Friday Wrap #157: DMs unchained, Apple ad-blocking, VR in NFL training camp, internal comms lives

Posted on June 12, 2015 9:30 am by | Content | Visual Communication | Wearables | Advertising | Attention | Brands | Business | Internal | Marketing | Media | Mobile | PR | Research | Social Media | Twitter | Video

Friday Wrap #157
Wikimedia Commons photo courtesy of Andrew Dressel
The Friday Wrap is my weekly collection of news stories, posts, studies, and reports designed to help organizational communicators stay current on the trends and technology that affect their jobs. These may be items that flew under the radar while other stories grabbed big headlines. I collect material from which I select Wrap stories (as well as stories to report on the For Immediate Release podcast) on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.


Twitter DMs can be as long as you want—Starting next month, you’ll be able to DM your friends on Twitter with a message of any length you like. The 140-character limit will still apply to regular tweets, but it’s being lifted from Direct Messages. Clearly, Twitter sees the adoption of messaging apps ranging from WhatsApp to Facebook’s Messenger, and must wonder how many users they’re losing because the messaging feature is too limiting. There’s also the fact that users who opt in can get DMs from people (and brands) they don’t follow, so marketers must be clamoring to be able to send one-on-one messages of more substance. Read more

CNN introduces studio to make news-like content for advertisers—Cable news giant CNN has launched an in-house study to produce content that mirrors CNN news reports on behalf of advertisers. Other publishers have gone down this path—notably BuzzFeed, Atlantic, and The New York Times—but this is the first cable news operation to make the leap. The unit, named Courageous, will create and distribute native ads across CNN’s various properties, including its cable news operations and its website. Read more

What HuffPo did for blogging it wants to do for video—The Huffington Post expects half of its content will be video within the next year thanks to a new network of video creators. HuffPo has inked a deal with BroadbandTV—a digital video network—to create a network of citizen video journalists. Dubbed Outspeak, the network will let people who join crate and upload their own news videos, which will be distributed on the Posts’ site and YouTube. The notion of citizen journalism exploded with HuffPo’s blogger program, and founder/editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington plans to invest $1 million in Outspeak in hopes it will have the same effect. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Apple brings ad-blocking to mobile Safari—Mobile ad blockers have grown in popularity. Recently, UK mobile carriers announced they’d offer it to customers. Now, Apple—which has tried and failed to enter the ad game—has revealed adblocking is coming to the iPhone and iPad via iOS 9. To be sure, terrible and intrusive ads are to blame for consumer readiness to block, but ads are also the most important model for supporting free apps. As one commentator noted, it was advertising that enabled newspapers to free themselves of politically-motivated owners. Without ads, where will growth of mobile apps come from? Read more

A tough road ahead for Meerkat and Periscope—Only 21% of respondents to a poll said they had used or were even interested in using the live mobile video streaming apps Meerkat or Periscope. The younger the respondents the more interest they showed, with half of millennials saying they’d use the apps, dipping to 7% for those 65 or older. Only 9% of Internet users had heard of Meerkat and 6% were aware of Periscope. Considering Meerkat, the older of the apps, has been around since only February, neither should be too worried. Read more

Social sharing buttons on mobile pages don’t deliver—You know those social sharing buttons on your website? The ones that let people share your page to Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere? When users see them on their mobile devices, they don’t use them. (Or maybe they just don’t see them.) In any case, a study found only 0.2% of users on mobile devices ever click those buttons (or, viewed another way, 99.8% don’t share via those buttons). When they do share, they share via Facebook three times more than they do through Twitter. Users are 115 times more likely to tap an advertisement (you know, the ones Apple and British mobile carriers want to block) than tap a social sharing button. On desktops, the buttons do a better job, with users 35% more likely to click one than mobile users. Read more


Video returns to the silent era—Talkies revolutionized the movies, but the trend today is going back to silent pictures. Marketers are rethinking video ads to adjust to the soundless environment while also trying to get consumers’ attention in an environment where it’s ridiculously easy to flick past content you don’t want to see (or hear). Very short videos with text overlays are getting more and more popular. Read more

Dallas Cowboys training will go virtual—The NFL franchise Dallas Cowboys have dedicated a room in their training facility to virtual reality. Players will use an Oculus rift or other headset to watch scrimmages recorded by 360-degree cameras installed on players’ helmets. One coach said the VR “allows you to get a little closer (to the action) so you can coach better.” One can only wonder how long it will be before similar VR implementations find their way into workplace training. Read more

YouTube viewers abandon stars for newer stars—Michelle Phan was an early YouTube star, building a beauty empire that includes her own makeup brand, a beauty products sample subscription service, and other properties. But her audience is drifting away, with newer beauty bloggers earning twice the views Phan has been getting. They’re fickle, those YouTube fans, and brands should respond by avoiding getting too entrenched with a single star. Read more

Real-time marketing isn’t easy—Every brand, it seems, wants to engage in real-time, latching onto breaking news in order to leverage interest in the story to its own advantage. Among 200 top-level marketers, though, only 4% are set up to respond within a minute. Eight percent can do it within 5-8 hours, 13% with 1-4 hours, 22% within 31-59 minutes, 25% in 1-15 minutes, and 26% in 16-30 minutes. Forty percent aren’t even trying. Read more


Employee communications is SO not dead—If you listen to the voices calling for the end of internal communication as a discrete corporate function, you do so at your peril. A new Harris poll has found that employees who believe their company communicates information of value to them are more than twice as likely as those who don’t—76% to 36%—to rate their company’s reputation as good. Seventy-five percent of employees whose companies communicate well believe the organization’s best years are ahead of it, compared to 47% of employees who work for companies that communicate poorly. Communication plays a central role in ensuring employees know the organizations goals and objectives, and 71% of employees who are familiar with them see the company as reputable compared to 39% of those who aren’t familiar with the goals and objectives. Ditto awareness of company performance. Read more

Journalists don’t trust PR—And they have good reason, if the data are correct. Ninety percent of journalists responding to a survey from video communications firm DS Simon Productions said they have been misled by PR practitioners; 25% said it happens all the time. The biggest problem appears to be PR’s failure to include proper disclosure in the content they pitch. Read more

Survey says: Social media is intrusive and can’t be measured—Company use of social media can be seen as disruptive according to 55% of senior marketing executives and 52% of consumers, according to a survey commissioned by Marketing Executives networking Group. But wait, there’s more. Senior marketing executives also believe the data generated by social media activity isn’t actionable; 39% say the data from social media isn’t useful to them. One exec says it’s still difficult to integrate social media into an communications ecosystem and measure it as part of the whole, not just within its own silo. Read more

Tools and Resources

Making emojis easier to use—Brands are jumping all over the emoji trend—and why not, considering they enable communication across languages? But they can be a pain to figure out. Emotes is a new website that lets you copy and paste hundreds of emojis. Read more

My Album enables visual stories packed with data—My Album is a web app that lets you create visual stories from photos and videos that weave in data and original design. Upload your photos and videos and the app’s algorithm will pick the best ones. Next, “enrich” the collection with text, maps, the weather at the time you took the picture, tourist information, and more from among the tools built into the app. The stories created in My Album are designed for sharing with a smaller, defined audience. Read more

Have your mind blown by Google’s Project Soli—It’s only in the research phase right now, but early demos of Google’s Project Soli are stunning. The idea is to interact with a sensor using radar technology that tracks your movement. With your fingers near a device (a smartwatch, for example, or a Bluetooth speaker) to scroll through menus or adjust volume. You have to see the short videos to believe what Google has in store for us. Read more

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