March 29, 2022: Rise and shine, readers. Even if your bracket was metaphorically slapped in the face during a live broadcast, STC is here to bring a smile to your face and knowledge to your brain.

In this edition:

      • Student athletes are making bank from March Madness deals
      • Instagram gives more power to the creators
      • Augmented reality (AR) innovations transform e-commerce


Seeing Green For March Madness

The Story
Name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws are benefiting student athletes as they capitalize on March Madness activations.

Calling All Brands
NIL deals are taking over March Madness as brands partner with student athletes for lucrative deals. Take Gonzaga University’s (farewell, brackets everywhere), Drew Timme, whose handlebar mustache turned heads last year: Timme partnered with Dollar Shave Club to produce sponsored content and host an “Ask Me Anything” session with fans — just to name a few things. He’s not the only one. Bose teamed up with Aliyah Boston (University of South Carolina), Wendell Moore (Duke University), and Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga University) to promote its Quietcomfort 45 noise-canceling headphones.

Adidas Did That
In other NIL news, Adidas’ new NIL network will be accessible to Division I partner schools as it rolls out in phases over 2022. Through the first-of-its-kind network, D-I student athletes will be able to become paid Adidas affiliate brand ambassadors. This opportunity takes a larger-scale approach to endorsement deals that enables students to earn long-term income by partnering with Adidas.

Before NIL law passage, which occurred last July, March Madness college athletes earned nothing for competing while the NCAA made bank with television rights. NIL laws have changed collegiate sports and have been particularly lucrative for two in particular: football and men’s basketball. We’re thrilled to see college athletes successfully capitalizing on opportunities, but we’re even more interested to see how the college sports industry will grow to accommodate initiatives like Adidas —  and, how athletes from even more sports like volleyball, track & field, swimming, and beyond will be joining the conversation as the new era of micro-influencer dawns. Who knows — maybe their micro-influencer status will take the beyond sports, like an invite to the Oscars, perhaps?


Do It For The ‘Gram

The Story
Instagram’s functional updates move the platform into an even more competitive space.

Instagram’s Lab
Instagram’s newest upgrades are prioritizing functionality and knowledge sharing amongst creators. Its Creator Lab support tool gives its most successful creators a platform to share their stories and advice with up-and-coming influencers. There is also the new Live Moderator on Instagram Live, which lets creators and brands appoint a mod to help them manage comments and viewing permissions during live streams.

Consider It Sorted
In addition, users are seeing more upgrades come to fruition, like with Instagram’s algorithm-free, chronological feed sorting option, which is comprised of accounts from either a user’s Following list or Favorites list — it’s up to the individual to customize. And now, all users — not just creators and brands — can tag products in their posts, opening up more affiliate opportunities for non-creators.

Instagram’s commitment to improving its platform is giving more power to creators and brands, and we’re here for it. The opportunity for IG to compete with the likes of TikTok expands with educational tools that give creators more control over their content and how users interact with it. Brands who are active on IG can familiarize themselves with the new functions and expect more to come, not just from Instagram but from other platforms aiming to stay competitive.


Augmented Reality Infiltrates Our Reality

The Story
Innovations in AR set the stage for new interactive brand content.

Snap’s AR Game
AR is taking the lead as a top content feature while platforms and brands alike utilize its increasingly creative options. Snapchat in particular has taken AR opportunities to the max with its new Custom Landmarks feature in the Lens Studio, which lets anyone create a localized AR experience and is a great opportunity to partner with creators.

Snap also debuted the American Sign Language (ASL) educational lens, a teaching tool, during the Oscars this weekend, no doubt a subtle nod toward Best Picture winner, CODA. And they’re not stopping there — Snap has reportedly acquired NextMind, a brain-reading tech tool that will help them reach the next era of AR innovation. Plus, if you’re new to the AR world, you can get certified on Snap Focus and learn more about AR in the process.

Shut Up And Take My Money
Shopping with AR is a whole new ballgame. IKEA’s AR-fueled worldbuilding lets shoppers organize customizable showrooms and see furniture in real-time in a space they designed. Meanwhile, Adobe’s new shopping tool lets shoppers snap a picture of an item and then become connected with an e-commerce site to purchase that very product.

AR makes the ordinary extraordinary, and there’s more where that came from. AR is one of the fastest-growing industries, along with VR and its related technology, and the tech is only getting more mature. This growth, which is accompanied by brand innovations, points to a rapidly approaching future where AR is a common add-on to plenty of traditional content. We’re eager to see how creators will become involved in AR opportunities.