5 British companies leading in advertising technology

Advertisers today know that while content may be king, data is the real belle of the ball. This is where advertising technology — or AdTech — comes into the equation: A rapidly growing industry in the UK and around the globe, AdTech connects the dots between marketing tactics and data on consumer behaviour and the journey through the sales funnel.

Salesforce’s fourth annual State of Marketing report cites significant growth year over year within the AdTech arena: It predicts 23-25% YoY growth for technologies like marketing analytics and CRM tools, and a whopping 53% YoY increase for artificial intelligence.

A handful of startups are cashing in on the AdTech boom with innovative products that are changing the game for advertisers and marketers. Below are five British businesses whose AdTech products are making serious waves on a global scale.

1. Captify

Search keywords have long been considered one of the most accurate indicators of purchasing intent, but advertisers haven’t always been able to pin down this crucial data accurately. Enter Captify, a startup launched in 2011 whose powerful C3 technology stack enables brands to serve customers with ads at precisely the right time to optimise conversion rates.

Captify calls itself “a global data activation company and a pioneer of search intelligence” that powers consumer insights across all channels and devices. The company’s products help its clients — high-profile brands including the likes of Amazon, Ford, Kellogg, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Nike — dissect the search behaviours of more than 2.2 billion people around the world. Captify works with both advertisers and publishers to extract concrete value out of complex consumer search habits.

Captify will have a presence at this year’s dmexco conference, taking place September 13-14, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. The company will host a two-day live seminar series in Hall 6, B-058. Stop by to join the conversation about how smart search insights are transforming the marketing stack.

2. 51 Degrees

51 Degrees is a company with a penchant for numbers: Its device detection software can effectively determine which of more than 44,530 devices a customer is using to access a site; it’s currently used by more than 1.5 million global websites; and it supports 2 billion unique device visits every month. Not to mention: The software is 99.9% accurate, and can pick up on a user’s device in less than a single millisecond. Oh, and it’s effective at driving conversions, too: It’s been proven to help retailers boost rates by as much as 33%.

51 Degrees’ open-source APIs make the platform extra customisable for brands who want to know details such as, say, a customer’s exact physical screen size. In addition, the company’s suite of products includes analytics, performance-monitoring tools, and image optimisation software. Currently, the company works with big-name clients like eBay, IBM, and Unilever.

51 Degrees will have a presence at this year’s dmexco conference, taking place September 13-14, 2017 in Cologne, Germany. The company will be located with IAB in Hall 6, C-080. Stop by to join the conversation about the increased importance of device detection in a world of wearables, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and virtual home assistants.

 

IMAGE: FLICKR | ANDRES NIETO PORRAS

3. Wirewax

In an advertiser’s ideal world, the content marketing video they’ve spent six months and tens of thousands of pounds creating would let viewers click on painstakingly crafted product placements and purchase the said products seamlessly — without deviating away from the viewing experience.

Wirewax makes this scenario a reality — though it’s just one of the use cases for the innovative platform, which creates interactive videos that let users engage directly with characters, objects, and products. This functionality presents a huge range of possibilities for advertisers, from in-video contests and immersive websites to shoppable runways and gamified marketing campaigns. Major brands are perking up and paying attention: Wirewax currently lists companies like Disney, GE, Samsung, and Under Armour as clients.

4. voodooh

Whereas many AdTech platforms concentrate on intricate technical and analytical features, UK startup voodooh takes a more creative approach to digital marketing.

The company aims to “demystify” the digital out-of-home (OOH) space. In laymen’s terms, this means that it helps advertisers create compelling campaigns that target consumers outside of their home environments — whether that refers to innovative billboard designs, “smart” vending machines, or experiential marketing activations. voodooh offers a variety of services, including bespoke campaign creation, white label content, and technical consulting. The company has created intelligent digital solutions for an eclectic collection of client campaigns, including Black Swan, Buzz Radar, Concur and Polaroid .

5. LoopMe

LoopMe combines two of the buzziest and most exciting terms in the AdTech world: Video and AI.

The company’s primary focus is on all things video, from vertically formatted video to 360-degree and rich-media experiences to HTML5 and VPAID pre-roll. The company’s team of creatives even creates bespoke mini-games in video format for its clients, which include companies like Airbnb and Honda.

But the real kicker (and what makes LoopMe so exciting to marketers) is the company’s handle on artificial intelligence: It uses AI to optimise its efforts, from algorithms that learn and adapt in real-time to better meet campaign goals, to predictive modeling to match supply and demand.

The company touts itself as a mobile-first expert, and its videos currently reach more than 2 billion devices worldwide. Earlier this year, LoopMe raised a significant round of VC funding to further hone its products and continue expanding its sphere of global influence.

‘Placenta-on-a-chip’ technology will let scientists research neonatal diseases without using human fetuses

It’s hard to believe, but in the last few years, scientists have made great strides miniaturizing and recreating human organs on microchips, which researchers hope will help speed new drug development.

Organs-On-Chips (OOCs), pioneered by engineers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in 2015, can be the size of a AA battery, and are embedded with microfluidic tubes containing human cells that mimic the biomechanical structure and function of a human organ. Researchers around the world have molded and adapted OOC technology to give hearts, lungs, kidneys and bones the microfluidic treatment.

Now, researchers from Florida Atlantic University are developing a placenta-on-chip that will mimic the microenvironment of the maternal-fetal interface and allow them to conduct studies on a variety of placental conditions and pathologies. The hope, here, is that placentas-on-chips can be used to eventually prevent pregnant women with malaria from having complications during their pregnancies. The research is also an early breakthrough on a future in which neonatal disease can be researched without using actual human embryos or fetuses, perhaps allowing scientists to sidestep some ethical dilemmas.

Led by Dr. Sarah Du and Dr. Andrew Oleinikov, the chip will first be used to examine the effects of malaria on placentas and fetuses. Malaria accounts for over 10,000 maternal and 200,000 neonatal deaths per year, and contributes to perinatal morbidity and mortality in developing nations. The infectious disease can cause higher rates of miscarriage, intrauterine demise, premature delivery, low birth weight, and neonatal death. Du and Oleinikov received a $400,000, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop the technology and ultimately devise new treatments to reverse the effects of congenital and maternal malaria.

Dr. Sarah Du, Dr. Andrew Oleinikov.
Dr. Sarah Du and Dr. Andrew Oleinikov.

Gisele Galoustian

Du and Oleinikov’s malaria-infected Placenta-On-a-Chip will test vascular cell wellbeing and nutrient circulation between mother and fetus to see how it responds to various drug treatments. By using embedded microsensors, the chip will be able to simulate actual blood flow in vitro, and create a lifelike microenvironment that mimics infected red blood cells as they adhere to the placenta. Oleinikov, who has studied infectious diseases since 2004, believes that using microfluidics to study cellular and pathological events in pregnant women and fetuses will “advance the understanding of human diseases down to the single cell level.”

Malaria: Infected red blood cell (right), uninfected blood cell (left)
Malaria: Uninfected blood cell (left), infected red blood cell (right)

Gisele Galoustian

Emerging technologies like OOCs and the collaboration between bioengineering and microbiology give us reason to be optimistic about an eventual path toward malaria eradication. The United Nations and the Gates Foundation believes that if leaders continue to invest in their commitment to eliminate the disease, we could see large-scale eradication by 2040.

Beyond malaria studies, the Placenta-On-Chip also fulfils a crucial need when it comes to pregnancy studies.

“There are a number of challenges in studying the biology of the human placenta in its natural form or in situ because of ethical reasons as well as accessibility,” Du told me. Du and Oleinikov explained that once their Placenta-On-Chip completes its two-year study, the chip could be used to study a variety of issues facing women and fetuses without having to test on human subjects or animals.

“Because it’s not possible to do many things in vivo this would be a nice model to explore many issues which exist in vivo. And see if we can find treatment for many other disorders with no fetal interaction,” Oleinikov told me.

The placenta and by proxy, fetal growth can also be affected by myriad pathologies. Placental abruption (which affects 1 in 100 pregnancies), sexually transmitted diseases, the ZIKA virus, rubella, chicken pox, and common bacterial diseases can all cause placental abnormalities during pregnancy. With placenta-on-chip technology, researchers can have a deeper understanding of the inner workings of many fetal disorders that millions of families face each year.

Until then, the closest we civilians can get to these bioengineering breakthroughs is by viewing them at the MoMa. The Museum of Modern Art of New York City added an Organ-On-Chip to its permanent collection in 2015.

dear-future-supported-r3

 

Star Wars ‘Force Friday II’ kicks off ‘Last Jedi’ marketing push

Image result for Star Wars 'Force Friday II' kicks off 'Last Jedi' marketing push

Disney is kicking off the marketing blitz for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” this week with the second edition of “Force Friday,” which marks the global release of the film franchise’s newest toys and memorabilia.

Dubbed “Force Friday II,” this year’s event features a massive augmented reality (AR) “treasure hunt” that will allow fans to use the Star Wars app to search for new and old characters at more than 20,000 store locations around the world. Several top retailers and toy companies, including Walmart, Toys “R” Us and Target, are set to participate in the event, which runs through Sept. 3.

“Star Wars has always championed new technology, and we are excited that augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy in a statement about the promotion.

 

The first “Force Friday” event in 2015 was a major boon to Disney and licensing partners like Hasbro and Lego ahead of the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which kicked off a new trilogy of films for the venerable franchise. “Star Wars” toy sales generated more than $700 million in U.S. sales in 2015 alone, according to NPD Group.

The projected total global sales haul for “Force Awakens” merchandise was expected to approach $5 billion, according to various estimates. The film itself earned more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office.

FOX Business breaks down how some of the top retailers are approaching Force Friday II. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hits theaters on Dec. 15.

Walmart

The Arkansas-based retail giant is planning exclusive #BeJediReady “Force Friday II” events at midnight in 10 cities, including Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Fans will be able to train with lightsabers, play Star Wars-themed games and try out new toys exclusive to Walmart, the company said in a press release. More than 4,000 locations are participating in the AR treasure hunt.

Exclusive product offerings include a “smart” version of the iconic R2-D2 droid for $75.

Target

Target is opening more than 500 store locations nationwide at midnight to kick off Force Friday II. The company says it will unveil “hundreds of new toys, collectibles, apparel, books and more” and have interactive activities for both children and adults. The retail chain’s Star Wars promotions are highlighting Rey, the new trilogy’s heroine, played by actress Daisy Ridley.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Target will exclusively sell the First Order Stormtrooper Executioner toy for $19.99.

Toys “R” Us

Toys “R” Us is pulling out all the stops for “Force Friday II,” opening all of its U.S.-based store locations at midnight, as well as select stores around the globe. The toy retailer is participating in the “Find The Force” treasure hunt, with five “triggers” that unlock special Star Wars content in every store, according to a press release.

The chain also has several exclusive product offerings, including a battery-powered, kid-sized version of Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder for $499.99.

Best Buy

Aside from participating in the “Find the Force” treasure hunt, the electronics retailer is offering Star Wars product demonstrations at select stores and selling franchise movies, video games, toys and other merchandise. For example, a complete set of the first six Star Wars films on Blu-Ray is on sale for $69.99.

This little gadget turns any headphones into wireless headphones

Apple just reported its financial results for the holiday quarter this past week, and it confirmed that it sold more iPhones during that three-month period than it has ever sold before. It goes without saying that the company’s tremendous feat is thanks in large part to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple’s latest iPhones are awesome, but all those new iPhone 7 handsets mean there are millions of wired headphones out there that are going unused. Fix that problem and use your old wired headphones with your new iPhone 7 (while charging at the same time!) with the Mpow Bluetooth Receiver Adapter, which is on sale right now on Amazon.

  • ADVANCED CSR 4.0 CHIP: Get high quality audio sound than the Bluetooth 3.0 version, both in playing music and answering calls.
  • EXTRA-LONG PLAY TIME: Built-in battery provides up to 10 hours’ play and talk time, 120 hours’ standby time, only takes 1.5 hours to fully charge it.
  • TWO-LINK: Can connect two bluetooth devices at the same time. Bluetooth range reaches up to 30 feet in open space without obstacles.
  • WIDE COMPATIBILITY: Compatible with most Bluetooth enabled devices like smartphone, MP3, tablet, etc, ideal for home or vehicle audio systems.
  • EASY CONTROL: You can answer phone calls or control music on the receiver. Change volume, play/pause/skip music, answer calls, redial the last called number with ease.( NOTE: This receiver doesn’t turn on automatically,Please long press the “Multifunction Button”button about 3 seconds,when it turned on the blue light will flash,then connect it with your Bluetooth devices.)

Apple suffers ‘major iPhone X leak’

Apple products

Details of new iPhones and other forthcoming Apple devices have been revealed via an apparent leak.

Two news sites were given access to an as-yet-unreleased version of the iOS operating system.

The code refers to an iPhone X in addition to two new iPhone 8 handsets. It also details facial recognition tech that acts both as an ID system and maps users’ expressions onto emojis.

One tech writer said it was the biggest leak of its kind to hit the firm.

Apple is holding a launch event at its new headquarters on Tuesday.

The California-based company takes great efforts to keep its technologies secret until its showcase events, and chief executive Tim Cook spoke in 2012 of the need to “double down” on concealment measures.

Some details about the new devices had, however, already been revealed in August, when Apple published some test code for its HomePod speakers.

But while that was thought to have been a mistake, it has been claimed that the latest leak was an intentional act of sabotage.

“As best I’ve been able to ascertain, these builds were available to download by anyone, but they were obscured by long, unguessable URLs [web addresses],” wrote John Gruber, a blogger known for his coverage of Apple.

“Someone within Apple leaked the list of URLs to 9to5Mac and MacRumors. I’m nearly certain this wasn’t a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee.”

Neither Mr Gruber nor the two Apple-related news sites have disclosed their sources.

However, the BBC has independently confirmed that an anonymous source provided the publications with links to iOS 11’s golden master (GM) code that downloaded the software from Apple’s own computer servers.

GM is a term commonly used by software firms to indicate that they believe a version of a product is ready for release.

“More surprises were spoiled by this leak than any leak in Apple history,” Mr Gruber added.

Apple could not be reached for comment.

Several developers are still scouring the leak for new features, but discoveries so far include:

  • a reference to iPhone X, which acts as fresh evidence that Apple intends to unveil a high-end model alongside more modest updates to its handset line
  • images of a new Apple Watch and AirPod headphones
  • a set-up process for Face ID – an alternative to the Touch ID system fingerprint system – that says it can be used to unlock handsets and make online purchases from Apple, among other uses
  • the introduction of Animoji – animated emoji characters that mirror a user’s captured facial expressions

It marks the second time in three months that the company seems to have been deliberately caught out by a staff member.

In June, an hour-long recording of an internal meeting – ironically about stopping leakers – was passed onto the Outline news site.

It revealed that Apple had hired ex-workers from the US National Security Agency (NSA), FBI and Secret Service to help catch tattletales.

“I have faith deep in my soul that if we hire smart people they’re gonna think about this, they’re gonna understand this, and ultimately they’re gonna do the right thing, and that’s to keep their mouth shut,” one senior Apple executive was heard to say.

One company watcher said that the scale of the leak meant Tuesday’s launch had lost some of its power to surprise.

“There will be an unbelievable effort within Apple to determine how this happened and I don’t envy the person that did it because there will be no forgiveness for it,” commented Ben Wood from the tech consultancy CCS Insight.

But he added that it was unlikely to affect sales or interest in the new devices.

“For other companies this might have huge impact on the effectiveness of their grand official launches, but for Apple there is such insatiable demand for even the smallest details and such an obsessive fan-following of its products that even a very detailed leak will do little to dampen the enthusiasm of bloggers and others to report its news,” he said.