In the outside world: April 14th

Anjali Ramachandran, Head of Innovation, on interesting media-related news from last week:

Microsoft is hiring some big Hollywood names like Sarah Silverman as they ramp up towards the global launch of their Xbox TV programming studio in June. TV shows out of Microsoft? Yes. I’m not going to repeat myself about this being a hot space right now, so listen to Microsoft’s strategy instead: “Microsoft is betting on the new studio to produce shows that will attract consumers to its Xbox game console, lure subscribers to its Xbox Live online service and eventually anchor a consumer home entertainment network that will tie the company’s devices together.” The new CEO there seems to be leading the charge, I’m impressed so far.

Capture

Grocery brands, listen up, you’ve got a competitor when it comes to online shopping and it is literally a household name. This week Amazon announced the launch of their ‘remote control for groceries’ called Dash. It looks like a little magic wand with a loop on one end that you can hang on to your kitchen cupboard, and it automates the process of ordering groceries through voice. The catch (there has to be one) is that you have to be registered for their grocery delivery service Amazon Fresh, via next-day delivery service Prime. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about getting my hands on a Dash, and Wired magazine agrees. Only available in a select few US states so far, a UK release date has not yet been announced.

Investment in digital display is up (UK digital ad spend up 15% year-on-year according to the IAB this week), and now there’s a way to capitalise on stories on the web even better. Conde Nast has created a platform called the Accelerator that can predict when a story is going to be big and then allow advertisers to get in on it. Lots of publications are seeing success from it, including the New Yorker, Vogue and Glamour.

Manchester United literally brought fans to the front row of a game via Google+ hangouts. Watch this for more. Nice use of the technology to bring a special experience to a few fans, and not something that’s been done too much before.

Another football-related link this week for the fans of the sport and anyone interested in data for that mattter. The Near Future Laboratory recently worked on a project that reimagines what a newspaper in 2018 would say about football, given how analytics is going to feed into the game in bigger and hopefully better ways. The Winning Formula was launched at the National Football Museum in Manchester last week and you can order the paper now for $10. Last week it was inserted in 130,000 copies of the Manchester Evening News so some of our Manchester colleagues might have seen it, perhaps?!

I don’t know about you but I get quite tired of products that can’t be upgraded easily. In the smartphone department, Google are working on a solution – the world’s first modular smartphone that you can snap together in bits and pieces that is easy to tweak, repair, and make your own. Project Ara sounds great.

An internet hoax can become a revenue-generating product for a brand if they play their cards right. In 2009, a hoax about the H1N1 swine flu making humans into zombies did the round. Sony Online Entertainment is turning that into a massively multiplayer online game (every week, I find news headlines that are more and more amazing. Got to love the times we live in).

You’re a social media company. You know Game of Thrones is big as the new season just premiered. What do you do? Create a version of the opening credits featuring social media brands like Whatsapp, Google, YouTube, Twitter and the rest of it. Here’s a blog post from Hootsuite, who are behind it.

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