CES 2021: 5G’s Impact On Education, Entertainment And Beyond

To kick off this year’s digital Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Verizon chief executive officer and chairman Hans Vestberg delivered a keynote on how 5G is transforming everything from the way students learn to the way people experience sports, concerts, museums and even deliveries.

Vestberg announced a new activation that Verizon is launching tomorrow called The Met Unframed, an immersive virtual art and gaming experience that gives people access to augmented reality (AR) versions of the Met’s art collections. The move follows a similar activation for which Verizon teamed with the Smithsonian to bring parts of the museum to life through AR by scanning a QR code on Verizon’s virtual museum site. 

As the pandemic forced people indoors, Verizon leveraged 5G to bring immersive sports experiences into people’s homes. For example, in November it debuted its 5G SuperStadium experience in the NFL app, enabling fans to watch the Giants vs. Buccaneers game from seven different camera angles, see real-time stats and experience a “holomoji,” or video overlay, of their favorite player via AR. Vestberg says that in 2021 Verizon will roll out 5G to 28 NFL stadiums. 

To help bridge the digital divide, Verizon’s chief responsibility officer Rose Stuckey Kirk says the company is equipping underserved middle and high school students with virtual reality (VR) technology through its Innovative Learning program to help bring lessons to life. Its goal is to deploy 5G technology to 100 schools by the end of 2021.

Mariah Scott, president of Skyward, also appeared during Vestberg’s address to explain how 5G enables her company to manage drones remotely to deliver packages, a method it’s testing in partnership with UPS.

The cancelation of live musical events also called for 5G. In November, Verizon and Snapchat launched the first 5G-enabled Landmarker Lens that brought to life a performance by Black Pumas at the New York Public Library. The performance was shot in Verizon’s branded content studio RYOT, using motion capture technology to track the lead singer’s movements and come to life through a 3D Bitmoji on Snapchat.

Verizon also outfitted the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles into the first 5G-enabled music club with a live, 360-degree multi-cam experience that lets people enjoy live music shows from home. Vestberg says Verizon is deploying the same technology to 15 Live Nation venues in the US, from Miami to New York.

“My own hope and aspiration is more than often that we use [5G] for good—for learning, for sharing, for preserving and protecting and community-building…to reap the greatest outcomes for everyone in our society,” says Vestberg. 

How Consumers View VR Experiences In Gaming, Travel And Beyond

According to the results of a new consumer survey from Myplanet, virtual reality (VR) in the entertainment space is the most accepted form of VR technology, with consumers expressing a 32 percent comfort level with VR gaming and 30 percent comfort level with VR movies.

Myplanet distributed a survey to 500 US respondents aged 18 to 65 in November 2020 to gauge consumer perceptions of VR technology in different areas of their personal lives versus their workplace. The findings suggest that consumers favor VR more in situational uses, but aren’t necessarily ready for VR in travel and tourism experiences.

When asked about VR headsets on their own, 26 percent of respondents expressed active comfort, a figure that Myplanet says remained consistent in 2020. Comfort levels increased when asked about situational uses of VR tech, for example VR gaming, VR calls with friends and family and VR movies.

The youngest demographics surveyed conveyed the most comfort with VR headsets. Myplanet observed a similar generational trend with VR gaming. Compared to their older peers, those from the age group 18-44 were also significantly more favorable to VR education. On the other hand, those aged 35-54 expressed more comfort with VR technology in the workplace as compared to their younger and older peers.

“Workplace uses are a fairly new use case still, and so there is limited exposure . . . But that will change, especially as VR starts to become more accessible at the consumer level. Prices for devices are falling, and as we are seeing with voice activation and smart controls, when people get used to a technology in their personal lives, they start to want and expect it in their private lives too,” Myplanet CEO Jason Cottrell tells AList.

In general, consumers prefer VR tech in their personal lives such as gaming (32 percent comfort level) rather than VR at work (24 percent comfort level). Thirty percent of respondents said they feel comfortable with VR movies and 29 percent expressed comfort with VR wellness sessions.

“Movies, concerts, even theatre… these experiences would probably be best offered in both formats, allowing the consumer to determine whether spur of the moment decision-making is more important to them than the highest quality resolution with no potential for a hiccup or buffering.”

Cottrell says that for many providers, issues around copyright will dictate how they deliver the experience, which will likely mean streaming over downloading. But for customers, he notes, the mix of both would be best, as Myplanet has seen with non-VR movie and television experiences to date.

Consumers aren’t quite ready to embrace VR-powered travel and tourism experiences, as just 22 percent of consumers said they feel comfortable interacting with technology in this setting.

Part of this reluctance toward adoption could be attributed to device proliferation or delivery method of the experience, according to Cottrell. Given that device availability is increasing and the costs to own are decreasing, more consumers have access to devices–the biggest barrier to adoption in the past.

For all of the VR technologies that Myplanet surveyed, male respondents indicated that they’re more comfortable with VR than female respondents, including in the workplace, gaming, movies and headsets.

Research from Omdia found that VR content revenue will reach $4 billion in 2025—90 percent of which will come from games– and $10 billion will be spent on VR hardware and software in 2025. By that point, Omdia predicts there will be 45 million VR headsets “actively” being used by consumers.

For businesses looking to leverage VR, Cottrell says to create experiences that offer real value to users, in both quality and content. He also notes the importance of getting a composable architecture in space.

“With a composable (or headless) architecture your entire digital footprint can be more easily connected and your existing materials can be leveraged to new technologies as they emerge. Composable sets a foundation for adaptation that means your business can test and experiment with and eventually adopt the technologies that make sense for your business when you want.”

Piotr Urbanski On What Marketers Need To Know About Simpson’s Paradox

In this week’s a.university session, Piotr Urbanski, Ph.D., Ayzenberg associate director of marketing science, explains how to scan your data for false conclusions produced by a phenomenon called the Simpson’s Paradox—where trends reverse when a dataset is separated into groups. Urbanski shares how to think more critically about data analysis to analysts elevate their causal inference and help leadership better understand the performance of marketing campaigns.

Video Ads Generate The Most Installs Per Impression For Casual Mobile Game Marketers

Video ads generate the most installs per impression and highest return on ad spend (ROAS) compared to other ad formats for casual game marketers. That’s according to a new mobile user acquisition report from Moloco, which examines the performance of banners, interstitials, native ads and videos based on metrics such as cost per payer (CPP), ROAS and retention.

To understand how casual game marketers can budget their ad spend more effectively, Moloco aggregated over 1 billion ad impressions across 100 ad campaigns from 32 different casual games. Moloco then measured the resulting 675,000 installs and 162,000 first time in-app purchases against the specific ad formats and platforms used to produce them.

First up, Moloco found that video performs best on both iOS and Android. On average, video reached a $104.48 CPP and a 16.96 percent 30-day ROAS. Comparatively, native ads and static interstitials came in at nearly ten times the CPP.

Video ads also drive the most installs per mille (IPM) for casual game marketers. During Moloco’s study period, video ads generated an IPM rate of 2.63 versus other formats that generate less than 0.5 IPM.

Next, the data reveal that interstitial ads have the highest CPP due to their relatively low install-to-purchase rate of 6.3 percent, though this format still delivers net-positive ROAS, with a day 30 benchmark of 8.28 percent.

Interstitial ads have the quickest days before first purchase average (0.72 days). Still, they claim the lowest three, seven and 30-day ROAS of ad creatives. For comparison, video has the second-highest days before purchase average at 2.19 and a higher ROAS.

Native ads have a high CPP but demonstrate a strong payer retention rate of 62.59 percent at day 30.

At 21.58 percent, banner ads have the highest 30-day ROAS, but have a comparatively low IPM—a dynamic that indicates banner ads are more susceptible to a type of ad fraud called organic poaching.

Payer acquisition on iOS is consistently more expensive than it is on Android, with the exception of banner ads. Despite the higher install rate for iOS, the average CPP–$145.65–is much higher than for Android, $95.08.

On iOS devices, banner ads ($81.86) and video creatives ($149.93) are the most cost-effective formats. For Androids, they are video ads ($67.12) and banner ads ($193.66).

A Second Look: Facebook Addresses What Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’ “Gets Wrong”

Facebook is disputing the claims made in The Social Dilemma, an investigative documentary from Netflix that explores the ways social networks including Facebook are built to be addictive, drive polarization and promote misinformation.

At the core of Facebook’s rebuttal, “What ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Wrong,” is that the documentary offers a sensationalist view of how social platforms work via insights and commentary from former employees of tech giants who haven’t been on the “inside” for many years.  

Against a backdrop of perturbed users who say they’ve considered deleting their Facebook and Instagram accounts after watching the documentary, Facebook is seeking to absolve itself of any wrongdoing by outlining the steps it’s taken in recent years to quell critics’ complaints. 

The amount of time people spend on social media has only increased since the pandemic, with 48 percent of global consumers saying they’re using social media more. 

According to filmmakers, this addiction is the direct result of social companies like Facebook building features that aim to increase users’ time spent on its products.

Facebook’s response: “Instead, we want to make sure we offer value to people, not just drive usage.” To do this, it says in 2018 it changed its ranking for news feed to show meaningful social interactions over things like viral videos. Further disputing this claim, Facebook says it gives users control over how they use its products through time management tools like an activity dashboard and notification limits.

Facebook slams the documentary for calling its algorithm “mad,” on the basis that all consumer-facing apps use algorithms to improve the experience for users, noting: “That also includes Netflix, which uses an algorithm to determine who it thinks should watch ‘The Social Dilemma’ film, and then recommends it to them. This happens with every piece of content that appears on the service.”

Users have long expressed concerns over the role Facebook has played in spreading political misinformation and hate speech and interfering with elections. To that end, Facebook says misinformation that could lead to imminent violence, physical harm and voter suppression is “removed outright,” adding that in Q2 it removed over 22 million pieces of hate speech and over 100,000 pieces of content across Facebook and Instagram that violated its voter interference policies.

Addressing the documentary’s claim that social media platforms fuel political division, Facebook argues that news from polarizing pages represent a “tiny percentage” of what most people see on Facebook.

Critics might say otherwise, as an internal memo from Facebook’s head of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), Andrew Bosworth warned employees not to “use the tools available to us to change the outcome of the 2020 election.” In addition, Bosworth credits Facebook’s advertising tools for Trump’s election victory, brushing off the role played by Russian interference and the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In 2018, Facebook sought to make political ads more transparent when it created an ad library that makes all ads on Facebook visible to users, even if they don’t see the ad in their own feed. Social issue and election ads are then labeled and archived in that ad library for seven years.

While Facebook took a clear stance against the claims made by the documentary, the internet was mixed in its reactions. Some were quick to delete their social media profiles while others challenged the film’s credibility, with one user saying:

Another use pointed out the documentary’s lack of a solution to society’s growing dependence on social media:

Ayzenberg Social Index Adds Earned Media Values For TikTok

Brand interest, user engagement and moves in social commerce have never been stronger when it comes to TikTok. Hence the reason Ayzenberg has taken the guesswork out of measuring your brand’s success on the tween-beloved app and introduced TikTok values to its Social Index.

Now, in addition to showing how your campaigns stack up by vertical through earned media values across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter, Ayzenberg’s Earned Media Value Index (a.EMVI) will provide value metrics for engagements on TikTok—which in April was the top-grossing non-gaming app globally with more than $78 million in user spending.

According to Vincent Juarez, Ayzenberg CMO and a.EMVI author, the goal of Social Index is to provide marketers with the most comprehensive benchmarks for tracking earned media values (EMVs). As a result, Ayzenberg’s data science team is constantly monitoring the social media landscape to identify new and emerging platforms that matter most to marketers.

“Most platforms provide robust analytics in terms of video views, time spent, followers, likes, comments and shares among other metrics. Filling the void and providing marketers with earned media or advertising value equivalents (AVEs) for platforms like TikTok provides a foundation for testing, learning and optimizing future content efforts. It will also help standardize benchmarks to compare against other platforms,” said Juarez.

Though the a.EMVI TikTok values are still in the evolutionary stage, Juarez says that current value per views (VPVs) are significantly lower than other platforms, in the sub $.05 range due to the high volume, view count methodology and other factors. In comparison, platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are typically in the $.10+ range. Value per clicks (VPCs) are also in the lower range – $.35 vs $1+ range for other platforms, according to Juarez.

Juarez says It’s important to note that Social Index values are in a constant state of evolution as Ayzenberg’s resident data scientists are constantly refining proprietary algorithms to determine values. 

“Since AVEs are a part of the equation, the algorithm is constantly learning based on the multiple data points ingested. The core methodology established for other key social platforms is used as the foundation, which creates less of a learning curve as it applies to TikTok,” said Juarez.

Heather Cohen, Ayzenberg vice president of media, says that Social Index aims to offer an apples to apples comparison for EMV across social media platforms. To arrive at these scores, Ayzenberg examines variables such as a client’s objectives on social, engagement, conversion, reach, efficiency and share of voice (SOV) against a brand’s competitive set.

“One of the biggest issues on social media is having third party verification as most of the numbers are self-reported. Brand safety has been critical as we’ve seen less savory sources utilizing number and searchable terms to their benefit, which has left brands open to being in less ad-friendly environments. A VPV, VPC and VPM help to gather not just the tangible values of when dollars are spent on a purchase, but also those intangible values like when a customer leaves a review or shares a product on social platforms,” said Cohen.

Given 60 percent of TikTok users are Gen Z, TikTok presents a lucrative opportunity for brands to reach young consumers, but its foray into the app must be intentional.

“For marketers to care about these values, they must first care about the platform. We care about TikTok because it provides an opportunity to reach and interact with a relatively untapped Gen Z audience. A brand’s entry to this space must be authentic and representative of key platform behaviors that work to build relationships rather than brand priorities,” said Steven Monterastelli, associate director of data and insights of Ayzenberg’s marketing science team.

If you’re interested in seeing how your social campaigns stack up, a.network developed the Social Index tool with the goal of becoming the industry standard for measuring earned media value (EMV) and campaign ROI. 

Social Index 2.0 leverages a combination of expert analysis, machine learning algorithms and vast amounts of proprietary and public data. The index helps brands and agencies take engagement and earned media ROI measurement to the next level.

For more information: https://earnedmediavalues.com/

Amazon Launches AR App To Be Used With QR Code-Enabled Shipping Boxes

Amazon has launched a new augmented reality (AR) app called “Amazon AR Player” that works with quick response (QR) codes on shoppers’ Amazon boxes to create shareable, immersive experiences.

Available for free on the iOS App Store and Google Play, Amazon AR Player provides shoppers a fun way to interact with their boxes before recycling them. To bring the AR assets to life, users must point their smartphone camera at the QR code on their Amazon box.

The new AR boxes, which just started rolling out, are labeled with the name of the experience and offer three-step instructions on how to activate it. The boxes are made with less material as part of the company’s ongoing sustainability campaign “Less Packaging, More Smiles.”

At launch, the app only offers a Halloween-themed AR experience. But as per the screenshots on the App Store, Amazon AR Player will feature a variety of AR experiences. For example, one screenshot shows an Amazon box transforming into a small blue AR car, while another shows someone drawing the face on a pre-printed white pumpkin, which upon scanning turns into an AR jack-o-lantern.

Amazon also notes in the App Store description that if your phone supports TrueDepth technology, the app will use your smartphone camera to track your facial movements to enable features like its selfie mode.

If you don’t have an Amazon package, you can still experience the app by printing a label here and using their phone to scan the QR code.

Amazon has slowly been ramping up its AR offerings. In August, the company launched a tool compatible on mobile and desktop called Room Decorator that lets you design an entire room with multiple home decor items. The tool also lets you add products to your shopping cart and see recommendations of similar items.

To access Room Decorator, users can click the “View in Your Room” button that appears under qualifying products in the Amazon mobile app on iOS and on desktop.

The Room Decorator tool is the advanced iteration of Amazon’s AR View, which it debuted in 2017 to enable online shoppers to see how one furniture item would look in their living space.

Coty Boosts Conversions With Beauty AR Try-On Lenses In The Middle East

With makeup try-ons in retail stores prohibited due to pandemic safety concerns, Coty enlisted Snapchat to create 17 in-store augmented reality (AR) lenses to make it easy for customers in the Middle East and Africa to test products from Coty brands Bourjois, Max Factor and Rimmel, which heavily rely on selling in physical stores. The experience saw a high conversion rate as 62 percent of those who used the AR lenses ended up buying a product.

The ability to try on products such as lipstick, mascara and foundation in real life is a key driver for beauty and skincare purchases. But with the pandemic limiting opportunities to interact with products in person, Coty teamed up with Snapchat to launch Snapcode-enabled lenses that let customers determine what products from Bourjois, Max Factor and Rimmel would look like on their own face. The AR lenses included eight different shades of lipsticks and foundations.

To use the virtual try-on feature, shoppers could scan Snapcodes for respective products via in-store displays using their phone, which would direct them to Snapchat where they could virtually try on the product. Coty launched the activation across the MENA region in retailers like Lifestyle, Carrefour and LuLu Hypermarket.

“For others looking to try AR, I would say, keep it simple. Less is always more when it comes to Lens experiences. And pick a platform where you can reach your audience in the right frame of mind, at scale – for us, that was definitely Snapchat,” said Alice Bézirard, media leader at Coty Inc.

Through reimagining the beauty product trial experience, Coty’s AR lenses reached 350,000 users who tried on products and shared pictures of their experience. In addition, 18 percent of total sales came from customers who used the AR lenses.

Bézirard says Coty’s activation was particularly effective in Saudi Arabia, where Snapchat has the highest potential reach for its core target. For example, Coty expected the lenses to represent five percent of sales across the United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but the results were four times higher in Saudi. Next, Coty plans on expanding lenses to support its ecommerce strategy.

Lancôme Is Launching A 3D Virtual Store In Singapore

On August 28, Lancôme is launching a virtual flagship store in Singapore called #LiveYourStrength to promote its Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum. Live until September 20, the store will offer a 3D shopping experience through artificial intelligence-powered skin consultations, machines that deliver customizable products and chatbots for enhanced customer experience.

The virtual store is an extension of the Lancôme’s recent #LiveYourStrength campaign for which global brands ambassadors Lupita Nyong’o, Zendaya, Kate Winslet, Amanda Seyfried and Penelope Cruz shared stories of how they discovered their inner strength.

Through five different zones—Discover, Explore, Inspire, Live and Shop—the virtual store aims to educate beauty enthusiasts on the serum, 35 million bottles of which have been sold worldwide since its 2009 launch.

The Discover zone will include a “strength-finder personality test” which helps shoppers find their strength type and tips for living by that strength.

The Explore zone will enable visitors to take a virtual skin consultation through Lancôme’s first AI-driven mobile skin diagnosis tool, namely the E-youth finder.

The Inspire zone will feature videos of the 100 women from Lancôme’s Find Your Strength campaign sharing personal stories of self discovery.

Live stream sessions will run in the Live zone, with appearances from regional and local celebrities discussing personal stories on the #LiveYourStrength topic.

Modeled after Lancôme’s physical store, the last zone, Shop, is where fans can browse and shop products customizable via a machine.

Lancôme’s efforts to fuse the physical and digital shopping experience comes amid a rebound in the Chinese beauty market, as its parent company L’Oréal grew by 30 percent in China during Q2. In addition, during the first half of the year, L’Oréal saw a 64.6 percent increase in e-commerce, according to the company’s H2 earnings.

Snapchat Highlights Gen Z Appeal In First Global B2B Campaign

On the heels of a rough second quarter due to COVID-19, Snapchat has launched its first global business-to-business campaign highlighting the appeal of its 238 million users, or “the Snapchat Generation.”

Snapchat released a video spot over 60 seconds in length featuring a compilation of user-generated content and testimonials from brand partners such as Depop, the NFL, Starling Bank, MGM Resorts International and Frito-Lay, among others. 

Starting today, the spot will run across print, broadcast and digital media channels in the US, Canada and Australia; followed by the UK on August 17, and in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa on August 24.

Meet the Snapchat Generation” promotes the core behaviors of its Gen Z user base, useful knowledge for advertisers looking to reach those migrating away from Snapchat’s rivals, including TikTok, which currently faces national scrutiny, and Facebook, which is struggling to deliver on brands’ hate-speech boycott demands.

For example, Snapchatters say close friends are four times more influential than celebrities or influencers on their purchasing decisions, while 34 percent are more likely than non-Snapchatters to buy from brands that support their local community. Users also praise the app for allowing them to “be yourself,” with 75 percent saying that Snapchat’s vertical video format produces a more intimate and immersive experience.

HiSmile saw a 20 percent lift in sales when it utilized Snap Ads and Story Ads around its oral hygiene products.

“We’re not looking to just sell our product — we’re really looking to build a proper emotional, intimate connection with the people on the other side of the screen. This vertical format is perfect for that because we can get up close and personal,” second in command at HiSmile Justin Gaggino, who appeared in the video, said.

“The Snapchat generation is hyper-engaged. Instead of texting, they snap—they practically live on Snapchat,” says Maria Milenkova, senior acquisition manager of Starling Bank, which saw a seven-point increase in brand awareness as a result of a bespoke AR lens, in addition to running commercials, Snap Ads and Story Ads.

Amid a surge in digital spending during lockdowns, Snapchat’s campaign follows its beta launch of Brand Profiles, permanent profiles for majors brands that users can subscribe to, and Dynamic Ads, which give brands in 12 countries the ability to build personalized shopping ads in real-time.
Snapchat posted $454.2 million in Q2 revenue, a 17 percent year-over-year increase, albeit significantly less than the 44 percent growth it saw in Q1. Snapchat’s ad sales rebounded in July, with estimated revenues tracking 32 percent higher YoY, but the company cautioned that uncertainty remained as the pandemic continues to affect sports events and the back-to-school season.