Tag Archives: dogs

A playdate video app for dogs? Well, why the hell not?

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Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.  The oppression of everyone being confined at home all day, every day is testing the limits of patience.  And this extends to Fido.

Dog with laptop

The good folks who brought you Match.com have decided that enough is enough – – there is now a video doggy hookup, er, playdate app that is intended to keep your four-legged friends distracted and occupied for hours at a time while you’re trying to work.

On the surface, it seems silly, but when you consider that your dog is missing out on daily dog-to-dog interaction, this sort of stimulation might come in handy over what is certain to be several more months of isolation.

Just look at that little buddy, bored and looking up at you.  Here’s a way to let technology assuage your guilt!  (it’s actually pretty cool)

bored pup

Full text of the press release is below:

 

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DoggoVision offers a videoconferencing alternative to Doggy Daycare

Dallas, TX – April 1, 2020

Dallas-based Match Group, Inc. today announced DoggoVision, a videoconferencing play date solution for dogs, in partnership with Zoom Video Communications and virtual reality developer Spaces.

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DoggoVision uses AI to match dogs

This innovative networked service is a response to sweeping stay-at-home rules, requiring entire families to work and/or study under the same roof, which for many families had never been experienced before.  Compounding the situation is the closure of pet sitting facilities and services, which in many cases had provided an outlet for pets and a break for their owners.

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While working from home has generally increased the number of walks dogs are getting, human social distancing during these walks has severely curtailed dog-to-dog interaction.

DoggoVision provides dogs (and their owners) access to a video community in which dogs can interact in real time, in both audio and video, with other dogs selected for particular affinities.  Selection criteria include dog size, breed, temperament, etc.  Enabled by the virtual reality of the Spaces app, dogs can see, bark, investigate, engage in play behavior, and even virtually ‘sniff’ other dogs.

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A variety of video background images can be artificially projected behind the dogs’ video images, so that the dogs can think they’re at the beach, in a forest, in the AKC show, on the couch, etc.  According to the company, in beta testing most dogs quickly accepted the scenarios, were transfixed for up to several hours at a time, and there were very few fights.

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Sign-up is free through http://www.doggovision.com, and requires the owner to enter their dog’s description, disposition, favorite activities, typical daily schedules, and any triggers that drive bad behavior (e.g. mailman, vacuum cleaner, etc).  Fees are based on session length, time of day, and size of group.

dogs dating

The DoggoVision software, in addition to using Zoom technology, uses Match.com AI algorithms to optimize dog matches globally.  An owner has the capability to swipe a ‘paw’ icon if a proposed dog or dog group is objectionable.  Software automatically verifies that dog preview photos are current.

Doggy reclining

According to a spokesperson from Match Group, owner of Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder and other services: “Match Group’s mission is bringing people together.  DoggoVision extends this concept to our best friends, and in providing diversion for dogs, creates a little peace in the home. 

Our existing software platforms were essential in developing this product in record time. This is not a simple watch-only video product – it’s fully interactive, inspired by the natural outgoing and playful spirit of dogs. There will be no equivalent version for cats.  Importantly, while DoggoVision fulfills a specific need, it is not intended as a substitute for the obligations of responsible dog ownership.

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We Tested it On You, So It’s Probably OK for Your Pet

I had the pleasure of attending a brand new trade show – Petfood 2.0 – in Chicago recently.

Petfood2.0logo

Not surprisingly, this show is still getting its furry legs under it – – a very manageable group of 35 disparate exhibitors made for a quick and interesting, if not yet cohesive, experience.

Overall, though, a larger theme presented itself:
Following thousands of years of dogs serving man, the tables have turned.
Man now serves dog.

Exhibit 1:  Hemp for Pets.

Now available from our friends at HempMeds, is a line of products made from hemp to benefit your pets.  aNew™ Pet Nutrition‘s products provide essential fatty acids (EFA – – Omega-3 and -6) and are made from a blend of hemp seed oil and raw hemp stalk oil (which is rich in cannabidiol – CBD).  EFAs, as we know, are highly beneficial – – just don’t ask the industry to agree on what the top benefits are.

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This innovation in pet health could not have been possible without the committed testing of hemp products by millions of Americans in the 1960s and 1970s.  So while the outcome of all that testing is up for discussion, your cat or dog is possibly benefiting now from what you did in college then.

OK, that’s not accurate.

While hemp is illegal to grow in the US, it is perfectly legal to import any part of the hemp plant in all 50 states.
And while the prospect of Fifi or Rover lying on his or her back contemplating the ceiling tiles for hours on end and giggling is intriguing, these products contain virtually no THC – the active ingredient that makes marijuana psychoactive.

Although it would be interesting to see if Nigel would behave any differently with the munchies.  Doubtful.

Hempmeds

Exhibit 2:   Functional ingredients for pets – – it worked on Man, so it’s probably safe for Rover.

We long ago realized that we could do better than feeding our pets Ol’ Roy (WalMart).  Thus emerged added value feed (e.g. Iams, Eukanuba, Science Diet, etc), offering different formulas for large breeds, older pets, etc. as well as some medical needs.

Meanwhile, human foods and beverages have increasingly been stuffed with a dizzying array of functional ingredients, many of which have no empirical basis in efficacy.  But we humans have shown that we’re willing to buy them anyway.  What did Charles Revson say about hope?

Based on this massively-scaled test market on mankind, it apparently has been deemed that animal-kind is now ready to safely ingest all sorts of functional ingredients that may or may not actually ever benefit them.

Petfood2.0

Incorporating things like ancient grains, fiber, medium-chain triglycerides, probiotics and ionic trace minerals, your pet can now get benefits heretofore only considered for the human species (notwithstanding hairballs and a healthy coat).

One company, PetNaturals of Vermont, offers products to address the following areas:
– Agility, Antioxidant, Bladder Support, Breath, Calming, Daily Multivitamin, Digestion, Hip & Joint, Immunity, Slim-down, Urine pH balance (really – to avoid yellow spots on the lawn), Periodontal health, Fecal function, and Skin/Coat health.

You dog and cat owners will probably recognize some of the benefit areas in the products below.

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We live in a world where the things we eat promise magical powers to fix whatever marketers insist needs fixing.  And regardless of the effectiveness, manufacturers have made a tidy business catering to hope.

Now, due to the significant sacrifice, expense and effort expended in testing on humans, our pets will soon be able to have their diets enhanced, and your wallet may end up just a little lighter.  So when your pet looks up as if to say ‘Thanks, Man’, now you know what’s going through that little brain.

I have no doubt that many of these ingredients can provide real benefits to some of the 150 million dogs and cats out there.

Except I’m not believing anything that promises intelligence to an Irish Setter.

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Orapup — A newfangled innovation to tackle dog breath — and have fun doing it

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Orabrush is in the business of cleaning human tongues.  And they are growing their business by doing a fantastic job with their social media effort.  But this isn’t about Orabrush – it’s about Orapup – – a line extension designed for guys like Nigel – – and about how company assets can be creatively leveraged to create new revenue streams.

First, about Orabrush – – their marketing effort, like your breath should be after using their product, is fresh, cool and quite personal.  If you want a quick whiff, check out their website:  cheeky home-grown and user-generated videos featuring a guy who looks like Neil Patrick Harris (a zillion YouTube views), not so tongue-in-cheek product claims, and a lot of we-don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously fun.  They have a counter of tongue brushes sold online; at the time of this writing it was at 2,982,076 – so if you were lucky, maybe you were able to watch it hit 3 million.

So how does a company like this innovate?  Well, in some ways just what you’d expect; in others, the opposite.

They currently have a name, a product, a following, an online presence and retail distribution.  In coming up with Orapup, they certainly leveraged technology, their name, and their online fans (who suggested the product in the first place).  But because they can’t leverage a distribution system (Orabrush is not set up for pet channel distribution), rather than try to use media spending to first drive retail distribution for Orapup, they’ve done the reverse:  in-depth data analysis of focused online ads to tweak the marketing formula dynamically, then focusing local online media to efficiently drive sales where there is distribution, growing organically from there.  Ad Age did a good writeup; you can read it here.  Love their video (the first 15 seconds are worth the price of admission):

Orapup has taken a decidedly modern approach:  Crowdsourcing the idea, crowd funding (they raised an initial $60k and conducted research at the same time), generating buzz (and demand) by taking pre-orders online (they got 60,000 online orders to generate $750k revenue before shipping the first product), and THEN pulling the trigger on shipping product and driving retail distribution.  In this way, they’ve leveraged their loyal followers, created pent-up demand, covered some of the upfront investment, and delivered a product that has demonstrated demand.  All while mitigating the typical risks of a new product (stale product on shelves, etc.)

This is an excellent example of a few things:

‘Traditional’ marketing is an endangered species – – sometimes it’s best to avoid the tried and true – -marketers need to creatively leverage the evolving array of available resources and experiment with new approaches.

Empowering consumers to have a voice in product development can reduce development time/cost/risk (and avoid aimless R&D safaris) – – in addition to creating an enthusiastic group of advocates.

Let the numbers be your friend – – by constantly monitoring, analyzing and adjusting, marketers can optimize their marketing mix and quickly respond to marketplace changes

Orapup is a fun product that has extended the Orabrush franchise with low risk, manageable investment, and arguably a nice shot of positive buzz that is consistent with the overall fun brand persona.

It is a great example of how to creatively innovate.