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Marketing Week in Review: March 4, 2017

Marketing newsWhether we’re talking Facebook Messenger changes, Snapchat’s music potential, mobile and desktop video viewing preferences, the future of robots in retail stores, or SMBs shift to digital marketing, there’s a ton of interesting things happening. Here are the things we thought you might need to know about as we dive into this new week.

With a view toward changing up the UX on its Facebook Messenger platform, the way we interact with bots is soon to change. Instead of typing in text to ask a question or reply, chances are good that through the use of non-native menu buttons, conversations with Messenger bots may soon feel less like texting a friend and more like tapping through a food-ordering app restaurant menu.

This past Thursday, Messenger added an option for bot makers to prevent users from sending regular messages to bots. Instead, the in-app keyboard will be replaced with a persistent menu which will make interaction more like what users experience when using a traditional mobile app. The “send a message” text box will still be there but bot makers have the option of disabling that option so people are only able to interact with the bot from the menu buttons. Messenger also announced the addition of other features, like customizable share messages and the ability for bots to upload attachments.

We’ve only touched the very tip of the iceberg as to how we’ll see brands make use of bots in Facebook’s Messenger platform, and this change is likely a result of analysis of how the integration of chatbots into the Messenger experience is working so far, with a view toward creating a better user experience. You can read more about Facebook’s announcement on this front here.

You can check out the video that the Messenger team posted to its blog for developers to demonstrate the new keyboard-free menu here.

This new option is a big departure from the original promise of chatbots, which was to allow people to interact with businesses like they do with their friends. It will be interesting to see where they go with this. MarketingLand

Speaking of Facebook Messenger, many people have lamented the lack of a dislike button on Facebook and Facebook has a solution…sort of. Facebook has finally served up a dislike button, but it’s not where you’d expect it. It’s not on the Facebook News Feed, but instead, tucked into the Messenger app. Users can reply to specific messages in a chat thread by attaching emojis to a specific message. This seems kind of lame to me, as Facebook Messenger is generally the space where I have the most private of conversations, and I rarely feel the need to include emojis in those conversations.

This new functionality isn’t available to all, so check your Facebook Messenger and see if you’ve got the Reaction option. When you hover over messages friends have sent in chat, you can tap the emoji button and pick from the emojis presented, including a thumbs-down one.

As is the standard with the social net, Facebook confirmed this is a small test, and they’ll be testing adoption and use before Messenger reactions are rolled out to all users.

As you no doubt know, the Dislike button is the most requested feature, but the company doesn’t want to inject too much negativity in the News Feed so they have never offered up this option. This is surely an effort to try and accommodate user requests for the dislike button. Facebook launched Reactions in the News Feed almost exactly a year ago and they have proven extremely popular, with over 300 billion sent so far.

One big reason for adding Emoji Reactions in Messenger is that Facebook sees value in making Work Chat, Facebook’s messaging system for its enterprise collaboration suite Workplace, more user friendly. Instead of having to type out responses, users will be able to respond to messages with a simple Emoji, similar to Slack’s Emoji setup.

The more user-friendly Facebook can make Messenger, the better it can compete with other messaging apps and to keep users locked into the Facebook ecosystem. TechCrunch

emojie facebook

Snapchat may have cracked the music code where Facebook and other platforms have not. The last social network that truly “got” music was MySpace. MySpace’s secret sauce was that artists widely adopted and leveraged the platform to find success in introducing themselves and their music to the world.

Facebook has not resonated with artists in the same way, and while there are some artists who use it, most don’t rely on the platform for much. I’m sure the pay-to-play aspect of Facebook has played a big role for the lack of use by artists as well.

YouTube had an early early lead in the up-and-coming music market, but didn’t do much to take advantage of that and quickly lost some of its luster. But Snapchat may have broken the code. It’s still early, but we’re starting to see the platform be used for introduction of songs behind specific lenses, which is pretty cool. We’re a long way from “there” yet, but it will be interesting to see if Snapchat makes something out of this, and becomes a darling in the music category. This could help staunch some of the bleeding of its audience and give it a competitive advantage over Instagram, which is breathing down its neck on oh-so-many fronts.  TechCrunch

snapchat music

Mobile phones and Desktops are neck-and-neck in video viewing. About 57% of consumers around the world are watching videos on their mobile phones daily, which is very close to the 58% of consumers who are checking out videos on their computer. In the U.S., 67% of consumers watch mobile videos while 70% watch videos on their desktop. These results point to a continual increase in mobile usage and mobile video viewing is expected to increase even more over the next year.

According to AOL’s State of the Video Industry Global Research Study, short videos, or ones that are less than 60 seconds, are the most popular. As the length of video increases, the percent of consumers viewing decreases.

The report also found that live video audiences are growing with 74% of consumers watching live video from their phones.

Given the research results and AOL’s prediction that mobile video viewing is only going to continue increasing, advertisers are prepared to follow suit with 70% of advertisers expecting to up their mobile ad spend by at least 25% this year.

The addictive nature of cell phones becomes more obvious over time, with 89% of U.S. consumers and 77% of global consumers stating that they can’t live without their smartphones, or at least always keep them nearby. Advertisers, marketers and sales leaders have the opportunity to maximize on this dependence for their business and brand goals.

For those who see AI as a futuristic thing, think again. Robots will be in retail stores sooner than you think. Retail stores are facing a problem in brick-and-mortar stores today. The one thing that helps businesses stand out against online stores is employees ,but most stores have reduced the number of employees and now expect customers to fend for themselves. Stores are faced with a dilemma because adding enough labor back into stores to offer more personalized customer service would require changing the whole labor model from low pay, low training, high turn, to higher pay, much more training, and much less churn.

But now, retailers have another option: Robots. Customer acceptance will be the determiner on if robots become a regular store fixture or not but stores are most definitely giving robots a try. How? Here are several of the ways robots may be able to help.

Robots can quickly and easily track shelf inventory. Retailers usually know what items are selling well and which are not, but often have very little tracking of inventory positions on the shelf. In the omni-channel age, inventory levels become more important, especially for stores who offer in-store inventory to online shoppers. Retailers are searching for ways to increase shelf inventory tracking and robots may be the answer. Target, always an early adopter of technology, tested an inventory robot that trolled stores to identify spots on empty shelves.

Robots can also retrieve inventory and orders—think vending machines, but a step further. At a Best Buy in New York, a robot named Chloe retrieves CDs, DVDs, and other accessories based on orders placed on nine touch screens in the store. The idea behind Chloe is excellent for stores with a lot of high-theft devices. Typically, stores have to lock up high-theft devices but that affects sales, especially in understaffed stores, because consumers aren’t able to look at those products. Robots, however, can help.

On another front, robots can help with product customization by completing partially manufactured products. These robots are all about a cool factor of watching a robot at work delivering customized products and services. In San Francisco, Gordon the robot barista is used in a posh coffee shop. Gordon is faster than humans and doesn’t get your name wrong.

And yes, in many instances, robots may completely replace some employees. Lowe’s is testing robots in 11 of its San Francisco stores to provide service to customers and employees. The robots are available to help with the easy questions to free up employees for the difficult questions and higher-level service needs. To help customers, Walmart has recently patented a self-driving shopping cart that follows customers around based on a mobile app, which will allow consumers to have both hands free and to not worry about the effort it takes to push around a full cart.

Ultimately, consumer acceptance will dictate how quickly stores jump on the robot board, but increasing technology and consumer demands are working together to make robots a likely solution.

Small businesses are shifting their marketing spend to digital. According to research from Thrive Analytics, U.S. SMBs are planning to spend more of their marketing dollars on digital formats in 2017.

The key areas of focus are mobile, digital video, and paid search. More than 50% of SMBs said they plan to increase spending on mobile ads, 48% plan to boost spending on online video, and 47% plan to increase paid search.

While the surge toward digital marketing for SMBs seems sudden, it is not without precedent. The current economic client is in an upswing and is giving most SMBs optimism and confidence to spend on promotion and acquiring new customers.

2017 looks to be a big year in the digital world, especially with SMBs jumping on board. eMarketer

Photo Credit: aorhancom Flickr via Compfight cc