The loner genius strikes again; all eyes on China for AI developments; machine learning will power your marketing; a creepily driverless car; let’s get phygital; the pros and cons of influencers; the death of retail has been greatly exaggerated; the Amazon empire is vast and hidden; Facebook sneaks into China; Snap suddenly isn’t all that; sports streaming services are on the rise; why VCs hate podcasting; the restaurant industry is falling prey to phishing attacks; the soap opera that is Uber continues; your phone has your attention even when it’s off; the difference between amateurs and professionals; and more in the Hey, Kool-Aid! edition of The Full Monty. Don’t forget check out where Brain+Trust is speaking (final section below).
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- Amid the fallout from the Google memo, we’re finding that the loner genius nerd may be something of a myth. After all, programming for better customer experience means that interpersonal skills like collaboration, communication, empathy and emotional intelligence are essential to the job.
- While the usual elements of diversity are being debated—gender and race—there’s another more insidious ‘ism’ that flies under the radar: age discrimination in Silicon Valley.
Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Autonomous
The latest in AI, machine learning, bots, and autonomous everything.
- Baidu‘s COO Qi Lu was interviewed on the company’s and China’s AI ambitions, Baidu’s natural language-based AI platform, and why Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem is ahead of rivals in the US. Keep an eye on this. As China goes, so goes the world.
- According to a recent Forrester report, automation is reshaping customer engagement. Agents, bots, hardware robots and intelligent self-service solutions will address customer-facing problems over the next 10 years. You’re probably already dealing with some AI in customer engagement and you might not even know it.
- Here are three reasons your marketing needs to incorporate machine learning. TL;DR version: insights, precision and customer needs.
- With all of the hype around AI lately, Christopher Penn ponders: how can you tell what’s real?
- Following its Mobileye acquisition, Intel will build fleet of 100 fully autonomous cars (Level 4) to test in the US, Israel, and Europe, with the first cars coming by year’s end.
- Beyond trendy names like Tesla and Alphabet chasing self-driving cars, a host of auto brands and other tech heavyweights are also investing heavily in autonomous R&D. There are 44 of them, to be exact.
- There was a driverless van spotted in Virginia recently. Well, almost.
Industry developments and trends, including retail, fake news, customer experience, content marketing, and influencer relations.
- Digital transformation may require companies to get phygital — the confluence of physical and digital. While it may have occurred more organically than a chance collision, the results thus far point to more satisfied shoppers.
- When it comes to innovation strategy, while concentrating on technology that may help them adapt for the future, it’s more rare that companies revamp the processes and departments that focus on innovation.
- Influencers are doing pretty well right now. Why? According to eMarketer, “Consumers have always been more likely to engage with other consumers than with brands; social media has just brought that to the forefront of digital.” It’s not like some of us have been saying this for a decade or anything…
- Hold on just a moment, though. As brands and agencies focus on “micro-influencers,” those with followers under 100,000, those same influencers are also likelier to turn to bot followers to inflate authenticity.
- Brands need to take on more human aspects in order to truly stand out. A strong point of view, empathy, connecting passions and beliefs. While your brand may choose to not have an influencer strategy, it can convey human qualities in its own marketing and communications.
THIS WEEK IN RETAIL:
- Despite a store closure rate of 4.6%, Moody’s says that retail is still fundamentally healthy. According to the analysis, the industry is in flux and “experiencing major growing pains, brought on by an increasingly demanding, less predictable consumer base.” Competitive pressures are forcing retailers to adjust infrastructures and converge brick-and-mortar and e-commerce platforms, with emphasis on developing scale, distribution and technology. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “rumors of retail’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”
- Walmart is expanding its Scan and Go mobile checkout. Both Walmart and Amazon are testing ways to allow shoppers to check out with less interaction, although Amazon’s only allows it to accommodate 20 customers at a time. If Walmart can arrive at a viable solution first, its scale (see above) will give it an advantage.
- According to Facebook’s Mobile Service Economy report, by 2020 half of the connected world will be making purchases online. Time to get your mobile e-commerce game in order, isn’t it?
- Birchbox has held acquisition talks with a number of retailers, including Walmart. The retail giant has been on a buying spree in the last year, including upscale brands such as Jet, Moosejaw, Bonobos and Modcloth.
- Amazon‘s food ambitions go well beyond Whole Foods. If realized, its plans could help the company scale enough to make an impact in the grocery industry.
- Amazon’s empire is vast and not always above-board: 19 brands in over a dozen categories were found to be owned by Amazon despite no up front disclosure, oftentimes selling alongside Amazon’s generic house brands. You may be wearing Amazon and not even know it.
- Vantiv and Worldpay are merging to create a global e-commerce giant.
If you’re seeing this, maybe you’d like to see your company’s name here too. Let us know.
News to know about relevant social, virtual, and augmented reality platforms that may affect your business.
FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / WHATSAPP
- Facebook is banned in China. So the company released a stealth photo sharing app — one that doesn’t contain Facebook’s name.
- Facebook also launched Dynamic Ads for Real Estate: targeted real estate ads for Facebook and Instagram, giving it a direct challenge to Zillow. While you have all of your information already on Facebook, it might be a stretch for the company to take over Zillow’s role. After all, would you want your house price associated directly with your profile?
- Facebook shut down teen-focused network Lifestage a year after its launch. Now that it has replicated Snapchat in Instagram and to a degree within Messenger, Facebook’s job is done.
- Snap showed weak earnings last week for Q2, and its stock sunk on news of slower growth.
- With the stalling of Snapchat and the rise of Instagram, some think that it’s time for Snapchat to say goodbye.
- There are even reports that Google offered $30 billion to buy Snap in 2016, just before the company’s IPO. That kind of money won’t likely be seen by Snap again.
ALPHABET / GOOGLE
- YouTube is entering the mobile messaging space. The Alphabet division launched a new sharing feature in its mobile app that allows users to send their friends videos and chat from within a new tab in the mobile app. Look out, Snap — you’re surrounded.
The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.
- Out-of-home viewing of television is a previously under-counted group. Taking place in locations such as airports, bars, and gyms, 60% of OOH viewing impressions come from core buying demographics. People ages 18-34 comprise more than one-quarter (26%) of impressions, while those aged 35-54 and 55+ each add another third (32%).
- CBS is creating an over-the-top streaming sports service. Since sports comprise a significant audience of live television viewers, and CBS has multiple contracts with professional leagues, this could push the Tiffany network into valued territory.
- Disney announced that it will be pulling all of its movies out of Netflix and that the company would be launching its own multi-sport streaming service via ESPN.
- Concurrently, Netflix announced that David Letterman will join them for a new talk show.
- Gimlet has raised another $15 million. This is despite VCs’ inherent dislike of podcasting. Why? The market is tiny compared to overall digital media. But it’s poised to grow.
- SoundCloud was rescued with a $170 million emergency round of financing from The Raine Group and Temesek. SoundCloud also fired their CEO.
- Patent troll Personal Audio lost its longstanding bid for the patent on podcasting. At the crux of the matter was that the patent was filed long before there was any such thing as podcasts. Also the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) demonstrated at least two works of prior art.
- Program of the Week: This week’s recommendation is The Grift, a Panoply podcast hosted by Maria Konnikova, regular contributor to The New Yorker and author of The Confidence Game. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.
Regulatory / Security
Business disruptions in the legal, regulatory, and computer security fields, from hacking to the on-demand economy and more.
SECURITY / HACKING:
- Simple phishing attacks are delivering complex malware to restaurant chains. Researchers recently came across a new JScript backdoor called Bateleur, which is being distributed by the FIN7 (aka Carbanak) hacker group in phishing emails targeting U.S.-based restaurant chains. The threat is distributed in an email sent from an Outlook.com or Gmail account, with the message, “here is the check as discussed.” Attached to the email is a Word document containing a macro. Be careful out there.
- HBO leaks continue, with a hacker posting several episodes from Curb Your Enthusiasm and four other HBO series including Insecure and Ballers. We haven’t been able to verify if Larry David accidentally leaked the episodes himself, in an effort to show Cheryl that he hadn’t written her out of the show.
- Didi Chuxing made an undisclosed investment in Middle Eastern ride-hailing service Careem, which operates in 80 cities across 13 countries. The Uber competitor is clearly looking at expanding its footprint beyond China.
- Uber is winding down its car leasing business in the U.S. Clearly, this was always a risky business, as it leased cars to drivers with questionable credit at the same time it was squeezing them with increasingly lower fares. The term ‘predatory‘ comes to mind.
- Uber’s first employee is stepping down. Ryan Graves also held the title of SVP of Global Operations. The executive suite at Uber is now pretty much empty.
- And no, Travis Kalanick will not be returning as CEO, according to co-founder Garrett Camp.
- To ensure that certainty, investor and board seat holder Benchmark Capital is suing former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for fraud, asserting that he sought “to entrench himself on Uber’s Board of Directors and increase his power over Uber for his own selfish ends. Kalanick’s overarching objective is to pack Uber’s Board with loyal allies in an effort to insulate his prior conduct from scrutiny and clear the path for his eventual return as CEO—all to the detriment of Uber’s stockholders, employees, driver-partners, and customers.” The investor group owns 13% of Uber shares. Just another day at Uber.
- Except now a different group of shareholders is calling for Benchmark to withdraw its lawsuit and leave the board. Just another day at Uber.
Measurement / Analytics / Data
The future is not in plastics, but in data. Those who know how to measure and analyze it will rule the world.
- Tableau acquired ClearGraph, a startup that lets you analyze your data with natural language. The tie-up is expected to allow users to make better data visualizations.
- Marketers are taking advantage of their ability to use content and ad creative sequentially to present longer, more compelling messages to consumers. By using data to interpret actions and reactions to storytelling, marketers can decide how and when to continue the sequence.
Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.
- A smartphone can demand its user’s attention even when the person isn’t using it or consciously thinking about it. Even if a phone’s out of sight in a bag, even if it’s set to silent, even if it’s powered off, its mere presence will reduce someone’s working memory and problem-solving skills.
- So, the solution is clear. Turn off your push notifications. All of them.
- Why is it that some people seem to be hugely successful and do so much, while the vast majority of us struggle to tread water? One aspect is mindset—specifically, the difference between amateurs and professionals. You’re going to want to bookmark this one.
- And finally, as summer winds down, how has Kool-Aid, a summertime staple, remained relevant for 90 years?
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Upcoming Brain+Trust Speaking Engagements
- Keynotes at Health:Further in Nashville, August 23-25, 2017 (Frank and Scott)
- Session at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, September 6, 2017: “How to Build and Maintain an Audience with a Remarkable Newsletter” (Scott)
- Automotive and Transportation Lab at Content Marketing World, September 8, 2017 (Christopher, Tim and Scott)
- Digital Summit Detroit, September 12-13, 2017 (Christopher)
- Social Mitten 2017, September 22, 2017 (Scott)
- Content and Commerce Summit in Los Angeles, September 18-20, 2017 (Christopher)
- MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston, October 3-6, 2017 (Tim and Scott)
Can we speak for your organization? Drop us a line.
Brain+Trust Partners doesn’t believe in gobbledygook — we use common sense strategic guidance to help you master the evolving marketplace. From strategy development to technology and data vendor selection, to digital transformation and streamlining processes, our focus is on the customer experience. And our decades of experience working for major brands means that we deeply understand the challenges you’re facing. Let us know if we can help you.
Top photo credit: Sea Cove by Albert Bierstadt, Metropolitan Museum of Art (public domain)
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