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Pizza Hut Japan introduces a cat video series and Instagram rolls out Hyperlapse

A video series starring four cats, Instagram launches a time-lapse app and more of the latest digital news.

Japan Unveils Adorable Mock Pizza Hut Run Entirely By Cats

If you’ve ever wondered what four cats operating a miniature Pizza Hut store would look like, you’re in luck. Capitalizing on the internet’s obsession with cats, Pizza Hut Japan takes viewers behind the scenes of a mock Pizza Hut with a handful of short video clips.

Instagram Reveals Stunning Tech behind its New Hyperlapse App

Instagram launched a Hyperlapse app earlier this week and has revealed an inside peak into its technology. Image stabilization technology called Cinema, paired with a precise algorithm, reduces shake and creates fluidity in videos. Currently available to all iPhone and iPad users, and with an Android version rumored to follow, the app is unique in that it allows the creation of time-lapse videos without requiring a steadicam mount.

How Many People See Your Tweets? Twitter Opens its Nifty Analytics Dashboard to Everyone

Previously only available to advertisers and verified accounts, Twitter’s analytics dashboard is openly available for all users with an account more than 14 days old. Users can now access engagement values, impressions, link clicks and more for individual posts, and can use these learnings to optimize their content accordingly. Learn how to use the dashboard here.

Facebook News Feed FYI: Click-baiting

Facebook has announced changes to its News Feed algorithm in an effort to deliver less spam and better content to users. From reducing click-baiting headlines to reinforcing the best way to share links on Facebook, these updates help ensure users are being shown the most interesting content.

Friday5: 2014 Digital Trends Updates

Back in January we reported on five digital trends to look for in 2014 as we dived into the year. Now, the summer of 2014 is coming to an end and we’re moving into the second half of the year. Let’s take a look back at our predictions and see how they’ve evolved since January:

1. Visually Speaking

Visual fluency has been speaking loudly. We mentioned that visuals over words will be a must for brands’ content strategies in the coming year in order to better connect with their fans, and we definitely saw some brands listening.

As mobile usage continues to rise and dominate the digital space, consumers are shifting their communication consumption to short videos, emojis and immersive photography.  Even the simple gestures of mobile such as swipes have become a part of content consumption. The growth of Tinder has led to a series of shopping apps using “glanceable UI.”

Technology has become more sophisticated in how users can communicate and share feelings with one another. New hyped apps like Yo and emoji-only services simplify the process even further and now, music messengers have been added to the mix. We’ve also noticed that brands have been embracing platforms like Tumblr with all its visual glory as a major hub for content-marketing. Instagram’s visually driven platform is also being transformed as a new medium to steer PR crises in real time as noted by New York Magazine.

2. The War for Privacy 

Ironically, the more excited we get about social sharing platforms, the more concerned consumers become about privacy invasion. We mentioned that privacy concerns would become more personally relevant – specifically Snapchat’s data breach and Target’s credit card information breach – and this has become more germane as the year has gone on. Privacy concerns have begun to affect our behavior and impact our morals. People have become hesitant to Google dates – what NY Mag coined “The New Abstinence” – out of respect and are now considering “stalking a crush online” as one of the “Seven Digital Deadly Sins”.

3. YouTube Channels Challenging TV -> YouTube Challenges Traditional Notions of Fame

We noticed that YouTube channels are becoming so influential, especially among younger generations, that we predicted it would start to challenge the power of TV and Hollywood. In April, YouTube invested in traditional ad spending to get the word out about the power behind their “stars,” as reported by AdAge. This inadvertently staked a claim that the notion of “celebrity” is changing entirely, and YouTube is leading the shift. Just last month, Variety commissioned a report which found that YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream celebs among U.S. teens. YouTube of course, isn’t the only online platform changing the way we view celebrities. Instagram is responsible for a new form of teenage celebrity, dubbed “Instafame,” and Vine’s influence continues to grow with their “fan gathering” arm, comprised of some of the most popular Viners in America.

4. e-Sporting 

We highlighted that there was no doubt the gaming industry is reaching new heights, highlighting a very important niche trend we noticed: e-Sporting, or competitive video game competitions where spectatorship viewing was becoming a key attraction. We reported Twitch TV, a site where millions of people watch other people play video games, as a fast rising star. Low and behold, last month, everyone was sure that Google was buying Twitch, which eventually fizzled out but Amazon then moved in and made one of its biggest acquisition to date. Read the full story on Venture Beat.

5. Sensory Perception, The Always-On Consumer 

Nick Bolton of the New York Times discussed a very important topic of how the proliferation of mobile – such as wearable technology and smart watches – will yield smarter sensory mechanics. He envisions that smart technology will become more aware of its surroundings without the user’s input. We’ve seen this trend come to fruition and manifest itself in new ways, including context based advertising – communications that change based on environment, weather and other external factors. L’Oreal even launched the first-ever intelligent vending machine: L’Oreal with enabled color-recognition technology, which detects a color palette in a woman’s outfit by scanning her from head to toe, and expertly suggests eye, lip and nail shades that better fit the color of her clothing and hair.

What trends have you seen change or emerge since the start of the year?

This post was written by Maxine Gurevich and Amanda Kleinberg

Image credit: vancouverfilmschool

Facebook calls out fake news with “Satire” tag and Google rolls out website call conversions

Facebook tests “Satire” tag, Google introduces website call conversions and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Tests ‘Satire’ Tag to Help Users Identify Fake News

Prompted by user feedback, Facebook is testing a “satire” tag to identify fake news sourced from outlets such as The Onion, ClickHole and The Daily Currant. The tag will exist in the Related Articles box and will automatically appear after the user clicks on an article from a satirical website. Tests have reportedly begun a month ago and the feature will likely roll out to other parody news sites in the coming weeks.

Introducing Website Call Conversions

Early this week, Google released website call conversions, a new way of identifying and measuring the success of click-to-call ads. With a unique forwarding number, Google can track the exact keyword and ad that directed the customer to make a call on the website. Likely an effort to increase ad profit, the feature is only available in countries with Google forwarding numbers.

SlideShare Axes Its Freemium Model, Makes ‘Pro’ Features like Analytics Free

SlideShare, the LinkedIn-owned site that allows users to share presentations online, announced they are eliminating the for-pay premium status and making their premium features available to all users. Additionally, SlideShare plans to introduce a new feature monthly, beginning September. Future updates include analytics, profile customization, private uploads and video sharing.

Vine Makes It Easier to Make Vines

Vine’s newest update allows users to import pre-recorded videos and turn them into Vine clips. The iOS update also boasts new editing features including the highly-anticipated preview-and-undo buttons. These changes come as Vine attempts to simplify its user process and engage more novice users who are unfamiliar with the platform.

Friday5: Instagram Rolls Out Ad Tools

It’s not new to see ad content on social media anymore. Nearly every social media channel has some form of ad content; some offer more robust tools than others. Facebook-owned Instagram—which first introduced ads about a year ago—has recently made a push to strengthen its offerings to advertisers by rolling out new dashboard with analytics. Let’s take a look at what Instagram’s new ad dashboard has to offer:

1. Account Insights

The ad dashboard can provide similar metrics as Instagram’s parent, Facebook. Advertisers can now track an account’s impressions, reach and engagement. In addition to these typically standard metrics on social media, the Account Insight page provides insight on the best time and day to post content. Prior to this update, brands would have to manually track account performance or rely on third parties such as Totem or IconoSquare—formerly known as Statigram—which had accuracy concerns.

2. Ad Insights

Taking another piece from Facebook, Instagram now offers an Ad Insights section on their dashboard. Ad Insights allows advertisers specific audience targeting and provides key metrics in order to track the ROI of an Instagram ad campaign. Advertisers can monitor the performance of each ad and campaign to better understand their audience and content performance.

3. Ad Staging

Probably the most interesting part of Instagram’s ad dashboard is the Ad Staging section. This section provides an area for advertisers and creative teams to collaborate on ads and campaigns before they go live. This is a crucial considering the emphasis Instagram—and its audience—puts on creativity and visuals. Teams can work together on the platforms to upload, edit, preview and time out distribution of ad content.

4. Real-Time Data

Instagram’s ad dashboard will provide metrics in real-time, allowing advertisers and community managers key information on how their ads and campaigns are performing. Advertisers will therefore be able to optimize their campaigns in real-time. In the world of ‘right now’ this is an important deliverable for advertisers.

5. Dashboard Timing

Instagram is slowly rolling out the dashboard to advertisers in the “coming weeks and months,” according to Instagram’s blog. From there it will make updates based on feedback and roll it out to more brands and advertisers later in the year—fingers crossed it’s in time for the holiday season. But it appears Instagram is taking things slow so it doesn’t alienate and disrupt the user experience.

Have you used Instagram’s ad dashboard? What are your thoughts on its offerings?

Facebook adds a new reporting feature and Twitter introduces Promoted Video

A new Facebook reporting feature, Promoted Video on Twitter and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Now Tells Advertisers When Ads Lead To Purchases Across Devices

Facebook’s latest announcement regarding a new reporting feature will give advertisers insight into how often ads drive users to purchase the advertised product across different devices. Facebook reports that within 28 days, 32 percent of people who showed interest in mobile Facebook ads transferred to desktop in the US.

Introducing Promoted Video on Twitter

Earlier this year, tests conducted by Twitter found that tweets containing native videos earn better engagement and higher views. Following the recent addition of Twitter Amplify and feedback from users and brands, the platform released Promoted Video in beta this week. Companies are now able to upload and distribute videos and view the content’s success through an analytics service.

LinkedIn details new publishing platform improvements

This week, LinkedIn announced three updates to improve the distribution of new posts on its publishing platform. The improvements include integration with the platform’s feed algorithm, mobile notifications for first degree connections and post inclusion in daily or weekly Pulse emails. LinkedIn remains a strong social competitor, employing an extensive network that allows users to distribute content to their connections and followers.

Create Video Collections on Pinterest with Vevo

Pinterest users can search, save and share more video content with the addition of the new Vevo player. Joining YouTube and Vimeo, the entertainment platform could potentially entice a more diverse audience to engage on Pinterest. In the future, this could mean possible opportunities for Pinterest to profit through advertisements and sponsorships.

Friday5: Pinterest Announces Conversations

Last week, Pinterest unveiled a new way for users to “communicate, collaborate and share with one another,” by launching a new messaging feature called Conversations. With the launch of Conversations, users will be able to keep ongoing discussions on Pinterest around their favorite Pins without having to leave the platform. In this week’s Friday5, we look at what this new feature has to offer.

1. What It Is

Pinterest’s new messaging feature allows Pinners to share discoveries with the people who’d appreciate it the most, plan projects with friends and reach out to people who share their interests. It’s meant for friends or partners to share ideas and make plans around different Pins that interest them. It’s a way for Pinners to share Pinterest content privately with each other.

2. What it isn’t

Unlike Facebook or Twitter’s messaging platforms, Pinterest Conversations is not about messaging or being a communications service. Conversations is about empowering the way people are currently using Pinterest. It’s not necessarily designed to plan events but rather discuss Pinterest content on Pinterest rather than through another medium such as email or another social network.

3. How It Works

When users choose to ”Send a Pin,” they can select to send the Pin to one person or a group of people from a list of contacts that is provided. Once the Pin is sent, the conversation will appear in the lower left-hand corner of the website or tablet app. Mobile users will be treated to a separate screen to view their messages. Exchanged conversations will look similar to those of Facebook’s and will be easily accessible by simply clicking on them and can quickly be shut down by selecting the “X” in the corner. On the desktop version, the conversations will only partially cover the frames behind them, making it easier for Pinners to scroll through and still be able to see the content shared on their feed.

4. Why Did Pinterest Launch Conversations

Last year, Pinterest launched a feature that allowed Pinners to send Pins directly to their friends. This feature exploded with users sending more than two million Pins a day. However, once the Pins were sent, there wasn’t much users could do with the Pins. With Conversations, the hope is to have Pinners continue the conversation within the platform, which can lead to more Pins being shared, and more users engaged.

5. Implications for Clients

Pinterest has directly included Guided Searches into the messaging feature, which will help Pinners to search, discover, and share content that is relevant to their conversations. This may lead to new ways of sharing and collaborating via Pins. Brands that are on Pinterest can now, more than ever, assist their audience with projects such as meal planning, travel ideas, home remodeling and more.

How can your brand utilize Pinterest Conversations?

Image credit: Pinterest

A new video streaming app and Pinterest introduces messaging feature

A new video streaming app, Pinterest introduces messaging and more of the latest digital news.

Remote Control Your Friends with Video App Sup

A new video streaming app called Sup was released this past week from the founders of Yahoo acquisitions Stamped and Milewise. How it works: A user sends a request, and if accepted within five minutes, a silent, live video stream begins between friends. “Supping” is expected to be an interactive experience, as users can direct and watch friends in real-time.

Your Twitter Feed May Soon Be Filled with Accounts You Don’t Follow

Twitter is testing a new feature that displays tweets on users’ timelines from accounts that they don’t follow. The tweets, which include a subtle “follow” button in the bottom corner, are currently available to a select group of Twitter users. Though this feature presents additional monetary opportunities for Twitter, it will likely result in more cluttered feeds.

Pinterest Launches Messaging Feature

Pinterest has introduced a messaging capability so users can collaborate on projects and share pins. In an effort to encourage more conversation within the platform, Pinterest will allow users to share a location or project pin for upcoming trips, and those in the group can respond with a message or additional pins. This messaging feature differs from Facebook’s messenger in that users will not have contact lists following them around on the platform.

Twitter Dropping Hints about Shopping Services

It is very possible that Twitter will be introducing shopping capabilities in the near future. Several users have noticed a “Payments and Shipping” menu option on Twitter’s Android app, and there is no denying that this service has great potential to increase Twitter’s revenue. An official release date has not been announced at this time.

Friday5: Understanding What Planning Is (And What It Isn’t)

Strategic planning has a critical (and growing) role in how we practice digital communications. As a multidimensional discipline, it helps align relevant insights and find specific opportunities for brands. Whilst doing that, it serves as a conduit between creative, the client and the consumer.

Nevertheless, the function and role of planning is not always clear. The question remains: “So what exactly do planners do?” Being a recent arrival to the Planning model, I too initially struggled to understand it, but over time and experience I’ve figured out the basics.

1. Always Planning

Planners divide their time into thinking and doing. They are often thinking and learning more about a recent survey result, current trend or upcoming challenge. Then they put their thoughts and learning into action when they are actively working on a client challenge informed by their accumulated knowledge. Both types of moments are equally important. To be a planner is also to be able to come up with ways to apply original thinking to our work, and being informed and able to use that information is essential. So don’t be surprised if a planner doesn’t have an immediate answer to your question; they will be able (and eager) to figure it out and get back to you.

2. Getting To Know People

Planners are tasked with understanding human behavior. Understanding people’s expectations and if they have been met brings great perspective for planners to define how brands can engage them. Sometimes it could be understanding how a generation behaves online; other times it means engaging in a one-to-one conversation with a more specific audience. In the end, the idea is to be able to fully comprehend how people react – and if that’s a reaction we are looking to stimulate or mitigate. Sometimes, that involves developing personas. Ultimately, planners become the voice of the consumer in the room.

3. Finding an Opportunity

Using several research tools, processes and their own accumulated knowledge, planners compile every bit of information about a subject they were asked to work on, and extract an insight from it. Armed with an insight, planning becomes a process of aligning business objectives and the current cultural scenario information to define a brand’s strategic opportunity in the market. In that sense, planners are responsible for the “Big Idea” that comes from research, and solving a very specific challenge, at a very specific timeframe, with the brand’s long-term narrative in mind.

4. Tracking Progress

The work of planning does not end with the “aha moment.” Once the opportunity is articulated, it is also the planner’s job to brief the creative and account teams on how to use this information to create campaigns that speak to the audience. Later, it becomes their role to verify and reevaluate the effectiveness of that idea, and tweak the strategy as needed, based on people’s reactions. Planning has many forms, but at the heart of it is the need to ensure our communication is meaningful and directed at the right people.

5. What Planning is Not

Planners are tasked with asking the difficult questions, facilitating brainstorms and inspiring breakthrough ideas. Here are what planners are not: researchers, even though they do a lot of research; data analysts, even though they analyze a lot of data; the consumer, even though they represent them in the room. It may be hard to see beyond these misconceptions, but after a while it becomes clear that they don’t do one thing, but many. And considering that all of this takes time, make sure to get the planning team onboard from the start.

How can you partner with a digital planner on your next big project?

Facebook shuts down Gifts service and Instagram rolls out Snapchat rival

Facebook shuts down its Gifts service, a new competitor for Snapchat and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook to Shut Down Gifts Service

Facebook will be shutting down their Gifts program on August 12. This service, originally launched in 2012, allowed users of the social network to purchase presents and gift cards for their friends. Facebook promises to leverage their learnings to identify new ways businesses and developers can help drive web sales.

Instagram Quietly (and Slowly) Launches Snapchat Rival, Bolt

Bolt, Instagram’s new one tap photo messaging service, was officially released on Tuesday. The app is unique in that it allows users to very quickly send messages, as tapping on a contact both takes a photo and sends it at the same time. Although currently only available to users in Singapore, South Africa and New Zealand, a global roll out is expected in the near future. Bolt also has an undo capability in case messages are sent by mistake.

Hangouts Now Work Without Google+ Account

Beginning this week, a Google+ account is no longer required to use Google Hangouts. In a step towards becoming more business-friendly, the tech giant will also add the Hangouts capability to Google Apps for Business and partner with other companies in providing access to the service. The update is now available on the web, and mobile availability will soon follow.

Pinterest is courting an audience of professional designers with its latest acquisition

Social bulletin board Pinterest is acquiring Icebergs, a visual organization tool that allows users to add images, videos, websites and notes to groups and projects. The move is a step towards Pinterest’s overarching goal to guide users to specific interests that are relevant to their personal and professional lives. Other new features from Pinterest this year include a guided search function and the ability for users to follow interest-based category pages.

Friday5: Takeaways from #AdweekChat

If only we could know the future direction of social media with certainty. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know for sure, which was why Adweek brought together a panel of guest experts, as well as hundreds of social media professionals, for its first #AdweekChat this past Wednesday. Our own David Armano joined as a guest expert to discuss the topic: “How are social networks evolving?” We asked David about his takeaways in this week’s Friday5:

1. Did any major themes surface throughout the chat?

One overarching theme that bubbled up was the idea that some social networks are growing up, or evolving, into media, while others are becoming social engines.

Social networks that are becoming media are stream-focused, more integrated networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Whereas a social engine is a service that feels less like a place where consumers are spending time. More often, these networks are appearing, or integrating, themselves into other networks. Foursquare (including Swarm) is an example as well as Google+, which, despite significantly less traffic, has continued to rank highly in Google’s search ecosystem.

2. You described mobile plus social as the “peanut butter and jelly” of the digital era. What did you mean by that?

Like peanut butter and jelly, they’re more powerful together. Using social networks on the go is far more natural a behavior than using Facebook or Twitter while tethered to a desk. You’re able to share and see what’s going on in your life while you’re out there living it. Life doesn’t happen on a desktop. In addition, nearly all platforms have some type of newsfeed, which users can skim and check multiple times per day in between shareable moments. Mobile is simply a behavior that’s allowing social to fulfill its original promise.

3. You said SlideShare was the “Facebook of B2B marketing.” What other networks should we be paying attention to?

LinkedIn works really hard in the B2B context, especially on the publishing side of the house. Their long-form content is getting shared rapidly throughout the professional community on the network. Similarly, Medium has an elegant mobile experience and the ability to reach specialized audiences. On that note, Tumblr is one of the best networks for reaching creative niche audiences like photographers.

4. You also said that Snapchat risks becoming a commodity. Is Snapchat here to stay?

It’s got impressive numbers and certainly brands are beginning to experiment with it. But I think the demographic is a fickle one: if you’re on Snapchat and your friends start to use something else, you’re not going to stay on Snapchat. Obviously, you could say that about any network, but Snapchat operates on a different social scale than most. It’s operating largely in a one-on-one context with a much smaller social circle. You probably wouldn’t Snap all of your Facebook friends, for example. In that sense, I think it’s in competition with rising, text-like networks, such as Whatsapp.

5. This was the first Adweek Twitter Chat. Why did you do it and what did you think?

I know David Greiner who works for Adweek and I trust his judgment. When he invited me, it seemed like an interesting topic, plus they invited other great minds like B. Bonin Bough and Shannon Paul, who I also know personally. It’s encouraging that after seven years of Twitter, the medium can still attract a high volume of participation and thinking.

What did you take away from #AdweekChat?

This post was co-authored by Chris Rooney and David Armano.

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