Samsung Announces More Live VR Content From UFC, X Games, And Live Nation

What Happened
Following up to its refreshed Gear VR headset unveiled in late March, Samsung is doubling down on its VR initiative with a slate of exclusive content aiming to appeal to mainstream consumers. Users with a VR Live Pass will soon have access to 360-degree live broadcasts from mixed martial arts company UFC, extreme sports event X Games, and live entertainment corporation Live Nation.

What Brands Need To Do
This isn’t the first time Samsung has leveraged live entertainment and sports content to drive VR uptake. Last summer, it teamed up with NBC to produce 85 hours of VR content from the Rio Olympic Games. By aggressively investing in VR content, Samsung is addressing a key hindrance in VR adoption – the lack of good VR content. According to a recent survey conducted by Thrive Analytics, 55% of VR headset owners say they would like to see more VR content, while 45% of them say they want content of better quality. As VR content continues to diversify, it should gradually attract more consumer attention, which brands should follow with branded VR content or virtual product placement.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: VentureBeat

Featured image and video courtesy of Samsung’s YouTube

Samsung’s Bixby Assistant Comes With A Cool Image Search Feature

What Happened
Samsung officially unveiled its digital assistant service Bixby on Wednesday with the launch of the Galaxy S8 flagship handsets at its Unpacked 2017 event (check out this VentureBeat article on all Samsung’s announcements today). Positioned as the Siri for Samsung phones, Bixby is designed to facilitate hands-free interactions in Samsung apps via voice command. At launch, Bixby only supports a handful of apps, including Samsung’s native services, but Samsung plans to release an SDK soon for developers to integrate Bixby into their apps.

That said, Bixby does come with a cool feature that few other digital assistants in market is capable of – the ability to recognize objects via the phone’s camera and surface similar images via search. When users are taking a picture with a new Galaxy S8 phone, they can tap on a small button on the camera app to evoke Bixby’s visual search feature, which leverages image recognition technology developed by Pinterest to discern the physical objects in sight and presents either similar images of the objects or information about those objects found via search. Samsung is also planning to add a shopping angle to this feature, allowing Bixby to present search results of the objects among online retail sites. This feature essentially creates a mobile-based augmented reality experience where users can point their camera at certain things to learn more about them.

What Brands Need To Do
As digital assistant get smarter, they become a gateway to introduce mainstream consumers to some advanced AI-powered solutions such as visual search and computer vision. Earlier this year, Pinterest launched a similar computer vision feature that allows users to use their phone to identify objects and search for similar images. It will also present promoted Pins in the results if the object matches with what users are looking for.

This visual search feature of Bixby enables Samsung users to quickly access digital information about physical objects in front of them via an AR-like experience, which unlocks a new way for brand marketers to serve mobile customers with tailored messages. Imagine pointing your phone’s camera at a restaurant sign and immediately find out its Yelp rating, business hours, and signature dishes. Or pointing your camera at a snack bar and let Bixby tell you about its nutrition facts and where you can buy more of it. The possibilities to bridge the physical and the digital world are endless. Therefore, brand seeking to stay ahead of the innovational curve will need to pay attention to the development of artificial intelligence and experiment with the new marketing solutions it enables.


Source: The Verge

Header image courtesy of Samsung


MWC 2017: Samsung Redesigns Gear VR And Reveals New Controller

What Happened
At a press conference hosted yesterday in Barcelona ahead of this year’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung announced some noteworthy news about its Gear VR headsets. The Korean mobile giant debuted a redesign of the Samsung Gear VR that not only makes it work better with existing Samsung handsets but also prepares it for the upcoming Galaxy S8 phones.

More importantly, the new Gear VR headset will also come with a new controller that includes touchpad and trigger, in addition to the motion sensors. Equipped with a touch-sensitive touchpad, the controller enables users to navigate the VR interfaces in a faster and more convenient manner. The control also comes with a trigger at the bottom for playing video games.

Besides the VR updates, Samsung also unveiled two new tablets and a new class of two-in-one laptop-tablet device.

What Brands Need To Do
Samsung Gear VR remains one of the most popular mobile platforms for virtual reality at the moment. And this refresh in headset design and new remote controller significantly improves the user-friendliness and adds to its interactivity.

As the hardware continues to develop, VR and 360-degree content is quickly emerging as a medium that brands should explore to attract consumer attention with innovative storytelling. In order to capitalize on the booming popularity of the immersive medium, brands should take a cue and start developing VR content that truly enhances brand messaging and contributes to the campaign objectives.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: VR Focus


Samsung’s Health App Will Connect You To Chat With A Local Expert

What Happened
Samsung is adding the Ask Experts service to its S Health App which promises to connect users to healthcare experts in their local areas. Only available in South Korea at the moment, the service will allow users to ask questions and get advice from local professional health consultants via text, phone, or a simple search, according to Samsung.

What Healthcare Brands Need To Do
By integrating this kind of conversational service into its app, Samsung provides users with an on-demand healthcare tool that caters to mobile users’ increasing usage and fondness of messaging apps. As more services become available through conversational platforms, healthcare and pharmaceutical brands should consider moving into the space to make their services and products more easily accessible. Boston Children’s Hospital, for example, launched an Alexa skill earlier this year for answering questions about children’s health and has plans to further integrate the voice-activated digital assistant from Amazon into its services.

For more information on how brands can navigate the new rules of discovery and other challenges they may encounter on conversational platforms, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: The Verge

Samsung Adds More Ads To Its Smart TV’s Menu Bar

What Happened
Samsung is increasing the display ads on its Smart TVs in an attempt to make up for its declining revenue. Users of Samsung Smart TVs will soon begin to see more tile ads that appear in the menu bar alongside the most used apps, such as Netflix or YouTube. Samsung says software updates will activate clickable ads on older models of Samsung Smart TVs.

Why Brands Should Care
By ramping up the ads placed in the menu bar, Samsung is making them hard to ignore. While this move expands the advertising pool for Samsung’s clients to reach smart TV users and helps with Samsung’s bottom line, it may potentially lead to a backlash from consumers who are growing increasingly averse to ads (check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016 for more information). In fact, some Reddit users have already started airing their grievances. This is illustrative of the new reality of digital ads and consumer expectation, and brands should be cautious about where they are placing their ads when exploring non-traditional ads.


Source: Wall Street Journal

Mobile Payment Expands For Android And Samsung Users

What Happened
Google and Samsung continue the push for mobile payments as both companies announced new expansions for their respective payment systems. After revealing that Android Pay will be integrated into Android Instant Apps yesterday, Google announced it now allows Bank of America customers to use the bank’s ATMs with their phones via Android Pay. The search giant is also working on integrating Android Pay into its Chrome web browser to make it easier to pay online. Samsung Pay, on the other hand, now supports membership and loyalty cards in the U.S., allowing users to receive promotions and other value offers right on their Galaxy smartphones.

What Brands Need To Do
As mobile payments continue to mature and expand, retailers should take the initiative to incorporate them into their retail experience to offer shoppers frictionless check-out. They should also incorporate existing reward and loyalty programs into point of sale systems to make sure that customers can apply the value offers they received. Banking services, on the other hand, should consider further integrating their services into various mobile payment systems to better serve their customers.


Source: TechCrunch & CNet

Mobile World Congress 2016: Virtual Reality Becomes A Step Closer To Reality

What Happened
On the first day of the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, several brands eagerly shared news about their latest development in virtual reality.

The HTC Vive, which made its big debut at MWC last year, returns with an official $799 price tag,a preorder date of February 29th, and an early April ship date. HTC also announced that its Vive headset will integrate some phone functions on both iOS and Android to allow users to answer calls, check text messages, and view calendar reminders without removing the headset. Similarly, LG is also making its entry into the burgeoning VR market with a pair of new products: the lightweight and compact LG 360 VR headset and the LG 360 CAM for capturing spherical photos and video. LG partnered with Google for easy sharing of videos to YouTube 360 and photos can even be uploaded right to Google Street View.

Samsung also returned to Barcelona with an aggressive push for its Gear VR headsets. The company made the consumer version of Gear VR available for $99.99 in November last year, and now it is giving out the VR headset for free with the purchase of its new Galaxy 7 phone for a limited time period. Samsung also brought in Mark Zuckerberg for its press event to talk up Facebook’s partnership with Samsung to support 360-degree videos on Facebook and working to make the VR experience more social. Moreover, Samsung also unveiled the Gear 360 camera that is just smaller than a baseball and aims to make shooting and sharing 360-degree photos and videos easier.

What Brands Need To Do
In line with what we saw at CES earlier this year, the news from MWC shows that virtual reality is quickly gaining momentum as a nascent medium, as more and more companies start developing affordable, consumer-facing VR headsets, as well as the tools for capturing, creating, and sharing 360-degree content. While virtual reality technologies may still be a few years away from mass adoption, as we predicted in the 2020 section in our Outlook 2016, companies like Samsung and Facebook are laying the groundwork for that to happen. For brands, this means that it is time to start exploring what VR technologies have to offer and consider developing branded VR content to excite and engage consumers with immersive experiences.


Header image courtesy of

Samsung Adds Ad-blocking To Its Default Mobile Browser

What Happened
Samsung has joined Apple in supporting ad-blocking capability in its mobile web browser. The company started pushing out an update for Samsung Internet, the default browser on Samsung phones, to devices with Android Marshmallow starting today. With the updated browser, Samsung users can now download third-party content-blocking apps – some of which made their debut last year on iOS 9 – and get an ad-free experience in Samsung Internet.

What Brands Need To Do
Samsung’s addition came nearly five months after ad-blockers flooded the App Store’s top chart when iOS 9 was released in September, but for Samsung users, it’s better late than never. Android devices now boast over 1.4 billion users worldwide, and Samsung is the No.1 seller of Android phones. Bringing ad-blockers to Samsung devices will no doubt give their usage a further boost, making it harder for brands to reach mobile consumers. Therefore, brands need to provide added value to their marketing in order to earn consumer attention.

For more information on how brands can fight the increasing usage of ad-blockers, check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: AdAge

CES 2016: Samsung’s Keynote On Its IoT Solutions

This morning, the Lab attended Samsung’s keynote address to hear what Dr. WP Hong, President of Samsung SDS, have to say about Samsung’s IoT solutions. Here are some highlights from his keynote.

Devices In Sync With Real Life

Samsung is set on bringing connectivity to every facet of the modern life, showcasing a slew of IoT devices it has: its new smart fridge “Family Hub Refrigerator” in the kitchen, the new quantum dot display SUHD smart TV in the living room, a smart car integration through a partnership with BMW, and a new powerful bio-processor for fitness trackers we wear. All these new devices are aimed to serve one purpose – sync up modern consumers’ daily life no matter where they are. The company even partnered with Ascott to develop “the Internet of Real Estate,” where all connected devices in the same building will be centrally connected to create the smart buildings of the future.

Open Platform And “IoTivity”

Dr. Hong stressed at the beginning of the keynote about Samsung’s belief in the benefits of an open IoT platform and its commitment in giving the consumers more control with true interoperability among its devices (or as Dr. Wong calls it, “IoTivity”). To that end, Samsung is working closely with Microsoft to make sure its new 2-in-1 tablet Samsung TabPro S, which runs Windows 10, is capable of controlling the smart home devices plugged into its IoT platform with Cortana.

IoT Brings New Security Challenges

With a wide-ranging IoT devices and an open platform come some great security challenges. To solve those new security issues, Samsung developed Samsung Knox, a security protocol built into its IoT platform, which banks like Goldman Sachs is already using to create new security measures for their enterprise IoT devices. Moreover, it has also developed a set of Security Solutions for its smart TVs to ensure the data transferring between smart home devices and smart TVs is safe and secure.


For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

CES 2016: Samsung’s Smart Fridge Ushers In A New Era For Home Appliances

On Tuesday, Samsung introduced a new “Family Hub Refrigerator” during its press conference at CES 2016. Easily the highlight of the event, the new smart fridge comes with a 21.5-inch touchscreen built in. It can display your family photos, show your calendars, and even has a TV-mirroring feature that can let you stream your Samsung TV content right to your fridge door. The fridge also comes with 3 cameras so you can remotely check your stockings inside via a smartphone app while you’re in the shopping aisles.

Moreover, the refrigerator also comes with a built-in function for grocery shopping. Working with MasterCard’s Groceries app, it will allow users to shop for groceries right on the touchscreen on its door, truly combining the connectivity of smart home devices with the convenience of ecommerce.

For more of the Lab’s CES coverage, click here.

Header image courtesy of Samsung’s press release video.