Live Multiplayer Games Drove 2018 Mobile Revenues, Per App Annie

Games might have been a minority among app downloads for 2018, but they accounted for nearly 75 percent of revenue, App Annie reports. Live multiplayer elements such as battle royale helped generate higher mobile game revenues than PC/Mac, console and handheld console games put together.

Battle Royale games like PUBG: Mobile and Free Fire are driving revenue growth in the mobile sector, according to a new report by App Annie and IDC. In the report, “Gaming Spotlight 2018 Review Report,” App Annie says three out of the top five games by consumer spend featured real-time multiplayer game elements. It is significant, App Annie notes, that game modes like PvP battle, co-op play and the MMORPG genre are steeped in PC-gaming heritage.

Seven out of 10 of the top revenue-generating mobile games were released by publishers with a PC or home console gaming background—Sony, Tencent, mixi, Activision Blizzard, NCSoft, Netease and Bandai Namco.

“The fact that mobile devices are powerful enough to run games of this magnitude and even work with people playing on PCs and consoles is astounding,” said App Annie’s director of market insights Amir Ghodrati in a statement. “EA’s already said that they’re interested in bringing APEX legends to mobile and are looking into cross-platform functionality, so it’s a trend we expect to continue in 2019.”

IDC conducted US gamer surveys in both 2015 and 2018 and asked if respondents played casual-leaning games, hardcore-leaning games or both. In a three-year span, the number of hardcore-leaning players grew 3.5 percent. Hardcore-leaning titles include battle royale, fighting, flight/air combat simulators, massive online battle arena (MOBA), racing, shooting or sports. The battle royale genre was not included as an option in the 2015 survey and flight/air combat simulators were not included in the 2018 version.

In 2018, direct spending on mobile games exceeded the combined spending total on home console, PC/Mac and handheld console games by nearly 20 percent, a 14 percent jump since 2016.

A majority of revenue (55 percent) from the top multiplayer games originated from Asia-Pacific, App Annie noted, despite China’s nine-month new game license freeze. The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom experienced rapid growth in 2018, giving mobile revenues an extra push.

Apple is rumored to be planning a game subscription service, added Ghodrati, saying, “it will be very interesting to see the impact this could have on the industry in 2019 and beyond.  

“Since well over 95 percent of gaming consumer spend come from in-app purchases on mobile, a steady subscription revenue could provide an opportunity for paid apps to generate more revenue (and on a consistent basis),” said Ghodrati.

IAB: Cross-Channel Efforts Top Budget Priority In 2019

Marketers, publishers, marketing service providers and technology developers plan to spend more on data this year, according to IAB’s latest report.

The Outlook for Data 2019: A Snapshot Into the Evolving Role of Audience Insight” asked digital marketing and digital practitioners where they are focusing their concerns and budgets in 2019. The survey was fielded in January 2019.

Respondents indicated a focus on harmonizing audience experiences across media. For this reason, cross-channel campaign measurement and attribution will be the top priority for 57.3 percent of those surveyed. Just over half—52.4 percent—will also prioritize cross-channel audience identification and matching.

“Cross-channel becomes more important as consumers engage with brands on different platforms and through different types of media,” Orchid Richardson, vice president and managing director of the IAB Data Center of Excellence told AList. “It’s about understanding where the consumer is in their journey, so the right message at the right time can be delivered.”

Over three-fourths (78.2 percent) of survey respondents planned an increased amount of spending on data and related services this year. Some 69.2 percent said that spending in this area increased in 2018, as well.

Last year, general audience analytics occupied most of the respondents’ time more than any other category listed. The top three time-consumers were general audience analytics (58 percent), cross-channel audience identification and matching (51.9 percent) and cross-channel measurement and attribution (42 percent).

This year, the top priority, according to 57.3 percent, will be cross-channel measurement and attribution.

With each new report, it seems that marketers invest more in data every year. Richardson said that marketers spend more because they are getting results.

“Data is making brands smarter about their consumers while helping them build direct connections with consumers too,” said Richardson.

Participating digital marketers were asked which factors they expected to be the most important in driving data-driven marketing initiatives in the year ahead. The top choice, as it has been for the last three years, was “demand/interest from our customers.”

The biggest challenge these professionals fear in 2019 is government regulation or the threat to regulate data. Beyond that “external” threat, panelists expressed a multitude of concerns about how their organizations are structured to use data. Siloed organizational structures and data as well as difficulty in proving ROI were among the top concerns shared by respondents.

Five Things Marketers Need To Know About The 5G Revolution

Marketers know that relationships are built on meaningful connections, and 5G could help make them even faster. As a result, this emerging technology could very well change the way consumers expect media to be delivered, much like high-speed internet marked the (welcome) end of dial-up connections and that teeth-shattering modem sound.

You might have less time to plan than you think. Here are five facts you need to know in the meantime:

Look To Sporting Events For 5G Experiences

According to research by Ovum for Amdocs, consumers will likely experience 5G for the first time at stadiums. The Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium already uses the technology through its center-hung video board.

Over a third of network operators surveyed plan to own a sports team and invest in 5G during sporting events. In addition, around 63 percent of the world’s largest network operators intend to use augmented reality, virtual reality or a hybrid of them supported by 5G. Also, over 70 percent of operators say events such as the 2020 Olympics have a big impact on their 5G roll-out timelines. 

5G Could Push AR/VR Further Into The Mainstream

Regardless of industry or interests, the fifth generation of wireless technology and mobile connectivity or 5G will create opportunities that didn’t exist before. One such brand opportunity, GSMA pointed out in its 2018 Mobile Trends report, is AR/VR immersion. Current technology does not allow brands to embed AR/VR ads inside a mobile ad, but 5G would allow for more ambitious campaigns without fear of slowing down a site.

Get Ready For New Creative Formats

Nearly half—47 percent—of advertisers will use new or additional creative formats via 5G, according to a recent survey by Verizon Media. A third of advertisers surveyed indicated that they are already planning for 5G, predicting that mobile video and better video streaming will have the most significant impact.

Forty-nine percent of advertisers think 5G will help to better consumer experiences and 46 percent see the technology benefit advancements in real-time, location-based targeting.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is another technology that stands to benefit from faster connection speeds. Gartner estimates over 20.4B IoT units will be installed by 2020, while IoT-related spending will reach nearly $3 trillion. 

All Connected Industries Will Be Disrupted By 5G

Faster connection speeds are about more than fancy websites and ads. Analytics firm CB Insights predicts that 5G will have a massive impact on the healthcare, automotive, retail and entertainment industries, as well.

“The average autonomous car of the future could produce as much as 2 million gigabytes of data per week, and moving all of that data to the cloud or a regional server isn’t feasible today with Wi-Fi or 4G,” says CB Insights.

The healthcare industry will be able to utilize more devices such as fitness trackers, microscopic cameras and robotic surgery. Retailers will be able to use more sophisticated devices such as connected shelves, in-store analytics and allow consumers to “try on” products at a higher scale.

The Wave Of 5G Is More Like An Iceberg Than A Tsunami

If you’re not ready to launch 5G initiatives tomorrow, don’t worry. It will still probably be two or three more years before 5G becomes the norm.

As Engadget points out, it took about two to three years for 4G to reach most American cities. Even though Samsung launched the Galaxy S10 5G, the infrastructure isn’t there yet. When 5G becomes mainstream, consumers will be able to purchase reincarnations of the current devices. And your team can start having fun with the possibilities.

At MWC19, Brands Discuss Staying Relevant In A Digital Era

MWC 2019 was awash with conversations about connectivity, the future of the connected computing world and of course, 5G. But, for brand marketers, the underlying message was how to stay relevant in a transforming digital ecosystem.

At the core of much of this conversation was how to keep ahead of the curve, maintain a strong sense of identity and give audiences what they want.

At Monday’s “Intelligent Future For All” keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave a nod to Daimler AG’s longevity in a conversation with the automobile manufacturer’s CEO Dieter Zetsche. In celebrating the rarity of “institutional strength that goes beyond human lifetimes,” Nadella noted the necessity for brand leaders to create a “core sense of purpose and identity.” But don’t accept the status quo. “At the same time, you have to question everything,” said Nadella.

“New capabilities are something that you always have to build, long before it’s conventional wisdom. Now, that capability is only going to happen if you have a culture that allows you to recognize the need for that ability.”

Nadella has a great deal of experience with status-quo defying transitions, notably the company’s shift in focus from selling software on DVD-ROMs to providing SaaS via subscriptions to Microsoft Office during his tenure.

Planning for the future needs of customers means taking a leap of faith, in a sense. Nadella insists that “the core of any transformation is: Are you in real touch with the unarticulated needs of your customers?”

Just days before the conference, the BMW Group and Daimler AG announced a new partnership, a collection of joint ventures and a clear indication of how the two legacy brands are confronting today’s digital transformation.

“By creating an intelligent network of joint ventures, we will be able to shape current and future urban mobility and draw maximum benefit from the opportunities opened up by digitalization, shared services and the increasing mobility needs of our customers.”

Zetsche, also the head of Mercedes-Benz, referred to Daimler AG’s transition as a contrast in how to think foundationally about production at the same keynote last Monday.

“Until yesterday, the most important part was to lock your engineering department so no one could copy anything. Today, when we’re talking about these new systems, we’re convinced we have to do it open source.”

When asked about what he’s learned from Nadella, Zetsche said, “Microsoft went through a phase where its base capabilities and base business model were in question,” he continued, “then you used your basic skills and turned it around into something very different.”

How 5G Will Impact Marketing

The future of marketing will happen in 5G. That’s what’s been promised, but the question remains—when will the rise of 5G fully take place, and what will it look like? While tech advancements and achievements in digital marketing are indeed speeding up, a McKinsey study predicted that, considering the significant build-outs that will need to take place to foster 5G adaption, the industry shouldn’t expect 5G to gain traction on a large scale until at least the early 2020s.

With just a few years to go before 5G takes the stage, now is the time to examine just how 5G will impact marketing and how advertisers can prepare for what’s to come.

The 5G Impact

While 5G has not yet been fully rolled out, many marketing experts expect 5G will be transformative. The latest 5G technology will be able to process significantly higher amounts of data at far greater speeds than current 4G devices. In December, AT&T announced they’ll be introducing a 5G hotspot with speeds 10 to 100 times faster than current 4G technology.

As a result, more users will be able to access the internet on a greater number—and variety—of devices at once. Consumers will be able to download everything from movies, games and TV shows to virtual reality experiences from their smartphones as well as other devices, all at speeds that will greatly reduce loading times.

Susan Borst, VP of mobile at IAB, emphasizes just how broad of a reach 5G will have, and as a result, how broadly it will impact marketing.

“While it’s easy to think of 5G’s impact on mobile devices,” Borst said, “What makes 5G so exciting is its on impact everything from mobile to so much more, including desktop, IoT, OOH, wearables, drone delivery, manufacturing, analytics-driven retail experiences and smart cities infrastructure.”

As users can access content at a rapid-fire pace, marketers will have more opportunities to reach their target audiences.

Conor Mason, principal of Punchkick, predicts the introduction of 5G will also affect user experience, consumer demands and data collection.

“One of the biggest challenges with gathering data from mobile users today is network reliability—it’s tough to upload app data or analytics data reliably when the user might be experiencing subpar network conditions,” Mason said. “But 5G offers greater range, improvements to MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) for congested networks, and overall increased speeds to send more data quicker.”

Increasing Reach

While exciting, marketers are sure to face challenges when adjusting to 5G technology, including meeting increased consumer expectations and extending to one of today’s biggest marketing challenges—ad blockers.

The rise of 5G may present opportunities for advertisers to reach consumers who would otherwise use ad blockers. As pages load more quickly using 5G technology, marketers may have an opportunity to introduce content to consumers without those users becoming frustrated as ads slow down their browsers.

A 2017 report by AdBlock Plus and Global Web Index found that 40 percent of those surveyed had used an ad blocker within the last month, but of those respondents, just 22 percent utilized ad blockers on their mobile devices.

Respondents gave a variety of reasons why they use ad blockers—33 percent said they used those blockers to “speed up the time it takes for things to load on my device.” Approximately 37 percent of respondents said ads “take up too much screen space and get in the way,” while 40 percent said they found “online ads intrusive.”

As 5G is adopted and download times decrease, marketers may be able to find ways to reach users who are less inclined to use ad blockers as ads, as well as websites, take less time to load. Advertisers can also use this opportunity to develop innovative solutions in advertising. With VR, AR, business intelligence and improved data collection on the table, now is the time for the industry to focus on digital innovation.

“The marketing industry needs to think about 5G as an opportunity to reinvent their offerings in the mobile space,” Mason said. “Experiences that were once relegated to WiFi are now going to be possible everywhere—what kind of sophisticated mobile apps would make sense in those contexts?”

Borst anticipates significant improvements in live streaming, as well as more accurate geofencing and next-generation VR, in addition to overall improvements in download times.

“With enhanced data in real time, the winning trifecta of getting the right message to the right person at the right time will no longer be a pipe dream,” Borst said.

Even while preparing for the adoption of 5G and the opportunities it presents, advertisers should anticipate the rollout be a gradual one. This transitional period presents its own set of marketing challenges.

“The biggest challenge in embracing 5G will be understanding that we will be in a 4G/5G hybrid world for a long time,” said Seth Dobbs, VP of engineering at Bounteous. “…Any marketing effort that embraces 5G will still need to consider a deprecated experience for 4G users.”

To keep pace with 5G advancements, Borst recommends getting on board with the changes as soon as possible, as well as to prepare for shifting U.S. and international data collection regulations.

“If applicable, creative should be developed based on assets that can be mixed and matched to provide the most relevant messaging to consumers,” she said. “For marketers who have been slow on creating video assets, now is the time to ramp up efforts and make sure their infrastructures are ready. Finally, as is the case today, marketers must be cognizant of the evolving public policy landscape in the US and abroad and the impact of what this means on data collection and use.”

The marketing industry faces unique challenges with 5G, as well as unique opportunities for growth, innovation and creativity. It may not be here tomorrow, but 5G is on its way, and when it arrives, advertisers should be prepared to keep up with technology and ultimately, to keep up with consumers as their everyday online experiences evolve.

MWC19: Interview With GSMA Program Director Andrew Parker 

Technologists and mobile marketers the world over are preparing to descend on Barcelona for this year’s GSMA’s MWC 2019. AList sat down with Andrew Parker, GSMA’s program marketing director for IoT, to get some insights on what’s new this year and what marketers should look out for at the annual event.

How will this year’s MWC be different from last year’s event? 

The main difference this year is the theme of the whole event, which is Intelligent Connectivity. This year you are going to see a broader view of the future of mobile. This year the focus is on 5G, it’s obviously in sharp focus this year. The developments of IoT, the developments of smart platforms such as AI and Big Data. Because what we are arguing is the development of those three technologies is going to have a massive impact on the world. Three very exciting, emerging technologies. So you are going to see more demonstrations of the technology that represent those three technologies, rather than just mobile.

What are some trends at MWC that marketers should look out for? 

For marketers there is the use of mobile more and more; it’s the whole range of things. For example, you see mobile apps using AR to promote products. I think AR, particularly on mobile, is something that marketers can apply fairly quickly because they can build it into apps. One of my favorites is an app where you can call the walls of your house to see what the color will look like. For marketers, in pure mobile, I think that’s one example.

Other aspects of broader, slightly more advanced areas—I think the use of smart advertising, where we to see external advertising taking advantage of mobile-connected screens and reacting through the day to different audiences, so they can present different messages to people passing by. You will see more connected billboards—quality billboard space is something of a higher premium—and certainly 5G enables high-definition video. Also, the two-way nature of 5G—being able to recognize people that are passing the billboard. It depends how far out you want to look.

By this time next year, do you think 5G will still be the ‘shiny new thing’?

I think so because 5Gs are rolling out this year. It’s going to take some time for the networks to roll out and for the products to mature to deliver applications. We are still at a very early stage there. 5G just rolling out. I think it’s about how 5Gs are being utilized and grow up together with the other technology. We’ll be over pure speed or pure low latency. What we will be more interested in is the application across the network. Hopefully, there will be more case of what you can do with 5G, how it will impact entertainment, sports, transportation and public services. The big applications. We’ll get over the basic 5G, but I think we’ll still be talking about how all these other technologies merged together to deliver real benefit. And I hope that, whether the debate goes because it’s all about the benefits for consumers and businesses.

In regards to planning MWC, technology moves so fast, how do you anticipate and also leave room for innovation as you are planning through the year?

The way we do it is we talk to a lot of people. Out ideal piece of technology that we like to show in something like Innovation City is something which isn’t too far out but [also] hasn’t been seen before. We engage with the number of businesses and now the GSMA certainly is reaching out. And what we do is we are trying to reach out to the operators, but we also reach out to a number of other industries. And certainly, in my area, the IoT perspective, the more companies that we talk to and partner the more interesting [it gets]. They’re the ones who give us those cutting edge applications.

For example, we’ve got this thing called Intelligent Water, which is going to be at Innovation City this year. And that’s a company called BeWhere, who are working with the city of Toronto and they are putting sensors into the water pipelines to measure water pressure and determine where leaks are within the network. So the city of Toronto is using that data and [putting it] onto a platform and it helps to model the water network underground. With that example, to BeWhere they are partnering in Europe with Orange and with Huawei in Canada.

Therefore, you have to talk to a range of different people to get the demos and understand what’s happening in the marketplace. You can’t just look in one place anymore.

What are you personally are excited about? 

It’s a whole bunch of stuff on there. I’m really excited to see the SKYSHIP from KT. That’s basically an airship which coordinates drones and ground activity during an emergency crisis. That looks really cool. The idea is that if the base station goes up on an airship and the base station coordinates a whole range of different helpers in a zone.

Also looking forward to meeting Sophia as well. I’ve not actually met her before. Sophia is joining Innovation City this year and is going to give her own perspective of where sees 5G going because being a hard-wired, connected robot, which she is at the moment—she’s acquiring legs and will need mobile connectivity. Sophia will be talking about how she sees mobile helping her communicate with the cloud-based platform, which is basic intelligence. And also how AI is going to develop. Those couple of examples are ones that I’m certainly excited about.

New ‘Amazon Moments’ Offer In-App Rewards To Help Avoid Churn

People love to be rewarded, it’s human nature. Research, conducted by Dr. Robert Cialdini and described in his book Influence: The Psychology of Behavior, shows that the pleasure reward circuit in the brain is an area that can be highly stimulated by food, sales or special offers. This is exactly what makes rewards so addictive and what makes them a killer marketing technique.

Amazon knows this. The company is debuting a new service, Amazon Moments, that will allow marketers to easily offer unique perks to customers who complete high-value actions, such as subscription renewal.

TikTok, Bravo, Sony Crackle, Sesame Street, Washington Post, Disney Heroes and other brands have already tested Amazon Moments. And according to Amir Kabbara, Amazon’s head of digital marketing and consumer innovation, these brands saw impressive results.

Also, an unnamed “video streaming service” created an Amazon Moments targeted campaign toward “lapsed” customers (previous customers that terminated their subscription), and with the new Amazon tool, these customers were two times more likely to subscribe again, Kabbara said. Subscriber numbers also doubled during the company’s Moments campaign.

He continued, “If you look back in history, marketers used to either discount their products, extend free trials if it’s a subscription app, or give away items to drive engagement. And some marketers, especially on the loyalty side, ended up spending a ton of time trying to source rewards and figuring out how to deliver the products to their customers.”

According to Kabbara, Amazon faced this problem too—the company struggled to engage more customers and now aims to put this hassle to an end with the new tool.

The process is quite simple: Amazon Moments automatically creates a customer-reward landing page for every single campaign and shares the rewards links—containing the rewards API—with marketers.

“The reward link works like magic,” Kabbara said, “Customers click on it, go through to collect their rewards on Amazon, and, by the way, with all the benefits that they expect from Amazon. If it’s a Prime customer, [he or she] will get same day shipping; and any customer can, of course, track their items.”

Marketers, in their turn, are presented with the choice of choosing one Amazon product, several products, or a monetary reward that then can be spent on Amazon, but this, again, gives more options to a customer.

Kabbara said that it is up to the marketer to determine the experience that they want for their customers. However, what the company typically recommends is to give the customer an option to redeem their reward right away, inside the app, which provides more gratification—instead of making them wait for a confirmation email.

“Through this program, we really want to give marketers a new way to guide engagement, create promotions, but delight the customer with fun moments that lastwhile we are at it,” Kabbara said.

DMPs, CDPs, DSPs And The Ecosystem Of Customer Data

Marketers want to genuinely know their audience—this is obvious. And using data is vital for brands to best tap into their customer’s needs or ones they want to acquire. This data has been collected in many ways, through online surveys, telephone interviews, focus groups and, most recently, over social media. DMPs or Data Management Platforms try to go deeper by consolidating all of this information in one place.

In December, Lotame released a follow-up report to one released a month prior, called Data Activation & Success. It found around 80 percent of 300 marketing professionals surveyed use a DMP in their organization.

So what exactly is this magical tool? The platform lets marketers collect, organize and activate their first-party data for digital marketing. According to a whitepaper by BlueKai—an Oracle-owned, data management platform—a marketer can compare their data to third-party data to make “smarter media buying and campaign making decisions.” DMPs, says BlueKai, help marketers achieve better campaign performance, overall ROI and deliver targeted results.

“Our clients use DMP as a tool for prospecting—taking known customer and using some of our features within the product to do things like look-a-like modeling, to intelligently find more customers that want to get down the funnel,” said Brian O’Connor, Lotame’s VP of product to AList.

“They (customers) will come to us and ask how they should go about this, and a DMP allows for customer suppression. To make sure that you’re not marketing a product to an existing customer because that is a waste of ad dollars in your marketing strategy.”

However, not everyone believes DMPs are very useful. Steven Wolfe Pereira, chief marketing officer at Quantcast, an AI technology company told AList feels data management platforms became a “mess.”

“Maybe people back in the day, thought it was going to be very helpful, but I feel with how things have evolved, people realize these DMPs are probably not the right tools that people necessarily need,” said Pereira.

“A lot of marketers have been saying—not my words, but their words—DMPs are where data goes to die.”

Pereira used the example that if you want to do something in real time, you have to take your data and put it into then DMP—which takes it offline—then build a third party segment, cleanse the data or activate the data, all of which could take weeks.

DSPs, demand-side platforms, and SSPs, supply-side platforms, are similar but exactly the same as DMPs. They’re both non-controversial, and pretty straight-forward, automated ways to purchase advertising.

SSPs play a critical role in the digital marketing ecosystem, and they aggregate supply in that marketplace—designed to maximize impressions prices. DSPs are used to buy display, video, and search ads in a cheaper, more efficient way. Depending on whether you’re a publisher that’s trying to sell inventory, or you’re a marketer that’s trying to buy inventory, in either one of these scenarios, data is informing some of the buying and selling decisions

“We are the data layer that helps the marketers reach their target, and it helps the publishers that use our product, surface the right inventory for buyers to choose. We are all connected. There are even some DSPs that have DMP-like capabilities,” said O’Connor.

“A DMP at its core is unifying first-party data, allowing customers to access third-party data sets, mix and match the two things to execute a data strategy within the eco-system. They’re made to maximize the prices impressions sell at.”

CDPs or customer data platforms are the newest type of tool and have gained a lot of buzz. These were born out of mobile-only and email marketing platforms and focus on first-party data. You don’t have to be in IT to use CDPs, however, because it’s such a new concept it means different things to different people.

There is no consensus on what a CDP is.

“If you ask five different people in the industry, you’ll like get five different answers on what a CDP is, whereas a DMP is more mature in the market place and there is more consistency in understanding what a DMP is and what it does in the ecosystem as compared to a CDP,” added O’Connor.

Despite the vagueness, O’Connor believes CDPs are powerful at engaging with the marketers’ existing customer set to execute actions like pushing the product or interacting with customers through text messaging. Some CDPs even have the functionality to integrate with call centers or even email marketing platforms.

Even though CDPs have gained popularity, some experts find challenges in the tool with privacy, regulation and customer data management. But others think the idea of having all of your first-party customer data in one place can eventually simplify a marketer’s work, allowing marketers to ultimately focus on the customer.

“I would say the overarching north star for CDPs is truly understanding your PII within first-party data and having it used for marketing purposes.” Pereira says,” Advertising is important, but when you want to understand patterns in your customer and audiences to get down to all the different dimensions of their behavior so that you can tap into creative—[finding out] what is going to be interesting to these different cohorts of customers and why they buy—that’s more marketing work.”

“How does that tie into your data assets, marketing systems? I think that’s where the CDP lives.”

Report: Appearing Next To Competitors Deemed Most Threatening To Brand Safety

In 2017, brand safety was a big issue among marketers. Brands like Verizon appeared next YouTube videos by groups like ISIS. At that time, around 90 percent of those surveyed by GumGum—an AI company with a focus in computer vision—felt the problem was severe. Now, in GumGum’s “Brand Safety Crisis: One Year Later” report, only 60 percent of marketers felt brand safety was a big problem when it came to their marketing efforts in 2018.

GumGum—along with Digiday—surveyed 274 industry professionals in brands, agencies, online publishing and technology providers between October and November of last year.

Many respondents were satisfied with the way platforms handled the issue. Some brands even took matters into their own hands and created their safety measures and hired people specifically for the task. However, the enemy has changed. In 2017, bad news was the most common type of threatening content respondents said they were exposed to. A year later, a competitors’ branding was the most brand-unsafe content.

Some brands got proactive and felt they needed to tackle the issue themselves. The report highlighted Bank of America and GroupM, a media investment group, as examples of such brands. “A lot of media clients we work with have someone who in their job description is to be the de facto brand safety officer,” explained Joe Barone, managing partner of brand safety for GroupM in the report. Barone added these specialists tend to “emerge from companies’ existing marketing teams.” Despite the effort, only 5 percent of the industry professionals surveyed feel these specialists have helped a lot. Around 63 percent believed they’d helped a little and 31 percent these specialists have been of moderate help.

In 2017, around 28 percent of respondents believed a competitor’s branding was the biggest issue. A year later, it became the most substantial dilemma—around 63 percent of marketers think its the most common brand-unsafe exposure. This concern isn’t new to the digital space though, competitor’s branding has always been a problem.

“It’s the same thing that exists in traditional television,” said Blake Sabatinelli, CEO of publisher Newsy in the report. “In other words, the fear of being grouped with a competitor is not exactly a new one for brands — in fact, it’s one of the oldest. But it’s never been a more pressing concern than it is now.”

Bad news lost its top spot and turned into the least worry. These findings show social platforms are doing a decent job in vetting bad news and marketers seem to agree. In the past 12 months, Facebook and Twitter were ranked as the highest in improving on brand safety. Approximately, 45 percent of respondents believe the latter is the most brand safe. Publisher platforms are worrisome to many marketers, about 45 percent of them feel these platforms are the most unsafe for brands. Further, 65 percent think the display ads on publisher sites are the most unsafe types. In response to these attitudes, around 55 percent of marketers have turned to direct relationships with publishers they trust to prevent these problems.

There are also new problems marketers will start to face, such as “deepfake” a form of visual content that uses AI to create genuine-looking fake videos. Some organizations, such as DARPA—the technological research division of the U.S. military—spent $68 million on “deepfake” detection tools. Also, platforms like Facebook and Google have been efficient in detecting and eliminating this type of content.

The solution to these brand threats? The report concludes it takes the correct technology. Image recognition tools and natural language context detection will be essential to alleviating these problems. However, the majority of marketers aren’t using these tools, but ones who are have seen “impressive results.”

“It’s absolutely true that we need to move beyond a semantic analysis of brand-safe content or even what’s starting to be called sentiment analysis,” added Barone.

Domino’s Uses AI To Reward Points For Photographing Any Pizza

Domino’s is now giving pizza fans points for any pizza they purchase—even if it’s from a competitor. The company is launching the new rewards program right before one of biggest pizza consuming days of the year, the Super Bowl. Additionally, it’s the first time Domino’s will use AI  to recognize pizza, its part of the brand’s constant investment in consumer technology.

On February 2, Domino’s will start awarding rewards points for all pizzas a customer eats through its Points for Pies program. Consumers need to download the latest Domino’s App, then sign up for the Piece of the Pie Rewards loyalty program, and will need to use the pizza identification feature to scan their pies. Once they earn 60 points consumers can redeem a free medium two-topping pizza from Domino’s.

Domino’s CEO Rich Allison will also appear in his first TV commercial for the brand on February 2.

“Instead of advertising during Sunday’s game, we decided to invest in a breakthrough program that rewards everyone who loves pizza as much as we do,” said Art D’Elia, Domino’s senior vice president and chief brand officer in a statement. “We know everyone is asking themselves, ‘Did Domino’s just say they will award points for eating ANY pizza? Even from a competitor?’ You read that right; oh yes we did!”

The company’s internal team created the software that scans the pizza and the AI will identify the image as pizza so that points can be awarded correctly. They’ve also accounted for people trying to cheat.

“It will be running the pizza identification process and is already smart enough to identify all pizza, even if it is a homemade English muffin pizza, a pizza with a hotdog stuffed crust, or a high-end artisan pizza. It can even identify if it’s a dog’s squeaky pizza toy,” stated Dennis Maloney, Domino’s chief digital officer.

Last November, Domino’s launched a New Pizza Chef to their mobile app using AR. The feature allows customers to pick their crust, cheese, swirls and toppings. The virtual creation could be made into a real pizza and delivered to the user.

Domino’s also tested various new ways to order a pizza, including a voice-recognition ordering platform, and in 2014, they launched a virtual ordering assistant, DOM, that acted as the voice of the Domino’s Tracker.