Lab Weekly — 07/14/2017

Your weekly fix of consumer tech & media news and what they mean for brands

Lab Original

Why Brands Are Advocating For Net Neutrality

Wednesday was a big day for net neutrality, as companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and many more rallied in protest of the FCC’s anti-net-neutrality policy change. In this original piece, we dissect what happened and explain why advocating for net neutrality doubles as a savvy marketing move for brands to show the customers that they, too, are on their side.

News Analysis

Amazon Is Quietly Rolling Out Its Own Smart Home Consultation & In-Home Installation Service [link]

Amazon is moving in to secure the “last-mile” customer experience for smart home shoppers, which is a clever move as the ecommerce giant continues to conquer the smart home market with various Alexa-powered gadgets. This is a tactic that brick-and-mortar retailers have traditionally employed, such as Best Buy has with its so-called Geek Squad. Amazon already has a home service marketplace where it connect people to home services, but this initiative is much more explicitly aimed at promoting its own Echo products. The fact that Amazon is taking a page out of the physical retailers’ playbook is further evidence to the increasingly blurring boundary between the physical and the digital in retail.

Related: Amazon has switched on its Echo speakers’ visual and audio notifications, but only for package delivery so far [link]; Apple unveils smart home experiences in its retail stores worldwide to showcase HomeKit-enabled products [link]

Facebook Adds Live Streaming To VR Spaces To Let Oculus Users Broadcast Their VR Hangouts [link]

This update allows Facebook to extend the reach of its social VR product via Facebook Live while also giving content creators a novel way to produce live content. Already, Slate has started using this new feature to test a live talk show set in VR. We expect more brands that are already dabbling in VR and live streaming to experiment with this new hybrid format to intrigue and engage their fans on Facebook.

Related: Google Daydream VR Support Soon To Arrive On Samsung Galaxy S8 [link]; Lionsgate and Unity partnered to create a first-of-its-kind VR ad for the release of “Jigsaw.” [link]; Legal AR/VR pitfalls marketers should avoid, according to law experts [link]

West Elm Creates Pinterest Style Finder That Matches Home Decor Inspirations With Its Products [link]

As computer vision technology continues to mature, it is becoming increasingly capable of accurately identifying objects and finding visually similar items. As it continues to advance, AI-powered visual search is poised to develop into a powerful lead-generation tool for brand marketers, particularly those in fashion, CPG, and retail, primarily because it helps remove friction for customers struggling to describe what they are looking for — instead, all they need to do is to snap a picture.

Related: Microsoft’s new iPhone app uses computer vision to narrate the world for blind people [link]

Facebook Starts Testing Ads On The Home Screen Of Its Messenger App[link]

With 1.2 billion monthly active users, Facebook Messenger is one of the biggest mobile platforms in the world. So it makes sense that Facebook wants to start monetizing the home screen of the app. Making the ads “sponsored messages” is a good choice to ensure they won’t look too out of place and become disruptive to the user experience. Some of the ads tested will be CTA units to connect Messenger users to a bot or a human brand representative to start chatting. So this new ad format should be great for brands looking to promote their chatbots and drive engagement on Messenger. As brand-customer communication becomes increasingly conversational, how brands present and promote themselves via conversational interfaces will be something that all marketers need to figure out.

Related: Facebook’s M now serves up Food Network recipe suggestions [link]; You can now use your Alexa devices to control your Amazon Fire TV [link]

Stats To Know:

  • Roku reports 15 million monthly users, with 7 billion hours streamed in the first half of 2017.
  • According to a new survey, nearly half (48%) of U.S. internet users surveyed said they watch live streaming video at least once a week. And roughly a quarter (23%) watches it at least once a day.
  • Amazon Prime Day drove “record levels” of Prime sign-ups and sales, generated about $1 billion in revenue, up 60% YoY from the same 30-hour window in 2016. More than 3.5 million toys were purchased worldwide on Prime Day.

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