products within the emerging platforms marketplace. He spearheads the integration of current and new weather data sets within emerging platforms – including smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and appliances, wearable devices, smart cars, and smart homes.
According to Forbes, a new rule for the future is going to be, “anything that can be connected, will be connected.” Given the widespread availability of broadband internet, ever more devices are being created with built in Wi-Fi and sensors. Today, just about anything with a power switch can be connected to the internet—with all of the context, content and data that comes along with it.
Here’s a look at this “Internet of Things” (IoT) in 5 charts:
The IoT opens a range of new business opportunities for a variety of players according to strategy&, the consulting team at PwC. These opportunities tend to fall into three broad strategic categories, each reflecting a different type of enterprise: Enablers, Engages, and Enhancers.
According to Gartner, security and identity issues represent major IoT roadblocks. Managing identities and access is critical to the success of the IoT. However, traditional techniques cannot provide the scale or manage the complexity that the IoT requires from the enterprise.
2nd Watch surveyed 500 IT and marketing professionals in large and midsize companies regarding the use of big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based data warehouse technologies to support digital marketing plans and programs. The results indicate growing confidence in the use of these technologies and success deploying them. 2nd Watch has released an infographic that provides top line results from its research.
Among their key findings:
50% of respondents are likely to expand use of big data to support digital marketing.
24% use data to power campaigns and promotions
47% say that big data-base digital marketing campaigns have been effective for meeting customer engagement and demand generation goals
53% say it’s likely they’ll expand IoT-based digital marketing programs
Nearly 20% are being very aggressive this way, and another 27% plan to begin an IoT project for digital marketing soon
29% leverage the IoT to better understanding of customer preferences
Virtual Reality (VR) is also making a big splash with the marketing community, with Forbes calling it “the next big advertising medium,” pointing to the work Hearst-owned Elle Magazine did with denim designer 7 For All Mankind. Spirits brand Patron offers educational seminars and retail consumer VR experiences to provide an immersive look inside the Hacienda Patrol distillery.. And Marvel teamed up with Samsung to promote the latest Avengers movie by giving people a taste of what it is like to be a superhero.
Not surprisingly, media companies are also experimenting with ways in which AR and VR offer new ways to tell stories.
Here are a few recent examples of how media companies are jumping into the VR fray:
Gannet Digital leveraged virtual reality in its coverage of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championship. Not only could ski fans read about the events, they could don an Oculus headset and experience heart-pounding runs with some of skiing’s greats.
Vice Media released a documentary at Sundance “VICE News VR: Millions March” which takes viewers inside the December 13 rally in New York in which 60,000 protesters gathered to demand greater police accountability.
The Weather Channel has just launched live VR weather which ”takes viewers in, and through, the science and wonder of weather.”
At this year’s New Fronts, Conde Nast announced that it has two original virtual reality series in the works.
ABC Family leveraged VR to market its new sci-fi program “Stichers,” by creating a smartphone app that promises fans an immersive experience.
Turner Broadcasting-owned Adult Swim also released an app-based VR experience this month called Virtual Brainload, which boasts a somewhat more psychedelic experience.
Here are some examples of the ways in which media outlets are leveraging AR:
National Geographic was early to experiment with AR—notably with its 2011 shopping mall experience that allowed shoppers to interact with dinosaurs. More recently, National Geographic has begun to leverage AR for educational experiences that enhance explorations of natural places.
Disney also offers an “edutainment” application of AR with its Disneynature Explore app, which offers kids a way to take adventures in their own backyards while learning more about nature along the way.
Conde Nast Traveler uses GPS data location and augmented reality in its iPhone Apps to allow travelers to find things and learn more simply by pointing their phone in a given direction.
Conde Nast is also among several media outlets—including Time Inc., The Wall Street Journal and Warner Brothers Interactive—that are working with Shazam, which can scan physical objects for augmented reality and other enhanced content.
Virtual reality headsets and content will be “the next mega tech theme” and a market worth more than $60 billion in a decade, according to investment bank, Piper Jaffray Cos. And as we increasingly see, mega tech themes quickly become mega media themes, as the two are intertwined in the minds—and devices—of consumers.
Is there anything better than seeing your favorite team score from a great seat in the stadium? Maybe. While sports fans everywhere extol the virtues of live action and stadium comraderie, there’s also something to be said for the kind of real time commentary and analytics you are privy to at home, via your television and mobile devices. So what if you could have the best of both?
As the Official Technology Partner of the RBS 6 Nations Rugby Championship, Accenture thought it was worth a try. Having experienced much success with its RBS 6 Nations Championship mobile app, which leverages Accenture’s analytics acumen to offer Rugby fans insights and information they can’t find elsewhere, Accenture decided it was time to “experiment with how to engage the sports fan even more,” according to Ben Salama, Managing Director, Accenture Digital, Mobility. Salama and his team set out to create an experience that would deliver real-time analysis and relevant data of games that share curated content via a wearable headset.
Their innovative proof-of-concept will be unveiled the weekend of February 13th during Round 2 of the tournament — England vs. Italy; Accenture will host a hospitality event in which its guests will be treated to food, beverages, and, for some, the loan of a pair of Google Glass. While Salama looks forward to hearing guests’ feedback on whether the test enhances the live sporting event, he is even more enthusiastic about what experiments like these can lead to for both the consumer and enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) market.
“In the end, our guests might say this turned out quite cool, which would be nice. But just think about what this could be extended to: In Rugby today, teams sew GPS trackers into athletes’ shirts so the team can analyze performance. Now imagine a sports fan buying a replica of his favorite team member’s jersey and, with the IoT, they could feel a tackle happen.” Salama believes that trials like these will lead to enhanced fan experiences in addition to new “unconventional revenue streams.”
He describes this proof of concept as “a tiny, tiny step” toward realizing the possibilities presented by wearables and the IoT, pointing out Accenture’s other experiments with wearables: a 2014 partnership with Philips on a proof of concept app to help ALS patients, and an earlier one in which they delivered patient information to surgeons on Google Glass. Salama believes there are many use cases for wearables and the IoT, particularly in four key areas: connected health; connected spaces; connected transport; and industrial applications. “You can effectively have an expert looking over your shoulder whether you are down a mine shaft or on an assembly line. But you can also have access to maintenance manuals, checklists, and all sorts of things that make workers more efficient and more effective.”
Underpinning all of this experimentation and innovation is data. A lot of data. “Data is the Holy Grail. Without it, all of this is irrelevant,” said Salama. “Every single one of these applications is about creating insights and actionable outcomes from the data these devices are collecting—be it a GPS in a football player’s shirt or a sensor on a water pipe.” The analytics make the applications useful. “Without that, it is just rubbish.”
Salama does worry about security in a world in which we are collecting so much data and controlling such a wide range of physical devices digitally. “We are all aware of the security problems with personal information on websites. That is a drop in the bucket compared with the risk we could be exposed to when our entire industrial world is connected—every sensor in an airport, factory or power plant is connected.” As such, Accenture is working with partners to ensure the security of connected devices and data.
Because this category of technology is in its early stages, Salama noted that experiments like those with the 6 Nations Rugby Championship, Phillips and other partners are essential for both exploring the possibilities of wearables and the IoT, but also for tackling some of the risks and challenges in real world settings. “The only way we can help our clients is to have experimented, to have tried and gained real knowledge.”