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Weekly Marketing Round-Up: An AI Concierge, Playable Ads and Apple’s Latest Woes

Happy August and welcome to another week’s 5 for Friday! Below you’ll find this week’s smattering of all the news you can use.

Uniqlo Adds AI-Powered Style Concierge to Mobile App

Joining the ranks of Levi’s, Louis Vuitton, and Ann Taylor, apparel brand Uniqlo has entered the chatbot fray with a new offering that provides digital concierge services.

Dubbed Uniqlo ID, it uses machine learning to share personalized style recommendations sourced from the retailer's collection. Built into the company’s smartphone app, it organizes products according to rankings and occasion, connects them to personal preferences, and directs shoppers to the closest Uniqlo location. It even shares daily horoscopes.

“As retail moves deeper into the digital realm,” said Rei Inamoto, founding partner of the agency that created Uniqlo ID, “shopping needs to be not just portable and perpetual, but personal as well. This iteration is the foundation of how Uniqlo will provide customer service on a personal level, not just reactively but also proactively.”

The Lip-Sync Party’s Over for Musical.ly

Musical.ly, the popular video app whose community of "Musers" once topped 100 million, is shuttering operations.

For those unfamiliar, Musical.ly (which recently came under fire when undesirable content found its way onto their network) let users record and share clips of themselves singing along to popular songs.

Registrants will be ported over to TikTok, a similar service that just so happens to be owned by Bytedance, the company that purchased Musical.ly in 2017 to the tune of $1 billion.

According to Bytedance, TikTok has "500 million active monthly users worldwide," and merging the two services made sense.

Facebook Adds Playable Ads to Growing Roster

Facebook has given the thumbs-up to playable ads, and will soon launch its own version of the four year-old format that lets users "play" mobile games prior to installation.

Speaking to GamesBeat, Rick Kelley, the Network’s VP of gaming, said the decision was based in part on the desire to give developers the tools they need to get discovered. The ability to leverage interactive experiences as part of app-install campaigns, he added, could help them shift from “volume to quality users,” which is an important factor to retention.

As of this writing, Facebook’s partners in this endeavor include Bidalgo, CrossInstall, ConsumerAcquisition, CyberAgent, Kaizen, Kenshoo, MakeMeReach, Nanigans, Septeni Original, Smartly.io, Soft-World, TreSensa, and Wisebirds.

Autism Researchers Find New Use Case for Google Glass

Proving that old tech never dies, Google Glass is making a comeback, just not in the way one might expect.

In a new study, the failed consumer device was shown to have potential application in cases of childhood autism. By powering a modified version of the appliance with machine-learning software, a team at Stanford University School of Medicine created “Superpower Glass,” and used it to detect emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, fear, contempt, and others, as part of their trial.

While the findings are promising, lead author and associate professor Dennis P. Wall says they should be interpreted cautiously.

Apple HomePod Fails to Penetrate Smart Speaker Market

In the battle for smart speaker dominance, it's no secret that Apple was late to field, and with a mere 6% of owners described as HomePod users, one has to wonder if the device has a future.

According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Amazon rules the roost with a 70% share, followed by Google with 24%. The number of smart speakers in use in the U.S., they say, has hit 50 million.

Designed to compete with previous market entrants, Apple's Siri-powered HomePod first hit the scene in February with a whopping price tag and no strategy (unlike its competitors) to drive multi-unit sales.

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