Alexa, Draw a Line Between Convenience and Control

It’s that factor, consumer data and Amazon’s vast store of it, that stands out most in Jason Del Rey’s reporting on Recode’s new podcast series, Land of the Giants. Specifically striking is the episode on Alexa, in which Amazon employees openly speculate about a future in which smart microwaves will hook up with Amazon’s growing healthcare ambitions to tell you when it’s time to stop making popcorn and smart countertops will join the intelligent kitchen conversation. As Del Rey notes, Amazon execs talk about this future openly, dropping tidbits about customer obsession along the way and appearing truly unperturbed by the thought that such interventions into our domestic lives may go too far or generate unintended consequences. Optimism for the quality of Amazon products and a fervent belief in the company’s benefit to consumers—without due consideration for products’ risk and would-be limits—seem to pervade the corporate culture.

Alexa, Podcasts, and the Role of Voice in Today’s Marketing

The increasing popularity of smart speakers, digital assistants, and podcasts means we need to begin thinking differently about voice and marketing. That includes tailoring online content to users and how they engage with it, making voice functionality a part of the sales funnel, and creating podcasts or partnering with influencers to reach audiences in a new way. With the right approach, a creative brand could get a considerable head start in this new but quickly developing marketing landscape.

Amazon’s Dash Buttons Have Met Their End. Does Their Demise Truly Signal Failure?

Dash buttons were met with detractors right from the get go. Some called out the “hideous” design, while others lambasted Amazon for creating $5 buttons that would inevitably end up in landfills. But at Amazon, the Dash button initiative isn’t considered a failure. Rather, the project was designed to get consumers more comfortable with the “connected home” concept and the idea of shopping through devices other than desktop computers and smartphones.

LBMA Vidcast: Cedars Sinai Goes Alexa, Fred Perry + Raf Simons Launch Virtual Map Shopping

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: Cedars Sinai goes Alexa, Fred Perry + Raf Simons launch virtual map shopping, Kontakt.io new SMB play, ESRI acquires Indoo.rs, Ford integrates What3Words, Walgreens accepts Alipay in the U.S.

AR in Local Commerce: Google Shows the Way

Mike Boland: A recent and relatively understated development from Google could portend the future of augmented reality. Its previously teased “VPS” was released into the wild for a small set of users. For those unfamiliar, VPS (visual positioning service) guides users with 3D overlays on upheld smartphone screens. Sort of a cousin of AR, this type of experience could represent the sector’s eventual killer apps. Though we’ve seen the most AR success so far in gaming (Pokemon Go) and social (Snapchat AR lenses), it could be more mundane utilities like navigation that engender high-frequency use cases.

Alexa Has the Confidence of SMB Marketers. Should It?

Forty-eight percent of marketers surveyed by Uberall said they trust the e-commerce giant over its competition when it comes to marketing applications of voice technology in these early days of the medium. Google Assistant had the vote of 29% of the market, with Apple’s Siri scoring a surprisingly high 17% given the widespread consensus that voice is really a two-way race at the moment.

Superbowl Ad Roundup: The Local Edition

Several Superbowl ads touched on key themes in local such as multi-location brand advertisers (Burger King) and locally relevant technology like voice search (Amazon Alexa). And of course, there were lots of car commercials—an inherently local product category given the offline shopping component. 

While Sales Growth Rate Slows, Amazon Marketplace, Cloud, and Ad Businesses Point to Long-Term Prosperity

For brands hoping to compete with Amazon (and potentially looking on with relief at a sign of fallibility from their digital rival), the company’s earnings report brings the news that Amazon Marketplace, where third-party sellers can reach customers, is doing more than twice as much in sales as Amazon’s first-party retail platform. Marketplace is troubled by bad practices and fake reviews, and its prosperity suggests the growing challenge for brands to get customers to even go to their sites at a time when Amazon is essentially the homepage of the commerce-oriented Internet.

As Voice Gets Established, Brands Grapple with Implementation

Consumer demand for voice technology has never been greater, and industry heavyweights like Google and Amazon are gearing up for a platform war as they work to integrate voice assistants into virtually every area of the connected consumer’s life. But behind the scenes, many brand marketers are struggling to connect the dots and design campaigns around a technology they don’t fully understand.

Building the Location Layer: A Conversation with Foursquare

Last week, location technology company Foursquare announced its new Pinpoint audience segments product. Building from its large corpus of data on places, spatial movements and behavioral patterns, Pinpoint represents the latest in Foursquare’s evolution as the “location layer,” for the internet. We got the chance to sit down with Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck in San Francisco to find out more. Here is the full interview. 

Google and Amazon Escalate Voice ‘Platform Wars’

Mike Boland: Any entity competing for local commerce—publishers, brands, ad-tech players—has a looming platform choice for voice. Like the platform wars between iOS and Android, it’s a matter of deciding where to apply finite resources and development muscle. Maybe the answer is “both” Google and Amazon. But for now, Google appears to have the lead.

Forget the Alexa-Powered Toilet. The Big Local News at CES is the Amazon Echo Auto

While it may be the Alexa-powered toilet dominating water-cooler conversation this week, the real device to look out for is Amazon’s Echo Auto, an Alexa-powered, voice-activated product that will provide all the utility of Alexa, and connections to other voice-activated devices, from the dashboard of buyers’ cars. The device, which can be requested for just $25 and is available to a limited number of consumers now, has already been requested a whopping one million times—and counting.

LBMA Podcast: Alexa’s Location Alerts, Starbucks and Uber

On this week’s edition of the Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: CS Hudson, Baidu Maps, XYO Protocol’s blockchain lab, Ariana Grande + YouTube, Alexa’s location alerts, Starbucks + Uber.

LBMA Podcast: Dstillery’s DMaps, Estimote, Walmart & VR

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Assocation podcast: Dstillery’s DMaps, Estimote, Landmrk + Ariana Grande, Walmart goes VR, Accuweather + Foursquare, Frito Lay goes back to school with Alexa.

As Local Search Enters the Voice Era, Three Content Channels Dominate

You’re well covered today on the three top voice platforms if you have strong listings on Google, Apple, and Yelp. If you want to do even more, make sure your Bing listings are up to date for Cortana (note that Yelp reviews show up here as well), and submit your listing info to Here and Foursquare in order to be found in Samsung’s Bixby interface.  

Street Fight Daily: Facebook Releases Slew of Local Features, Here Challenges Google Maps

TODAY IN LOCAL & DIGITAL MARKETING… Facebook Announces Slew of Changes to Boost Local Businesses… Here Attacks Google Maps with New Freemium Website Plan… Alexa Users Are Reportedly Not Buying Anything with Their Voice…

Street Fight Daily: Brands Wise Up About Location Tech, Google’s Exchange Bidding Exits Beta

A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… How Brands Are Getting More Sophisticated at Using Location Data… Google’s Answer to Header Bidding Is Now Generally Available… Instacart Raises Another $150 Million…

Survey Finds Few Consumers Using Voice-Assisted Devices to Browse, Make Purchases

In surveying more than 4,000 global consumers, Episerver found that although nearly 40% own voice-assisted devices, 60% of those consumers never browse on them, and 66% never make purchases on them.

Street Fight Daily: Salesforce Rolls Out Retail Tech, Brands Push Boundaries with User Data

A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Salesforce Debuts Retail Platform Enhancements… Where is the Line Between Creepy and Creative in Data-Driven Advertising?… How Twitter Could Make a Big Comeback in 2018…

Will 2018 Be a Tipping Point for Voice?

“There may only be 6-7 ‘commands’ that we use regularly with voice, though I’m willing to bet that as people get more and more accustomed to the interface, the horizon of possibilities expands,” David Mihm tells Mike Blumenthal in their biweekly column.