Hey, Google “Did Alexa kill CES as we knew it?”

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Look closely. You will see in this image the epitome of CES 2018. Amazon Alexa, well positioned on the floor with a full year plus of partnerships and integration including CES 2017 where they dominated the strip, floor and discussion. Google, represented here (left, inside the booth), boxed in and relevant only to those who know where to look for it made incredible efforts to be recognized and part of the conversation at CES 2018. They succeeded as voice became the #1 topic at nearly all meetings and cocktail hours. Despite the showing, Alexa integrations and branding was on display 3 to 1.

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Barking “Hey, Google “and “Alexa…” make not a CES. As I reflected on my annual drive back from Vegas, a trip I have been doing for 17 years, I realized the difference between then and now comes down to the value the products are bringing to consumers.

 

THEN:  Back then (and up until about 3-4 years ago), CES was where new, verticalforming innovation debuted, and where products that made us more productive where recognized. (VCR, CD player, flat panel tv, gaming, IP TV)

 

What’s interesting to me here is that, in between each of these innovations, we found a period of time where the vertical was evolving and refining. Flat panel TVs were over $10,000 when they first came out and now you can buy them at Costco for $400.

 

So, where are we right now? Well, I think it is safe to say that 2018 was a year of convenience rather than transformation.

Convenience is what happens when the value proposition is not based on newness or major leaps forward but rather on evolution of the customer experience.

 

Hey, Google… Ask Alexa what is CES?

2017: CES: Consumer Electronics Show

2018: CES: Customer Experience Show

 

Products that were not part of the consumer electronics category before are, by nature of adding sensors or voice assistants, smart and now part of the conversation. The low(ish) cost to add tech to products means an onslaught of newcomers to CES which in-turn pushes the already crowded market into the streets, literally. App makers and artificial intelligence SAAS providers took over restaurants for the week and managed to create buzz alongside their clients, the manufacturers. If you didn’t already see it, a beauty company made quite the splash at CES this year.

 

Thursday morning, after several days of meetings, walking the floor, and demonstration after demonstration, I joined about 100 game changers at the Future Proof event co-hosted by MemBrain and Wunderman (Thank you to Jennifer Sullivan for the invitation). As attendees barely had their first sip of coffee, Cheddar Founder Jon Steinberg wasted no time and started off by posing a profound question about salience. While getting to a different question, Jon addressed the open room asking ‘in a world where 80% of a brand/product’s marketing dollars are spent on Facebook and Google, have we tipped over into a duopoly where a product has limited access to find saliency’? 

 

Just 12 hours later, Facebook made what could prove to be the most important announcement on this topic, addressing the way their algorithm promotes a brand or publisher’s quest for saliency in our personal news feed. This move will bring Facebook closer to its roots and create opportunities for brands and publishers to uncover new angles and platforms in the quest for saliency. Consumers have grown to become addicted to checking facebook (and other apps) enabling a behavior across demographics that is promoting data/information consumption at all times.

 

This attention to the word saliency really struck a chord and the irony was not lost on me as we sat in this room at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) marking for many the end of a long-product development cycle. The efforts of the makers transfers to the marketers and here we were, talking about how challenging it is to find prominence on a social platform against headwinds of record breaking exhibitors and attendees fighting for a moment of their target audiences’ attention. Now put yourself in the shoes of the connected consumer, bombarded by content, clips and facts. 

 

For a second year in a row, I heard, “it all looks the same” and “there is not anything new”. As I commented last year, the innovation is not on the surface friends. We are entering a time where the show looks the same but what you see is not what’s new.

 

The ultimate challenge is to demonstrate the value within to the target customer and that challenge requires understanding and empathy and to do so with clarity. Too many “compatible with” statements may sound great, but the consumer experience gets cluttered and confusing pretty quick.

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The new value of customer experience is predicated on our ability to provide and extract data. That’s scary, right? No, it’s only scary to give over data when you are not getting value back. In a world where time is perceived to be the ultimate currency, convenience is the ultimate value.

 

Amazon and Google have a major role in the future of CES and, frankly, a responsibility to give back to the product makers who have embraced them and put them front and center on the floor. Long-live the spirit of innovation and the future of CES as the expo focused on convenience, experience AND innovation. Change is a good thing and I am excited to see how CES evolves again next year.

Prediction: AR with informed interaction
becomes the key driver to upgrade our phones (and glasses)

CNET captured a great list of notables worthy of sharing here: https://www.cnet.com/pictures/all-the-cool-new-gadgets-at-ces-2018/

Now, a few of my highlights where customer experience created value and where products inspired as seen by @DOTLOT and @THEBUDDYGROUP

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Western Digital and SanDisk have cracked the code for backing up images and videos from your phone or device while on the go, a feature that has become synonymous with the connected consumer, prosumer and mom-a-ratzi.

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@SharperImage is a favorite of mine. I can’t seem to walk through an airport without stopping and spending 20 minutes trying the latest gadgets. Be on the lookout for this smart roller complete with vibration mode. I may have cried a bit while trying this out.

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Yamaha showed off a self correcting motorcycle concept that not only looked amazing, promised to allow you to get to your destination safely.

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The most talked about item at CES this year, the folding machine powered by AI and controlled by voice.

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Want this guy teaching your kid? Someone invested a lot of money to prepare for that to be a reality.

Finally, having worked with Moverio (EPSON) for years, I had to check out Vuzix Blade in person. Where Moverio’s presence was primarily focused on the use of the glasses to maximize the drone flight experience, Vuzix integration of Alexa made the proposition of smart glasses interesting but proof is in the…frames. I am encouraged by Vuzix and hopeful others in the category step up their game to enable unique use cases and provide value to a market hungry for a new way to learn, engage and share.

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I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank may amazing team for all the great efforts to launch @DOTLOT at CES this year. DOTLOT is the only content company engineered for products that evolve. The response has been overwhelming and we are excited to help companies connect the dots between their products and people. www.dotlot.com and jeff@dotlot.com for more information.

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@ces with the team talking connected content

Today, The Buddy Group officially announced the evolution of DOTLOT- the first content company engineered for products that evolve.

I look forward to seeing my team thrive this week as they talk to current and future clients about the refined and innovative approach to educational and marketing content creation, distribution and measurement.

Spinning out DOTLOT allows the Buddy Group to stay focused on helping Brands “Be the Exception” while DOTLOT focuses on addressing the major challenges products face in today’s connected customer/ product relationship. Look for big announcements this week at CES and over the coming months.

If you are a product owner, manager or marketer, please visit http://www.dotlot.com and contact Jeff@dotlot.com for more details.

Excited to see this grow!

@mybuddypeted

Google Lens is far from perfect. But it’s much much better than Google Goggles ever was!

Google Lens has gone live or is about to on Pixel phones in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, India and Singapore (in English). Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been using it extensively and have had mostly positive results — though not always.

Currently, Lens can read text (e.g., business cards), identify buildings and landmarks (sometimes), provide information on artwork, books and movies (from a poster) and scan barcodes. It can also identify products (much of the time) and capture and keep (in Google Keep) handwritten notes, though it doesn’t turn them into text.

To use Lens, you tap the icon in the lower right of the screen when Google Assistant is invoked. Then you tap the image or object or part of an object you want to scan.

As a barcode scanner, it works nearly every time. In that regard, it’s worthy and a more versatile substitute for Amazon’s app and just as fast or faster in many cases. If there’s no available barcode, it can often correctly identify products from their packaging or labels. It also does very well identifying famous works of art and books.

Google Lens struggled most with buildings and with products that didn’t have any labeling on them. For example (below), it was rather embarrassingly unable to identify an Apple laptop as a computer, and it misidentified Google Home as “aluminum foil.”

When Lens gets it wrong it asks you to let it know. And when it’s uncertain but you affirm its guess, you can get good information.

I tried Lens on numerous well-known buildings in New York, and it was rarely able to identify them. For example, the three buildings below (left to right) are New York City Hall, the World Trade Center and the Oculus transportation hub. (In the first case, if you’re thinking, he tapped the tree and not the building, I took multiple pictures from different angles, and it didn’t get one right.)

I also took lots of pictures of random objects (articles of clothing, shoes, money) and those searches were a bit hit-and-miss, though often, when it missed it was a near-miss.

As these results indicate, Google Lens is far from perfect. But it’s much much better than Google Goggles ever was, and it will improve over time. Google will also add capabilities that expand use cases.

It’s best right now for very specific uses, which Google tries to point out in its blog post. One of the absolute best uses is capturing business cards and turning them into contacts on your phone.

Assuming that Google is committed to Lens and continues investing in it, over time it could become a widely adopted alternative to traditional mobile and voice search. It might eventually also drive considerable mobile commerce.

Amazon Key’s big privacy test is now in your hands

Amazon Key uses the company’s new Cloud Cam security camera, a smart door lock and the new Key app to grant someone temporary access. A delivery person can unlock your front door using his phone, slide in a package, then lock the door again. The idea is to prevent packages from being stolen from the front stoop or have them get soaked in the rain.

https://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-key-launch-privacy-home-deliveries-cloud-cam/?ftag=CAD-03-10aaj8j

Great report on the key factors which lead to optimal video performance on Facebook

Facebook’s research team has published a new report which looks at the key components of the best performing videos on the platform, while also comparing the performance of the same video content across both Facebook and Instagram.

The impetus behind the research is obvious – Facebook offers a video ad option called ‘Placement Optimization’, which enables advertisers to reach people within their target audience across both Facebook and Instagram. But if video content optimized for Facebook doesn’t work as well on Instagram, the option might not prove beneficial, right?

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media Today

Placement Optimization will show your ads across Facebook’s platforms

To study the potential benefits of cross-platform video usage, Facebook worked with MetrixLab to first analyze 68 video campaigns in order to determine the key factors which lead to optimal video performance on Facebook. Of those 68, Facebook found that only 12% of them were considered ‘Outstanding’ performers, with the majority (78%) either ‘Sub-optimal’ or ‘Problematic’.

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media TodayAccording to MetrixLab, the top performers were able to differentiate themselves because they were designed specifically for Facebook, as opposed to being re-purposed TV ads or cross-posted from other platforms.

Based on this, MetrixLab put together a list of four key, Facebook-centric elements which saw video ads perform best on the platform:

1. Incorporate brand identity early (within the first 3 seconds)

2. Show the brand for at least half the video’s duration

3. Make the video as short as it can be and as long as it needs to be

4. Feature the message up-front for those who may not watch the whole video

These tips are fairly generic, and along the same lines as we’ve seen in other Facebook video reports, but given their repeated relevance in such studies, they do bear re-iterating.

When optimizing for Facebook’s feed, you need to consider that viewers will come across your video as they scroll, and with sound off (Facebook is moving to ‘sound on‘ by default, but you should still assume a significant number of viewers won’t have audio when viewing). As such, you need to deliver your messaging, prominently and efficiently, to maximize response.

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media Today

You can see how Red Bull have taken a Facebook-specific approach with their video assets

But as noted, how does that relate to Placement Optimization? If videos optimized specifically for Facebook perform best on the platform, do they also translate to the Instagram environment?

Unsurprisingly, according to MetrixLab’s research, they do:

“MetrixLab tested [80 ads] on both Facebook and Instagram, and found a crucial correlation in performance between the platforms. This means that ads that perform well in one feed will generally perform well in either feed.”

Facebook Releases New Report on Video Performance Across Facebook and Instagram | Social Media TodayThe research also confirmed their findings that videos not specifically optimized for Facebook performed poorly on both Facebook and Instagram, while feed-optimized videos also performed comparably similar across key performance metrics on both platforms.

But as noted, you’d expect Facebook-commissioned research to support the case for their ad products – otherwise, why would they make them?

And while the insights here are focused on paid ads, it’s interesting to consider the implications for video on each platform in general, that video optimized for Facebook will likely work well on Instagram. Both are feed-based systems, of course, so the correlation makes practical sense, but in order to maximize your social media marketing performance, it’s important to optimize for each platform, rather than cross-posting, so it’s not always the case that one format will work on another network.

The other – and arguably most important – element in this process is audience, and focusing your messaging on the right audience and strategic objectives for each platform, but still, there are some key considerations here for video creators, and important notes on optimizing your content.

In short, what works best for Facebook video likely works well on Instagram also, which may provide expanded opportunities for your video efforts.

You can read the full Facebook cross-platform creative report here.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/facebook-releases-new-report-video-performance-across-facebook-and-instagram

This Is Exactly Why You Should Be Terrified About Amazon

What many people miss is that Amazon isn’t just experimenting internally with new platforms like Alexa, Kindle, Flex, Marketplaces, and dozens of others. The key here is that each of those platforms then empowers an economy of producers to create millions of experiments. In so doing, Amazon passes the cost of experimentation on to producers, receives income for each experiment, and then doubles down on the blockbusters by creating their own competing brand. It’s a brutally effective strategy.

Read the full post by Jon Bond here

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/exactly-why-you-should-terrified-amazon-jon-bond

30 Million households will have a voice-first, in-home device by the end of December! @thebuddygroup

@thebuddygroup is working to help product managers and marketers harness the connected consumer’s varied and evolving onramps to brand engagement.

According to a new report by Narvar, “Bots, Texts and Voice: What Cuts Through the Clutter,” describing how shoppers’ communications preferences are changing with the rise of smartphones, chatbots and voice devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Over two-thirds of shoppers have interacted with retailers using text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 65% of shoppers who’ve knowingly used a chatbot, enjoy the experience.

Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar, says “…technology innovation complicates what we already know… that customer communications are never one-size-fit-all… with this research, our mission is to equip retailers with the insights they need to navigate nuanced communications and ultimately create the best experiences possible…”

77% of American adults own a smartphone; every month, people exchange 2 billion messages with Facebook Messenger’s 100,000 active bots; and 30 million households will have a voice-first, in-home device such as Amazon Echo and Google Home by the end of 2017. These technology-driven communication channels are starting to change the way people want to interact with retailers. While more than 80% prefer to get messages from retailers via email, 38% now want to hear from retailers on multiple channels. According to the survey, 79% of shoppers have also used text messages, messenger apps or voice devices to connect with retailers.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail industry analyst who collaborated with Narvar on this study, says “… retail brands should seize the opportunity to learn from, and optimize consumer communications, through both existing and emerging channels. The first step is to understand how their customers want to communicate based on elements like urgency, type of message and specific channel… ”

While shoppers typically prefer to receive messages from retailers via email, they’re warming up to text messages and push notifications, says the report. This is especially true if a message is important and contains order confirmation or tracking information. They also want companies to communicate package delays or postponed delivery dates, quickly, and want more communication for high-value items.

  • 73% of shoppers consider messages containing order tracking information to be “very important,” while 46% say customer service messages are “very important”
  • 84% say more communication is critical if the purchase is an expensive one
  • 98% of shoppers say they feel better about a company if they are notified immediately when something goes wrong.

While email still reigns overall, communication preferences vary by age group, says the report. Millennials aged 21-29 prefer text messages and mobile push notifications from retailers more than any other generation, because they’re more likely to see these kinds of messages quickly.

  • 43% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as text messages, compared with 39% of shoppers aged 30-44, 32% of shoppers aged 45-59, and 28% of those shoppers 60 or older
  • 33% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to receive order updates as push notifications, compared with 22% of those aged 30-44, 12% of those aged 45-59, and just 4% of those 60 or older

Retailers are starting to integrate artificial intelligence and voice technology into communications with shoppers. While these channels are still new, the majority of shoppers have at least tried messenger apps, voice devices or live chat. The data underscores that shoppers anticipate using voice-powered devices more.

  • 79% of shoppers have used text, messenger apps, or voice devices, and 74% indicated they have used live chat when shopping. Of those who have used these new technologies, 38% could not identify if they were using artificial intelligence, and only 10% knew it was not human
  • 65% of shoppers who knew a non-human bot was responding generally liked it
  • 29% of voice device owners use it to shop, while 41% of voice device owners plan to shop with it in the future.

The majority of shoppers will try to resolve problems on their own, says the report. Those under 30 are most likely to prefer to fix problems themselves, using the retailer’s website or chat technology. In the future, retailers will need to adopt a hybrid model which applies technology to offer better self-service options, but escalates higher-level issues to humans.

  • 55% of millennials aged 21-29 prefer to talk to a person to resolve a problem, compared with 72% of shoppers aged 60 or older
  • 88% of under-30 millennials and 73% of shoppers aged 60 or older will try to find an answer to the problem themselves when they encounter an issue with a retailer

The complete report detailing the findings of the study is available online at Narvar.com

by  , Staff Writer @mp_research, Yesterday