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This week: the real April Fools were not consumers; what it means to be a digital agency; home pages still matter; email is more important than ever; welcoming our new bot overlords; Marissa Mayer's vision for Yahoo; Facebook bows out of NFL streaming opportunity; Snapchat releases a major update; the financial model for the Uber economy; doubling sales through podcast advertising; what drives consumer satisfaction; hacking elections; don't let your personality run away with grammar and corrections; the Zignal Labs chart of the week, our weekly trivia challenge, podcast pick and more.
Virtually everything you need in business intelligence. If you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links — and additional ones — by subscribing to The Full Monty Magazine at smonty.co/fullmontymag.
If you're around at 9:30 pm ET on Sunday evenings, you can get a preview of a couple of topics from the week's via the live video on Facebook. If not, you can always catch the replay here:
- This Friday, April 8, I'll be keynoting at the YouToo Conference at Kent State University.
- As just about everyone on the internet knew, it was April Fools Day on Friday. And brands didn't waste the opportunity to showcase their senses of humor. Here's a giant list of the best brand hoaxes.
- The worst was probably Google, who typically does April Fools Day fairly well. But this time, the animated GIF mic drop feature was yanked after some users put the feature into serious emails and experienced unintended consequences.
- Does it even make sense to call it a digital marketing agency any more? Our friends at Mirum, recently named as Visionaries in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies explore what it means to be digital, traditional or just a marketing agency.
- A fascinating look at how Visa tackles digital transformation with its Everywhere Initiative.
- The very structure of agencies needs to change to serve today's clients. And expectations need to change — on both sides.
- Hershey's is doing it. So is Coca-Cola. Expect to see an increase in advertising master brands, driven by efficiency in media spending, increased flexibility to promote any single sub-brand at any time, and stronger brand equity, among other factors. Not terribly unexpected after too many brand extensions got pushed on us.
- Buzzfeed's approach with Swarm signifies that brands don't need to pay as much heed to their own websites any more. But do they? Recent data actually show that while home page visitors may be fewer in number than social sharing or search, home page visitors are more valuable. Makes sense. Those are the people who actually want to be on your site.
- Why don't marketers personalize content? Because it's hard to do at scale. To blame? Technology, of course. Well, that and a lack of commitment to it, because in the lazy approach, content = advertising.
- You know what you can personalize? Email. We're still in an email renaissance.
- Millennials are still reachable via email. According to Epsilon, 43 percent of millennials, compared with 32 percent of other shoppers, said they have been checking out retailers' emails more often in the past six months.
- In yet another study, nearly 68 percent of teens and 73 percent of Millennials said that they prefer to receive communication from businesses via email. "Email continues to be part of everyday life across all age groups, with consumers literally hanging out in their inboxes all day long."
- And if you want answers, here are 9 ways to get people to respond to your emails. The article says we get an average of 120 emails every day. I've never felt worse about being above average.
- The bots are coming! The bots are coming! Chatbots, robots, and other bits of artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly prevalent. Expect more as brands and technology leaders race to figure out the space. Including:
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's claim that bots are the new apps.
- Facebook revealed an integration between Messenger and KLM Airlines to assist in travel activities.
- A good read: The Near Future of AI: The Road to Super Intelligent Apps and Machines
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Some of the results are going to really surprise you.
- Yahoo has set April 11 as a deadline for preliminary bids for its web business and its Asian assets. The race is on.
- The company just lost another high-level executive amid compensation issues among its staff.
- But before you dismiss Yahoo, it might be worth another look. CEO Marissa Mayer recently sat down with Charlie Rose, and her responses were candid and telling, and if given the time and resources, her plan might work. If you doubt there is a future for Yahoo, watch this video.
- Facebook won't be streaming Thursday Night Football. The reason? Facebook doesn't like the NFL's insistence on continuing with its traditional advertising model. Shame on the NFL for missing such a huge opportunity. Different platforms require different approaches, and this shows how out of touch the NFL is.
- There may be new features coming to Facebook Messenger, such as the ability to have secret conversations and in-store payments.
- Facebook's acquisition of adtech company Live Rail is anything but straightforward. Pullbacks, delays and ad fraud derailed the expected process.
- Young people leaving Facebook? Don't beleive the hype, says re/code. That's because Facebook still has such a head start - and just look at the position of Snapchat with respect to the competition.
- Twitter's Periscope celebrated 200 million streams in its first year. Expect the streaming space to continue to thrive amid fewer but serious competitors.
- The biggest news of the week in platforms was Snapchat's update: 'Chat 2.0' included video chat, audio notes, video and audio calls, GIFs, stickers, auto-advancing Stories and more.
- One agency is using Snapchat geofilters to hunt for interns.
- The genius behind Snapchat is their ladder strategy. It's worth reading and understanding.
- If you haven't added me on Snapchat yet, my username is wsmonty. Go for it.
- Instagram is bringing 60-second videos to every user, just as it has with brands. Expect to see more storytelling on Instagram.
- And Tumblr is bringing back comments, with authors being able to contribute to the comments on their own post. This is a smart step in increasing engagement on the platform.
Trivia question: What index does former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan use to predict economic recovery? *
Collaborative / Autonomous Economy
- Looking at recent trends of startup failure, some think the financial model of the gig economy is destined to fail.
- However, there seems to be a recent trend of companies forgoing that model and simply rolling up their sleeves and providing the services and technology directly, rather than contracting others to do it.
- So how much money can you make working for Uber or Airbnb, anyway?
- Airbnb is purging illegal hotels from its San Francisco listings. Data shows that 1/5 of all full-home rentals are controlled by multiple-property operators.
- Uber is on the hook to face a class-action price-fixing lawsuit by passengers, who claim the company and drivers collaborated to drive up fare prices.
- Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft may not kill the auto industry; in fact, they're likely to boost it, as sales increase and become less cyclical. Increased use means further wear-and-tear, and possibly a smoother sales cycle.
- Lyft is piloting Lyft Carpool, a commuting ride-sharing plan, with an incentive for drivers to join.
- The founder of Sidecar is leaving General Motors for Uber. GM acquired the assets and personnel of the ride-sharing company that it acquired in February.
- "While self-driving cars will likely force auto insurers to rethink their business models, widespread adoption of this technology is decades away, allowing insurers plenty of time to adapt," according to a Moody's report. In the near term, accident avoidance technologies will have a more immediate, positive impact on auto insurers.
- SoundCloud is launching SoundCloud Go, a $9.99 monthly subscription for access to premium licensed content. This should give Spotify a bit of a wake-up call.
- Meanwhile, Spotify raised $1 billion in debt financing. The company posted a net loss of €162 million in 2014 on €1.08 billion in revenue.
- How did Mack Whedon double underwear sales? Through podcast advertising. There's a halo-effect around the advertised products and services that good content provides.
- Podcast Recommendation of the Week. This week's recommendation is HowSound. From fieldwork and recording techniques to narrative and ethics, HowSound explores the ins-and-outs of radio storytelling. Do you have a podcast recommendation for us? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts
Content / Customer Experience
- Content marketers shouldn't been seen as bottom-dwellers; they should elevate their creative aspirations. Do it for the craft. Do it because you care.
- There's nothing wrong with making gated content. But if you ask someone to give something up to get to your stuff, it had better be worth it. Think: exclusive, a deep dive, or easy to use.
- College students want targeted social ads (aka personalized content from above). They're more likely to click when it's something they need or care about.
- In your quest to find influencers for your influencer marketing efforts, keep this in mind: non-celebrity influencers are 10X more likely to drive in-store purchases. Bottom line: we still trust people like ourselves the most. It's human nature.
- Value, customer service and product quality matter most when consumers consider what drives their satisfaction with companies.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- As you know by now, the FBI eased off on Apple after it was able to get into the San Bernardino shooter's phone after all. Funny how it's not about the principle of it any more.
- Now Apple is asking the FBI to disclose its secrets, as it wants to know how the government was able to accomplish what it sought from Apple. And strangely enough, the FBI is refusing to cooperate. Funny how it's not about the principle any more — in this case, it's about the irony.
- And yet the FBI says it will help local law enforcement unlock iPhones.
- A Colombian hacker claims to have rigged elections throughout Latin America by manipulating social media, spying on other campaigns, and stealing information. What about our own hackers here in the U.S.? Maybe he can help make America great again.
- Facebook's Free Basics service was blocked by the Egyptian government after the company refused to give the government the ability to spy on users. Block like an Egyptian. [That's for you kids from the 80s.]
- Companies are increasingly trademarking hashtags. Yes, you read that correctly. Said to be for competitive purposes, they mostly extend to brand names and products listed within hashtags. Still, this is utterly ridiculous.
Measurement / Metrics / Data
- Content signals and link signals matter when it comes to ranking in Google search. In other words, Google looks at the quality, value and rank-worthiness of your content.
- If you publish video on Facebook, you now have daily metrics. You can now find out how many minutes a video was viewed on a given day, the number of video views for a single day, and the number of times a video was viewed for 10 seconds on one day.
- For the uninitiated, statistics can be misleading. Here's how to keep from being manipulated by data, visualizations and statistics. Fool me once...
Chart of the Week
Brought to you by Zignal Labs, a realtime, cross media analytics platform (also a client of Scott Monty Strategies).
As we move into another week of primaries for the US presidential election, Donald Trump continues his lead. However, we see Bernie Sanders picking up some steam and outpacing every other candidate, including his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Not how the spikes follow the pattern of mainstream media news, demonstrating how much conversation is still driven by news organizations in addition to social media.
* Answer to the trivia question above:
- Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan uses the Underwear Index to discern whether or not the economy is in recovery mode. Evidently, men put off buying underwear when money is tight.
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- Do you tend to correct errors in emails and Facebook posts? It's your personality. If you don't, it's also your personality. But I don't know how you can stand it.
- For the folks who identify as the former, there's some good news: the AP Stylebook is loosening its rules and now it's acceptable to write 'internet' and 'web' without capitalizing them. No word on when it will be OK to write 'ap stylebook' though. ee cummings must be dancing somewhere.
- Have you ever wondered about the secrets behind tech companies' hiring practices? It's all here.
- Sometimes you just need a hug, but all you have is a chair.
- Here are some free stock photography resources for your work.
- A blast from the past: please, please — don't produce really bad PowerPoint.
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I speak to groups and advise brands and agencies to help them embrace the fundamentals of human communication in the digital age. 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.