Maya started as a healthcare blog in Bangladesh in 2011. They just raised $2.2 million because they decided to listen to their users better. The problem to solve? The challenges involved in finding medical care in Bangladesh, the “financial barriers, a shortage of providers and long travel times to clinics.” So the idea was for the blog to provide health info from trusted sources, but the founder Ivy Huq Russell realised her site visitors needed more. Messages about sexual abuse, rape, and domestic violence came in on WhatsApp, email, and chat that needed to be addressed better. They needed to scale their solution. Now “Maya uses natural language processing and machine learning technology for its digital assistant, which answers basic health-related questions and decides if users need to be routed to human experts. It has about 10 million unique users and currently counts more than 300 licensed healthcare providers on its platform.”
Clubhouse has plans for direct payments and creator grants. They just raised a Series B round of funding, which they will use for enhanced features and growth, but direct payments sound like it could be a winner. They’re also joining TikTok and Snapchat on the creator grant program bandwagon, which is a great way to incentivize and support people to create content and therefore new audiences. It looks like all the cool kids are on this live audio conversation platform, which, depending on your tolerance for notifications about ongoing conference calls, is proving to be an interesting alternative to varying degrees of lockdown. And it’s a whole new media product for us in the journalism biz, aka why should a story be just a story if it can also be an audio conversation?
Wirecutter has had an interesting ride. As a stand-alone subscription product, it might get wilder. The New York Times bought the consumer review site in 2016 and has so far earned growing affiliate link revenue when you buy a product they’ve reviewed. The plan now is to spin it out as a standalone subscription product. The Great Unbundling has worked well for the NYT — and for most of the news industry that thought breaking news was the only big audience magnet — with products like Cooking and Games.
This man joined Lego, and invented…the Lego bonsai tree. The tree is astonishing in how complex it is (the trunk looks vaguely steampunk), and comes in two flavours: green, and sakura (cherry blossom) style. This video is charming and also hilarious in parts. #Botanical #BonsaiTree #DesignerVideo
Data and storytelling
By using your own data, you have the ability to create stories that are not only original and memorable (your data is unique) but also personalised (the data based on your customer’s behaviours).
Why you need to get it right
A report by infographic platform Venngage found 84% of markers created data visualisations regularly. 73% of respondents said their visualisations were created for sharing on various social channels. When it came to budget for these data visualisations, 35% were spending less than USD 1,000 a year. While Venngage is pushing its graphics solution, it’s clear marketers see value in these data based stories. So why doesn’t the budget reflect this? The point is to be unique and memorable and this takes time.
Who is doing it well?
Streaming services have an obvious edge. They collect a lot of data, their products are engaging, and subscribers all have a unique journey. Spotify Wrapped is an annual tradition for subscribers as it collates everything they’ve listened to over the years and animates the results. It’s not about the data you collect. Huggies conducted 600 studies about the benefits of hugging your newborn for its No Baby Unhugged campaign, boosting sales by 30%.
Gaming and advertising
Anyone who thought eSports only attracts a fringe audience needs to think again. The viewership is expected to increase from 454 million in 2019 to 646 million in 2023 to create a market worth USD 1.5 billion. Powered by mobile, the barrier of entry for gamers and fans is quite low, meaning opportunities for marketers.
Growing mainstream interest
Publicis Groupe, a French multinational advertising and PR organisation, recently announced the launch of Publicis Play — an arm dedicated to marketing and creative within gaming and eSports. Its mission will be to guide big brands like KFC and Samsung through the gaming environment to create unobtrusive experiences for users. And that will be a bit of a mindset readjustment for some brands.
Leveraging gaming platforms
Gillette is partnering with the gaming source, Twitch. They’ve formed the Gillette Gaming Alliance, featuring five Twitch streamers creating razor inspired content. The partnership also means consumers who buy products through Gillette’s website will earn Twitch Bits, which in turn drives engagement on the Twitch. Will gaming take brand engagement to a more natural level that wasn’t possible through social?
Red Bull can make any sport feel extreme. In this fencing short, it focuses on the sport’s history, especially the 30,000 deaths which shaped its modern rules. #RedBull #RedBullOrigins #Fencing
Google Maps doesn’t just help people find businesses. In Italy, it helped this bookstore find customers during the COVID lockdown.
Nonprofit health organisation, CHI, created a singalong animation to battle type 2 diabetes, more effective than your average scare campaign.
LEGO has posted a work-life balance video on LinkedIn — we’re pretty sure part of this balance involves LEGO creations in your downtime. #worklifebalance #RebuildTheWorld
Some may already consider the Mercedes-Benz G-Class a work of art, but these Zapoteca artists have taken the vehicle to a new level. They also manage to mention a chef too. #strongerthantime #MBgclass #mercedesbenzTV
Google added more contextual information to its search results. You’ll now see a new “About this result” menu which will pull basic information from Wikipedia. Very useful in helping determine trusted sources.
Clubhouse is all the rage in China, it seems. Starved of free speech on Chinese apps, Clubhouse is one of the rare places where you get to talk about politics and democracy. (Some people are even selling invite codes!)
HubSpot reportedly acquired The Hustle, a newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The deal is valued at around $27 million. Yet another reminder of the value of niche B2B media companies.
Facebook stars in the latest episode of the blockbuster sitcom that is the newsletter platform. Apparently, they’re working on newsletter tools for indie journos and writers. I mean, Twitter bought Revue only last week. Substack is so 3 years ago. “Mr. Zuckerberg noticed the growing trend of independent journalists monetizing their work through newsletter services, and urged the team to make the project a priority.” Makes me wonder if Mr. Zuckerberg has made an offer to Substack yet.
The designer known as Traf prototyped a pretty sweet newsletter product for Notion. Traf, recently known for making bank for his minimalist icon sets for iOS 14, used Framer for his prototype. “It’d use your Notion page as the content for the email.” Not a bad idea.
— Traf (@traf) January 28, 2021
Today’s newsletters come from a long line of gossip sheets. And I mean 17-century-long. If you’re a couple of guys in the 1620s and you sell annual subscriptions to your gossip sheets at £20 a pop (“about $7,000 today” per subscription), you’re not doing too badly. “Like their 17th-century precursors, these missives have the personal tone of a note from a trusted and well-informed friend. The newest business model in journalism, it turns out, is also the oldest.”
Dainik Bhaskar ran a cloth edition. The Dainik Bhaskar newspaper printed a fabric front-page wrap of its issue commemorating its 15th year run in Bhilwara, India’s fabric capital. The collectible edition runs to 204 pages.
In the latest episode of this season of Stories, Pinterest added stories. Here we go again. Everybody’s doing it. Twitter launched its own version (called Fleets) just a few months ago. Pinterest’s variant, however, has a couple of differences: they’re only for “approved businesses and creators for now”, and they aren’t ephemeral.
Google acquired AppSheet, a no-code app-builder. AppSheet has been around for eight years and integrates with Google tools like Sheets and Forms, as well as other tools from Salesforce and Box, among others. It’s “not going to replace sophisticated development environments, but they will give companies that might not otherwise have a mobile app the ability to put something decent out there.”