The cord-cutting apocalypse is upon us, the New York Times thinks it went too far with Amazon, the most overhyped technologies of 2015 (and we're just a little more than halfway through the year!), the latest mobile and social data from Pew, get your marketing belt on, Google and Uber both have a thing for India, brands get GIFs on Facebook, Uber will go public within two years, Airbnb and Tesla get charged up, content marketing doesn't work, Ashley Madison resorts to DCMA notices to protect its data, the scorched earth approach to strategy 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. A new issue is available every Monday morning. Please subscribe - either to the full feed or just to this newsletter to keep up to date on developments.
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- The cord-cutting apocalypse is now a reality: for the first half of 2015, the number of traditional cable subscribers shrunk.
- With all of the streaming options out there, it's not that difficult to cut the cord - even for a TV addict.
- Comcast is getting serious about its streaming portal Watchable: it plans to give video creators a bigger cut of ad revenue than Facebook or YouTube.
- Meanwhile, Comcast is releasing its livestream sharing app Xfinity Share so customers can stream videos on their TVs as well as TVs of other subscribers. Think about this for a moment: at the very time that Periscope, Meerkat, Blab and other mobile livestream video apps are launching, now you have the ability to broadcast live video directly to the television of someone you know.
- After the New York Times' scathing story on Amazon's workplace, even its editor Margaret Sullivan agreed with some pundits who had a problem with the balance of the story, noting that it was a little light on proof, relying more on "generalization and anecdote."
- However, the headline from The Onion didn't seem all that farfetched in the aftermath: Jeff Bezos Assures Amazon Employees That HR Working 100 Hours a Week to Address Their Complaints.
- Whether it's this specific news or something negative about another major brand, society has a tendency to believe the worst about a company - particularly when the company is large. Think Walmart, GM or Google. Regardless of how committed a company is to improving the world in which we live or giving back to the communities in which they do business, the prevailing reaction amid a crisis is schadenfreude. Society takes glee in the misfortune of successful companies. How do you get around that? It helps to have a human face - or many - interacting with customers day after day and making it a more relatable entity.
- One of the best companies around in customer service is none other than a bank. TD Bank celebrates its customers every day.
Quick - can you name the five most overhyped technologies of 2015? The answer is below in the final section.*
- The latest study on mobile messaging from the Pew Research Center indicates that 36% of smartphone owners use some sort of messaging app such as WhatsApp, Kik or iMessage.
- Half of smartphone owners age 18-49 use messaging apps.
- 41% use apps that automatically delete messages.
- 85% of adults are Internet users and 67% are smartphone users.
- 25% of online adults have commented on some discussion site, with 15% regularly using Digg, reddit or Slashdot; 23% of 18-29 year-olds frequent them.
- Facebook sees 72% of adult Internet users and 82% of 18 to 29 year-olds.
- In a move that solidifies two social relationship management companies with excellent reputations, Spredfast acquired Shoutlet.
- In the previous weeks, we shared Christopher Penn's ebook series on marketing expertise: Marketing White Belt, Marketing Red Belt, and Marketing Blue Belt. Highly recommended (and one of our affiliate partners).
- Not content with allowing Facebook to dominate the historical look at your timeline, Google Photos are introducing Rediscover This Day to allow you to reminisce over photos taken in years past on a given date.
- Google is offering OnHub, a stylish wifi router for your home for just $199. It's designed to be easy to use and foolproof for better reception. This is likely a support to Google's continued push into the fiber market. And before you ask, no, it won't be doing anything creepy like listening to you.
- India is a growth market for Google: YouTube has opened a production studio in Mumbai, looking to court up-and-coming Indian video stars. What's the digital version of Bollywood?
- Twitter content will now appear in Google search results on desktops.
- Twitter Audience Platform expands ads beyond the app and website, and means that the company's network may appeal to a broader group of advertisers. This could help Twitter's growth issues of late by getting more of its content in front of non-users.
- Remember Facebook Notes? They're baaaack. Well, they never went away, technically. But they're coming back in a format that makes them competitive with Medium, a simple and clean blogging platform. This could make users' relationship with Facebook much deeper and involved.
- Who's getting the better deal on consumers' relationship with Facebook? With all of your data being gobbled up by Facebook and being used to get paid content in front of you, some think Facebook should be paying us.
- Well, it's finally happening. Facebook is opening up animated GIFs for brands to use in Page posts and ads. Let us know if you see the Four Horsemen on the horizon.
- Forrester Research recommends that social marketers give up their ad budgets and hand the money over to the practitioners that really know how to make ad budgets work: media buyers.
- Another month, another leaked Uber presentation. This one is fairly significant, though: Uber is planning to go public in 18-24 months and is on track to make over $10 billion this year. While there may be many unicorns currently and the market may be ready for a correction, we think Uber is immune because of its scale and demand for its services. As long as it can continue to show growth and innovation, it's a keeper.
- It's clear: California hates Uber. The district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco think the ride hailing company is lax in its background checks, as they've unearthed a killer, a kidnapper and a burglar who drove for Uber. That's kind of unfair. These guys could have jobs almost anywhere.
- Uber continues its push into India with a significant investment from none other than a subsidiary of the Tata Group. With 150,000 drivers across 18 Indian cities and a market share of over 35% in the country, Uber has made a splash in just two years in the country.
- As if that isn't a positive enough indicator, Uber also plans to offer free wifi in cars for customers in India.
- Here's how Airbnb is beating Uber at its own game in China. Rather than trying to build an inventory by recruiting within and travelers to the country, Airbnb is focusing on travelers from China.
- Here's an interesting collaboration: Tesla is working with Airbnb to make road trips easier for its electric car owners. The automaker is giving Airbnb hosts free home charging stations to allow its drivers to plug in while they're staying at Airbnb. Smart move. It capitalizes on the overlap of customers (a likely thing, given the Silicon Valley origin of each) And it's a clever way to market to Airbnb hosts without getting them to come out to do a test drive.
- You know who benefits from the collaborative economy more than hipster? Seniors. That's right, the over-60 crowd account for 10% of Airbnb hosts and the 50+ crowd make up some 25% of Uber's drivers. In many ways, they're a perfect demographic for the gig economy: they have free time and may be looking for ways to supplement their income with part-time work.
- Check out Howl: the distribution solution may be the Netflix of podcasts.
- Need a sponsor for a podcast? Big data can help surface some likely suspects.
- Storytelling as a marketing concept may seem trite and overused, but here's the thing: few are doing it really well. Here are five quotes about storytelling to get you motivated.
- This may come as a shock, but content marketing doesn't work. Why? Because it needs high quality content and long-term commitment - both of which require significant time and effort. That means that the automated elements of other areas of marketing - such as SEO or PPC - aren't possible, as you're dealing with emotions and reactions of readers. Unless you're putting in the kind of effort necessary to sustain that, it's likely not working for you.
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- Here's a way to determine the ROI of social media: Bloomberg LP is using brands' social media feedback to provide ratings on Bloomberg terminals. Shareablee, a NYC-based startup, is partnering with Bloomberg to provide the data. While innovative and potentially helpful, using a single service to analyze and rank brands is a dangerous precedent. Who's to say that Shareablee's solution is the most accurrate? Much can change over three years - the length of the contract - on the platforms and with the public that could affect how brands are rated. This all-in approach has risks.
- The old social media ROI - it's a bit of a dark art, but it's possible.
- If you're a marketer, you should be investing. Why? Because you're already good at spotting trends.
- You've heard of a CDO - Chief Digital Officer. But what about the other CDO - Chief Data Officer? More companies are investing because of the many disparate sources of data, the need for governance, cost cutting and better utilization of current data.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- The Ashley Madison data breach got serious, with a verified release of user data - including email addresses of many of its customers. Government officials, businesspeople, celebrities - no one was spared. The consequences for its parent company may be catastrophic, as they assured users of the privacy of their data, even offering a "full delete" option that doesn't seem to have worked. A class action lawsuit may be in the works.
- Meanwhile, Ashley Madison thinks it can stop the conversation about the breach by claiming copyright and using DMCA notices to try to get the content taken down - even if the content is two cells of an Excel spreadsheet that read "Institution" and "Acct. #." They may have a difficult time proving the proprietary nature of those terms.
- It's tempting to trade off of something happening to a celebrity in the news. And Safeway has learned that they can't use Michael Jordan's name to sell steaks, as a subsidiary of the supermarket chain lost an $8.9 lawsuit to the tune for using Jordan's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame as part of one of their ads. Always get permission. Next time, they'll do it the safe way.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- Your one article to bookmark this week: one that brings together many disparate facts from the social media industry, telling marketers to throw out what you know - including your existing metrics - in the spirit of building a strategy that serves a business goal.
- The trim tab is a small but powerful part of a mighty ship's rudder. Buckminster Fuller waxed poetically on improving your impact on society by doing little things - i.e. by being a trim tab and relying on low pressure to make thing happen: "you build that low pressure by getting rid of a little nonsense, getting rid of things that don’t work and aren’t true until you start to get that trim-tab motion." It truly is the little things that count.
- If you're interested in ethical leadership, you could do a lot worse than to study the Kobayashi Maru, the no-win scenario in a Starfleet training exercise in Star Trek.
- *Did you guess the five most overhyped technologies of 2015? According to Gartner, they are: autonomous vehicles, advanced analytics with self-delivery, the Internet of Things, speech-to-speech translation, and machine learning. What will next year bring?
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.