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Brand activism at the Super Bowl; getting out of your bubble - and remembering where you got your news; Twitter misses in Q4; Facebook Safety Check goes offline; the economic impact of ride-hailing apps; artificial intelligence may be detrimental to the middle class; VR gloves to match your trendy headset; testing your hearing with a film; experiences beat content; online anonymity is a myth; asking the right question before you write; and more in this week's edition of The Full Monty. And don't forget to check out The Full Monty podcast.
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- The Super Bowl was a welcome distraction from political topics last weekend, as the fans watched the first overtime in the history of the contest. And as is the tradition, emotions ran high between plays as well as during them, with hotly anticipated commercials. This year however, a number of ads seemed to make subtle political statements. Did Super Bowl ads clear the way for brand activism?
- When brands do take a stand, they risk potentially alienating half of their customers. This year's Super Bowl ads led pollsters to question whether ads with a liberal spin pose too much risk. In the case of diversity, most audience members are receptive to the theme.
- In Audi's case, its' "Daughter" ad, under the theme of its #DriveProgress campaign, came under fire. The ad showed how girls are just as capable of boys. But Audi's board makeup and its payment practices don't match its words. These days, empty words and platitudes are not enough; you need to live the brand if you want people to believe you.
- Meanwhile, Budweiser's immigration-themed ad came under scrutiny from those supporting the president. But as they attempted to mount a slacktivist effort under the #BoycottBudwiser [sic], their attention to detail lacked a key element: they misspelled Budweiser in the hashtag. Not to mention the fans who said they'd flock to Busch beer, whose parent company was also founded by an immigrant.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling for technology companies to band together to defeat "fake news." With made-up stories and hoaxes clouding people's minds, he suggested that his colleagues "need to create some tools that help diminish the volume of fake news."
- A Dominican newspaper mistakenly used a photo of Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump in a story about the president. Yes, it's gotten to the point where other countries can't distinguish satire from reality within our government. Talk about fake news!
- The Guardian is featuring a column called "Burst Your Bubble" aimed at trying to get people to see perspectives other than their own. The column, which curates right-of-center perspectives for the site’s left-of-center audience, “gets across the idea that the divergence in values in this country is real and persistent.”
- According to the Pew Research Center, Americans can't remember where they read online news 44% of the time. Because there are a number of pathways most Americans follow to get news (usually through Facebook!) — news that is flowing an an unprecedented pace — it's difficult to get them to remember where they saw something. Something to keep in mind as a brand, too; you need to make their online experiences memorable and ensure that your shared content makes it clear where it originated.
- In a breakdown of advertising spending in 2016, we see a 6.8% growth overall, with predictable drops in newspaper and magazine advertising and a rise in television and digital. Interestingly, it was a slower growth than expected, given that a presidential election and the Olympics played a part.
- Flipboard released version 4.0, a slick new mobile interface that includes more custom personalized content. It's enriched with better artificial intelligence to both refine the articles you see and reduce the incidence of sites with annoying advertising or fake news. This involves both human and machine intervention. As CEO Mike McCue put it, "There's no real good algorithm for 'insightful. You need editors."
- There is more good information than at any point in humanity, but it's harder than ever to find and trust. The more we know, or can see, the less we trust. How Tech Ate the Media and Our Minds.
- Related: like a crack in the space-time continuum, there's a reason why we underestimate the time we spend on social networks. Not me. I'm on at least 25 hours a day.
- The case for digital reinvention holds a number of options. For example, while disruptive strategies are the most impactful, fast-following and great execution are the next best thing.
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TWITTER / PERISCOPE / VINE
- Twitter reported its Q4 revenue for 2016: $717 million versus estimates of $740 million. However, the company beat earnings at $0.16 a share versus expected $0.12 a share. However, the real story was in the lagging growth of monthly active users: up only 2 million from Q3, for a total of 319 million MAUs.
- The quarterly revenue growth is the slowest since Twitter went public four years ago. Eyes are on the company's turnaround strategy and on part-time CEO Jack Dorsey, who needs to either step up or step down.
- Twitter is cracking down on abuse in a number of ways, including hiding inappropriate responses, turning on a "safe search" feature, making it harder for banned members to rejoin, and more. Late to the game, but at the same time, very much needed.
FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / WHATSAPP
- Facebook is opening itself to a measurement audit by allowing the media industry’s independent measurement monitor, Media Rating Council (MRC), to audit the measurements it provides advertisers. The company will sell video ads based on the industry’s viewability standard, allow more granularity in performance measurement, and introduce an option for paying for ads only when users watch the video with the sound on.
- Facebook's Safety Check can now be used for organizing a community response offline. People can mark themselves as safe on Facebook and then visit the emergency's Community Help page to see what people need or offer things like housing, food or transportation. This is a responsible and potentially game-changing move for Facebook, moving it into the realm of utility and public service provider.
- WhatsApp added two-step verification. This security measure indicates how Facebook is moving toward parity among its holdings with regard to the safeguarding of identity and accounts.
- As Snap Inc. pursues its $25 billion initial public offering, Facebook is borrowing some of the moves that catapulted Snapchat to popularity with teens and young adults. At the rate of Facebook's "borrowing" of Snapchat features (ref: Instagram Stories), one might think that Snap's intellectual property disappears after 24 hours.
- We all know that Millennials and Gen Z love their Snapchat, but it might surprise you to learn that the fastest growing group on Snapchat is those over the age of 35. Likely because that's the only group that hasn't fully adopted it yet.
GOOGLE / ALPHABET
- Google introduced Cloud Search, a smart search engine for G Suite customers. Cloud Search is designed for use in larger companies where different groups and individuals have access to different files. Chalk one up for enterprise collaboration.
- Google may be removing millions of apps — including "zombie" or "junk" apps — from the Google Play store due to noncompliance with its User Data policy. Developers: now is a good time to check your apps to determine whether they comply.
Collaborative / Autonomous / AI
- Lyft has hired the head of Google Street View to lead is mapping efforts. In addition to competing on price, service and timeliness, accurate mapping is where the ride-hailing companies will do battle.
- Google's Waze app began as simply a traffic tracking and reporting tool, but is morphing into a carpoool service and traffic congestion fighter. Waze says its new carpool service is now open to the nine counties that comprise the Bay Area, plus Sacramento and Monterey.
- One of the consequences of ride-hailing is plummeting prices of taxi medallions, which now sit at about half of their all-time high value. This in turn means a higher default rate on loans (now approaching 50%) and an undue burden on certain banks.
- In India, Uber is introducing UberHire, which allows customers to book a car for a certain period of time rather than just for a single ride at a time.
- An excerpt from Brad Stone’s new book, The Upstarts, which recounts the surprising rise – and possible fall – of the sharing economy: the inside story of the rise and rise of Uber.
- With Uber poaching experts from Carnegie Mellon University and showing no interest in the city's communities, Pittsburgh is discovering it's in a toxic relationship with Uber. It's been a one-way street in Uber's favor, city officials say.
- Ford Motor Company continues its push into autonomous vehicles. Ford is investing $1 billion into Argo AI over 5 years and will take a majority stake in the startup. Argo AI will work on autonomous driving technology for Ford's cars.
- Fatal car wrecks are down over the last decade; so is driving. Researchers are concerned that we're becoming too sedentary, due in part to the wide availibilty of online retail outlets and entertainment.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE / BOTS / BLOCKCHAIN
- Algorithms are aimed at optimizing everything. They can save lives, make things easier and conquer chaos. Still, experts worry they can also put too much control in the hands of corporations and governments, perpetuate bias, create filter bubbles, cut choices, creativity and serendipity, and could result in greater unemployment. The pros and cons of living in the age of code.
- As we continue to watch the rise of AI, we don't need to be worried about a Skynet-like demise; we need to be concerned about the demise of the middle class.
- Amazon is aiming to make Alexa's voice more expressive as it taps into speech synthesis. You can visit the Alexa Skills Kit website to see the complete list of Speechcons and hear what they sound like.
- Here are 5 examples of brands using Facebook Messenger bots to improve their marketing and customer service efforts.
- Before your go and build a machine-learning startup, please keep in mind what matters most is the specific business problems being solved, not the technology itself.
- Companies are doing their best to prepare for the spread of artificial intelligence. Among their preparations are IT infrastructure, bolstering their knowledge and skills around AI, and bringing in third-party experts to help with planning.
Virtual Reality / Audio
- Oculus VR is working on gloves to enhance the virtual reality experience. From tapping out messages on a virtual keyboard to the all-important Spider-Man web throwing, VR gloves, together with the VR headset will make you look like a combination of Futurama's Bender and Arnold Palmer.
- Google released a new version of its Chrome browser with support for VR. The new capability means that users no longer need to download an app to view online VR.
- PodcastOne and Edison Research reported the results of their podcast advertising study, which showed the positive impact of podcast advertising on brand recall, intent to purchase and recall of specific messaging.
- The New York Times is offering free Spotify premium accounts to subscribers to sign on for a year with the news site. The promotion is aimed to boost the Times' readership, support Spotify's run toward an IPO, and provide an opportunity for the two to team up on digital advertising.
- SoundCloud lost its COO and finance director last week. The streaming music service, based in Berlin, had indicated that it was in danger of running out of money in 2017 and may need to raise more funds in the absence of sufficient revenue.
- Does Love Last Forever is a film with two different outcomes. Put on a pair of headphones and see which one you experience. This remarkable and innovative hearing test will give you a sense as to what those who are hearing-impaired experience.
- In 1802, the 32 year-old Ludwig van Beethoven wrote a stirring letter to his brothers shortly after writing his Second Symphony, in which he detailed the loneliness of living with hearing loss and how music saved his life.
- Program of the Week: This week's podcast is How Did This Get Made?, suggested by Tom Shea. Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it’s amazing? Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas watch suggested films and report back to you with the results. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.
- And don't forget to subscribe to ours via email or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spreaker or SoundCloud.
Content / Customer Experience / Influencer Marketing
- A new international survey of 4,000 consumers from retail predictive applications firm Blue Yonder reveals that shopping experiences—both online and in-store—are not meeting today’s customer expectation of purchasing goods anytime, anywhere.
- Content is just that — content. But when you can make something an experience, you've created a deeper and more memorable connection.
Privacy / Security / Legal
- The chief information security officer for the White House's Executive Office of the President has been removed from his position. The position is charged with keeping safe the staff closest to the president — including the president himself — from cyber-threats posed by hackers and nation-state attackers. Not really the wisest move at a time when the president still uses his own unsecured personal device.
- The Department of Homeland Security said that visitors to the United States may have to hand over their social media passwords if they want to enter the country.
- Data breaches announced last week included credit card information from guests at 12 properties owned by Intercontinental Hotels, and hundreds of Arby's restaurants that may put 350,000 of its customers' credit and debit card data at risk.
- Meanwhile, in Australia, the House of Representatives passed a bill for mandatory data breach notification.
- New research shows how web behavior can be traced to a person's real-world identity based on who they follow on Twitter. That's right: even if you don't tweet, your "anonymous" online behavior can be traced to your account. Always watching. Always.
Measurement / Metrics / Data
- Don't get fall into the same metric traps that publishers frequently do: social engagement does not equal sentiment analysis; most popular content needs a time variable; shallow content may be popular, but it's still shallow.
- There's a shift in where companies are focusing their marketing technology efforts. Now its less on platforms and more about putting their efforts into understanding customer data, according to eMarketer.
- Louisville is using data in an intelligent way. The city is the first municipality on IFTT, where it is integrating with its Smart Louisville service and beginning with air quality monitoring.
Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- You can access 375,000 beautiful, copyright-free images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art online.
- Your morning needs a 5-minute lifehack. With a five minute routine each morning, here's how some people add calm and take control of their lives. The Five Minute Journal.
- The key to writing a good mystery is asking the right question. It's not just for fiction writer; lessons abound for writers of all types. The first sentence from William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" silently poses the question: What was Miss Emily hiding in her broken-down old house?
When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant—a combination gardener and cook—had seen in at least ten years.
- Tamsen Webster has launched a new show called The Red Thread in which she seeks to uncover the one thing that ties a life, an event, or a thing together—the through line. Her first example of a red thread in the wild is Mr. Rogers, who had to testify before a Senate committee to try to get funding for PBS.
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Upcoming Brain+Trust Speaking Engagements
- Speaking at the Brazos Valley IABC on February 21, 2017. (Tim)
- Addressing the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville on February 23, 2017. (Tim)
- Opening keynote at Digital Marketing for Financial Services West in San Francisco on February 27. (Frank)
- General sessions at Social Media Week Indepdendent Austin, February 27 - March 1, 2017. (Christopher, Tim)
- Speaking at DMAWest Tech Summit in Salt Lake City, March 17, 2017. (Tim)
- Keynote at Social Media Marketing World 2017 in San Diego, March 22-24, 2017. (Scott)
- Concurrent session at Texas Society of Association Executives Tech Talks, March 30, 2017. (Tim)
- Keynote at Ragan's PR and Media Relations Summit in New York, April 5-7, 2017. (Christopher)
- Keynote at the CEO Communications Summit at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business in Montreal, June 13-14, 2017. (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.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
February 13, 2017 advertising, artificial intelligence, audio, journalism, newsletter, security, social networks, Virtual Reality 0