Monday, February 13, 2017

The Full Monty — February 13, 2017

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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."

  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.


    Collaborative / Autonomous / AI




    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.


    Content / Customer Experience / Influencer Marketing


      Privacy / Security / Legal

      Measurement / Metrics / Data


      Essential Watching / Listening / Reading

      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.

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      Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons



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