MEDIA: These days, you can’t wander around the internet without running into a podcast. And yet, it takes a lot of time, energy, and equipment to make those podcasts. Enter Bumpers.fm. Bumpers is an app that lets anyone make a podcast straight from their phone, using the phone’s built-in microphone. The company just raised $1 million in seed, led by Spark Capital, with participation from Founders Collective and angel investors like Evan Williams.
ECOMMERCE: eCommerce site fell a long way from its near-unicorn days. Bed Bath & Beyond paid just $11.78 million to acquire online retailer One Kings Lane earlier this year, according to recently-filed regulatory documents. The deal was publicly announced in June, but Bed Bath & Beyond BBBY -0.22% only would say that the “purchase price was not material” to the company, which currently has an enterprise value of around $7.6 billion. One press report suggested a price tag south of $30 million, but it seems even that estimate was way too high.
ECOMMERCE: While an aggressive and memorable ad effort featuring Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino, and Missy Elliot may have contributed to Echo’s increasing awareness and popularity, its value proposition, robust and growing functionality and perceived promise are ushering in a new era – the AI, Machine Learning and voice UI era. Here are a few trends and predictions to look for as we prepare for this exciting wave which will most certainly become ever more present in our everyday lives and tasks.
MEDIA: There's no indication in the short trailer whether or not the tablet includes a touchscreen, a la Nintendo's Wii U. The trailer does show a brief scene of a user inserting a small, SD-like flash memory card into the top of the system, seemingly confirming rumors that the system will not distribute physical games on discs. The short teaser trailer briefly showed gameplay footage from The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, Super Mario, and Splatoon series.
FINTECH: Ranta, who is in the under-35 age group, likes the idea that he can use his iPhone with Apple Pay instead of a credit card to pay for things. The only problem is that not every store will accept Apple Pay. "I'm pretty outspoken with my frustration with Apple Pay," Ranta said. "I live in New York and can't really use Apple Pay without my wallet for purchases at gas stations and other places. When I pull out my phone to pay, I have to know they accept apple Pay. The biggest problem they have is that it's not universally accepted."
ECOMMERCE: More than half of respondents said they prefer to receive a percentage off the entire purchase, and almost as many said they prefer to receive a percentage of an item. Fewer internet users said they preferred to get a free gift with a purchase. With percentage-off coupons, shoppers save more by spending more—which may end up being better for the retailer than for the savvy shopper. With dollar amounts off, shoppers likely feel less compelled to splurge. But, in turn, retailers may be less likely to see a bigger impulse purchase.
ECOMMERCE: Customer journey analysis, according to the client-side respondents at least, is the most effective way to optimize conversions—and just under half are doing it already. A/B testing was also highly likely to be rated effective, both in 2015 and 2016. More than half of brand marketers also said website personalization and segmentation were helpful.
RETAIL: We’ve heard the doom-and-gloom about U.S. department stores. Yet, the retail community warmly received recent news of Anthropologie & Co., which is basically a department store. Why the optimism? Let’s take a step back and consider what made department stores appealing in the first place.
ECOMMERCE: The brand operates two sites: Imprint (formerly Need) and Foremost. Imprint was a monthly e-publication that featured just a dozen menswear items in an editorial format, making it easy for men to quickly decide what they wanted to buy. And Foremost was an actual clothing brand created by the company that sold basic essentials for men and women. While these two brands are shutting down (including Imprint’s popular iOS app), their persona will live on as part of Q Clothier’s new e-commerce strategy.
ECOMMERCE: eCommerce was a growing phenomenon at the time in India. Venture capital and private equity (PE) firms were demonstrating their faith in the potential of e-commerce in the country. The sector received $305 million of funding in 2011, an almost sixfold jump from $55 million in 2010, according to a 2012 report by research firm EY. The idea behind Ecom Express was to set up a dedicated logistics firm to take care of the shipping and distribution needs of the e-commerce sector. Until then, it was largely catered to by courier services providers such as Blue Dart.
CPG: It will be Bai's biggest marketing campaign since its founding in 2009. Sales have grown 150% since launching its first national marketing campaign last year. The company totaled $120 million in sales in 2015, and this year it's on track to reach $300 million, the company says. As chief flavor officer, Timberlake will work with the executive team at Bai's headquarters near Trenton, New Jersey, Weiss said.
BRAND: We took a look on Wednesday at the new 2016 Brand Loyalty survey results and the 20 brands at the top of the rankings. Of the 100 brands included in the study, conducted annually by brand consulting firm Brand Keys, 35 were involved in some way with digital technology or social networking brands. The 35 brands were the largest sub-group of the top brands, but the next largest was retail with 17 brands among the top 100.
Last Word: Ben Thompson On Snapchat's Brand Media Shift
Snapchat: With this model Snapchat will have complete control of monetization on its platform. The fact that the company, like Facebook, previously let 3rd parties effectively sell advertising in its app has always been a bit weird, and this move not only fixes that but also insulates Snapchat from publishers agitating for influence on the product’s design. For example, under the old model, when Snapchat pushed down Discovery content last month, the company had to be concerned that publishing partners would start investing less in Snapchat content; by divorcing publisher revenue from views Snapchat can focus completely on its own interests.
Content Providers: Content providers, meanwhile, get a predictable and consistent revenue stream that is directly aligned with their core competency: making content. As I noted above I already think many content providers would be better off dumping their definitionally inferior ad-selling efforts anyways; direct payment simply formalizes this shift and provides needed predictability. More on this point below.
Users: This is the real payoff: if content providers are simply paid for producing good content, not by ads, then the incentives that drive what is created are fundamentally different. There will be a much greater focus on quality and impact, not just clicks. After all, the question will be whether or not the content makes the overall experience better.
This last point is, I think/hope, a really big deal: under the old model publisher and platform incentives were often aligned, but not always, and when they didn’t it was almost always in a way that was bad for users (misleading headlines) and, arguably, society (peddling falsehoods, etc.). Now, by paying publishers for content, Snapchat is not just assuming full control of what users see but also accepting full responsibility, and given that Snapchat, like all aggregators, wins by providing a superior user experience, it is the users who will benefit.