Apple had this little event, television is still on top, Twitter and Google join forces, Facebook gave journalists the power of celebrities, which social networks you're most likely to find college kids on, Instagram brings back the 30-second spot, Uber had its ups and downs between the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and legal developments, how mobility-as-a-service will change your lifestyle, the State of American Podcasting report, consumers don't trust retailers with their data, the future of virtual reality and storytelling, our weekly trivia question and more, it's The Week in Digital.
A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.
Each Monday we publish 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 to keep up to date on developments.
News items are in regular text; additional commentary has been added in italics.
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This week, we tried something new using Facebook Mentions: 10 minutes of commentary and previews of what to expect from today's newsletter. If you follow me on Facebook and tune in every Sunday night, you can get a preview as well.
A preview of some topics in The Week in Digital for September 14, 2015.Posted by Scott Monty on Sunday, September 13, 2015
- Perhaps you heard there was an Apple event last week. As usual, Apple dominated the tech news, particularly with its larger iPad Pro, the interactive Apple TV and its updated iPhones. Of particular interest was what is essentially a phone leasing (loyalty?) program that guarantees customers a new phone every year for a perennial $32 a month. Plenty more was announced as well. But it did seem to drag on as it entered its third hour.
This Apple event is one of the best miniseries I've ever seen.— Dave Pell (@davepell) September 9, 2015
- One of the bright lights behind Apple's continued success is former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who holds the title of SVP of retail at Apple. There's a lengthy profile on her and her leadership style in Forbes that includes this killer quote about the importance of people in your strategy that more marketers need to grasp:
“The more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more we need to go back to the basic fundamentals of human communication.”
- Despite the longtime prediction that digital would kill television, it seems to have made it stronger. What are the driving forces behind the continued success of TV? Money is one. Between advertising revenue and owning the content that appears on its channels, television is still poised to do well in the future. And digital media was forced to adopt television's advertising model when it began. Not to mention that when you start with a dominant and ubiquitous medium, it has the advantage, even if it lags a bit in adopting new technology; most mainstream consumers aren't early adopters either.
- We have a discount code available for Christopher Penn's ebook series on digital marketing: Marketing White Belt, Marketing Red Belt, and Marketing Blue Belt. Just $9.99 each. Use discount code monty20 to get 20% off of any single title. Highly recommended (and one of our affiliate partners).
- Android Pay — Google's answer to Apple Pay — is rolling out. A number of major retailers are on board, including Rite Aid, Walgreen's, Toys 'R Us, GameStop, Whole Foods and more.
- Google and Twitter are joining forces to create their own version of Facebook's Instant Articles. The program will launch this fall, but unlike Facebook, will not host publishers' content directly on its site; the articles will be a cached snapshot of a webpage and readers will go directly to publishers' sites. This is a significant difference and one that may attract many more publishers — certainly smaller ones that can't afford or don't want to commit to the kind of arrangement that Facebook is offering.
- But with all of the data available to Facebook and its global domination, Knowledge@Wharton still had to ask: will Twitter remain in Facebook's shadow?
- If Twitter's CFO can't answer the question "Why Twitter?" the answer is yes.
- Twitter is getting more serious about iOS as it is creating a responsive product for a more seamless experience between desktop, iPhone and iPad.
- Journalists and anyone with that blue and white check mark next to their name on Facebook can now use Facebook Mentions to stream live video. In fact, we experimented last night with a video preview of this newsletter, with extended commentary. This could be Facebook's finger-in-the-eye to Twitter, which traditionally has been more useful for the news media.
- You know how the rainbowify-your-profile craze took off following the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage? There were a number of folks who worried about the social ramifications of when it was acceptable to change them back. It seems that now you won't have to worry about it, as Facebook is rolling out a feature that allows users to post temporary cause-based images. It would seem that some folks in my feed are clearly worried about the social stigma, as they're sticking with the rainbow images.
- One of Facebook's earliest employees is also one of the least known even though he's responsible for its Hollywood partnerships. Even though he prefers his pants hemmed at the ankle, he's okay in our book, as he says, "ties are my thing."
- If you're looking to reach college students, Facebook would be a good bet. According to polling by Fluent, it's the social network on which they spend more of their time than any other. This, despite their parents being there.
- Remember when the 30-second spot was supposed to be a thing of the past? The past is prologue as Instagram is allowing companies to make 30-second video ads. Instagram must be looking at advertising revenue through its 1977 filter.
- Instagram also debuted a new ad product called Marquee, a that lets advertisers "own a moment" and reach a large group of users quickly. This is ideal for big product launches or movie releases where brands want big first-day sales. Michael Kors became the first brand to use Marquee.
- For brands, social engagement may be more important than marketing. When properly implemented and understood, it can inform you of your customers' activities, tell you their preferences and give you a chance to build a deeper relationship — not just give you another place to shout your message at them, as many brands do.
- In its second hotel partnership, Uber is collaborating with Hilton, allowing guests to set up automatic reminders in the hotel's loyalty app to summon a car, and will be provided with access to nightlife and restaurant scenes frequented by Uber riders. The first such arrangement was between Starwood and Uber, in which Uber riders would receive SPG loyalty points. If Starwood really wanted to reward loyalty, they'd give me points for riding their shuttle buses.
- Everyone's favorite taxi stand queue may get a little relief, as Nevada has legalized ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber. Just don't expect any less smoke on the strip, once you arrive there.
- Adding to the ammo that Uber drivers should be considered employees is the California Employment Development Department's decision to uphold the previous findings. The EDD found that the driver was an employee, not a contractor. This follows a decision by a San Francisco judge the previous week that gave Uber drivers class action status.
- Taxi drivers in Sydney and Melbourne protested UberX, showing how much they care about citizen mobility by blocking streets during a rally. In a typical show of free market understanding (that's sarcasm, in case you missed it) one driver was very clear about their intentions: "We don't want [Uber] regulated, we want them out."
- Uber CEO Travis Kalanick appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but you didn't see the part where he was heckled and booed. Evidently Colbert took the heckler's questions and put them to Kalanick in a more genteel way.
- Despite all of the negative press — and even an environment that encourages Uber-bashing — admit it, you love Uber.
- With fewer companies contributing to early stage research that can benefit an entire industry, they're waiting to see how practical the applications are and are creating their own heavy-hitting research teams themselves. Therefore it's more likely than ever that you'll see something like Uber luring away a staff of 40 researchers and engineers from a university. Of course, this was after Uber and Carnegie Mellon University announced a partnership for its Advanced Technologies Center.
- The most funded segment of the collaborative economy is transportation. It shouldn't be a surprise with Uber, Lyft, Via, China's Didi Kuaidi and dozens of other entrants. Imagine then the ways that mobility as a service can change your life — everything from the decreased need to own a vehicle, to auto repair and car washes that come to you, to changes in the legal and insurance industries. The ripple effect will be felt in many industries.
- We had the opportunity to attend Techstars Mobility Demo Day in Detroit last week. It's the 18th city to operate a Techstars accelerator, and 10 companies presented - many of them in the automotive space. Two in that caught our eye: SPLT, a commuter ridesharing solution for employers; and Classics & Exotics, a kind of Airbnb for owners and would-be drivers of collectible automobiles.
- Westwood One has released its State of American podcasting report, a comprehensive look at the industry using studies such as Edison Research's Share of Ear report and a custom study by Ipsos. It indicates that it's a younger and more educated audience, with a proclivity toward mobile devices and an interest in spoken word:
- It's a Millennial-driven medium: Podcast listeners' median age is 30, versus 45 for radio and 57 for broadcast television networks.
- 61% of podcast listeners work part or full-time, and 55% have some college education or are college graduates.
- Half of total time spent listening to podcasts occurs on mobile phones, followed by one-third on computers. In contrast, half of total audio consumption time occurs on AM/FM devices.
- Personalities and talk shows are the leading content consumed by podcast listeners, taking up 66% of total podcast listening, followed by news podcasts with 22%
- Is your company doing anything about podcasting? As a podcaster myself with nearly a decade of shows under my belt, I'd be glad to consult with you on putting together a strategy of your own. Please get in touch.
- Does your content marketing pass the Mom test? That is, if you were to put it in front of your mom, would she really care? If not, you're in trouble. Mom, you're reading this, right?
- Writing is a critical part of creating content, whether your final product is a blog post or a video. The art of writing comes through practice, fine tuning and knowing what to omit. Here are five secrets from Hollywood that will help you become a better writer. Let's just hope that they're not taken from Rob Reiner's North.
- If you'd like to cut some legitimate corners in your content marketing work, try these 12 time-saving tools for content marketers. If you have a favorite, let us know what you use.
- IKEA has done remarkably well with its video content marketing. From its First :59 series in which it chronicled what people did for the first 59 minutes of their day, to IKEA Home Tour, it has highlighted real people in real situations.
Trivia question: What three industries will be most immediately impacted by virtual reality, according to Wired?*
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- Cross-channel attribution is a notoriously difficult thing to measure. Limited ability to track mobile performance is hampering a number of brands and agencies worldwide, according to a report by Econsultancy and Adobe.
- Measurement continues to move away from click metrics to focus on attention metrics — the length of time people are spending on your site or with your content.
- Related: you might want to pick up a copy of Ben Parr's Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- It's not just a European thing: consumers across 12 countries are wary of sharing information with retailers on the web, through social and in person.
- Here's why they might feel less than comfortable: the photo sites of CVS and Sam's Club were hacked earlier this summer, with user data possibly being stolen. As of the writing of this issue, the CVS photo site was still offline.
- If you're part of the crowd that is looking forward to autonomous cars (which, despite participation by Google, Apple, Uber and Tesla won't saturate the market any time soon), the latest in car hacking might be of concern: a researcher hacked the lidar sensors that self-driving cars rely on.
- Meanwhile, Toyota is putting $50 million into a collaboration with MIT and Stanford for artificial intelligence to help with driver safety. While other tech giants are hoping for driverless cars, Toyota realizes that drivers will be a key component in vehicles in the near and medium term, and is doing something to address it.
- The Burning Man festival is considering taking legal action against Quiznos, which produced a parody video of the event that shows how the anti-capitalist trope is being overrun by Silicon Valley types. "The course of this festival will determine the course of humanity. Until next week, when you return to your desk job." We'll see how far they get if they do in fact sue, as parody is one form of expression that has been found to steer clear of intellectual property claims.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- If you get a chance to check out the cover story of Fast Company, it's all about what makes Uber run. Of interest are the big bets that Uber is making: UberPool, an arrangement that competes more with mass transit than taxis), China and India, and driverless cars. It's an in-depth piece that gets to Travis Kalanick's drive to succeed that has permeated the entire company.
- We mentioned attention above. In terms of paying attention at work, there's been a recent trend toward the practice of mindfulness through meditation. However, recent studies have shown that mindfulness can wreak havoc with your memories, confusing the brain between real and false memories.
- You might want to try to think like Sherlock Holmes.
- The Vanity Fair piece on Facebook's plans for Oculus Rift is worth slogging through. When the virtual reality headset goes on sale to the general public next year, it's going to change the way people use the Internet.
- The rise of virtual reality means that content marketers need to learn a new way of storytelling that is appropriate for VR. We'll begin to see a shift away from moments to stories.
* Answer to the trivia question above:According to Wired, the three industries that virtual reality will impact next are: real estate, mental health and design and engineering.
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.