Innovation Lab: All-terrain Drones, Bee Sensors and RoboSwans

At Mobile Marketing we’re proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions, whether it’s on our website, in our magazine or at our Mobile Marketing Summits. Giving a platform to companies that are breaking new ground in their market brings audiences one step closer to the ideas and developments that will shape tomorrow.

In that spirit, our Innovation Lab feature takes a step beyond the world of apps, ads and handsets with slightly bigger screens, in order to share some of the tech world’s innovative ideas. They might be interesting, disruptive or just outright strange, but these are the stories that have caught our eye over the past week.

US Navy Builds Transforming Drone for Air and Sea

The United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has revealed its latest advancement in drone design with an unmanned aerial vehicle that can transform into a submarine for underwater tasks.

The Flimmer aims to solve some of the problems that exist with unmanned undersea vehicles, which tend to be slow and highly dependent on ocean conditions when it comes to reaching their targets.

By deploying into the air initially, the Flimmer can be launched quickly, efficiently reaching its target zone and bypassing high sea currents before diving into the water to perform its mission.

The Flimmer can travel at up to 57mph in the air and 11mph in the water, and could be used to study aquatic environments or even identify the source of oil leaks during disaster management.

robohow robot learningWikipedia for Robots Will Teach Your Bot to Make Sandwiches
One of the key issues limiting robots at the moment is that they tend to be built for a single use case, and even if the design is capable of more, programming them with additional tasks is prohibitively difficult for most people.

RoboHow, a European research company, is aiming to solve this issue with what’s been described as a ‘Wikipedia for Robots’, a database containing information on hundred of everyday tasks from reloading printer paper to flipping pancakes, all in a format that enables robots to learn them.

The key to the teaching project is a specially designed system that enables robots to perform both learning and communication in a way that’s similar to humans, processing information for themselves after receiving a set of instructions and applying the knowledge to similar situations in the future.

The scientists behind the project are putting together, the Open Knowledge for AI-Enabled Robots to create an encyclopedia of instructions for robots capable of this kind of learning. The initial test task – making a pancake – involves a number of skills that robots typically find difficult, and once that’s been cracked, the possibilities are almost limitless.

Scientists Aim to Save Bees with Sensor-filled Backpacks

Colony Collapse Disorder, which has caused a massive drop in bee populations, is a serious issue for the world’s food supplies, with honey bees responsible for pollinating a third of the world’s foot supply.

Researchers in Australia are aiming to narrow down some of the factors that may be causing the problem with tiny RFID ‘backpacks’ attached to individual bees that will enable them to identify stresses on the hives as a whole.

“The tiny technology allows researchers to analyse the effects of stress factors including disease, pesticides, air pollution, water contamination, diet and extreme weather on the movements of bees and their ability to pollinate,” said Professor Paulo de Souza, science leader at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

nuswan singaporeIt’s a Bird! It’s a Robot! It’s RoboSwan!
Researchers in Singapore have found a unique way to track water pollution in the city’s reservoirs, with a robotic swan packed with sensors that sends feedback on water quality as it swims around.

The New Smart Water Assessment Network (or NUSwan) aims to combine the latest in sensor technology with an aesthetically pleasing exterior that doesn’t discourage recreational use of the waterways.

The device collects data on acidity, oxygen and chlorophyll levels and can also collect samples for closer examination, either working autonomously or receiving instructions via text message from the researchers at the Tropical Marine Science Institute at the National University of Singapore.

OnCourse Goggles Keep Open Water Swimmers Going Straight

There’s a whole world of difference between swimming lengths in an indoor pool and keeping going in a straight line when out in a lake or open water, and its a problem that triathletes and other open water swimmers have been dealing with for years.

OnCourse Goggles aim to solve that problem with LED guides inside a pair of swimming goggles which indicate when swimmers are deviating from their set path, which can be set simply by looking at a target such as a buoy or far shore, and clicking the side of the goggles.

The device is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and will aim to retail for around $200 (£130) once it’s successfully in production. For athletes looking to shave valuable seconds off their times, it’s a small price to pay for the knowledge they’re headed in the right direction.

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Bricks to Clicks – Landmark Group Loyalty

akshay-manikantanAhead of the Mobile Marketing Brand Summit, taking place in Dubai on 3 November, we spoke to Akshay Manikantan, head of marketing & CX at Landmark Group Loyalty, who will be presenting at the event.

Can you give us an idea what you’ll be sharing with us at the Mobile Marketing Brand Summit ?
Shukran, the Landmark Group’s loyalty programme, is the largest in the region and has always been strong in bricks and mortar retail. We recently developed and launched our mobile app across both Android and iOS.

The core of my presentation will revolve around how we plan to migrate our marketing and customer strategies from the offline to online and mobile model over time. This will involve a huge paradigm shift in marketing, customer service, operations and end-to-end management of the programme.

When did Shukran really start getting serious about mobile, and was the introduction of a mobile mobile-first approach an easy transition, or were there some key issues that took some time to overcome?
Landmark Group’s loyalty programmes are spread across eight countries, with 1,500 stores and over 50 brands, but our operations were mainly offline and at the store level. It was an immense task involving cross-functional teams to integrate the CRM database into the app, and still provide a clean and simple UI for our members.

For you personally, what have been the biggest challenges and successes whilst working on the optimisation of Shukran’s mobile offering?
There were the usual challenges that brands face when they decide to take their strategy into the mobile space. As a large organisation with millions of loyalty club members, we needed to consider the development of a robust app that kept in mind multiple integration points including data security.

We had to create a UI which would appeal to our diverse set of members, taking into account different behaviour and trends. We also needed to decide between going to market quickly and early with a minimum viable feature set, or taking the time to integrate the best suited features as per industry trends before going live.

What do you think the future of mobile holds for the UAE, and will it become a global leader when it comes to mobile technology?
We keep sharing examples of what companies in the European, American and South East Asian markets have done with the latest mobile technologies – how they have simplified the customer’s experience with the brand and eventually driven profits for themselves.

What we need to put out there foremost is that our market DNA is completely different from what most people think. Yes, we are in the region with the largest penetration of smart phones, but we need to make sure that CMOs and CIOs are delivering solutions via mobile which are conducive to the region.

Our future goals need to include making sure we are generating exceptional value for consumers when we use the latest trends in the mobile space, and creating a one-to-one relationship with consumers by providing exception service using mobile technology. We also need to cross that threshold where the regular consumer experience turns to something delightful, and use analytics and data in a strong, serious way to make sure we deliver that delight.

If we do focus on those four points, our consumers will in return generate growth and value for our businesses.

For more information, or to apply to attend the Mobile Marketing Brand Summit in Dubai on 3 November, click here.

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Only A Week Left to Enter Our Effective Mobile Marketing Awards

The final entry deadline for our 2015 Effective Mobile Marketing Awards is only one week away.

All entries must be submitted to by 23:59 (BST) on Friday 4 September in order to be in with a chance of competing.

Awards-TeaserIf you haven’t started on your submission yet, you can download the entry form here. and if you’re still working on one, why not check out our guide to great entries here.

We’ll announce a shortlist a few weeks after the last of the entries have been received, and the winners will be revealed at our prestigious ceremony, being held at London’s Grange Tower Bridge Hotel on Thursday 26 November.

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Adform and adsquare Launch Programmatic Audience Partnership

AdSquare-Tom_Laband_PrintAd tech firm Adform and mobile audience data platform adsquare have announced a partnership to provide premium programmatic mobile audiences. Thousands of data points from a wide array of mobile, online and offline providers, as well as pre-defined audience templates, are now accessible via Adform’s ‘Adform GO’ mobile platform. The granular audience segments can also be combined to create custom criteria to fit individual brand needs. A range of Adform GO updates are to be released in the coming months.

The two companies share the vision of ensuring a secure and privacy-friendly programmatic environment for brands. adsquare has been awarded the ePrivacy seal for best practice data processing while Adform said it prides itself on establishing a quality, brand-safe, effective and fraud-free ecosystem for all clients.

“Adform is a leading platform for brands in our core markets” said adsquare CEO, Tom Laband. “As advertisers shift from channel-thinking to a user-centric approach, partnering with key players such as Adform ensures advertisers have access to the valuable audience data they need.”

Established in 2002, Adform now has offices in over 15 countries. With adsquare data available for seven EU countries and a New York office in the pipeline, more markets are set to follow the initial adsquare and Adform data offering, which covers UK, Germany and Italy.

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Snapchat Charging Advertisers for ‘Zero-second Views’

Snapchat-Ouija-Ad-1024x454Snapchat advertisers are concerned about paying for in-app video ads that go unseen by users, according to Digiday.

Snapchat charges advertisers $0.02 per view – the full-screen videos don’t play automatically, so this is essentially charged based on a per-click basis. However, there isn’t a minimum play time for the videos, leading to advertisers paying for “zero-second video views”.

According to Digiday‘s sources, this took some buyers by surprise. “The brands didn’t even realize this was happening,” said one source. “It’s all fairly new, and everyone’s just starting to recognize what’s going on.”

The recommended IAB standard for video ad viewability states that 50 per cent of the video– which isn’t an issue here, because all Snapchat ads use a full-screen interstitial format. However, the ads fail to meet the requirement that ads must be visible for at least two seconds to be considered viewable. To find out more about the wider issue of viewability, check out our Big Issue feature here.

While Snapchat hasn’t responded officially, Digiday cites ‘a source close to the company’ who claims that its pricing takes skip rates into account, and doesn’t charge for any ads which are skipped before they load.

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Localytics Announces Marketo Integration

App analytics and marketing firm Localytics has announced an integration with Marketo marketing automation software for the web. Localytics said the integration will enable it to combine customer data and user behaviours to automate customer communication across mobile and desktop, including apps and websites.

Leveraging Marketo webhooks, Localytics mobile app behaviour and profile data are now automatically pulled into Marketo for use in email campaigns. These cross-channel insights, the company said, will enable marketers to move from simply responding to the needs of the customer, to anticipating their needs and moving them forward on their journey with the brand.

Marketo users will benefit from the integration through the ability to incorporate richer mobile data in their marketing campaigns. As an example, going forward, they will be able to use Marketo Smart Campaigns to trigger Localytics push messages that reach customers on their smartphones. So a department store, for example, could target mobile app users who have displayed certain buying inclinations in the past via email. Using Localytics auto-profiles like ‘Last Session Date’ and/or ‘Last City’, a marketer can see when and where a user may have recently engaged with the brand and can build on this information with a Localytics profile like ‘Shoe Buyer’ to craft a campaign that resonates with the targeted email recipient.

Localytics said the integration is part of its commitment to helping marketers deliver relevant app experiences to their customers in every stage of the app lifecycle, adding that more third-party integrations would be announced over the coming months.

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Inneractive Updates Story RTB Native Ad Offering


Yehudai: “The combination of mobile, video and native in an RTB environment will change the way we look at advertising on mobile forever.”

Mobile ad tech firm Inneractive has launched its Story 2.0 mobile RTB native ad solution. The company said Story was created to empower mobile publishers to maximize the full potential of their properties by creating new, incremental native ad inventory that optimizes user experience and benefits from higher CPM rates customary with native and video ads. For marketers, it said the new and enhanced native units offer an engaging, more personalized way to tell their story in the mobile environment.

The new iteration of Story adds a display ad unit to the existing video ad unit, and also comes with additional components for the native ad unit, including icon, title, description and call-to action. It also promises an increased fill rate for native requests via the ability to convert regular display and video units to native units in real time; and the addition of a number of new native-specific demand partners. It is also available for more publishers thanks to the addition of support for server API integration.

Inneractive has seen substantial growth over the last year, posting a 160 per cent increase in net revenue from the first half of 2014 to the first half of 2015. RTB revenue is up 230 per cent year-on-year and now represents approximately 40 per cent of the company’s revenues. Video now comprises almost 15 per cent of the company’s revenues, up from 7 per cent in 2014.

“At a time when two thirds of digital ad buyers worldwide indicated they are running or planning to run mobile native ad campaigns, Inneractive is primed to help premium publishers capitalize on the increased CPMs that come with native and now in a mobile RTB native video format,” said Offer Yehudai, Inneractive president and co-founder. “Our explosive growth in the past year, especially with RTB and video, is evidence that the combination of mobile, video and native in an RTB environment will change the way we look at advertising on mobile forever.”

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Facebook Breaks 1bn Users in a Day

mark-zuckerberg-at-f8-2015Facebook passed 1bn users in a single day for the first time, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed in, appropriately enough, a post on Facebook.

“On Monday, one in seven people on Earth used Facebook to connect with their friends and family,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post. “When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different.”

In the company’s latest results, it reported an average of 968m daily active users during Q2 2015, 844m of whom were on mobile. Presuming the proportion is consistent, that means around 872m people accessed Facebook from a mobile device on Monday.

“This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it’s just the beginning of connecting the whole world,” wrote Zuckerberg, a reference to the company’s ongoing efforts with, which recently marked its first anniversary.

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Instagram Click-through Double Facebook’s

instagram-adsSalesforce has revealed Instagram ad metrics from over a dozen of its clients, showing that the photo sharing app’s CTR is nearly double that of Facebook.

The average CTR for an Instagram campaign is 1.50 per cent, compared to 0.84 per cent on Facebook. As Salesforce points out, this is largely due to the premium full-screen ad formats Instagram offers.

Across the six markets where Instagram ads are currently available (UK, US, Canada, France, Germany and Australia), average CPM is $6.29 (£4.08). This is nearly double Facebook’s CPM – reflecting the higher engagement, and balancing out to CPC to $0.42 on Instagram and $0.40 on Facebook.

“Overall available ad impressions on Instagram are a lot lower than Facebook, and carefully managed and tested by Instagram to continue an optimal user experience. However with 40 per cent of all Instagram engagement being one way (i.e. consumers following brands), there is clearly an appetite from the Instagram audience to engage with high quality content.”

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Uber Partners with Arizona University for Driverless Cars

Gov. Doug Ducey, third left, signs an agreement with University of Arizona President Ann Weaver, second right, and Brian McClendon, the vice president for Uber which will allow them to the test and do research on driverless technology in the Tucson area, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. Rep Martha McSally, far left, and Mayor Jonathan Rothschild witnessed the signing. Ducey made the announcement at the University of Arizona Optical Sciences which will assist n the mapping and safety technology. (A.E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star via AP) ALL LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; PAC-12 OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; GREEN VALLEY NEWS OUT

Uber has partnered with the University of Arizona for a research and development project in the optics space, in order to improve on the imaging technology used to build mapping and safety features necessary for self-driving cars.

As part of the deal, Uber will be donating to the university’s college of optical sciences to fund future research and ‘investing further in the technology ecosystem’ of Arizona.

The university’s hometown of Tucson will also become the next testing ground for Uber’s driverless mapping vehicles. The cars have also started testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Uber has signed a similar partnership with the robotics department of Carnegie Mellon University.

In June, Uber acquired Microsoft’s mapping division – after losing out in the bidding war for Nokia’s HERE business in May – in order to accelerate its efforts to develop a self-driving vehicle.

“Over the past 20 years, technology has helped democratise access to many services — often working in partnership with forward-thinking universities and elected officials across the US. But we’re still in the early days of what is possible,” said Uber Phoenix GM Steve Thompson. “Even five years ago it was almost unimaginable that anyone, anywhere in 330 cities around the world would be able to press a button and get a ride in less than five minutes. We thank Governor Ducey, the City of Tucson, the University of Arizona and all of our state-wide partners for working with Uber to continue advancing that vision.”


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