#WeAreNotWaiting: Diabetics are hacking their health, because traditional systems have failed them


Diabetics have been waiting for years for better technology to manage their condition. Some got tired of waiting and hacked together an open source hardware and software solution. This is their story.

By Jo Best   May 28, 2017

This is a story about what happens when people decide technology’s potential to help them is too great to leave in the hands of hardware companies. It’s about open source and commercial software, about the little guy and the regulator, about technology and your body.

For years, type 1 diabetics have been told that technology was the answer to their problems, that a solution could be found, that the daily grind of managing their condition could be fixed by the right mix of hardware and software. One day. One day soon. Just not yet.

“Diabetes sucks deeply, the technology we are given to manage it sucks deeply, and we are pretty much tired of waiting. We’ve been told a ‘cure’ (or at least, a mostly foolproof way to manage it) is just 5 years out. I’ve been told this, personally, every year for the last 25,” Scott Hanselman, a type 1 diabetic and technologist, wrote on his blog in June 2016.

But, after years of waiting for technology to do what people promised it would, something is starting to change.

“I’m actually feeling like we are on the edge of something big. I believe that now we are inside a five year window of time where we WILL make Type 1 Diabetes MUCH, MUCH easier to deal with,” Hanselman wrote.

So what’s changed? Diabetic technologists have stopped waiting for other people to make the tech they need, and started making it themselves.

The #WeAreNotWaiting movement

Artificial pancreas devices might hit the market in 2018. Maybe. But what if you’re one of the type 1 diabetics who really needs the technology now? Do you hold on, injecting yourself with insulin up to six times a day, or do you use the IT skills you already have to make a homemade version?

For the diabetics that are part of the “We Are Not Waiting” movement, there was no doubt in their minds that hacking together their own hardware and software to manage the chronic condition was the way forward.

The movement was born from frustration, particularly among the parents of young children with type 1 diabetes, at the pace at which technology that could potentially revolutionise their lives was being developed.

Diabetes may be a relatively common and well-known condition, but managing it on a day-to-day basis is anything but easy.

In type I diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin—the chemical needed to keep blood sugar in the right range for health—or doesn’t respond to the insulin it does make. For diabetics, the condition means regularly monitoring their own blood sugar levels through a fingerstick test and then adjusting their insulin level, using frequent injections of the chemical, themselves.

For adults, it’s a tricky and time-consuming process. For children, it’s a whole other matter: their parents may have to wake them in the night—the time when their glucose level will typically fall—to monitor their glucose level and administer insulin accordingly, for example. It’s a routine that takes a toll on both the children and their parents.

One way type 1 diabetics have to control their blood sugar levels is through an insulin pump. Rather than having diabetics manually inject insulin, an insulin pump can deliver the hormone directly into the wearer’s body. It can also allow a more fine-grained approach to insulin delivery by varying the amount of the hormone and intervals between doses. That helps keep blood sugar more tightly within the desired range, but it can also mean pump users have to test their blood sugar more frequently that before.

A solution to that problem comes in the form of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), which takes a reading of the user’s blood sugar levels every five minutes, giving them a near real-time view of how their glucose levels are changing, helping them refine how they use their pump.

However, with both the monitor and pump, users can find themselves adrift in information overload—too much data for them to do anything useful with it.

“The problem with the pump is it gives you so much control, it can become a bit too much. You get a pump and people say ‘Wow, you’re cured’, but my condition has just become ten times more complicated. If I invest time into it and learn how to use it and adapt it to customise it for myself, yes, it can help,” said Tim Omer, a type 1 diabetic, IT consultant, and health hacker. “I still have to manage it and work it.”

“A lot of people with a CGM get overwhelmed, and they end up getting overwhelmed, because they feel like there’s too much pressure on them. As a diabetic, you always feel like you’re being told off all the time—by healthcare, by your medical devices shouting at you. It’s great to have more information, but if you’re just getting yelled at all the time, it’s frustrating,” he added.

Another downside is that the kit is expensive to buy and run—and like many phones, some battery-powered components will come to the end of their life when their battery completes a certain number of charging cycles, despite the rest of the hardware remaining fully-functional. The battery can’t be replaced, so when it goes, the rest of the device goes with it.


#WeAreNotWaiting has turned into a community movement, with its own hashtag and technologists presenting their experiences at events like D-Data ExChange.

One project borne of the We Are Not Waiting movement was Nightscout, an open source system originally built to help the parents of diabetic children get a better handle on their children’s condition by giving them remote access to the readings from the child’s CGM.

Nightscout allows data from the CGM to be published online, by connecting a phone with the Nightscout app installed to the receiver part of the CGM. Data from the CGM can then be viewed through the Nightscout website or any web-enabled device, be it another phone or a smartwatch. While intended to help parents monitor young children’s condition while they’re away from home, it’s also used by adult diabetics to get a more user-friendly display of their blood glucose data.

A similar DIY project, called xDrip, is a device that gathers the data from the sensor part of the Dexcom G4 glucose monitors, and transmits it via Bluetooth Low Energy to an Android app, or feeds through into the Nightscout system. The drip is made of four components that are soldered together at home, and cost around £40 in total. Together, they can fit inside a housing made of a Tic Tac box.

“That does two really important things,” says Omer, who built his own xDrip at home in a couple of hours. “It means I don’t have to buy the manufacturer’s receiver [for the CGM] so my costs are significantly reduced… And it picks up the signal and it relays it to my phone. I now have control of the data.”

Closing the loop

The We Are Not Waiting movement is also turning its attentions to closed-loop systems, where the glucose monitor and pump are able to communicate with each other to keep the wearer’s blood glucose more tightly inside the right range.

One such project is OpenAPS (APS stands for artificial pancreas system), co-founded by Dana Lewis, a type 1 diabetic who found the alarm on her CGM wasn’t loud enough to wake her if her blood glucose went dangerously low while she slept. She wanted the data from her device so she could hack together to something with an alarm loud enough that she wouldn’t sleep through it, but couldn’t extract the data from her device to make it.


Chris Hannemann showed how the OpenAPS solution combines hardware and software at the DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange event in 2015.


After a fellow diabetic shared code with her that allowed her to get the real-time data off the CGM and build a louder alarm system using her phone and computer, she created a tool to alert friends and family if certain blood-glucose parameters were crossed.

From there, Lewis was able to build an algorithm that could make predictive recommendations about what would happen in the future based on the real-time data, and then by finding a tool that would allow that data to be communicated to the pump—creating the closed-loop artificial pancreas system OpenAPS.

OpenAPS uses data on the carbohydrates in the wearer’s food and their blood sugar level, runs it through the personalised algorithm that determines how much insulin they’ll need in the future to keep their blood glucose at the right level.

“The beauty of it is it provides a recommendation in real time with real-time data. While a person with diabetes may make that calculation a dozen times a day, the system is doing it every five minutes. If something starts happening, the system is able to react and give a recommendation a lot sooner than a human, who might not otherwise notice something is happening and take action,” Lewis said.

“It won’t sense something coming that you don’t know about, but it has that attention — it takes a reading every five minutes — unlike the person who might be in a meeting, or playing with their kids, or out running, and not necessarily wanting to think about diabetes all the time.”

OpenAPS systems can send the diabetic’s basal rate to the pump, which means it can only make small adjustments to their insulin dose—small adjustments that the user can undo if they want. The dose will act over half an hour, so if the pump fails for any reason, the pump will revert back to its standard operating procedure.

OpenAPS technologies are not only helping adults to get a better handle on their condition, some children are also using it, too.

“They spend a lot less time in the nurse’s office, and more time in the classroom. It’s helping them learn about how to treat their diabetes, they’re learning self-management skills much more quickly than they would have without the system,” Lewis said.

“The beauty of it is it provides a recommendation in real time with real-time data. While a person with diabetes may make that calculation a dozen times a day, the system is doing it every five minutes.”


As the parents can remotely see the data from their child’s system, they can speak to the teacher or the nurse if anything is going awry to head off problems. Similarly, data from both children and adults can be shared with clinicians to help give them a better idea about how an individual is managing their diabetes, and potentially refine basal rates for new diabetics.

The brave new world of healthcare hacking still has its problems. For one, it’s outside the traditional, regulated world of medicine. Commercial devices and software used to manage or treat medical conditions undergo lengthy clinical trials to assess their safety and benefits, and have to be regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. That means they take far longer to reach the market, and are far more expensive. It also means they come with reasonable expectations of safety among users.

For those developing their own homemade devices, there’s none of that. People writing code and publishing advice on how to build systems are not regulated, but they can’t distribute their hardware or software without running afoul of the regulator. While they can publish their source code, offer tips and advice to others about how to build devices, but that’s about as far as they can take it.

That means anyone who wants such a device has to build it themselves at home—they have to be convinced about how safe it is, and be confident they have the necessary skills to do so.

They also need to be able to get their hands on the right hardware. The OpenAPS system needs certain older models of CGM that the manufacturer has stopped making. And you can see why, from the manufacturer’s point of view. After discovering a vulnerability that could allow the pump to be hijacked, they turned off the ability for the hardware to be commanded remotely for most models. Only some earlier versions still have that capability, and so can be used in OpenAPS systems.


Here’s the data the OpenAPS artificial pancreas provides in mobile apps on Android and iPhone.

So far, around 110 people have built their own OpenAPS systems, according to Lewis, and that number is growing. It has also inspired others to use it as the basis for new diabetic-aiding technologies. Omer used the algorithm to make an open loop artificial pancreas notification system based on an Android app he created called HAPP.

“I originally started the project as a mess-around, not thinking it would be useful, but once I had something quite crude up and working, it was incredibly useful. The system works every 15 minutes when it will crunch the data, and then my watch will vibrate and it will say ‘make this adjustment’. It was massively useful in the sense I didn’t have to sync and check and monitor stuff. I could let the system do that for me and just tell me when I need to action something,” Omer said. (Disclosure: Omer previously worked for CBS Interactive which owns TechRepublic and ZDNet).

For now, the FDA is taking a wait-and-see approach towards homemade diabetic tech, exercising what it calls “enforcement discretion”—keeping tabs on the healthcare hackers, monitoring the situation, and choosing not to take any action. That’s not to say the regulator doesn’t have its concerns about homemade tech.

What happens if the systems break down and users who haven’t had to inject insulin before aren’t confident enough to do so, for example. But, it hasn’t take any action against those that publish instructions on how to build devices, and has been actively engaging with the DIY community.

“We understand why people are doing it, but we want to make sure they do it safely,” Dr. Courtney Lias, director of the FDA’s Division of Chemistry and Toxicology Devices, told a conference recently.

The FDA is also working with those medical hardware companies that are seeking to bring artificial pancreas systems to market, going through the regulatory hoops that the DIYers don’t have to. Similarly, the regulator seems to be taking a pragmatic approach to getting commercial hardware out into the wild, tolerating a level of risk to ensure the systems can be launched.

“Artificial pancreas devices do not have to be perfect with zero risk to be beneficial,” Lias said. “The approval decision is a benefit/risk decision. We make this decision in the context of the high risks that people with diabetes face every day.”

Because of the inherent risks to the overall health of people with type 1 diabetes from their condition, and glucose that isn’t well-managed, the FDA is ready to accept systems that come with some degree of risk.

“The FDA is really supportive of that technology reaching people with type 1 diabetes… They’re saying the community is willing to accept things that aren’t bulletproof and we won’t stand in the way. It’s amazing,” Dr. Roman Havorka, who leads research into artificial pancreas systems at Cambridge University research, told ZDNet recently.

“Diabetes sucks deeply, the technology we are given to manage it sucks deeply, and we are pretty much tired of waiting.”


If all goes well, artificial pancreases built on the work of groups like Havorka’s could be approved by the FDA in 2017, with commercial units reaching the market the year after. That would mean that those who don’t feel they have the technology skills to build their own devices will have another option to get one, and healthcare providers will be able to fund those units getting into the hands of diabetics across the world.

Does that mean that an end to the We Are Not Waiting movement? Perhaps not. After all, diabetics in less developed parts of the world are still waiting for systems that they can afford, which the first versions of the commercial artificial pancreases won’t help. Others may want functionality that commercial systems don’t deliver, or to export the data in a way that manufacturers don’t allow.

Instead, it’s likely that, much like in the software world elsewhere, the majority of people prefer to get black-box systems from a single commercial provider that provides support and updates they need along the way. Others, however, will remain part of the open source community, putting together new systems and sharing them with others on the same path—despite the risks—because they’ve waited too long for the traditional channels to help them.


Atlantic Hurricane Season Is Expected to Be Busy

Cocoa Beach, Fla., was hit by Hurricane Matthew, one of four named storms last year that were Category 3 or higher. CreditMark Wilson/Getty Images North America

The United States can expect an Atlantic hurricane season with more than the usual number of storms, government forecasters said Thursday.

The season, which begins June 1 and runs to Nov. 30, is likely to produce 11 to 17 named storms, experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. As many as nine of those could become hurricanes, with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher, and as many as four could be major hurricanes with winds of 111 m.p.h. or greater, also known as Category 3 or higher.

In an average season, 12 named storms develop, and three of them become major hurricanes. The agency said there was only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season this year.

The Atlantic season is off to an early start with the brief appearance of a rare preseason tropical storm, Arlene, in April.

Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, said the agency anticipated warm sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, which can increase the power of storms. But forecasters expect weak or even nonexistent El Niño conditions; that weather phenomenon, which warms the waters of the Pacific Ocean, tends to suppress Atlantic storms.

Continue reading the main story

In 2016, NOAA forecast 10 to 16 named storms; fifteen storms developed, including four hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.


Recovery from Hurricane Matthew continued this year as workers cleared a canal in Virginia Beach last month. CreditL. Todd Spencer/The Virginian-Pilot, via Associated Press

Kerry A. Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that publicizing the annual hurricane forecasts can be “inadvertently misleading.” Whatever the number of named storms, he said, the real concern is the number of damaging storms that actually reach land and affect people and property — and “no one pretends to be able to forecast the incidence of dangerous, landfalling storms.”

An active season might not include any storms that strike the United States, while a quiet season can still produce hurricanes like Andrew in 1992, one of the most destructive to hit the country.

Regardless of the forecast, being ready for storms — knowing one’s personal risk, buying flood insurance, discussing an evacuation plan and storing emergency supplies — is vitally important, said Mary Erickson, the deputy director of the National Weather Service. “Preparedness saves lives,” she said.

NOAA said it was offering new tools online to help people determine their risk from approaching storms, including more precise predictions of a storm’s arrival time than have previously been available.

This year’s hurricane outlook arrives as the White House is proposing budget cuts for NOAA programs, which could undermine initiatives intended to strengthen the agency’s forecasts.

David W. Titley, a former chief operating officer at NOAA, said the proposal would be dead on arrival in Congress. Lawmakers recently passed a bill calling for more funding for forecasting, so “there’s no way they’re going to approve this,” he said.

The forecasting bill, he noted, was signed last month by President Trump.

Continue reading the main story


Hurricane Preparedness Week 2017


 Hurricane Preparedness Week | Hurricane Awareness Tours

It only takes one storm to change your life and community.Tropical cyclones are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. If you live in an area prone to tropical cyclones, you need to be prepared. Even areas well away from the coastline can be threatened by dangerous flooding, destructive winds and tornadoes from these storms. The National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center issue watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather.

Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 7-13, 2017) is your time to prepare for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane. Learn how with the daily tips below and related links. Share these with your friends and family to ensure that they’re prepared.


Hurricane Preparedness Week

Sunday, May 7th
Determine your risk

Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing now…

Read More


Monday, May 8th
Develop an evacuation plan

The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone…

Read More


Tuesday, May 9th
Assemble disaster supplies

You’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy…

Read More


Wednesday, May 10th
Secure an insurance check-up
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure…

Read More


Thursday, May 11th
Strengthen your home

If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications…

Read More


Friday, May 12th 
Check on Your Neighbor

Many Americans rely on their neighbors after a disaster, but there are also many ways you can help your neighbors before…

Read More


Saturday, May 13th 
Complete your written hurricane plan

The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins, when you have the time and are not under…

Read More


Outreach Toolkit

Be a Force of Nature! Help us get the word out about preparing for hurricanes.

Current Forecast

Safety Web Sites


Social Media

Need more info? Email us at wrn.feedback@noaa.gov



Hurricane Awareness Tours

Tours are an opportunity for NOAA and its partner agencies to visit locations along the coasts that could be impacted by hurricanes. At each location, NOAA’s National Weather Service and partner agencies teach visitors about weather safety and preparedness. And at each location along the tour, folks can even take a look at one of the Hurricane Hunter airplanes and meet the pilots who fly into the storms to gather data. This year NOAA is partnering with the USAF Reserve, FEMA and FLASH, as well as many local partners, to bring the 2017 Hurricane Awareness Tours to locations in the Atlantic and Pacific Basins.

Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour – April 24, 25, 26, 27, and 29
Hurricane Awareness tour
Hurricane Awareness Tour, East Coast – May 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12

National Hurricane Center: Live Broadcast for Students on May 10 at 10:30 a.m. EDT

A free webinar on hurricanes will be offered to grades 4, 5, and 6 on May 10 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. This webinar is part of the 2017 Hurricane Preparedness Week and the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour. The webinar will be broadcast live from the Raleigh/Durham stop of the Hurricane Awareness Tour.

During this free 45-minute webinar, students will hear from NHC scientists as well as NOAA AOC personnel who fly into hurricanes. The webinar will cover hurricane hazards, forecasting, observing hurricanes with airplanes, and hurricane preparedness. Classroom questions will be collected in advance of the webinar and questions will also be answered during the webinar.

The webinar will be presented by the Hurricanes: Science and Society team at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography in partnership with the NOAA National Hurricane Center and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center. The purpose of the Hurricane Webinars is to raise awareness about hurricanes in advance of the 2017 North Atlantic hurricane season. Click here for registration.

Getting Ready for Hurricanes: A to Z Overview

How Prepared Are You For A Hurricane


Follow the National Weather Service on Facebook and Twitter for more information on hurricane preparedness.

5 ways to land a story in top-tier publications


5 ways to land a story in top-tier publications

By Blair Nicole | Posted: May 11, 2017
“How fast can you get my business featured in The Huffington Post ?”If I had a dime for every time a client or potential client asked me some variation of that question, I wouldn’t have to do PR anymore.

It’s not a bad question, but clients’ longings for Tier 1 media coverage are often misguided.

Good press coverage should be a helpful tool, not a means to an end. PR is a process, and a valuable one at that. A single placement in a Tier 1 media outlet can open doors, but you must have realistic expectations about getting there, and you should know how to make the most of it after the publicity happens.

Remember these guidelines:

1. Stop insisting on features.

If you’ll accept only features or profile pieces in major media outlets, your chances of ever getting covered are severely diminished.

Margie Zable Fisher wrote:

Every client wants a big profile of the company on the cover of a major magazine or newspaper, but most stories are about a “trend,” several companies, or some recent news with quotes from experts. Profiles are few and far between.

You must think like a reporter or journalist. Your business is never as exciting as you think it is, but if you tie it to a current event or trend and pitch it that way, you’re on the right track.

2. Make yourself available.

Journalists and bloggers do things on their time, not yours.

Shailesh Kumar, founder of Value Stock Guide, got featured in The New York Times—two years after he initially pitched the reporter.

He says: “I responded to a HARO query from the same reporter but on a different story. He did not contact me for the story I had responded to, but cold called me for this [different story] one year later.”

Reporters might not call back when it’s convenient for you. When they do come calling, don’t insist on doing things on your own terms. Journalists have a lengthy list of other credible sources ready to do the interview at a moment’s notice.

If you want the exposure, be available, be timely, be accommodating.

[RELATED: Find out how to make meaningful connections with your customers and journalists at the Practical PR Summit.]

3. Be patient.

Those behind the “overnight success” stories gracing The New York Times have worked tirelessly and have pitched its editors countless times.

Have realistic expectations going in. If you expect a response from a Tier 1 journalist your first time around, you’ll be let down. Successful companies view PR as a long-term strategy.

Media placements take months of relationship building, pitching and re-pitching, follow-up and then some—and sometimes that still leads to a no. Successful pros keep going (not to be confused with annoying or stalking their coveted reporters and editors).

Even after you get a reporter to commit to running a piece on your company or including you in a trend story, the writing and editing of that piece can take months. Contrary to what you may believe about our digital world, good stories take time to percolate.

Be strategic about pitching and patient in your expectations. Good publicity is worth both the effort and the wait.

4. Make newsjacking your new best friend.

If you’re not keeping up on trends and news in your industry, you should be. Terrific publicity opportunities come from being in the right place at the right time (or offering the right thing at the right time).

Madeline Johnson of The Market Council says: “Don’t think that top-tier media is going to just produce a story about you. Newsjack your story by tying it into the news.”

A great example is when Oreo newsjacked the Super Bowl in 2013, during the on-field power outage. Brand managers tweeted, “You can still dunk in the dark,” resulting in massive news coverage.

Small businesses and startups can take full advantage of newsjacking, too. Sometimes reporters want to write a story about a trending topic right then and there, and if you’re on the ball you can capture some of that coverage.

5. ‘Go big, or go home’ is terrible advice.

Tier 2 and smaller media outlets can also provide your business exposure, third-party credibility and traffic.

While you’re chasing national media mentions, flex your pitching muscles by building relationships with writers at smaller outlets. Not only could they lead to something bigger, but they will also help you establish yourself as a credible source in your industry.

Ryan Holiday, author of “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator,” calls this “trading up the chain.” You land your story in smaller news outlets and blogs and keep pitching the story up the chain until Tier 1 media can’t ignore you any longer.

Linda Parry of Product Launchers tells how her relationship with a local radio host led to her product getting covered on the “Today” show:

We contacted Lou Manfredini, a well-known home improvement expert to introduce him to our product, My Paint Saint. He fell in love with the concept and raved about it on his radio show. We further cultivated the relationship and began selling product in his two hardware stores. We were top of mind when he was invited onto the “Today” show to introduce new home improvement products.

Blair Nicole is the founder of Media Moguls PR. A version of this article originally appeared on the agency’s blog.

Here’s how to fast-charge your smartphone or tablet when you’re in a hurry


Here’s how to fast-charge your smartphone or tablet when you’re in a hurry

You’re leaving in 20 minutes and your smartphone’s battery is almost dead. Here’s how to get the maximum charge into your device in the least amount of time possible.

YouTube Trots Out Kevin Hart, James Corden to Woo Back Brands


YouTube Trots Out Kevin Hart, James Corden to Woo Back Brands

By . Published on May 04, 2017

Kevin Hart and YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl onstage at the YouTube Brandcast at Javits Center in New York City on Thursday.
Kevin Hart and YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl onstage at the YouTube Brandcast at Javits Center in New York City on Thursday. Credit: Photo by Noam Galai/FilmMagic for YouTube

After a spring of bad PR and advertiser boycotts over offensive video on its platform, Google‘s YouTube emphasized the safest content it had to offer at a presentation to ad buyers Thursday evening.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki opened the event, which it calls Brandcast, by acknowledging the recent advertiser strife and committed to the changes being made to curb objectionable content. She reiterated a company apology on the subject, taking responsibility for ads that appeared near the worst types of content.

But YouTube also paraded a stream of brand-friendly celebrity talent across the stage, including James Corden, Kevin Hart and Katy Perry, who will appear in unscripted original series on YouTube. It also promoted a singing competition with Ryan Seacrest. And it pointedly identified the exclusive sponsor of the Seacrest show as Johnson & Johnson, one of many major marketers that halted spending with YouTube in March.

“In addition to a major investment in Google Preferred,” said Robert Kyncl, chief business officer at YouTube, “Johnson & Johnson Consumer Brands has signed on as the exclusive sponsor of one of these new shows, a talent competition produced by Ryan Seacrest called ‘Best.Cover.Ever.'”

Google Preferred is another safe zone for brands on YouTube, a curated package of video inventory that YouTube calls its most-viewed and most engaging, where marketers can be more certain of the content they’re buying.

The presentation, an annual event that Google calls its Brandcast, came during the yearly Digital Content NewFronts, when digital video publishers try to stoke the market for their content, much like TV networks promote their upcoming series at the upfronts.

YouTube said the original shows will run on its primary platform and with commercials, a new format for the company, not on the ad-free subscription service introduced more than a year ago with shows featuring its homegrown stars.

Creating shows to be supported by ads helps ensure that YouTube has premium content open to brands, not just user-generated or semi-pro content that could include unexpected landmines. It also comes as ad-free environments, from Netflix and HBO to Hulu‘s, proliferate.

“We see these shows as a way to partner with you to buck that trend,” Kyncl said, adding that the amount of ad-supported programming is in decline.

Other shows announced involve Ellen Degeneres, Demi Lovato and The Slow Mo Guys. Katy Perry will debut her next album live on YouTube, the company said.

Wojcicki also used Brandcast to show off the still-powerful, less-polished side of YouTube, reminding people that the platform is the home of “double rainbow guy” and giraffes giving birth. It has a billion visitors a month and an army of smaller creators with their own followings.

“YouTube is not TV. And we never will be,” Wojcicki said. “The platform that you all helped create represents something bigger. Together with our creators, you built one of the most dynamic, creative and inspiring communities in history.”

YouTube brought out Casey Neistat, one of its most popular vloggers, to talk about the impact the site has had on his life and his fans’ lives.

Smaller creators, however, have felt the squeeze from this year’s advertiser scrutiny. Some of its creators handle subjects that brands don’t want to support, and YouTube has turned off the ad flow to many of them.

Most obviously, earlier this year YouTube star PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) was dropped from Disney‘s talent roster after posting videos featuring anti-semitic jokes. Since then, more brands were spooked by even worse videos popping up on the site.

YouTube is not alone in the digital muck: Facebook recently suffered a shock after someone live-streamed an up-close shooting death.

While some advertisers had to review their strategies on YouTube, most observers don’t think the impact will be lasting. Brands still need to reach audiences, and YouTube continues to be uniquely positioned to do that.

Study: How social media sentiment affects your brand’s image


Study: How social media sentiment affects your brand’s image

By Kevin Allen | Posted: May 4, 2017
A single customer mishap can quickly grow into a PR nightmare.It can be severe, such as a man being dragged off a plane (United Airlines) or it can be relatively minor (Cracker Barrel and the tale of Brad’s wife). In either case, inaction—or action that is rude or dismissive—can allow the situation to boil over into a social media brouhaha.

The bottom line is this: Customer service matters more than ever, and new research from Corra proves it.

In the firm’s recent study, 88 percent of consumers said they have avoided an organization because of negative social media coverage. Nearly 90 percent of customers say they’re willing to give companies two chances to prove themselves before ultimately writing them off for good.

[RELATED: Learn how to engage employees through culture and communications atthe Culture & Engagement for Communicators Conference.]

The study reveals which online platforms customers use to complain:

1. Amazon

2. Facebook (personal page)

3. Yelp

4. Twitter

5. Facebook (group or business page)

6. Reddit

7. TripAdvisor

8. Better Business Bureau

9. Google Maps/Businesses

10. YouTube

It also shows which industries have the worst customer service:

1. Cable companies

2. Cell phone providers

3. Airlines

4. Restaurants

5. Retail stores

6. Banks

7. Online stores

8. Hotels

How an organization handles PR crises and negative online buzz can greatly affect its reputation, as well.

A recent Harris Poll revealed that 42 percent of U.S. consumers said United had a “bad” or “very bad” reputation when surveyed April 17-18, compared to 7 percent in late 2016.

That same study revealed that Delta experienced little, if any, negative impact from its debacle this spring that saw 3,000 flights cancelled in a five-day stretch. The airline actually saw a year-over-year boost from 2016, with 46 percent this year saying Delta had a “good” or “very good” reputation, compared to 34 percent late last year.

Two other organizations that saw major PR disasters last year, Volkswagen and Wells Fargo, are starting to see signs of recovery, according to the Harris Poll.

Volkswagen’s reputation fell to an all-time low in November 2015 with only 16 percent of people saying it had a good or very good reputation. Last month, 40 percent said so. Wells Fargo, which fell to 13 percent late last year, was back up to 31 percent last month.

Check out additional data on customer service—including how to improve yours—in the results of Corra’s “Roasted Reputations” study.

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