Determining the bigger weasel — Comcast or Microsoft, Netflix vs. everybody, the rise of artificial intelligence in everything, the Camp David of ad blocking, platform predictions for 2016, sharing is down on Facebook, huge gains in video views, Twitter's public policy efforts, customer experience matters from online to offline, SEC updates on influencer marketing, the best new app around, plus our weekly trivia challenge, the podcast pick of the week 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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Live Video Preview of The Week in Digital - Nov. 8, 2015
Posted by Scott Monty on Sunday, November 8, 2015
- Streaming video is still in the news in a major way:
- Netflix has made its name off of the backs of television network programming, among other things.
- So when Time Warner decides that it will delay the release of its shows to Netflix and CBS creates a new Star Trek series to run on its own streaming service, TV is reminding Neflix where most of the programming still lies. But with so many different platforms to choose from, a divide and conquer approach simply may not work.
- Alternatively, Disney is hedging its bets with distribution deals with Hulu, SlingTV and now Sony's Vue. As Craig Daitch put it in a comment on our Facebook video last night: "content hoarding will inevitably doom the networks unless they recognize and work with the aggregators."
- Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming ever-more popular. As autonomous driving becomes the latest must-have for automakers such as Tesla, Nissan, Hyundai and others (FYI, I was driving Ford vehicles that had semi-autonomous features as long as four years ago), we've seen AI announcements continuing:
- Toyota announced it is opening an artificial intelligence and robotic center in Silicon Valley.
- Google is rolling out Smart Reply in Inbox - an automated reply protocol.
- These are in addition to Facebook's announcement of M, its new AI assistant within Messenger, which we reported in August.
- If you schedule a meeting with me, I have my own AI-based virtual assistant that sets up my meetings.
- If you're dealing with young adults between 18 and 29 years of age, there's this: 86% of them own smartphones — but only 78% of them own laptops.
- Eyeo, the company that owns AdBlock Plus, held "peace talks" with advertisers in New York. Professor David Carroll was there and shared some of the preliminary definitions for "acceptable ads":
- Advertisements cannot contain animations, sounds, or “attention- grabbing” images.
- Advertisements cannot obscure page content or obstruct reading flow, i.e., the ad cannot be placed in the middle of a block of text.
- Advertisements must be clearly distinguished from the page content and must be labeled using the word “advertisement” or equivalent terms.
- Banner advertisements should not force the user to scroll down to view the page content.
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- You might be interested in platform predictions for 2016. In many ways, it's a return to the basics, which is exactly what we need after years of shiny-object syndrome.
- Large companies — particularly media companies — are finding there's a need for a new role: platform ambassador, who acts as a liaison between their in-house content teams and the major content platforms.
- Facebook's stock shot to a new high this week, upon its Q3 earnings call in which the social networking giant beat the street's estimate on earnings and advertising revenue, despite some serious infrastructure spending.
- Also, it crossed the 1.55 billion user threshold, with more than 1 billion average daily users over the entire quarter.
- Expect Facebook's news app Notify to launch this week, with content from “dozens of media partners” including Vogue, The Washington Post, Comedy Central, Billboard, and CBS. This is where things will get really interesting between Twitter and Facebook. Twitter, the real-time surfacer of news versus Facebook's drive for more content hosted directly on its platform to keep users there, rather than sending them to third party sites.
- ICYMI, the goal of Messenger is not to be a one-size-fits-all app, but to be a platform for developers.
- Sharing is down year-over-year, according to a report by Global Web Index. Only 34% of Facebook users updated their status, and 37% shared their own photos, down from 50% and 59% a year ago. As a result, Facebook is taking steps to encourage more posting.
- Facebook video views now stand at 8 billion views per day — double what it reported in April.
- Facebook isn't the only platform that's dominating in video views. Snapchat has tripled its video views since May, with over 6 billion views per day.
- Snapchat is making good money on its Sponsored lenses, in addition to its ads in the Discover section.
- In the latest privacy update, the platform let users know that it is not storing their private photos.
- Another are-they-dead-yet look at Twitter, this time from The Atlantic. They win for most creative image, anyway.
- Twitter has eliminated Favorites in favor of like-hearts. The change extends to Vine and was already part of Periscope. What's not to like?
- A new Public Policy Page shows the important work Twitter is doing on things like freedom of speech, Internet freedom, privacy, online safety, disaster response, corporate intellectual property and more. For all of the hoo-hah of whether or not Twitter is useful or has a place, it's worth a visit to this site to see the impact of Twitter around the world.
- Changes to the way LinkedIn Groups are managed have created problems for community managers.
- LinkedIn doesn't seem to have too much going for it right now in the way of user design or user experience. Here's how one dissatisfied user took matters into his own hands with a complete redesign.
- The GWI report also indicates that time spent on social networks is up this year as is the average number of user accounts. This means that consumers are spreading their time between more networks, spending less on each one individually.
- Proposition F was in front of San Francisco voters last week, and the measure to restrict Airbnb rentals was defeated 55% to 45%.
- Uber is continuing with its China expansion plans, despite major regulatory roadblocks.
- How do Uber and Airbnb influence legal and regular policy? By activating their extensive user base. This is where having loyal customers and fans truly helps businesses.
- The peer-to-peer vehicle rental service Relay Rides has rebranded as Turo.
- Uber is looking to raise another $1 billion, bringing its valuation as high as $70 billion — higher than GM, Ford or Honda. How is this possible? Our guess: Unicorn farts.
- A Taco Bell executive was fired after attacking an Uber driver — one that had a dashboard cam that captured the drunkard's questionable passenger etiquette. We have to say, we're surprised. Usually, people go on a bender and then go to Taco Bell.
- Spotify isn't killing the music industry; it's leading the way to the future of music, which is streaming rather than ownership.
- Facebook is doing its part to make music streaming mainstream as it adds Apple Music and Spotify song clips to your News Feed.
- The second season of "Serial" will stream on Pandora. There was some confusion about the term "exclusive" in the announcement; producers assured everyone that Serial would still be available as previously, just that Pandora was added as a streaming partner.
- Podcast Recommendation of the Week. This week, check out Grammar Girl, recommended by Erik Deckers. Your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage, and fun developments in the English language. Do you have a podcast recommendation for us? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts
Content / Customer Experience
[Note: this section is expanding to include customer experience-related material, as it reasonably represents the offline version of content marketing.]
- Blogging is the grandfather of content marketing, and there are still things you can learn from the latest blogging trends.
- Cyber Monday shoppers say that a poor online experience is enough to keep them from visiting a retailer's physical store: 47% say that they'd have second thoughts of visiting a retailer's store after a less-than-stellar online experience.
- If you want to deliver a breakthrough customer experience, spend time in your customers' shoes. McKinsey recommends this and six other key tactics as large companies push the boundaries and adopt next-generation digital thinking and practices.
- Microsoft announced changes to its OneDrive plans this week, including revoking unlimited storage for paying customers, replacing its 100GB and 200GB plans with a 50GB plan, and reducing its free plan from 15GB to 5GB. We're guessing they dropped unlimited storage because people were actually using it. This should go without saying but don't be like Microsoft.
- Not to be outdone, Comcast didn't announce but was caught quietly expanding a plan to limit the amount of data customers can use each month.
- The PR memo to their customer service team (those poor people) told them to avoid using the term "data cap," as there isn't a limit on data. Evidently there isn't a limit on being weasels.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- Here's a way to get people to read that overly long legalese in your Terms and Conditions: turn it into a graphic novel.
- Think twice about that negative review: some companies are suing consumers who post negative reviews. But Congress is looking into legislation to ban such "gag orders." If you can't say something nice...get a lawyer?
- If you're thinking about starting an Indiegogo or Kickstarter for your business or project, the SEC has 685 pages of juicy information on crowdfunding rules you need to read.
- FYI, there are still some sites out there that don't have to honor FCC do-not-track requests. These include sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn.
* Answer to the trivia question above:
- Amazon made headlines by opening a physical store in Seattle this week. The retail giant's online presence has resulted in the closing of hundreds of independent bookstores over the years. Thus, clearing the way for its own physical stores.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- An enterprising British man has created an app that filters out all Kardashian activity. While we may not be on board with AdBlock, we'll support this. Can we make him an honorary U.S. citizen while we're at it?
- Greenlight A Vet: Change one light to green in a visible location-on your porch, in your home, or at your office-and keep it glowing every day as a symbol of appreciation and support for our veterans. Then, share your support by taking a picture of your green light and posting it using the hashtag #greenlightavet.
- If you're in the advertising / marketing / communications industry, you might be accustomed to giving away your intellectual property for free. Here's how other industries respond:
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I advise brands and agencies to help them improve their communications and digital acumen. Please get in touch if you'd like to put my experience and digital smarts to work on a project, to consult with your group, or to address an audience at your next corporate or industry event.