Aldo's Notes 2020 04 17

The one with AI and social distancing; digital radio; film and VR; Microsoft and NBA; influencer economy; gaming and online grocery shopping.

Hello World

This week:

Digital Radio is tiny

Digital radio listening is still only a small fraction of all radio consumption.

According to research by Edison Research, the portion of AM/FM which is streamed is 8 % of total listening.

Traditional mediums such as car radio or clock radio account for 92% of the total.

Larry Rosin, president of Edison Reasearch, has stated “We’ve been tracking the changes in radio listening since the beginning of Share of Ear in 2014.  The portion of listening that is digital goes up a tiny bit with each update, but the total amount remains small.” 

In my opinion, the limited market share of digital devices is both good and bad news for the radio industry.

It may be that the disruption seen in other industries (newspapers, TV) is not going to impact the radio industry as hard, in the short term.

On the other hand, the growth opportunities associated with an ever-increasing content consumption on digital devices may by-pass the radio industry.

No growth plus a constant stream of consumers migrating to a digital world might be very bad news for the radio industry in the medium to long term.

Advertising dollars follow eyeballs (or ears) and radio may not be the final destination for those $$$.

Tribeca Film Festival goes VR

UploadVR reports that the Tribeca Film Festival is moving online to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

As part of this, it is teaming up with Facebook ‘s Oculus to bring content to the platform’s TV app.

Cinema360, a curated selection of 15 VR films, will be available on the app from April 17 to April 25.

The 15 films will be split into four playlists, each lasting between 30 and 40 minutes.

As the cinema industry is impacted by the lockdown measures imposed in many countries, VR is poised to gain more of a foothold in the entertainment choices of consumers.

Primarily known for gaming, many users will likely find VR as a viable option for the consumption of more, traditionally, passive forms of entertainment.

Some consumers may prefer the convenience of strapping on VR headsets in the comfort and safety of their own homes to the effort and cost of going to the cinema.

Microsoft and NBA teaming up

Advertising Age reports that Microsoft and the NBA are getting together to enhance the UX of fans.

Microsoft will provide its cloud computing and artificial intelligence capabilities while the NBA will provide the content.

The aim of the partnership is to deliver a superior and more personalized user experience.

The remarkable aspect of the announcement is the quoting of both Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Adam Silver, NBA commissioner.

Such caliber indicates the importance of the deal.

Microsoft Azure will be used to apply machine learning to NBA content in order to deliver a more personalized experience to global fans.

As Silver noted, most global NBA fans will never attend a game in person.

Delivering the next best experience is paramount for the league’s long-term global future.

In essence, a fan in Indonesia will be served a stream of content dependent on his preferences in terms of teams and players.

Artificial intelligence will learn what the fan responds to and deliver more of what increases the fan’s engagement with the NBA digital content.

COVID-19 hits influencer economy

An article in Wired highlights the testing times for the revenue of influencers.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a multitude of impacts.

Large sections of the economy have ground to a halt.

Millions of people are staying at home.

Generally speaking, there is less disposable income and a lot more available time.

This means that a lot of people are spending more time consuming content created by influencers.

However, a lot of people are not able to spend money on what the influencer may be promoting.

Additionally, many brands have slashed their marketing and advertising budgets.

Many deals in place to promote brands and products have now evaporated.

The short-term outcome is less promotional posting and more organic posting by influencers.

The latter relies more on affiliate links.

The influencer makes money when someone clicks on a link featured in the Instagram photo, for instance.

It’s less ‘I love this brand (which is paying me). Buy it.’ and more ‘this is me. By the way, if you want to wear the same clothes as me, click here’.

This shift is also capitalizing on the continuing and accelerating trend towards online shopping driven by the lockdown measure in place around the world.

Longer-term I expect the influencer industry to be shaken in a similar way to all other industries.

Long term changes in behavior will have repercussions, positive and negative, on the ability of influencers to monetize their following.

AI to monitor social distancing in the workplace

Landing AI has launched an AI tool to assist its customers to monitor employees’ social distancing in the workplace.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, some industries are still operating.

Many of Landing AI’s manufacturing and pharmaceutical customers are active.

The tool uses real-time video streaming from a camera.

It then applies AI to the stream in order to ascertain if workers are keeping a safe distance whilst in the workplace.

In the demo video below, we can see that the system first identifies people, then it detects when they come into too close contact.

At this point, an alert can be sent out in order to rectify the situation.

I can see this sort of technology to gain widespread adoption when we return to some sort of normality and, yet, we need to keep some measures in place to avoid returning to a lockdown situation.

Such adoption has implications for individuals’ acceptance of surveillance technology which, in turn, has implications for how much knowledge companies have of consumers.

There is a much more detailed technical explanation of how the technology works in this blog.

Supermarket with no customers opens in New Zealand

The supermarket chain Countdown has opened the first dedicated online store in New Zealand.

New Zealand has been in Level 4 lockdown for a few weeks.

This has incentivized consumers to make more purchases online.

Grocery shopping has followed the trend and Countdown has responded by opening a store that serves online orders only.

Two hundred personal shoppers fulfill the online orders received from customers of 10 of Countdown’s busiest stores in the Auckland region.

Countdown has also closed 6 stores in order to dedicate resources to online ordering and delivery.

Traditionally New Zealanders bought only 3-4% of their groceries using online technology.

Post COVID-19 this percentage is very likely to increase significantly.

Longer-term, this might turn into a significant change to shopping patterns.

In a similar vein to ‘dark restaurants’ fulfilling UberEats orders, this might be the future of (some) grocery shopping.

Brands more reliant on impulse buying might struggle if fewer people shop in-store in person.

Chocolate bars at the checkout? Good luck with selling those online…

Gaming’s impact on the media landscape

A very interesting interview with John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technology and former CEO of Electronic Arts.

Main points I took from it:

  • gaming is a huge industry

  • its technology is being adopted by many other industries (think advertising, real estate, etc)

  • the future of gaming and associated, contiguous industries (e.g. streaming) is hard to imagine (in that it is going to change so much and so fast)

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