Weekly Digital Breakdown

Netflix Tests Extras On Its Mobile App

Finding what to watch on Netflix isn’t always so chill and the company is experimenting with ways to help users find something that interests them quicker.  With so many options, from movies to original programming, many viewers can feel overwhelmed with the amount of content available.

To help guide viewers, the company introduced an “Extras” option on the navigation bar of the mobile app. Users are now offered a variety of helpful programming suggestions including New Arrivals, upcoming releases and additional programming suggestions based on previous viewing history.

Delivered in a story format similar to those found on Instagram and Snapchat, video clips and photos of Netflix programming are displayed as you scroll.  Users can then add shows or movies to playlists for viewing or choose the “reminder” option and be notified when upcoming programming becomes available. While most Netflix viewing is still on television, the mobile app provides a unique opportunity to reach and engage a captive video audience.  

Based on the success from other platforms, moving to shareable videos is yet another way Netflix can not only personalize the experience, but also promote their own programming.  It’s also an effort to better connect fans with shows they love and expand viewing options.

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Netflix noted that the feature is still in testing and there’s no official word on a roll-out to the masses. The capability does allow the company to join a larger social discussion about content provided or what’s desirable, providing untapped audience insight and potentially increased time on the platform.


Snapchat Is Changing Its Story To Include Ecommerce

In the wake of Instagram’s recent release of the checkout feature and branded content ads, other social platforms are feeling the heat to close the gap and help influencers better monetize their content. Snapchat, in particular, added a shopping feature this week to boost its ecommerce efforts, increase the competition, and use influencer partnerships as way to more authentically reach audiences.

By partnering with Shopify, the company updated accounts of select high-profile influencers (Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Shay Mitchell, Spencer Pratt and Bhad Bhabie) to test the capabilities. The native checkout will be enabled with the addition of a shop button that lets users purchase products from the influencer’s respective brands.

The enhanced commerce experience distinguishes Snapchat as one of the leaders in the space and creates focus on their ability to increase available user profile data and add monetization. Snapchat has been an industry sleeper, but the addition could help shift the pendulum in their favor, positioning the company to gain more influencer interest which translates into more ecommerce advertising dollars.  As Snapchat continues to build out its shopping capabilities they can more accurately attribute sales dollars to specific ads, increasing platform value.

The partnership further exemplifies the evolution of shopping from brand websites to social media channels. As Snapchat continues to refine its strategy and gain social momentum, the company’s innovation helps establish their growth in the market.


Kid-Tech A Largely Untapped Market

With shrinking attention spans, marketers are under pressure to get their message conveyed fast.  This is even more true with kids who have grown up in an age where information and media are accessible at lightning speed around the clock. To reach this influential younger market, advertisers plan to spend more than $1.2 billion in ads globally by 2021, according to new research released by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The focus is primarily on international audiences across devices and platforms such as social media, search, and video formats.  However, the report magnified the need to market to this captive audience early and often.

“Kids-tech”, particularly social platforms, have been largely ignored by big tech due to the amount of red tape. While companies have released limited kid-friendly offerings such as Facebook’s Messenger Kids, Amazon’s Echo Dot Kid’s Edition and YouTube’s Kids app, advertising outside of these platforms has marketers feeling lost. The lack of attention to the space has since paved the way for innovative startups to create safe environments for both user and advertiser.  Programs are being developed to simulate what’s available for adults, but with stringent online privacy policies that prevent data being collected and used for ad delivery. Instead, ads are being served by site or page context without the use of cookies for personalized targeting. Platform moderation is also not left to chance with automation, but done manually by humans.

For big tech, their responsibility to this audience is great.  They must consider a myriad of factors such as online privacy which includes personal and geo data collection, strict advertising guidelines and ways to enforce policies with minimal for error.  However, with kids making up the fastest growing online audience, they can’t continue to leave this market untapped.


Key Marketing Trends For Online Retailers in 2019

Today’s e-commerce landscape is more competitive than ever with consumer expectations at an all time high.  As a result, retailers are working tirelessly to provide a seamless shopping experience across platforms. For maximum effectiveness, retailers must find innovative ways to reach shoppers, personalizing the experience and provide enticing calls to action in order to nurture consumers down the funnel, leading to purchase.  With so much evolution occurring in the space, we have broken down key trends, challenges, and strategies for e-commerce success in 2019.

Key Trends

Artificial Intelligence - When looking at the data, we know that consumer engagement spans platforms and devices.  A customer may be introduced to a brand via a programmatic display ad, engage with their products on social media and then make their final purchase in a brick-and-mortar store.  In this process, AI can be used to create an accurate customer profile to aid across marketing efforts. Data garnered can then be used for creation of personalized content and lead to educated budget shifts across platforms.

Omnichannel - Marketers are moving to an omnichannel approach for a more fluid process to optimization.  By doing so, all the platforms work together to optimize to their main KPIs, adjusting strategy and budget with performance.  

Custom Content - Using custom content to meet users in their exact stage of the buying journey, whether it be branding and preliminary exposure, or the consideration phase, works well when layered with an omnichannel approach.  Following with dynamic retargeting, users can be moved down the funnel to conversion.

Key Challenges As A Result Of Evolving Marketing Trends

The main hurdle faced is simply keeping up. Rather than to try to stay ahead of all trends, retailers should concentrate on what works most effectively for their business and refining their strategy.  Many marketers are also too focused on manually accomplishing goals instead of utilizing technology for efficiency. This often results in misguided concentration and costly mistakes, taking away from business growth opportunity.

Common Digital Marketing Mistakes And Ways Retailers Can Overcome Them

One of the most common mistakes is not focusing on the entire buying journey and meeting buyers at their specific stage of the process. Brand messaging at every interaction should include a tailored call-to-action to continue to move consumers down the funnel, leading to purchase and post purchase nurturing. By leveraging A/B testing for messaging in combination with AI, data-driven decisions can be made to segment audiences and create more effective personalized messages.  This strategy helps both branding and path-to-conversion.

Leveraging platforms that offer dynamic A/B testing, such as Facebook and Google, can be incredibly helpful for the retail sales life-cycle. Both platforms dynamically present creative to the audience based on behavior providing key conversion performance data, leading to more educated budget shifts and campaign adjustments.

Another misstep is not properly understanding various attribution models as they apply to the campaigns and their goals.  When properly utilized, the information garnered can be useful to make optimization decisions across platforms to aid in an omnichannel strategy.  

How Retailers Can Address Digital Marketing Technology Changes

Platforms are finding new and creative ways to enable the audience to be part of the story and engage with the content in new ways.  Using emotion to connect with the audience through engaging visuals and video is prominent. Products such as Snapchat’s AR lenses, Facebook’s Instant Experience, and Google’s visual search create an authentic experience with lasting impressions.

While many retail marketers may not be experienced in all of these strategies, the best approach is concentrating on a specific marketing area in which they excel and outsource others for optimal results.  By leveraging outside resources, retailers are able to access expertise and analytics that can help propel their brand and sales as well as maximize ad dollars.

Digital retailers have a wealth of tools and opportunity to be successful in the digital e-commerce space.  For optimal effectiveness, they must meet buyers throughout the buying journey and continue to nurture through the process.  This includes dynamic personalized messaging across platforms, omnichannel marketing strategies, and custom content creation.  By focusing on their areas of strength instead of tackling all trends, retailers can effectively compete and drive success.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Amazon Continues to Soar Above the Competition

In their constant pursuit to be the preferred shopping platform, this week Amazon released changes to its delivery that will transform the space. The company unveiled a new drone with the capability to seamlessly take off vertically with flying features similar to that of an airplane. It also comes equipped with use of artificial intelligence to steer clear of any obstructions, in air or on the ground. The creation could make deliveries that much faster and efficient  

The announcement didn’t include further details as to where and when the devices will be tested. However, the FAA followed the Amazon announcement with its own statement granting the company limited approval to test over the next year.  With the timeline for domestic deliveries unclear, Amazon doesn’t anticipate a speedy process to begin in-flight service. While drones are becoming more reliable, regulations are still being designed to fully monitor the space in order to address safety and security concerns.  

Despite no lead up to the announcement, the sophisticated drone shows Amazon has been quietly working behind the scenes to create a system that works both under current and future aviation laws, thus changing the retail space.


Instagram Influences Paid Ads

Advertisers are getting a new platform for Instagram influencers with this week’s roll out of Branded Content Ads. Brands can now turn their influencer product posts into paid ads, with the intention of reaching a larger audience than just the followers of each individual. With 68% of people coming to Instagram to interact with creators, the new option gives brands an authentic way to promote various products and grow their following. Brands will also have the ability to measure success which can lead to better understanding their consumers and how they can leverage more influencer involvement.

In order to use posts as a paid ad, influencers, or branded content creators, must allow the brand permission and access. As Instagram and Facebook, its parent company Facebook work to improve ad transparency, all Branded Content Ads will be noted with “Paid partnership with” along with the advertisers name so it’s clear to users the product is being promoted.

The new feature is a win for both brands and influencers as it has the potential to expand both of their follower bases, by increasing reach and brand exposure.  Branded Content Ads is in limited release while in testing but will be officially rolled out to all advertisers June 17th.


Google Optimizes Smart Bidding Tools

By the end of June, Google will be making a permanent change to its campaign bidding strategy.  Both Target Search Page Location, which focused on showing an ad at the top of the page or on the first page of Google search results, and Target Outranking Share, a bid strategy with the goal of outranking ads from another domain, will no longer be available. Advertisers will instead be encouraged to utilize Target Impression Share with the aim to gain the largest percentage of impressions available against competitors in the space.

The automated strategy to target impression share was released last fall as part of Google’s Smart Bidding strategies roll-out. The method is set at the campaign level with the goal of gaining a set percentage of search impression share based on the corresponding keywords and bid limits in place. Google will then show your ads to that percentage of eligible auctions for the campaign, trying to win the bid.

Google’s shift in available structure is an attempt to get advertisers to view SEM in terms of page placement rather than average position to focus on reach and effectiveness. This will also impact how market competitors design their campaign structure and bidding strategy when going against each other in the space. While the goal of getting the most and best PPC traffic remains the same, Google’s continued focus on Smart Bidding tools is creating more efficiencies in optimization to help guide marketers.    


Turn Up The Heat On Your Summer Marketing

Summer is upon us and with it comes opportunities to engage audiences in a fun and playful way by leveraging all of the season’s activities. From family travel to summer holidays, preparing your brand for a summer makeover can help expand your audience and meet users at their time of need.  With users always-on and always-sharing, it’s important to be innovative with your strategy and utilize platforms that can best customize messaging for heightened engagement, brand awareness and increased conversions.

Watch our webinar for more insight on popular summer trends, ways to customize your messaging, and strategies that will help you make a splash this summer.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Chipotle Aims For Nothing But Net With Its Burrito Giveaway

The NBA finals are about to start and Chipotle is hoping for a slam dunk with its “Freeting” campaign, giving away $1 million worth of free burritos during final tournament play. The company is placing its bets on second-screen viewing to drive social engagement, online orders, and in-store traffic. With over 45% of US adults saying they use a second screen very often or always while watching television, it’s an opportunity to reach coveted NBA fans who are checking their mobile devices throughout the games.  

So how do you score free grub?  Every time an announcer says “free” on air during the first half of the game, Chipotle will offer up to 500 free burritos. The offer doubles in the second half, keeping viewers engaged for even more chances to win.  Unique codes will be tweeted on Chipotle’s Twitter account following on-air cues and viewers simply need to text the code back to receive a redemption coupon for a free burrito. Code users with orders over $10 will also receive free delivery on Chipotle’s app, website or through DoorDash during the games.

The promotion is powerful team strategy of multiple platforms to drive online and in-store traffic.  The company opted for the “Freeting” campaign in place of a much more costly official sponsorship or commercial during the tournament.  Chipotle is banking on the appeal of friendly competition combined with free food as a creative way to win new fans and a victory with game viewers.


Facebook Uncovers Record Number of Fraudulent Accounts

In the first quarter of 2019, Facebook removed a record 2.2 billion fraudulent accounts, most disabled within as little as a few minutes of being created.  The number of fake accounts is only slightly less than the reported 2.4 billion valid monthly active users and the majority of the false accounts were never considered active by Facebook’s metrics.  Many of the removed accounts are attributed to spammers who are continuously attempting to circumvent Facebook’s increased privacy security.

The increasing attempts to create large quantities of automated fake accounts simultaneously further exemplifies the magnitude of this ongoing problem.  While Facebook is diligently working to foster a safe user environment, this information shows that the problem has a broad reach. In the report, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed the company’s plans to increase resources and spending for online security including a combination of artificial intelligence and human monitoring, adding to its arsenal of defense.

While Facebook continues to seek ways to create a safe environment for users, it seems they face hurdles at every turn, including its own policies. The pending increased encryption the company plans to implement for additional privacy could make it more difficult to detect fraudulent accounts. Zuckerberg acknowledged the increased encryption security comes with trade-offs, but promises to make online privacy an ongoing focus of the company.

It’s evident that the company is tackling fraud head on with no intention of backing down.  However, this issue is far from resolved and will remain at the forefront of conversation for Facebook for the immediate future.


Google Indexing Gets Mobile Optimized

Google officially announced they will be utilizing mobile-first indexing as default for all new web domains starting July 1, 2019. The switch has been in the works since 2016, with testing since leading up to the announcement this week.  Google will use its webcrawler, Googlebot, which simulates a user on a mobile device, to confirm a site is mobile optimized for its indexing process. Existing sites will be monitored as well but that process will have an extended timeline.

With the number of mobile users worldwide expected to surpass 5 billion this year and over 72% of internet users projected to be solely on smartphones by 2025, enforcing mobile optimization is a natural progression for both Google and websites. To help assist with the transition, Google has dedicated a guide with instructions and resources to better explain the process.

The emphasis of a mobile-friendly experience, both with indexing and mobile site optimization, shows Google’s priority to focus on users. As online behaviors shift, the company continues to remain a leader of change and innovation.


Boost Your Digital Marketing ROI with Google Analytics

Digital Marketing makes up 51 percent of U.S. ad spending, totaling over $100 billion in 2018 alone. Advertising plays a bigger role in everyday life than one may realize. Fortunately for business owners, this means opportunities for growth are everywhere. Ready to put that marketing budget to good use? It’s important to know if investing in marketing campaigns is ultimately paying off.

What is digital marketing ROI?

Digital marketing Return on Investment (ROI) measures profit (or loss) and helps businesses ensure that they’re not throwing money at ineffective marketing tactics. Taking a look at your ROI is the most effective way to tell whether or not you’re making the most of your digital campaigns.

Measuring ROI

One of the easiest and most user-friendly tools available to business owners is Google Analytics. Google Analytics exists to analyze your site's traffic in three steps. Simply sign up, paste in your personalized tracking code into the back-end of your business website, and let Google teach you about your audience and engagement.

ROI Metrics

With so many different methods of digital marketing at your disposal, deciding on which ROI metrics to focus can be daunting. Here are a few to keep an eye on, and how to use the information to boost your digital marketing ROI:

  • Conversion Rate is the number of users who took an action on your site of all who interacted with your digital marketing campaigns.  This is a metric identified by each business and can include number of page views, form fills, completed purchase, etc.

    • Measures the performance of each conversion to assess success or identify areas of improvement.

    • Use the data provided by Google Analytics to see where your ad campaign/website is lacking in engagement and optimize it.

  • Conversion Rate by Device is the same as conversion rate, but isolated to computers, tablets, or mobile phones.  

    • Narrows data by device to comprehend how most people are accessing your website.

    • Use the Acquisition Device report to determine whether more of your conversions are being made via mobile, desktop, etc., and focus marketing efforts accordingly.

  • Cost Per Lead is the amount it costs to reach each person based on the cost of campaigns you’ve picked.

    • Determines ROI for each specific campaign by providing a tangible amount to assess how much money is appropriate to spend on acquired leads.

    • Lower your cost per lead by knowing your target audience and getting specific with ad campaign with the Audiences Segment in Google Analytics.

  • Cost Per Acquisition tells you how much it costs to acquire a new customer; found by dividing the total amount spent on marketing by the number of sales your campaign has generated.

    • Measures the income impact of a campaign.

    • The easiest way to lower your CPA is to use information from Google Analytics to optimize your landing page. If customers like what they see after clicking an ad, they’re more likely to stick around and make a purchase.

  • Customer Lifetime Value is how much the average consumer will spend over their entire time as you customer.

    • Helps you understand the worth of each customer to increase the amount customers are spending on your business.

    • Open the Lifetime Value report in Google Analytics to see how your top paying customers were acquired. It may be worth it to pour more money into marketing campaigns successful in gaining high valued customers in the past.

  • Lead Close Rate tells you how many potential customers are being converted to actual customers.

    • Visualize your users' paths through your site with the Users Flow report in Google Analytics. Use the results to determine how to keep users on your website for longer periods of time, increasing your chances of making a sale.

ROI metrics and better decision-making

Understanding these metrics and setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals will be helpful in tweaking your campaigns to encourage more growth for your business. How do you accomplish this?

Based on your findings, run A/B tests on different aspects of your digital marketing campaigns to see which elements provide better results. An example would be changing the wording of the “call-to-action” button on your home page. After watching analytics for a month or so, you can determine which wording creates a better conversion rate. Just be sure you don’t make too many changes at once. If your numbers get better or worse, it might be hard to pinpoint the cause.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Macy’s Pins Its Summer Market

Macy’s is making a splash this summer by combining augmented reality and Pinterest Pincodes to creatively connect users to their products. With soaring growth in e-commerce and mobile, the company hopes to capitalize on its most engaged shoppers while creating a fun social experience centered around summertime activities.  

The campaign will link Pinterest Pincodes, accessible at popular summer hot spots, such as beaches, lakes and parks, with a pinterest board highlighting items from Macy’s summer catalog specific curated to the location. The boards are then shoppable, allowing for an effortless buying experience. The campaign will also feature stories on various social platforms to highlight summer’s best moments.  

With department store catalogs a thing of the past, this is a new spin to bring personalized styles right to user’s mobile devices. It also allows for authentic experiences with the company being shared socially, further propelling the campaign organically.


Twitter Toys Around With Updated Carousel Ads

Twitter is testing a reformatted version of carousel ads to boost app install and re-engagement campaigns for advertisers. In 2016, Twitter tested a version where several tweets could be used in a series, but had little popularity and was eventually discontinued. The revised format allows for multiple, swipeable images in a single ad unit which can be used for showcasing a series of products or using in a series to convey a story, tapping into the user’s emotions.

As other platforms such as Facebook have proven, the carousel ad is very visually appealing and engaging for users, thus increasing campaign performance for advertisers. In many cases, it also results in significant decreases in cost per conversion, upward of 30-50%.  As Twitter works to entice advertisers with its innovative ad units, it remains uncertain if the carousel ad will be heavily utilized by advertisers or well received by users.


YouTube’s Bumper Machine Uses AI to Automate 6-Second Video Creation

In an effort to minimize mobile viewing interruptions, YouTube released a new tool for advertisers that transforms their current video ads into “bumper” six-second video format.  With the help of artificial intelligence, “Bumper Machine” condenses videos by identifying elements such as human characters, motions, branding and quality of focus and framing to consolidate the messaging in the shorter format, concluding with the final call-to-action in the last few seconds. The limited time frame makes it more imperative that messages are visually appealing and easily consumed for viewers. Marketers that use the tool are not limited to the first result but instead, it’s meant to be a process allowing for human review to create the final product.

With mobile ad spend growing exponentially and accounting for 65% of all digital ad spend, the Bumper Machine tool will help advertisers tap into that market in a new way.  While some will simply condense current longer-form ads, others may use the tool to create short teasers for a longer ad or create a series of bumper ads that can tie together. The addition of the free tool is yet another way YouTube is continuing to evolve to accommodate the market.


Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Changing How People See Search

Online shopping typically begins with a search bar and a product description.  Despite increased ease, it still poses its challenges. You can find yourself scrolling through pages of results if your description isn’t quite right or worse, the item is no longer in stock.  To alleviate the frustration, Google has a new vision for internet shoppers.

The company highlighted its visual search capabilities this week with Google Lens, an app that allows users to search what they see, which leverages augmented reality to find products online.  While in the works for a few years, Google is placing its bets on the evolving technology to provide a more personal shopping experience.

So how does this differ?  Google brings the products to you based on scanned image through the app.  Your picture can provide details such as color, brand, model, etc. with just one image, cutting down on filtering search results.  Once you find the desired product, you get a virtual view from multiple angles, highlighting the detail. If you really want to make sure it’s a fit, you can even place the image next to items you already own through the app to complete a look.

For marketers, the shift could change search campaign implementation and structure.  While visual search gives consumers a more detailed view of products, resulting in more satisfied customers, it only works if image assets for products are available and mobile optimized.  With products changing so frequently, it could pose significant challenges, particularly for smaller brands.

While improved shopping is only the start of Google Lens capabilities, it’s clear AI and augmented reality are shaping the future and are bringing digital window shopping to your living room.  


Burger King’s “Traffic Jam Whopper” Delivers

Endless traffic is not fun for anyone, but if you’re like most, a hot meal delivered to your window would make the time a little more bearable.  Seems crazy, but Burger King is making it happen with their new campaign “the Traffic Jam Whopper” that delivers orders via motorcycle right to your car.  

With a little ingenuity, Burger King seized the opportunity to feed hungry commuters while also driving brand awareness and burger sales. The promotion is highly calculated for flawless execution to deliver orders quickly and accurately.  By partnering with Waze, Burger King is able to use real time traffic data to identify highly congested areas and dynamically adjust messaging with banner ads and push notifications on the Waze app once drivers enter delivery zones. Ads then lead users to utilize voice commands on the Burger King app to place their orders. Once ready for delivery, drivers rely on Google Maps API to pinpoint and locate drivers.

While the promotion was tested in Mexico City to gauge market interest, the results spoke for themselves. In just one week, the company saw app downloads increase by 44x and delivery orders spiked 63%, making the Burger King app the number one fast food app in Mexico.  

With undeniable success, Burger King plans to replicate the service in other large cities including Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Shanghai with the potential to expand. With a little luck, the “Traffic Jam Whopper” could be coming to a commute near you.


Facebook’s “Clear History” Causes Uncertainty for Advertisers

If you’ve ever wanted to erase your past, at least on social media, Facebook is giving you the opportunity.  The company announced this week they would be rolling out a new “Clear History” feature in response to their commitment to protecting personal information. Users will now be able to disconnect browsing history that is used for targeting and advertising purposes.  While this is an effort to foster online privacy, it could have a substantial impact the user experience based on limited knowledge of user behavior and interests.

As for advertisers, this creates concerns with targeting capabilities and campaign set-up strategies.  Data utilized from Facebook Pixels and Custom Audiences could become severely limited as their targeting ability is primarily based on user’s activity outside on other sites then leveraged once users return to Facebook.  Uncertainty remains as to how this will effect advertising opportunities, reporting metrics and site analytics. It’s also difficult to gauge how many users will take this action to protect their privacy versus the number that have become comfortable with the fact that very little is private in the digital space.


Why You Should Sell Your Products on Amazon

Amazon has become a household name, and a growing number of people are coming to the mega e-tailer's site in search of everything from clothing to grocery items. The site's success resulted in $72.4 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, with all signs pointing to a financially stunning 2019.

The site's notoriety and success aren't just great for customers — they're also helping small businesses looking to sell more products.

If you've been considering selling items on Amazon, here are a few reasons why you should take the plunge.

Huge customer base of hundreds of millions of people: Amazon's popularity creates a ready-made audience for selling your products. The most recent figures from Statista show Amazon has 310 million active customers worldwide. Another report found the company's Amazon Prime memberships are taking off, with 100 million subscribers globally willing to pay an annual fee for free two-day shipping.

Amazon has a positive reputation: Amazon has become synonymous with quality products and sound customer service. The company is one of the largest e-commerce sites in existence, but still keeps the focus on the consumer — and customers love it.

Fulfillment by Amazon makes life easy: Amazon sellers have two options for order processing.  Businesses can handle order management, shipment and customer service questions themselves or utilize Amazon Fulfillment services for a minimal fee.  This program allows you to store product at Amazon’s storage space and they fulfill the orders for you. This service includes shipping fees and is especially economical for those working with a small staff.  

No listing fees: Unlike its competitor eBay, Amazon doesn't charge listing fees. Without such costs, sellers can list more products for as long as necessary, increasing profit.  .

Amazon does, however, charge a fee for items sold. The cost is approximately 20% of the sale price and should be factored in when pricing items.  

Even small companies can list products: Amazon's platform gives selling power to small companies who often struggle to compete with bigger stores.  Customers can easily find unique products they may not otherwise know where to find.

Consumers trust Amazon: Americans have more confidence in Amazon than they do in the government or the press, according to a recent survey conducted by Georgetown University and New York University. When your brand sells items on Amazon, it's associated with a trusted company,which reflects on your own business.  .

With a little work, businesses can thrive on Amazon. The e-commerce giant offers opportunity a range of companies who want to increase both product awareness and sales.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Kraft Heinz is Covering the Babysitting Bill This Mother’s Day

Kraft Heinz is winning over moms with it’s clever Mother’s Day promotion and it has nothing to do with their extensive line of products.  In an effort to celebrate mothers for their hard work, they are encouraged to hire a sitter and take a much deserved break while the company foots the bill up to $100.  Participants can then submit their receipt for reimbursement on a dedicated site. The company recognizes the value of self care and wants to give moms what they really want...a little break.

With consumers more attentive to a company’s beliefs and values, the focus on moms and their many times underappreciated and tireless work goes a long way to promote brand awareness and future purchase consideration for all shoppers.  Shoppers are researching brands more than ever and are 75% more likely to start shopping with a company that supports issues they value. In addition to promoting some me-time, which is good for mental health and a major focus for everyone, Kraft is also encouraging moms to share how they’ll spend the day on its social channels, showing the authentic side of motherhood.  The strategy is a win for both moms and Kraft’s connection with its customer base.


Nike Fit Changes the Shoe Game

In typical Nike fashion, the world’s largest sneaker company is changing the shoe game.  With sizing being the major pain point for shoppers based on variation between brands and sneaker models, the company is releasing Nike Fit, an interactive tool which allows consumers to scan their feet at home or with in-store scanning mat to ensure proper sizing.  The technology boasts accuracy within 2 mm, considering both length and width to suggest the best fit in every model.

Research shows over 60% of people wear the wrong size shoe which can make online shopping a daunting task.  Nike has found this can result in a negative experience shoppers relate to the brand, rather than the specific shoe.  The company hopes to alleviate that concern, increasing brand loyalty and return customers.

While this news is well received by consumers, it’s also a huge win for Nike in their attempt to create personalized shopping.  The data gained helps the company provide more tailored product suggestions, increasing total purchase values. It also allows for the company to have a database of feet types which is valuable information for future product development.

As companies embrace technological advances in shopping, it’s likely many will follow in Nike’s footsteps allowing them improve shopping experiences, and also increase their customer profile data to develop and refine future product offerings.


Facebook Adjusts Video Ranking Algorithm

Facebook announced it’s honing its video viewing experience by altering the current ranking algorithm. The changes are intended to keep users interested longer with higher quality, more desirable content. Priority will be given to more engaging videos, particularly those that extend for 3 minutes or more, bubbling up popular videos that draw a large number of users.  There will also be more emphasis on original content intended to enhance the user experience rather than videos used as clickbait. The new guidelines will go into effect over the next few months on News Feeds, Facebook Watch and video recommendations.

While the changes are positioned to enhance viewing, they are also intended to attract big name advertisers who want to be associated with higher quality content.  It’s another effort to monitor what’s being published and further ensure brand safety. In addition to seeking more advertising dollars, it’s also a strategic play by the company to surpass YouTube as the top video-sharing platform or at least lead the pack as other tech giants enter the space.  As competition increases, Facebook aims further distinguishing itself across video platforms and work to repair its reputation.


Study: 81% of Americans Consider Amazon Their Go-To Online Retailer

2019 ‘Online Shopping and Retailer Trends’ Survey Unveils Data on
Shopping Habits, Time Spent Online vs. In-Store, Price Comparing and More


DENVER (May 7, 2019)Adtaxi, one of the country’s fastest-growing digital marketing agencies, today released the results of its 2019 Online Shopping and Retailer Trends Survey. An annual investigation into the behaviors and trends of American digital consumers, the survey sheds light on shoppers’ evolving relationship with online retailers, covering topics from Amazon habits to consumer priorities and emerging technology.
“It’s clear that e-commerce has grown well past one-stop and impulse shopping. Americans are spending more time and money online, and they’re shopping smarter and savvier,” said Cameron Walker, Director of Amazon at Adtaxi. “Retailers, marketers and developers need to meet consumers where they are – which is online, and across multiple channels and platforms.”

Among the study’s findings:
●        Amazon: 81% of Americans consider Amazon their go-to retailer. In addition, 78% use Amazon Prime, while 70% have used the Amazon mobile app and 60% say their buying process is affected if an item is not listed as Prime. Overall, 43% say their Amazon experience is excellent, while 43% say good and 2% say poor.

 ●        Online Shopping Frequency: 7% say they shop online every day (up from 2% last year), while 25% say they shop online a few times per week (up from 13% last year) and 2% say they never shop online (down from 6% last year).

 ●        Online vs. In-Store: 66% say they spend more time online shopping than in-store shopping, while 56% say they spend more money online shopping. In addition, the most commonly e-purchased products among online shoppers are electronics (68%), clothing (66%) and household items (65%).

 ●        Price Shopping: 44% of online shoppers say they always compare prices across multiple sites, while 48% say sometimes and 8% say never.

 ●        Online Reviews: 55% of online shoppers say they always read customer reviews before making a purchase, while 42% say sometimes and 3% say never.

 “With an unmatched capacity to meet online shoppers’ core preferences, it’s no surprise that Amazon dominates the e-commerce space,” Walker said. “Retailers take note: jumping on board with ad buys and an Amazon store can be the key to getting noticed and rising above the competition.”

The study was conducted online using Survey Monkey. One thousand seventy-two participants were polled, spanning across the United States. The demographics of those polled represented a broad range of household income, geographic location, age, and gender.

5 Ways Dealerships Can Leverage Snapchat to Drive Engagement

There are many well-known apps for creating opportunities to engage with consumers, and Snapchat is quickly climbing to the top. Many of us didn't quite understand how Snapchat could be used for a business at first. However, with 186 million active daily users, Snapchat has been the fastest growing network since 2014, now even more popular than Twitter. All those users send an estimated 9,000 snaps every second on Snapchat, which makes the app a high-profile platform for publishing and consuming user-generated content. The app boasted 10 billion video views daily back in 2016.

Attracting New Business

An increasing portion of the traffic on Snapchat comes from marketers and advertisers who want to use the app's growth to build their audiences. Snapchat added a special area for advertising-supported content from online publishers. That part of the site, known as "Discover," displays up to one million short video ads every day. You can use the advertising feature of Snapchat to make movie snippets that present your brand, but you can also use it in other ways to connect with a large number of prospective customers.

Snapchat is a great tool for engaging a younger demographic. As of 2018, about 45 percent of Snapchat users are 18-24 years old, and 71 percent are under 34 years old. Photos and videos that are shared appear on Snapchat temporarily, making it a popular venue for the millennial generation, most of whom are likely to purchase a vehicle in the next few years.  

Snapchat offers many valuable ways for car dealerships to connect with consumers:

Use Geofilters

Auto dealers can promote sales using geofilters, which are Snapchat lens customized with small art graphics that can be placed over a user's photo. When a Snapchat user takes a picture from a particular location, that person has the option to select an "On Demand" geofilter from that location, letting his or her followers know where, when, and why he or she took that Snap.

Offer Promotions

If your auto dealership is having an event or sale, incentives can be utilized such as  coupons and discounts to encourage your shoppers to use Snapchat to promote the sale. If those shoppers buy a car, the first thing he or she is going to want to do is share that exciting news with family and friends via social media.

Share Customer Stories

Post about new or happy customers. Millennials in particular love seeing their faces on social media. Ask those happy new car owners if you can post their photos on Snapchat, exposing your dealership to an even broader audience.  Seeing an authentic experience with your dealership is a great way to encourage others to visit your location for their next purchase.

Create Engaging Content

Build trust with posts that educate people about maintenance, safety, and other helpful topics.  Users are more likely to come back to a site they can rely on and that makes them feel like they are benefiting from following that site. Alternate safety posts with fun posts from contests and be sure to continuously post photos of new inventory to intrigue potential customers.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Verizon Media Amps Up The Need For 5G

Rumblings about 5G mobile internet speed have been ramping up over the past month with Verizon Media at the forefront of the conversation.  During its Newsfronts presentation this week, the mobile provider emphasized the benefits of the faster speed combined with its first party user data to help improve technology.  Areas most benefited would be ad and media products as well as a series of programs they hope to release that revolve around the faster connectivity.

With an array of uses, Verizon plans to utilize the technology to fuel its endeavours such as its newly unveiled video series “Hypezilla” which will include augmented reality technology and “shoppable” content.  In addition, the increased speed will improve viewing for the Yahoo Fantasy Football mobile app (also owned by the company) that includes NFL streaming rights for live game coverage.

There’s no doubt the increased speed will raise the bar both for media capabilities and for user expectations.  However, there are still many unanswered questions about current devices being able to withstand the upgrade and how 5G will impact the overall market.  


Walmart Announces Original Content with Shoppable Ads

Vudu, the streaming service owned by Walmart, is reportedly expanding its programming to become more competitive and amplify available advertising opportunities. With Walmart selling over 50% of all US televisions, growing their streaming service is a natural growth progression. Currently Vudu provides movie, video game, and TV series rentals.   However, Walmart plans to invest in original programming, which will include at least 6 family friendly shows that will be available for free on the app with the intention of attracting new users who will then make additional purchases.

Vudu plans to steer clear of subscription fees in favor of adding “shoppable” content for viewers to drive ad revenue.  Users will be able to purchase products seen in programs, likely similar to Amazon’s x-ray technology, where options will appear on the left hand side of the screen and will change based on what’s presented in each scene.  Viewers can then order items, such as household products, electronics, etc., directly through Walmart for home delivery or in-store pick-up. Advertisers will have the option to sponsor product placement to reach audiences and drive sales.  Walmart sees the approach of “shoppable” content as a lucrative way to avoid additional fees but the theory is still being tested and will be contingent on view reception.

Walmart is taking a gamble using the new programming to grow its users.  However, if it works, it will be a great way to use their own resources to continue to feed their various marketing funnels and drive business on all fronts.


User Behavior Dictates Social Media Shift to Mobile

It comes as no surprise that eMarketer confirmed the continued shift of social media users accessing their accounts strictly through mobile devices.  Reports indicate 51% of 2019 users will be mobile only with continued growth in the coming years. As smartphones capabilities grow, use of laptops/desktops in American are on the decline, with many homes strictly relying on mobile device(s).  As this trend continues, smartphone users will surpass desktop/laptop internet users for the first time and will expand the gap in the coming years.

What does this mean for marketers?  Social platforms will continue to invest in ad opportunities that are “mobilized.”  Facebook in particular has already started testing a more mobile-friendly swipe interface to meet the demand.  It is also continuing to leverage Stories in Instagram, which are primarily for mobile use based on the content dimensions as well as the recent addition of Checkout on Instagram for easier in-app purchasing.

The shift isn’t slowing and in response, marketers are investing ad dollars in mobile-first social media content.  It will be interesting to see how users continue to drive technological advances and advertising opportunities in the space.


What Every Marketer Should Know About Identity Graphs

What Every Marketer Should Know About Identity Graphs

Data are a brand's biggest asset. Customers are willing to provide valuable information at many touch points, and it's up to the brand to organize and utilize it. But how? Data collection, while valuable, is cumbersome. With hundreds or even thousands of pieces of information collected from a variety of channels, how can a brand keep it all straight? The answer is identity graphs.

What Is an Identity Graph?

An identity graph, or ID graph, is a database that creates individual customer profiles from information across multiple platforms. Everything, including a customer's name, email, hometown, and browsing preferences, is captured and assigned to each customer.

Let's say one of your customers enters a contest on social media, fills out a survey via email, signs up for your newsletter online, and browses your shoe collection on your website. An identity graph collects every piece of information the customer provided across different channels and creates one centralized profile.

The idea is to correlate information that's traditionally siloed, and create a unified profile that provides a real-time view of your customers.

What Are Customer Profiles in the Graph, and How Do They Work?

There are two kinds of customer profiles that can be created within an identity graph: authenticated and non-authenticated.

Authenticated information is more concrete data that requires proof of ID. For example, a customer login or a purchase made by a credit card provides ID authentication. This information is linked to other pieces that are continually collected to create a strong profile.

Non-authenticated profiles are built from identifiers that are more "flexible," such as tracking cookies or device IDs. This information may change over time, or might not be consistent across multiple devices. It provides more of a partial view, but is still valuable.

How Does Identity Resolution Work?

Identity resolution goes one step further than creating individual profiles, and works to match or link records that are tied to a specific household or device.

Identity resolution explores the concept of shared accounts. For example, a household typically shares an Amazon Prime account or food delivery account like Doordash. To explore individual users within an account, brands rely on device clustering, which groups similar devices based on shared IP addresses and browsing patterns.

How Do You Choose an Identity Graph Program?

There are many identity graph solutions, some offered by platforms with which you're probably familiar. However, selecting an identity graph program should be done with care. Here are several things to consider before selecting a program:

You want real-time collection.

To make sure marketers work with the most up-to-date information, identity graphs should be updated in real time. Customers expect relevant, personalized promotions, and the only way to ensure their creation and delivery is to work with real-time information.

Know what's shared.

Some vendors only share a certain amount of data with brands. You want a program that shares all matched data sets and campaign insights, rather than broader information like audience size or the shopping preferences of your entire customer base.

Understand data ownership.

In many cases, working with a solution provider means they'll share data with you, but you won't own it. What happens if you terminate the contract? Do you retain the information? Will access change over time?

Ideally, you should work to own as much data as possible. Some brands are even investigating the concept of creating their own identity graphs to make sure the information collected is theirs.

Customers expect personalized marketing, but to effectively deliver it, marketers have to find a way to harness data. It's not enough to collect names and email addresses or keep data siloed within individual platforms. You need a 360-degree view of each of your customers. Identity graphs can help provide the clarity needed to create effective revenue-driving campaigns.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Twitter Encourages Reporting of Voter Misinformation

As many notable elections ramp up globally, social media platforms are putting measures in place to prevent the spread of fake news and inaccurate polling and candidate information. Twitter in particular is increasing it’s efforts with an added reporting option to help filter out the spread of misinformation. This could include incorrect polling station dates and locations or false details on ID requirements necessary to vote.  The added option will first be available for the Indian Lok Sabha elections starting on April 25, 2019, followed by the EU parliament elections in May. This feature will remain available for a week following voting. While there are plans to eventually utilize this globally, Twitter has not released the official roll-out strategy or if/when it will be available in the US.  

Twitter fully expects some user reports will be incorrect and have trained teams on handling the situation as well as improved the appeals process.  The addition of this option comes in response to the voluntary sign up for a Code of Practice on disinformation by major tech and ad platforms. The code vows companies will take action to disrupt ad revenue for those intending to mislead voters.  In addition to combating user manipulation on the platform, this change will also provide Twitter with clear data on how it’s leveraged for election purposes and will allow further modifications to tackle the ongoing problem.


Facebook Stock Rises In Wake of Looming FTC Fines

As Facebook sees Q1 growth in a variety of areas including; revenue, mobile ad dollars, Stories Ads across platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Messenger), and overall users,  the company is also preparing for some major losses. With the ongoing discussion around Facebook’s data privacy policies, the company is anticipating hefty FTC fines upward of $5 billion.  Although a record-setting fine in the US for a tech company, the company can take the financial hit without much difficulty as it’s on track to reach $70 billion in 2019 alone. Specifics on the exact dollar amount of the fine and what the penalty would address are still uncertain. However, it appears investors are unaffected as Facebook stock actually increased 9% following the Q1 report.

In response to the looming fine, the company continues to tighten it’s privacy policies. One such measure is encrypted messaging to protect users. This, however, may reduce ad targeting but the company expects minimal impact on revenue as a result.Despite ongoing scrutiny of the company, Facebook continues to dominate the social space.


Advanced TV Advertising Gets a New Player

Linear and digital video just got more competitive.  Fox, NBCUniversal and Viacom announced a new digital marketplace, OpenAP 2.0, this week for linear and long-form digital platforms. Developed in conjunction with Accenture and Comcast’s Freewheel, product testing will begin in June with a planned roll-out scheduled for fall 2019.  

The new automated marketplace will allow for the purchase of national linear and digital video inventory with access to consistent audience bases across various publishers.  It will also centralize buying to a single marketplace, increasing the ease of use and further appealing to marketers. Members of the OpenAP market will open all their inventory in this centralized marketplace, creating an unprecedented scale of available audience segments.  

The ability for digital campaigns to optimize in real time and de-duplicate reach, maximizing ad dollars enhancing the offering.  The release boasts the advanced scale and high quality TV content available, further differentiating them in the space.


Weekly Digital Breakdown

Twitter Increases Efforts to Thwart Cyberbullies

Cyberbullies beware, Twitter has appointed themselves the new sheriff in town. As concerns have mounted about abusive tweets and the reliance on other users to report offensive behavior, Twitter will now be preemptively deleting tweets it deems unacceptable. In addition, they will also be more closely monitoring new accounts created by previously suspended users and once again removing their access in an effort to silence harassers.  

With keyboard warriors gaining confidence behind anonymous handles and relentlessly harassing those with differing opinions, Twitter is working to detoxify the platform to provide a better user experience. To further combat trolls, they will also be testing a mute button that will allow users to hide replies to their tweets as they deem necessary.  

The abusive behavior found on Twitter not only impacts users, but is a growing concern for advertisers.  Brands want to distance themselves from offensive tweets or controversial topics as to not segregate their audience. These additional efforts will provide an added level of security.

This news is a big step toward proactively providing a safer environment on Twitter for all. With algorithms in place as well as real people monitoring online behavior, the platform is already seeing a significant reduction in user alerts of abusive behavior.


Facebook Improves Management for Advertisers

Good news for Facebook advertisers.  A rollout began this week introducing improvements to Ad Manager, the interface used for campaign set-up .  The update includes simplified design and navigation to streamline campaign management. It will provide more visibility into campaign breakouts and performance as well as flexibility with ad-level creative and placement editing tools.  

The announcement also included plans to update Facebook Business Manager later this year to increase campaign setup efficiency for agencies. The changes will include easier onboarding, enhanced features for historical reporting and new organization processes for assets to allow easier accessibility for approved users.

The updates are intended to streamline campaign management. These modifications combined with the recent introduction of the cost cap bidding strategy exemplify Facebook’s efforts help advertisers focus on a combined goal of driving conversion volume and controlling costs.


Amazon Launches Free Ad-Supported Streaming Music Service

Amazon is planning to enhance its streaming music platform with talks of a free ad-supported music service set to launch this year. While currently only subscription options are offered, the new service would be an effort to compete with streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. To further entice record labels, Amazon has offered to pay a per-stream licensing fee, regardless of advertising sales, as it’s confident the addition will result in exponential growth.

The new service compliments Amazon’s current hold on the smart speaker audience, which is now up to 70% of total users. This base, along with extensive first party data of its members, would also give the streaming services unparalleled targeting access for audio advertisers, further extending its reach in the digital marketing space.  

While it’s uncertain how many paying subscribers Amazon’s music service currently has, estimates are approximately 20 million, which is about half of Apple’s paid subscription base. However, the move to free streaming is predicted to position Amazon to be the fastest growing music service by the end of 2019.


Using Personalization to Improve the Customer Experience

Companies are investing big money into personalization as marketers better understand its power.  But a tailored user experience extends beyond customized product suggestions. They can include recommendations based on weather, trending items or geography.  With so much data available, meeting this demand is becoming easier but getting started can feel overwhelming and resource intensive.

By leveraging your customer information and site activity, you can get more granular with your targeting at all points of the journey.  Watch this webinar to learn more about how to start implementing a more personalized consumer experience that will improve your brand presence across platforms to attract new users and retain current customers.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Bill Introduced to Ban “Dark Patterns” From Collecting Personal User Data

On Tuesday, April 9th, a bipartisan bill was introduced to prohibit deceptive gathering of personal data known as “dark patterns” on various online platforms such as apps and social media networks.  This practice is done by tricking users into granting consent for their detailed personal information with a misleading prompt or unclear verbiage on a pop-up. Users “consent” by clicking something as non-threatening as “agree and continue” not knowing that in their attempt to remove the distraction, they’ve granted access to personal details.

Once information is accessed, it can then be used by third parties for online targeting.  With digital privacy, or the lack thereof, being an ongoing issue, this legislation is an effort to further protect the public with an added layer of defense.  The bill would require companies to disclose the collection of personal data with “clear, conspicuous, context-appropriate, and easily accessible” language.

If The Deceptive Experience To Online Users Reduction Act (DETOUR) passes, it would also prohibit the segmentation of consumers for the purposes of behavioral or psychological testing for advertising purposes without informed consent.  Consequently, the passing of this act could have further ramifications for digital advertising design and targeting capabilities.


Youtube Content To Be Held to New Metrics

Youtube introduced new metrics for gauging video performance which rewards high-quality content.  This comes in response to recent criticism on how the platform moderates video and text content, according to Bloomberg.  The new metrics have yet to be officially rolled out as YouTube is still ironing out the details of how the measurements will be executed.  

One of the proposed metrics would track a user’s total time spent on the platform, including comments posted  and read. The other is referred to as “quality watch time” for content seen as more constructive to users. Video recommendations and search engine results would be based on the new metrics in an effort to promote more “quality” videos.   

While the metrics would create a shift in mindset for measuring success, this method appears to be subjective and may be hard to implement.  Several unanswered questions remain about the shift such as how “quality watch time” will be officially measured and how the changes will impact video contributors. No matter what the solution, YouTube continue focus on video integrity and providing a positive user experience.


Google Searches By Date Made Easier

Sometimes filtering a Google search for information or a story from a specific time period can be trickier than it sounds.  With an abundance of information available, you may find yourself filtering through several pages of search results.

In an effort to refine searches more easily, Google announced a new search bar command in beta testing that allows results to be filtered by date.  Not only does this help users narrow down their searches for more specific results, but it also gives more insight for SEO campaign data such as ranking patterns over time, the impact of seasonality on their campaigns and even how outside factors can impact performance.

While users could previously search by date by digging through the tools tab, this command makes the process easier in Google’s never ending quest to improve efficiency.


Navigating Social Media

Social media is integrated in our daily lives as we spend increasingly more time scrolling through posts, pictures and videos.   With the average adult on social media for over 2 hours a day, it’s a necessity for marketers to be on the various channels where consumers are always on and always sharing.

Marketers know social marketing is imperative to business but many may not be aware that organic social posts just aren’t enough. Paid social media benefits include expanding brand awareness, granular targeting capabilities and most importantly, driving conversions.  With nearly two-thirds of small businesses (63%) planning to increase their social media budget in the coming year, it’s important to use those ad dollars strategically to get the most return on your investment.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re in good company.  Only a small percentage (10%) of marketers consider their organizations “experts in social media advertising,” and less than 50% have advanced social strategies and infrastructure.  

To help navigate the process, we have compiled a road map to help you identify goals and measure performance. Check out our guide to learn how to get your social strategy started in the right direction.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Develops Its Own Mobile Network

Snapchat made a big announcement on Thursday about plans for a Snap Audience Network, its own mobile ad platform with targeting across various apps.  The initial launch will be strictly for iOS devices and will extend to Android at a later date.

There are still questions surrounding how this will operate as compared to similar networks.  However it’s projected to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google with the added unique ability for app developers to utilize Snapchat’s same full-screen, vertical video ad format.

The announcement didn’t come with much detail, but it appears to be an effort by the company to help boost it’s own advertising agenda to partner with more agencies and businesses. While there are still a number of unknowns with this new platform, it will be interesting to see Snapchat competes with other social networks and what differentiates them in the space.


Facebook Exposed for Storing User Data on Public Amazon Cloud Servers

Cybersecurity firm, Upguard, uncovered more than 540 million Facebook user files stored on a public Amazon cloud server this week. Information included user actions on the site, comments and Facebook IDs, all of which were accessible on the server for public download despite profile settings.  Once alerted, Facebook immediately worked with Amazon to take down the database, but cannot verify how this may impact users.

While Facebook policies prohibit user data being stored on unsecure servers, this news adds to the growing data privacy concerns with the platform. After last year’s news that millions of user’s data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook audited thousands of third-party data apps and suspended those who were mishandling. Despite continued efforts to protect user data, it appears the extent of the problem may not be fully known at this point.


Amazon Alexa Advances Healthcare Services

Amazon Alexa users can now utilize the smart speaker for healthcare information with its recently released HIPAA compliant skills.  Users can leverage the technology to manage healthcare needs such as booking appointments, checking a prescription status or accessing stored medical information such as ongoing glucose readings.  The skills are currently only accessible through select partnerships but will expand based on user adoption.

With the launch, some entities are unveiling HIPAA-compliant skills specific to their own recently discharged patients.  Boston Children’s released a skill known as “ERAS” which allows patients and caregivers to ask questions specific to recent patient care records and allows doctors the ability to follow up with patients remotely.

While data privacy remains a huge concern for patients, Amazon confirms data is encrypted and securely stored in addition to the strict guidelines HIPAA puts in place for patient protection.  This announcement is a major advancement in the evolution of remote patient care.