Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Written Word is Dead


Mic, a website aimed at millennials, used to employ 40 writers and editors producing articles on topics like “celebrating beauty” and “strong women.” Ten were let go this month, with most in the revamped newsroom of 63 now focused on making videos for places like Facebook.

Critics have called such moves “100 percent cynical” and out of sync with audience demand. Yet Americans are watching more video snippets online, either because they secretly like them or because they’re getting harder to avoid. The growing audience for video, more valuable to advertisers than the space next to words, is causing websites to shift resources in what’s become known across the industry as the pivot to video.

“When you think about how many hours people spend watching video versus reading, the audience has already spoken,” said Chris Altchek, chief executive officer of Mic. The outlet’s viewers spend 75 percent of their time with “visual” content like videos, not text, he said.

Americans are expected to spend 81 minutes a day watching digital video in 2019, up from 61 minutes in 2015, according to projections by research firm eMarketer. Time spent reading a newspaper is expected to drop to 13 minutes a day from 16 minutes during that time. The question is whether those trends will sustain the growing number of outlets flooding social networks with video clips.

“It’s alarming,” said Paul Verna, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer. “Publishers are throwing their hats into a ring that’s unproven.”

Mic, a New York-based news site founded in 2011, was just the latest to fire writers when it announced its pivot to video this month. Dozens of writers and editors have also been laid off this summer at news outlets like Vocativ, Fox Sports, Vice and MTV News. All of the moves were tied in part to focusing more resources on making videos.

Publishers are heading in this direction even though polls show consumers find video ads more irritating than TV commercials. Google and Apple Inc. are testing features that let you mute websites with auto-play videos or block them entirely. More young Americans prefer reading the news than watching it, according to a survey last year by the Pew Research Center.

But many publishers have little choice. Facebook Inc. and Google are vacuuming up the lion’s share of digital ad dollars, forcing news sites to find other ways to make money. Some media outlets are focusing on subscriptions. Others are getting into e-commerce.

Those options, however, take time to bear fruit. Video provides a quick infusion of revenue because advertisers are clamoring for it.

“No site is ‘pivoting to video’ because of audience demand,” Josh Marshall, publisher of Talking Points Memo, tweeted earlier this month. “They are pivoting to video because the industry is in the midst of a monetization crisis.”

Advertisers are willing to pay more to have their messages in videos because they think it’s harder for people to ignore them. Ad industry executives often refer to what’s called “banner blindness,” or web users who overlook banner ads at the top of websites.

Video ad rates vary depending on their format. But the spots can sell for as much as $27 per thousand impressions, while display ads -- think of the infamous belly fat ads -- can go for just 50 cents per thousand viewers or less, according to Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Clearstream, which helps brands buy digital video advertising.

“Advertiser interest in video is insatiable,” said Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade association representing publishers such as the New York Times, Business Insider and Bloomberg. “Any CFO is going to say ‘How can we get more video?’”

Many publishers are hoping to replicate the success of Vice Media, which started out as a magazine and now makes television programming, including a daily newscast for HBO and shows for its own cable network, Viceland. After getting a $450 million investment in June to make more video, Vice is said to be valued at $5.7 billion -- or twice the New York Times.

There’s another reason why digital media companies are racing to churn out videos: they’re trying to supply tech and media giants who are going after a piece of the $206 billion U.S. ad market.

Facebook, YouTube and Snap Inc. want publishers to make videos for their platforms so they can woo advertisers away from television. Publishers can’t ignore them because they rely heavily on social networks for their audience. Mic, which gets about half its traffic from Facebook, is making more videos partly because it’s Facebook’s priority, Altchek said.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fitbit

Fitbit Inc. desperately needs a hit.


The company unveiled its first smartwatch on Monday, hoping that the health-focused features of the device will reverse the hardware maker’s declining influence in the wearables market.

The smartwatch, called the Fitbit Ionic, costs $299.95. It has a square touchscreen similar to the one on the Apple Watch. It includes a heart-rate monitor, GPS tracking and four-day battery life. The watch, which is water resistant up to 50 meters, can make wireless payments and store music offline from Pandora Media Inc.

Fitbit recently lost its position as the top seller of wearable devices, falling behind Apple Inc. and China’s Xiaomi Corp. Since going public two years ago to much fanfare, the novelty of its wrist-worn devices have waned with investors.

Shares rose 6.5 percent to $6.10, the highest level in more than three months. It’s down about 70 percent from the $20 IPO price, as consumer tastes have evolved to favor products with more functions and third-party apps.

“Demonstration of consumer acceptance of the product is going to be very important for the stock: investors are very focused on their ability to stabilize,” said Jim Duffy, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co.

The smartwatch is the company’s first device to include a sensor that can estimate blood oxygen levels, called a relative SpO2 sensor. The Ionic will be pre-loaded with the apps for weather, payments, fitness, Starbucks Corp. and Pandora.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Amazon and Whole Foods

Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of high-end grocer Whole Foods is expected to be official on Monday. On Thursday, the Seattle-based ecommerce giant revealed that Whole Foods’ prices will come down noticeably because of its new parent, which sounds really bad for other grocery store chains.

We spoke with a handful of digital marketers to see what other kinds of effects an Amazon-powered Whole Foods would have on the competition.

Here are the four things we heard most often:

Other grocery stores’ tech may pale in comparison

“Amazon will only continue to enhance the Whole Foods shopping experience moving forward because the tech giant is always implementing and looking for new ways to combine digital commerce capabilities with the already strong brick-and-mortar presence of Whole Foods,” said Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at Episerver. “Amazon announced upcoming features like adding [365 by Whole Foods] products to Amazon’s website and through fast-delivery services like AmazonFresh, PrimeNow and Prime Pantry. With these new features, Amazon is leveraging a new digital experience with products consumers already know and buy every day.”

Walmart will become their aspiration

“Traditional grocery stores like Safeway and Kroger would be wise to look to Walmart as an example of how to stay relevant,” Kennedy said. “In recent quarters, Walmart has double downed on its ecommerce and in-store digital strategy. The retail giant has deep roots in brick and mortar but has adapted to the growing need for digital commerce capabilities such as mobile payment options, click-and-collect and same-day pick-up perks and added inventory for online shoppers. Features such as these will put Walmart and other retailers in a strong competitive position in the future.”

They will have to appeal to consumers’ hearts

“To compete with Amazon and Whole Foods’ convenience and quality, more traditional retailers will need to provide an emotional connection to retain customers and earn their loyalty,” said Kate Hogenson, strategic loyalty consultant at Kobie Marketing. “Many grocery shoppers still enjoy picking out their produce and browsing the meat section at their local supermarket, and retailers like Kroger and Safeway would be smart to ramp up their in-store consumer experience to create that personal connection.”

Their Gen Y game just got even harder


“Millennials especially love Amazon because of the way the retail tech giant makes it easy to engage with their products and services in their daily lives,” said Erin Gade, marketing strategist at Yes Lifecycle Marketing. “In our recent consumer survey … we found that millennials are more likely than any generation to have made a purchase on Amazon in the past month [79 percent], touting its Prime benefits as the reason for doing so. And, 63 percent of consumers of all ages have made a purchase on Amazon in the past month.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Wearable Growth


Analyst Gartner is expecting to see growth of 16.7 per cent, year-over-year, across the global wearables market this year, which encompasses a variety of device types and form factors — from smartwatches to body-worn cameras and even head-mounted displays.

Its forecast projects sales of 310.4M wearable devices worldwide this year, generating a total of $30.5BN in revenue — of which it expects $9.3BN to come from the smartwatch category specifically, where the Apple Watch currently leads over rivals like Samsung’s Gear smartwatch.

Apple is expected to announce a new model of its smartwatch this September — adding direct cellular connectivity and meaning the Apple Watch will be able to support using its Siri voice assistant, messaging and transferring sensor data without needing an iPhone in close proximity — thereby expanding its utility and potentially giving the product’s prospects with consumers a boost.

The company does not break out unit sales of the Watch, but reporting its latest earnings earlier this month CEO Tim Cook said sales of the wearable were up 50 per cent, year-over-year. (Apple reports earnings for Watch within an ‘other products’ category — which also includes the likes of Apple TVs, Beats electronics devices, iPods and Apple-branded accessories — and the category as a whole earned it $2.74BN in its last quarter.)

Gartner says it expects a total of 41.5M smartwatches to be sold this year, adding that the device type is “on pace” to account for the highest unit sales of all wearable form factors from 2019 to 2021, with the exception of Bluetooth headsets.

By 2021, Gartner estimates that sales of smartwatches will total nearly 81M units — representing 16 per cent of total wearable device sales, according to its forecast.

It notes that smartwatch revenue is bolstered by the relatively stable average selling prices (ASPs) of Apple Watch — a wrist-mounted wearable whose entry price starts at $269.

“The overall ASP of the smartwatch category will drop from $223.25 in 2017 to $214.99 in 2021 as higher volumes lead to slight reductions in manufacturing and component costs, but strong brands such as Apple and Fossil will keep pricing consistent with price bands of traditional watches,” noted Gartner research director, Angela McIntyre, in a statement.

While expecting Apple to continue to lead the smartwatch category, Gartner predicts Cupertino’s share will decline in the coming years — dropping from approximately a third in 2016 to a quarter in 2021 — as more providers enter the market. (Though other brands, such as Asus, Huawei, LG, Samsung and Sony, will still have a lower share — it’s expecting they will account for only 15 per cent in 2021.)

Interestingly, smartphones for children is a sub-category that Gartner’s expecting to perform well — representing 30 per cent of total smartwatch unit shipments in 2021, according to its calculations.

These are wearables aimed at children in the two to 13 year-old range, with makers targeting parents who don’t yet want their child to have a fully fledged smartphone.

The analyst also expects uplift in the traditional watch brand/luxury/fashion smartwatch segment — which it forecasts accounting for 25 percent of smartwatch units by 2021 — as long-standing brands attempt to attract younger customers.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rambus and ZAGG

By Bayle Emlein

Rambus

Rambus is another set of technologies that you’ve probably used–and been glad to have– without ever being aware that you were taking advantage of better, more innovative hardware and software solutions. Embedded Rambus chips enhance the competitive advantage of products and services, powering and securing a variety of applications including IoT and mobile payments.



Just before the May 18 Digital Experience expo in San Francisco, Rambus announced teaming with STMicroelectronics to bring focus to the IoT Device Management service that is part of its CryptoManager™ platform. Designed for the Internet of Things (IoT), the demo showcases an STM32 microcontroller (MCU) connected to Rambus IoT Device Management. This service provides a seamless device-to-cloud connectivity solution, which supplies secure connectivity and life cycle management It also helps mitigate against a variety of exploits, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). Along these lines, on the day of Digital Experience Rambus announced announced a partnership with Cybertrust Japan, a subsidiary of SoftBank Technology.



ZAGG

It’s pretty hard to take a picture of something that’s invisible, so let me use words to describe the ZAGG Invisible Shield screen protectors, which guarantee seven times more impact, scratch, and smudge protection than any other phone, iPad, or Apple Watch protectors, while maintaining unmatched screen clarity and touch sensitivity. Patented EZ Apply® tabs take the hassle out of applying a Sapphire Defense Curve. ZAGG is so confident in the Sapphire Defense Curve that if one ever gets worn or damaged, they will replace it for as long as you own your device. A screen protector is the kind of add-on that is best when invisible and unnoticed; ZAGG maintains a lead in meeting those criteria.



And while I’m at it, let me describe the iFROGZ Impulse Duo Wireless Dual Driver Wireless Earbuds from ZAGG. Dynamic dual drivers deliver twice the sound to each ear for 10 hours of music between battery charges. Three different sizes of earbud tip give a customized fit and Earbud Tips for Life™: If your earbud tips become worn or damaged, IFROGZ will replace them.



Much more visible are the updated cases with Bluetooth keyboards for a gamut of iDevices. I’m still in love with the Pocket keyboard I got almost two years ago. It holds its charge forever–or at least much longer than the phone I most usually pair it with and it turns my smartphone into a real computer, useful for anything but graphic design. It’s accurate, never misses a keystroke, and has a solid feel that my fingers like. Look for ZAGG products when you want stuff that just does what it promises, gets out of the way and helps you do what you meant to be doing in the first place.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Teens Facebook Use


A new report from eMarketer released Monday predicted Facebook usage by 12-to-17-year-olds will decline this year — the first time it’s estimated a drop in Facebook usage for any age group, ever.

The report also says audiences under 25 are using Facebook less. Meanwhile, they are flocking to Instagram and Snapchat more.

“Outside of the Facebook-cutters, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged – logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform. At the same time, we now have Facebook-nevers, many children aging into the tween demographic that appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram," eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco said in a statement.

The enthusiasm for Instagram is at least somewhat good news for Facebook.

About 14.5 million users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook this year, a 3.4 percent drop from last year, according to eMarketer.

But things are looking pretty good for Snapchat. Its parent company Snap Inc. has been scrutinized by analysts, investors, and advertisers for its slowing user growth. Snapchat's 173 million daily active users is much smaller than Facebook's 2 billion monthly active users and Instagram's 700 million.

However, eMarketer upped its predictions for Snapchat usage. The biggest growth is from users age 18 to 24, growing 19.2 percent in 2017.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Hisense and Linkplay

By Bayle Emlein

Days are getting shorter and the appeal of spending longer evenings and rainy weekends indoors watching broadcast sports or binge watching dramas becomes more obvious. Get a jump on the holiday and bowl season by looking at a 4K 65-inch class Hisense smart TV. Vibrant colors (think Rose Parade), smooth motion (clear Rose Bowl passes even if it’s the other team), award-winning sound, Netflix and Facebook pre-installed to maximize your multitasking. Technical stuff online,

if you care; or just immerse yourself in the experience. The only possible problem is that you’ll be so spoiled by the Hisense experience that everything else will feel old and tired, and you’ll never want to leave home again.

Linkplay

ou may not remember seeing Linkplay. But you’ve probably heard it. Linkplay is the power behind Cobblestone by M√úZO, Deshi by DOSS, iDeaHome by iDeaUSA, Aud Air by iLuv, Cloud Fox A1 by DOSS, AERO by Dayton Audio, Speaker Big Mo by Bem, AWF320 by Champion, WoW by Omaker, E5 Wireless by GGMM, Aud Click by iLuv, AERO by Dayton Audio, Speaker Big Mo by Bem, AWF320 by Champion, WoW by Omaker, E5 Wireless by GGMM, Aud Click by iLuv, FABRIQ by FABRIQ, Jam Voice by JAM audio, Home Speaker by iDeaUSA, JAM Symphony WiFi Speaker by JAM Audio, Mini Home Soundbar by iDea USA, Showbox by Lowes, and Crystal Audio by Crystal Acoustics. And that’s just the products available in the US. Another stable of devices is available in Europe, and yet another in Asia–which has the cutest of the selections.



Linkplay was the first 3rd-party approved Amazon Alexa service solution provider and offers access to more streaming music services than anyone else. Among the two dozen or so services reported, you might recognize Spotify, iHeart Radio, Napster, aud Audible. Look for something that includes Linkplay if you’re shopping for a player with internet audio, voice control, integrated music content that learns your preferences and outstanding speaker support. If you’re developing or improving a player, seek out a relationship with Linkplay to make the most of the listening experience for your customers while simplifying your own development life.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Acronis and GoDaddy

Acronis Trueimage 2017


By Bayle Emlein

Acronis exhorted attendees of San Francisco’s Spring Digital Experience that they have been preaching for years to overconfident users: Back up. Your system WILL fail. Your data WILL get corrupted, yes even yours. Even though you might think you’re not worthy of a DOS attack, you just might get included in someone’s ransomeware exploit. Save yourself a bunch of hassle, the embarrassment of having to explain to friends and customers, and possibly a bunch of money if your system gets really messed up.





With TrueImage 2017, maintaining a system of current back ups is easier than ever and far, far easier than recovering from “an incident.” Acronis also proactively looks for various forms of incoming malware and keeps you one step ahead of them.


GoDaddy GoCentral


GoDaddy has been around for a while, but that doesn’t mean it’s your daddy’s website builder. This spring at Digital Experience GoDaddy featured the newly released GoCentral. GoCentral is the website development tool developed and optimized for use on the small screen–phone, phablet or tablet. GoDaddy research found that not only are a large percentage of end users accessing the web, people have been trying to design and manage websites from their smartphones.




The GoDaddy focus has been on generating results, not just on page design. GoCentral takes all that one step farther by making website development even easier and by providing relevant learning tools and support.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Apple Wireless Charging


As we get closer to the Apple iPhone 8 launch, more leaks surrounding the device are surfacing online — the most recent ones seem to have explained the device’s wireless charging mechanism. According to some images that emerged on the Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo on Thursday, the iPhone 8’s internal wireless charging components seem to have been leaked along with a black PCB (Printed Circuit Board).

Long-range wireless charging has been long expected in the iPhone 8. With rivals such as Samsung offering charging pad-based wireless charging for more than a couple of years, Apple is expected to differentiate itself by providing users with a charging mechanism which won’t really need users to place their phones on a pad for charging. But, instead, they could simply be in the range of the charger, expected to be around 10 meters and that would suffice for charging their devices.

The mechanism indicated by these leaked images seems to be the inductive power functionality — an internal charging coil which will receive current wirelessly and fit inside the smartphone. This charging coil will be attached to the rear of the handset with adhesive glue.

Apple is expected to opt for a glass body instead of an aluminum one so that it can maintain the charge on such smartphones.

Going by what the leaks say, the components in the images are large charging pads which will be located on a charging pad that users will get with their iPhone 8.

The images show a charging pad with a connected cable. While Apple has not revealed whether this feature will be included in the iPhone 8, the rumor mill has been buzzing about it since last year and with these images as an additional indication, it seems more probable that the device will come with the feature.

This goes hand-in-hand with an Apple patent from April which explains the mechanism of delivering power to the iPhone using 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands — similar to ones used by Wi-Fi routers for delivering Wi-Fi signals to devices.

Apple also joined the Qi Wireless Power Consortium in February this year, giving indications of its strong interest in the technology.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sanbot

By Bayle Emlein



If you think Hello Kitty is cute, you’ll love Sanbot from Qihan. Sanbot surpasses Hello Kitty by being useful as well as adorable. As the ability to remotely manage a fleet of robots enters the mainstream, using them to take care of everyday tasks at times and/or locations that might be inconvenient for humans becomes feasible. The example at Digital Experience involved people asking for information at an airport. Instead of just one Information Booth, there could be a Sanbot at each concourse–every day, all day with no overtime for holidays and no Closed signs due to someone’s kid’s upset tummy. The most common question in the circumstances is, “Where is the loo?” A Sanbot could understand the question and provide an answer in more languages than Rosetta Stone covers.




Robots are also turning up in patient care facilities in part because they are, well, more patient than the patients. Sanbot is clearly paying attention to the human interface: the display model is about 31/2 feet tall–the size of a ten-year-old–big enough to look like it might have some answers and small enough to be relatively unthreatening. If your well-spent youth included a lot of comics or graphic novels, the facial features and limbs without digits will feel familiar. This sense of familiarity will go a long way toward getting robots accepted as electronic assistants in the real world.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lenovo at Digital Experience

By Bayle Emlein


Sometimes you just need a little exciting technology in your life and a Tesla won't fit into your workspace. From workhorse desktops to ultraportable convertibles and tablets, tablets, Lenovo, the offers a variety of cool stuff for work (school or job) and play. The sleek designs; slim, lightweight profiles; and cool colors can leave you feeling good about getting everyday tasks done. The ThinkPad and Yoga series are so cute and affordable, when I saw them at the spring Digital Experience expo I wanted one of each, even though I don't really >need< anything new.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More Digital Experience

By Bayle Emlien

WattUp

WattUp wire-free charging technology is the centerpiece of the offerings from Energous. With their new transmitter system based on the new DA4100 WattUp wireless power transmitter chip, Energous looks forward to wireless charging of enabled devices. Imagine never having to worry about an uncharged phone or waiting for your tablet to finish charging because you remembered to plug it in five minutes before you needed to leave. With an anticipated range of up to 20 feet from a transmitter,

WattApp technology cuts the cord and puts true mobility into mobile gadgets. Energous anticipates that each transmitter can handle multiple devices, so that workplace productivity is not slowed by dead phones and coffee houses can keep customers tapping away all day.



TrackR

When I lose my keys, it’s almost always in my house. How else did I get here and get in? But too often getting out is delayed by a frantic search for keys. If only I’d attached a TrackR when I had the things in hand. In a market where size matters, TrackR released the Pixel this spring, the smallest and lightest key finder available.

The Pixel is both smaller and louder than previous TrackR models and features an LED light to help locate the item at the bottom of a bag or in the dark. The Pixel has a longer Bluetooth range and the app can notify “TrackR Crowd Locate” network, in case you’re out of range or you’ve also lost your cell phone. A single episode of hunting for keys or wallet justifies the price of a Pixel.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ecobee 4

By Bayle Emlien

Maybe you think it’s silly to be looking at a home thermostat in May and reading about one in the middle of summer. But winter is coming, I promise you. And just like it’s most sensible to fix the roof before the rains start, so hear (read?) me out. It’s most sensible to get your home temperature controls under control before you start coming home in the dark again and run headlong into the holidays. Ecobee pioneered WiFi temperature controls. While individual room temperature controls might or might not save you the whole cost of the system in a single system, it’s likely to make enough of a dent that you’ll be glad you got it for that reason alone.



With the Ecobee 4, individual room sensors let you control the temperature in various rooms in your home. Paired with Amazon Alexa, the Ecobee 4 lets you do this by voice instead of fiddling with dials and switches. The ability to sort of control the environment by voice has been around for decades; with Ecobee and Alexa it’s reliable, easy to set up, and easy to use. With a maturing population, most of whom would prefer to age at home, the ability to manage lighting and room temperature remotely has moved out of the market for cute gizmos and into the mainstream. This spring, Ecobee was also featuring controlled-color light bulbs. With just one lightbulb, your voice, and the app on your phone, you can convert the ambience in any indoor space. Want a bright white light to wake up in the morning? How about dimming in the evening to help your brain power down for sleep? Ecobee suggests requesting a pink tinge if you’re setting up for romance.

Monday, August 14, 2017

More From Digital Experience

By Bayle Emlein

As every single thing we use develops an internet presence, two concerns arise: how to get coverage everywhere you want whenever you want, and how to prevent unauthorized access to anything anywhere by anyone. TP-Link addresses both. The Deco M5 Whole-Home Wi-Fi Systems, which is a mesh networking solution. It seamless wireless internet coverage and comprehensive security throughout your home. Details are, of course, available on the TP-Link website as well as many other searchable locations. Just as you assume your car will have air bags, even though you assume it won’t be involved in a crash, assume your WiFi home needs security before the neighbors kids start turning on your electronics at 3 am.



It’s not all protection and perimeters at TP-Link. Paired with Amazon Alexa, TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Bulbs can be asked to brighten up, fade back, cool the color in a room or warm it up. While this kind of feature is an obvious convenience to someone with her hands mired in bread dough (you do knead your own, don’t you?) it grants independence to someone who is challenged–either temporarily or long-term–by getting up to change the lighting in a room.

Friday, August 11, 2017

4 Miscues That Can Transform Popular Brands Into Troubled Brands

By Larry Light

Early this year, The Limited shut down its 250 clothing stores and not long after that the women’s apparel chain announced it was filing for bankruptcy protection.
Just like that, a brand that had been a mainstay of shopping malls across America disappeared from the retail front.

What happened to force the company’s hand? Several factors came into play, including an inability to compete with “fast fashion” stores that rush the latest fashions into consumers’ hands, as well as the chain’s sale several years ago to a private equity firm that cut costs but couldn’t find a buyer. However, analysts also suggested that, like many retailers, The Limited failed to keep up with dramatic changes in shopping habits and quick-changing fashion sensibilities, making it less relevant to its target consumers.

While it’s not unusual for brands to head down the path to irrelevancy, it’s also not inevitable, says Larry Light, a global brand revitalization expert and CEO of the business-consulting firm Arcature (www.arcature.com).

“A brand can innovate itself out of a death spiral,” Light says. “Just as an example, IBM may have lost its relevance in computers and laptops, but it saved itself by focusing on servers, information, and cloud computing.”

Some people insist that all brands eventually will go through a natural life cycle from birth to death, but he disagrees with that view.

“It’s possible for brands to live forever, but they have to be properly managed,” says Light, co-author with Joan Kiddon of Six Rules for Brand Revitalization. “Too often brands get into trouble due to the self-inflicted actions of their owners.”

Light says there are probably a dozen identifiable ways businesses can make a mess of their brands. Here are four:
• The loss of relevance. Staying relevant means always staying aware of changes to the landscape, the customers, the competitive brands, and your brand. “Understanding what your audience needs and how they obtain their products and services is the way to remain relevant,” Light says.
• The lack of a coherent plan to win. Having a coherent strategy that aligns employees and outside partners accomplishes a lot on the way to positive performance. But the plan needs the clear, consistent, visual, and verbal support of leadership. “It also must contain the vision for the brand and the plan to achieve this vision,” Light says. “It’s a top-down strategy. Without a clear and vibrant plan to win, a brand is directionless.”
• The lack of a balanced brand-business scorecard.  A brand-business scorecard allows leaders to view the critical indicators necessary to create growth that is both profitable and enduring, rather than one or the other. Light says such a scorecard reinforces the importance of producing a proper balance between both business and brand results. Using measurable milestones – such as sales, profits, price and promotion – it evaluates whether the brand leadership is doing the right things in the right way.
• The disregard for the changing world. Technology changes, demographics change and so do plenty of other factors that can affect a brand. “Although it’s impossible to predict the future,” Light says, “it is absolutely necessary for business leaders to keep their eyes, ears, mind, and heart open to what may be possible and to what is actually happening around them.”

“Some brands that experience trouble are very successful in pulling out of the downward spiral,” Light says. “But the best way to not have to revitalize a brand is to avoid becoming a troubled brand in the first place.”

About Larry Light

Larry Light, a global brand revitalization expert, is co-author with Joan Kiddon of Six Rules for Brand Revitalization. He also is the Chief Executive Officer of Arcature (www.arcature.com), a marketing consulting company that has advised a variety of marketers in packaged goods, technology, retail, hospitality, automotive, corporate and business-to-business, as well as not-for-profit organizations. Prior to consulting, Light worked on the advertising agency side as a senior executive at both BBDO and CEO of the International Division at Ted Bates Advertising. He was global Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s from 2002-2005 where he was involved in one of the most recognized brand business turnarounds. From 2010 to 2014, Light was Chief Brands Officer of the global hotels group IHG.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Disney To Start Streaming

Walt Disney Co will stop providing new movies to Netflix Inc starting in 2019 and launch its own streaming service as the world's biggest entertainment company tries to capture digital viewers who are dumping traditional television.

Disney's defection, announced on Tuesday alongside quarterly results showing continued pressure on sports network ESPN, is a calculated gamble that the company can generate more profit in the long run from its own subscription service rather than renting out its movies to services like Netflix.

In turn, Netflix and rivals such as Amazon.com Inc and Time Warner Inc's HBO are spending billions of dollars to buy and produce their own content and stream it straight to consumers.

Disney's entry into a crowded subscription streaming market and the cost of technology to support its own online services could weigh on earnings, Wall Street analysts said.

Disney stock fell 3.8 percent in after-hours trade. Shares of Netflix fell 3 percent.

The new Disney-branded streaming service will follow a similar offering from ESPN that will be available starting in 2018, the company said.

The streaming services will give Disney "much greater control over our own destiny in a rapidly changing market," Chief Executive Bob Iger told analysts on a conference call after earnings, describing the moves as an "entirely new growth strategy" for the company.

Disney has some experience with the direct-to-consumer model in Britain and could make more money in the long run from its own service, but the move could be "financially less advantageous" in the near term, said Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser.

The new ESPN service will feature about 10,000 live games and events per year from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and others, Disney said. It will not offer the marquee live sporting events shown on its cable channels.