Microsoft Enters The Bot Game; Twitter Moments Not Working For Advertisers

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Bots are hot and Microsoft wants to feel that warm glow – its wretched experience with foul-mouthed Tay notwithstanding. The Verge notes the growing complexity of the bot ecosystem might soon beget a call for standards. Microsoft, though preaching openness, wants to be on top of it. “If the company succeeds, it will have a fresh start in the mobile era,” writes the Verge. But it’s not as if Amazon, Google, Facebook and a host of startups are sitting on their hands. Still, Microsoft exec Qi Lu thinks the company’s assets – like its office and communications software, the fact that it’s been developing AI for nearly 20 years, the growth of its social graph with the LinkedIn acquisition and its Windows and Xbox devices – all give it a leg up. Read more.

Bad Moments

Remember Twitter Moments? It was a product overseen by former CEO Dick Costolo showcasing the most popular messages and meant to help the new users that Twitter desperately needs separate the tweet wheat from the tweet chaff. Are consumers buying in? Who knows. But Digiday says the verdict is in for advertisers: Moments is a dud. An anonymous agency exec claimed there’s no reporting associated with the product: “I don’t know any brands buying it.” Lack of reporting means there’s no clear ROI associated with Moments. And Twitter continues to see that pesky upstart Snapchat siphon away ad revenue. Snapchat even has its own version of Moments: Live Stories. Read more.

Connectivity Round 2

Facebook has unveiled its OpenCellular initiative to improve connectivity in remote places. According to the blog post: “Facebook plans to open-source the hardware design, along with necessary firmware and control software …” The goal is to help local telcos and operators build their own Wi-Fi infrastructure. This isn’t the first time the social network giant has tried to introduce wireless connectivity to underserved locales. Recall Facebook’s Free Basics program, which is still ongoing though it got banned in India last December for violating the country’s net neutrality laws. The fear was that Free Basics would prioritize online services from Facebook and its partners. It remains to be seen whether the same fears descend on OpenCellular. Read more.

Shop The Stream

Do you want to shop food and lifestyle videos with one click of your Fire TV stick? HGTV and the Food Network hope you do. The Scripps Interactive networks have called in the biggest commerce reinforcement of them all – Amazon – to help create “Watch & Shop” apps for Amazon Fire TV devices. These shoppable apps are branded, of course: e.g., “HGTV Gardening,” which is sponsored by none other than Scotts Miracle-Gro. Scripps says viewers can shop products from their favorite shows without “leaving the app or interrupting the viewing experience.” Channeling the OTT equivalent of Amazon Prime. More.   

Opportunities Arise

While marketers anticipate the release of transparency guidelines from marketing analytics firm Ebiquity, Accenture has offered up its own thoughts. The management consultancy released a set of recommendations on Thursday to help marketers “get the most productivity out of media budgets.” Short and sweet tips include: formalize the contract review process, initiate formal business relationship assessments, audit financial invoices, benchmark media performance and demand a programmatic supply chain review. Seems like yet another opportunity for management consultancies to cozy up to marketers and step on agency toes. Read them.

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