Google spells out its changes, Apple may be driving sales, NBCUniversal invests in new media, Target troll targets Target trolls, ad blocking may be killing the Internet, using Twitter to get free pizza, Facebook says "haha," the FDA cracks down on Instagram posts, trends in crowdfunding, podcasts as the new blogs, a practical guide to content and metrics, more automotive security issues, Amazon may not be quite as amazing on the inside 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. Based on subscriber feedback, we're now shifting to a Monday morning release. 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.
If you're interested in getting your hands on some books, ebooks or other material that can help you become a smarter communicator or marketer, please see our Recommended Reading section.
- Last Monday, Google made a surprise announcement with the formation of Alphabet, a new operating structure that gives the company and its executives the ability to prioritize and compartmentalize operations.
- Here's a chart that helps make sense of some of the divisions.
- And Alphabet's products and companies from A to Z.
- Google has grown tremendously and special pet projects have been distractions or haven't gotten enough attention, and the holding company model is one that will give the company and its executives breathing room and focus.
- It looks like we're about to get another entry in the self-driving car lineup. Project Titan is Apple's electric self-driving car and it's farther along than previously expected, according to documents obtained by The Guardian.
- Comcast knows a thing or two about video; so its foray into digital video that will rival Facebook and Google makes sense. A key component of that will likely play out with NBCUniversal's $400 million in deals with Vox Media and BuzzFeed ($200 million each).
- MCX, a mobile payment option to rival Apple Pay, will go into testing in the coming weeks at Walmart, Target and Darden Restaurants locations.
- Target had a rough week on Facebook. After the company made decisions around gender-based assignations to some of its departments, the predictable public outcry began. And then an account called "AskFor Help" — complete with a Target logo — began to troll the complainants, offering up a healthy dose of painful advice and common sense. But it was Target's response that was priceless.
- Do you use ad blocking technology? You're part of what's slowly but surely destroying the web. All of this content doesn't pay for itself, folks. Actually, it does because it's free; but the ad-supported sites don't.
- Magazine circulation is down, dropping by some 11.4% in the first half of 2015. However, subscriptions overall are up by 10%, being driven by digital. The immediacy of content on social is also contributing.
- Get up to speed on four digital marketing investments every company should make.
- Last week, we shared Christopher Penn's Marketing Red Belt, a 101 course for digital marketers. If you're ready for the next level, then it's worth your while to check out his Marketing Blue Belt course in this handy e-book. Highly recommended (and one of our affiliate partners).
- See the Industry section this week.
- Is Twitter becoming a glorified customer service platform? If so, here's a guy who understands how to game the system: a British man played two phone companies off of each other and got free pizza for a year.
- In a move to become more of a messaging platform, Twitter is removing the 140 character limit in its direct messages.
- Twitter has opened up its full archives to brands—that's some 500 billion tweets. This gives them more context and historical information as they respond to tweets.
- This spring, a student highlighted a security flaw in Facebook Messenger by creating the Marauder's Map—a program that could map users' locations (reported in our May 31, 2015 issue). That student had a Facebook internship lined up; last week, Facebook rescinded the internship based on the hack. A little ironic, considering that this is the company that has championed the hack and that has made frequent stumbles in privacy.
- Continuing its push into making the platform more real-time, Facebook's live broadcasting capability will soon be available to journalists and verified profiles.
- By now you've noticed Facebook's auto-playing video native ads. It is extending auto-play video ads to its Audience Network to allow app makers to do the same thing.
- LOL is out. According to Facebook, the acronym has given way to the more plainspoken "Ha ha" when people reply to something funny online. LOL is still used, but only by older generations. So if you want to show your age, keep typing LOL. And go ahead, click the image below — we dare you.
|Credit: Patrick Breitenbach (Flickr)|
- Periscope has 10 million registered users, two million of whom use the app daily, mostly as viewers. Only a small percentage of those are creating video. An even smaller percentage are creating interesting and watchable videos.
- Still trying to figure Tumblr out? No worries—check out the marketers' guide to Tumblr.
- The FDA weighed in on one of the major scientific issues of our time: Kim Kardashian making health claims about prescription drugs in her Instagram posts. As you might imagine, the FDA is not okay with it. Of course that didn't stop others from trying.
- Last week we mentioned how the Uber model was being considered by the advertising agency world; this week, we discovered Swipecast — the app that may replace the traditional modeling agency.
- Crowdfunding is growing. And here are six trends that are driving it.
- Hong Kong is the latest city to see police raid Uber offices. Also, drivers were arrested for operating hire cars without permits and without proper insurance.
- The sharing economy (a misnomer) is inadvertently creating a feudal system, as the chasm between the haves and the have-nots widens.
- Rdio is adding live radio broadcasts to its app, creating a more mainstream attraction.
- Back in the day, blogging was all the rage (remember that?). With the streaming and on-demand mobile audio renaissance we're currently experiencing, are podcasts the new blogs?
- Here's a different angle to creating your marketing pitch: create your pitch before you even make your product. Why? Because then your product will be forced to deliver on your promises.
- When you're creating content for your brand, have you considered your most important audience? It's your employees. What motivates your employees? Are they true advocates? Or are you treating them like a robot army that will simply re-post your content?
- Knowing the difference between content and format is a good start in figuring out how to measure your content in this practical guide to content and its metrics. Worth a look all on its own is the Content Matrix. "Do you believe in fate, Neo?"
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- The New York Times is using predictive modeling to determine which stories to place on social media — in this case a bot on Slack called Blossom. Evidently it's working, as Blossom-chosen posts get 380% more engagement than typical posts.
- We all know that data is important; but beacon data may prove to be extremely valuable to retailers who want to track in-store shopper behavior.
- More than ever, marketers want more social integration in their CRM (customer relationship management) tools. In a recent survey by Capterra, 25% of respondents cited social media monitoring options, and 24% wanted their CRM software to pull in information from contacts’ social media profiles.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- Another week, another automotive technology hack. At a Usenix security conference, hackers demonstrated the ability to cut the brakes to a Corvette by sending SMS messages to a dongle plugged into the car's dashboard. While it's tempting to issue such a command to Corvette driven the middle-aged man speeding past you, we don't recommend it. Such behavior should be reserved for BMW drivers.
- Speaking of German cars, Volkswagen has been trying to suppress a hacking vulnerability in its cars for two years. And it's not just VWs — a number of other brands are affected as well.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- The New York Times ran a rather bruising report for Amazon that chronicled weeping at cubicles, forced conflict, sleepless nights, ulcers and other complaints from former Amazon workers that makes it clear that the online retail giant is not a place for the weak. However, it's hard to argue with the company's 14 leadership principles, and it's not clear how representative the Times' ex-employee selections represent the company as a whole.
- Jeff Jarvis wrote a critique of the Times' lack of balance and context on the story.
- Nice guys don't always finish last. In fact, here are 11 qualities of nice people that will help you get ahead.
- Disruption sucks. But when if you're constantly innovating with a relentless focus on the customer experience, it's a good thing.
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.