Each week, we round up the latest headlines on trends and technologies shaping the future of advertising and communications. It’s part inspiration, part education and all about helping our team and our clients grow.

Here’s what we’re talking about right now:

Facebook augmented reality ads are coming

Facebook announced plans for AR ad units last summer and has since been testing with brands like Michael Kors, Pottery Barn and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. The units “might just be the next significant innovation in digital advertising.” Why? Jaw-dropping engagement and conversion rates. Example: Bobbi Brown, which doesn’t run print or TV, saw alpha results like 3x CTRs and 2x website purchases versus control. Still not convinced? How about this: Users spent an average of 61 seconds engaging with the ads. 👀

Keep your eyes peeled: A larger beta is expected to hit global mobile newsfeeds this spring, at which time brands will be able to create campaigns via Ads Manager without the Facebook creative team’s assistance.

New Orleans tourism’s IGTV travel show

I’ll admit, I haven’t spent as much time with IGTV as I should, but this new series from the New Orleans CVB on Instagram’s video platform caught my attention for all the right reasons. It’s long-form storytelling. It goes all-in on a niche audience. It intersperses a local’s view of the city with practical tips about featured destinations for first-time visitors. And it was shot exclusively for IGTV. That means everything from the camera orientation to the tone and style were concepted and executed specifically for social media success. 🙌🏼

Delicious news in the world of voice search

Last up this week, two examples of smart brand activations in voice search. 🗣

WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) has rolled out an Alexa skill and a Google Home action that integrate with its proprietary food- and weight-tracking app, allowing users to ask their smart speakers questions like, “What are some dinner options with the points I have left today?” It’s the perfect example of starting with a user need – not just the new technology – and delivering real value in a useful, usable solution.

At the opposite end of the weight-watching spectrum: Nutella is trying out voice commerce via the Send Me a Sample app (available via both Amazon and Google voice assistants). The reason I love this one (besides the free Nutella delivered to my door – which, yes, I’ve already requested):  Ferrero is taking the long view on what many are predicting to be explosive growth in voice commerce by 2022, starting with a small test to gauge interest now and beginning to build its understanding of user behavior to make informed, strategic decisions later.

Our favorite podcasts

Last week, the LGA team got talking about our votes for can’t-miss podcasts. It’s a mix of work and play, but regardless of the subject matter, our favorites all have one thing in common: they’ve made us fiercely passionate, loyal listeners.

Curious what’s got our ear(s)? Here’s a partial list:

  1. Couples Therapy for comedy sets from duos
  2. Criminal for true crime (we could’ve done a whole list on just this genre)
  3. Every Little Thing for learning without a lot of commitment
  4. Fearless – The Art of Creative Leadership both for its content (think leading disrupters) and its format (fun-size, full-size and three key takeaways for each episode)
  5. Hidden Brain for an entertaining and educational look at how our brains work
  6. How I Built This for the origin stories of many of today’s biggest brands
  7. Radiolab for its ability to make any topic (think wrestling or DNA) interesting
  8. Savor for a tasty take on the history and science of foods from hot sauce to king cake
  9. Skimm This for a bite-sized summary of the day’s news on the drive home
  10. The Daily for an easy-to-understand deep dive on a single headline

That’s it for this week. Have thoughts or a favorite podcast of your own you want to share? Let’s talk on Twitter.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels