The United issue shows there may be more at stake in concentrated industries; sports-free bundles may encourage cable subscriptions; This Week in Retail finds Walmart experimenting with a discount formula and looks at what's causing the retail meltdown; the request for Twitter to sell itself - to users; announcements from Facebook's f8 conference; publishers are unsatisfied with Instant Articles; how Facebook pummels the competition; Yahoo's demise is a harbinger; Uber really has some ethical issues (again!); AR is the future of Facebook; The Podcast Consumer 2017 report; the FTC needs to crack down on sponsored posts; success factors for CEOs and managers; and more in the post-vacation edition of The Full Monty. We're sure you subscribe to The Full Monty podcast, and don't forget check out where Brain+Trust is speaking (final section below).
Become a patron, it will show how much you value this kind of content.
The Full Monty, a Brain+Trust Partners publication, exposes you to virtually everything you need in business intelligence at the top of every week. Please sign up for our email updates to make sure you don't miss a thing. And please share this with your colleagues if you find it valuable.
If you’re on Flipboard, you can get these links — and those that didn't make the cut for publication — by subscribing to The Full Monty Magazine at smonty.co/fullmontymag.
Edition notes: I'm back from vacation this week, but have to attend my father-in-law's funeral. Next week may be a bit light.
- The United issue isn't over yet. What we're experiencing with cable companies and airlines is due to their already poor reputations that are only solidified as their industries become more heavily concentrated.
- United demonstrated that "if you're an airline, you don't have to be very good at public relations." Wells Fargo demonstrated something similar in banking. It's the result of business policies that reward overbooking and cross-selling. Hindsight is 20/20 in post-crisis analyses.
- And what is a crisis, but an opportunity? An opportunity to change one’s culture, to model scenarios and set up a crisis plan, to become a better company.
- Silicon Valley lobbying group Internet Association, which represents Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, and others is urging FCC chairman Ajit Pai to keep Obama-era net neutrality rules.
- AMC, Discovery and Viacom are looking at entertainment programming without sports for an affordable monthly fee for cable subscribers who want "skinny" bundling.
- Burger King took Subservient Chicken to the next level by trying to outsmart Google Home with a phrase in its latest ad and updating the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper, which is where the ad-prompted voice request would lead. Google quickly shut it down.
- It's a regular topic here, and now fake news will be a topic at Facebook's shareholder meeting. When it's risen to this level, you know it's real.
- Oracle is buying ad tech company Moat for $850 million. The company's latest iteration is as a digital ad auditor that verifies that ads are appearing where they're supposed to be.
- Digital marketing is (or should be) less about the tools and more about strategy first and customer over product. With some spiffy cartoons from the always-entertaining Marketoonist.
- This Week in Retail:
- Walmart has come up with a unique discount formula that may appeal to its price-conscious shoppers and spark additional buying in stores, but without crimping its margins. With its Jet.com acquisition, logistics aptitude, and massive distribution network, Walmart can go toe-to-toe with Amazon. Disclosure: Walmart is a Brain+Trust client.
- India-based ecommerce platform Flipkart is positioned to take on the threat posed by foreign firms Amazon and Alibaba, adding $1.4 billion to its coffers in a new round of funding that gives it a post-transaction valuation of $11.6 billion.
- Some 89,000 Americans have been laid off from retail jobs since October — more than everyone employed by the coal industry. Is American retail at at tipping point? Modern-day retail is almost unrecognizable compared to what it was just after WWII, and retailers are in desperate need to adapt quickly.
- In the middle of an economic recovery, hundreds of shops and malls are shuttering. What in the world is causing the retail meltdown of 2017? The reasons go far beyond Amazon.
SPONSORWant to know what 500 marketers (budgets up to $10 million) believe and how those beliefs influence their behaviors when it comes to hiring and firing agencies just like yours?
Don't miss this FREE 16 page report, full of information, insight and guidance on how to best approach prospects based on the findings.
Some of the results are going to really surprise you.
If you're seeing this, please inquire about getting your company or product here.
TWITTER / PERISCOPE / VINE
- Twitter is going hard at video: brands can now run in-stream video ads to align with videos from Amplify partners, including top TV networks, major sports leagues, major publishing houses and magazines and professional news outlets. Twitter also highlights that these are "brand-safe" placements, pitting itself against the issues YouTube has recently been dealing with.
- Did Twitter delete some tweets that were negative toward United Airlines?
- Twitter's annual shareholder meeting will include a proposal generated via a petition that recommends that Twitter sell itself to some of its more fervent fans.
- There's a serious problem at Twitter that needs to be addressed: disinformation is being spread by fully automated bots as well as semi-automated spam and trolling accounts that make up a sizeable part of Twitter's active user base. Just look at any @realDonaldTrump tweet seconds after it's been sent — it's been liked and retweeted hundreds, if not thousands of times.
FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / WHATSAPP
- Facebook now has 5 million monthly advertisers. Expect a lot of revenue to be reported in its upcoming earnings call. And expect Facebook to continue to grapple with the ever-increasing limited inventory in the News Feed, where ads appear. The result may be increased advertising costs for businesses. And more revenue for Facebook.
- Facebook is rolling out tech changes using patterns to find fake accounts that can spread misinformation, malware, and falsely boost page rankings.
- Instant Articles were supposed to be a bonanza for publishers and Facebook alike. Now Facebook's shifting priorities and inferior monetization options are leading some big publishers to abandon the format. In one case, The Guardian is dropping out of Facebook's Instant Articles and Apple News.
- Facebook wants publishers to create more video—both live and produced—going so far as to offer money to publishers for videos that will accommodate Facebook's new ad products. What Facebook wants, Facebook usually gets. We'll have to wait to see if this ends like Instant Articles.
- At its f8 developers conference, Facebook just announced a slew of updates for Messenger, including a "Discover" tab, more games, and lots of bot integrations. The bots are coming, and Facebook will be leading the way.
- One of the first is Group Payments, allowing users to send money between groups. Allowing people to obtain money through the platform is usually a powerful motivator. The equation is simple: Money x User Base = Massive Success.
- One of the more important announcements at f8 was the launch of AR Studio, open to developers around the world. With the help of thousands of outside developers, Facebook will defeat Snapchat. If you can't beat 'em (or buy 'em), get a bunch of friends to do it for you.
- And it's already happening at Instagram, where Instagram Stories have surpassed Snapchat in users.
- The reason Facebook keeps beating its rivals? It's quite simple, actually: the network. Billions of people can't be wrong.
ALPHABET / GOOGLE
- Google, the company that has set the pace for digital advertising for a generation, is planning an ad-blocking feature in its Chrome browser. The goal is to filter out ads that provide a poor user experience.
YAHOO / VERIZON / AOL
- Yahoo’s demise is a signal that web-native companies are next. If you run a business that relies on digital-advertising revenue for an outsized portion of your funding, you need to find new streams of revenue. Now.
Collaborative / Autonomous / AI
- The lodging industry’s plan against Airbnb shows “the hotel cartel is intent on short-sheeting the middle class so they can keep price-gouging consumers,” according to Airbnb. Is this another instance of taxi companies vs. ride-hailing upstarts? Or does the hotel industry have a workable solution? If the plan is just more legislation and regulation, rather than updating their business model, it may be a long, slow decline for traditional hoteliers.
- New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing that car services that only accept credit cards should be required to offer tipping as part of their user experience. Yeah, they're looking at you, Uber. Lyft already offers a tipping option.
- Uber has extended its internal investigation on sexual harassment and workplace culture. With hundreds of current and former employees lining up, it could be quite revealing.
- The culture there must be fairly toxic, as Rachel Whetstone, Uber's head of communications, stepped down. Who can blame her? She had a job that was about as enviable as Sean Spicer's.
- Uber program “Hell” created fake Lyft rider accounts to track Lyft driver locations, and identified individual drivers using Lyft vulnerability. Add this to the laundry list of questionable business practices by Uber. Why are you still using the app?
- Uber secretly identified and tagged iPhones even after its app had been deleted and the devices erased — a practice that could have resulted in the app being booted from the App Store. This New York Times article Uber C.E.O. Plays With Fire sums up his behavior and the company's business model succinctly: "In a quest to build Uber into the world’s dominant ride-hailing entity, Mr. Kalanick has openly disregarded many rules and norms, backing down only when caught or cornered." He'll push boundaries and copy competitors, like Facebook; in that, he's like Mark Zuckerberg — but without a conscience.
- A federal judge isn't satisfied with Uber, as they won't explain what former Google/Waymo employee Anthony Lewandowski is working on at Uber.
- An Uber engineer was forced to admit that Uber was working on a second, more Waymo-like Lidar and hid it from the court. Ethics.
- AAA is planning for a future where we don't own cars. They're not alone; but the fact that they are part of the industry crowd that has embraced this vision should further convince any remaining skeptics of the validity of this future vision.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE / BOTS / BLOCKCHAIN
- When DeepMind's new WaveNet voice generator sings "Take the 'A' Train," it sounds just as routine as a karaoke bar performance. Is an AI cover band in the works?
- Despite our best efforts, artificial intelligence learns to be racist. How? Because it was created by humans.
- Amazon is building new business pillars in AI, next-generation logistics, and enterprise cloud, according to a deep dive into data from their their M&A, investment, jobs, patent, other activity. Expect Amazon to emerge as a central provider for AI-as-a-service.
Virtual Reality / Audio
- Facebook thinks the camera will be the main interface, and therefore Facebook will serve as the world's leading augmented reality platform. But how much of this will be a dystopian future? Calling Black Mirror fans...
- Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for AR in his remarks at f8. “Think about how many of the things you use [that] don’t actually need to be physical,” he said.
- As part of that, Facebook launched a beta version of Spaces, its virtual reality platform. It lets up to four users hang out in VR and is available in beta for Oculus Rift, with plans to expand to other VR platforms.
- IHeartMedia, the parent company of IHeartRadio, warned that its current debt position indicate that it may not survive another year.
- Have a podcast? Here are the seven best podcast promotion tactics.
- The Podcast Consumer 2017, the latest in Edison Research’s annual study of the medium, contains all new data on podcast users in America. Highlights:
- Podcasting continues to rise, with Monthly listeners growing from 21% to 24% year over year.
- The Podcast listener remains an affluent, educated consumer— and one that is becoming increasingly more likely to gravitate to ad-free or ad-light subscription experiences.
- Subscribers tend to have been podcast consumers for longer than non-subscribers, consume more podcasts, and are more likely to use their smartphone as their primary podcast player.
- While Home continues to be the most often named location for podcast listening, the vehicle is a strong second.
- Program of the Week: Gabbing Geek is three friends doing a weekly podcast about movies, comic books, TV, science fiction, books, board games, video games, and all other things geeky. Suggested by Ryan Garcia. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.
- And don't forget to subscribe to our show via email or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spreaker or SoundCloud.
Content / Customer Experience / Influencer Marketing
- Sprinklr announced a major update to its platform, calling the bundled services Experience Cloud and focusing on customer-centric needs.
- We often talk of the need for storytelling, but Neil Gaiman gets to the heart of things when he addresses what makes a great personal story. TL;DR: honesty and vulnerability. Two very human characteristics.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- How Russian hacking evolved: simple credit card schemes in the '90s, takeover by organized crime in the '00s, and now joint criminal and government hacker teams. Important to understand, from the standpoint of corporate security, communications and society.
- InterContinental Hotel Group initially announced a data breach of 12 locations. It turns out it's a little bigger: 1,200 IHG hotels were affected by the data breach. IHG is neither the first nor the last big organization that will suffer a data breach. Your company should be planning for how you'll respond if/when it happens to you across the whole organization, from IT to communications to customer care to legal and beyond.
- Instagram celebrities (yes, that's a thing) keep sneaking in sponsored posts, according to the Federal Trade Commission. What? Influencers and celebrities not disclosing a material relationship with brands? No!
Measurement / Analytics / Data
- The Chicago Tribune notices a significant change in its Facebook metrics. Significant in that one-third of its posts aren't surfacing.
- Hopefully they'll be able to figure that out with Automated Insights and Custom Dashboards, two new features in Facebook analytics that integrate machine learning into the system.
Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- What would make you get over your aversion to replying to cold emails? How about cold, hard cash?
- Four things that successful CEOs do that set them apart, according to the Harvard Business Review, have nothing to do with education or previous successes:
- Deciding with speed and conviction
- Engaging in disciplined communications and influencing strategies
- Adopting proactively
- Delivering reliably
- Successful managers also need to elicit radical candor. “If you think that you can do these [managerial] things without strong relationships, you are kidding yourself.”
- Believe it or not, introverts make some of the best leaders. They have better focus, savor the solitude makes reflection possible, have good listening skills, and more.
- Philosopher Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) knew the importance of quiet time. In his masterpiece The Prophet, he outlined the tension between reason and the silence required for thinking.
- Also in this week's dead philosophers section, Arthur Schoepenhauer (1788-1860) predicted the dangers of clickbait.
Do you like what you see here? Please subscribe to have trends on digital communications, marketing, technology and business delivered to your inbox each Monday.
Upcoming Brain+Trust Speaking Engagements
- Keynote at the CEO Communications Summit at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business in Montreal, June 13-14, 2017. (Scott)
- Keynote at Health Further in Nashville, August 23-25, 2017 (Frank and Scott)
- Can we speak for your organization? Drop us a line.
Brain+Trust Partners doesn't believe in gobbledygook — we use common sense strategic guidance to help you master the evolving marketplace. From strategy development to technology and data vendor selection, to digital transformation and streamlining processes, our focus is on the customer experience. And our decades of experience working for major brands means that we deeply understand the challenges you're facing. Let us know if we can help you.