This New Medical Wearable Comes With Alexa And Uber Integrations

What Happened
Wearable devices dedicated to healthcare and medical purposes are nothing new, but a new wearable device for senior healthcare, created by startup Elements of Genius and backed by Mission Pharmacal, will be the first to integrate with Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa. For their upcoming flagship product Wellnest, the company will allow users to use Alexa to conveniently place refill orders for their prescriptions. Moreover, the device will also be integrated with Uber so that senior citizens can easily request a ride or an UberRush to assist with medication delivery.

What Brands Need To Do
By integrating with Alexa, this wearable device not only gains a valuable ecommerce feature that provides real convenience for users, it also opens the door for future expansion of digital voice assistants as caretaking assistants on wearables. With over 11 million Amazon Echo devices sold since launch, Alexa is entering millions of home and leading the charge in familiarizing mainstream consumers with smart voice assistants and the unique conversational experiences they enable. Therefore, brands seeking to stay ahead of the adoption curve will need to start thinking about how to leverage the rise of voice assistants to better serve their customers.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Yahoo Finance (press release)

Images courtesy of Mission Pharmacal’s press release


Tostitos’ Sensor-Laden Bag Can Tell If You’ve Been Drinking And Call You An Uber

What Happened
Tostitos, a Fritto-Lay brand, is created an interesting take on CPG packaging with a limited-edition “Party Safe” bag that comes with a sensor to detect mall traces of alcohol on a person’s breath. Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, this special Tostitos bag will display a red steering wheel, along with an Uber code. Equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology, the bag also let customers tap the bag with their phone to request an Uber ride. If they do so during and after the Super Bowl game, they will also receive $10 off courtesy of Tostitos and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

What Brands Need To Do
This is an interesting example in how CPG brands can experiment with packaging to deliver added value to customers. In a similar vein, last year we worked with Hershey’s and created a “Remixer” package for its TAKE5 snack bar. Powered by the haptics technology from Novalia, the package lets customers play DJ and create their own unique tracks with no app required.

If you want to learn more about how you can leverage new technologies such as biosensors, AR, and haptics to transform your product packaging into an informative or interactive customer experience, please reach out to our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]).


Source: AdWeek

Uber Acquires Geometric Intelligence To Form An In-House AI Team

What Happened
Uber has acquired a New York-based startup Geometric Intelligence to launch its own in-house research team that focuses on artificial intelligence development, according to The New York Times. This move not only reaffirms Uber’s dedication to improve its algorithms for more efficient routing and ride-sharing, but also signals the company’s growing ambition in developing autonomous vehicles and driverless solutions, to which sophisticated AI and machine learning tools will be crucial.

Why Brands Should Care
As conversational interfaces and cloud-based solutions rise to prominence, AI and machine learning are quickly becoming a hot topic among the tech and ad industries, especially in regard to how they would transform the way we analyze data and extract insights. Already, we are seeing companies like IBM and Oracle integrating their respective machine learning-powered solutions into marketing products, promising profound impact on consumer expectations and brand-consumer interactions.

This is a topic we will be diving into in details in our upcoming Outlook 2017 report. Please check back in early January to read more of our take on this hot industry trend.


Source: The New York Times

IKEA Partners With Uber And Influencers For “Friendsgiving” Campaign

What Happened
For its upcoming “Friendsgiving” holiday campaign, IKEA is working with Uber and social influencers to deliver free meal-planning kits to lucky customers. For a limited time on Nov. 19, Uber users in NYC will get the opportunity to have one of 200 free IKEA Friendsgiving kits delivered to them. To push this campaign, IKEA is also working with influencers Katie Quinn and Jordan Ferney to created branded content about how to prepare a meal using the kit for IKEA’s owned channels.

What Brands Should Do
This is not the first time a brand has leveraged Uber’s booming popularity and logistical prowess  to reach customers who are increasingly shunning away from traditional advertising. Walmart recently partnered with Uber to test on-demand delivery service, and Warner Bros. launched Mad Max-themed free Uber rides to promote the movie. As Uber repeatedly shows its willingness to work with brands, more brands should take advantage of the brand-friendly features and APIs it has to connect with customers on mobile.



Uber’s New API Opens Door For Brands To Engage Drivers

What Happened
Uber has introduced a new way for brands to reach the growing number of Uber drivers around the world. With the release of Driver API, developers can now better tailor their apps and services for Uber’s 1.5 million and counting drivers. Sears, for example, is rewarding Uber drivers with loyalty points every time they complete a ride so as to incentivize them to shop at Sears locations.

What Brands Should Do
Driver API offers a way for brands to work with developers to tap into driver profiles and trip data and create new apps and services to connect with Uber drivers – a primarily male, multicultural demographic. As Uber continues to grow on a global scale, brands interested in reaching this consumer segment should leverage this API to reach them and integrate their brand into their day-to-day work.


Source: Uber Developer on Medium

Uber Partners With Yext To Make It Easier To Hail Rides To Stores

What Happened
Uber is partnering with Yext, a startup that specializes in business location data, to make it easier for users to book rides to their favorite stores and restaurants. Integrating with Uber’s API, Yext allows brands to create custom “get an Uber” buttons for their mobile apps, sites, and newsletters which direct consumers to the Uber app and shows them all the nearby store locations. Consumers can specify at which entrance they would like to be dropped off. Brands that are Yext customers can also surface ads and branded content during the ride via Uber’s Trip Experience. Guitar World and Cole Haan are among the brands that have been testing this new feature.

What Brands Should Do
This combination of Uber’s on-demand ride service and Yext’s location data creates a powerful call-to-action tool for brands and retailers to drive store visits and online-to-offline conversion. The integration with Trip Experience provides brands with one more endpoint to engage with consumers and make the car ride part of the brand experience.

For more information on how retailers can connect with shoppers across various sales channel, check out the Boundless Retail section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: AdWeek


Uber And Visa Team Up For Rewards Program

What Happened
Visa is expanding its existing partnership with Uber to drive customer loyalty through a new rewards program called Uber Local Offers. Starting this week, Visa cardholders in San Francisco and Los Angeles can earn points toward discounted Uber rides when they use their Visa cards at select local businesses such as Barcito, Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, and Peet’s Coffee. They will earn one point for each $1 spent at an enrolled merchant—100 points lead to a $10 Uber discount.

What Brands Need To Do
This is not the first time Uber has tried to incorporate brands into rides. Last January, the company launched “Trip Experiences” to allow third-party apps to serve up notifications and content via Uber’s app to keep riders entertained during their trips. As Uber officially start rolling out its Local Offers program, brands should consider joining this rewards program to reach Uber’s urban and affluent users and leverage its booming popularity to build customer loyalty.


Source: AdAge


Uber To Unleash Fleet Of Driverless Cars In Pittsburgh For Free Rides

What Happened
Uber is set to unleash a fleet of self-driving cars to pick up passengers on the streets of Pittsburgh this month. In partnership with Volvo, the autonomous fleet will consist of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles supervised by humans in the drivers’ seats. Starting later this month, Uber will match customers in downtown Pittsburgh to driverless cars at random, and the trips will be free for the time being.

Why Brands Should Care
This impending launch marks an important milestone in the development of driverless cars, as  no automotive or technology company has yet to bring autonomous cars so close to the mass consumer market. Recently, major automakers such as Ford and BMW have announced their plans for putting driverless cars on the road in the next five years. Volvo is also partnering with Uber on a $300M program to develop fully autonomous vehicles by 2021. All things considered, we may be not too far from riding in self-driving cars.

The development in autonomous cars is an important market trend that The Lab looks out for (and included in the 2020 section of our Outlook 2016) because of the incredible amount of media time it could free up. The average daily commute time in the States is currently about 50 minutes. When driverless cars are adopted by mainstream car-owners, it would make it possible for media owners and advertisers to visually connect with consumers on the go through in-car media such as digital video and video gaming.


Source: Bloomberg

Uber Now Lets Businesses Send Rides To Their Customers

What Happened
Uber has launched another business-friendly feature to help companies better leverage its car-hailing service to reach customers. Dubbed UberCENTRAL, the new service allows companies to book and pay for rides for their customers and manage multiple rides from a single account via its dashboard. Businesses can also send links to a live map via SMS message to tell users that their free rides are on the way. In May, Uber started testing a similar feature named Uber Offers that allows brands to provide customers who click on in-app ads with credits for free rides.

What Brands Need To Do
With this new feature, Uber is making it easier for brands to use its service to provide extra value to their customers as loyalty rewards, incentives for visiting a store, or simply as a logistics tool to get VIP members to an event. Better yet, brands can consider combining this service with the Trip Experience feature that Uber launched in January to offer customers a branded experience while they are enjoying the free rides that brands pay for.


Source: Fortune

Header image courtesy of Uber’s YouTube Video

Starbucks Creates Add-In For Microsoft Outlook To Court Business Users

What Happened
Starbucks is looking to insert its brand into the most popular email client among enterprise users with an extension. Introduced at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in March, the Outlook extension enables users to book meetings at a local Starbucks and send electronic gift cards to each other right in Outlook. It is currently available for various desktop and web-based versions of Outlook with plans to make it available for Outlook’s Mac and mobile apps in the coming months.

What Brands Need To Do
Starbucks’s extension for Outlook is a great example of how brands can integrate themselves into popular platforms and apps that consumers are using daily and provide valuable services, in this case the convenience of choosing a local Starbucks store as a meeting spot within Outlook’s scheduling interface, and the ease of sending people Starbucks gift cards to show your appreciation. Another recent example in this regard is Uber’s Payment Rewards program with Capital One, where the bank inserted its service into the popular ride-hailing app by rewarding its card-carriers with free rides.

As we pointed out in our Outlook 2016, the ongoing trend of “Brand as a Service” means that brands need to deliver true value to consumers – not just with your products but also meeting your customers at a place where you can improve their lives. For brands seeking to stay ahead of the curve and connect with consumers in new channels, it is time to take the “Brand as a Service” approach and explore interesting ways to integrate your brand into a suitable digital platform, be it popular apps like Outlook and Uber, hot messaging apps such as Snapchat and Slack, or emerging live-streaming platforms.


Source: PCMag