Facebook is rolling out peer-to-peer PayPal payments for Facebook Messenger

Why it matters to you

PayPal’s new peer-to-peer payments feature makes it easier than ever to pay your friends through Messenger.

Facebook and PayPal are partnering to make it easier for you to pay your rent. On Friday, October 20, the two tech titans announced PayPal for Messenger, a new feature that lets Messenger chatters select PayPal as a peer-to-peer funding source.

Starting October 20 in the U.S., Messenger users on iOS and Android will gain the option of sending and requesting money in Messenger. It’s easy: From the composition screen in a group message or one-on-one conversation, tapping Messenger’s blue plus-shaped icon pulls up the Payments button. From there, you’ll see a prominent PayPal button that, when tapped, switches your default funding source to your PayPal balance.

It’s a boon for the more than 450 million people who use Facebook’s local buy-and-sell groups, PayPal COO Bill Ready told TechCrunch.

“[This] is part of a broader movement where we’re meeting the user in whatever context they’re in,” he said.

Facebook

Facebook and PayPal teamed up last year for in-app peer-to-peer payments, but the integration wasn’t as deep. Messenger users could link their PayPal accounts to pay for goods and to make purchases directly from Messenger bots, but they couldn’t pay each other.

Still, over 2.5 million users linked their PayPal account with Messenger, PayPal said.

In addition to Friday’s expanded payments integration, PayPal announced new Messenger bot capabilities. Starting October 20  in the U.S. on the web (with iOS and Android to follow), PayPal’s bot will support notifications and receipts, and use natural language processing to help parse PayPal customers’ questions.

It’ll handle simpler requests, like password resets and questions about recent transactions, on its own. But for more complicated queries, it’ll hand the conversation off to a live rep.

“The unique thing here is that Messenger has opened up a platform that allows us to not only have a one-to-one communication,” Ready told TechCrunch, “but there’s a platform where we can go resolve things right inside of Messenger.”

This isn’t the first time PayPal has partnered with Facebook in regards to ecommerce. In December, the company processed payments relating to Uber rides ordered through Messenger. Additionally, it has helped PayPal-enabled merchants to sell products from the Shop section within Facebook Pages.

More recently, PayPal added a notifications setting to Messenger, making it easier for PayPal customers to manage transaction receipts in one place. These alerts include info such as order confirmations, shipping addresses, and total payments made.

“These new capabilities deepen our partnership with Facebook,” Ready told Digital Trends. “PayPal’s mobile-optimized experience, when combined with relevant, in-context commerce experiences, will help offer a compelling and frictionless commerce experience.”

Update: Added news that PayPal has introduced peer-to-peer payments in Messenger.

Editor’s Recommendations

Sneaker and streetwear reseller Stadium Goods just launched their first app


Stadium Goods, the online (and brick and mortar) marketplace for highly sought after sneakers and streetwear, is launching its first app.

Live today to coincide with the startup’s two year anniversary, the first iteration of the app is basically just a mobile marketplace.

But Stadium Goods plans to eventually build out this functionality and take advantage of location services and push notifications to get creative with its marketing strategy, the startup explained to TechCrunch. They also plan on giving app customers early access to specific product launches, which is a tactic that’s proven successful with other streetwear retailers.

While the sneaker resale market is crowded with big venture-backed startups like StockX and Goat, Stadium Goods is the only one wasn’t launched around a mobile app. It’s also the only one with a brick and mortar strategy. The startup has two locations in New York, which account for about 10% of the company’s total sales, with the other 90% happening online.

And Stadium Goods explained that out of this 90% of transactions occurring online, the “majority of them” are already happening via mobile. This should translate into a strong adaptation rate as customer migrate from shopping on the mobile web to their native app.

Stadium Goods has raised about $5.6M since launching two years ago. To coincide with their app launch they’re also running a 20% off sale on all purchases today.

You can check out their app on iOS here and on Android here.

YouTube Red greenlights a Tinder-themed romantic comedy series called Swipe Right

YouTube Red just greenlit a scripted comedy series about Tinder, Deadline reports. Swipe Right, written by and starring Carly Craig (Role Models), is about a mother and her two daughters navigating app-based dating in different ways.

Swipe Right is inspired by Craig’s real life, according to Deadline. She plays a woman who, frustrated with still being single on her 35th birthday, decides to go on dates with all of her 252 Tinder matches. Her younger sister is bored of being married and wants to start looking for romantic alternatives, while her recently widowed mother also decides to try online dating.

YouTube Red has greenlit several other scripted series recently, including an e-sports comedy from Dan Harmon and a drama series produced by Dwayne Johnson about insurance agents who travel forward in time to save people’s lives.

About a year ago, The Verge reported that YouTube Red only had around 1.5 million paying subscribers, and has had trouble convincing its users to switch to a paid format from a free one. YouTube is now competing for money and eyeballs with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and it still needs to convince viewers it can produce high-quality content.

Swipe Right is set to premiere on YouTube Red in 2018.

Fossil Q Explorist review

Smartwatches haven’t set the world alight in the way some people were predicting. Although Android got a head start in the battle for our wrists, the Apple Watch accounts for around 50 percent of all smartwatch sales. But thanks to the much-improved Android Wear 2.0 and the injection of some much-needed style after the entry of traditional watchmakers like Fossil into the market, it’s worth looking beyond Apple’s technological timepiece.

We really liked the Fossil Q Founder, but the company has made some subtle improvements with its latest Android Wear release. The Fossil Q Explorist is a smartwatch that deserves a place on your shortlist, and possibly on your wrist. It’s stylish, it runs Android Wear 2.0, and it’s not ridiculously expensive, but there are caveats, and they extend beyond the fact that “explorist” is not a proper word. Let’s take a closer look.

Classic, chunky style

At first glance you could easily mistake the Fossil Q Explorist for a traditional mechanical watch. Crafted from stainless steel, it features a case that’s 46mm across. A notched bezel goes around the outside of the circular AMOLED display, which is mercifully free of the flat-tire effect that plagued older Android Wear watches.

The bezel doesn’t move, but there’s a rotating crown on the right, flanked by two buttons. The case is 12.5mm thick and you can attach standard 22mm straps. Our smoke steel review unit came with a standard steel link strap, which fit very nicely after some fiddly adjustment. You can take it to a watch specialist to remove links from the strap so it fits you, or you can read our guide to learn how to do it yourself.

This is a good-looking smartwatch with an understated, masculine style that means it pairs just as well with a suit as it does with t-shirt and jeans. The build quality is excellent and you’ll find yourself wanting to show it off, though it may be too chunky for smaller wrists.

The Fossil Q Explorist is a smartwatch that deserves a place on your shortlist, and possibly on your wrist.

The Fossil Q Explorist is also heavy. After removing a couple of links to get the fit right, ours weighed in at 166 grams (5.85oz). Just to put that in perspective, our iPhone 8 only weighs 148g (5.22oz). There were times during the work day, amid frenzied typing, when it felt slightly uncomfortable. You certainly aren’t going to forget you’re wearing it.

We found the touchscreen display bright and easily legible in most environments. It’s sharp at 454 x 454 pixels, and perfectly round — there’s no cut-out section at the bottom. It’s responsive, too, though typing on a display this size is never a great experience.

The rotating crown is very handy for scrolling through notifications, but it feels a little mushy when you press it. The buttons angled above and below it have a satisfying click to them and it’s a shame this is missing from the crown, especially since it’s the one you press the most. However, we did like the fact that you can set the two flanking buttons up as handy shortcuts to trigger whatever you want.

Silky performance most of the time

Inside the Fossil Q Explorist, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor backed by 512MB of RAM. Navigation was generally silky smooth and it’s reasonably fast to load apps and games.. Compared to older smartwatches it’s fast, compared to a flagship phone, or the latest Apple Watch, it feels a little sluggish. The Wear 2100 processor is a little dated now, and we really hope to see a new chipset next year.

Since it runs Android Wear 2.0, you’ll use the Android Wear app for Android or iOS to pair your smartphone. The watch can also download apps directly via the onboard Play Store and there’s 4GB of storage to fill. Connectivity is via Bluetooth 4.1 or Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and notifications are accompanied by a gentle buzz that’s just right. There’s no NFC here, so you can forget about making contactless payments with Android Pay.

fossil q explorist 12

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

As an Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch, the Fossil Q Explorist will automatically track your activity via Google Fit, so you can set daily goals, track steps taken and calories burned, and record workout sessions. It is IP67 rated, so there’s no need to fear rain and you can wear your Fossil Q Explorist in the shower or during a short swim if you really want to.

Fitness fans may bemoan the lack of a heart rate sensor and GPS. Truthfully, the Fossil Q Explorist is far from a full-fledged fitness tracker, but it’s not really trying to be and we think it offers enough for most people.

It’s easy to incorporate the fitness data into your watch face, and there are plenty of fun, futuristic, and traditional options to choose from. You can swipe left or right to switch between watch faces on the Q Explorist or dig into a larger selection via the Android Wear app on your phone. We mostly used the Fossil Classic watch face as it struck a nice balance — showing date and time, with a sweeping second hand, alongside steps, fitness goal progress, and battery life.

You get a couple of games preloaded on the Fossil Q Explorist, but they’re a waste of space. It’s hard to imagine why you would play them – maybe if your smartphone was unavailable. There’s also a flashlight option that lights up the watch face, as well as standard utilities like the alarm, contacts, and stopwatch.

The Play Store isn’t exactly bursting with great options for smartwatches, but we found Bring! quite handy for shopping lists and AccuWeather was better than the default weather app.

You can also use Google Assistant through the Fossil Q Explorist by holding down the crown. It’s handy for quick searches or dictating text messages if you’re paired with an Android smartphone.

Android vs iOS

We tried the Fossil Q Explorist out with an iPhone 8  for a few days, before switching and pairing it with the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact. Unfortunately, there was a big difference between the two.

If you have an iPhone, then you’ll get most notifications on your Fossil Q Explorist, but you won’t be able to act on them. You can’t reply to text messages or handle calls, for example. You have to keep the Android Wear app open in the background, and if not the iPhone will frequently disconnected. But worst of all, the battery life was abysmal.

fossil q explorist 7

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

We had to factory reset the Fossil Q Explorist to unpair it from the iPhone 8 and pair with our Android phone, which meant setting it up completely from scratch (this is something you have to do with all Android Wear watches).

Once we paired the Fossil Q Explorist with the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, it was plain sailing. We could answer calls, respond to messages, and it stayed paired. Battery life was noticeably improved as well.

The Achilles’ heel

As much as we like the Fossil Q Explorist, silly moniker aside, it does harbor a major glaring weakness and that’s battery life. Fossil said the wearable has an “estimated 24-hour battery life.” But then there’s an asterisk before the admission that, “battery life varies based on usage.”

The only way you’re going to get 24-hour battery life from this smartwatch is if you barely use it.

Even with the “Always-on display” turned off, we found that the Fossil Q Explorist needed to be charged up every night at a minimum. Some days, particularly when paired with the iPhone, the Fossil Q Explorist didn’t even make it to bedtime before having to be connected to the circular charger.

Fossil Q Explorist Compared To

We were surprised to find an uptick in battery life when we switched to an Android phone. Ostensibly the Fossil Q Explorist was actually doing more, so the fact that battery life was better with the Xperia points to an issue with the iPhone connection.

Incidentally, the circular charger provided is very weakly magnetic, so it slips off far too easily. Charging time seems to average around three hours, so you’ll want to get into the habit of setting it to charge while you sleep.

Price, availability, and warranty

You can get yourself a Fossil Q Explorist, with stainless steel strap, for $275. If you go for a leather strap instead then $20 drops off the price. It’s available from Fossil’s website.

Fossil offers a limited two-year warranty that covers defects in material or workmanship. It doesn’t cover your strap, any accidental damage, or water damage.

Our Take

The Fossil Q Explorist is a reasonably priced, stylish, Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch, that’s easy to recommend if you plan on using it with an Android smartphone — iPhone users should move along.

Is there a better alternative?

If you use an iPhone, then it’s going to be hard to look past the Apple Watch, particularly since it starts at $330. If you use a Samsung Galaxy phone, then the Gear S3 might be your best bet at around $350. Anyone who wants to stick with Android Wear should check out the Huawei Watch 2 at $300.

Those are the top competitors in terms of tech, but fashion fans may be prepared to pay a bit more for something like the Movado Connect, which starts from $595, the Emporio Armani Connected, from $345, or the $350 Michael Kors Access Grayson  and Sofie.

Even with the weaknesses, however, we think the Fossil Q Explorist compares favorably with the rest of the field. It is one of the best, if not the best option, for men seeking value without compromising on style.

How long will it last?

The Fossil Q Explorist is going to continue to look good for years to come, but the battery will degrade over time and software updates are liable to tail off after two years. They may look like traditional watches sometimes, but smartwatches are very much part of the tech world and sadly that means limited longevity.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you want an attractive smartwatch to use with an Android phone that will blend in at work or play at an affordable price, we don’t think you’ll find a better option than the Fossil Q Explorist. The lack of NFC, GPS, and heart rate sensor is reflected in the price. If you’re okay with a heavy watch and a daily charging routine, it’s worth buying.

Editor’s Recommendations

Jaybird’s Run totally wireless earbuds are wire-free wonders for everyone


The market for totally wireless earbuds is really maturing fast, with many entries from both new and established companies. Jaybird recently joined the crowd, with its own Run earbuds. The Logitech-owned company has long been a really solid competitor when it comes to Bluetooth headphones, and its Freedom and X-line, and in fact made some of the very first wireless sport earbuds that proved you could also get good sound with Bluetooth.

Now, the Run proves that Jaybird can play well in the totally wire-free market, too. It’s the company’s first attempt at the category popularized by Apple’s AirPods, but it’s a strong first effort: The Run come with sound that’s on par with Jaybird’s other headsets, and they also benefit from the company’s ample experience helping to provide the right fit for a variety of ear shapes and sizes.

Jaybird also gave the Run four hours of battery life under normal conditions, along with and additional 8 hours of charge built into the battery case they ship with. The header’s also sweat-proof and water-resistant for workouts in all conditions, and you can alter the sound with the companion Jaybird app for mobile devices, or use the ‘Find My Buds’ feature to locate them if you happen to misplace one or both (this comes in very handy, I can tell you from personal experience).

The best thing about the Jaybird Run, however, is how quickly you’ll forget you’re wearing them. They’re incredibly comfortable (especially if you spring for the Comply foam tips that are available as an aftermarket add-on), and they produce a pleasing, full sound that’s suited both to music and to spoken work playback including podcasts and audiobooks. And Jaybird also does what the company does best, engineer these for use in sweat-heavy conditions including outdoor runs, which is how I used them for the bulk of my testing.

Jaybird also put button controls on the Run, with each earbuds’s primary surface acting as a pressable physical control. You can use the left bud to activate either Siri or Google Assistant with a single press, and you can also play and pause music or podcasts with a button press of the right. This will also allow you to accept a call, and you can double press to skip to the next track on the right bud.

If there’s one thing I would’ve liked to see Jaybird add, it’s volume control via some means of additional button presses. You can tweak settings for the buttons in the companion app to change a single press on the right to be volume up, and a single post on the left to be volume down, but that means sacrificing the play/pause and Siri/Assistant features, which isn’t ideal.

Otherwise, these are a great offering in the totally wireless earbud category. They’re flexible, produce good sound, are as durable as the rest of Jaybird’s lineup and maintain a good solid connection with your Bluetooth smartphone or other device. And at $179, they’re not all that expensive when compared to other headphones in this segment. Jaybird definitely isn’t first in with this emerging space, but they took the time and made a good product that you’ll almost certainly enjoy using.

One Video: Family Don’t Matter by Young Thug

Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s video: “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug ft. Millie Go Lightly

Lizzie: This week, like every week now, has lasted an entire calendar year, except with way fewer music videos than you might expect in that time frame. Taylor Swift dropped another lyric vid, Charlie Puth did whatever it is Charlie Puth does, and MGMT came back. But then we got this video for Young Thug’s country experiment off his most recent album, Beautiful Thugger Girls, and we remembered that the end of the year is also a good time to tell your loved ones that you love them via a series of elaborate gestures.

Kaitlyn: During this week’s One Video selection process, I think I did an okay job pretending I didn’t have a personal stake in which way the chips fell. “Who cares? Just pick a video, Lizzie!” That was me. But the truth is that Beautiful Thugger Girls is absolutely the best thing that happened to me this entire year — in spite of the fact that I was intimidated by a bunch of wasted frat bros at a live performance of it in June, which was irritating because I’m no longer in college and because this album is about and for women. Boys are very bad at reading the room, if you haven’t heard.

After a long week during which a handful of shitty men were served their just deserts, this music video is appropriate because it represents a just dessert for the women of the web. Thank you, Young Thug, and thank you for this donut and fork.

Who are Young Thug and Millie Go Lightly?

Lizzie: Young Thug is a rapper from Atlanta whose first major label contract with an Atlantic Records imprint gave him a measly advance of just $15,000, while his entire contract was reportedly worth just $30,000, according to BuzzFeed. Since his first mixtape, I Came From Nothing, was released in 2011, Thugger has released 17 mixtapes, and made way more money. Beautiful Thugger Girls is about falling in love.

Kaitlyn: Millie Go Lightly is a 23-year-old British singer who was relatively unknown before she appeared on Beautiful Thugger Girls. She helped write “Family Don’t Matter,” and she was also featured on another track, “She Wanna Party.” After this album came out, I followed her on Instagram and would recommend the experience. She has some good content and she loves Young Thug.

What’s special about “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug ft. Millie Go Lightly:

Lizzie: Well, for one, Young Thug actually showed up to this video shoot, unlike the video for his 2016 song “Wyclef Jean,” in which the director was forced to imagine a world with shadowy Young Thug stand-ins.

And unlike “Wyclef Jean”’s classic “cars and bikinis” theme, “Family Don’t Matter” is set on a farm, where Young Thug apparently owns and cares for a stable of horses. The horses are also a form of transportation for Thug, who takes his beloved on a nighttime carriage ride to a feast laid out on bales of hay.

Kaitlyn: What’s special about “Family Don’t Matter” is that it features a beautiful song that makes me feel amazing inside, but also that it looks like a clip from The Bachelor. Young Thug woos his love interest with a rose, a donut, a candlelit barn, a private music performance, red wine, and hand-holding. He’s wearing a positively ridiculous and gorgeous sweater that former Bachelor, notorious yarn enthusiast, and possible sociopath Nick Viall would likely be jealous of.

Also, the horses in this video have exceptionally expressive eyes if you ask me — a young woman who once took horseback riding lessons for two years but quit because she found most horses to be sort of bland and unfeeling and never felt the mystical horse-girl bond promised to her by The Saddle Club novels or the Australian television program The Saddle Club.

How long everyone should watch “Family Don’t Matter” by Young Thug ft. Millie Go Lightly:

Lizzie: Whole thing! Fudge it.

Kaitlyn: Lizzie is right. And when you’re done with this video, maybe you’ll feel moved to listen to “Me Or Us,” a cozy, croony guitar ballad from Beautiful Thugger Girls that features a sample from the 2005 Bright Eyes song “First Day of My Life.” This advice, of course, is only for women, while men should think about spending their afternoon doing something different and not fun.

Budget-friendly, ZTE Blade X available from Cricket Wireless for $120

Why it matters to you

If you’re looking for a budget smartphone, ZTE has another option for you — the Blade X, which is available on Cricket Wireless.

ZTE has announced yet another budget-friendly phone, this time on Cricket Wireless. The phone is called the ZTE Blade X, and it offers some pretty decent specs for its $119 price-tag.

The company has launched a number of low-cost phones in the past few months, including the ZTE Blade Vantage, which comes on Verizon for only $50, and the ZTE Tempo X, which is also available on Boost Mobile for only $80. The new Blade X seems to be basically a rebranded version of the Blade Force on Boost Mobile, offering more or less the same specs and coming in at a slightly lower price.

The new Blade X seems to sit in the upper end of ZTE’s budget-friendly phones, offering a Qualcomm 425 processor coupled with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage — though that storage can be expanded with a microSD card slot. On the back, you’ll get a 13-megapixel camera, while the selfie cam sits in at 5 megapixels. That’s probably the main difference between this phone and the Blade Force, which only offers an 8-megapixel camera. You’ll also get a headphone jack, and a hefty 3,000mAh battery, which should offer plenty of juice to get you through the day. The display is 5.5 inches, and has a resolution of 1,280 x 720, which obviously isn’t flagship level but should be enough for most people’s needs.

ZTE is shaping up to be a pretty serious contender in the U.S. budget phone market. The company seems to be slowly but surely launching a budget option on each and every carrier, and That’s likely to continue, especially as we head into the holiday season.

“The ZTE Blade X continues our mission to deliver affordable premium devices that deliver an exceptional experience at a price that fits within consumers’ budgets,” said Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE Mobile Devices, in a statement. “We created the Blade X with features for the entertainment-loving consumer in mind. With top display features and superb audio sound, the Blade X comes complete with standout features for its category.”

As mentioned, the phone comes in at $119, and you can get your hands on it yourself by heading to the Cricket Wireless website.

Editor’s Recommendations

The movement to regulate Facebook is attracting powerful new allies

This week, a bipartisan group of US senators took the first steps toward regulating online political advertising in a manner similar to the way the government already regulates these ads in traditional media. Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Mark Warner (VA), joined by Republican Sen. John McCain (AZ), say their Honest Ads Act will protect against foreign interference in elections by requiring platforms like Facebook to make details about ads’ buyers, pricing, and targeting publicly available.

Advocates cheered the move, which they said represented a long-overdue step to apply the same standards of transparency and fairness to online ads that have long been the norm for print, radio, and television. At the same time, the bill’s passage is far from certain: so far, it has just one Republican supporter in Congress, and the tech companies that would be affected have deployed a phalanx of lobbyists.

“It goes a long way,” said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for transparency in political advertising and helped to draft the legislation. “Opacity by design is not an acceptable status quo for the technology giants that shape public knowledge and discourse with limited accountability,” he wrote in a blog post after the bill’s introduction. “We’re excited to see bipartisan support for more transparency and accountability online.”

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The Honest Ads Act would require large platform companies like Facebook and Google to retain copies of the political ads they serve and make them available for public inspection. The companies would also have to publish information about who bought the ad, how much it cost, and what rates they were charged. The act would apply to any platform with more than 50 million monthly users, and anyone who spent more than $500 a year on online ads.

Publicly, tech companies are voicing support for some form of regulation — while stopping short of offering a full-throated endorsement of the Honest Ads bill’s actual provisions. “We stand with lawmakers in their effort to achieve transparency in political advertising,” said Erin Egan, vice president of US public policy for Facebook, in a statement. “We have already announced the steps Facebook will take on our own and we look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution.”

Facebook has already committed to making copies of ads publicly available. It also pledged to make more prominent disclosures about who paid for the ads on the advertisements themselves. It’s part of the company’s nine-point plan to reset Facebook’s relationship with democracy, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out last month after mounting pressure to act.

But while the company isn’t commenting beyond Egan’s statement, it’s likely Facebook would oppose several provisions within the act. For one thing, the company has a long history of opposing regulation of its ads. For another, the requirement to disclose the pricing for every political ad goes beyond what is required for print and broadcast ads. (The the equal-time rule does require radio and television stations to offer equivalent time to political candidates if they ask for it, and at the same price, though those prices are not generally accessible to the public.)

The requirement to post targeting information could meet resistance as well. Until now, politicians have been able to target different groups of voters in stealth, using so-called “dark posts,” which appear only in the News Feed and don’t have permanent links. Forcing candidates to admit they’re targeting different messages at voters — especially inconsistent ones — could have a chilling effect on their use of Facebook’s ad platform.

But the bill’s sponsors say such disclosures are essential to protect against foreign interference in US elections. “Who wouldn’t want to know if the ad that’s appearing next to your story was actually paid for by a foreign power?” Warner said yesterday. “I don’t know what opposition there would be to that kind of disclosure.” (It’s actually illegal for foreigners to buy election ads.)

Now the question is how much momentum the bill can generate. In addition to the Sunlight Foundation, it received endorsements from advocacy groups, including the Campaign Legal Center, Issue One, the Brennan Center of Justice, Common Cause and Public Citizen. And The Washington Post reported that a companion bill was introduced in the House Thursday by Reps. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat, and Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican told the Post he is “very interested” in the Honest Ads Act. “Social media advertising had to be regulated, it’s the wild wild west,” said Graham, a longtime McCain ally. “When it comes to disclosing who pays for online advertisements, he continued, “You’ve got to try to apply the same rules you would to radio and TV.”

For Klobuchar and Warner, that represents a good start. But the real battle is only beginning. And with lobbyists ramping up their involvement, much of the fight over transparency in advertising will play out behind closed doors.

Nike is using its new digital studio to build a community of sneakerheads


A year after acquiring Virgin Mega, Nike is revealing some of the early results of its experiments with augmented reality and community-building.

Virgin Mega was a startup backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group that focused on fan communities and shopping. Ron Faris, who led the startup, told me that Nike acquired Virgin Mega in order to explore those same ideas.

Since then, the team has turned into a “digital studio” called S23NYC. Faris said it still has a “startup culture,” with a small team of 24 startup veterans working out of the old Converse offices on 23rd Street in New York City.

S23NYC has taken over Nike’s SNKRS app, which is supposed to offer content and insider access to the latest sneakers. Faris said he treats SNKRS as “our digital piranha tank.”

“This is like our lab,” he said. “We drop something in the piranha tank and see how fast the piranhas swarm around it.”

For example, after Penny Hardaway took a sharpie to his sneakers to so that they met NBA rules, the SNKRS app launched a stealthy promotion where users could unlock Royal Foamposite shoes by swiping over the screen to color in a digital photo — Nike describes it as “scratch-off cards for the digital age.”

SNKRS has also run geotargeted Stash campaigns, where users can purchase limited edition sneakers from the app — but only after they’ve to traveled to a certain location in their city, whether it’s Washington Square Park in New York or pop-up flower stands in Los Angeles.

SNKRS found em

And the team ran a promotion with Momofuku’s David Chang, where users had to capture an image of Chang’s Fuku East Village menu in the SNKRS AR Camera, which would bring up an 3D model of the Nike SB Dunk High Pro Momofuku and unlock the ability to purchase the sneakers.

Faris said these promotions are linked by a focus on scarcity and urgency, combined with the idea of giving sneakerheads the opportunity to “peacock” their knowledge. In other words, the most in-the-know fans can snag their own sneakers, then get bragging rights by sharing that knowledge with others. For example, Faris said users were posting photos of the Fuku menu on Instagram, and they’d hang out at a Stash location to help others unlock the promotion.

Faris added that one of the goals is to use technology to capture “only the good of lines, which is the tailgate, while avoiding the bad, which is where you feel like you’re at the DMV.” So even when users are directed to a certain geofenced area, there’s no actual line to pick up the physical shoes. That means it’s less of a cutthroat competition, and it doesn’t come with any tedious waiting.

Next up, Nike plans to launch SNKRS in China and Japan later this year (the app is already in the United States and Europe). Faris also said his team is working on an initiative called Stash Squads, where people who live outside a given city can still participate in a Stash promotion by forming teams with locals.