Oscar Mayer Releases ‘Bacoin,’ A Cryptocurrency For Bacon

Oscar Mayer is tapping into—and lightly poking fun at—the blockchain craze by giving away “Bacoin,” a virtual cryptocurrency that can be exchanged for real bacon.

From now until May 14, Oscar Mayer’s Bacoin promotion directs users to a microsite where they can register to participate. Visiting the site each day gives users another chance to win limited amounts of Bacoin in increments of BCNS (slices of bacon), which can be saved up and cashed in for real bacon. According to the site, 11 BCNS is equal to one Bacoin.

A graph on the site updates hourly to display the current value of Bacoin, which thus far has ranged anywhere from three slices to 42. Users can take an approach to Bacoin as casually or seriously as they like depending on how much time they want to spend.

Users can impact the “market value” of Bacoin by sharing the promotion on Twitter and email. Each user is limited to sharing three times on each platform per day but can do so to increase the value of their virtual investments. Once users are satisfied with the best time to cash out, they can trade their Bacoin for real bacon.

Oscar Mayer is promoting the campaign with a video that gently mocks the current technology market. The video depicts a self-important tech entrepreneur and “digital prophet” named Keith Sizzle, who takes credit for the idea of Bacoin while speculating other ideas like bacon conditioner.

The Kraft-owned deli food brand has ventured into technology before to promote its bacon, although it’s been a few years. In 2015, the company introduced Sizzl, a dating app for bacon lovers and in 2014, an iPhone alarm clock that released the sound and smell of bacon when activated.

This isn’t the first time Oscar Mayer used bacon as currency, either. In 2012, the brand partnered with comedian Josh Shankey for the “Great American Bacon Barter,” a promotion to see if he could purchase everything he needed on a coast-to-coast road trip using only bacon.


Forrester: CMOs Will Spend Over $122B On Martech By 2022

Chief marketing officers in the US will spend over $122 billion on marketing technology (martech) and services by the year 2022, according to Forrester’s US Marketing Technology and Services Outlook.

Forrester’s predictions, released on Monday, spans 2017-2022. The company states that growth in CMO technology spend will outpace that of services as marketers emphasize building customer experiences, automating more processes, investing in innovation and supporting more forms of mobile engagement.

This growth in martech and services will create a new marketing economy, Forrester predicts. The report sizes and explains the trends behind the growth in marketing, advertising, and data and analytics technologies as well as operations, advertising, and strategy services between 2017 and 2022.

CMOs scaled back on martech spending last year, however, according to the 2017-2018 Gartner CMO Spend Survey. Martech spending accounted for 22 percent of the marketing budget last year, compared to 27 percent in 2016. Paying for marketing services rose slightly last year, constituting 25 percent of budgets compared to 22 percent in the prior year.

“There has been a trend toward insourcing, with CMOs bringing strategically important capabilities such as analytics and digital commerce in-house,” Gartner noted with the findings.

Forrester predictions regarding marketing technology and services are similar in dollar amount to those made last year regarding digital marketing. According to a report released in January 2017, CMOs will spend nearly $119 billion on search marketing, display advertising, online video, and email marketing by the year 2021.

“These changes reflect a new emphasis on quality over quantity, a dynamic that will reintroduce human intervention into programmatic ad buying, turn marketers into growth hackers, and put long-tail publishers out of business,” predicted Forrester.

In addition, CMO spend on search will lose share to display and social advertising while video will scale.

Johnson & Johnson Joins The AI Game With Acuvue Chatbot

Hoping to capture more customers at an early stage of the decision funnel, Johnson & Johnson Vision has launched a social-media Acuvue chatbot, the company’s first, focused on contact-lens information.

Called “Andy,” the Acuvue chatbot will live on Facebook Messenger, a platform that has long supported the AI-powered natural conversation.

“Andy is designed to help guide US consumers throughout their Acuvue brand contact lens journey—from those considering contact lenses for the first time to long-term wearers,” the company declared in its announcement. “The chatbot also provides intuitive coaching to help new wearers develop healthy contact lens habits.”

Acuvue hopes the chatbot will provide an easy resource for consumers with questions about contact lens usage, as ignorance about inserting, removing and caring for contact lenses often acts as a barrier to entry into this subset of the corrective lenses market. Additionally, the bot will answer commonly asked questions.

“Consumers are looking for information at their fingertips and through the communication tools they are already using,” said Kara Peterson, Johnson & Johnson Vision spokesperson, to AListDaily. “Interacting with consumers interested in contact lenses and those already wearing Acuvue contact lenses through Facebook Messenger is a simple way to deliver helpful information when and where consumers want it most.”

Johnson & Johnson’s strategy with the bot is a quiet one, relying on social media to spread awareness.

“Acuvue is spreading awareness in several ways, through owned channels including the Acuvue website and CRM, as well as social posts,” Peterson said.

The company is careful about its AI platform, however, asserting that the information provided by Andy should not come at the expense of seeing eye care professionals.

Acuvue’s adoption of an AI chatbot comes at the tail end of marketer obsession with chatbots—a report released in November of last year found that 58 percent of marketers claimed that chatbots weren’t enough of a priority to concentrate on, and 43 percent didn’t see an applicable strategy for the technology.

Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, sees promise in the future of the Acuvue chatbot.

“Like other AI-powered technologies,” the company stated, “Andy becomes smarter with each interaction.”

Sonos Pokes Fun At Apple With ‘Dumb Smart Speakers’ Campaign

A new campaign by Sonos warns consumers of flashy smart speakers that can’t handle a simple music-related task.

The music-focused smart speaker brand released two video ads this week that feature high-tech devices offering everything but what the music users are asking for.

In “The Not-So-Smart Home vs. The Sonos home,” a woman named Cheryl asks her smart speaker to play her wake-up playlist. She is instead bombarded by everything from reminders to an unwanted call to her mother-in-law. Room by room, Cheryl desperately asks for something to play her wake-up playlist, before asking Sonos, which complies without incident.

Another spot called “Serge, The Speaker vs. The Sonos System” shows two men eager to try out a futuristic, hovering smart device called Serge. Unfortunately, Serge isn’t able to—or not allowed to—access Spotify or Pandora and when it runs out of options, simply floats away. The man then asks his Sonos system and the music plays instantly.

The “Serge” is a tongue-in-cheek jab at devices like Apple’s HomePod, which only accepts commands for Apple Music. A day before the HomePod released in February, Sonos ran a print ad in the New York Times that boasted all the music services its speakers support, compared to just one offered by “Big Tech.”

Juniper Research predicts that 55 percent of US households will own at least one smart speaker by the year 2022.

In a blog post written by Sonos chief marketing officer Joy Howard placed an emphasis on the quality of sound offered on a smart speaker. While the smart speaker market skyrockets toward $17.4 billion by 2022, Sonos says it is more concerned about the listening experience.

“We find it weird that some of the world’s biggest companies who claim to champion music and culture cut so many corners when it comes to sound,” wrote Howard. “What good is an ‘innovation’ if it ultimately devalues the things you care about most?”


Marketers Are Overwhelmed By Martech Options According To Study

As martech eats up more and more of marketing budgets, marketers are having trouble finding the right technology to achieve their martech strategy goals.

A pair of studies by OnBrand, Bynder and PointSource, which surveyed US and UK executives in February of this year, revealed that rising customer expectations are leaving many brand marketers struggling to keep up.

“The two-fold challenge facing marketers today is how to deliver relevant and consistent customer experiences across all channels, while filtering through the clutter of the rapidly evolving marketing technology landscape,” OnBrand’s report reads.

OnBrand found that 90 percent of its respondents marked “identifying the right technologies to serve as an extension of our brand” as a top challenge for their martech strategy. Likewise, 57 percent of PointSource’s respondents claimed that they are unsatisfied with at least one of the martech platforms they use.

Finding the correct martech stack was also found to be the most widespread obstacle for marketers, with 20 percent of respondents listing it as their greatest challenge going into 2018. Finding the proper martech strategy induced more anxiety in marketers than even securing a high enough budget (17 percent), adapting to changing consumer behaviors (15 percent) and even ensuring brand safety (10 percent).

OnBrand suggests two reasons for this struggle, the first of which is the sheer volume of martech platforms coming to market and vying for marketer attention: Brinker’s Martech supergraphic has grown by 40 percent just over the last year alone, accounting for almost 7,000 different firms.

Second, OnBrand’s report indicated the relative lack of experience marketers have in keeping track of the martech stack.

“Most organizations are still at an early stage in the marketing maturity curve and the task of navigating the marketing tech landscape is a daunting one,” the report reads.

PointSource’s study found a similar trend: companies younger than ten years old were 15 percent more likely to be dissatisfied with their current martech strategy.

The authors of PointSource’s report seemed to be downright baffled at the behavior of marketers with their martech strategy.

“Decision makers are not investing in the solutions they’ve identified as most valuable. Even their understanding of what’s valuable can be called into question,” the report reads. “Getting dizzy? So are we.”

Both analyst groups indicate that the way out of such a technology quagmire is investment internally, either in specialists or employee expertise. According to OnBrand, 53 percent of marketers plan to hire additional tech talent in the next year.

“The best preparation for digital transformation holistically considers how technology will impact every pocket of an organization,” PointSource’s study asserts. “To get started, companies should prioritize the two areas say would build their confidence most—education and culture.”

Facebook Q1 Ad Growth Unaffected By Cambridge Analytica, Unworried By GDPR

Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of his third committee in three weeks, this one made up of powerful figures that could substantively affect the future of his company and his place in it—a.k.a. Facebook investors.

Advertising Revenue Grows Like Clockwork

The company reported a 50 percent year-over-year increase in advertising revenue in Q1 2018, reaching $11.8 billion. Facebook’s revenue growth has been steady over the last three years, and this quarter is no exception.

Daily and monthly active users likewise increased at a steady clip, hitting 1.45 billion and 2.20 billion, respectively. Both of these figures mark 13 percent year-over-year growth.

This steady growth comes despite Facebook’s heavy tweaking its advertising policies at a steady clip this year, first banning cryptocurrency ads in March, then requiring political advertisers to disclose their funding sources just this week.

Even so, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg warned that, due to the platform’s increasing ubiquity, investors should expect Facebook’s advertising revenue growth rate to flatten in coming quarters.

Total ad impressions across Facebook’s products, which include Instagram and WhatsApp, increased by 8 percent, and price per impression increased by 39 percent. Mobile continues to dominate Facebook’s advertising space, with its mobile advertisers making up 91 percent of its total advertising revenue.

Several callers expressed concerns about Facebook’s heavy focus on advertising as its primary revenue source, which both Zuckerberg and Sandberg shrugged off. The company stated it does not have any plans to monetize its marketplace or payment functions outside of ads.

“Advertising-supported businesses like Facebook equalize access and opportunity,” Sandberg declared instead of commenting on if the company has plans to create an ad-free subscription model.

Keeping A Brave Face On GDPR

The subject of GDPR came up frequently, though Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg expressed little concern that the landmark data privacy law would affect their bottom line. Because GDPR affects all platforms and advertisers equally, Facebook does not expect to lose much business even if advertisers become less able to target their advertisements. In essence, Facebook’s position on the effect of GDPR on advertising ROI is, “It’s not our problem.”

The company did caution that it expected new user growth in Europe to flatten or possibly shrink, though were quick to express that they were both not particularly worried and that they could not provide hard predictions as to its total effect.

Facebook has been busy moving as many of its users as possible outside of the EU’s jurisdiction (most of Facebook’s user data is stored in Ireland, a prevalent tech tax haven), but still promised to make all EU-mandated privacy tools available to all its users.

Investment In Privacy, Security

Zuckerberg’s concerns over the social good of Facebook figured heavily into the earnings call.

“We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good,” the Facebook CEO opened the call with. “But we also need to keep building new tools to help people connect, strengthen our communities, and bring the world closer together.”

In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and his recent testimonies in front of Congress, Zuckerberg announced plans to invest heavily in both research and staff to better protect privacy and safety on the platform, such as doubling its human moderation staff to 20,000 by the end of the year.

He also expressed high hopes for the ways that Facebook can better society in the future, again emphasizing his plans to optimize the platform for “connections” over “time spent.”

Multiplayer Games Drove 96% More Headphone Sales In March

The NPD Group has released its monthly report for sales on new physical video game products, as well as a subset of full-game digital downloads from participating publishers in NPD’s digital panel. Although not intended to cover total market/total consumer spend, the figures give us an idea of industry-wide trends.

March saw a drop in video game spending across hardware and software, while gaming accessories like cards and headphone sales grew dramatically as popular online multiplayer titles fuel the need for headsets.

Overall spending on hardware, software, accessories and game cards fell 11 percent year-over-year (YoY) to $1.3 billion in March. For the entire first quarter, however, sales grew 15 percent YoY to $3.4 billion across all categories.

The Sound Of Success

Headphones/headset sales grew 96 percent in March YoY and 78 percent year-to-date (YTD), which includes Xbox and PlayStation.

According to NPD video game industry analyst Mat Piscatella, headphone sales are driving accessories growth across both platforms, “likely driven by the increase in popularity of multiplayer games such as Fortnite from Epic Games.”

The most popular headset sold in March—and year to date—was the Xbox One Ear Force Stealth 600 wireless headset from Turtle Beach.

Cash For Consoles

Spending on Xbox One consoles has driven hardware growth up 13 percent to $925 million so far in 2018—the largest YTD total since 2014.

In March, the best-selling hardware item was the Nintendo Switch with 32G of memory and neon red/blue Joy-Con. This was also the most popular hardware item YTD.

Despite the success of its competitors, PlayStation 4 isn’t suffering—in fact, it remains the best-selling console hardware platform in March, meaning that more games were purchased for PS4 than Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. PS4 remains the best-selling console hardware platform YTD.

A Cult Following For Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 debuted as the top-selling title of March and instantly became the best-selling title of 2018, NPD reported. Ubisoft’s tale of an American cult set a new launch month sales record for the Far Cry franchise, nearly doubling full-game purchases compared to Far Cry 3.

Sea of Thieves stole the number two spot for March and is the eighth best-selling game of 2018 so far. The popular pirate game was developed by Rare, a company known for hits like Banjo Kazooie and Golden Eye 007. Rare was purchased by Microsoft in 2002 and Sea of Thieves generated the highest launch month sales for any Rare-produced title since tracking by The NPD Group began in 1995.

Twitter Reports Second Profitable Quarter, Promises Ad Improvements

Twitter reported profit for its second consecutive quarter on Wednesday, touting video ad performance and attracting more users with updated features.

For the first quarter of 2018, Twitter reported $655 million, an increase of 21 percent year-over-year (YoY) and exceeding Reuters estimates of $608 million. A majority of that income was generated through advertising revenue, which totaled $575 million—an increase of 21 percent YoY.

Total ad engagements increased 69 percent YoY, the company reported, while cost per engagement (CPE) decreased 28 percent YoY.

Twitter’s plans for the upcoming year include new ad offerings and tapping “new channels of demand” such as online video. In addition, the company pledged to improve its core ad offerings through better performance and measurement, including ad platform improvements, self-serve measurement studies, and third-party accreditation.

Global engagement is growing for the social media platform as well. International revenue totaled $318 million in the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 53 percent YoY. Japan remains the second largest revenue market for Twitter, contributing $117 million for the first quarter—an increase of 61 percent YoY.

Twitter placed a large emphasis on video, especially on live streaming and brand partnerships. The company reported over 1,300 livestreamed events during the first quarter, 80 percent of which were streamed to a live audience.

“We continue to make Twitter easier to use with the launch of Bookmarks and video timestamps,” Twitter said in its letter to investors, “and we’re making it easier to follow topics, interests, and events with new, curated timelines of Tweets around breaking news events across different parts of Twitter.”

The social media site boasted 336 million monthly active users, again beating estimates. Although Twitter did not reveal a daily active user count, the company claims that the number grew 10 percent YoY.

While the first quarter was profitable, Twitter warned investors that sequential growth rates for the second half of the year will slow as they reach the anniversary of broad-based recovery last year. Revenue growth rates, as a result, may more closely resemble those of the second half of 2016.

Domino’s To Use AI To Take Over-The-Phone Pizza Orders

Domino’s is inching closer to enabling the American dream of eating a pizza without ever having to interact with another person in the process. The company is now testing a voice recognition–based AI pizza ordering platform as a replacement for human employees manually taking orders.

This step is no great leap for the company. The virtual ordering assistant, called DOM, has been around since 2014, but Domino’s plans to put the platform in charge of answering all of its franchises’ phones, assuming its test batch of 20 goes off without a hitch.

“We believe natural voice recognition is the future, as seen by the rise in virtual assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home,” said J. Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO, in a statement. “More importantly, artificial intelligence provides great learning platforms that will enable us to do more to deliver convenience for our customers and better job experiences for our team members.”

The pizza chain’s phone ordering system has already been withering on the vine for some time. As of 2018, more than 65 percent of Domino’s sales in the US are transacted through digital platforms.

“With DOM on the phones, our AnyWare ordering technology and plans we have for future in-store technology, our goal is to one day be 100 percent digital,” Doyle added.

The company’s goals for the platform aren’t limited to the initial order, however. DOM will also act as voice-based version of the Domino’s Tracker, a service launched in 2008 that allows impatient customers to monitor exactly where in the pizza-making process their order is at any given moment.

“Some calls to the stores are from customers who have already ordered,” said Dennis Maloney, Domino’s chief digital officer in the press release. “Based on the phone number, this system will automatically determine if this is a new call or a follow-up.”

AI-based phone ordering is one of the least out-there digital investments Domino’s has made in the past, which have included a Facebook chatbot and its AnyWare initiative, which allows users to order a pizza just by texting a pizza emoji.

Diageo Fights Binge Drinking With Virtual Reality

While most consumers know better (or claim to know better) than to drink and drive, binge drinking is much more insidious of an issue. To spread awareness, Diageo has released an interactive virtual reality public service announcement depicting the consequences of binge drinking.

Made in partnership with VR filmmakers Jaunt, “Decisions: Party’s Over” tells the story of four friends at a farewell party, allowing viewers to see the consequences of binge drinking from each character’s perspective. When viewed on Oculus Rift or GearVR through Jaunt’s app, users can switch between points of view at will.

“We made the choice to break into VR with our social responsibility program because it gives us the proper medium to explore numerous dangerous drinking situations in a very real way,” said James Thompson, chief marketing and innovation officer for Diageo North America, in a statement.

The interactive experience demonstrates the most extreme consequences of binge drinking, which the company defines as imbibing more than five drinks for men and four for women, depicting one character’s death from alcohol poisoning and another’s sexual assault by a fellow partygoer—”binge drinking playing its part in an all too common crime,” the company’s press release reads.

This sort of “scared straight” approach has been effective for Diageo in the past: the previous installment in the company’s VR PSAs, entitled simply “Decisions,” displays a graphically fatal car accident caused by drunk driving and garnered almost 14 million views. According to a study done by the alcohol brand, 73 percent of the experience’s viewers claimed that they would stop other people from drinking and driving in the future as a result of the video.

“While drunk driving and underage drinking are at historic lows, binge drinking rates have remained stable,” added Thompson. “Our hope is to build on our previous successes with virtual reality to reach our audience on an emotional level and prevent future detrimental impaired decisions associated with binge drinking.”

For users that don’t have access to VR equipment, the experience is available in YouTube’s 360-degree video format, though its interactive elements are disabled.