Weekly Roundup: June 29

Observations June 30, 2014 7:41 am

*As always, originally published on R/GA FutureVision. Happy reading!

Highlights From Google I/O: Contextual Relevance

  • Android Wear, Android TV, Android Auto… get the message? Google’s ambitions for the Android operating system are pretty clear: it should be everywhere. All three major announcements focus on context, and extend Google Now’s predictive capabilities to wearables, cars, and entertainment consoles. The Next Web reports that when a user is wearing a watch with Android Wear, they can receive location-based notifications about things they’ve pinned on Pinterest, which is similar to a recent Google Now card addition, which alerts users to products in stores they’ve searched for online. Android Auto will offer hands-free navigation and offer route information based on drivers’ behavior, and Android TV will use Google’s knowledge graph to suggest content when users search. With the expansion of Android, users can expect a unified experience across their devices, and can also expect an increase in data collection from Google… which will only increase the capability for a personalized, predictive experience.
  • But what about Android Home? There was no mention of Android Home at Google I/O, but earlier in the week, Nest announced a developer program. Launch partners include Mercedes Benz and Jawbone; your car’s location will be able to tell Nest when to start cooling/heating your home so it’s the perfect temperature when you arrive, and Nest will be able to create the perfect sleeping temperature. Nest also announced that it will allow users to opt-in to sharing data with Google for the first time– so while not a direct Android Home announcement, Google is obviously making a strong play to become the heart of the smart home. Google faces competition from Apple, who recently announced HomeKit, and startups like Quirky, who is attempting to build an open operating system with Wink.

Intersection of Trends and Politics

FutureVision tracks trends that are top of mind to consumers and R/GA clients, and on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court made pivotal rulings that affect two of these major trends: entertainment and consumer privacy.

Ruling One: Aereo and the Future of TV Viewing

In the first case, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo, a service that lets cord-cutters stream live TV over the Internet, was illegal, and infringed upon copyright laws. The decision is important because it essentially keeps the current broadcast television model intact; Aereo was ruled illegal because it sidestepped re-broadcast rules and broadcasters rely on retransmission fees as a major source of revenue. If Aereo had won the case, it would have been the writing on the wall for today’s traditional television model –– which is already crumbling due to changing consumer behavior and startups like Netflix redefining how we watch TV. Aereo is just one of the many players challenging traditional media companies, but with the ruling, innovation in the industry takes a step backwards. Learn more about the case here. Learn more about how technology is changing the entertainment industry in the FutureVision trend brief, Entertainment Redistributed.

Ruling Two: Cell Phone Snooping and the Right to Privacy

In the second case, the Supreme Court looked at the right to privacy versus the need to investigate crimes. Ruling on two separate cases from California and Massachusetts, the court unanimously sided on the right to privacy. Essentially, the ruling means that police cannot search someone’s cell phone without a warrant, even if that person is under arrest. While police have long been able to search individuals not under arrest, that capacity has been limited to looking for weapons and ensuring evidence is not being disposed of. However, due to the tremendous amount of personal information now carried on mobile devices, it was ruled that looking through someone’s phone was unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his opinion that cellphones “are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” Learn more about how privacy is entering the consumer consciousness in the FutureVision trend brief Privacy, Personalization, & Earned Data.

Social Media Stats: Teen Behavior & Influence

  • Forrester released a new report this week about teens’ social behavior, finding that Facebook remains the #1 social network. These findings are in stark contrast to other reports that show teens are leaving Facebook by the millions. In the very least, the findings show the sheer reach of the social network; is Facebook so big it can’t be avoided?
  • Also interesting to note on the (very small) amount of public information that Forrester released from the full report on teens’ social behavior is the fact that YouTube, not Facebook, dominates youth adoption. Teens may sign-on more frequently to Facebook and Instagram, but there’s greater reach on YouTube. This stat is not surprising given the rise of the YouTube star, many of them teens themselves.
  • Gallup released a similarly shocking report that bucks common thinking: we may have overestimated the influence of social media on the bottom line. According to results from a survey of 18,000 consumers, 62% said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Given the recent controversy around Facebook’s declining organic reach, these stats could be helpful nudge to marketers to rethink strategies on social media. Rather than try to speak to the largest audience possible, it might be time to think about how to reach the most engaged consumers on social platforms – so they share on your behalf. Because simple word of mouth is still king when it comes to influence.

Sharing Best Practices: Upworthy and Refinery29

  • What metric should brands use to determine engagement with their websites? According to Upworthy, Medium and the Financial Times, it’s not page views or visits, but time spent. Upworthy argues that page views, visits, and clicks don’t fully illustrate how well content or ads perform; in a helpful GIF, five pieces of content are compared on page views. Based on page views, the five articles performed roughly the same. But based on time spent (or “attention minutes” to Upworthy), it’s clear that the pieces are not equal, and one in particular– a French documentary– commanded 5+ minutes more time than the other pieces. Adopting this metric over pageviews– which counts someone who looked at the site for 5 seconds the same as someone who stayed for 1 minute– could prove which content is more valuable in actually driving sales or converting consumers. In this way, we’re back to the argument above, re: Facebook. Maybe “bigger” isn’t the answer to judging success, and finding a way to differentiate engaged, quality consumers is the way forward.
  • Refinery29 is a media powerhouse, so do yourself a favor and check out their Intelligence R29 site. There you’ll find a wealth of information about how the site increased their click-through-rate and engagement, what new social platforms and messaging apps they are experimenting with, and what type of content works best on the weekends. If you’re not inspired to start digging into your own data after reading a few posts, then there’s something wrong.

Psychology of Success

  • What can a children’s movie and a theme park teach marketers and designers about reaching consumers? Frozen has taken the world by storm; chances are, even if you don’t have kids, you’ve seen the movie or at least heard Let it Go. Not surprisingly, storytelling is at the heart of success. But it’s the film’s atypical treatment of its main princess and prince in the story that really make it stand out. And just try not to smile at an amusement park, even if you’re stuck in a long line. In fact, that long line is part of the appeal; learn how amusement parks are engineered to push your buttons.

Comedic Relief

  • What’s life really like with a fitness tracker? Leave it to David Sedaris to hilariously explain.
  • Is it ok to “like” a post about a family member’s death? Jerry Seinfeld’s advice on appropriate behavior in the digital age.


top illustration: Nishant Choksi; bottom image: Disney.

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