Things get ugly for Uber in France and uglier for Reddit everywhere, Twitter chats go out of control, Facebook expands its ad revenue model for video, Americans are furious with marketers, former employees may be hating on you online, Airbnb has made an impact in San Francisco, testing whether Apple Music is worth it, an experiment from the Virginia Quarterly Review, credit card security for the selfie generation, the tech industry bubble exists - but it's not that bad - and more, it's This 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.
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- Another soap opera this week - just call it As the World Upvotes. Redditors are in an uproar following the dismissal of Reddit employee Victoria Taylor, who as head of communications was the critical link between the company and the community. Moderators (to be clear, these are users, not staffers) shut down Reddit's popular "ask me anything" feature, as well as a number of subreddits.
- Moderators are now expressing their dissatisfaction with the management and the way the company has been run for some time.
- Reddit CEO Ellen Pao - who herself has been at the center of a sexual harassment lawsuit against VC firm Kleiner Perkins - stepped into the fray, acknowledging poor support of the moderators and the need to improve the tools. That hasn't satisfied angry Redditors (and boy, are they an angry bunch!), 150,000 of whom are calling for the dismissal of "Chairman Pao."
- The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage was a windfall for Facebook. The platform made it easy for users to create a rainbow overlay onto their profile pictures, lighting up the network with tens of millions of colorful images. But The Atlantic wonders: was it another sociological study? Given the lack of trust garnered from Facebook's past instances of running fast and loose with user data and privacy, we can't blame them for asking.
- A recent study out of UPenn's Annenberg School for Communication indicates that Americans are secretly furious with marketers. But they still put up with it - because, hey, what are you gonna do? - even though the exchange of data for discounts is wildly lopsided. Listen in on Episode 52 of The Marketing Companion for an enlightening discussion on this topic and click through to the link to the study for a deeper dive.
- Chicago has decided it will implement a "cloud tax" aimed at streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. Get those VPNs ready - no taxation without authentication!
- Microsoft is dialing back its advertising business, and AOL is dialing up, taking over responsibility for sales of display, mobile and video ads on Microsoft properties in the U.S. and eight other markets.
- If ever it was time to assess how you treat employees, it's now: some 38% of fired or laid-off employees post negative reviews of their employers online.
- Yahoo is supplementing its own search results. With Google.
- Still trying to figure out Snapchat? Here's the Noob's Guide to Using Snapchat.
- The next CEO of Twitter will face some challenges, according to outgoing CEO Dick Costolo. Among them: establishing a long-term strategy, rather than the quarter-to-quarter focus that Wall Street is enamored with. Because that short term strategy has been working so well.
- It was a rough week for Twitter chats. First, 50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James participated in #AskELJames in an effort to promote her latest book, and as anyone might have predicted from the controversial previous books, the chat quickly spiraled out of control.
- And because the above story was based in the UK (even though it was covered internationally), US presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal's team still thought it was a good idea to host an #AskBobby Twitter chat the very next day. We'll let you guess what happened.
- While it's not Twitter, it's notable because it's another gaffe: Ted Cruz took to YouTube (under the guiding hand of BuzzFeed Video) to do Simpsons impressions. It's so bad we won't embed the video here. Be aware: we warned you. But if you'd like a quality Simspons demo reel, listen here.
- Note to marketers, candidates, executives and anyone else in the public eye who would like to host a Twitter chat: in general, the concept is a sound one. However, don't expect the world to share your view that what you're promoting or selling is the best thing ever, or to be as universally as excited about it as you are. Especially if you have your fair share of detractors out there. You will lose control (ref. Reddit above).
- Continuing to expand the functionality of its most intimate of apps, Facebook's US users can now send money via Messenger. Shut up and take my money.
- A new feature on mobile will make it easier for users to share links by making a link icon and a searchable database of Facebook posts.
- Now, advertisers will have the option of paying for Facebook video ads only when they are viewed for at least 10 seconds.
- The new Suggested Video feed is a boon to video creators. If an ad appears near a video, the video creator will receive 55% of the ad revenue. Of course, this is only initially open to advertisers and media companies. Meanwhile, YouTube is not really concerned about the competition, as it states its video model is unique.
- Facebook changed its logo last week. Did you notice? Yeah, neither did we.
- The saga continues in France. Two Uber executives were arrested last week and will stand trial for running an illegal taxi operation.
- Amid the hubbub, Uber shut down the UberPOP service in France. However, that didn't stop consumer demand: Uber downloads hit an all-time high amid the taxi strike.
- In Istanbul, Uber is launching UberBOAT to help commuters get around the Bosphorus. We would have expected it to launch first in Venice, but the gondola union must be pretty formidable.
- Uber is expanding to 18 cities in India, making it the second largest market after the US.
- Expanding its mapping capabilities, Uber has acquired part of Bing's mapping assets. This follows a $3 billion bid for Nokia's Here mapping system, which we covered in the May 17th issue.
- Acknowledging the impact that Airbnb has had on its city, rather than fighting it and issuing infractions, San Francisco is creating the Office of Short Term Rental Administration and Enforcement.
- An investor thinks that Google's self-driving car project will be turned into Free Rides and will ultimately undercut Uber. Driverless cars mean no revenue split, and if Google wanted to offer it for free, the exchange would be our identity and our location.
- Ford Motor Credit is partnering with GetAround to allow Ford vehicle owners to share their vehicle as part of a Smart Mobility initiative.
- Sure, Uber gets all of the headlines - but is an Avis strategy ("We try harder") right for Lyft? Some think that it is.
- Apple Music became available this week. Should you ditch your Spotify account? Only if you want music videos. And no free ad-supported version.
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- The Virginia Quarterly Review is trying something new with its reporters: Instagram stories.
- This should be the only list of tools you ever need: the Big List of 200+ Content Marketing Tools.
- Brand engagement is the #1 goal of content marketers. And if they want more engaged fans, we know they need to improve their content. But in order to do that, they need marketing technology to help them.
- Whether you're engaging them on your own site or someone else's it's critical to support your business goals. Here's how the New York Times finds new subscribers on Facebook with its content.
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- Data is important to marketers, with 43% saying that they plan to spend more on data-driven marketing in Q2 2015 over Q1. And they typically have multiple sources of data: first-, second- and third-party data. Not surprisingly, they place a premium on first-party data when it comes to gleaning insights about customers.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- China's new national security law should make technology companies think twice. The vague language in the law states that technology that supports crucial sectors should be "secure and controllable," which, according to the New York Times "could be used to force companies to build so-called back doors — which allow third-party access to systems — provide encryption keys or even hand over source code."
- Meanwhile, MasterCard aims to help customers sleep more soundly with a security feature for the selfie generation: it will approve purchases based on a scan of customers' faces.
- Meanwhile, as vehicle-to-vehicle communications come closer to a reality, the automotive industry is under pressure to ensure that vehicles are secure by implementing encryption and authentication. Just don't tell me that I need two-step verification when I'm trying to unlock my car in a hurry in the rain.
- Make a note of this one: the US Supreme Court has refused to hear Google's appeal of a case against Oracle, in which Oracle claimed that its API for Java - which Google used in Android - was under copyright. The implication is that there is a new layer of legal risk for any company that builds on an application programming interface (API) of another company - that is, on the very thing that some companies put in place to allow developers to build off of their platforms. Did we mention that lawyers often put the "no" in innovation?
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- Last week we reported on Google's News Lab, a set of digital journalism tools for media companies and brands. For a deeper dive on research, reporting, distribution and optimization, read on.
- The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Well, not really, but if you listen to some tech pundits, they'll tell you that despite rampant denials, the tech industry's bubble is about to burst. Others acknowledge the bubble but reassure us that it's not that bad.
- With Cannes Lions a distant memory (until agencies start thinking about the awards they want to win next year), one industry executive thinks the ad industry needs to heed the wake-up call that it's been sleeping through.
ICYMI, I opened a consultancy to help companies with 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 or to advise your group.