The New York Times surprises with its digital subscriber numbers, a slowing of digital marketing budgets, Google tightens its ad technology, morale is low at Twitter, Facebook gets into livestreaming video- in a limited way - and will snitch on you to your banker, leaked documents from Uber provide a partial look at its finances, a San Franciscan denounces laundromats and exposes a wealth gap, a popular YouTube series develops a print publication, why it's so difficult to find a good analytics hire, a plethora of security breaches, the death of the Internet and more, it's The Week in Digital.
A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.
Each week, we compose a newsletter that includes a series of links about current events and trends in the worlds of technology, business, digital communications and marketing in order to keep leaders up to date on changes, newsworthy items and content that might be useful in your job. Based on subscriber feedback, we're now shifting to a Monday morning release. Please subscribe - either to the full feed or just to this newsletter to keep up to date on developments.
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If you're interested in getting your hands on some books, ebooks or other material that can help you become a smarter communicator or marketer, please see our Recommended Reading section.
- More than one million paid digital-only subscribers. That's an impressive statistic from the New York Times, which reported this milestone in addition to the 1.1 million print-and-digital subscribers.
- Just how did the NYT do it? A clever combination of giveaways (such as the NYT Now app, which you should get) and leveraging other platforms (Facebook's Instant Articles, Apple's News app, Starbuck's app and more), all as advertising revenue continues to drop. It's a bold move and it's been working.
- If you'd like a snapshot of the New York Times digital strategy, be sure to check out our analysis: smonty.co/digitalnyt.
- And yet - the media industry is taking a walloping on Wall Street in the wake of disappointing results from Disney and shrinking ad revenues at CBS, Viacom and 21st Century Fox.
- A study found that nearly half (46%) of campaigns are still siloed. Why? Marketing and communications teams fear the unknown. It's easy to keep doing what you know; it's more important to be where your audience is. [Click to TWEET THIS]
- From the CMO Council and Ebiquity: expect digital marketing budgets to continue to rise over the next two years, but with growth rates under 20%.
- Put this in your quiver: 32 PR tools and strategies to master public relations.
- Last week, we shared Christopher Penn's Marketing White Belt, a 101 course for digital marketers. If you're ready for the next level, then it's worth your while to check out his Marketing Red Belt course in this handy e-book. Highly recommended (and one of our affiliate partners).
- Google is cracking down on how advertisers buy YouTube ads. Third party systems such as AdX will no longer be eligible to participate in programmatic buying, as advertisers will be forced to go through Google's own AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager instead.
- There's now another pending antitrust case against Google in the EU. This one concerns whether ad clients are locked into contracts with Google's ad products such as DoubleClick.
- YouTube is getting better at analytics - in particular, removing the "301+" count that plagued almost every video count in its first 24 hours.
- With continued uncertainty over who will fill the CEO void and other vacancies, morale is low at Twitter headquarters. Being under such heavy public scrutiny is a difficult position for any company, let alone one that is undergoing a major upheaval. Our recommendation: develop a short- to medium-term business plan to address the issues and some tightly crafted and consistent messaging to clarify the story. Get out in front and tell your story; don't let others tell it for you. Build confidence through clear communication and with a number of company leaders.
- Twitter is trying out a dedicated News tab that has "Featured News."
- Maybe Twitter's future lies around customer service.
- With Google+ as its latest social failure, is Google ready to buy Twitter?
- Facebook may or may not be beating YouTube at its own game. But one disgruntled YouTuber took it upon himself to clarify the battle with Theft, Lies and Facebook Video. It seems to us that these are two very different beasts: Facebook is about serendipitous views of videos shared by your friends and brands that you like; YouTube is very much about search and discovery. Should Facebook ever decide to get its act together on search, then YouTube/Google might need to worry.
- Facebook launched Live, its livestream video feature in its Mentions app. At this point, it's only for Pages of celebrities, athletes, musicians and influencers who have Verified accounts. The rest of we mere mortals will have to be satisfied with Meerkat and Periscsope.
- Facebook filed patents that indicate it can help lenders by determining whether you're loan-worthy by looking at your social connections. Some are crying foul. But it just goes to show your mom was right: you really are judged by the company you keep.
- An often-overlooked and simple platform is Imgur, a visual communications tool that has millions of dedicated users. Advertisers are starting to catch on. Its young audience is about 75% male and has a large crossover with reddit.
- In two separate posts, I saw some experienced professionals indicate that they were alternately bored by Twitter and found Periscope uninteresting. It's not the platform; it's how you use it (or who you follow). That's not to say that Twitter couldn't make things easier to manage or that Periscope couldn't surface interesting content. But much of what need to be done - even on Facebook - is based on how you manage the platform, not how the platform manages you.
- There's an Uber for everything now. What about an Uber for the advertising agency business? An on-demand model that allows for faster adaptation to industry trends could be just the thing.
- Gawker (which we will not link to) initially unearthed some leaked financial documents from Uber that indicate some large losses (re/code link) - perhaps as much as $200 million in 2014.
- However, as any business student will tell you, those numbers are useless without context. We need more information about operations, costs, investments - particularly whether some are one-time charges or recurring costs.
- Look out, ride-sharers: Austin wants a bigger piece of the action from Uber and Lyft with tighter regulations and a $1-per-ride fee.
- There's a new high-power regulatory consulting firm focused on helping collaborative economy startups that takes equity in lieu of cash.
- We know the economics of the so-called "sharing economy" - an incredible misnomer, if there ever was one - are far from equitable. But in one tweet, the twisted reality of Silicon Valley myopia was demonstrated for all to see as one individual thought that laundromats are a thing of the past. Given the way some hipsters present themselves, I could have guessed that.
- Makerbase has launched. It's like the IMDb for the maker movement.
- I was in New York last week and had another opportunity to use the ride-hailing service Via. It's similar to other services in that it is a taxi alternative, but with three key differences: it will take you to a limited section of Manhattan (usually following the Avenues and dropping you off at corners), you share the ride with others along the way, and it only costs $5. I was impressed with the speed, comfort and value.
- If you'd like some free rides, please use my referral code when signing up: scott5q3.
- True story from last week's ride: when we picked up one passenger, he remarked that not only are the drivers friendly, but most passengers usually are too, leading me to remark, "Someone should combine the API of Via with Tinder." Well, lo and behold...
- Congratulations to my friend Jay Baer and his Social Pros podcast for taking home the 2015 Content Marketing Award for Best Podcast.
Social Fresh Conference, Sept 23-25 in Tampa, has less than 100 tickets left. This year's speaker list is outstanding! Featuring Jay Baer, Scott Monty, Chris Brogan, Twitter, HP, Patron, Priceline, Buffer, The Today Show, American Eagle and more. Social Fresh is one track, with no fluff — filled with highly actionable and practical content.
- Motor Trend is bucking the trend: the popular automotive publication, with an impressive YouTube series "Roadkill," is developing a quarterly print publication.
- Marketers and communicators are supposed to be great storytellers, right? Well, most marketers are terrible at it. Why? The reason might surprise you.
- When you're creating content for video, keep in mind that searches related to "how to" on YouTube are growing 70% year over year.
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- You probably have an analytics job opening at your company. After all, it's a hot area in digital marketing and communications right now. But why is it so difficult to find a good analytics candidate?
- Brands are looking beyond holding companies, advertising agencies and media buying firms to drive marketing performance and handle exploding data, digital migration and channel fragmentation. The new candidates are more likely to be specialists than the traditional incumbents. If history is any guide, expect a raft of these specialty providers to be acquired by the holding companies within a year.
- Here's a great use for big data: improving the customer experience. From predicting staffing needs to tracking customer behavior, there are practical applications that make for a happier customer.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- Well, it finally happened. Tesla was mentioned in the same stories as Jeep. A Tesla was hacked last week from the Defcon conference in Las Vegas, making vehicle security an even higher priority. In true Silicon Valley style, it was done from an iPhone. Great. Now will someone see if they can hack SpaceX from the International Space Station?
- Apple computers were long thought to be immune from hackers. That myth effectively ended this week, as researchers demonstrated a worm that could attack a Mac without using the Internet and infect it and every device it is attached to within seconds. Only buy OEM-approved products, kids.
- We've reached a new low: hackers exploited a vulnerability in Flash technology used on Yahoo! ads and sent malicious code. It kind of serves Yahoo! right for still using Flash.
- Also under fire this week were American Airlines and the Sabre reservations system, both of which were victims of a Chinese hacker. We're thinking we might need to create a new newsletter called The Week in Security Breaches.
- Everything you need to know about password security - explained by 19th century sexual slang.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- An important read: With every media outlet as a syndication service, social media usurping brand identity, the importance of speed over thoughtfulness, and other drastic changes from just 10 years ago, will 2015 be the year that the Internet dies?
- Netscape was founded 20 years ago. Here's a look at how it started and where it led.
- Inspiration from the top: 15 tips and secrets from top CEOs.
I consult with agencies and brands to help them improve their corporate and digital acumen. Please get in touch if you'd like to put my experience and digital smarts to work on a project, to advise your group, or to address an audience at your next corporate or industry event.