Category Archives: TMA Digital

Personalized Fitness a Core Focus in Health and Wellness

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Without a doubt, one of the most prevalent trends we are seeing in the health and wellness space is personalization. People crave personalization in every aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to their health. This has brought on the emergence of virtual health assistants and wearables, which allow patients to track their own health and wellness. We are also seeing a shift in the way doctors communicate with their patients, through providing digital support via patient portals and 24/7 phone lines. However, it doesn’t stop with healthcare; people are also expecting personalized experiences when it comes to fitness.

It feels like every day I hear someone talking about their recent experience in a fitness class – how they were trying a new studio, how sore it made them, or how much they loved it. Gone are the days of getting a gym membership at the local YMCA. Now, people are opting for boutique fitness studios that provide more than just a treadmill or elliptical. Now, people are looking for a fitness experience that is different every time they go.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.28.42 AM

According to the Nielsen Global Consumer Exercise Trends Survey 2014, millennials are the most likely to exercise in a fitness class (such as yoga, Pilates, or dance). Forty-five percent of millennials who exercise do so in a fitness class, compared to 27 percent of people aged 55 or older.

The personalized fitness trend is even more evident in the emergence of tools like ClassPass. ClassPass is a New York-based startup that launched in June 2013. ClassPass collects monthly subscriber fees from consumers in order to sample different workouts at local fitness studios and is valued at over $200 million.

8.6.15A

The ClassPass advantage is that people can try multiple and different studios where every workout will be different. ClassPass has a relationship with over 3,000 studios who offer yoga, Pilates, cycling, strength training, barre, dance, and more. People are clearly seeing the value of this type of platform because in February 2015 consumers reserved 600,000 classes and the company reported $5 million in revenue.

While the boutique fitness craze seems to be a recent trend, many of them have been gaining steam for a few years now. SoulCycle, for example, is a New York City-based company that offers a full-body indoor cycling workout class. It was founded in 2006, and in 2014 Forbes stated their annual revenue was $87.6 million.

8.6.15.B

Pure Barre, which combines a ballet barre and Pilates workout, was founded in 2001. In July 2009, Pure Barre became a franchise and exploded in popularity. Pure Barre instructor Marisa Cavallaro explained, “Some people are kind of afraid of the gym because it’s a threatening environment or you know they’re afraid to use the weight machines because they don’t really know what to do.” With class size averaging at about 22 clients, Cavallaro says, “This is a safe place for them, they can come and get a lot of individualized attention.”

8.6.15.C

Downsize Fitness founder Francis Wisniewski explains, “Not every person in this country is fit and many feel uncomfortable at typical box gyms. You will see more, smaller, individualized training centers pop up—they won’t be huge chains, but they will be focused on the person and their goals rather than the 12-month membership market.” People are always looking for new ways to track their progress and ultimately achieve their fitness goals.

Overall, personalization is becoming a key element in healthcare and fitness. For fitness, in particular, people have started moving away from typical gym memberships and instead use wearables like FitBit and the Apple Watch and boutique fitness studios to get a workout and track their progress on their own. Moving forward as new technologies emerge, fitness is only going to get more personal and data-driven.

6 Things to Know About FTC Disclosures When Working with Influencers

Written by: Allie Wester
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission updated their Endorsement Guides FAQ for disclosures in digital advertising. This new document helps provide additional clarity into their 2013 Disclosure Guide, which is a bit ambiguous.

In blogger/influencer brand partnerships, it’s always best to make disclosures clear and conspicuous. If you’re not sure if something is clear and conspicuous, take a step back and look at the content through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t work in the advertising/marketing industry. Assume this consumer has no idea that bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers, Viners, etc. get paid by brands to market on their behalf. Is it 100% clear that the content is a partnership with a brand? If not, then you have some editing to do! If it is… good job!

giphy

Here are some general guidelines that bloggers/influencers and marketers should follow when working on sponsored content:

1. Make sure to clearly disclose relationships in blog posts.

Again, make sure the disclosure is clear and conspicuous. You can say something like, “This post is sponsored by Brand X,” or “This post is in partnership with Brand X.”

2. Disclose relationships in individual social media posts, too.

Typically, influencers promote brand partnerships on social channels that complement their primary channel (such as their blog or YouTube channel). These complementary social channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. If the brand is mentioned in text (e.g., calling out the brand’s Twitter handle) or image (e.g., the product is visible in the Pinterest image), disclosure needs to be included in that individual piece of social content, too.

Linking to a blog post with disclosure is not sufficient. What if someone never clicks on that link?

3. #sp and #spon are not acceptable disclosures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Use #ad instead.

Many bloggers use #sp and #spon as disclosure. This is a common mistake. The FTC Endorsement Guide cites #spon as insufficient and not clear. A consumer may not realize that #spon or #sp is shorthand for “sponsored.” I see their point here; even I, a marketer, read #sp and think, “Spelling error!” (Elementary school essay flashbacks…)

The easiest solve is to use #ad. It uses the least amount of characters and is undeniably clear. For a softer approach, you can disclose in context such as, The easiest BBQ brisket, in partnership with @BrandX: [LINK].”

4. Don’t put #ad in the first comment on Instagram.

If multiple people comment, then it will get buried and no one will see it. It needs to be in the description.

5. On YouTube, make sure disclosure is stated verbally both in the video and in the description.

Make sure that the disclosure is featured in the description above the fold, before the “Show More” link. Additionally, disclosure should be stated verbally at the beginning of the video, since YouTube videos are often embedded and a consumer may never see the description. And, as the FTC says, it’s even better to disclose multiple times throughout the video.

6. If you’re working with a blog network, make sure they call out the brand name in the disclosure. 

Some blog networks have bloggers disclose with a simple “This post is sponsored by Blog Network X,” without any mention of the brand name. The consumer may think Blog Network X is a neutral third party, so it is not sufficient. The brand name must be mentioned.

For further insights and guidance, visit:

FTC Endorsement Guides FAQ

.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising

Changes to Instagram’s ‘Explore’ Should Have Retailers Looking Differently at the Platform

Written by: Jake Schneider
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

instagram-02

A few weeks ago, I wrote on our blog how Instagram’s new paid offerings (Carousel & Actionable Buttons) signaled a coming into the spotlight for the tiny image-based app with a massive audience. For retailers in particular, the new offerings allow brands the ability to engage audiences through aspirational and immersive content while driving to business objectives – something Instagram didn’t have the ability to do. While those offerings have yet to be released beyond Facebook’s Alpha Partners, your paid test strategy on these new offerings should already be taking shape so that once they are released through Facebook’s power editor, you are ready to go.

Instagram1

Instagram’s present may be something equally – if not more – important for retailers looking to influence, be discovered, or get on-trend as users are spending more and more time in the platform (an average of 257 minutes per month).

A little more than a week after Instagram announced the future of their paid products, they made some pretty important yet misunderstood changes to their Explore functionalities that are available right now for users and brands.

It is easy to pass over the magnifying glass on your way to your content stream. Explore gives you a brand new way to shape content, understand, and ride trends while positioning your brand in visual conversations and important tent-pole events.

7.22.15C

The most noticeable difference within Explore is trending places. It sits in a box at the top of the screen and showcases the most relevant events (NBA Finals and Comic-Con) within your area (nightlife, festivals), or top content creators and relevant celebrities based on an aggregated topic just by scrolling to the right.

7.22.15D

This feature aligns real-time relevancy with tent-pole events for retail marketers looking to align with major events relevant to their industry. For example, a retailer showcasing their work on the red carpet at the Oscars can be found within these timely categories.

Instagram surfaces trending hashtags in the center of Explore, bringing the most popular topical tags to the forefront. We are urging our clients to give heavy consideration to not just creating their own trending tags but also analyzing tagging structures that help them enter conversations with current followers while also promoting discovery.

7.22.15E

Continuing with Instagram’s theme of positioning top creators as well as brands, and aligning them with the passions and tastes of users, the bottom third of Explore looks very familiar. Raising and suggesting creatively compelling posts, Instagram’s new user flow allows users to move easily from one photo to the next, but now without having to go back to the home Explore page between photos.

7.22.15F

Here are a few suggestions when considering your organic posting strategy on Instagram.

  • Know your audience (who are you trying to reach).
  • Plan your content with tent-poles in mind, and plan to participate with real-time content during events.
  • Monitor relevant and trending search tags to enter into conversations, don’t just create your own and hope others will follow.
  • Create premium content specific to Instagram that is visually compelling and tells a story.

Fastest Growing Online Retail Channel: Social Media

Written by: Hannah Redmond
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Social for retail is a growing space, from embedded Buy buttons on social to referring traffic to retailers’ websites and apps via social posts. Platforms are creating more and more options for brands and consumers, and brands need to consider social as a serious avenue for sales. According to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500, the top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping in 2014, up 26% from 2013. That is well ahead of the 16% growth rate for the overall e-commerce market in the U.S.

Business Insider recently published a report showing that social is driving more retail traffic than any other online channel. Additional findings below:

7.22.15A

Key points from the report:

  • Social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain these social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile, where social engagement with retail content is still limited.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence for mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and event marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers, but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

It is no surprise that people are spending more time on social not only consuming content but also making purchase decisions, and ultimately purchases. As we think about helping our brands navigate the digital space, social provides enormous value for retail, mobile, and beyond.

To read the Business Insider article that inspired this post, click here.

The More You Know: Wantering

Written by: Jordan Lee
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Online shopping can be overwhelming. Combing through a sea of retail sites, blogs, and Pinterest in search of something on trend to wear can feel daunting.

Many retail search engines, like ShopStyle and Polyvore, offer the same experience. You can sort by color, size, and price. A new site, Wantering, is offering something more to consumers: item search based on social popularity.

7.16.15A

Image via wantering.com

Ranking is determined by mentions across the web including blogs and social networks. Clicking on a product allows you to see both where it is most popular and a “hotness” score based on current mentions and relevancy.

7.16.15B

Image via wantering.com

Social influence impacts the consumer journey as a consultative force. According to a study by Bazaar Voice, 84% of millennials say user-generated content plays a role in their purchase decisions, even when that UGC is from a stranger. In addition, 71% of millennials say they share their opinions and input because they help other consumers’ purchase decisions.

Wantering is leveraging the movement of consumer empowerment and providing a unique online shopping experience. Product reviews are going to be weighted more and more in the future. Brands and retailers will need to not only keep up with how their products are evaluated but also with what is trending in order to drive sales in the changing shopper landscape.

Humanizing and Amplifying Your Brand Voice Through Employee Advocacy

Written by: Jake Schneider
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

7.14.15A

One of this year’s breakout films is Ex Machina. At its core, the sci-fi thriller is the story of an inventor’s quest to create an authentic, seamless human experience and connection through something that isn’t human at all: an android.

7.14.15B

We have never had more global avenues to connect and be connected to than we do today, and we do it seamlessly and authentically through these platforms of personal expression as if it were second nature. For consumers, digital authenticity is an expectation; for brands, however, it remains a goal that only gently grazes the surface.

For a brand to reach a truly authentic and emotional connection with their customers, and become a part of their lives, they have to do something in this day and age that is very foreign. In order to humanize a brand, they must give a piece of themselves over to their humans, their employees.

7.14.15C

External employee advocacy and internal employee engagement are not mutually exclusive of each other and have become popular topics for our clients for great reasons. In today’s highly connected world, employees provide knowledge and expertise – as well as authentic relationships – in their social ecosystems, providing value to both their network as a trusted expert as well as a valuable ambassador for their employer.

What are some of these benefits? It really comes down to the goals of the brand and what problem they are trying to solve internally and externally.

External: Reach & Trust

For brands, trust in a recommendation from an employee has never been higher or more credible. In fact, in a recent study, consumers named “a person like yourself” 62% more likely to trust, “a regular employee” 52% more likely to trust, and “a technical expert” more likely to trust 66% compared to a “CEO” or brand at 43%.  It is easy to see why. Word of mouth, even in digital form, is still the most powerful form of marketing. We still crave human interaction and connection; it’s only how we interact and connect that has evolved.

7.14.15D

According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers still trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. Additionally, consumers are still 71% more likely to purchase based on a referral from a connection and 78% of salespeople using a social selling strategy outperform their peers.

Despite those statistics, less than two-thirds have any sort of strategy for sales and marketing teams and even less have a structure that empowers employees to share.

The reason? Fear on both sides.

Control of identity, message, narrative, and brand protection has been a traditional part of brand marketing, but the more restrictions and controls brands feel they have over their message the more they feel they are mitigating risk but also depreciating authenticity and approachability. Enabling employees to share and join in brand efforts means opening brands up to some risk it also means opening  up to massive scale, impact, and authenticity.

An employee assumes a great amount of risk, as well. The greatest risk is their job, and therefore financial wellbeing. Employees fear sharing, or don’t feel empowered to share, for fear they might position the wrong information or fired for sharing their personal interests, views, and activities while identifying as an employee of their company.

As early as 2008, brands were asking employees to not post to LinkedIn (the world’s largest business network), Facebook, or Twitter. As early as 2011, we were still trying to convince brands to build Facebook pages because of the fear of negative comments. As early as last week, I had a conversation with a major brand requesting that employees not identify themselves as employees for fear that their personal actions might reflect poorly on the brand.

From a brand perspective, social collaboration is the idea that everything I do remains private with the exception of what I choose to share, so that the message is controlled. From a human perspective, everything I do, I share, with the exception of what I want to keep private.

Brands benefit by breaking down this disconnect and empowering their employees.

Brands that empower their employees can see a considerable shift in organic reach on Facebook. One of the greatest complaints over the past year is the massive drop-off in organic reach for Facebook Pages where it is generally 0-5%. Person-to-person sharing is much greater. When working in parallel with paid campaigns, the brand can weave a great creative story with human content, increasing the impact of the campaigns.

For Retailers – especially big box retailers. Employee advocacy can allow you to position regionalized content, making your brand feel more local. Because employees often identify as a target demographic with the brand they work for, an employee program allows you to impact more accurately and efficiently, as the employees’ connections within their network are of the same demographic.

For Tech Brands – recruitment and the cost of recruiting are always constant. More and more companies are giving new hire bonuses as an incentive, which is a great first step but few go beyond that incentive. Employees are the best extension of your brand culture, and the theory is top talent knows top talent. Incorporating recruiting into your marketing and enabling your employees to play an active role helps reduce time and costs in finding the right people for open positions.

Internally: Purpose & Loyalty 7.14.15E

Engaged employees are brilliant ambassadors for brands, because while they are beacons externally they are also improving the foundational culture internally.

Even more brilliant is that while employee engagement seems a no-brainer, less than 30% of employees say they are engaged in their workplaces, according to Gallup. The least engaged demographic: millennials. It is easy to see why when you consider the traditional philosophy of corporate sharing (everything is private, except what I allow to be open) vs. the personal view of sharing (everything I share is open, except what I wish to remain private).   Millennial engagement internally and externally with their network is a plus.

Employee advocacy programs add a feeling of purpose and deeper involvement outside of the day-to-day mandatory productivity that employees execute. That small participation involves and empowers employees and, more importantly, it engages them.

Engaged employees can impact all areas of the balance sheet. Statistics show that there was 2.5x more revenue for companies with engaged employees than competitors with low engagement levels.

From a corporate expense number, $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover, yet we’ve seen that highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the company they work for than their counterparts, reducing the cost of onboarding and ramp-up, as well as breaks in culture.

These are just a few reasons why to consider an employee advocacy program.

Employee advocacy programs are becoming more and more important for our clients and for the industry, in general. It is important to understand that this is not something that you just decide to do. The formation of a plan to humanize a brand through the empowered voice of its employees isn’t turnkey. Authenticity never is.

In my next post I will walk you through things to think about when considering enabling and engaging employees as advocates.

Jake Schneider is the Director of Digital Strategy for The Marketing Arm, overseeing both digital and social strategy and in particular leading TMA’s Employee Advocacy practice. You can find him on Twitter @jakeschneider.

3 Things to Consider After 72 Hours with the Apple Watch

Written by: Tom Edwards
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Seventy-two hours ago, I was among the 22 percent of lucky customers whose orders were fulfilled for the Apple Watch. Many have asked I summarize my thoughts about what I like, what I think needs work, and what marketers should consider when creating an Apple Watch experience.

What do you like about the Apple Watch?

From Apple’s first announcement last September to receiving it on launch day, I have consumed a significant amount of information about what to expect from Apple’s latest technology. Yet, all of my research did not prepare me for the full experience.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 3.11.47 PM

The watch is beautifully designed and the 42mm face is just the right size. The interface is very smooth and responsive, and I am getting a good feel for which elements add the most value for me and how I want to extend my iPhone experience.

Photo Apr 26, 3 21 33 PM

Setup was incredibly easy and primarily facilitated through the Apple Watch app on my iPhone. After language selection and visually pairing the Apple Watch and iPhone, I dove into setting up my application preferences.

Photo Apr 24, 4 53 37 PM

The key thing to consider if you are looking to invest in an Apple Watch is to understand that it is NOT an iPhone on your wrist, but it is an extension of the iPhone experience. It WILL streamline lightweight tasks such as messages, notifications, and quickly reviewing email.

Photo Apr 27, 3 44 00 PM

I like the flexibility of the interchangeable watch bands; it literally takes seconds to completely change the look of the watch. Third-party band options are already appearing on eBay, and I have ordered a second Apple Watch band myself.

Tom Edwards Apple Watch

What needs work?

Outside of the passcode keypad, there is not a consistent input mechanism beyond voice. Responding to messages either consists of predetermined phrases, emoji, or voice response. This is fine 90 percent of the time, but for those times when it is not convenient to speak your response it will require you to pull out your iPhone. #FirstWorldProblems

Photo Apr 27, 3 34 46 PM

The same goes for making and taking calls on the Apple Watch. Be prepared to look like Dick Tracy when you are speaking into your wrist. Calls are better meant for taking on your actual iPhone.

Dick-Tracy

One surprise was Facebook was noticeably missing from the Apple Watch app store on launch day. You still receive notifications from the app, but there is not a native Facebook Apple Watch experience as of yet.

apple-watch-event0304

One additional missing element is a browser experience. There are third-party apps that provide an abbreviated browsing experience, but there is not an official Apple Watch browser. Siri is voice-based, and any search query that is not tied to an existing app function is handed off to the iPhone.

Photo Apr 24, 7 55 10 PM

I have experienced accelerated battery drain on both my Apple Watch and paired iPhone. Also, Handoffs between the watch and app can be awkward in some third-party apps. Upon initial setup, a number of applications have to be preconfigured via the iPhone prior to working with the paired Apple Watch.

Photo Apr 27, 3 48 02 PM

How can marketers benefit from the Apple Watch?

For brands that have a native app in market, the Apple Watch can provide a way to extend the value of the application if marketers focus on creating utility. From a shopper marketing standpoint, Target’s focus on list creation is a good example of taking a single element of the app experience and using the Apple Watch to drive a specific user behavior.

Photo Apr 24, 7 17 57 PM

Target’s Apple Watch app initial user experience

Photo Apr 27, 3 38 46 PM

Target app example of highlighting item location via Apple Watch

I have used the Starbucks app extensively over the past 48 hours. The “glance” tells me how close I am to a Starbucks location as well as extends their loyalty program, and I can leverage Passbook for quick payment for my morning Americano. I have been impressed by the ease of use and the value the app is bringing me through a simple experience.

Photo Apr 27, 3 37 24 PM

The key areas of focus for marketers are understanding how to leverage both short and long notifications to influence certain behaviors while also leveraging the most relevant data to visualize – via a glance – to sustain ongoing wrist engagement.

Photo Apr 27, 3 47 48 PM

American Airlines is simplifying the boarding experience

By focusing on extending apps through the lens of consumer value and lightweight interaction, marketers can capitalize on staying at the top of mind through a user’s wrist.

Photo Apr 24, 10 44 56 PM

Uber’s Apple Watch experience

 

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Art + Science = Facebook’s Anthology Program

Written by: Tom Edwards
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

I recently attended the latest Facebook Openbook event in NYC. The topics included the latest video product updates and the unveiling of the new Anthology initiative.

Openbook

Anthology is a creative brief based program that combines the insights and scale of Facebook with the reach and relevance of large publisher partners.

Anthology

Facebook is providing access to insights rooted in detailed analyses of target audiences to inform publisher creative. Their goal is to combine art and science to inform the creation of highly relevant and shareable content that drives business.

Facebook Anthology Purpose

There are seven initial partners in the program:

1. Vox Media – Millennial-focused media entity targeting sports (SB Nation), tech (The Verge), gaming (Polygon), real estate (Curbed), food (Eater), and retail/shopping (Racked)

Vox Media

2. Vice Media – Millennial-focused media entity that creates over 6,000 pieces of content daily across 10 primary channels covering news, music, tech, food, sports, and fashion, all by young people and for young people

Vice

3. Oh My Disney – Brings the ability to leverage assets and properties of Disney in short-form content that is designed to be shared

Oh My Disney

4. The Onion – Satirical news content creator

The Onion

5. TasteMade – Mobile-centric video network that reaches 25 million people monthly

tastemade

6. Funny or Die – Original and UGC comedy and pop culture content creator

Funny Or Die

7. Electus Digital – Properties include Collegehumor.com, Dorkly (Geek Culture), and Nuevon (Hispanic)

Electus Digital

In the unveiling, each publisher partner had created a mock “anthology” based on Facebook insights and a hypothetical brand/agency creative brief. Each anthology program had its own unique creative slant based on the insights provided by Facebook and the unique perspective of the publisher.

ForD Anthology

In the future, the publishers will produce the content and partner with Facebook to distribute the content through both Facebook’s media network and their own distribution properties.

anthology example

The Anthology program can be beneficial for brands and agencies alike. It is a quick way to collaborate with some of the most relevant millennial-focused publishers, as well as leverage proprietary user data and insights provided by Facebook.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

The More You Know: Yik Yak

Written by: Jordan Lee
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

If you don’t know about Yik Yak, chances are you are a functioning, stable adult. So, what is Yik Yak exactly? It’s a careful formula that combines Twitter, Reddit, and Whisper into one ticking time bomb.

Users are geofenced into a 1.5-mile radius. They then post whatever is on their minds. Annoying professors? Check. Barista who spelled your name wrong? Check. Deep thoughts about time being a flat circle? Check. Other users in the area can then comment or vote on the post. Users are given a numerical score based on their upvotes or downvotes called their Yakarma  it ultimately lets you know how successful you are in the app. Dying to know what’s happening on the other side of town? You can Peek at that area to view the yaks, but not comment or vote.

Peeking at yaks of my former alma mater lets me know more about what’s going on than the alumni newsletter. The anonymity allows users to speak their minds freely. This is especially entertaining at college sporting events, where the yaks flow generously.

However, there has been some debate around the anonymity causing more harm than good. Several schools have noticed issues with discrimination. However, according to Yik Yak these kinds of posts are in violation of their terms and are subject to removal at any time. Plus, Yik Yak has taken measures to quell bullying on the app.

It should go without saying that if something is starting to get banned at schools, its popularity will only grow. With the addition of the national spotlight the app has received and the kickoff of its Spring Campus Tour, there’s nothing left to do but yak about it.

YikYak

Source: Obviously anonymous Yik Yak user

Emotive Robots Key to Unlocking IOT Potential

Written by: Tom Edwards
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Over the 15 years of my digital career, I have witnessed significant technological innovation and massive shifts in consumer behavior based on the impact of innovation. Highlights include the evolution of the personal computer, the now ubiquitous smartphone, and the explosion of consumer-centric social media.

Apple-iPhone-generations

Looking to the near future, the current rate of exponential technological advancement will continue to accelerate, and we are primed for another significant leap forward; the concept of emotive computing is about to enter the lives of early adopters and has the potential to shift our behaviors once again.

During SXSW 2015, the personal side of robots session presented by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal caught my attention. Her session focused on the potential impact of emotive computing as the next wave of computing innovation.

emotive computing

Emotive computing is based on systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process, and simulate elements of human behavior. The key to the concept is the alignment of both emotion and cognition as the drivers of adaptive behavior.

I have followed Dr. Breazeal’s work at MIT since the late ’90s when I first heard about the Kismet project. Kismet was designed to be one of the first socio-emotive AI. The core focus was to move past simple cognitive skills and align psychosocial elements into the robot’s ability to understand and treat people as people.

MIT Kismet

During the session, Dr. Breazeal discussed the evolution of Kismet to the next iteration of the AI, Leonardo, as well as how emotion + cognition should be the basis of intelligence and adaptive behavior – which is key to creating an emotive AI.

leonardo ai

The advancements made with Kismet and Leonardo have set the foundation for a new type of consumer device that is focused on delivering multiple levels of utility while also demonstrating adaptive behavior.

Reviewing the current landscape of personal robots, we see mostly single utility or cognitively-driven robots. They enhance our lives by the tasks they complete but are weak in their ability to conceive emotional engagement.

personal robots

This is where I begin to consider the current product/market fit for socially emotive AI. When you start to consider the Internet of Things or the Internet of Better Things, there are key components missing that would unlock new levels of value, which would lead to mass adoption. Most of the current ecosystem is comprised of single-utility solutions that are neither interconnected nor adaptive.

Internet-of-Things

Initially, my assumption is that the IOT would benefit from a central hub that is built to scale. The basis for the hub has already been approached by Amazon with Echo. But the current technology tied to virtual assistants is built around search and retrieval based entities with limited capabilities to learn.

virtual assistant

With the rise of emotive computing, it is feasible that the core hub for the connected home could be an emotive AI. Toward the end of her talk, Dr. Breazeal revealed that her current initiative as founder and Chief Science Officer of Jibo is to deliver such an entity into homes sooner rather than later.

Jibo is being touted as the first “family robot” and positioned as a support and an enhancer to humans. The IndieGoGo crowdfunded robot raised over 2.2 million dollars and the first run is currently in production. Jibo can see, hear, speak, learn, assist, and relate to individuals, and is going to be the first mass-produced emotive AI.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.35.10 PM

Jibo is also going to be built on a comprehensive developer ecosystem. With toolkits and a full SDK available, the focus is on creating a scalable content delivery platform.

Jibo SDK

I have talked a lot about how the IOT needs to be navigated with the consumer at the center, and I have shared my view of the #databaseofyou as the key to unlocking marketing value from the IOT, but little did I know that the database would actually reside within an emotive AI.

Evolution of Social Marketing Future - Tom Edwards

From a marketing perspective, I am very interested in the adoption and advancement of Jibo. If an emotive AI becomes the primary hub for the connected home, then it also becomes a potential content delivery platform that is the key connection between brands and consumers in the connected home.

By leveraging the full SDK and potentially certifying content, brands could provide contextually valuable experiences delivered through Jibo, or potentially new skills that extend the utility of the robot.

This is obviously speculation on how to potentially leverage emotive computing to create marketing value, but it is important to begin understanding that a significant shift is coming and that it may have just arrived in a small robotic form.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360