If GPS Could Talk…



Forsman & Bodenfors wants to make sure drivers “drive 25 to keep kids alive,” and they’ve found an ingenious way to do it. Talking GPS are standard features in modern vehicles, but the agency has conceptualized an app that will switch the voice on the GPS to a child’s when within range of a school, daycare, or other area populated by children.

It’s currently available in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, and comes pre-loaded with all schools and daycare centers in the Nordic region.

The agency hopes that this will serve as an audio reminder to drive carefully and watch for children, reducing the number of accidents in school zones and other kid-friendly areas.

What Sparks Our Fire: Using innovation and unconventional problem-solving to draw attention to an often-ignored safety hazard

Raising the Bar


The next step for global connectivity? A smartphone for the developing world. And it’s designed by none other than John Sculley, former Apple executive and Robert Brunner, the designer behind Beats by Dre headphones.

The Obi Worldphone marks a greater push toward accessible technology–Sculley aims to provide developing countries in places like Africa and Southeast Asia with high-powered, affordable smartphones, which he predicts will replace their needs for personal computers.

In addition to its sleek design, the phone is tailored to its target consumers’ preferences. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, texting, taking photos, and banking are popular uses for smartphones, so the Obi Worldphone has features like a 13-megapixel camera and a diverse marketplace of applications.

The phone will retail for $200, a reasonable price to most first-world Americans, but still may be a problem for the standard income in a developing country.

What Sparks Our Fire: A quest for a high-powered but inexpensive smartphone that makes technology more available on a global scale.

Google+ is Going Through a Breakup

google plus

Google+ has been suffering from what many tech blogs and business publications are calling a “slow death”—its initial launch established the site as an attempt to be a fully-integrated social platform, with its multifaceted approach rivaling companies like Facebook, Dropbox, WordPress, and Skype.

However, after failing to gain both traction and users in the social media community, it recently announced that it will be splitting the platform into three different components: Hangouts, Photos, and Streams. Hangouts is a video chatting service that will remain independent of Google+, photos is a storage space for images that will be added to Google Drive, and streams covers the rest of the Google+ experience along with News and Blogger.

While the idea of a streamlined, all-in-one social media platform sounded like a good idea, perhaps it was the ambition of the venture that led to its demise; users considered the Google+ login to YouTube a nuisance, found the interface unaesthetic, and the whole system a cheap Facebook facsimile.

Google has finally compromised, maintaining the best aspects of Google+ like Hangouts and Photos, and has removed the Google+ sign-in on YouTube, much to users’ delight.

The moral of the story: Don’t put all of your digital marketing eggs in one basket, especially if your product is at risk of being disruptive—and not in the good way.

What Sparks Our Fire: Google+ taking the next step forward and making smart decisions in the face of a highly-publicized technological failure.

Ready, Set, Call-To-Action


Since its purchase by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has slowly and precisely begun to build out it’s advertising program. Designed to make the free app profitable, advertisements were introduced to users’ feeds almost two years ago, but were limited to a few core brands. Today, Instagram has announced that it will expand its advertising program, allowing all brands to participate in advertising on users’ feeds.

In addition to this expansion, Instagram is testing new call-to-action buttons on some sponsored content. These will include buttons that say, “Learn More,” “Shop Now,” and “Sign Up.” The addition of CTA buttons allows Instagram to remain hyperlink-free, as it has been since it’s outset. As with past adjustments to their advertising program, Instagram remains dedicated to disrupting the flow of users’ feeds as little as possible.

This expansion of their advertising program provides a new opportunity for all brands to tell a visual story on Instagram and target it to Instagram’s younger demographic. And while some critics will remain skeptical until the program’s roll-out, we see this as an opportunity. Brands will be able to share a deeper connection with consumers based on a creative visual story, and consumers will be able to take action when they enjoy sponsored content.

What Sparks Our Fire: Enhancing offerings to advertisers, without compromising the user experience.

Is it Time to Rethink Mobile Advertising?


With over 300 million downloads, AdBlock Plus has become the most downloaded browser extension ever. But with the shift away from desktop browsing, it was only a matter of time before AdBlock Plus had to come up with mobile options. While there has been an Android-compatible option for some time now (even if it is not featured in the Google Play store), the Cologne-based software company finally announced this week that an iPhone app has been in development and will be released this year. While exact details have not been outlined, this is huge news for the digital marketing world and businesses planning on advertising digitally.

Due to the logistics of mobile browsing, the app will probably come in the form of a mobile browser. This means that AdBlock Plus will not only be drawing away precious advertising revenue from Google (last year comprising 89.5% of their total revenue), but will also compete directly with Google’s own Chrome browser application. The impact of AdBlock Plus’ iPhone app on digital advertising is not limited to Google, however. This expansion into the mobile realm will inevitably effect all businesses that advertise digitally.

AdBlock Plus aims to filter out “intrusive” advertising on behalf of the user, so that means businesses advertising digitally will want to think about whether their advertising comes across as intrusive to consumers. Overlays and popups tend to draw the most ire, and will become more difficult to get in front of a viewer in the age of the AdBlock Plus browser. Instead, we predict that the shift to native and integrative advertising will be accelerated. Creative advertising that adds value to the content that consumers are looking for–instead of distracting away from that content– will be what is noticed.

What Sparks Our Fire: Following technology that could change the mobile advertising landscape.