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Network at
24th May 2017




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Documentary activism in the age of alternative facts.

True crime documentaries may be having a moment right now, but they’ve been Joe Berlinger’s beat for decades. The Emmy award-winner was ahead of his time when he released Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills in 1996. That documentary proved highly influential, not only on future filmmakers but on real-life events, helping to eventually free the accused killers. Now, as the genre becomes more popular than ever, and millions of people are aching to make a difference, it seems the times have caught up to Joe Berlinger.

“We’re entering into an era of profound concern for American democracy,” Berlinger says. “A lot of people in my business are upset about the direction of the country, what’s happening in politics. For example, if the president has his way with the budget and we gut the EPA regulations, and we cut protections for the small guy on every level, I just think it’s an environment ripe for the need to tell these kinds of stories.”

“Most of the television networks are being controlled by a handful of corporations and there are certain stories that won’t be touched because they’ll offend advertisers and that’s just the way of the business in the television model,” Berlinger says. “With the gutting of print journalism because of the Internet, there’s been a tremendous decrease in old-fashioned print investigative reporting. So I think the documentarian has stepped in as the guy and maybe has a more important role than ever in terms of investigative reporting.”

“There’s a whole school of people out there who believe in fake news and alternative facts,” Berlinger says. “The credibility of the media has been called into question, and whether or not that applies to documentarians, we’ll have to wait and see.”


VR will soon be so advanced that humans will CHOOSE to live in computer simulations

Tech firm AMD, that makes the chips which power PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, believes we will one day move into a virtual world.

Some people have scoffed at early VR headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear, which are expensive and sometimes make the wearer vomit.

But AMD’s corporate vice president, Roy Taylor, took to the stage at a virtual reality conference being held in Bristol to blast any criticism and predict big things for the future.

He said: “To get to photo realism is the next big step, to get to full presence is where we need to get afterwards, when actual life will be indistinguishable from virtual reality.”

It seems far-fetched, but last year virtual reality headset sales reached almost one billion, Taylor said.

2016 saw the first virtual reality cinema, the first virtual reality surgery in London and even saw virtual reality used to settle a case in court.

"Remember Time magazine wrote in 1994 that the Internet would not take off," Taylor told an audience at Virtual Reality World Congress on Wednesday.

That said, there’s probably some way to go until we abandon the real world.


How the Pepsi and Kendall Jenner fiasco reveals the dangers of DIY advertising

The Pepsi fiasco: You know, the two-minute commercial where Kendall Jenner joins a youth protest and brings about world peace by handing a can to a cop, the commercial that was pulled off air after going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Pepsi had decided to do it themselves and it turned into a spectacular act of corporate self-harm.

These days, an in-house team creates most of the Apple commercials you see. They are pretty, slick and very Apple. Arguably, nobody understands a brand as well as the people who own it. Fashion labels do it all the time, perhaps because as creative people, they feel it’s easy to switch from one medium – textiles – to another – television, print, digital.

But one of the most offensive ads we’ve ever seen was made in 1999 for Just For Feet, a now extinct American shoe retailer.

It featured a barefoot African runner being chased across the savannah by white-looking hunters, who drug him and force his feet into fresh white trainers. It wasn’t an in-house production. It was created by Saatchi & Saatchi.
Proof, then, that the experts can be just as crass and tone deaf as the brands they advise.

Whatever route you choose, seek the view of an objective outsider. Because if the first rule of advertising is to know your brand, then the second must be to know your audience.


Uber, Netflix and the rise of On-Demand applications

Back in the pre-Netflix era, when ridiculously expensive cable companies ruled the day, we had a very specific method of consuming entertainment. There was no way for us to stipulate when and how we were going to consume our entertainment, our schedules were a slave to the telecom industry. When DVRs hit the market, they changed things a little. Netflix changed all that.

What the company did had the ability to disrupt the functioning of an entire market.

“Just by tapping on a smartphone today you can summon a home cleaner via Handy, order groceries via Instacart, wash your clothes via Washio and get flowers via BloomThat. Fancy Hands will provide you with personal assistants. TaskRabbit will pick up a gift, Shyp will deliver it. You can even order chocolate chips cookies with Doughbies. There is a whole world of on-demand applications. The obvious inspiration for all this is Uber, whose strategy was praised innovative and disruptive.” - Svetlana Muravskaya, iTransition

But what makes on-demand applications so popular? Turns out, we like having stuff at our beck-and-call. On-demand applications like Uber and Airbnb don’t sell anything, they just act as the middleman between you and the service provider, helping potential buyers and sellers of various services come together using an online or app-based platform. So, without really doing anything at all, these applications help managing our day-to-day lives a whole lot easier. And they make a lot of money in the process.


Netflix, the monster that’s eating Hollywood

There is escalating tensions between Netflix and Hollywood as the streaming-video company moves from being an upstart dabbling in original programming to a big-spending entertainment powerhouse that will produce more than 70 shows this year. It is expanding into new genres such as children’s fare, reality TV and stand-up comedy specials—including a $40 million deal for two shows by Chris Rock. The shift has unnerved some TV networks that had become used to Netflix’s original content being focused on scripted dramas and sitcoms.
“You just can’t compete with someone coming in with fresh money, low overhead and a lot less baggage than you,” said Darrell Miller, an entertainment lawyer at Fox Rothschild LLP. One veteran television executive likened Netflix’s onslaught to Genghis Khan’s.
“We of course have flare-ups because we compete for people, we compete for projects,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. But “we are in this together” with media companies, he said.


Cosabella will never go back to humans

"We know our brand best and communicating it to the advertising agency became time-consuming and difficult," Courtney Connell, marketing director of Cosabella, said.

Connell grew concerned when the retailer went through a flat quarter. "It was very scary, particularly when we enjoyed double-digit growth all the previous quarters."

After parting ways with the agency, Connell looked around for alternatives and decided to try using an AI platform instead of building up a larger in-house team.

In the first month alone, Albert increased Cosabella’s search and social return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) by 50% and decreased its adspend by 12%.

On Facebook specifically, Albert produced a 565% increase in ROAS within his first month. By month three, Albert had increased Cosabella’s ROAS to 336% – a 155% increase over the previous quarter.

Overall, Albert’s work in the last quarter of 2016 contributed strongly towards the company’s 37% increase in overall website sessions, a 30% increase in new users, and 1,500 more transactions.

"After seeing Albert handle our paid search and social media marketing, I would never have a human do this again," Connell said.


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