Friday Wrap #155: Google’s game-changer, the net’s slowing growth, the state of print, smart bottles

Friday Wrap #155
Flickr photo courtesy of Matt Reinbold
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, though with the release of Mary Meeker’s annual report on the state of the internet and the annual Google I/O previews, held yesterday, a couple of the items in today’s Wrap have made quite a splash. 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.


Google changes everything with app-based search—Google’s relevance has been questioned in the shift to mobile. Sure, Android is big and Google Now is incredibly useful. But Google’s income comes from search, problematic in an app-driven world. That’s about to change. At its annual Google I/O preview, the company unveiled a feature of its next-generation Android release (called “M” for now; we’ll have to wait for the dessert-themed moniker that will follow Lollipop) that lets Google now float above any app you happen to run. Press the phone’s “home” button, and Google will deliver contextual search information on whatever you’re doing in that app. The feature, called Now on Tap, could deliver information about the artist you’re listening to on Spotify or, if you’re looking at a restaurant in an Instagram photo, it would produce the restaurant’s Yelp and Foursquare listings, along with information about how far away it is from your present location. Read more

Twitter unveils Audience Insights—A new analytics tool is available from Twitter, offering deeper levels of information about the users engaging with them. The Audience Insights dashboard offers details about demographics, interests, lifestyle, purchasing behavior, TV viewing patterns, and mobile usage behavior. Audience Insights is available to any advertiser or analytics user. Read more

Apple acquires AR company Metaio—Apple is typically mum about the reason behind its acquisition of Metaio, a German company focused on augmented reality (AR). Metaio is the company behind the Junaio AR browser, which a lot of companies bought into, creating channels to lift their brands. There’s reportedly a lot of “flipping out” among clients who learned by visiting the Junaio home page that new channel publishing won’t be available after next month and the app and channels will vanish in mid-December. Read more


Internet growth slows, mobile use surges—In her eagerly awaited State of the Internet presentation, Kleiner Perkins analyst Mary Meeker said growth in the number of internet users has slowed to less than 10% a year while smartphone use is growing at 20% annually; growth in both is slowing. Meanwhile, mobile traffic as a percentage of total global internet traffic is likely to continue to surge; it’s at 25% right now. Read more

Marketers struggle to find their brands in visual content—It was easy to search the blogosphere to find out who was talking about a brand. When a brand appears in an image shared on Instagram, though, finding that reference is a lot harder. According to an ad-tech expert, nearly 60% of all digital impressions are driven by images, and 85% of images posted that include a logo don’t offer any searchable text to help brands find it. New technologies are being developed to address the problem, like Mantii, an “in-image ad platform” that overlays ads on images. L’Oreal, for instance, targeted as to run over pictures based on the hair color of the women in the photos. Read more

Advertisers push back—Big-money brands are scaling back advertising budgets from publishers like YouTube and Facebook that don’t allow brands to have third-party viewability companies verify the viewing numbers the publishers claim to achieve. Ad viewability is a big concern for brands, leading companies with big ad budgets to insist that publishers charge them only for ads that had a 100% chance of being seen, or at least let them hire independent companies to verify publisher numbers. Read more

Print’s still not dead, but…—If you judge the health of print based on the health of publications, Mary Meeker’s numbers can’t be reassuring. The amount of time adults in America spend on print is just 4%—TV accounts for 37% followed by the internet and mobile devices (24% each). Meanwhile, 18% of advertising dollars are going to print (TV wins again, with 47% of ad money going to the tube). When advertisers figure out they’re spending too much for the attention they get in return, we could see the sudden demise of a lot of print publications. There’s still a lot of print that works outside the world of magazines and newspapers, though, and some organizations (like AirBnB) have decided branded print magazines (not dependent on advertising) are just the thing to help elevate the brand, so don’t write the entire category off just yet. Read more

As if to prove the point…—Even students—the vaunted digital natives—still love notebooks. When one recent college graduate developed a paper planner to meet her needs and offered it up as a Kickstarter project, the $10,000 she sought was exceeded by more than half a million dollars. Clearly the idea of a paper-based organizer resonated with the crowdfunding crowd. Read more

Pinterest doesn’t want you to think of it as a social network—Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann doesn’t see the company as a social network and doesn’t want you to, either. Social networks are for connecting with people while Pinterest is just about you, he said. You pin to save, not to share. All those repins you see all over Pinterest? Just a sideshow, according to Silbermann. Read more

Can Google Images be more diverse?—Search Google images for pictures of a hand and odds are the images returned will all be white. Swedish design student Johanna Burai has responded with the launch of the World White Web campaign designed to inspire Google to deliver more racially diverse images in response to image search queries. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Periscope for Android is here—Meerkat beat Periscope to Android with the release of as beta version, but now Android users can use the leading live mobile video streaming app and the enhancements not available to iOS users, including notifications to let you know when a follower goes live, shared a broadcast, or been followed by another user. You can also save broadcasts without needing to upload a file, among other Android-only features. Read more

Think live mobile video streaming is a flash in the pan?—I don’t think so. In fact, Periscope and Meerkat—and whatever other tools they may spawn (such as live streaming capability added to Snapchat)—will emerge as a huge category with significant impacts. One sign: Twitter’s Periscope—which has only been around for two months, has streamed 380 years worth of content so far, and is streaming 10y ears worth of content every day. Read more

Meerkat introduces developer platform and API—Periscope may be winning the app download war, but Meerkat sees bigger things than just a live mobile video streaming app. The company has launched a developer platform and a collection of APIs that will let third-party developers build tools that could introduce new uses for Meerkat and build the service into separate services. Nearly 40 developers have built add-ons to the app so far. Read more

The Internet of Things comes to booze—Beverage company Diageo and Thinfilm Electronics have introduced a prototype “smart bottle” for the Johnnie Walkier Blue Label whisky. Using a smartphone’s near Field Communication (NFC) chip, Diageo can detect when a bottle has been opened and then could send personal communications to consumers close to the bottle. Since the bottle has been opened, messaging wouldn’t be sales-oriented, but rather “on how to best enjoy this product,” according to a spokesman. Read more


We’re missing out on digital earned media opportunities—I reported on the gap between publishers’ need for video and the PR industry’s inclination to deliver it on the podcast a week or two ago. Now digital video communications firm DS Simon Productions has reinforced it in a report that found 76% of producers and journalists working with digital properties use outside-produced video. Seventy-four percent will post or link to the entire video rather than just use a segment of it. Currently, a tiny fraction of pitches include video and most online newsrooms have no video gallery or a sparsely populated one. Video is the path to earned media. Read more

Small businesses see little ROI on social media—Nearly 60% of small business owners say they aren’t seeing any return on investment from their social media efforts. Networks will have to prove value if they want to keep attracting small-business investment, according to small business consulting firm Manta. Read more

Who are Twitter’s 0.5%?—Among the 300 million active Twitter users, only about 150,000 are verified users. Twitter defines them as “highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.” Given the fact that a full 25% of verified users are journalists, perhaps that category might have appeared a little higher in the list. That’s far and away the biggest group of these very active users, with sports, teams, and athletes taking second place with about 18%. Read more