Tech companies are at the center of a great debate on free speech; Baidu wants everyone speaking into their OS; Apple is expanding Siri; inside Ford’s AI purchase; principles of customer strategy; the fate of online trust in the next decade; how companies avoid disruption; the battle between Amazon and Walmart moves into an unlikely area; iMessage is a powerhouse; Twitter boosts TV; Facebook took a step that will impact influencer marketing; YouTube’s push for subscription music; major budgets for original content from Apple and Netflix; smart speaker data; the best sites for password security; your face will unlock your accounts soon; Lyft gets a boost; new metrics for brand performance; meditating, the classical way; and more in the solar eclipse edition of The Full Monty. Don’t forget check out where Brain+Trust is speaking (final section below).
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- The alt-right relied heavily on the app / social network Discord for organizing. Following the Charlottesville events, Discord finally took action, banning several of the largest alt-right Discord communities and taking away one of the white nationalist movement’s key communication tools.
- This has led to a wider discussion about and actions by technology companies regarding unsavory content and activities that their sites host. The future of free expression lies in the balance as tech companies are now being called on to make ethics-based decisions. And the conundrum is where they’ll draw the line.
Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning / Autonomous
The latest in AI, machine learning, bots, and autonomous everything.
- The Chinese search giant Baidu has plans for everyone in the world to use its conversational AI DuerOS. The future is voice. You heard it here.
- Competing with Alexa and Google’s Assistant isn’t easy, but Apple is moving to broaden Siri’s reach and expand its knowledge about you by melding Siri with its other services.
- Google is rolling out voice calling with Google Home in the US and Canada. At this point, it will only work with outgoing calls.
- Here’s an ethical and legal question: who owns artwork created by AI? The US Copyright Office rejects claims for art from non-humans, but there’s nothing in the law that states a human creator is required. And then who would be liable for copyright infringement? We may have to wait until we have robot lawyers.
- Speaking of robots, Chuck E. Cheese is doing away with its famous animatronic bands. Now the kids will get freaked out by actual costumed employees.
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will cooperate with BMW to develop self-driving cars. This takes care of the last OEM standing. FCA was last in the race as other automakers charged ahead. Having a powerful partner like BMW could help them catch up with the competition.
- Ford Motor Company put $1B into autonomous startup Argo AI. Here’s a look at what’s behind Argo’s autonomous expertise in the race to build self-driving cars.
- At Ford’s Future of Cities conference last week, CEO Jim Hackett reiterated the company’s commitment to having Level 4 autonomous vehicles on the road by 2021, although the deployment is in question: “If you think we’re going to take the [autonomous vehicle] and just replace the station wagon, I don’t believe that’s what’s going to happen.”
Industry developments and trends, including retail, fake news, customer experience, content marketing, and influencer relations.
- Does trust even matter any more in the age of the Internet? Some experts say lack of trust will not act as a barrier, while others are hopeful that it will grow. Ultimately, we need to wonder at what point does trust trump convenience? From Pew Research: the Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade.
- Targeting customers is no longer enough. You need a well thought out and considered customer strategy. Here from PwC are 10 principles of customer strategy.
- Mic.com laid off 25 of its staff in preparation to pivot to video production. Not an unheard of move, but one has to ask: is the public really crying out for more video?
- Is the future of TV and TV advertising doomed? With Disney’s latest move, some think so. More below in the Media section.
- And will blockchain upend the advertising industry as we know it?
- Starbucks may be able to teach Silicon Valley a few things in tech. The coffee giant is making great progress with digital payments and app installs.
- Don’t look now, but in the Asia Pacific region, apps may be killing the mobile web. The vast majority of mobile ads in the region are delivered via apps.
- Corporate innovation isn’t easy. Companies are struggling particularly with cultural pushback. Here’s a look at how corporations avoid disruption by changing their ecosystem by Crowd Companies:
THIS WEEK IN RETAIL:
- Walmart (a Brain+Trust client) held its Q2 earnings call last week, and in doing so, shared a few choice bits of information: online sales surged 60% (that’s after 63% the previous quarter), food sales are helping discount retailers, and the integration of online and brick and mortar is more important than ever.
- Walmart is nudging into one of Amazon‘s successful areas: Walmart is getting heavily into the ad business, offering display, native, programmatic and in-store ads for brands that wish to use the service. Combined with Walmart’s treasure trove of data on customers, this could be a very attractive option for some brands.
- Meanwhile, Amazon is getting into the brick-and-mortar business with Instant Pickup, a service that allows customers to pick up items immediately after ordering them.
- And Target is buying Grand Junction, a San Francisco-based startup that connects retailers and other distributors to a network of more than 700 carriers across North America, a move to better go toe-to-toe with rivals Amazon and Walmart on same-say delivery.
- Costco owes Tiffany $19M for using the luxury retailer’s name without permission in conjunction with diamond sales at its stores and online. From the famous blue box to a big box…
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.
- Huddle is a mental health app that gives users a safe space to discuss mental health and to avoid the stigma in public spaces such as on Facebook or Twitter. How great to see the tech industry create something not it just because he could, but rather because it answers a real need for millions of people.
- How iMessage came to dominate messaging among US teens: studies show upward of 70% of teens on it. Where Apple may go with it to disrupt apps like Snapchat, Messenger. iMessage is a social platform for teens. It’s currently the center of their immediate, social universe.
TWITTER / PERISCOPE
- More use of Twitter for live video and news: on September 25, BuzzFeed will launch AM to DM, a daily news show on Twitter. Reporters, editors and guests will discuss the news of the day from 8am – 9am ET each weekday.
- There is a new record holder for the most-liked tweet: it belongs to Barack Obama, who quoted Nelson Mandela following the Charlottesville events. Somewhere, there’s someone seething over this.
- President Trump loves Twitter. And Twitter should love President Trump: one analyst calculated that the tweeter-in-chief is worth some $2B to the microblogging platform. The question naturally follows: could Twitter survive without him?
- Twitter and television go together like peas and carrots. When it comes to extending the reach of TV ads, Twitter is helpful in the 18-34 demo, providing a 6% increase, according to Nielsen.
FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / WHATSAPP
- Better readability is the story behind a redesign of Instagram and Facebook: Instagram gets threaded comments, and Facebook News Feed gets UI tweaks such as bubble-style comments.
- Facebook knew that Snap‘s user growth was slowing before it was reported. Information from data-security app Onavo shows the company what people do on their phones beyond the suite of Facebook’s apps.
- Facebook just changed influencer marketing as we know it. The company has given social stars the ability to tag brands in their sponsored posts, which then allows the brands to independently boost those posts with paid advertising. One pundit thinks it will render influencers’ audiences effectively useless. What do you think?
ALPHABET / GOOGLE / YOUTUBE
- Google is rolling out autoplaying silent 6-second previews for videos in search results, while on Wi-Fi in Android Chrome and Google apps.
- Lyor Cohen, YouTube‘s Global Head of Music, on promoting new artists, copyright safe harbors, and how ads and subscriptions can thrive together.
AR / VR
- Facebook is developing futuristic smart glasses that will likely put it squarely in the augmented reality business. The smart glasses would be able to display images, video, and work with connected speakers or headphones to play audio when worn.
- John Arrow, founder and chairman of Mutual Mobile, opined on the future of tech, particularly on how VR will play a role in meetings and conferences.
The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.
- Apple is putting a $1B budget toward creating original content in the next year. The original content battles are heating up…
- That’s nothing. Netflix’s chief content office indicates the steaming service will spend $7B on original programming next year, up from $6B this year.
- MoviePass is a new service by a former Netflix executive whereby subscribers pay $10 a month to see up to one movie a day in theatres.
- As you can imagine, AMC and Hollywood aren’t too pleased with this financial arrangement. Great. There go popcorn prices again.
- Are you confused with the mess that is cable, on-demand, streaming and other TV services? Well, here’s your guide to the messy, confusing future of TV.
- Public radio stations are using Amazon’s smart speakers to discover new ways of reaching their audiences. The platform incorporates “skills,” which allow users to access content or information from a specific company or organization by saying a specific phrase. Stations want to ensure that they control the geotargeting, not third parties. There are lessons here for any business that has local branches.
- Make no mistake: music will aid the rise of the smart speaker. And vice versa.
- The latest data from Edison Research shows that 58% of VA smart speaker owners had listened to music for an average of 4 hours 34 minutes in the previous week, and 65% said they are listening to more music since buying a smart speaker.
- Thinking of getting into the audio industry. Here’s a back-of-the-envelope survey on how much audio producers are earning.
- Do you know George Guidall? You should. He’s the undisputed king of audio books.
- Program of the Week: This week’s recommendation comes to us from Dan York: For Immediate Release. For over 12 years, Shel Holtz has hosted this weekly podcast on “the intersection of business communications and social media, technology and more.” The show features different panels of guests covering the latest topics of interest. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.
Use checkout code MONTY to receive $50 off of your ticket.
Regulatory / Security
Business disruptions in the legal, regulatory, and computer security fields, from hacking to the on-demand economy and more.
SECURITY / HACKING:
- Recognizing the importance of cyber security and the national issues at stake, President Trump elevated the US Cyber Command to its own unified combatant command, putting it on par with other combat branches.
- The hackers that got into HBO‘s system have all of the network’s social media passwords. They want $6.5 million in Bitcoin as ransom. It’s not clear what they want, other than to spoil the endings of shows for millions of addicted viewers.
- The password security tool Dashlane has released its list of 2017 power passwords—which sites and platforms have the most secure systems.
- But you may not need passwords in the future; all you might need is your face. Better-than-ever face-recognition tech means you will be able to forget your passwords—with more security.
- The frontrunner for the Uber CEO job is former GE CEO Jeff Immelt. You might say that he has a history of following destructive CEOs.
- The product manager of Uber’s developer platform is leaving the company. Chris Saad has been with the company two years and has been a vocal opponent to former CEO Travis Kalanick’s forced resignation.
- The latest in the lawsuit frenzy: Travis Kalanick is counter suing Benchmark Capital; Benchmark alleged that Kalanick defrauded Uber’s board by keeping secret questionable business practices.
- Because of its history of “deceptive privacy and data security claims,” Uber has agreed to 20 years of privacy audits by the Federal Trade Commission. Assuming Uber is around for that long.
- Uber is giving drivers more control of their rides by testing out a small feature called “drop-off area filter” that allows drivers to determine where they pick up and drop off passengers.
- Back in January, during the first #deleteUber campaign, Lyft is reporting that it saw a 60% increase in new users. No word yet on further increases as Travis continued to drive the company off road.
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.
- The CMO Council is reporting on new measures of brand performance. One key element: responsiveness.
- Less than half of analytics data is considered useful for decision-making, though analytics is proving to have impact in CRO. Getting senior leadership more involved will be essential in making strategic shifts toward broader adoption and further investment in analytics.
- Nielsen announced it will begin crediting video views on Facebook, YouTube, and Hulu in its digital content ratings.
Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.
- Here’s an object lesson from someone who managed to squeeze meditation into their busy, hectic life. Ironically, when you’re too busy for meditation, you’re the very candidate for it.
- John Quincy Adams on efficiency vs. effectiveness, the proper aim of ambition and his own daily schedule. The sixth President of the United States knew that even the most industrious self-exertion can fail to attain a worthwhile result and that unfocused ambition is a guarantee of frustration rather than fulfillment.
- Are you struggling with a writing project? Here’s how some novelists write 3,000 words a day.
- With all of the attention on STEM—particularly in the tech world, where coding and AI are the future—why study the Classics? One very essential reason for any field of endeavor: the study of the Classics teaches us something about what it means to be human. Disclosure: your editor is a former Classics major. And now he writes a newsletter.
- One individual from the ancient times whose work is still relevant today is Marcus Aurelius. His magnum opus Meditations provides insights on how to have a more focused mind.
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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)
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Top photo credit: Eclipse by Eugene Atget, Metropolitan Museum of Art (public domain)
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