Here are some cool things we read about this past week:
Google Launches Balloons to Bring the Internet to Remote Regions
Google is launching huge balloons to bring the Internet to remote and difficult terrain (mountain ranges, archipelagos, jungles) – beginning with New Zealand. Last week, Google launched 30 Internet-enabling balloons in the Canterbury region, with plans to launch 20 more. The balloons, which resemble white jellyfish, use a combination of wind, solar power and “complex algorithms” to stay in a fixed part of the sky. The balloons communicate with antennas placed on the ground tends of thousands of feet below to provide Internet to those areas. The initiative, dubbed “Project Loon,” is part of Google’s master plan to bring the Internet to two-thirds of the world that do not have or simply can’t afford access.
Instagram Adds Video
Taking a page from Vine, Instagram integrated video into its existing platform this week. The feature will allow users to create 15-second videos (Vine allows just six seconds). Users can also choose between 13 different filters similar to the current photo capabilities. Brands have been quick to jump on board – including Nike, International Delight, Burberry, General Electric, Lululemon and more.
Vine Teases New Features
Not be outdone by Instagram, Vine teased new features this week including the ability to save drafts before sharing videos, a redesign of the video stream, curated video categories, and a private messaging experience.
Twitter is Developing Geo-Targeted Ads for Retailers
As soon as the end of this year, Twitter is planning to let brands show promoted tweets to people who open its mobile apps within close range of their stores. Twitter will enable ads to be targeted to people who are near specific latitudes and longitudes and could be ready as soon as the fourth quarter.
Facebook Now Lets You Comment With a Photo
Facebook has started to roll out photo comments, a new feature that allows you to comment on posts with images rather than words.
Twitter Pitches Brands with $100K Minimum Spend for TV Ad Targeting
Twitter last month revealed a TV ad targeting product, the first fruit of its February acquisition of Bluefin Labs. National TV advertisers who want to be part of the beta must allocate a minimum of $100,000 per Twitter handle to promoted tweets tied to TV ad campaigns. And at least $50,000 of that must be specifically for promoted tweets placed using the new TV ad targeting product.
Twitter Signs Up Viacom to Tweet Sponsored Video Highlights
Viacom has signed a deal to tweet sponsored video clips from shows across the company’s portfolio, which includes MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central. The clips will include pre-roll video from advertisers.
Turkey Bans Fake Social Media Accounts
The Turkish government’s ill-advised war on social media continued this week with the announcement that it plans to ban “fake” social media accounts following the weeks of protests organized, in part, via social media. Turkey thus joins the likes of China, where Beijing has required microbloggers on Weibo to use their real names.
Travelers Transfer Virtual Food Between Outdoor Ads to End Hunger
The agency for the United Nations World Food Program created two bus stop advertisements – one featuring an impressive selection of food, the other a starving child. Using NFC, you can pick up a piece of food with your phone and carry it over to the child in need. The act of doing so also donates the value of that piece of food. People who make an effort to donate can share they did so via Facebook and will receive a video from the child they helped.
American Express Kickstarts Ordinary People’s Hobbies
Inspired by Kickstarter, American Express has launched a six-month social media competition that will provide ten people per month with one-off funding to pursue their passions. The competition, entitled #PassionProjects, requires entrants to answer two simple questions: ‘what is your passion project?’ and ‘why is it important to you?’ The response must be 120 characters in length, accompanied by the hashtag . Winners will receive $2k in gift cards which are supposed to be used to kickstart these hobbies but are free of limitations, so can actually be spent on anything.