Today’s issue is guest written by my colleague, Greg Young. As Head of Paid Media and SVP Integrated Communications Planning, Greg has a unique perspective at the intersection of data, insights and integrated media.

Check out Greg's take on Google's launch event this week — and the ethos he identifies that we should all be paying attention to. And of course, let us know what you think. Thanks — Chris
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The Age of Ambient Computing

Google announced a slew of new and updated products at the annual
Made By Google event on Tuesday, but perhaps most importantly, they revealed their vision of the future: Ambient Computing, the belief that technology should be a singular, interconnected system that tailors the world to your needs. Google has spoken at length about how their software and hardware design enables this vision, and it seems to be centered around two key themes: democratization and harmonization. Democratization is about lowering the barriers of access while empowering consumers to take full advantage of technology, while harmonization is about enabling interoperability between devices to enable consistent and new experiences. Let’s unpack. 

Google’s democratization strategy largely centers around lowering the cost of entry. From giving away Android for free, to enabling whole-home streaming for as little as $35, Google has turned its head to disrupting the gaming industry by once again focusing on access. Their latest service, Stadia, allows consumers to play top-tier video games for as little as $15 per month, one twentieth the cost of the average game console. 

Consumer empowerment is at the center of Google’s product strategy, on full display at this year’s event. Picture this: you’re on vacation and reach for your phone. MotionSense has predicted that you are likely to turn your phone on with Face Unlock and take a picture, so it prepares the front and rear cameras. It unlocks as you pick it up, and you can snap pictures faster than ever. Thanks to a built-in AI processor, your photos look like the work of a professional. This is all done on-device, without the need to upload any data to the cloud, meaning your data isn’t being shared without your permission. These product enhancements ensure consumers no longer have to adjust their lives around a device — the device is adjusting to them. This reduces age-old friction between consumer and technology. 
Google also stressed their focus on the harmonization of experiences between devices. Their new wireless router can now double as a smart speaker; smart speakers are now extensions of the Nest security system. Music and videos can be synchronized across mobile and other smart home devices. Digital content and data is no longer held hostage on a single device, and in fact it’s the sharing of this data between devices that allows computing to tailor experiences and make technology more intuitive. 

Given Google’s outsized role in the life of the average consumer, brands and agency partners should consider how they’re designing their content experiences to incorporate Google’s ethos — lower barriers to entry, empower the consumer, make products easier to use and connect everything together.
  • It's no longer sufficient to build UX experiences for desktop and mobile devices; digital experiences need to be built for connected TVs, smart speakers, voice, and in the future, motion — allowing consumers to interact with digital experiences more intuitively and seamlessly. 
  • Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube, etc., will need to build flexibility and contextual awareness into their content ecosystems, and brands will need to better understand how to use that context to tailor, and even predict, optimal experiences across devices. 
  • Comms teams will need to continuously articulate the value of connecting their brand’s data ecosystems together to assuage privacy concerns, while empowering consumers with greater control over what data they share. 
On July 1st, 2019 Google announced search results will be prioritized based on mobile experience. Is it crazy to think in the future Google might prioritize results based on voice and motion experience?  
Greg Young
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What We're Reading
Artificial Intelligence
Say Thank You and Please: Should You be Polite with Alexa and the Google Assistant?
By Edward C. Baig, USA Today

Should we use words such as “please” and “sorry” when we ask Amazon's Alexa, the Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri to do something on our behalf – or follow up with a "thank you" when the devices deliver on our requests? Parents with young children are struggling to find the answer. 

Media Forensics
Imagine a Brexit-Free TV News Channel (It’s Happening)
By Freddy Mayhew, Press Gazette

A report published by the Reuters Institute in June found that more than a third of UK news consumers were avoiding the news, with a majority (71 per cent) giving Brexit as the reason why. So Sky News decided to launch a “pop-up channel” free from any mention of Brexit.

Media Forensics
A Spice Company Spent $92,000 on Pro-Impeachment Facebook Ads in a Week
By Jacey Fortin, The New York Times

A Wisconsin-based purveyor of pepper, paprika and poppy seeds spent more on impeachment-related Facebook ads than any entity besides President Trump. “I think the luxury of not being on a side is something of the past,” the company’s owner said.

Media Forensics
How We Came to Live in “Cursed” Times
By Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

On the Internet, “cursed energy” no longer refers just to creepy images — the phrase has come to signify increasingly generalized feelings of anxiety and malaise toward greater ailments of the world.

Content Experience
Fortnite Has Reached The End – Changing Video Game Storytelling for Good
By Keith Stuart, The Guardian

This week, more than 6 million people gathered online via streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube to watch a blank screen, waiting for something cool to happen. Fortnite managed to turn a content update with a multi-day downtime into a pop culture event.

Platform Dominance
YouTube Becomes Popular Side Hustle for Hollywood Stars
By Natalie Jarvey, The Hollywood Reporter

Six-figure deals for filming everyday trips to the store? It's enough to lure high-profile celebrities to the platform, but the global audience and creative freedom (plus ad revenue and marketing opportunities) help keep them there as growing an online following becomes "a great point of leverage."

Emerging Technology
This Robot Hand Taught Itself to Solve a Rubik's Cube
By Karen Hao
, MIT Technology Review

Researchers at OpenAI have developed a new method for transferring complex manipulation skills from simulated to physical environments.

Deep Take
2019 State of Technology in Global Newsrooms Survey
By The International Center for Journalists
Journalists around the world are increasingly turning to digital technology to help address daunting challenges such as the spread of misinformation and growing attacks on reporters, according to the International Center for Journalists’ 2019 survey of the State of Technology in Global Newsrooms. 
Copyright © 2019 Weber Shandwick

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