Is This Real Life?: SciFi Tech Comes to Life

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As David Goes to Dentist might say, “Is this real life?”

This week, Japanese scientists have demonstrated a super flexible electronic skin, or e-skin display made from organic electronics, which could someday replace our smartphone displays. This breakthrough could present a huge potential leap in the field of wearable devices, implying that what was once only available on our desktop computers, then laptops, then smartphones, and now smart watches, could someday actually be displayed directly on our skin. According to Takao Someya, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Tokyo, and author of a paper on the new device published April 15 in the journal Science Advances, “Our e-skin can be directly laminated on the surface of the skin, allowing us to electronically functionalize human skin… [and] may replace the smartphone in the future.”

Cool? Ingenious? Creepy? Honestly, as someone who has an irrational fear of stickers, this idea absolutely terrifies me. What do you think…would you be an early adopter for this new technology?

Welcome to the Blogosphere

After 8 weeks of blogging, I am beginning to see the greater benefits of blogging for businesses. The company I currently work for has no blog, and honestly very little social media presence at all. Considering our primary target market are millennials this is a serious missed opportunity. Sysomos suggests that the most active bloggers are younger people, split evenly among gender, who have grown up during the blogging “revolution.” And of those active users, there are more than four times as many bloggers in the U.S. as there are in the second most populated country within the blogosphere (United Kingdom).

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In order to encourage greater use of these media to engage consumers and create much needed 2-way communication with our target audience I need to be able to convince the powers that be of the competitive advantage blogging could provide our company. HubSpot offers a great list of the potential benefits blogging can bring to any business, including:

  • Driving traffic to your site
  • Converting that traffic into leads
  • Establishing authority on a subject users often search for
  • Driving long-term results
  • Communicating PR-type information, like product releases or event information

Is your company in desperate need of a blog? How would you convince them?

Is There a Patch for That?: Fitbit Addiction

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As I Fitbit owner and wearer, I am truly fascinated by the psychology of the device. I have discovered an interesting phenomenon which takes place when I have the device on, and many others seem to have experienced it as well. It is true for other devices as well, like the Apple or the Garmin watches. Within the first few days of wearing it, I was made very aware of just how sedentary my desk job had made me. After a while, I began walking during my breaks, making extra trips to the copier, water cooler or bathroom and including longer walks in my nightly routine. Weekly challenges made me even more committed to my goals (and beating my friends and family)! I even caught myself running around the house before bed so I could just get 500 more steps. Great, right?! I was changing my daily routine to improve my health and happiness.

But then one day my fitbit died and it all seemed so pointless. Not life in general, just those few extra steps, daily walks and nightly run-arounds. If I’m not “getting credit” for my steps, why take them? If there is rain in the forecast, why join a weekly challenge that I know I will lose? While I may have thought the Fitbit made me more active, did it in fact just make me crazy?

I do not blame the technology itself, but rather my own relationship to the device. It has definitely changed the way I view my daily routine, but when it is not attached to me am I really any healthier, happier, more active? Instead of changing the users lifestyle, the Fitbit actually creates a sense of dependency on the device itself. This could perhaps be a clever marketing ploy by the brand to not only create loyal customers, but to create addicted customers. Hey, it has worked for tobacco and caffeine brands, why not Fitbit?

What about you, are you addicted?

Are Banking Apps Safe?

In the age of mobile, consumers can do just about anything on their phone, saving us time, money and often frustration. Think of all of the annoying daily, weekly or monthly tasks you used to have to do by hand, in person or manually. One such task is a trip to the bank.

Earlier in this blog we discussed getting mortgages on your phone through Rocket Mortgage and the potential drawbacks of this idea. However, that is not to say that all mobile banking is bad. There are everyday tasks like depositing checks or transferring money that can be completed without much assistance. And now thanks to mobile banking we can do just that with the touch of a button on our phones. The convenience factor is huge here, saving consumers long waits for bank tellers, untimely bank hours or grid-lock at the drive through windows.

But just like with anything else there are drawbacks, most importantly with banking safety and security. Most noteable are malicious mobile phishing websites that pass themselves off as login websites of banks, tricking users into entering their login information. Below you can see that financial services account for over 40% of mobile phishing pages as of Q3 2013:

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In order to protect consumers from online banking security threats, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released a few helpful tips for mobile users:

  1. Be proactive in securing the mobile device itself
  2. Be careful about where and how you conduct transactions
  3. Take additional precautions in case your device is lost or stolen
  4. Research any application (“app”) before downloading it
  5. Be on guard against unsolicited e-mails or text messages appearing to link to a financial institution’s Web site

Are You Asking AND Answering the Right Questions?

As more and more consumers move from desktop to mobile devices, voice search is continuing to grow rapidly in popularity and use. With this change in consumer search behavior it will be critical for brands to provide users with valuable content in the form of conversational answers to frequently asked questions about their products or services. Where is the closest coffee shop? How do I save for retirement? Who won the 2016 Super Bowl? If questions like these are relevant to your business, then it will be critical for your online content to include direct answers to these consumer questions. Recent data compiled by Search Engine Land found a 61 per cent year-on-year growth in searchers’ use of question phrases, like How, What, Where, When, Who.

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Here are some examples of how specific industries can focus on answering consumer questions relevant to their brands:
WHO?
Q: Who sings Shake It Off?
A: Musicians, actors, authors and other celebrities, like Taylor Swift might want to ensure their online content addresses specific questions which users are likely to have about their life and their work in order to draw traffic to their fan pages or increase book sales, digital downloads or movie tickets sold.
WHAT?
Q: What is a Roth IRA?
A: Financial Service providers should focus on answering What? questions like this with relevant descriptions, graphics and other useful information on their corporate websites. This will help consumers searching for financial guidance as they begin their mobile voice searches.

WHERE?

Q: Where is the nearest Best Buy?
A: The retail industry should definitely focus on including location information as well as hours of operation on mobile websites in order to attract mobile users looking for their stores on the go.

WHEN?

Q: When does Zootopia start at Showcase Cinemas?
A: Brands that offer time specific services, like movie theaters should ensure that their online content reflect the way consumers search for their services using voice search.

HOW?

Q: How do I replace a kitchen faucet?

A: Home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot already do a great job of including how to tutorials and videos for DIY home projects within their websites and social media channels. Other brands should take note of  the effectiveness of this strategy and include answers to popular How? questions on their own mobile websites.

Google Ads or Facebook Ads

While Google was once the marketer’s only go-to search engine for ad placement, today there are a number of different platforms available to marketers including ads social media channels. Google remains the most popular search engine for both consumers and marketers, $59.62 billion in advertising revenue in 2014. But Facebook is gaining steadily, earning nearly $12.5 billion that same year. As evidence by their ever-increasing advertising revenue, Facebook is no longer just a social networking destination for friends to connect with other friends, but rather a platform for users to communicate directly with brands and vice versa.

While both Google ads and Facebook ads allows marketers to reach consumers based on their location and demographics, there are pros and cons for both platforms. Depending on your brand’s needs and goals one site may be more beneficial than the other. However, for most brands a good mix of both Google and Facebook ads will work well with your integrated marketing campaign to increase immediate sales, build brand awareness and promote lead generation. Wishpond has put together the infographic below to help marketers better understand the benefits of each platform for their business.

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Virtual Reality Reality

Emerging media is not just limited to the most innovative tech companies these days! Brands big and small are using emerging media like social media, mobile apps and virtual reality to engage their fans, users and customers in active two-way communication. Virtual Reality (VR), which was once just an idea in sci-fi films, is now being used in nearly every industry including, entertainment, healthcare, real estate, sports, travel, auto, food, beverage and education.

VR in Entertainment

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Just recently, the hit show on ABC, Nashville used virtual reality to give viewers a 360 degree view of one of their favorite Nashville hot spots, the Bluebird Café. According to The Tennessean, the show filmed in the actual Bluebird Café (as opposed to their replica set) for the first time in four years. Using a 360-degree camera, the crew was able to record performances “in the round.” The final product will be available to fans via consumer VR headsets as well as in 360-degree video for mobile and Web browsers later this spring.

Healthcare

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The healthcare industry is always on the forefront of technology, so it is no surprise that VR has been used in hospitals for robotic surgery, remote telesurgery and medical training.

Real Estate

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The Real Estate industry has also experimented with VR, using 360-degree cameras to create virtual home tours as a way for potential buyers to experience the house before ever setting up a traditional showing.

Sports

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Professional athletic teams, like the Dallas Cowboys have implemented VR as a strategy for gaining insight into plays and monitoring the competition, saving teams to save time and eliminating the risk of injury.

Other industries utilizing VR include: Travel & Hospitality, Auto, Food & Beverage, and Education

 

 

Rocket Mortgage: Rocketing to Ruin?

Last updated March 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm.

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How many of you watched the Super Bowl last month? Did you see the ad for Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, the app that makes home buying simple, fast and completely online?

If you’ve seen this ad, then maybe you have also seen the 2015 movie The Big Short, about the greed and lack of foresight of big banks and those that were able to predict the housing market collapse off 2008. What this film and other critics have pointed out, is that the reason for the financial collapse were the bad mortgages that many Americans found themselves tied to because banks were incentivized to sell mortgages to people who could not necessarily afford the monthly payments. Rocket Mortgage emphasizes the fact that it streamlines the mortgage buying process. However, this raises the ethical issue of how using this emerging media might contribute to another financial collapse.

While we have apps for streaming content, games and shopping, these are all relatively low cost/ low risk purchases that can be made without consideration for long term impact. Mortgages on the other hand represent a long-term commitment that can tremendously affect your financial health. Even though Rocket Mortgage claims to focus on simplifying the application process, there is still some value to talking directly with a bank representative about your long-term financial goals. I know, from my own experience as a first-time homebuyer, that our loan officer was an invaluable resource as my husband and I discussed not only which mortgage rates we could afford, but also which put us in the strongest financial position for our future. The app may effectively calculate risk and affordability, but each individual’s situation is different and not always represented by hard numbers. Human relationships are still an important part of the banking industry and should be incorporated into an emerging media trends, like the Rocket Mortgage app.