Each week our cross-channel marketing roundup recaps the biggest stories in mobile and beyond. This edition includes Snap's new Accelerate program for mobile startups, Google acquiring Relay Media's AMP converter, and why you might consider chatbots as an alternative to online forms.

Mobile News:

Flipboard Introduces Label for Mobile-Friendly Content (FastCompany): The popular content site Flipboard is introducing new tools to help publishers create faster-loading pages. Additionally the platform is introducing their RED Bolt icon (in which RED stands for Reader Enhanced Display) to denote which articles meet their mobile-friendly guidelines. However, in addition to speed, RED Bolt articles will also need to meet a certain quality standard. As Flipboard CEO Mike McCue explained to FastCompany, the new mark will signify that the link “is going to load quickly, it’s going ti be really respectful of reader experience when it comes to advertising, and it’s going to be optimized for a mobile experience.”

Snap Targets Mobile Startups with New Program (Marketing Land): Snapchat is launching a new program aimed at helping mobile startups reach new customers via Snap's advertising power. Dubbed Snap Accelerate, participants will not only be freed from Snap's normal spending requirements but will also entitle them to early access for new ad products and even provide them with ad credits. The new program will have three different levels that businesses can apply for: Kickstart, Sprint, and Scale. Those levels include benefits ranging from $20,000 to $100,000 and give startups free branded filters that will run near their headquarters for three to 12 months. Interested companies can apply for Snap Accerlate on Snapchat's developers site.

Context Cards Come to Snapchat (VentureBeat): This week Snapchat debuted a new feature that will allow users to easily access additional relevant information about Snaps they receive. For example, if a user receives an image geotagged at a restaurant, the user can swipe up to view a Context Card with the store's hours, reviews, and even hail a car using Uber or Lyft. Some Context Cards will also have links to Stories where users can browse other images shared from a certain location. Context Cards are now live in the iOS and Android versions of the Snapchat app across the U.S. and a handful of other countries.

Shopping Apps Increase in Time Spent (TechCrunch): According to a new study, the average consumer in the U.S. spends approximately 50 minutes a month using a shopping app on their smartphone. This adds up to about 10 hours per year. While this year has seen sessions for such shopping apps increase across the board, digital-first brands like Amazon are outpacing their brick and mortar competitors. In fact digital-first shopping apps gained 60% in the first half of this year compared to 50% of traditional retailers. As a result, apps from digital brands now average 19 sessions per month versus 12 sessions per month for other retailer-branded apps.

Google Acquires Relay Media and Their AMP Converter (ZDNet): News that Google had acquired Relay Media was quietly posted on the latter company's website this week, signaling Google's intent to give their Accelerated Mobile Pages format an even bigger push. Relay is the creator of a converter that turns webpages into the AMP HTML. In a statement, Relay Media wrote, "We're excited to announce that Google has acquired Relay Media's AMP Converter technology. Service for current customers will continue uninterrupted as we transition the Relay Media AMP Converter to Google's infrastructure. We're pausing new publisher onboarding as we focus on the integration effort."

ARKit-Powered Apps Have Been Downloaded More Than Three Million Times (TechCrunch): One of the biggest features to come with the recent release of Apple's iOS 11 was the augmented reality capabilities brought forth by ARKit. It seems that iOS users are interested in these new features, as apps that utilize ARKit have now been downloaded more than three million times. Of those apps, 35% were games followed by 19% that were utilities and 11% entertainment. In terms of revenue, games are dominating so far, accounting for 62% of ARKit-only revenue. Additionally many of the top AR apps are games, although Ikea Place currently ranks fourth behind games such as AR Dragon.

Opinions and Advice:

Considering Chatbots Instead of Forms (Marketing Land): If you've been paying attention, you'll surely know about the buzz surrounding chatbots. From customer service to online ordering, brands are finding a number of uses for these artificial intelligent beings. Now Andrea Lehr has another suggestion for employing chatbots: using them to replace forms on your website.

Campaign of the Week:

NFL Teams Add AR Fan Masks Thanks to Bud Light (Mobile Marketer): After deploying one of the first branded Snapchat 3D World Lenses in couple of weeks ago, it seems that Bud Light is enjoying playing in the AR sandbox. This week three NFL teams — the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, and Philidelphia Eagles — added an augmented reality facemask feature to their respective apps, each bearing Bud Light branding. Those customizable masks are very similar to those made famous by the aforementioned Snapchat and others, although these were developed by YinzCam. These Bud Light-powered fan masks are now available in the Android and iOS versions of the Eagles app, the Texans app, and the Broncos 365 app.

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