Amazon explains why Alexa recorded a couple’s conversation and sent it to somebody else


One Amazon Alexa mystery has been solved, although it poses some new questions about the company’s Echo devices.

The question for much of Thursday was why a couple’s Echo recorded one of their conversations and sent it to someone in their address book without their knowledge.

Eventually an Amazon spokesman said the Echo had misunderstood what it was hearing in a surprising sequence:

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Vancouver transit silences Visa’s Morgan Freeman campaign


Allegations of inappropriate behavior are already costing Morgan Freeman at least one business relationship. TransLink, the Vancouver transit system, said Thursday that it is pausing its collaboration with the actor, just one day after announcing that Freeman will voice rider announcements this summer.

Freeman’s TransLink announcements are part of an ad campaign with Visa Canada for its tap-to-pay offering.

“In light of information we’ve learned this morning of allegations regarding actor Morgan Freeman, TransLink has decided to pause his voice announcements as part of a Visa ad campaign on our transit system,” TransLink said in a statement, adding that it will discuss the matter further with Visa.

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Jack Morton West Coast Creates Opportunity for First Generation Students

Born to two immigrants from El Salvador and Turkey, when you’re a first generation child like myself, you live in two worlds. The outside world is American – you speak English, you talk about American culture – you assimilate. But then you have your inside world where your parents don’t speak English, you’re the translator, you’re talking about the old country and your parents tell you what you should aspire to be because  you are the valued investment that your family doves “the American dream”.

Most recently Jack Morton did a cross-cultural diversity and inclusion event with the San Francisco Unified School Districts Chinese Education Center (CEC). With our diversity and inclusion team, our goal was to create an event that would require our office to step out of our comfort zone and into a different cultural mindset, one of an immigrant.  It truly was a social experiment since no one in the office had done an event like this before, and honestly, I was afraid what type of reaction it might spur. Luckily I enlisted the help of my Hong Kong colleague Cara Au who helped fill in some cultural gaps for me to bring this vision to life.

The Chinese Education Center has a special purpose: assimilate all new comer Chinese students into American culture and studies so that they can succeed in main stream schools. The principal Victor Tam said, “These students are uprooted from all that they know … As a consequence, many of the older students struggle, neither wanting nor feeling like they need a sense of belonging to San Francisco.   While our school provides an environment wherein the students can connect with and relate with their peers, even then, the relationships are fragile.”

When planning the Chinese Education Center event, I learned from my colleague Cara and Jane Ou, a teacher at the CEC, that in China, creative careers like advertising/marketing are mostly unheard of. Most jobs that you’re “expected to study” are medicine, engineering and business. Another interesting point was that in China, when you’re a student, you’re often expected to work alone. You’re told what to do and you do it.

Here in America, most school environments are centered on creativity and collaboration. However, for the CEC students, the idea of creative and collaboration is new, and can often times be a hard adjustment.  Jane stated,” the expectations in those (Chinese) schools tend to be teacher centered where one teacher lectures over forty students in rows. Therefore, our students find collaborative group work and project-based learning a challenging experience.”

Taking that experience to heart – the #jackwestside diversity and inclusion team had the approach to do an information “exchange” and teach the CEC about marketing and experiential work, and in return the CEC students would teach Jack Morton about Chinese Characters and make Chinese scrolls with us. Our hope was to illustrate to the students that collaboration and creativity is actually a good thing.

I realized quickly that having this diverse perspective in the office opens up different type of D&I dialogue –  not just speaking about race but really seeing how different communities react to the industry. On the day of our event, there was a child whose first day in an American school was coming to the Jack office. They were shown work we did in their own country alongside work in their new country. Knowing that our agency was able to impact a student, and make it known that they too, can do this – is the most impactful live experience our agency could create. Who knows, maybe we have a future Account Director in that classroom.

Not only are the CEC student’s first generation, most often the students will come from low-income communities where career options are slim. Most often, unless agencies go outside of the recruiting norm, underrepresented communities may never know that an advertising or creative career is an option for them. When asked about the importance of external partnerships, Victor Tam and Jane Ou from the CEC stated, “This experience was REAL. When the community connects with our students, it broadens their perspectives on where they can reach and how far they can go.  The experience opens up their vision of something more that they might be able to do in the future.  For our students who come from working class, low-income families, this opportunity is very significant.”

This event was so meaningful to me I was able to do this in partnership with my colleagues, locally and globally, we created an extraordinary event that was truly moving. As we continue to have diversity and inclusion as a pillar supporting our Jack Morton values, I encourage everyone to explore communities like the CEC and try to make an impact. Who knows, you could be the reason why in 10 years someone says “I am in advertising because someone took the time to show me that this career was an option.”

To learn more about our event and learn more about our D&I initiatives, feel free to reach out to me: Michele_Karakas@jackmorton.com

The post Jack Morton West Coast Creates Opportunity for First Generation Students appeared first on Jack Morton.

Arguably Dead for Years, We Officially Say Goodbye to StumbleUpon

Nostalgia is unmistakably powerful. Just ask anyone who loved StumbleUpon. We did that a few times this morning: “Remember StumbleUpon?” Everyone’s face lit up a little. We remembered. And we stumbled again–perhaps for the last time. After 16 years, the site will be shutting down at the end of June.

StumbleUpon was once one of the most powerful websites online–for marketers and web surfers alike. And it was truly from a time when the surfing analogy made sense. After you pressed the Stumble button, you really would be taken for a ride. Press it again, and the next wave of content discovery would wash over you.

According to co-founder and current majority owner Garrett Camp, StumbleUpon is responsible for 60 billion such rides by 40 million users. What’s even more staggering is just how big its share of social referral traffic once was. Just look at the data put out by Statcounter.

The humble StumbleUpon site with its browser toolbars and somewhat clunky web interface, neither of which ever really caught on with Gen Z, was widely thought to be the leader in referral traffic online just seven years ago, consistently referring more traffic than every non-Facebook social site combined. But follow the trend further, and you get this:

With the rise of Pinterest came the slow death of StumbleUpon. Users left for a variety of reasons. Reddit and Tumblr offered better community and lower tolerance for old or duplicate content. Pinterest made it easier to save inspiring images and recipes, categorize them, and come back later. Twitter slowly found its place as the go-to site for answering the question: “What’s Happening?” After years of others differentiating themselves, StumbleUpon was lost in “no man’s land.” Its sole differentiation was the one-click journey, and users found it addictive in all the wrong ways, often complaining of lost sleep once they started their journeys.

Unlike others, StumbleUpon’s design meant that you didn’t spend much time on its own site–or any one site for that matter. You rode a wave into a web page and eventually rode a wave out. The site monetized brilliantly, allowing advertisers to buy paid stumbles that looked almost exactly like other stumbles. If your content was a fit, it could be a hit. However, due to the allure of the Stumble button, users often failed to visit a second page on your site. And that meant that advertisers saw high bounce rates, and, due to a common misunderstanding in how session duration is calculated, returns as measured by session duration looked meager.

Nowadays, Facebook reigns supreme in the traffic referral charts and for ad-buying on social as well. Twitter is a clear runner-up for most brands. While LinkedIn may not refer tons of traffic, many brands understand the premium they receive there. Meanwhile, it’s still hard to figure out how to run a successful ad on many sites that directly competed with StumbleUpon; Reddit and Tumblr are minefields for advertisers, and Pinterest is only a great fit in select verticals.

Garrett Camp would like the death of StumbleUpon to invigorate his new project: Mix.com. We bet it will at least make more of a splash than Ello and Vero. And maybe, just maybe, it will offer a clear differentiation to users and a clear value to brands.

Regardless, RIP, StumbleUpon. We’ll miss your glory days.

Twitter rolls out political ad rules ahead of midterm elections


Twitter rolled out stricter rules for political advertising in a bid to increase transparency and curb manipulation on the service ahead of U.S. midterm elections.

The company will require advertisers running political campaign ads for federal elections to identify themselves and certify they are located in the U.S., the company said Thursday in a blog post. Candidates and committees must provide their Federal Election Commission identification and non-FEC registered organizations will have to submit a notarized form. Twitter said it won’t let foreign nationals target political ads to U.S. residents.

The rules are part of Twitter’s efforts to clean up the social-media platform after revelations of Russian influence during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The San Francisco-based company has banned Russian state media accounts from buying ads and is creating a “transparency center” beginning soon to show how much political campaigns spend on advertising, the identity of the organization funding the campaign and what demographics the ads targeted.

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Watch the newest ads on TV from PetSmart, Cerveza Sol, Spotify and more


Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from more than eight million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.

A few highlights: Cerveza Sol positions itself as “a brilliant Mexican lager inspired by the sun” in a high-energy spot that comes off like a music video. If you’re a cat owner, PetSmart has a message for you (spoiler: cat stuff is on sale this holiday weekend). And a high-speed car chase in a Netflix ad culminates in a moment of unexpected bonding over a Miley Cyrus song (Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz has the backstory: “Spotify targets free users with scares and laughs in biggest global campaign to date”).

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