Email is more important than ever, marketing's path to the CEO chair, Twitter needs the news and the news needs Twitter, Facebook has a number of the most downloaded apps of all time, Uber to expand delivery services, the lesson from Tower Records, the Hollywoodization of content and technology, the mainstreaming of podcasting, Google gets a GRIP, why digital marketing matters to the C-suite, the continued deception of Ashley Madison, five strategic questions you should be asking and more, it's The Week in Digital.
A roundup of relevant links affecting our industry.
Each Monday [publishing on Tuesday this week because of the U.S. Labor Day holiday], 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. A new issue is available every Monday morning. Please subscribe - either to the full feed or just to this newsletter to keep up to date on developments.
News items are in regular text; additional commentary has been added in italics.
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- Your inbox may be getting more active. The future of email may include the ability to shop, play games, and consume interactive content. It's good to know that it's not quite dead yet and here are 7 reasons email still survives.
- While you're at it, you may want to check out Google chairman Eric Schmidt's 9 rules for emailing.
- And check out the longer rant via The Monty Minute, a weekly feature at Convince & Convert.
- GE has named its latest vice chair: Beth Comstock, the company's CMO. She'll be leading Business Innovations. Given Comstock's extraordinary understanding of the digital world — including the company's integration with Salesforce and harvesting big data from engines — it's a natural move. Moreover, this is yet another example — a powerful one, at that — that signifies the growing importance of marketing in the role of CEO and that more CMOs may be making their way to the CEO seat.
- The future of enterprise social media is a complex one. Sprinklr's Esteban Contreras provides some thoughtful insights on the direction of social business.
- B2B marketers should pay close attention on where they're focusing the budget. Because B2B decision makers get their cue from word-of-mouth more than traditional marketing; they trust colleagues and industry peers first and foremost.
- Social media success takes time. Why does the wait feel so long? Because so many people compare it to advertising when it fact it's more about building relationships. Or it should be.
- This wildly popular ebook series by Christopher Penn is a self-help guide on how to build your personal marketing expertise: 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).
- Google updated its logo; the world mostly shrugged. Except designers. Not that it matters much to me, because I'll still be typing search strings into my Chrome browser address bar or speaking them into my phone.
- The EU hates Google. Firms are banding together to make it easier for companies to file civil lawsuits against the search giant amid claims that it stacked search results to favor its own products and services. An online portal called GRIP — Google Redress and Integrity Platform — is the tool they've created.
- And lest you think this is just an European movement against Google, in a TRUSTe survey, 71% of Americans support European's right to be forgotten.
- Twitter has unlocked Promoted Tweets in 167 countries (where the majority of its users are). Finally! What year is this?
- And self-serve ads are now available in 200 countries.
- The Twitter product team is restructuring, putting the former head of developer products in charge of all consumer products.
- While Twitter may be having its troubles, one thing is clear: Twitter is an essential tool for the discovery and distribution of news. We've previously heard rumblings of Twitter being a takeover target for Google; but perhaps it's a better fit for one of the major news outlets like the AP, Bloomberg or the Guardian.
- Twitter is testing new video and photo editing tools that give users a good deal of creativity.
Facebook Messenger is the #2 most downloaded app of all time.
But how many entries does Facebook have in the top 10?* [answer below]
- The mobile ad experience in Facebook is slated to improve with carousels, autoplay and immersive content designed to keep users within the app while making purchases and learning more about brands. Expect to see more of this kind of feature across many platforms, as keeping users in the app is more critical than ever.
- Advertisers can now measure multiple ad campaigns simultaneously, giving them the ability to see which are more effective. This may seem a minor advance, but it's a critical one that will not only save advertisers money but will keep them coming back to Facebook because of the utility.
- Outside of ads, Facebook will be expanding its For Sale Groups to make ecommerce a regular thing within the platform. With a built-in audience of 1.4 billion users, this could suddenly make Facebook a natural competitor of eBay.
- Instagram's new ads will take on more Facebook-like attributes. Among the seven things that CMOs need to be aware of: carousel ads, direct response buttons, targeting and measurement. But they're very clear about one thing: this is not Facebook, people.
- The 85 million people who use Instagram Direct can now reply like Snapchat allows, with photos.
- WhatsApp now has 900 million subscribers. But what is the plan for monetizing the messaging platform that Facebook owns?
- Uber has confirmed its expansion in China, with a $1.2B round backed by Chinese search giant Baidu and service in 100 more Chinese cities; meanwhile Tencent competitor Didi Kuaidi has raised $3B. Competition is fierce in China, led by the taxi industry and other local incumbents. Last week's update included news of Tencent blocking Uber on its WeChat app.
- This fall, Uber is planning to announce its partnership with retailers and fashion brands that will make it a delivery service for luxury shoppers.
- Disruption can happen swiftly and cut deeply. Just ask anyone who knew Tower Records. The documentary All Things Must Pass takes a look at the cultural juggernaut that was Tower Records and how hard it fell. This was the music industry; but plenty of other industries might share the same fate, should they ignore the changes afoot.
- Podcasting is more popular than ever in 2015. Just how popular? It's closer to mainstream than ever before. And here are some statistics by category, activity, show length and more.
- The future of internet radio (as well as daily conversation) is in searchable speech.
- Audible has hired former WNYC and NPR personnel (from Radiolab and Ask Me Another, respectively) for what looks like an effort at original content creation.
- If you'd like to understand the business of podcasting, listen to this show with Mitch Joel interviewing podcating veteran Donna Papacosta.
- Apple is exploring creating original content, as it has entered into discussions with a number of Hollywood executives. Given that this week's Big Apple Event is rumored to include an Apple TV announcement (not to mention the company's massive mobile distribution platform), it makes sense. If Apple's approach to content is anything like its approach to design, Netflix. Amazon and Hulu are in for a run for their money.
- But Silicon Valley used to avoid original content. What's changed? More screens, split attention, too much content, the need to be a valuable resource.
- Hulu is starting a commercial-free version to compete with Amazon and Netflix. At $12 a month and exclusive programming, the on-demand streaming video space is getting more crowded. And with Netflix dumping its deal with Epix, Hulu has picked up additional content.
- But wait! Amazon Prime now allows users to download videos. Take that, Hulu and Netflix! And Gogo Inflight, which barely allows you to download your email, let alone stream video.
- BuzzFeed and WPP's GroupM — their media-buying unit — have signed a deal that gives GroupM clients preferential rates, access to dedicated staff from BuzzFeed Motion Pictures and effectively makes BuzzFeed a content marketing technology company.
- And not a moment too soon, as consumers think that only 1 in 5 brands have consistent, high-quality content.
- Meanwhile, BuzzFeed has big plans for its Los Angeles office, with a new 250,000 square-foot lease for its motion pictures unit.
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- In case you need any ammo, here are 26 reasons that digital marketing matters to the C-suite. As you can imagine, many of them have to do with analytics.
- Modern farming is a data-driven industry. And there are a number of startups that are giving farmers more control over their own data — even setting it up as a revenue-generating line of business.
- Are robots taking over the world? Does machine-assisted learning replace human intuition, or is there room for both?
Privacy / Security / Legal
- In addition to questions about the security of its data and the integrity of its business model, Ashley Madison could potentially be under investigation for fraud as well, as its code shows the company may have created up to 70,000 female "bots" to interact with the male clientele, making them think real women were interested in them. Maybe Ashley Madison should reconsider its branding?
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- If you're a CEO, your job is not to flit from city to city or meeting to meeting. You're responsible for constantly thinking about your company's strategy. But what are five strategic questions you should be asking? The Harvard Business Review suggests these:
- What does not fit?
- What would an outsider do?
- Is my organization consistent with my strategy?
- Do I understand why we do it this way?
- What might be the long term consequences?
- Take a look inside Apple's odd but effective social media strategy. Social media strategy? But they aren't on Twitter or Facebook...
- Narcissism can be a healthy thing when you're trying to lead. Here are 8 qualities of Donald Trump that may help you (no, really). The key is that you just need to exhibit them in moderation, unlike the GOP candidate.
- Where do you go to get inspiration for leadership?
* Answer to the trivia question above:Facebook Messenger is the #2 downloaded app of all time. The top 10 are as follows:
- Find My iPhone
- Google Maps
- iTunes U
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.