Following Google, Adobe ups its voice game

As advertisers look to voice as an integral touchpoint, Adobe has introduced a tool for voice analytics integrated into a marketer’s customer data sets.

A week after Google announced deeper integrations and additional languages to Assistant, Adobe has announced an update that promises to personalise voice interactions.

Enhancements in the Adobe Experience Cloud will let advertisers and agencies plan scenarios in responses to queries directed at Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

“Imagine searching for a flight on an Amazon Echo device and finding the right one at the best price,” writes Kevin Lindsay, director of product marketing at Adobe, in a post. “The travel brand you are engaging with has already connected the dots on the back end, and you can book instantly — followed by a travel confirmation sent directly to your smartphone.”

The enhancement comes from Adobe Sensei, an AI and machine learning framework that will allow advertisers and agencies to leverage machine learning and predictive algorithms to personalise experiences.

“Voice assistants that were previously seen as a somewhat futuristic idea are here today and moving very fast into our lives,” said V.R. Srivatsan, managing director, Adobe Southeast Asia.

With the increasingly attractive price points and growing ecosystem of apps created for voice devices, Srivatsan predicts it won’t be long before voice becomes as ubiquitous as mobile in the Asia Pacific region.

Adobe’s latest Digital intelligence Briefing reported 13,000 APAC respondents across marketing, creative, and IT roles placed the highest importance in creating personalised and relevant experiences in terms of improving overall customer experience.

Source: campaignasia.com; 6 Mar 2018

Google Assistant: More chatty in more languages

The Google Assistant is going global, with more languages and deeper integration opportunities for advertisers and agencies.

Google has announced more languages and deeper integrations for its virtual personal assistant.

By the end of 2018, Google Assistant will be able to understand over 30 languages, including Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai. The virtual PA will also support multilingual families, that speak, for instance, English and Urdu in the same household.

The second update pertains to routines and location-based reminders. Users will be able to customize a series of events that are part of their daily routines, such as “pick up the kids” or “collect laundry”, when a particular command is spoken such as “OK Google, I’m home.” Depending on where a user is, reminders will be issued based on location.

Advertisers and agencies have the opportunity to invest in voice-based search optimisation in order to send contextual voice-ads that line up with a routine or help achieve a goal.

The third update will allow advertisers and agencies to build out deeper integrations within Google Assistant, with Alphabet working with manufacturers of non-Android phones. This, Alphabet hopes, will make the Google Assistant more friendly on such devices.

Manufacturers can create integrations for device-specific commands, creating room to work with first-come-first-serve advertisers and agencies that want custom integrations. This opens room for a business such as Nestlé to sponsor the good morning messages and breakfast recommendation a device user hears every day, for example.

Source: campaignasia.com; 5 Mar 2018

Twitter unveils new APAC sports streaming deals

From football to table tennis, deals encompass new partnerships and extensions of existing ones.

Twitter today announced nine new Asia-Pacific sports video content collaborations, bolstering the existing deals the platform has in the region.

Speaking at Sportel Asia in Singapore, Aneesh Madani, Twitter APAC head of sports, revealed the partnerships, which include highlights, clips and other content from the following broadcasters:

– Astro Malaysia
– Fox Sports Asia
– Eleven Sports
– International Table Tennis Foundation
– BallBall
– Asian Tour
– TV One
– NetTV
– SportsFix TV

The deal with Astro Malaysia includes content from the FIFA World Cup, taking place in Russia in June. “Alongside our broadcast all 64 matches of the World Cup, Twitter will help amplify the most exciting moments from Astro’s coverage, and immerse fans in the ‘world game’,” said CK Lee, Astro VP of sports content.

The package covers content from a range sports including football, racing, tennis, golf and martial arts.

Each partner will also use Twitter’s in-stream sponsorship platform to allow advertisers to reach target audiences and publishers to monetise their video content.

Madani said: “Digital video consumption in Asia Pacific is growing rapidly. Introducing these new in-stream video sponsorship deals for sports to advertisers in Asia Pacific will strengthen the success of our partners in the region, and give fans an easy way to keep up with the sports they care about most.”

Twitter already has APAC video content deals with One Championship, the NBA and WNBA.

Source: campaignasia.com; 15 Mar 2018

6 ways Xi Jinping’s power grab will impact foreign brands

Xi’s personal Chinese Dream is expected to dominate every aspect of Chinese development, and will have a profound impact on the business environment of foreign companies working in the country.

Recently China announced a proposed constitutional amendment to end presidential term limits in China. Despite widespread discontent expressed online, the Communist Party now claims that the amendment is the will of the people.

If there were any doubt before, this statement make it all but certain that the amendment will pass before the conclusion of the “Two Sessions”, the annual meetings of the national legislature and the top political advisory body in Beijing.

The move, which received praise from U.S. President Donald Trump, is a significant shift toward a more autocratic regime. It also represents a formidable consolidation of power by Xi, who has just completed his first five-year term as President. In the past five years, Xi has developed a more nativist, nationalist ideology that aims to increase China’s strength in the world and the party’s lock on political power.

Xi’s personal Chinese Dream is expected to dominate every aspect of Chinese development, and will have a profound impact on the business environment of foreign companies working in the country. In a time of considerable uncertainty, here are Jing Daily‘s six predictions for how Xi’s power grab will impact the luxury industry in China.

1. More surveillance and censorship

Surveillance and censorship are widespread in China, and that will only increase. More and more foreign brands have been penalized for “misbehaviours” in their communications in China and abroad.

Cases from Victoria’s Secret, Estée Lauder, and Harper’s Bazaar illustrate the risks of working with celebrities (both international and domestic), referencing foreign subcultures (such as hip-hop and anime), and having a global digital presence, where comments in other countries and other languages are increasingly scrutinized.

Furthermore, the Chinese government is likely to demand access to all website data, online customer information, personal communications, and more.

Attempts to circumnavigate surveillance and censorship will slowly be snuffed out. Since October 2017, domestic VPN providers have been required to register with government agencies in order to provide their services legally in the country. Foreign VPNs are likely next. (See “What if China closes the VPN window in its ‘great firewall’?”)

2. More emphasis on Chinese heritage

The ongoing clampdown on foreign cultural influence will give rise to more foreign brands referencing or co-opting traditional Chinese culture in their communications. As a matter of fact, a great number of brands are already doing so. RTG Consulting Group found that adopting traditional Chinese cultural elements is one of the politically safest and most effective ways to engage with a diverse Chinese.

Selected aspects of traditional Chinese culture have been nurtured by the state in recent years, helping them to resonate more with the younger Chinese generation, especially Generation-Z.

3. More competition from home-grown brands

With the Chinese government calling for domestic innovation and design to meet the growing needs of consumers, the spring of the domestic Chinese fashion brands is coming. However, with the ideological restrictions placed upon Chinese fashion designers, fashions may begin to diverge away from global trends.

Nevertheless, we believe it will be more and more easy for domestic fashion brands to achieve commercial success inside China in the current social and political context. The success will belong to brands who comply with contemporary nationalist values, such as sportswear brand Li Ning, whose triumphant debut at New York Fashion Week captured the attention of Chinese millennials and was praised widely on the country’s major social media sites.

4. More limits on conspicuous consumption

The anti-corruption campaign that President Xi initiated back in 2013 will continue to affect the consumption behaviours of an estimated 112 million government personnel, including officials, civil servants and the so-called ‘in-staff’ personnel who enjoy the same wages, social welfare and healthcare standards, a group that constitutes the core of China’s rising middle class. This will have a profound impact on certain industries, including the travel and tourism sector, as officials must seek permission to travel abroad, and the luxury goods sector, as officials are discouraged from flaunting their wealth.

5. More ambiguity for Chinese brands abroad

Aside from rejuvenating national pride, Xi also has a grand vision of China’s role on the international stage. In recent years, a slew of Chinese companies have ventured abroad, enjoying significant freedom to operate globally, unless of course they fall foul of the regime. Wanda Group, HNA, and Anbang Insurance Group are three prime examples whose falls have had great repercussions for their foreign partners. Foreign brands will have to carefully evaluate the risks and rewards of working with big Chinese companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei, and Fosun.

6. Less interest in foreign intellectual property rights

In the proposal to get rid of the presidential term limit, the Party also suggests abandoning “rule of law” to fully embrace “rule by law”. This has profound legal implications for foreign brands that have long suffered from IP infringement in China. The change is likely to make it harder for brands to protect themselves from Chinese copycats.

Source: Jing Daily/campaignasia.com; 9 Mar 2018

F1 unveils first global marketing campaign

With the new Formula One season starting next weekend, the racing brand is hoping to shift brand perceptions and build a new identity centred around its fans.

As it gears up for the 2018 Grand Prix season opener on 25 March, Formula One has launched its first ever global marketing campaign with the aim of challenging the sport’s perceptions by showing “what F1 really feels like” through the eyes of its fans.

The multi-platform campaign, created by Wieden+Kennedy London, kicks off in Melbourne on 16 March with new imagery and a new tagline: ‘Engineered Insanity’.

With a big outdoor push – including in-airport and in-city posters and hand-painted murals – the campaign will roll out across key Grand Prix destinations in China, France, Germany and the USA as the season unfolds.

It will also run on a number of digital and social platforms, with Formula One releasing a 60-second film featuring six superfans across its own social channels today. It hopes the film will “shine a spotlight on the innovation, endurance and elemental nature of the sport” by putting fans at the “visceral heart of the action” – i.e. what it’s like to be behind the wheel.

“If we think about the audience we want to reach, and getting to a new audience, it’s about creating content that’s going to resonate and engage with them on their level,” Formula One’s marketing director, Ellie Norman, tells Marketing Week.

“So there will be lots of animated gifs, short video formats that we’ll be pushing out to give people a feel for the campaign, and then they can hopefully discover the longer format on our pages and social channels or website.”

In the short-term, Formula One will be tracking engagement, video views, reach and re-sharing. Longer term, Norman says that will be measured against its core brand statements: increase interest, better knowledge and deeper engagement with F1 as a sport.


It fits in with Formula One’s long-term strategy to shift brand perception and build a new identity centred around its fans.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Mobile World Congress last month, Norman said: “Previously, we definitely had a logo but we didn’t have an identity. What we did have was a series of perceptions that we are working hard to change.

“For us this is a real step-change from the sport as it was in the past, which fans definitely felt wasn’t there to serve them. Every decision we are making is about how it serves the fan, so if it doesn’t serve the fan, it doesn’t serve Formula One.”

Last month Formula One announced its biggest investment in digital to date with the launch of F1 TV, an over-the-top live subscription service that will allow fans to watch ad-free live streams of each race, while on-board cameras will show live content from the driver’s point of view.

Over the next year, Formula One also plans on creating further fan-centred activations at the races, at fan festivals and across its social platforms.

Source: marketingweek.com; 16 Mar 2018

Google introduces AdSense Auto Ads

Google is bringing more AI into its ad business with the introduction of a new ad unit for AdSense. The new release aims to use the power of machine learning to try and optimise ad placement.

The new Auto Ads uses machine learning to “read” webpages and work out what the most appropriate places to put ads might be, and how many ads should be run. Publishers can activate the feature by adding a single line of code to their pages.

The service first appeared in a quiet, limited beta in in the second quarter of 2017. Google claims that publishers taking part in the beta saw an average revenue lift of 10%, and revenue increases ranging from 5% to 15%.

Benefits

AdSense is already a fairly automated service, but so far it has been up to web publishers where they want ads to be placed. Google has then selected the ads based on analysis of the page that matches the content to relevant ads.

The service is incredibly important to Google’s parent Alphabet, accounting for a whopping $27 billion of its $32 billion ad revenue in Q4 2017.

Auto Ads takes the responsibility for ad placement away from web publishers. Google claims that the service will only show ads when they are likely to perform well and provide a good user experience. The use of AI to work out where to place ads based on how they are likely to perform is an interesting development.

AI will also estimate how many ads should be on your page to increase revenue. Whether this leads to web publishers logging on to site to find it filled with ads. This post seems to indicate to that some beta testers were not exactly elated at the number of ads that appeared on their sites. It will be interesting to see if the AI can balance revenue with user experience.

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 22 Feb 2018

Microsoft launches Custom Vision and Bing Entity Search

A series of AI offerings from Microsoft target advertisers beginning digital transformations

Microsoft launches Custom Vision and Bing Entity Search

With Amazon, Google, and IBM as competitors in cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI), Microsoft is moving to triple down on what it sees as its strengths.

The company has announced advances in several tools that fall under a ‘Cognitive Services’ rubric, including Custom Vision Service, the Face API, and Bing Entity Search.

In a company blog post, Joseph Sirosh, corporate VP of AI at Microsoft, said that Cognitive Services are defined as “a collection of cloud-hosted APIs that let developers easily add AI capabilities for vision, speech, language, knowledge and search into applications, across devices and platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows.”

The purpose of the announcement is to extend reach, offering these tools to data scientists, developers, and advertisers interested to delve into AI with an existing Microsoft ecosystem. Businesses interested in introducing intuitive digital business models need not engage in myriad testing phases in order to find the best fit AI, and can instead rely on Cognitive Services, according to the company.

Custom Vision Service, which has moved from free preview to paid preview, allows advertisers to train a classifier with their own data, while exporting their own models in order to embed them into active applications, testing them in real time regardless of device operating systems.

A functionality that is well known to anyone using Facebook or Snapchat or an Android or iOS device, the Face API helps identify specific people, allowing developers working with advertisers with legacy systems around Microsoft to create groups of facial datasets in the millions.

Microsoft says that unlike existing variations, the Face API is scalable and not limited to a handful of faces.

Also available now is the Bing Entity Search API, which allows advertisers to embed search results from Bing into any application, going so far as retrieving results within an image or a site. Utilizing latent semantic indexing, the API can offer advertisers context on people, places, things, and local businesses, including TV shows, games, books, and movies.

“A social media app could augment users’ photos with information about the locations of each photo,” said Sirosh. “A news app could provide entity snapshots for entities in the article.”

Advertisers can include location information in photos that appear in social media stories as well.

Source; campaignasia.com; 5 Mar 2018

Reliance Big TV offer: 500 channels free for 5 yrs, HD ones for 1 year

The effectively free offer on Reliance Big TV DTH is valid starting today, March 1, 2018

Anil Ambani-owned direct-to-home service provider Reliance Big TV is now offering free access to up to 500 channels at a zero effective cost, along with one year of free subscription to premium channels.

To avail of the Reliance Big TV set-top box at effectively zero cost, you need to book the DTH from the company’s official portal by paying a booking amount of Rs 499. Another sum of Rs 1,500 needs to be paid once the DTH is delivered, for installation and other services.

However, the total sum of Rs 2,000 is refundable after successful completion of three years in the form of recharge.

According to terms and conditions of the offer, you need to do a monthly recharge of Rs 300 from second year onwards for two consecutive years. At the end of three years, the company would refund a sum of Rs 2,000 in the form of recharge.

The offer comes bundled with free access to up to 500 free-to-air channels for five years and one year of free subscription to paid channels.

“Today, Reliance Big TV is going to mark the beginning of a new dawn in the way Indians have been accessing entertainment on their TV sets. Starting from today, entertainment comes effectively free of cost, with the latest offer by Reliance Big TV. Now every Indian household can enjoy home entertainment & students can have free of cost access to education content with HD HEVC set Top box,” said Vijender Singh, Director, Reliance Big TV in a statement.

Source: business-standard.com; 1 Mar 2018

CES a Reminder of How Far TV Tech Has Come

As the industry gears up to attend CES this week in Las Vegas, I’m reminded of an invention that enthralled the conference 20 years ago: Web TV. The device promised a new era of entertainment, where television and the internet would converge to give consumers the best of both. They could channel surf and web surf, all while sitting in the comfort of their living room.

But despite the promise of a new, interactive entertainment experience and technology that was state of the art for its time, Web TV never really took off. The hardware was clunky—imagine the old low-definition TV’s of the past, sitting on a set-top box with a keyboard and a modem. The software was slow and hard to navigate. And though there were great things to watch on television, there wasn’t much to do online; no one really wanted to check their email on their TV.

Web TV never really took off, but 20 years later, we’re finally fulfilling the vision of bringing hardware, software and fantastic content together to create an unrivalled living room experience.

Start with the hardware. The latest TV’s are as thin as picture frames and look like art, with high-end displays that render the world into sharp, brilliant relief. They’re also smart from the start, internet-enabled and able to connect wirelessly to your home network. Connected TV sales have grown ten percent in just the last year. If your TV isn’t connected, set-top boxes like Roku, smart sticks like Chromecast, and gaming consoles like XBox One X can unlock incredible libraries of entertainment on nearly any TV. And the latest smart speakers from Google and Apple let you ditch the remote entirely and navigate with the sound of your voice.

As for software, it’s now as important as hardware. TV apps can give you features and experiences you could have never dreamed of before. At YouTube, we’ve worked hard to build an experience that works on every screen. When YouTube first launched, it was something you only watched at work or on your computer; now it’s second nature for people to watch it on their phones or in their living rooms. In fact, TV is actually our fastest-growing screen at 70% year-over-year. Two out of three YouTube users say they watch YouTube on a TV screen, and watch time of YouTube on living room devices now tops over 100 million hours per day.

And that leads to the third point—online video has exploded, creating a golden age of content we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago. Today, you can seamlessly switch from watching live sports on a national network, to the latest Netflix original series, to your favourite music video, to doing Yoga with Adriene—a YouTube yogi with nearly 3 million subscribers. All that choice can be daunting, but recommendation algorithms are getting better and better at surfacing content you’ll want to watch—over 70 percent of time people spend watching YouTube is driven by our recommendations.

These developments have all led us to a watershed moment, fully realizing the potential of what an internet-enabled TV experience can be. But it also frees us up to push past this moment and unleash a new wave of TV innovation. It means we can embrace new formats like 4K and HDR video because platforms like YouTube have so much of that content to enjoy. It means we can create more social experiences, whether connecting fans with their favourite stars through comments, posts or live chats; or connecting them to each other through cowatching experiences that allow people in different places to enjoy the same content at the same time.
And with new over-the-top services like YouTube TV, Sling TV and DirecTV Now, we can undergo the biggest change of all: enjoying live TV without the commitments that come with cable. Cable TV revolutionized the television experience, breaking us out of a three-channel world and ushering us into a golden age for the medium. But today consumers can finally get everything they love about TV, without the fees and annual contracts that come with cable.

In fact, they can get even more. YouTube TV offers unparalleled features and powerful experiences that aren’t constrained by the cable box, like an unlimited cloud DVR, personalized recommendations and an experience that works just as well on any screen. It’s no wonder cord-cutting grew by 11 percent over the last year and is expected to jump even higher next year.

When we at YouTube think about the future of TV, this is what we see—a future marked by greater choice, better quality content, smarter recommendations, more social experiences and fewer commitments. As I head to Vegas for CES this year, I’m betting it won’t take another 20 years.

The author, Neal Mohan is the chief product officer at YouTube.

Source: variety.com; 7 Jan 2018