Something is wrong on the Internet—and we need to do something about it; the speaker wars are upon us; Waymo launches driverless taxis in Phoenix; Ford is finally being recognized for its technological prowess; the challenges of digital transformation; multitasking rules TV watching; the annual look at Fortune 500 use of social platforms; the need for experience managers in retail; Kroger takes a step up; Twitter goes 280; Facebook Local taps the power of 70 million business pages; SportsCenter on Snapchat; Disney and Fox in talks; Netflix‘s secret content strategy; voice-based passwords may be next; the chatbot that will scam scammers; Lyft‘s fortunes are lifting; analytics and predictive modeling are best for ROI; the great poop emoji wars; and more in the Think of the Children edition of The Full Monty from Brain+Trust Partners for the week of November 13, 2017.
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- We’re finding that algorithms and automated suggestions for content aren’t necessarily a magical panacea. In fact, when ad tech and algorithms run wild, there are victims, according to this article that went viral last week: Something Is Wrong on the Internet.
- The nearly mindless behavior resulting from this “click here” / “buy it now” mentality is not a bug; it’s a feature. How Google and Amazon are Hooking Kids From an Early Age.
- But this is just an anomaly of some engineering, right? This can’t be by design. John Batelle just read Scott Galloway’s The Four and he’s pretty Sure that Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Google are bad.
- One solution: turning your kids into monks no talking and no technology for a month.
Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous
The latest in AI, machine learning, bots, blockchain, mobility, and autonomous everything.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE / MACHINE LEARNING
- It’s no coincidence that 1-800-FLOWERS was the first thing you could order on Alexa. Here’s how the company became a $1 billion business and why its CEO thinks voice is the future.
- Get ready for Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant speakers not made by Amazon, Microsoft or Google. The speaker wars are on.
- For Amazon, the rise of the family of Alexa devices isn’t as much about the domination of retail as it is about the end of the smartphone era.
- Google Assistant can now identify almost any song playing near you. Look out, Shazam.
AUTONOMOUS / MOBILITY
- Waymo made history getting on public roads with no one at the wheel in Phoenix, where its driverless taxi service launched.
- Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, a driverless shuttle got into an accident less than an hour after the service launched. As expected, it was due to human error – which you may continue to expect until there are no more human drivers on the road (i.e. for decades).
- And in case you’re still wondering where your flying car is, the answer is that it’s in Los Angeles, circa 2020, when Uber will launch its flying taxi service.
- Meanwhile, in the traditional automaker segment, the New York Times wonders if Ford, a company that made its reputation by transforming transportation in the 20th century, can turn itself into a technology company. One could easily argue that it’s been a technology company all along…
Industry developments and trends, including advertising & marketing, journalism, customer experience, content, and influencer relations.
COMMUNICATiONS / MARKETING / STRATEGY
- Top marketers discuss the challenges to digital transformation. Reminder: Brain+Trust Partners specializes in helping businesses work through the people, processes and technology challenges to make a customer-first perspective.
- When it comes to marketing to Millennials, it’s not the practice of marketing that’s holding companies back; often, it’s the shaky financial standing of Millennials that restricts their spending habits.
- Do free trials work – and do their lengths have an impact on conversion rates? This and several other questions have been answered by Recurly, which has released some valuable benchmarks from an analysis of 1,200 subscription commerce sites over a 15-month period.
- U.S. consumers are spending more time with their digital devices than ever before, and that holds true while they’re already watching something else. Don’t expect your TV spots to be getting undivided attention. eMarketer estimates 177.7 million adults will regularly use a second-screen device while watching TV this year, an increase of 5.1% vs. 2016.
- Amazon is expanding its influencer program to include Instagram and Twitter in addition to YouTube.
- If you want marketing success, think about integrating data strategy, marketing teams and technology leads, according to a study by Econsultancy and Google.
- The annual analysis of the Fortune 500’s use of social media from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research finds that LinkedIn remains the most popular platform for the F500; one in 10 uses Snapchat; Instagram continues to grow rapidly with 53% usage; and 3/4 of them use YouTube.
Humans are a transactional species, and the practice — if not the very notion of what retail is — is undergoing a historical metamorphosis.
- CVS is taking Amazon‘s threat seriously, so they’re implementing same-day and next-day delivery service for prescriptions.
- Postmates has revamped its app to include grocery services and scheduled deliveries.
- Shopping is an experience. So companies like Bonobos are recruiting and training retail employees as experience managers. (Disclosure: Bonobos is owned by Walmart, a Brain+Trust client)
- Kroger is turning to Instacart to help with delivery in the wake of the Amazon/Whole Foods deal.
- And like Walmart, Kroger is shying away from doing anything to support Amazon, and is moving its cloud infrastructure to Google and Microsoft.
- Every aspect of retail seems to be undergoing an upheaval — including the restaurant business. Here are 10 restaurant innovations changing the way we eat.
- And Google is helping out with that, as they add restaurant wait times to Search and Maps.
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.
- Social media platform changes you may have missed last month include: the launch of Facebook Explore, expanded actions available in Instagram Stories, and a video website card from Twitter, among other things.
TWITTER / PERISCOPE
- Twitter finally made the switch to allow 280 characters on all accounts, rather than 140. While this isn’t the end of civilization as we know it, it does remove Twitter’s one unique factor, and it eliminates the same thoughtfulness that went into crafting shorter tweets.
- Twitter overhauled its rules on how it handles abusive behavior, providing more context around the decisions that it makes.
- After criticism for giving a white supremacist a verified account, Twitter suspended its verification process.
- Russian Twitter trolls deflected bad news about candidate Donald Trump with digital whataboutism — putting attention instead on his political rivals.
- Twitter Promote Mode, the company’s $99 monthly subscription ad service is in public beta, with the goal of letting small businesses and personal brands more easily run ad campaigns.
FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / WHATSAPP
- Did you ever wonder how Facebook figures out how to suggest People You Might Know? Well, it has less to do with surreptitious spying on your computer and your sordid past than it does with the inboxes and contact lists that your correspondents have shared with Facebook to form your shadow profile.
- The standalone Facebook Events app has been rebranded Facebook Local, to help you discover bars, restaurants, and nearby attractions, powered by Facebook’s nearly 70 million business pages.
- Facebook launched a closed beta of Customer Chat, a plugin for businesses to enable Messenger chats on company websites that works across multiple devices and platforms.
ALPHABET / GOOGLE
- Google announced a strategic partnership with Salesforce that will better integrate G Suite with Salesforce’s CRM software.
MICROSOFT / LINKEDIN
- Microsoft’s CEO has brought an unlikely approach to the company’s business strategy: empathy. The ability to understand and feel what others experience is critical to the work of technology giants, according to Satya Nadella.
- One person not displaying much empathy for Microsoft is Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who ridiculed the Redmond, WA company from the stage at Dreamforce. Then again, he might be a tad bitter that Microsoft outbid Salesforce for LinkedIn.
- ESPN launched SportsCenter for Snapchat, a three-to-five minute show running twice a day with younger, hipper hosts, in a two-year deal with Snap.
AR / VR
- Mixed reality (a combination of augmented and virtual reality) may be the most effective at helping businesses cash in on the craze. One would hope there’s some actual reality baked in there as well.
- Apple is reportedly working on a standalone AR headset for 2019 that would run rOS — Apple’s reality operating system. Great. Just what we need: another Apple gadget. Maybe it’ll carry a spare battery.
The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.
- 21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Disney. The deal would involve the entertainment arm of the company, leaving Fox with its news and sports businesses. This could be the boost that Disney needs in the entertainment wars — particularly around boosting its streaming offering against Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and others.
- According to the latest edition of the Hub Research’s annual “Conquering Content” report, 52% of respondents said they primarily watch their favorite show through online sources such as Netflix — sharply up from just 31% a year ago.
- The NBA partnered with Turner Sports and Intel to make live NBA games available in VR to Turner subscribers beginning with 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend.
- Netflix’s secret weapon for testing new ideas? Comic books.
- Musical.ly, the maker of a lip-syncing app popular among teens and tweens, has agreed to be acquired by Chinese news and information site Beijing Bytedance Technology Co. for as much as $1 billion.
- Walmart‘s “Outside the Box” podcast is engaging but…it feels like the most un-Walmart piece of marketing ever.
- Program of the Week: This week, rather than a program of the week, we’re bringing you episodes of the week. To be specific, the 30 best podcast episodes of all time. 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
- How Mimikatz, a tool coded by a French government IT manager in his spare time, became a ubiquitous password stealer for hackers globally.
- And since there have been so many hacks recently, here’s a potential solution: verbal knowledge-based passwords.
- Connected toys are everywhere. Which is part of the problem. They’re. Everywhere. Mozilla developed a guide to connected toys for this holiday season: Privacy not included.
- Employers are using a range of technologies to monitor their staff’s web-browsing patterns, keystrokes, social media posts and even private messaging apps.
- If you get scam emails, send them to this chatbot and it will waste the scammers’ time for you.
- The mayor of San Francisco has asked Uber and Lyft to start testing passenger pick-up zones.
- Lyft has gained significant ground on Uber and will see its share of the ride hailing business rise by 61 percent by the end of the year, according to internal numbers.
- At the same time, Lyft’s COO Rex Tibbens is stepping down at the end of the year, in advance of what some say is the company’s expected IPO next year.
- Uber lost its appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London, which said that Uber must treat its drivers as workers.
- Uber’s CEO is rewriting the corporate culture amid backlash over a variety of ethically questionable decisions and behaviors throughout the company. Or rather writing it, since it was never codified.
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.
- Half of marketers worldwide say that analytics or predictive modeling are among the best tools for increasing return on investment.
- Here are 10 predictions for AI, big data, and analytics for 2018. Including: insights-as-a-service market will double as insight subscriptions gain traction; customer insight centers of excellence will remedy organizational misalignments; and more.
- One of the benefits of a Google / Salesforce collaboration is the integration of Google Analytics 360 with Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud.
Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.
- “It takes a special energy, over and above one’s creative potential, a special audacity or subversiveness, to strike out in a new direction.” Oliver Sacks on the three essential elements of creativity.
- When you have to stop because you’re stuck, let your mind relax. You may find that remarkable things happen in the state of being stuck, according to a renowned mathematician.
- Alexa can tutor your kids in science, math and computer science.
- The sh*t is really hitting the fan at Unicode (initially established to develop standards for translating alphabets into code that can be read across all computers and operating systems) where, if you can believe it, they have an Emoji Subcommittee and it’s in violent disagreement over one scatological icon. Inside the Great Poop Emoji Feud.
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Upcoming Brain+Trust Speaking Engagements
- SocialFresh in Orlando December 8-9, 2017 (Christopher and Tim)
Brain+Trust Partners helps smart, risk-taking executives discern the real from the hype. From strategy development to technology and data vendor selection, and streamlining processes, our focus is on digital business transformation that improves customer experience and drives efficiency for your company. 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 image credit: The Catch by Norman Rockwell, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain
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