A monthly roundup of emerging trends, events and innovation happening in and outside
the Ad Council.
Alexa, make me coffee….. in my Audi?
In 2015, Elon Musk and Google predicted self driving cars would be swerving in the streets by 2018. According to CES, we’re not there yet (and thank goodness). But walking the floors of CES and seeing autonomous cars, shuttles and taxis from companies like Audi, Kia, GM, Ford and Mercedes with Alexa and Google Home assistant built in--it can be hard to believe. In reality, AI experts predict it may be decades (they are calling this reality check the “AI Winter”) before a fully autonomous self driving system can navigate without accidents.
Once cars and shuttles are fully autonomous and able to navigate us without danger, we can spend our time in vehicles doing other things – like shopping, watching movies, playing games, warming up before the gym, making coffee (Thanks Lavazza) or getting some work done. The most mind-boggling thing was seeing the massive Bell Nexus helicopter, which you will be able to order as a flying taxi. Drivers can also navigate it without a pilot license (not frightening at all).
We’ll share what trends from CES stood out to us and why they’re relevant for our industry on 2/19 @ 1PM. Join us!
Ok so AI isn’t driving cars yet. What exactly is it doing?
AI is making music, detecting diseases, screening resumes, make our photos look instagrammable and even assessing our credit scores. Scientists are even training AI to diagnose mental illness. According to WHO, about 300 million people are afflicted with depression and 60 million with bipolar disorder. Doctors and scientists are questioning whether our current diagnosis methods are accurate or viable (especially in communities where access to care is limited). Will the machine learning approach prove superior? Before it can, what mistakes will it make along the way? What will the implications be? Hmmmmm 😒
Trying to understand what AI is and what it can/can’t do? Cool. Verge put together a reading list (short stories and books) just for that purpose. Let us know what you’re reading!
Is this too weird?
Sundance’s New Frontier, designed to feature new storytelling forms that leverage technology and AR and VR got extra weird this year. Oculus released The Under Presents, a social VR game that will teleport you from your seat to an absurd universe that combines VR, remote live actors and an immersive theater. While VR has been failing to find the perfect use case, Oculus believes that The Under Presents may be weird enough to work. If the Oculus experience isn’t odd enough, you can always fine dine in VR, karaoke with a digital puppet, use AR through your phone to solve a murder mystery or collaborate with Mica, an artificial personality noted as the “human center of AI and mixed reality” - whatever that means.
Poppy, the 22 year old YouTube star (12 million views) called “part bubblegum, part robot, part pop princess” was a standout at New Frontier. She has her own online church and stars in her own AR film as a hologram, A Jester’s Tale - created by RYOT and 1RIC. Weird or not, Sundance New Frontier signified a shift in storytelling and emphasized the evolving the play between us (no longer just the audience), characters, our reality, universes and stories.
Another profound part of Sundance this year was a product from the #MeTooMovement and the founder, Tarana Burke. At the tail end of #OscarSoMale trend, four deeply moving PSA videos released by the#MeToo movement were screened, with one voiced by actor Terry Crews.
Read more about her vision and the four PSAs here.
What is happening?!
If you’ve been on social media, then you’ve felt it - the awkward and bizarre number of layoffs. BuzzFeed laid off 250 workers because it’s raised $500 million over the last decade without turning a profit. HuffPost is laying off 20 writers and two sections. Verizon is cutting 800 jobs. Gannett plans to cut over 20 jobs, including several Pulitzer Prize winning journalists as it prepares for a possible buyout. Oy. On the plus side, the community in the world wide web is trying to help them out. Check out this aggregate of the talented BuzzFeed folks that got laid off and are ready for their next opportunity!
Here’s the thing--the struggle to sustain businesses that uphold trustworthy news is real. Policymakers are struggling too, over copyright rules for the internet age. Europe is in conflict over two articles: “Article 11 simply gives publishers the right to ask for paid licenses when their news stories are shared by online platforms.” This means every time you share an article on social, someone has to pay a licensing fee/tax. Should it be you or the social platforms? “Article 13 says that online platforms are liable for content uploaded by users that infringes copyright.” This means that platforms like Facebook & Instagram would be more liable for what you upload and would have to monitor whether there was copyright infringement. Wherever Europe lands on this issue, it will affect many companies - and it may require the U.S.to make some changes of its own.
During the campaign development process, we often wish we could get quick, direct feedback from our target audiences on various concepts. But arranging that additional research can oftentimes be too costly and/or time consuming. So, we’re partnering with Alpha to do quick-hit research on a wide variety of questions throughout the campaign development process, at very low cost for campaigns and very quick turnaround. We just wrapped up the pro-bono pilot phase and are gearing up to start using it for several campaigns. It went really well (ask your Digital or Strategy teammate if you want to learn more)! And listen to Rachelle & Anastasia on their podcast (they killed it).
Our teams are hoping that Alpha will allow us to experiment, gain valuable insights quickly and reduce the risk of investing time, money and resources.
Happenings at the Ad Council:
Splashtalk: The Best of CES 2019 and Why It Matters for Us on 2/19 @ 1PM EST
Splashtalk: Blockchain 101 @ 2/6 at 3PM EST
Trends & Coffee: 2/27 @ 11:30 AM EST. We’ll chat about some trends that are catching our eye.
Splashbox (2-day innovation training) is being scheduled for late May or early June. If you haven’t signed up and want to, email Ariba.
Xbox finally designed a gaming controller for gamers with disabilities. Also there’s work on getting Alexa to understand sign language. Amen for accessibility. According to WebAim, 8.5% of the population has a disability that affects computer use and about 20% of any web traffic may be coming from those with a disability. 😲