New Generation of Apps Enhance, Not Overshadow, Real Life

As society lurches between glowing screens, it's increasingly clear that living life is living with a device in your face. Luckily, a new generation of apps enhance, not overshadow, inherently analog experiences with just a soupon of technology. Think of them as on-screen prompts to get back in touch with your meat suit. Lines This collection of time-saver apps from TouringPlans (search for the apps via the developer) helps you orchestrate a family park vacation by factoring in school calendars, economic indicators and other data to tell you the best times to visitor avoiddestination parks. The apps (e.g., Disney World Lines) can then customize your itinerary, direct you to the rides where lines are shortest (gleaned from historical data from more than 140,000 annual subscribers) and more. Intentionally lo-fi-looking to save battery life and work within the congested parks, Lines can save up to four hours of waiting Continue reading "New Generation of Apps Enhance, Not Overshadow, Real Life"

Remotely Entertaining SXSW: The Future of Weed Marketing

The U.S. legal cannabis industry is headed for an all-time highand weed companies aren't the only brands that have new territory to explore. Faith Popcorn, futurist and founder of Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, talked with us about what brands are asking when it comes to the future of pot, and what smart brands should be doing in this space. "There's going to be as many strains and ways to look at marijuana as there are wine," Popcorn says. "There's the upscale ones, the 'Herms of marijuana,' then the 'people's marijuana.'" Continue reading at

Macy’s Is Out to Get You — One Way or Another

Macy's has some spring in its step this season as it pushes out a new TV campaign and tests a digital initiative on Instagram. This week, the department store chain debuted "Find the Remarkable You," with a 90-second commercial that touches on female empowerment and self-improvement. In addition, Macy's is hosting a "Live Share" video with style tips on Instagram Wednesday evening with fashion influencer Wendy Nguyen of Wendy's Look Book. The new marketing comes at a time when Macy's is beginning to see a sales uptick after years of struggle. Last month, the brand reported fourth-quarter sales of $8.7 billion, a 1.8 percent rise over the year-earlier period, along with a comparable sales increase of 1.3 percent. And a new marketing strategy, which pushes fewer promotions, more fashion and an improved loyalty program for repeat shoppers, appears to be paying off, according to Macy's Chief Executive Continue reading "Macy’s Is Out to Get You — One Way or Another"

NBC News Chairman Lack Sees No Value for Publishers in Facebook

NBC News' Chairman Andrew Lack isn't optimistic on Facebook. "Facebook doesn't have value for publishers really," Lack told reporters during a press briefing on NBC News' digital initiatives on Wednesday. "I call them Fakebook." "What's frustrating about Facebook is you can't have a relationship with them," Lack said, adding that NBC News has talked with the company for years about content creation, but he has become "decreasingly hopeful" that much will materialize. Continue reading at

Bitcoin Drops as Google Bans Crypto Advertisements

Bitcoin slumped to the lowest level in more than a month after Google said it will ban online advertisements promoting cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Industry officials also said at a Congressional hearing that U.S. regulators need to provide greater clarity. The world's biggest digital currency by market value dropped as much as 9.1 percent to $8,238, the lowest price since Feb. 12, as Alphabet Inc.'s Google announced Wednesday that the restriction would be effective in June. Facebook, Google's primary rival for ad dollars, banned ads for cryptocurrencies in January. Google's updated policy came with the release of its annual "bad ads" report, a review of the number of malicious, deceptive and controversial ads Google scrubs from its massive search, display and video network. Continue reading at

Reddit Says Native Ads Are Coming to Mobile This Monday

Reddit is rolling out new mobile ads that will mimic the look and feel of the rest of the feed. These are the first truly native ads for Reddit on mobile, according to the company, because they have the same features as unpaid posts such as the ability to vote and comment. On Reddit, people submit posts to thousands of niche communities and votes determine what rises to the top and what should fall to the wayside. Sponsored posts were previously available on desktop, but extent to mobile starting Monday. Brands can turn off comments and the voting on the new mobile ads if they don't want to submit their paid posts to the full scrutiny of the Reddit crowd. Continue reading at

Remotely Entertaining SXSW: We Ask Reddit CEO Steve Huffman Anything

Reddit has a huge audience but a lot of unrealized potentialit hopesto grow its ad business. Lately it's been raising its profile with ad agencies, whether that means showing up to events such as SXSW or rolling out actual new ad products. CEO Steve Huffman founded the company with his friend and former roommate Alexis Ohanian. The company sees the fourth most traffic in the U.S., which is more than Amazon, according to Alexa, an analytics outfit (owned by Amazon) so the potential to grow its business is certainly there. New mobile native ads will soon arrive, for example, letting brands create posts that look and act like those generated by users. Continue reading at