Weekly Round-Up: January 24th

Observations January 27, 2014 9:52 am

*Every Friday, I put together a round-up of newsworthy articles I’ve read over the past week over on R/GA FutureVision. Let me know if I’ve missed something, and happy reading!













Social News

  • This week, GlobalWebIndex released its quarterly Social Summary report, detailing the latest global trends in social media usage. The topline summary:

    • Instagram recorded the largest increase in active usage, followed by Reddit and LinkedIn. This growth highlights the splintering of social networks and the rise of niche networks, as well as the growth of social media in B2B.

    • Facebook is still the world’s most dominant social network, although active usage is on the decline… although the situation is nowhere as dire as this study from Princeton would suggest.

    • Messaging apps saw enormous growth: WeChat’s audience rose 379% between Q2 and Q4 2013, and Vine, Snapchat, and WhatsApp all saw double-digit growth. Keep in mind Vine’s young age (one this week!) and its relatively small comparison benchmark for growth. And for tips on how to better engage fans on Snapchat, head over to MTV Insights for an ‘etiquette guide.’

  • Why is engagement increasing on platforms like Instagram and Vine, and decreasing on Facebook? One thing to consider is the utility users get from social platforms– like Pinterest’s recent update to include GIFs and a recipe search tool. These additions increase the reason for users to visit Pinterest— which brands will be wise to capitalize on. Read this week’s FutureVision Feed for great examples of how brands have leveraged platform updates to increase engagement with fans.

Entertainment News

  • Battle for top music service: The much-anticipated Beats Music launched this week and quickly became the #1 Music App in the iTunes Store. Beats Music differentiates itself from other services like Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio with its focus on human curation rather than algorithms. It’s a competitive field, but Beats Electronics has already found success with the Beats by Dre headphones, which received an unexpected PR boost when a new Richard Sherman ad mimicked his real-life post-NFC championship rant.

  • TV landgrab battle: The race to provide the best OTT content is on: in its 4th quarter earnings report, Netflix announced that its domestic subscriber base had grown to 33.4 million, well over HBO. But Netflix may want to watch its back- Verizon acquired Intel’s Internet-based TV service in an effort to bring on-demand television to its 102.8 million wireless subscribers.

Marketing News

  • AOL acquired content personalization firm Gravity this week in an effort to present readers with more targeted content based on their past browsing history. Google laughed at AOL’s effort, patenting a technology that would link a user’s online behavior to offline transit. A user’s online behavior would be analyzed to determine what ad they would be served, and Google would sweeten the offer with a free taxi ride to the advertiser’s restaurant, shop, or other location. Google’s acquisition of Nest last week and their investment in Uber as well as autonomous vehicles would make the ad targeting across online/offline behavior possible as well as actual transport possible— welcome to Google Now 2.0.

  • Targeted marketing and data collection go hand-in-hand, and brands will need to be increasingly cautious as to how they use this wealth of readily available data, mindful they don’t exploit the right to privacy. OfficeMax learned this painful lesson this week after addressing a promotional mailer, ‘Mike Seay/Daughter Killed In Car Crash.’ The New Yorker pens a thought-provoking piece on life-stage marketing and sensitivity, and Ad Age offers a complimentary read on trust and the difference between owning and using data.


Behold, the power of these two (unrelated) charts:

The rapid growth and ubiquity of smartphones:

How bad is the average American diet?:

Long Reads

  • Let’s celebrate January birthdays! Apple’s Mac turns thirty, and Bitcoin turns five. Read Steven Levy’s Wired article, The Macintosh Is 30, And I Was There For Its Birth, before heading over to Marc Andreessen’s NY Times article, Why Bitcoin Matters. Because if you’re skeptical of Bitcoin, it’s helpful to remember that people were once skeptical of the Mac, too: “When Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh, he had to generate excitement about a product — a computer — that was unfamiliar to most people, if not downright scary. His creation would eventually entice them into changing their minds, but first, they had to be intrigued enough to learn about it.”

  • What do Movember, Mad Men, and Usain Bolt have in common? The non-profit, popular television star, and pro athlete have all been central to the success (or decline) of razors, Lucky Stripe cigarettes and Canadian Club whisky, and Gatorade. A reminder that some of the most persuasive advertising isn’t advertising at all– P&G blames the cultural movement that tells men not to shame during the month of November for decreased sales, stats indicate Mad Men was influential in boosting sales of the two struggling brands, and the sports game Bolt! is being criticized for propagating the message that ‘water is the enemy of performance’ while boosting Gatorade’s image.

  • Cultural movement, product placement, game, and… documentary. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Campaign for Real Beauty, Dove has created a short documentary, ‘Selfie.’ The film, which premiered at Sundance, challenges young girls and their mothers to take an ‘honest selfie’ in an effort to promote positive self-image. Kudos to Dove for making a decade long campaign better and more culturally relevant as it ages.


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