Friday Roundup: Week Ending December 9, 2016

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By Natalie Munio

Google takes you for a tour of New York’s holiday displays, a new video adds an unexpected twist to high school romance, Google News is addressing that fake news problem, lovers alike can now relive their dating nightmares on a Tinder podcast, and Instagram has some good news about those pesky Instagram followers.

Here are this week’s top stories in advertising and marketing. 

For anyone that’s dreamt of strolling along Fifth Avenue in New York City over the holidays to take in the glory of the iconic window displays, boy, does Google have a holiday treat for you. No stranger to virtual reality, Google teamed up with more than a dozen retailers along the prestigious Fifth Avenue shopping block to piece together the “Winter Wonderland” VR experience. Now anyone can window gaze and take in the magical light displays and the holiday season in New York City has become known for. The experience, which debuted this week, requires only a Google Cardboard or use of Google’s own VR headset, which allows users to zoom in on the displays and even offers an audio guide from the retailer store’s creative directors who had a hand in making the famed displays come to life. To create the “Winter Wonderland,” photos were taken of the windows of some 18 retailers, including Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue and more, to piece together panoramas that create the experience. For more, check out the official video here.

Anyone that’s payed close attention to their newsfeeds over the last week has likely come across a video titled, “Evan,” and it would be fair to assume they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they pressed play. News sites, Facebook posts and Twitter blasts alike have been sharing the advertisement, describing it as a love story between high school students lined with mystery. It’s only in the final 10 seconds of the two-minute spot do viewers understand the twist. We’re introduced to Evan, a high school student looking for love, and watch as he searches for his mystery girl throughout the school year. At the video’s close, Evan finds the girl in the gymnasium during a yearbook signing, and as we’re engrossed in the blossoming conversation, we see the gym door in the distance open, and a student pull out a gun. It’s disorienting, which is exactly what Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO New York were aiming for. The spot demonstrates how different our perspectives can be when we don’t know what to look for. At the videos end, significant moments in Evan’s story are replayed, this time pointing out what was happening in the background – a student sitting alone watching videos about guns, getting bullied at his locker, and pointing his fingers like a gun at his teacher. The message is an important one2, that warning signs are easy to miss, but knowing them and recognizing them could be a life-saving difference.       

With fake news making headline after headline, and stirring controversy for big-time digital platforms like Facebook and Google, some changes are finally on the horizon. Google has announced that in the wake of criticism, the company will be removing its “In the News” section, and instead replacing it with a “Top Stories” section at the top of a desktop search. The idea is that removing “news” will better differentiate between Google’s search results and the company’s own news section, Google News, which requires publications to be vetted and approved to appear in the section. In other words, Google’s search results, unlike Google News, are not gauged for truth, and while algorithms are in place to sniff out “spam,” mistakes and misses are frequently made. The change comes after a major fiasco during the election when a top result on election night was from a fake news source which called the popular vote in favor of Donald Trump by over 70,000.

Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, many of us have dabbled in the game of online dating at some point or another. And even more likely, we’ve had a bad encounter… or seven. In honor of the one-too-many left swipes, the unwanted selfies from strangers, the bleak conversations, and just about any other nightmare that comes with the world of dating apps, Tinder has decided to dedicate an entire podcast to it to make sure our nightmares are well documented. In partnership with Gimlet Creative, a sector of Gimlet Media that also creates both its own branded series and ads consumers hear in between podcasts, Tinder has created a branded podcast titled “DTR,” an acronym for “define the relationship.” DTR premiered this past week and will run as an eight-week series, each episode dedicated to a different topic. The idea is that podcasts, much like dating, is an “up close and personal experience,” and so a dedicated dating podcast was a natural extension for the brand. The biggest takeaway? Make us feel a little more human about the whole online dating experience, and maybe get laugh out of it along the way.

Instagram is taking a page out of the anti-bullying playbook with a new update that launches three new features aimed to “keep people safe.” One feature now allows users with private accounts to remove followers, whereas before, once a follower was approved by the owner of a private account, it was nearly impossible to remove them without blocking them entirely. What’s more, the follower won’t receive notification that they’ve been removed from your list of followers. The second feature allows users to turn commenting for individual posts completely off in their advanced settings, eliminating risk of hateful commenting with only filing a report as the solution. The third feature adds the ability for users to like comments on their individual posts, as you would on a Facebook post, by selecting the heart shaped button next to the comment. The move made by Instagram, similar to its parent company at Facebook, demonstrates the growing industry-wide concern for abuse over online and social media platforms.

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