Friday Wrap #149: Foursquare for sale, GE on TV, a hologram protest, brand emojis, fake reviews

Friday Wrap 149
Flickr photo courtesy of Michael Coghlan

The Friday Wrap is a review of news, posts, reports, and other items appearing in the last week that will help you stay on top of the forces shaping communication in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment. These are stories that may have been lost in the flood of headline news stories. I collect all of the items from which I choose the Wrap stories in my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.


Will Yahoo buy Foursquare?—The rumor mill says Yahoo, which has been pivoting to mobile in a big way, could offer $900 million to acquire the geolocation app. Read more

GE is producing a six-part TV series—Sponsoring a TV show is an age-old practice for brands like GE. Actually producing one? That’s new. Yet that’s just what GE is doing, in partnership with Imagine Entertainment. The six-part series for the National Geographic Channel will deal with science and technology. That’s consistent with GE’s social media themes as the company seeks to inspire kids to embrace STEM topics (science, technology, engineering, and math). Expect to see GE scientists—there are 4,000 of them—appearing in the episodes. Read more

Snapchat stops selling Brand Stories—Snapchat’s original advertising platform, Brand Stories, is no more. The company has stopped selling the ads that let companies share content with users who weren’t following them. Snapchat is apparently reworking the aesthetics of Brand Stories, which could be reintroduced, though there’s no word when that might happen. Some advertisers are paying as much as $100,000 daily to advertise on Snapchat. the company is pushing Our Stories as an advertising alternative. Read more

EFF busts podcasting patent—The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been fighting Personal Audio, LLC, which holds patents it has been using to squeeze payments from successful podcasters. On April 10, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the key claims of the “podcasting patent,” ending the patent troll’s ability to threaten podcasters. Read more

Twitter’s hopes to attract logged-out users with new homepage—Twitter has unveiled a new home page displayed when users are logged out. It contains topic categories users can click to see related tweets. Categories include Pop Artists, Tech Blogs & Reporters, Actors & Actresses, TV Shows & Stars, Politics, and Cute Animals. Nearly half of Twitter’s active user base visit the page each month without logging in. The new page is designed to motivate users to sign in when they visit or sign up for an account. Read more

Redesigned embedded tweets are coming—What you see when you view an embedded tweet will change soon as Twitter applies a makeover to embeds. Visual content will go edge-to-edge, dynamically adjusting both size and resolution depending on the kind of device being used. Read more

LexisNexis gets into the media monitoring game—The Nexis part of LexisNexis has always been a great tool for searching media content. Now, LexisNexis is introducing Newsdesk, a media aggregation, monitoring, and analytics tool. Newsdesk enters a crowded field, but LexisNexis predates any of its competitors, so its ability to let customers find, analyze, and share key insights about the company, industry, and competitors could give it a leg up. Read more


Here come the holograms—When Spain’s government outlawed some forms of protest—including gathering in front of Parliament—a protest group coordinated a hologram protest. The “ghostly virtual projections” in front of Parliament weren’t real people, so they didn’t run afoul of the law. When will we get a holodeck? Read more

What you post today could haunt you in five years—Five years ago, big game hunter Rebecca Francis posted a photo of herself lying beside a giraffe she had killed. The image didn’t raise much of a stir then, but this week, comedian Ricky Gervais found it and tweeted it out with the message, “What must’ve happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling?” The tweet provoked a massive response attacking Francis, who had to respond. The attacks have continued after her response. Read more

Brand advertising embraces emojis—A variety of brands have taken to using emojis to communicate with their audiences. Among the brands tapping into emojis are Bud Light, GE, and Oreo. The Digiday article doesn’t mention Burger King, which found users were making their own emojis about the reintroduced Chicken Fries, leading the fast food company to create its own Chicken Fries emoji keyboard. Read more

Will you soon able to find podcasts on Spotify?—It appears Swedish music streaming company Spotify is readying an app update that will add podcasts to the platform. The company has reportedly held talks with prospective content partners that would bring podcasts to the music player. It already streams some podcast-like content. Being able to add podcasts to the streaming media tool users already use could give podcasts a considerable bump. Read more

Selfies are useful in hotel marketing—You may be sick to death of them, but selfies can prove beneficial for hotel marketing efforts. One study found 25% of Americans post a photo within an hour of arriving at a vacation destination. “Selfies aren’t going away any time soon so it makes sense to capitalise on them in order to have your guests do your hotel digital marketing for you, especially for hotels based in Asia,” according to eHotlier. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Stream Game of Thrones, lose your Twitter account—Among the many uses for live-streaming video apps, I bet the creators of Periscope and Meerkat didn’t expect people would transmit an entire episode of a TV show to their followers. That’s what happened with the season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, prompting Twitter—which owns Periscope—to warn users that streaming copyrighted material is illegal and that the company will close accounts of people who break the rules. Read more

Update could connect Android Wear watches to iPhones—You want an Apple Watch, but you’d really prefer it were round instead of rectangular. LG and Motorola make round smartwatches, but they only work with Android. That could change, though, if Google made Android Wear smartwatches compatible with iPhones. It could also eat into Apple Watch sales. Read more

Meerkat is coming to Android—Meerkat, the live video streaming app that took South by Southwest by storm, is finally coming to Android. Android users interested in participating in the beta can sign up via a Google form. There’s no word on how many beta users will be invited. Twitter’s live-streaming app, Periscope, is also an iPhone-only app at this point, with no word on when an Android version will be available. Read more

More live-streaming is on its way—Right now, your mobile live-streaming app options are Meerkat and Periscope. You can engage in video calls with Skype and Facetime, among other tools. But the ability to live-stream video from phones and desktop computers is about to get a lot more common. A company that lets developers add telecommunications functionality to their applications has announced it plans to add video capabilities. Twilio will make it easy, for example, to build an automobile insurance company app that lets an adjuster document damage to a car or allow an appliance repair rep to see a damaged appliance without making a home visit. Read more

3D mobile ads gain traction on smartphones—Ads that appear to jump out at you as you scroll down on your smartphone, adding a three-dimensional perspective, are getting a big-time try-out from advertisers like Jameson, Ford, and Mazda. According to AdAge, observers are saying the ads offer an initial glimpse at how virtual reality marketing may take shape. Read more

Three-quarters of shoppers use mobile devices in-store—In-store purchases still dominate retail despite all the focus on online shopping. More than 94% of retail sales happened in brick-and-mortar stores last year. However, shoppers are using their smartphones while shopping at a dramatically increased rate, with 75% of shoppers using their devices while shopping. Twenty-five percent are using those devices while in the store to make a purchase, while 53% like researching products on their phones while at the store, according to InReality’s “Reality of Retail” report. Read more


Millennials prefer email for brand contact—Email is the one constant among the various channels vying for the attention of the increasingly important Millennial generation. Millennials check their email daily and use the Web to do it. While brands have assumed social media is the preferred means of reaching Millennials—not a misplaced belief, given half of Millennials use social media and the Web to seek out brand engagement—a new Principal Financial group found the generation prefers one-to-one contact with companies for transactdions, updates, customer service, and other dialogues. They overwhelmingly chose email as the channel of choice. It was also ranked the second most important means of conducting product research, behind Web searches. Read more

Sales staff need presentation training—B2B marketing and sales staff believe the sales team needs to be able to articulate the brand’s value messages in order to close deals. Yet, while 85% see these skills as critical, only 41% of companies have formal strategies to ensure the sales staff has the skills to present the information correctly, and 34% said nobody is responsible for coaching and certifying that salespeople can deliver value messages. Read more

Customers find personalized ads creepy—Targeting ads to consumers based on their interests, gleaned from their browsing history, may be a great way to zero in on customers who would actually want to buy your product or service. But a new study from Ithaca College finds a lot of online users think they’re creepy, making them less likely to buy from that company. Read more

Do the numbers spell doom for Google+?—Communications agency Stone Temple Consulting has conducted an analysis of more than 500,000 randomly selected Google+ profiles, finding that 90% of those who have a profile have never posted anything publicly. About 16 million people post publicly once a month. Google+ fans were quick to point out the data is consistent with the idea that 1% of users produce the vast majority of content on most social networks. Read more


EU accuses Google of antitrust violations—The European Commission (EC) has filed antitrust charges against Google, accusing the search giant of “abusing its dominant position for search services in Europe, by favoring its own comparison shopping product on search pages,” according to The Next Web. Google has responded in a number of venues. Fines could reach the billions of dollars, though the case will undoubtedly take years to wend its way through the legal system. Read more

Amazon sues over fake product reviews—Amazon is suing four websites for selling fake product reviews. The suit is aimed at Jay Gentile of California, which operates the four sites, accusing the company of false advertisement, trademark infringement, and violations of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and Washington Consumer Protection Act. Read more


Email with personality—A new email app called Crystal is designed to help you bel more empathetic when writing emails. The software that underlies Crystal analyzes personalities based on users’ public social media posts and other publicly accessible content. With the profile, users will get advice on how to talk to that individual, email them, working with them, and sell to them. The Chrome extension integrates with your Gmail account. Sixty-four personality categories have been developed for assignment to profiles. Read more

LinkedIn’s Elevate prompts employees to share company content—Elevate is now available for the iPhone and Android platforms, letting cmopanies curate content and share it with employees in a format that makes it easy for employees to share on LinkedIn and Twitter. Tools that inspire employees to be ambassadors for their employers are proliferating, which makes sense. LinkedIn says sharing content results in profile views and new connections for the individual, while the company gets job views, company page views, and new followers to the company’s LinkedIn page. Read more

Skype for Business rolls out—Microsoft is rolling out its Skype for Business product to the public. The tool incorporates the familiar Skype design and adds features from Lynch, such as online meetings, emhanced security, and control tools for use by IT departments. It also allows users to communicate with any Skype user, making it easier to reach people outside the company, such as suppliers, customers, and vendors. Read more

Microsoft’s Delve evolves into a social tool—Microsoft introduced Delve a few months ago as a part of its Office 365 suite that pulls data from Outlook, Yammer, PoerPoint, and Bing, collecting documents, relationships, and information its algorithm believes you’d be interested in. An update to the software adds a profile page where users can add their contact information, projects, business reporting relationships, and interests. The profiles are public, allowing others to see them. Delve is the first “authoring canvas” app Microsoft has added to office 365. The app is available for iPhone and Android. Read more