Weekly Round-Up: January 31st

Observations February 5, 2014 7:28 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!

Entertainment News: Super Bowl Edition

  • The Super Bowl is one of the remaining television events that can guarantee an audience of over 100 million viewers. Naturally, advertisers salivate at this opportunity, spending upwards of $4 milliona spot. But in the digital age, when viewers can watch the spots online, advertisers who don’t have an official presence in the big game can still have a major impact. Look no further than Newcastle andAnna Kendrick for proof.

  • Advertising won’t be limited to television screens this year; fans watching live at MetLife stadium should also expect mobile ads, thanks to the use of beacons. But will the new technology add value to the fan experience? Doubtful, as most advertisers have only experimented with deals and discounts.

  • One missed opportunity for sure for advertisers at the Super Bowl: the NFL has blocked all live streaming feeds in the stadium. Instant replays, extra player information, or a second-screen halftime experience are among the many ways advertisers could have leveraged smartphones at the game. (But yet, the NFL decided to experiment with beacons…)

  • TV is dead! Long live TV! With cord cutting on the rise, there is increased pressure on the Super Bowl to deliver in ratings. Now that Nielsen is finally on the way to acknowledging digital streaming services’ impact on a program’s ratings, we may see higher ratings in the future. Case in point: OTT service Aereo has hit capacity in NYC, indicating that while viewers are cutting the cord, they still want to tune into major events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics.

  • ‘You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.’ Hard to imagine Oreo’s famous tweet was just a year ago. As we celebrate its anniversary (and brace ourselves for the onslaught of brand tweets this year), Twitterlooks to cash in: many of the hashtags and tweets you see during this year’s game will be optimized for success.

  • Super Bowl 2015 Challenge: Virtual Reality. Read more about the Oculus Rift and it’s potential in the entertainment industry below in this week’s FutureVision Feed.

FutureVision Feed: Growing Interest In Virtual Reality

Virtual reality was the dream of the 90′s. Promoted as a technology capable of immersing participants in a digital environment, initial attempts fell short with low-resolution screens and poor motion tracking. However, thanks to the Oculus Rift, virtual reality is back on the table for consumers.

Resembling a pair of ski goggles, and currently only available only as a developer kit, the company has attracted almost $100 million in funding since its successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012. While the headset is not scheduled to be released until next year, interest in the device is swelling- and not just for gamers. Below are a few examples of how brands can tap into virtual reality:

  • Entertainment: Since its debut, much of the public focus has been on its potential as a gaming device. Valve solidified that expectation at their Steam Dev Days conference, announcing that they intend to work closely with the Oculus Rift. Beyond gaming, the Oculus Rift has a huge potential in narrative storytelling. The device was even featured at the Sundance Film Festival to offer a hint of what’s next for immersive cinema.

  • Marketing: Brands are also exploring the potential of the device. At the Tokyo Motor Show, Nissaninvited participants to wear an Oculus Rift headset and design a concept car. In the experience, users start out with a chassis and build onto it by making choices about what to explore in the virtual world. At the “Game of Thrones” exhibit in New York City, passersbys could step into a wooden elevator box and virtually “climb” the white wall that Jon Snow scales in season 3.

  • Design: The Navy is using the virtual reality headsets to help dream up the next generation of interfaces. While holographic displays and augmented reality windows don’t yet exist at scale, the Navy still can still mock up designs for them up using the head-mounted displays. Ultimately, these technologies could enable ships to repair high-tech parts while collaborating with multiple designers, using multiple interfaces, in a virtual space.

  • Empathy: The immersive capability of the device also has serious implications for social scientists. A project called Gender Swap lets people experience the world through another person’s eyes. Designed as an interactive performance installation, two partners wear an Oculus Rift. Using built-in cameras, the image from one display is shown on the other. By synchronizing their movements, the wearers are able to ‘experience’ their partner’s body.

Industry News: On Disruption

  • Airbnb’s expansion plan: focus on ‘end-to-end experience’ for consumers, adding services like chefs and cleaning services to its offerings. It’s not hard to see that with these services (and more, like tour guides), Airbnb could disrupt the entire travel industry. New services also increase the potential for brand partnerships to help create a localized travel itinerary.

  • For the average consumer, Google Glass hasn’t seemed all that disruptive because it was so out of reach. But that’s about to change: VSP, America’s largest optical health insurance provider, will now subsidize prescription Google Glass. Paired with a stylish design update, Google Glass is poised to make a significant impact in the market.

  • Chipotle has quite the reputation for disrupting the status quo when it comes to advertising: a fan of web-original content, the chain earned praised for ‘Back to the Start’ and the ‘Scarecrow.’ The spots blurred the line between branded content and advertising, a boundary Chipotle is pushing further with a new original series on Hulu. The four-part ‘Farmed and Dangerous’ series will take a satirical look at industrial-scale farming. Even more interesting: Chipotle is eschewing product placement for ‘values integration,’ letting the content itself speak to viewers.

Social News

  • There are 350,000 new tweets on Twitter and 208,000 new photos upload to Facebook every minute on the web. How in the world are we supposed to cut through the noise? Curation is the name of the game. This week, Facebook announced Paper, a news reading app, Flipboard added ‘Flipboard Picks’ to cover stories, and Pinterest narrowed search categories to personalized interests. The most important aspect of this curation is that for the most part, algorithmic curation has been replaced with humans– look no further than Beats Music for a best-in-class example.

  • Foursquare is also banking on human curation to extend its services to users. This week, the platform added support for Seamless and GrubHub, allowing users to look for restaurants who deliver within the platform. The integration is smart, and makes use of the millions of data points Foursquare has collected from users– and also turns the service into a direct competitor to Yelp.

  • Photo-sharing service Imgur announced an analytics service for pro users and advertisers. The service will allow advertisers to track how an image goes viral to better understand what sites are responsible for the traffic. It will be interesting to see how brands utilize the analytics, as Reddit is Imgur’s biggest source of traffic. (and Reddit users are notoriously anti-advertising and can smell a fake in the community in an instant)


  • Monthly mobile traffic jumped 80% last year (via)

  • Starbucks is recording 5M mobile payments a week; mobile payment volume has increased 11% since May 2013 (via)

  • App Annie Index: Top App Trends of 2013 (via)

Design Reads

  • The connection between vending machines and the design of the $1 bill (implied: our diets are awful!).

  • You can’t buy these cars in real-life, but you can 3D print them thanks to Honda. Missing: a thingiverse for consumers to tweak the designs for a feedback loop for Honda engineers.

  • You may never get close enough to the field to see an NFL player sweat, but thanks to Madden, you can see it playing a video game. explains how


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