An amazing week for Amazon, an unfaithful tech wizard at Ashley Madison, a real-life remote control causes Fiat Chrysler to issue a software update, mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications, mobile and analytics industries, Google can track you even more closely, scheduling real-time ads in advance, the difficulty of wooing YouTube stars, the latest GMOOT* app, how content can drive a massive brand lift, strategy trumps technology in digital success 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. Please subscribe - either to the full feed or just to this newsletter to keep up to date on developments.
If you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links - and additional ones - by subscribing to the The Week in Digital Magazine at smonty.co/flipdigital.
- It was a big week for Amazon, which announced a profitable second quarter - a surprise to many Wall Street analysts.
- After-hours trading drove the online retailer to a higher valuation than Wal-Mart on Thursday.
- The company also announced an expansion of Amazon Home Services in a number of markets, for people looking for professional services.
- And the grocery business is up next as Amazon is planning drive-up grocery stores.
- Recent research from the Society of Digital Agencies (first reported in our May 17, 2015 issue) indicates that there has been a 27% increase in the number of companies that no longer work with external agencies. Take a look at five reasons companies are bringing their marketing in house.
- Expect better mobile crisis communications at the enterprise level as BlackBerry has acquired AtHoc, a company that develops emergency alert systems for government agencies, the military and healthcare personnel. Better exchange of real-time information is critical to business continuity as well as live-saving operations. This is likely a life-saving operation on the part of BlackBerry as well, as it looks to focus on software rather than hardware, in order to better compete with other mobile providers.
- Windows 10 is coming. Here are six reasons to upgrade now.
- The future of television?
- The AT&T / DirecTV merger received a green light from the FCC.
- With traditional television viewing down, Comcast is getting cozy with several digital media publishers, including BuzzFeed, Vice, Vox and Business Insider.
- Verizon is set to launch a mobile video service called Go90, with full episodes of TV shows from select networks as well as music videos, live music, exclusive events, sports and other shortform content. It won't mimic TV but will be focused on the mobile customer.
- Worth watching these developments. If successful, together they may define the future of "television" viewing.
- Google Maps will now track your whereabouts in Your Timeline, even matching photos you took with the places you visit. When considered in conjunction with the RideWith driverless car app, Google is going to know just about everything about you - even more than it currently does. Let's just hope that Ashley Madison doesn't get a hold of it.
- If you're a Google+ user and you haven't switched to the Photos app yet, you have until August 1st to do so. That is the date that Google is shutting down Google+ Photos.
- YouTube hasn't heard a resounding huzzah for its plan to implement an ad-free subscription service, but that hasn't stopped it from pushing ahead anyway. At issue for YouTube content partners: their content might appear on other video platforms, so they might not want exclusivity with the video giant; and if they opt of out of the paid model, they're barred from posting their videos on the traditional advertising-supported version.
- Be careful if you're criticizing brands on Twitter. No, really criticizing them. Herbalife has filed a court petition to discover the identity of a user - @AfueraHerbaLIES, who has been tweeting false and damaging statements about the company.
- Managing to anger people who didn't even know it was an option, Twitter announced that it is unilaterally removing wallpaper backgrounds from accounts. It's only for the home and notification pages for logged in users, and the intent is to show a more unified and consistent experience for non-logged in users. Of course, that explanation wasn't enough to stop Internet outrage or conspiracy theorists.
- If you've ever cringed at some of the purchased trending topics or ads during major real-time events, or perhaps issued yourself a dope slap after forgetting when National Root Beer Float Day landed (It's August 6. You're welcome.), then you should be pleased that Twitter has developed a calendar of live events that brands can buy real-time ads against - in advance. Something that makes it easier for lazy marketers to game events with faux-authentic real-time marketing? Why yes, I'd love to. /sarcasm
- Wooing YouTube stars to Facebook has its challenges. It hasn't turned out quite as well as Facebook has hoped, with the video stars seeing the same or fewer views on Facebook.
- And it may be an uphill battle, as viewing time on YouTube has increased by 60% year over year.
- But Facebook has a secret weapon: when users try to post a YouTube link, Facebook wants to know if it's really what they intended.
- According to a New York state appeals court, Facebook cannot challenge broad search warrants on behalf of users;
- It is possible to boost sales via Instagram. But be careful: it's about experiences, not products; and you need to be generous to your fans in terms of their content and their comments.
- Meerkat isn't giving up its fight against Periscope just yet: soon GoPro users will be able to livestream via Meerkat's iOS app. And you thought you got motion sickness from a shaky handheld camera on Meerkat.
- Speaking of shaky video: a new app called Beme debuted this week. It's an app that makes shooting and sharing videos and selfies seamless. But do people really want that much authenticity? Great just what we needed - more selfies and crappy videos. Related: here's what it looks like at social media agencies this week:
- Lyft is partnering with Starbucks to give Starbucks Rewards to passengers who use the ride-hailing service, in an effort to boost its loyalty program. Expect it to launch later this year. But will they stop at Dunkin Donuts for me?
- Speaking of loyalty, celebrities like Kate Upton, Ashton Kutcher and Neil Patrick Harris came out of the woodwork this week to support Uber's efforts to stand up to New York City.
- Between that, the De Blasio feature on the app, an email campaign and good old fashioned protesters, it worked. The city will conduct a four month study on the environmental effects of on-demand car services. The score is now Uber 1, De Blasio 0. We wonder if the "environmental effects" includes the disgust, dismay and nausea that taxi passengers suffer when subjected to a dirty, noisy, un-air conditioned cab with a vanilla car freshener, a dashboard full of warning lights and a surly driver.
- One has to wonder: ethically, is Uber a better choice than a taxi?
- As the collaborative economy grows - both in people served as well as in awareness - more large companies are getting on board. With over 190 documented examples that range from crowdfunding to the maker movement and more, big companies are no longer sitting on the sidelines. But will profitability follow?
- According to research through May 2015 by Triton Digital, streaming audio listeners are a mobile bunch. Over 75% of listening time between 6 am and 8 pm every day occurs on mobile devices. Pandora continues to lead the crowd in adoption.
It's almost here! Tickets for Content Marketing World 2015 in September are almost gone. Join your colleagues to get the best information about the content marketing industry.
[Disclosure: affiliate link]
- This study shows how content can drive a massive brand lift, through subscription-worthy content, deeply engaged readers, the development of trust and purchase intent.
- Disney has always been smart about content. If you'd like to get a glimpse of Disney's strategy circa 1957, you'll see it places their film business at the center of everything they do, with television, music, parks, comics, licensing and publications all playing off of the films and each other.
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- For a quick and simple way to drive traffic, have you ever tried using Google's Autocomplete function with some of your keywords? It's genius.
- Buffer explains why they stopped focusing on social media ROI. Foolishness or practicality? Either way, something meaningful needs to be measured - and ultimately its impact on the business needs to justify its existence.
- Social analytics company Sysomos acquired social marketing platform Expion. The tie-up means a more comprehensive solution for companies that need to take action after getting insights and that are looking to streamline the number of technologies they use.
- Twitter now allows developers to create custom events in its analytics tool (made possible by its Answers acquisition last year) to make it possible to get as much detail as possible in a customized fashion. Take that, Facebook Insights!
- Katie Paine is fond of saying that tracking website hits should be H.I.T.S. - How Idiots Track Success. It seems that we may be getting beyond that for content metrics: engaged time (previously known as "time spent") is gaining traction as an important metric.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- The parent company of Ashley Madison, Cougar Life and Established Men, the site for adults who want to cheat on their partners, is the latest victim of a data breach / hack. Of particular note is that the hackers are planning to expose data of customers who participated in a so-called paid "data wipe" program that allegedly rid the Ashley Madison servers of users' data. The full statement from The Impact Team is available on Krebs On Security. Call us naive, but we're astounded that 37 million people used those services. BTW, the site's slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair." We'll how short the life of the site is. Meanwhile...
Ashley Madison hacked & identities of cheating spouses stolen. Bill Clinton whistles softly & slowly backs out of room. #ReadyForHillary— Seymour Sludgeworth (@SSludgeworth) July 20, 2015
- Of course, the kind of data breach that occurred at Ashley Madison could happen anywhere. It's just that other online businesses are likely less nefarious. Unless it's Gawker.
- And if you're a Jeep customer (or any vehicle that comes with its own wifi connection), you might have cause for some concern as hackers worked their way into a car this week. Of course, if you rely on your phone for your connected car, as with Ford (my former employer) or Automatic (for which I'm an advisor), you have less cause for concern. Then again, if you're the CEO of Ashley Madison and you drive a Jeep...
- By Friday, Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles to address the software issues that made the hack possible.
- If you're about to head into the streets with your hair on fire now, take a quick read about the two most overhyped security threats to calm yourself down.
- But if you're a Lifelock customer, you might have reason to be concerned: the FTC filed a complaint that the data protection company was not adhering to an order and settlement that required the company to establish and maintain a comprehensive security program to protect sensitive personal data users entrust to the company as part of its identity-theft protection service.
- We recently became aware of IDShield, an identity theft protection company that insures you with up to $5 million in coverage and Kroll private investigators who will help resolve any issues. We're testing out the service and will have an interview with IDShield's CEO soon.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- The 2015 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte identifies strategy, not technology, as the key driver of success in the digital arena. This is a must-read for any individual in business today.
- From HR to marketing, the CIO to the corporate strategist, digital fluency requires the ability to articulate the value of digital technology to the enterprise [TWEET THIS].
- And when you consider that the majority of employees across age groups want to work for a digitally enabled company [TWEET THIS], it's worth a read.
- You want to get smarter every day, right? Here's a way - nearly three dozen, in fact - to make that happen: 33 websites that will make you a genius.
- What does it take to become a successful startup founder? Here are five less-than-flattering traits that can make startup founders great. Yeah, yeah. Now where's the next season of Silicon Valley already?
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.
*GMOOT = Get Me One Of Those