Messaging App Tango Launches Brand Channels

Today Tango, a messaging app with over 200 million users globally, launched a plug-and-play solution for brands called Channels.  It functions similarly to a Facebook brand page– a user follows a channel and then can view content like photos and video within a news feed.  Launch partners include Spotify, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Cheezburger, Dailymotion, and OK Go.

The fact that TechCrunch, an authority on emerging tech, is betting early on Tango and messaging apps is perhaps the best indication that this is a noteworthy opportunity for media owners and brands.  As further proof: only two hours after launch, Spotify’s Tango channel already had close to 25,000 followers and over 2,000 likes and 450 comments on its morning playlist posting.

As we mentioned in our recent white paper on the messaging app space, Tango is in many ways an outlier compared to the competition.  Unlike popular millennial chat apps like Kik and Snapchat, its demographic skews heavily towards 25-50+ and proves that messaging is a phenomenon impacting all age groups.  With close to 70 million users in the US, Tango has a great audience that has already proven itself very receptive to interacting with games and music on the platform.

Tango is also arguably the most brand friendly of the messaging apps, and has found success with a native ad product leveraged by companies like Dunkin’ Donuts, eBay, Spotify and others to drive app installs.  In all likelihood these ads will also become a popular way for brands to attract subscribers to Tango Channels in the future.

Channels are currently free for brands to set up, so for companies looking to experiment with messaging app marketing there’s little risk involved in this opportunity. For now Tango houses the channels tab at the top of every user’s newsfeed. Once you click into it, you can search five primary categories: Entertainment, News, Sports, Music, and Funny & Cute.  To see the program in action for yourself, click here to download the app or watch the official Channels intro video.


Google Debuts Magazine-Style Ad Units

It is known that Google gives publishers the ability to run display and text ads on their sites. Now, Google is providing the means for advertisers to utilize a more well-known format: it wants to put magazine-like display and text ads on sites. The goal, it seems, is to give text advertisers the ability to compete, in an aesthetically pleasing fashion, with display-only ad units, and to give publishers the ability to run text ads in addition to their own display ads. It seems like a straightforward play for Google: the company can and will simply make more money when these ads display, as before their existence there wouldn’t have been ads in competition for these spots at all. Though it might feel gimmicky, it’s an effective way for Google to maximize on profits for previously unused space. 

Yahoo Acquires Blink

Blink, a direct mobile messaging rival to SnapChat, has been acquired by Yahoo, and the Blink team members will be absorbed into the Yahoo structure. Blink launched over a year ago on iOS, and allowed users to text, share photos, videos, voice, and more with individuals and groups. As well, these messages’ visibility could be controlled with timers much like SnapChat. At the same time, Blink’s primary user base is located in the United States, with over 100,000 downloads on Android in its first year of existence; the second largest market was the Middle East. All of that aside, the acquisition points to the fact that Yahoo recognizes the value of messaging apps – that is, that it doesn’t have one of its own just yet that’s a viable competitor to the big names in the messaging world just yet, and that it’s a market that’s worth buying into. 

LINE Introduces Voice Calling

As messaging continues to introduce a myriad of functions, Japan’s LINE has added a flat-rate voice calling service called LINE Call. LINE already provides calling for free via the messaging app, but the new voice calling service is a move to enlist others who might not be keen on downloading an entire messaging suite to utilize the company’s products. It also puts LINE in direct competition with the likes of Skype and Google for cheap, in-app calling services that use mobile data instead of traditional minutes via regular phone service. It also stacks LINE against Facebook’s WhatsApp, who have made noises about releasing a voice service but who haven’t actually gone about doing it yet. With 340 million users on LINE, the move to offering calling signals that messaging apps are working towards making themselves full service centers of communication. Whether users stick with them through their transformation from simple text messengers to monetized suites, however, remains to be seen. 

Privacy Chat App Omlet Launches At SXSW

With both Assange and Snowden speaking at SXSW this year, privacy and surveillance have usurped much else at the Austin conference. It’s a fortuitous set of circumstances for Omlet, an app developed by Stanford PhD students and professors that gives users control over where the content they create is stored, controlled, and monetized. The idea is that the app decentralizes the location of the content, allowing users to manage their data in a granular fashion. It does this by linking with users’ Box and Dropbox accounts, accessing data from these available sources. Omlet does have some ideas about monetization, such as deals with these other storage services, but for now the app remains focused on usability and privacy before all else. It’s a sign of the times that, in the congested world of messaging apps, a new product has carved out an important space for itself by putting privacy first. 

Brands Who Release Super Bowl Ads Early Win Big

The Super Bowl is still fresh in the minds of advertisers as they slowly determine the returns on their advertising dollars.  The reach of an ad doesn’t stop at the end of the game, though, and online views have become increasingly important to the overall success of a campaign.  Analytics firm Visible Measures looked at online “True Reach” statistics for every Super Bowl campaign since 2010 and found that advertisers who released their ads online before the game saw far greater reach than those who didn’t. Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” commercial from this year’s bowl had already received 26.7 million views before the game, and its final reach is expected to be much higher.

Dropbox 3.0 Comes To iOS

With iOS 7 came the inevitable app upgrades across the board, but one notable laggard was Dropbox. Now they’ve remedied that fact, with a new look and feel to fit iOS 7’s broad redesign. The most important new feature, though, is AirDrop support, letting users send links and files over the instant-sharing platform – over Wifi or Bluetooth. The AirDrop support means that the app could position itself as the file-transfer medium of choice for Apple devices. The video saving function is also upgraded, and ultimately this update takes the app, finally, into the realm of the new OS. 

Apple Patents Anticipatory Home Automation Technology

Geo-fencing is a hot technology, especially in the home, and Apple’s new patent indicates that it has no intentions of ignoring the trend. The patent describes a home automation system powered by location data fed from Apple’s mobile devices, as well as additional integrated peripherals like credit cards and RFID badges.  With this many sensors contributing, it becomes possible to create extremely detailed inferences of not only where a person is at any time, but what they’re doing, or even who they’re with.  With this powerful information, Apple’s system goes beyond home automation, and incorporates another hot trend: anticipatory computing.  Should the system be easily implemented (which is usually a strong suit of Apple products), it could be a boon for both trend areas, and inspire further innovations for each.

Twitter and TV: An Advertiser’s Targeting Paradise

Numerous studies have shown that people tend to multitask with their technology.  Twitter’s jump into the advertising pool has certainly been informed by this behavior, and their seeming omnipresence gives them a unique perspective on how brands can effectively target their audiences.  Twitter is now rolling out TV Ad Targeting to all US advertisers following a beta launch in May.  The service is based on technology acquired with BlueFin Labs, a TV analytics service Twitter bought in February, that uses video fingerprinting technology to determine which ads played in which markets during which shows.  By feeding Twitter users ads related to the TV they are watching, Neilsen studies state, message association rises by 95% and purchase intent jumps up almost 60%.  This capability, combined with improved analytics for advertisers could make Twitter an even more valuable and easy to use second screen tool for marketers looking to push their campaigns to the next level.

Touchcast Enhances Video With Online Content

Startup Touchcast has launched with the goal of reinventing online video to “look like TV and feel like the web.” The result is a series of video apps or vApps which are essentially plug and play widgets that bring additional functionality to any video. Examples include polls, Google News, webpages and more. With consumers multitasking more than ever, Touchcast’s multimedia approach may be interesting for brands trying to enhance their online video.