Lab Weekly — 08/11/2017

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

Lab Original

A Marketer’s Guide To Artificial Intelligence

Earlier this week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched a working group focusing on artificial intelligence and machine learning in response to “significant member interest.” Make no mistake, AI is quickly coming off the pages of science fiction and being implemented across the marketing, media, and advertising industries. So, what is AI and how exactly can brands make the best use of it?

News Analysis

Disney Ends Distribution Deal With Netflix In Pursuit Of Its Own Streaming Services [link]

This announcement serves as yet another reminder of the fact that Netflix doesn’t own most of its content, only the distribution rights for a limited time. For Disney, launching an owned streaming service makes sense, given the swath of popular content and IPs it owns. In addition, a standalone ESPN streaming service has long been a thing that sports fans have clamored for, even if it will only start with the events that are currently not getting airtime on ESPN. Although Netflix most likely won’t lose the Marvel TV superhero series it co-produces with Disney, the streaming giant is already hedging its bet by acquiring the comics publisher Millarworld earlier this week. As more and more media owners start to catch up with the shifting viewer behavior and launch their own OTT streaming services, live viewership continues to erode, which means brands will need to adjust their media mix accordingly.

Related: Disney to acquire majority ownership of BAMTech, the MLB-founded streaming division that powers OTT services for media companies like HBO and the WWE [link] CBS reaches deal with AT&T to bring The CW, Showtime, and more to DirecTV Now [link]; NBC is shutting down its comedy streaming service SeeSo [link]

Facebook Rolls Out Watch Platform With Several Dozen Original Shows [link]

After adding a Video tab to its main app for the U.S. users, Facebook is doubling down on creating a video destination on its site across platforms with this Watch platform, which focuses more on episodic web series rather than the one-offs. While this platform will no doubt give Facebook more video ad inventory to sell at a premium, it also helps drive user engagement with exclusive content they won’t find elsewhere, giving Facebook another shot at challenge YouTube as the go-to site for online videos and video ads. For brands well-versed in creating branded video content, this new platform could even be a new video channel to reach Facebook’s massive global audience.

Related: Facebook Live now supports 4K streaming and Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift headsets for 360-degree video [link]; Pinterest rolls out autoplay video ads in search results and feeds for all advertisers, with measurement partners Moat and Nielsen on board [link]

Genesis Replaces Conventional Car Manual With Augmented Reality App [link]

This exemplifies a great use of AR as it provides visual guidance and instructions layered atop the real-world environment. As an extension of how AR is being used in most enterprise cases already, this initiative showcases the intriguing possibilities that mobile AR is set to unleash for brand marketers and product designers. Once AR becomes a mainstream feature on most smartphones, it will impact everything from packaging design to at-shelf behaviors. One way brands can get ready for AR is to start developing 3D virtual assets that can be easily imported into AR experiences.

Related: Asus Zenfone AR, the second Android phone to support Google’s Tango AR platform, finally launched in the U.S. on Verizon [link]; Latest ARKit demo shows off 3D finger painting through augmented reality [link]

Lyft Partners With Amtrak For First- And Last-Mile Trip Tie-Ins [link]

This is a good move on Lyft’s part to integrate with public transportation services and reach new customers. As the market matures, it is crucial for on-demand startups to reach out to new demographics so as to keep growing their user base. Similarly, Lyft has also teamed up with healthcare providers in New York to offer free rides to patients for their doctor’s visits. In a larger picture, such partnerships are all about building out a more holistic customer experience, which is what service brands, such as those in travel, entertainment, hospitality, and healthcare, need to hone in on in order to expand the services they provide and connect with customers in a more meaningful way.

Related: Lyft partners with Western New York Medicaid providers to offer patients free rides [link]; Lyft acquires two startups specializing in customer acquisition and retention to bring in more drivers [link]

Mall Operator GGP To Open An Experiential Mall For Digital-Native Brands[link]

As stores start to shut down in waves across the States, it is interesting to see that some mall operators are actively pivoting their focus and experimenting with new design and selections. This GGP experimental mall concept essentially doubles as a physical showroom for ecommerce brands and offers customers a tangible experience, which should be a valuable addition for those previously digital-only retailers. Previously, digital-native retailers like Harry’s, Away, and Warby Parkerhave all opened physical stores to expand their real-world footprint and better serve their customers with in-person customer care. As customer experience becomes an increasingly important differentiating point for retailers, it is paramount that they figure out a holistic, experience-driven experience to best appeal to shoppers.

Related: Office Depot partners with on-demand delivery startup Deliv to roll out same-day delivery [link]; Uniqlo is launching an automated shopping concept in the format of smart vending machines at select airports and malls in the US [link]

Stats To Know:

  • Virtual shopping intrigues tech-savvy consumers. Over 70% of early tech adopters are interested in using virtual reality to enhance their shopping experience, according to a survey by L.E.K. Consulting.
  • OTT viewing continues to gain momentum, as eMarketer projects that there will be 168.1 million US connected TV users in 2017, of which nearly half (48.3%) will use a smart TV. This year, the number of adults who have canceled their pay TV subscription will climb by 33.2% to reach 22.2 million.
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