​The Britton Digital Update—Week of February 19, 2018

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

Want to listen to the Digital Update instead? Here’s the extended podcast (on SoundCloud) version. You can also subscribe through iTunes.  

When I was younger, there was no such thing as a selfie. I mean, we had pictures of ourselves, but we just asked someone nearby to take the picture. Yes, we may have tried to turn the camera around to take a picture, but there was no instant gratification to see how good the shot was. You had to bring the film to the drugstore to have it developed. It took a week just to see if the picture came out. There were no digital cameras. And, amazingly, we survived without selfies.

These days, you might take 25 “selfies” just to get the right angle with the right light so you can apply the right filter and make it look even better. Many of us post-forty-year-olds ask: At what point has this selfie thing gone too far?

Ripples is the point of “gone too far.” Ripples is a new type of coffee maker that can turn your coffee froth into art. And yes, that includes selfie art. How does it work? According to Forbes, it is “an internet-connected, WiFi-enabled device that takes any image or message from a computer file and ‘prints’ it out on top of coffee froth with coffee extracts.” Upload a vacation pic, it’s on your coffee. Upload a selfie, it’s on your coffee. Each user can download a mobile app and upload his or her favorite pic.

I’ll admit that it could be cool to offer coffee brewed by a Ripple Maker at your next dinner party and impress your friends. A selfie on your coffee could also solve the problem of someone else grabbing your drink at the coffee shop. However, it’s $1,000 for the device and at least another $85 per month for the coffee extracts to make the latte art. (I’m guessing that’s not a big deal if you are willing to pay the $1,000 for the device).

Luckily, there is no need to make that $1,000 decision right now, since it is not available for private parties yet. It is currently only sold commercially. There doesn’t appear to be a shortage of customers willing to pay a thousand dollars, though. Some airlines are using them in lounges, and some high-end coffee shops in large cities are offering up selfie-topped beverages as well.

I’m all for technology (it’s kind of an important trait when you write a weekly column on digital news). But outside of Alexa-enabling my coffee maker so I can brew my coffee by voice command, I’m pretty good with “old-school” brewing methods.

Please note that this is where I would insert something witty and say that we are “brewing up” the latest digital, retail, social media, and marketing news. And maybe that this week’s update is more rewarding than the Starbucks app. However, that would probably just lead you to suggest that I just get back to the daily grind and serve it up. So here we go!

Visual Communication

A quick Google search shows that Google performs more than 100 billion searches each month (and that data was collected in 2015). While 600 million visual searches on Pinterest pales in comparison to Google, it’s a pretty impressive number nonetheless. It was just a year ago that Pinterest officially released its Lens feature. Lens is a new way to discover new content and products, and it's something of which brands should take note.

How does it work? According to Pinterest, “Lens lets you discover ideas inspired by anything you point your Pinterest camera at.” You can point the camera at an ingredient to find recipes that use that ingredient. You can search for items similar to a favorite sweater worn by a coworker. And it‘s pretty accurate.

Pinterest reports that the most searched for items include tattoos, nails, and sunglasses along with cats, wedding dresses, and natural hair. The top categories searched include fashion, home decor, art, and food. Pinterest also announced plans to add context to visual searches with text in the iOS app. According to Venture Beat, the new feature “gives people the ability to pair a search term like ‘winter fashion’ or ‘date night’ with a picture of a particular item of clothing.”

With keyword and visual discoverability, it‘s an opportunity for your brand to be found. How can you take advantage of the feature? Be sure to place your products on Pinterest boards. Not having them there means you have zero chance of being found through a visual search. Since “93% of active pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases,” it is probably worth setting aside the time to do it. And don’t forget that text search is pretty huge on Pinterest, so it‘s also a good idea to review board and pin titles and descriptions to make sure they are keyword and search friendly, too.

Marketing Through a Different Lens

Snapchat Lens features are a bit different from their Pinterest counterparts. A Snapchat Lens uses augmented reality and face mapping to add an interactive filter or mask to your picture. Recently, Snapchat opened its Lens Studio to everyone. It created 150 pre-made face-Lens templates to purchase on a limited basis for your event such as a birthday party or wedding. Much like its popular custom geofilters, Snapchat sets pricing based on the length of time and location for which the filter is made available (with a minimum spend of $9.99).

It is just one way that Snapchat is driving revenue. Another, like Pinterest, involves commerce. A few weeks ago, Snapchat opened its first in-app e-commerce store, offering up plush dancing hot dogs (a character made famous by the app) along with Snap logo gear. It gave users and brands a peek at what was possible within the platform.

The idea of commerce within Snapchat took a major leap forward this past week when Nike created a special geofenced lens over the NBA All-Star game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Not only could fans access a special 3D lens commemorating a famous dunk by Michael Jordan while at the game, but thousands of fans attended an after-game Nike party, where they were able to scan exclusive Snap codes (Snap codes are like QR codes, but for Snapchat). Doing so allowed customers to order the unreleased shoes via the Snapchat app and receive the shoes by 10:30 p.m. that same night. Everyone else will have to wait until the shoe release March 24th.

The promotion was a big hit. All of the shoes sold out in 23 minutes! Of course, that could be a little PR magic as Michael Jordan’s jersey number was—you guessed it—23. Besides selling out of the product and generating some social media conversation and amplification, it also showcased the commerce potential of Snapchat. It could be a pivotal moment for Snap as it tries to turn the tide (after Instagram slowed its momentum) and get back to growing both users and revenue.

Chip Off the Old Ad Blocker

They warned us it was coming. This month, Google released its latest version of Chrome, which now includes a built-in ad blocker. It officially blocks ads that do not meet the Coalition for Better Ads quality standards. AdExchanger reports that there are 12 different kinds of ads that could be blocked by the new addition “including pop-up ads, autoplay video with sound, prestitial ads with and without countdown clocks, large sticky ads, full-screen scroll-overs and flashing animated ads.” Basically, the most annoying of the super-annoying ones.

If more than 7.5% of their page views include a poor ad experience, Google will consider the ads in violation. Publishers (who have known about this change since last June) are given a 30-day grace period to fix their websites before seeing their ads blocked. Only 1% of website publishers are not compliant, according to AdExchanger. It also reports that 42% of the websites that were warned of violations had already fixed the issues prior to the release of the latest Chrome version. This means that the internet user experience (on Chrome) should have already improved. The real question: Has anyone noticed?

#WhatsNew

If anyone tells you they are a social-media expert—they are lying to you (this goes for ninjas and gurus, too). Social media channels change daily. It is darn near impossible to keep up on every social channel. Well, unless you are a digital update blogger. The good news is, I happen to be one, and we’ve kept up to date for you. Here are some of the noteworthy features and tests happening recently.

  • Facebook 3D posts: This is a feature that may not be too interesting now, but could have a long-term impact on Facebook. The social media network is adding 3D posts. Similar to how you can swipe around a 360-degree photo or panoramic image, 3D posts are interactive in that you can move your mouse around to see the object in the post at different angles. At first this will be just a novelty, but as augmented reality and virtual reality become more mainstream over the next few years, this could have a huge impact on commerce within Facebook. That could be why Wayfair is an early adopter.
  • Instagram tests screenshot alerts: Instagram is borrowing (again) from Snapchat and alerting users when a screenshot is taken of their post—which they may not have intended to be shared. This was pretty popular on Snapchat, although it‘s not hard to cheat the system by using a second device to take the picture. This is currently just a test, so we’ll have to wait and see if it is released globally.
  • Snapchat adds Giphy stickers: Snapchat returned the favor to Instagram by stealing one of its recent features. You can now include Giphy animated stickers for added creativity and fun in your snaps. A likely extension of this feature would be to include animated Bitmoji, too. We’ll let you know if that happens.
  • LinkedIn Salary Insights: Ever wonder what the salary of a new job might be? Or if your current salary is on par with similar positions at other companies? LinkedIn recently added Salary Insights to help you determine if a new position is right for you. Employers can provide salary ranges in a job posting, or LinkedIn may add an estimated figure if one is not provided.
  • Facebook adds Lists: Facebook is allowing you to share a post as a list in the hopes that it makes the news feed more personal. It could be a to-do list, a list of places you want to travel, or even a list of birthday presents you hope you receive (in case you need to give hints to friends and family). TechCrunch reports that the feature “appears as a part of the ’What’s on your mind?‘ (status update) box as another option alongside things like Polls, Feeling/Activity, Photo/Video, Check In, GIF, and other items.” The rollout of this feature is happening slowly, so you may not see it yet.

For the rest of the latest news, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode