Meet Tes: Westworld’s Mysterious Chatbot, Personality Test And Loyalty Program

Westworld‘s second season promises viewers further exploration into the questions raised by the first, and its marketing activations have kept to the same promise. Sending out an email invitation to “recent visitors” to the park, HBO is launching another, even more mysterious Facebook Messenger chatbot, named Tes.

“You’ve been selected to join Westworld Elite Status—a one-of-a-kind program available exclusively to our most loyal park guests,” Tes says as she opens the conversation.

But, this being Westworld, there’s more to it than there seems at the surface. Tes is HBO’s second chatbot to promote its sci-fi western series—its first bot, Aeden, was nominated for a Shorty Award last year.

But where the previous chatbot acted as a concierge for the park, guiding users to visit the Westworld website, Tes has longer-reaching goals. After posing a series of philosophical questions and ethical dilemmas (and “glitching,” as the show’s robots are wont to do), the bot assigns its conversation partner to one of four different “zones” based on their answers.

“Ruby Guests know what they want and have the strength to take it. They make choices in the blink of an eye, understanding that nothing is worse than indecision. With Ruby access, the whole world is yours to conquer,” Tes states for users who responded to questions decisively. “I think you and I are going to get along great, Will. Your power and lack of scruple could be of great service.”

Once a user is assigned to a “zone,” that’s the end of the interaction; no further attempts at conversion required. Tes drops a quote in Latin from Virgil’s Aeneid that Reddit users are already hard at work unpacking.

In addition to tapping into the “sorting hat” process that helped make Pottermore and legions of Buzzfeed quizzes so popular, the chatbot promises to keep users in the loop with content and activities designed specifically for them, turning the exercise into a bizarre form of meta-fictional loyalty program.

“Now that you’re an Elite Status member, you’ll hear from me every week with exclusive offers, activities, and updates available only to Ruby guests,” Tes states. “You have no idea what’s in store.”

IAB Report: 70 Million US Households Will Own Smart Speakers By 2022

As voice recognition and speech software becomes more impressive, marketers are starting to wonder if they should enter the field themselves, and if so, how. Fortunately, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has just released a substantive guide on the subject, giving the curious and unsure a look at what voice means for them now, and what it will mean in the future.

“This evolution of technology is unique because it’s not only introducing new devices and software, but it is also bringing on the mass adoption of a new interface for interacting with devices,” the IAB voice report, titled “Implications of Voice for Marketing Purposes,” reads. “For many consumers, this is the first time they are using their own voice to command a device and the first time they are hearing devices respond in a very human sounding way.”

Many of these first-time consumers are getting hooked on phonemes. According to the IAB voice report, 18 percent of Americans currently use voice assistants, either through smart speakers or their smartphones, and of those users, 65 percent are unwilling to go without them again.

Not only does the IAB predict the number of voice platform users to grow rapidly in the near future, but so too will the amount of time (and money) spent using the technology. The IAB voice report predicts that 70 million US households will own smart speakers by 2022, and there will be over 870 billion voice assistant-enabled devices in the US by the same year. Additionally, the IAB predicts the share of consumer spending transacted through voice assistants to quintuple in the next three years.

“In the future, consumers will get more comfortable with these devices and their actions become more meaningful and have real revenue implications, like making purchases, providing reviews and re-ordering items seamlessly,” the report reads.

But this time and money spent with voice platforms won’t come from nowhere. Thirty-nine percent of smart speaker users are spending less time with traditional radio, 34 percent are looking at their smartphones less frequently, and 30 percent are watching television less often. According to the IAB’s forecasts, the money spent through voice platforms will come primarily at the expense of physical retailers, whose share of customer spending will drop from 59 percent to 45 percent as a result of voice platforms’ meteoric growth.

“One of the reasons people shop in stores is because you can interact, ask question and get advice. Consumers will shift their behavior to shop at home if they can have a similar or better interactive experience.” Mark Paul Taylor, chief experience officer of Capgemini.

Even as the IAB stresses the importance for brands to develop their voice strategies quickly, it warns that the limited number of platforms necessitates a different approach than convention may suggest.

“Brands are at risk of being marginalized in a voice driven world, so brand marketing may matter even more. Asking Alexa to order you batteries will result in Amazon simply fulfilling your request with their brand of batteries, but the brands who continue to invest in differentiation and brand identity will inspire consumers to ask for them directly,” said Bryan Moffett, chief operating officer of National Public Media.

Overall, marketers should use caution when designing their own approaches to voice-based marketing. Because the technology is so nascent, number of users of an Alexa skill or Google Home feature may not fully reflect how well an activation is fuctioning.

“Usage is an important KPI for us—where do people finish in the journey? Do they learn a certain number of whisky facts? It’s important to establish these KPIs at the beginning, combined with a very clear consumer purpose, to make sure you’re building the right engagement points for the right outcome,” said Jefferson Kohler, brand manager for Diageo.

No matter how voice platforms will change the field, the IAB voice report holds one marketing truism to persist, that in order to be effective, an activation needs to be integrated.

“Similar to the early days with the app ecosystem, ‘gimmicky’ apps that appear to serve little purpose will clutter the environment,” stated Donnie Williams, chief digital officer for Horizon Media.

A Skylight Company Is Behind A Cautionary Viral Video About Modern Life

Daylight is a necessity, not a luxury—that’s the message behind skylight brand Velux’s new campaign, “The Indoor Generation.”

The cautionary video warns of the adverse effects of depriving our bodies of natural light. Narrated by a young girl, she tells a tale of humankind turning their homes into places they’d never want to leave but in shutting themselves out from the sun, they created problems ranging from depression to allergies.

Velux claims that 90 percent of our time is spent indoors and that 84 million Americans currently live in damp and moldy conditions. The brand did not cite the source of this information.

“The Indoor Generation” video has gained traction across social media, especially on Facebook, where it currently sits at over 7.1 million views.

To measure user engagement with Velux’s campaign, we calculated the earned media value from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from May 14 to 17.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (a.emvi) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties.

(Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated a.emvi report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

Based on the latest a.emvi rates for social media interactions, Velux’s “Indoor Generation” ad earned a total of $830,387.28 in earned media value. This figure was based on values assigned to views, likes, comments and retweets.

“The Indoor Generation” generated the most earned media value on Facebook with $761,673.37. YouTube also proved effective in reaching audiences, with over 2.4 million video views to date. In its first four days, the ad earned $68,618.41. Instagram and Twitter delivered modest results—less than $100 of earned media combined.

The Velux website offers tips for integrating sunlight and fresh air into a daily routine. Although the brand does not cite the sources of its grim statistics, the ad appears to have had a strong impact on audiences, especially on Facebook who shared the PSA over 600 times.

Instagram Unleashes An Emoji Slider And Twitter Tackles Trolls

This week in social media news, Instagram thrives in Japan, Twitter battles trolls and Facebook lets users reminisce over old Stories.

Instagram: Sushi, Sharing And Surveys

Japanese Instagram users cited feeling a growing “sense of belonging” in the community, according to study findings released on Thursday. A 2017 Kantar study commissioned by Facebook IQ found that a majority of respondents check Instagram right before bed. The most popular topics are Fashion and Photography, both at 27 percent.

Users in the region are open to advertising on the platform, Kantar found, stating that some of the interviewed respondents don’t regard an ad as an ad. In addition, 33 percent said Instagram is a suitable advertising medium for any brand and not just those in high-end categories.

Instagram announced the ability to share feed posts inside a Story—even if that post originated from someone else. The new option allows users to insert another Instagram post like a sticker and will automatically credit the original poster. Users can opt out of having their posts shared by others in the settings and the option is only available for public accounts. Feed post sharing is now available for Android devices and will roll out for iOS in the coming days.

Instagram introduced the Emoji Slider, a new way to interact with users by creating polls inside Stories. Users can pose a question to their followers such as “How much do you love pizza?” Users can type any question they like and choose an emoji, which appears on an interactive slider. The emoji animates as users slide it left or right on the scale.

“By choosing an emoji for your question, you also add a layer of emotional context that helps those answering understand your tone and answer accordingly,” Instagram said in the announcement.

Twitter: Don’t Feed The Trolls

On Wednesday, Twitter announced its “new approach” to battle abuse on the platform, integrating new behavioral signals into its algorithm update. The idea is that accounts exhibiting suspicious behavior or those which have been reported multiple times for abuse will show up less often in Twitter’s timeline.

“Less than one percent of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse, but a lot of what’s reported does not violate our rules,” wrote Twitter’s director of product management and health David Gasca. “While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large—and negative—impact on people’s experience on Twitter.”

Since not all “trolls” or negative comments technically violate Twitter’s rules, the algorithm update targets accounts that do not contribute to the “healthy conversation.” Gasca did not provide examples of what they constitute as healthy.

Early tests saw a four percent drop in abuse reports from Twitter search results and eight percent fewer reports from conversations.

In other news, Twitter has announced that its legacy API services will retire on August 16. Its new Account Activity API is now available to developers.

Facebook: Stories And Soundbytes

Like Instagram—and Snapchat from whence the feature originated—Facebook Stories disappear after 24 hours, but users in India can now archive them for viewing and posting later. Indian users are the first to try the platform’s new Stories update that rolled out on Wednesday. Facebook will let users privately save their clips from the Facebook Camera directly to the social network instead of their phone in case they don’t have enough space.

For a country like India, with 22 official languages, not having a custom keyboard can make posting a challenge. Facebook Stories will now offer audio recordings that play against a custom background. The feature could also be useful for those who are known for their voice, such as podcasters and voice actors.

With “Now Feel This” Concert Livestreams, Skullcandy Wants To Get Back To Basics

Headphone manufacturer Skullcandy got its start by focusing on musicians and music fans, and with its yearlong Now Feel This concert series, it hopes to return on its original promises without losing sight of what’s on the horizon.

“We started as an audio company focusing on music, so we’re really getting back to our roots,” said McKenna Taylor, Skullcandy’s global brand manager, told AListDaily. “We’ve gotten distracted a bit in the past.”

A series of 29 concerts over the course of a year, Now Feel This shows will star smaller artists and take place in low-headcount venues to give attendees a more “physical” experience, tying the live experience with the “haptic bass” features on Skullcandy’s headphones. For those unable to attend, the brand will livestream the concerts on its microsite.

“We don’t just want you to listen to your music, we want you to feel it,” McKenna stated. “We wanted to transfer that to more emotional responses and connections on a more personal level.”

Though a music brand sponsoring a concert can hardly be considered groundbreaking on its own, (the company has even hosted ad-hoc music livestreams for the past two years) Skullcandy’s Now Feel This program marks a committed, long-term effort by the brand to integrate more completely into its customers’ daily lives.

“We want to give these emerging artists the platform to share their talent and music with our fans, who we’ve identified as hungry for the latest and the newest and the upcoming,” Taylor added. “We’ve focused on creating holistic touchpoints with our consumers and our products and our initiatives.”

Part of Skullcandy’s holistic strategy includes more diverse content offerings than just concerts. Starting on May 18, the date of the first Now Feel This concert, the audio brand will launch a podcast series featuring exclusive interviews by the bands performing.

Overall, the campaign is focused more on branding than sales. McKenna claimed that the metrics Skullcandy will monitor tend more toward social sharing and time spent watching content over sales conversions.

If the series gets enough traction, Skullcandy plans to run more concerts and expand its podcast as well.

“We’re helping our fans stay on the cutting edge of music,” McKenna stated. “It’s going back to our heritage of music as well as looking progressively forward.”

Brands React To The Infamous ‘Yanny Or Laurel’ Debate

Brands were quick to capitalize on the viral “yanny or laurel” debate this week by stubbornly choosing a side, remaining neutral or inviting conversation on social media.

The debate started last week when high school student Katie Hetzel was working on a school project that recorded a computerized pronunciation of the word “laurel” from their computer speakers. Other students in the room discovered that they heard different things so Hetzel posed the question to their Instagram followers. Soon after, fellow student Roland Szabo, posting as RolandCamry, posed the question to Reddit. Other students posted the clip as well across social media and the debate has gained considerable traction ever since.

So what’s the correct answer? While the recording originated from “laurel,” examining Hetzel’s low-quality recording reveals that both words can be heard at different frequencies—”laurel” at low frequencies” and “yanny” at high.

People are responding to the debate in the thousands—let’s examine how brands have joined the conversation.

Team Laurel

Brands that heard “laurel” created memes to express their frustration about how anyone could interpret the clip any other way.

Warby Parker was a bit more subtle, promoting its Laurel model of glasses but calling it Yanny.

Taking a STANCE #laurel #yanny #itslaurelokay

A post shared by Smosh Games (@smoshgames) on

Team Yanny

Others, hearing the higher tones of “yanny,” defended their position on the matter with equal ferocity.

Embracing Both Sides

Not wanting to alienate any customers, most brands decided to show support for both “yanny” and “laurel” listeners. Some asked users to respond with the word they heard more clearly.

Staying Out Of It Altogether

Some brands merely commented on the debate rather than choose a side.

Hearing What You Want

It has been suggested that what listeners hear on the recording can also be influenced by previous experiences and preconceived notions. Some brands dodged the debate by “hearing what they wanted,” inserting different audio into the clip.


‘Jurassic World’ Wants You To Adopt A Dino

May 15 is National Dinosaur Day, according to Universal Pictures (though National Today disagrees), and to celebrate and promote Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’s June 22 release date, the studio released a series of stickers, a video featurette and… an extensive in-universe microsite by a fictional dinosaur rights organization.

Featuring the same sort of mission-statement language common to many real charitable organizations, the Dinosaur Protection Group‘s website extols importance of saving the island’s dinosaurs.

“We brought the dinosaurs back into the world; it’s now our responsibility to protect these magnificent creatures,” the site’s welcome page reads. “Actually, it’s more than a responsibility. It’s a calling. A passion that keeps us going every day. And as we settle into our new office, we promise to keep you updated with all the latest news and information that we’re able to gather. Just as soon as it’s verified.”

In addition to parodic pseudo-ads, the site delves deep into the lore of the upcoming film, with posts detailing history of “dino-ethical misconduct” and monitoring the volatility of the island’s volcano (that erupts in the film). There’s even a poster for a march on Washington scheduled for September 10.

Lastly, the site urges its visitors to “adopt a dino,” letting them select from a list of the film’s animal characters in much the same way one might adopt an endangered animal or stretch of highway. Mercifully, the Jurassic World site skips the “ask for donation” step, going straight to offering the user an adoption certificate to download and share on social media.

For those willing to brag about their altruistic achievements on Twitter or Instagram, Universal is offering the chance to win Dinosaur Protection Group-branded buttons and t-shirts.

As the site states: “For those willing to stand up and speak for the dinosaurs, it’s your turn.”

Study: Marketer Confidence In Driving Revenue Unchanged In 10 Years

After a decade, marketers still have a difficult time funneling customer engagement into revenue, the CMO Council and Sendwithus reported Tuesday.

In 2008, the CMO Council asked brands if they were fully realizing the revenue potential of customers, to which 76 percent said no. The question was posed again in a March study but 77 percent of marketers still said no and 10 percent say they are not even sure.

The new report, Gaining Traction With Every Digital Interaction, found that marketers aren’t confident in using digital communication to drive revenue. In fact, only 47 percent feel they are only “doing okay” in their digital communication efforts.

Marketers are optimistic about the practice, overall, with 94 percent of the respondents believing individual digital communications will help them reach their customer experience goals. Despite faith in digital communications overall, only 13 percent said they are drawing the full possible revenue from their customers.

Part of this uncertainty may be tied to a lack of collaboration. According to 34 percent of marketers, transactional emails are not leveraged as a relationship and revenue driver because they are created outside of marketing, with little opportunity to collaborate or align across functional areas.

The CMO Council asserts that that collaboration around the channels of choice for the customer is critical to turning an automated touchpoint into a revenue-producing opportunity.

This lack of involvement with digital communication efforts might explain why just only 36 percent of respondents see transactional emails as an opportunity to reinforce consumer relationships. The survey found that 30 percent use them only to confirm choices such as a password reset or receipt—not to further engagement.

Marketers were asked to detail the state of collaboration across key stakeholders in customer experience. Just over a quarter of respondents said that that collaboration is left to team leaders who collect input and feedback as needed. Just under a third of marketers indicated that collaboration comes in the form of meetings to align on strategies and timelines.

Looking forward, marketers indicated plans to realize revenue by optimizing profitable consumer relationships. Sixty-four percent said they are personalizing communications across all touchpoints, and identifying new ways to improve up-sell/cross-sell opportunities with existing customers.

‘Deadpool 2’ Marketing Ripe With Parody; Celebrity Partners

Deadpool 2 marketing is in full swing, utilizing the character’s trademark sense of humor with activities, contests, a music video and as always, a healthy dose of parodies.

Unlike most other comic book characters, Marvel’s Deadpool is self-aware. This meta approach to storytelling (and marketing) gives him free reign to talk about—and openly mock—just about anything he likes regardless of whether it exists inside the Marvel Universe.

In a video spot called “With Apologies to David Beckham,” Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) arrives at the home of the soccer star, begging for forgiveness for a wisecrack made about him in the first film.

Deadpool has a way of showing up where he’s least expected, like on 7-Eleven cups. The convenience store brand added Deadpool 2 AR to its loyalty app, scannable codes around its stores and a number of branded retail items ahead of the film’s release.

He also appears where he’s not necessary wanted, like this birthday message from Hugh Jackman.

The red-clad mercenary took to Google, answering pressing questions from users like how to meditate and whether you should text your ex.

“Absolutely,” replies Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) in a video response. “I suggest you text every four seconds until you die alone.”

A Google+ Community called “Ask Deadpool” was also created, inviting members to ask the character questions about whatever they liked. Responses are given in the character of Wade Wilson, Deadpool’s not-so-secret identity.

Espolòn Tequila partnered with the film to offer a limited edition gift set that includes a Deadpool 2-themed bottle of tequila and flask. The official Espolòn social channels have been sharing crudely-modified ads that replace brand names with its own, a person’s face with Deadpool’s and product images with bottles of Espolòn tequila—supposedly created by Deadpool himself.

When Canada wasn’t invited to the annual Eurovision song contest, Deadpool produced a video in protest, claiming that the snub awakened a “sleeping moose” that will force him to tour Europe.

In April, the mercenary showed his softer side (kind of) with a campaign called “Fuck Cancer.” Those who donated through Omaze were entered to win a pink version of Deadpool’s suit.

Céline Dion recorded a song called “Ashes” for Deadpool 2 and filmed a music video that includes the mercenary dancing in stiletto heels.

Fans were invited to join “Deadpool Core,” a parody of the old Mickey Mouse Club that notifies fans of contests and new marketing materials. In April, the campaign launched with a coloring page that earned over $14,000 in earned media value over four days.

With the release date of Deadpool 2 only a few days away the marketing efforts are peaking just as early reviews hint the sequel may actually be better than the original film.

Survey: Toyota, Verizon, Walmart Among The Most Trusted Brands In America

In partnership with Ipsos Connect, Reader’s Digest has fielded its 2018 annual Trusted Brands survey, revealing both the most trusted brands in America and the state of brand trust generally.

“Trust has always been one of the most essential values we maintain at Reader’s Digest,” stated Lee Zellweger, the journal’s publisher. “This program enables us to understand how trust impacts consumer behavior and why it is critical that brands work diligently now more than ever to protect the trust they have built between themselves and their consumers.”

The survey, which polled 5,500 Reader’s Digest readers across America, found the brands people trusted the most in each of 40 different product categories, which are granted the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand seal of approval.

Toyota won big across the automomotive categories, taking home the prize of most trusted brand for SUVs and hybrid and standard cars—only losing out to Ford for the truck/van slot. In the hotly contested wireless provider category, Verizon won out over rivals Sprint and AT&T.

Walmart was crowned the champion of trusted mass-merchandiser retailers, small surprise given its ubiquity and Amazon’s effect on other brick-and-mortar retailers in the category. Beating out MasterCard and Amex, Visa earned its seal as most trusted credit card company.

“This year’s winners consist of brands and companies that have excelled at earning the respect and allegiance of consumers nationwide,” Zellweger continued.

You can see the full list below.

The journal emphasized the importance of building brand trust, citing several of the survey’s more general findings. Seventy-one percent of the survey’s respondents claimed they would pay more for a brand they trusted, and 82 percent said they make an effort to stick with brands they trust.

While consumers tend to be generous with brands they like, woe on those that betray that trust. According to Ipsos, 68 percent of respondents claimed that being let down by a brand even once will make it “hard” for them to use it again in the future.

Many marketers may find themselves in the “untrusted” category. Sixty-nine percent of respondents agreed that “brands need to do a better job of earning consumers’ trust.” Additionally, 48 percent claimed to trust brands less now than they have in the past.

Though Amazon did not appear on the Reader’s Digest list, it was recently voted the most liked brand in America, though how much consumers trust it was not determined.