Digital Trend Update: Oct. 7, 2016
News of Note
This week, Amazon announced its decision to ban “incentivized review”– reviews from anyone who received free product to test. While in the past Amazon had allowed these reviews from programs like BzzAgent, Influenster, etc., they recently found that these endorsements warped the rating system and made the site less credible. With Amazon as the leader in online retailing, it’s likely only a matter of time until other retailers follow suit, and ratings & reviews become limited to brand websites only. To increase the credibility of these reviews and build their booming business— Amazon is encouraging all brands to utilize Amazon Vine, an Amazon-owned review platform that was created “to provide customers with more information including honest and unbiased feedback from some of Amazon’s most trusted reviewers.” As marketers, it allows us to hone in on authentic and un-incentivized moments where the opportunity to convert consumers to advocates is ripe.
Brands and agencies have been experimenting with on-demand geofilters ever since they debuted earlier this year. Now tech companies are helping them scale their geofilter campaigns– rather than having to manually provide Snapchat with exact geographic data for each of the filter locations, brands can now outsource that task to tech companies. EMarketer forecasts that sponsored geofilters will bring Snapchat $29.2 million in ad revenue this year. Ad tech companies understand brands have issues identifying and setting up markets with geo filters when they have dozens or even thousands of locations, and ad tech companies offer an easy service to fill that need.
Google introduced a $79 virtual-reality headset called View along with Pixel, a smartphone that can act as a companion device. The VR goggles, which will be available in November, are made of clothing-like fabric instead of hard plastic to give it a more “soft and cozy” feel, Google says. To date, virtual-reality headsetshave been expensive and clunky to wear: from the most famous VR product costing ~$600 to Google’s own $15 cardboard device, they’re often hampered by the idea of putting cardboard against one’s face.
In recent weeks, it’s become clear that a similar mindset has fully taken hold among the social media platforms themselves. Snapchat is now a “camera company,” accented by the recent announcement of its video-recording sunglasses called Spectacles—and the platform has re-named itself Snap Inc. to reflect this change and shed the “social” tag. Similarly, Twitter COO Adam Bain last week mentioned at Advertising Week that his company recently moved its mobile app listing in Apple’s App Store from the social section to news—and his team saw downloads of the app accelerate as a result. It will be interesting to see if this is a growing trend among new and emerging platforms that do not want to position themselves as a purely “social” platform.
Just for Fun
In honor of the 16th anniversary of the first episode of Gilmore Girls, the TV show joined forces with Netflix to create 250 ‘Luke’s Diner’ pop up locations around the country to promote the upcoming season, releasing on Thanksgiving weekend. The experiential activation gave fans the chance to visit the beloved diner frequented by the Gilmore Girls themselves, and used Snapchat and Instagram as core pillars of the campaign, including coffee cups that incorporated a Snapchat code to unlock a special Gilmore Girls geofilter— for one hour use only.