Music to Your Inbox!

In an effort to increase increase conversation rates, popular music may soon be making it’s way into your inbox via email marketing campaigns.

DMI Music and Media recently announced a program called Engine 1 that pair majors brands with popular music artists.  The first partner brand is the nutritional supplement maker, Mead Johnson which is testing the program with music from a variety of artists including Bruno Mars. The program aims to leverage music’s emotional impact on people and create brand loyalty.

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Here’s a bit on how it works from AdWeek:  

The songs play when recipients click a button within the message. In a preliminary campaign, 75 percent of openers listened to the music, and 43 percent of those that did came back and listened to the music two or more times.

Why I’m Curious:

While this is an interesting idea, I am curious to see how it actually plays out.  Email marketing is very much dependent on getting someone to open the email in the first place. Unless the subject line of the email states that there is music I wonder if anyone will notice (given that they may just delete the email).  Also, given that music rights are so pricey to obtain, I wonder what the ROI will really be when all is said and done.

Go on an Italian Vacation with SanPellegrino

With the help of Ogilvy NY and Deeplocal, SanPellegrino Sparkling Fruit Beverages launched its latest campaign called Three Minutes in Italy. The Facebook app allows users decide between two live experiences and take a tour of Taormina in Sicily through the eyes of a robot.

From PSFK,

The first is through a ground-based robot that the users can control for three minutes. They can drive the robot around and even interface with passers-by through a two-way audio and video connection. The robot has built-in language translation capability to help the ‘virtual tourists’ talk with the village locals. The face of the robot will display the Facebook user’s profile picture. The second live experience is through a Skybot, which can show the Facebook users stunning views of Sicily from high above.

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Why I’m Curious

When I initially came across this my eye automatically went to the robot and I couldn’t help but think that a better looking robot could be made. I was also curious if utilizing a Facebook app is the best platform for something like this, until I fully read the description. I think the coolest part of this campaign is that it’s not visual, but also allows for two-way audio using a Facebook profile picture. I’m curious to see how the results, and how many people in Sicily are willing to interact with a robot (and if they speak English!).

Turn your Desk into a Coffee Shop

Introducing Coffitivity, a website that mimics the sounds of a coffee shop, which recent research suggests is just enough to stimulate creativity.

From PSFK,

The website aims to bring the sound of the coffee shop to you, whether that’s at home or in your office. By doing so, you’ll be able to be at your most creative regardless of where you are – no need to drag your laptop down to the local coffee shop everyday of the week at least.

The website is best used for creative tasks that require an element of thinking outside the box. If you’re aim is to focus on something more taxing such as proofreading a paper, or actually doing your taxes – then quieter surroundings are the best way to go.

coffee-shop-chatter-boosts-productivity

Why I’m Curious

I listen to music frequently throughout the day, usually soft enough to hear other’s voices, but loud enough to not be able to follow a conversation, so I was curious to give this a shot. It definitely sounds like a coffee shop, but I also think something about not being at a desk sparks creativity as well.

Candy Crush Saga: A Killer Social/Mobile Combination

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If you own a smart phone or have a Facebook account, chances are you’ve heard of or at least evaded the Candy Crush rage. The simple bejeweled-esque mobile game has reeled in a whopping 15.5 million players so far and tops the charts as one of the highest grossing free apps on the market. The game forces players to depend on their Facebook friends to grant them access to new levels, or else it’s $0.99 a pop (and there’s a lot of pops, pun intended). It’s a killer yet simple combination of social and addictive game design.

From ABC,

“The game, which was released for mobile phones in November 2012, has topped Zynga’s Farmville 2 and other popular mobile games such as Texas HoldEm Poker, Bejeweled Blitz and Subway Sufers. But why? What is it about this game that’s really no more than a simple puzzle game that has made it so popular? It’s a combination of mobile and social elements, says the makers and experts.”

Why I’m Curious:

Before Candy Crush I took pride in having a clean record when it came to these bandwagon social/mobile game rages. These games often have either the addictive or social piece nailed down, but not often do you see both being integrated so well. The dependency on one’s Facebook network that the game has garnered can reduce even the most conservative social networker to a shameful spammer. I am confident that Candy Crush has set a new bar and has facilitated a new upcoming wave of social integration in mobile gaming.

New ‘Get This’ App Opens Up Social Purchases

A new app has debuted that creates a second-screen experience linking purchasable content to the television shows viewers are watching. It’s called Get This, and the free app shows viewers purchasable items on their iPad; items synced up with what you’re watching. Shows include the ABC hit Scandal with Kerry Washington, and the Carrie Diaries.

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From Mashable:

In our multitask-heavy culture, chatting on social media networks while watching television has become the order of the day. We love sharing our thoughts in real time about the shows we’re watching. And as social media becomes more of a platform for like minded audiences to gather, it’s also becoming a vehicle for driving e-commerce. Brands are starting to wake up to this untapped resource and are trying to turn loyal audiences into loyal customers.

Get This works with each show’s production staff (producers and stylists), who tell them in advance which items will be featured on each episode. Then when viewers see those items, they pop up on their screens in the app. The idea being that if you see Washington wear a cute dress on Scandal, it pops up on your screen so you can buy it. An audio-sync button matches to the show and highlights items as they appear on screen. Get This makes money through an affiliate program with the 85 brands and vendors they work with.

Viewers using the app have three buying categories: original items from the shows, stylist picks at similar price points inspired by the real McCoy, and much more affordable third options. Her company began building the app two years ago after heavily researching viewing trends.

Why Am I Curious?

We have seen various attempts into incorporating shoppable content into TV programming, but this to me seems to be one of the more well-thought applications. I am curious to see if this takes off, how it may impact the product placements and the existing payment model for how stylists find clothes for the shows. Since many more people will find out about the brands, will the brands have to pay to be featured on the show? Or can brands demand some say in how their items are featured and who is wearing them? It will be interesting to find out.

STADIUM APP LETS FANS ORDER FOOD AND GET ON-COURT CLOSE UPS

There’s nothing like the atmosphere at a live sporting event. The crowds, the players being within shouting distance, and the nachos are truly an ‘experience.’ (Making nachos at home doesn’t even come close).

Earlier this week, the home of the Brooklyn Nets released the Barclays Center app in an attempt to merge the best of the stadium experience with the technological benefits of watching the game from home.

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The Barclays Center app, which is iOS and Android compatible, is a new event app that allows spectators to interact with live in-game footage and other arena features. The app, which connects through the arena’s public Wi-Fi and is powered by Cisco’s StadiumVision Mobile technology, provides fans the ability to access live, in-game video, the official television feed, a 30-second rewind feature for replays, and up to four different cameras – mixing TV angles and GoPros mounted around the arena.

Incredibly, the app also lets users order food from their seat, send messages for display on the scoreboard, check-in, and interact with other users. The StadiumVision Mobile technology provides a nearly seamless stream of action to your phone at only a two second delay. It does this by using a ‘multicast’ connection, which keeps the stream from being overloaded and slowing down by splitting the feed and then delivering it individual to each fan. This is great if you want to watch a replay, and is certainly no worse than if you were listening to the broadcast on a handheld radio – as some fans still do.

Now, even if you are waiting in line for beer, food, to use the restroom, or are otherwise distracted, fans can get a front-row view of the action. For fans in the nosebleeds, they can get a little taste of what the high-rollers experience in the floor seats. And for fans that enjoy stats, replays, and different camera angles, they can enjoy the best of both worlds right from their hard, plastic stadium seating.

Why I’m Curious: This type of experience could go well beyond the basketball stadium – concerts, plays, baseball games, etc., and I think it’s a great opportunity for brands to get got involved in enhancing that “in the moment” experience.

 

Source: http://www.psfk.com/2013/02/barclays-center-stadium-app.html

Coke Debuts Super Bowl Teaser & Social Game

Earlier this week, Coke unveiled a teaser video called “Mirage” that shows three groups (badlanders, cowboys and showgirls) racing through the desert for a bottle of Coke. As the group approaches the large bottle, they realize it’s only a sign – leaving consumers with the power to decide who wins.

From AdAge,

“Mirage” kicks off a game of sorts that will run through Super Bowl. Prior to the ad’s TV debut, consumers will be able to share the spot and vote for the group they want to win the Coke. Sharing content unlocks more content, including 50,000 coupons for a free 20 oz. Coke. Consumers can pick their favorite team, then slow down the competitors with “sabotages” — videos that show the cowboys delayed at a stoplight or the showgirls stopping to pose for a portrait, for example.

Why I’m Curious

I’ve been interested in seeing how Coke was going to top their real-time polar bear ad last year, and I’m excited to see if “Mirage” takes off. The trend of a second screen doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the layers promote social sharing.

If nothing else, it’ll be fun to see if viewers take to Facebook and Twitter to talk about Coke throughout the game, in addition to the score and Beyonce in the halftime show.

Live-GIF New Year’s Eve

Tumblr partnered with the Times Square Alliance and Livestream to create a “Live-GIF” experience on New Year’s Eve. Animated GIFs will be created of the live performances all the way to the ball dropping.

From PSFK,

Tumblr has selected three talented GIF makers from their large community of bloggers to work with the Livestream team to customize and create animated GIFs for the duration of the evening’s broadcast. All of these GIFs will be uploaded to GIFwich.com, Tumblr’s permanent home for live-GIF action. Tumblr users will then be able to reblog and share their favorite moments from Times Square in GIF form.Tumblr Will ‘Live-GIF’ The New Years Eve Ball Drop Countdown

Why I’m Curious

While turning moments from a real-life interaction or event isn’t new, I thought it was really neat that this was happening in real-time.

I’m curious to see the pay off of the real-time aspect, as most people are out and about on New Year’s Eve, not on Tumblr. Either way, it’s exciting to see the industry going into 2013 with something new.

Ignore Your Phone, Get Coupons

The movie theatre chain Cinemark introduced an new feature on its app for iPhone and Android that rewards moviegoers for not using their phone during the film. The “CineMode” feature enables you to earn digital coupons during the movie.

From PSFK,

If you activate it before the movie begins, your screen will automatically dim and you’ll be prompted to set your volume to vibrate. CNET reports that if you try to access your phone during the movie, the app will warn you that you won’t get your reward, but if you wait until the end you’ll get a coupon for a special offer at the cinema like discounted concessions.

Why I’m Curious

In a world that’s always connected, I thought it was interesting that we need to be rewarded for courtesy.  It’s interesting that Cinemark thought that this would be such a prime spot to activate the rewards, because it’s so hard for people to concentrate on one screen.

A skip, jump and Timehop away.

Remember when Timehop was a handy little site that let you travel back in (social) time and see what you were up to on an exact day in history a year ago via an email digest? Well, they got it together to make an iPhone app that pulls together your data from nearly every social network (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, flickr and your phone’s camera roll) since you signed up for that network and pushes it back to you in a handy little shareable format.

The app is free, and enables you to share your found memories with others, too.

Why I’m Curious

While social networks may have initially been considered throw-away bits of content (perhaps due to their ease of creation?), times have changed. With social network usage becoming ubiquitous across all sorts of people, many memories are now stored within these networks, and the desire to access that information is even more important. Timehop’s provided an easy (digital) way of accessing content from the past, enabling self-reflection and a nice dose of nostalgia along the way. I do wonder why social networks themselves haven’t made this sort of time travel easier – one could argue Facebook was trying to address this with Timeline – and whether this will become a priority moving forward. Something to keep an eye on.

 

‘The Expendables’ movie on Tumblr

‘The Expendables’ is an action movie featuring a who’s who of action stars: Stallone, Norris, Schwarzenegger, even Dolph Lundgren.  The official site is about what we’ve come to expect, but there are some social media extensions that got my attention.

Track ‘Em Find ‘Em Kill ‘Em is a Tumblr blog they call the ‘field guide’ to the Expendables.  Users can navigate and share a variety of movie content, from dossiers on the characters to a flipbook of weaponry.

Why I’m Curious
I’ve seen custom Tumblr blogs, and this is among the most custom designs I’ve seen.  In terms of content I think it raises some interesting questions.  If a movie or other entity can market itself with a bunch of non-linear, microchunked content, with each piece having its own life through sharing and comments, it sort of makes me wonder why anyone would want the old-school ‘brochureware’ version of an official site.  How long might it be before more brands abandon having their own sites altogether in favor of simply leveraging social platforms?

Static Texts Are So Outdated

There’s a new app for iPhones that can take a video and convert it to an animated gif so that you can text it to your friends.  MyFaceWhen launched this week, and is a free app, for now, but should be $0.99 at some point..  So now, instead of responding with “ROFL”, or even an emoticon, you can send an animated gif showing yourself ROFLing.The web is full of images and gifs that express certain emotions, but this takes it to a new level.  No longer must we rely on one of these memed pictures, although the app can accommodate many of your favorites as well, to express how we feel about a given situation in a message to our friends.

Why I’m Curious

Everyday communication continues to evolve.  Remember when we had to actually speak to a person to communicate?  Now, we’ve taken another step at removing words from communication.  At some point, I wonder if we’ll just get back to hieroglyphics like the ancient Egyptians…. but you know, in animated gif format.

Coming Soon: Facebook App Center

On Wednesday 5/9, Facebook announced the launch of the new App Center, which will replace the app directory launched in 2009. Planned to house social apps for Facebook and mobile/tablet devices, the App Center is planned as an outlet for users to search for and download new apps – think of it as an app aggregator. As for non-Facebook native apps, the Center will direct traffic to iTunes and Android Play stores for actual download.

What’s more, is the App Center will provide developers with in-depth analytics that aren’t necessarily available directly through (for example) iTunes, such as how often users actually use the app and come back to it. This data will be combined to provide a score of an app’s overall quality, which helps developers optimize their apps for increased download and usability. In turn, Facebook will also use internal data to recommend apps that users may like and the increased visibility of apps in timeline can only lead to increased app adoption across a wider range of users.

The App Center is available for developers only at this point, with plans to roll out for public visibility in the works.

Why I’m Curious

With the launch of timeline, apps have taken center stage in showcasing user habits and personality. Via apps like Spotify and GoodReads, we know which media our friends are interacting with, going steps beyond just listing interests within the Facebook profile. In turn, Facebook has a major opportunity to leverage this data and increase not only awareness of apps but adoption, too. At this point in time, there is no one central place for all apps, and as Facebook struggles to assert itself as a player in the mobile field, the addition of the App Center certainly enables a toe in the water, so to speak. From a user standpoint, the power of Facebook is in connection with others; however, the power of Facebook as a company is the immense wealth of data to be mined. Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next, and of course, how all of this “social sharing” affects homogeny in media consumed.

I’ll have 1 fiesta and a ride to the Embarcadero, please.

I love mariachi. I have no idea why, but I do. That video of a whale being serenaded by mariachi? Totally makes my heart go “squeeeeeeeee!” So it’s with jealousy that I report car service Uber is providing users in San Francisco with the option to order a mariachi band along with their ride.

Yes, you read that right. When using Uber’s mobile app to order a ride today between 12 and 5 PST in SF, you may request a fiesta, which includes said mariachi band, a piñata, and a bottle of margarita mix (you must provide the tequila, however). It’s $100 dollars and billed to the credit card you already have stored within Uber’s network.

Why I’m Curious

Based under the promise of the “Coolest things ever in 5 minutes,” Uber’s intense attention to detail never ceases to amaze me. They already make getting a car to get you where you need to go simple, but making it possible to order a party? Via digital/mobile? Smart.

Classic game of snake using the urban landscape

Fun and customizable take on the classic mobile phone game ‘Snake.’ “Snake the Planet!” adopts the game for the urban canvas using software developed in open Frameworks, which scans the environment and individually generates each level based on the facade in front of the player.

Any windows, doors or other features become boundaries and obstacles in the projected game that the player can collide with, so they need to try and avoid them. More objects can be placed and scanned in order to make the level more difficult. The game also has a multi-player mode that lets players intentionally attempt to block each other’s path in order to destroy their opponent and win.

Why I’m Curious:

I love the convergence of the digital and real worlds. This game is a smart way of closing some of those gaps.

The GIF that keeps on giving.

I’m sorry. I had to. Moving along…

Cinemagram is a new tool that facilitates animated GIF making, via simple video and filters.  In the words of the creators themselves:

1. film a short video clip 2-3s
2. Animate a small region
3. Apply awesome xpro, vintage filters
4. Share to Twitter/Tumblr and Facebook

Dead simple. It’s only available for iOS right now, but I’d expect to see it for other operating systems in the future. Of course, the creators also established a Tumblr page to share creations, and naturally, Cinemagram is integrated rather seamlessly into Facebook timeline.

Why I’m Curious

Yet another way to create and share an experience in a simple, usable manner that extends beyond flat, 2-D. This app is only available on mobile phones, which seems indicate the intent: capturing moments on the fly and bringing them to life so that they continue to live on beyond the immediate moment.

Too! Many! Photos!

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As access to a camera becomes increasingly ubiquitous, a boom in amateur photography is a natural result. Which is great – I’m all about the democracy of photography, but the problem is, photos are all over the place. I mean, really. Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr plus the lack of cross-over of my friends and social networks…it’s tough to keep up and I know I miss things.

Well, in the infamous words of a fruit-named brand, “There’s an app for that.” Specifically, Pixable. Pixable, which officially launched last March, is an app that aggregates photos and videos from your social feeds and categorizes them based on your own viewing preferences via WonderRank technology. That’s fancy talk for an algorithm that analyzes Facebook and Twitter variables (like with whom you most interact, comment, view, etc.) in order to serve up photos that will appeal to you most. Users can also now add hashtags to photos, thus organizing them further.

Pixable exists as an iOS app and is also an app integrated with Facebook’s timeline, no doubt increasing consumer adoption.

Why I’m Curious

Key insight: a lot of photos and a lot of disorganization means someone misses out. With social currency nearly the only attainable currency these days, you can’t afford to miss a thing. I’ve enjoyed watching Pixable grow over the past year and expand its offerings; the introduction of existing social activity (hashtags) makes it smarter, and I’m excited to see where it goes next. And I’m a busy girl, so anything that makes digesting the wealth of content out there in a simple and relevant, personal manner is a nice thing in my book.

Retail Store Asks The Internet To Rob It

To promote their home cinema solutions, Pause Swedish electronics retailer created a movie trailer called Heist. The trailer invites viewers to break in to their stores and steal an LED television worth $5,700 dollars.

On November 10th after the store’s closing, online viewers will be tasked with deactivating the store’s security system and actually break in. But it’s not a one-burglar job–you’ll need to tag team with a buddy in order to crack the code.

In order to enter the store, and, as copywriter Joakim Labraaten puts it, make some “Tom Cruise-moves,” you’ll need the assistance of a partner at a computer to help you shut the security system down and crack codes along the way. The contest begins November 10th, after Pause shuts down for the evening, and then ends when an LED television set is finally removed from the store.

But even those who don’t get away with a new set enjoy some benefits. Those who crack the door code get a 10% discount off Pause products, those who get past the motion detector get 20% off and if you actually make it into the showroom with the TV, you get a 30% markdown off goods.

 

Why I’m Curious:

By turning their retail environment in to an entertainment experience, Pause is able to promote their specialty- home entertainment- and provide value to viewers. This way, it connect the online world with their physical store.

It accurately targets their tech-loving target by giving them a challenge that appeals to their unique interest- hacking- and encourages sharing by making the heist a team effort. Finally, it directly rewards all the people who decide to engage with the heist through discounts or an actual physical good.

Demonstrating The Frightening Reality of Cyberstalking

-Larissa

Facebook privacy is an oxymoron. The site is designed to reveal your personal information to the rest of the world. Where you live. Where you went to school. Your favorite stores and music. For friends, it’s a source of conversation. For marketers, it’s a way to target potential customers and for stalkers, it’s like giving the alarm code for Tiffany’s to a jewel thief.

Not worried? You might have a different view after you check out “Take This Lollipop.” The interactive website lets you look over the shoulder of a very creepy, cyberstalker as he peruses your Facebook profile. At first it’s not that unusual. Dozens of websites, like the one for the new movie The Thing, use your profile data to populate their online world. But when the stalker looks up your address on Google maps then jumps in the car and drives off, the reality of cyberstalking becomes real.

The site is not an advertisment, although the creator, Jason Zada, has worked on notable campaigns including “Elf Yourself”. “People keep asking me what sinister plan we’re working on behind it,” he said. “I just love Halloween, and got the idea about a month ago and decided to shoot it.”

Why I’m Curious:

Besides being integrated with Facebook information, it’s a perfectly-executed viral example. It has the ability to “Like” it before and after the experience, which has lead it to have over 300k Likes. In addition, studies have shown that elements including emotion and surprise are key factors contributing to a viral video’s success and Take This Lollipop has both. Finally, with Halloween right around the corner, it’s timely.

This technology isn’t new, but the immersive site experience is exceptionally well executed. From the cinematography to the smooth integration with profile screenshots, it is able to evoke real emotions, like fear and paranoia,  in to what has tended to be a rational debate about privacy. It’s a great demonstration of what sort of socially-enabled, seamlessly interactive video is possible.

WHEN ZOMBIES ATTACK!

– Sarah

This app is not out yet. No, but it will be, soon.

I’m an avid runner. And if you’re like me, sometimes, running can get boring. The fartleks just aren’t doing it anymore, music is getting tired, and a distraction is in order. Enter Zombies, Run!, a immersive running app under development for both iOS and Android devices. In Zombies, Run!, developers Six to Start and writer Naomi Alderman plan to create an experience where “you help rebuild civilisation after a zombie apocalypse. By going out and running in the real world, you can collect medicine, ammo, batteries, and spare parts that you can use to build up and expand your base – all while getting orders, clues, and story through your headphones.”

Why I’m Curious

Goodness, gamification is everywhere, isn’t it? It always has been around, but now it has a fancy buzzword title which, I guess, adds some validity to its existence. But let’s just say this is gamification done right. There’s a real story line planned and an actual experience that only takes you, your device, and your running shoes. Simple. Smart. You can listen to your own music, and integration with RunKeeper is planned, so your calories burned, distance ran and speed are all recorded as you go, so playing doesn’t interfere with your fitness.

This project was originally launched on Kickstarter, and reached $28,374 of its $12,500. Yes, you read that right. The creators are taking suggestions from fans, and I love that someone took their passions (running, development) and turned it into something awesome. I’m so excited and the game isn’t even created yet! But it all goes to plan, you bet I will be one of the first people to download this game when it launches.