Monday, March 6, 2017

The Full Monty — March 6, 2017


If Nietzsche were writing last week's update, it would be Uberstench; Amazon picked the wrong day to celebrate AWSome Day; the state of native advertising technology; Twitter's new abuse blocking standard; Facebook's AI goes to work for good; Snapchat user numbers; lists of companies working on autonomous vehicles and leading AI; Google has to learn hate speech; music discovery is coming from a surprising source; video is the new blogging; Internet providers may be able to sell your data; how to change minds; and more in this week's edition of The Full Monty. And don't forget to subscribe to The Full Monty podcast and check out where Brain+Trust is speaking this week.

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  • On Tuesday of last week, Amazon's web servers went down, and the impact was felt across the Internet, affecting entire websites to images and more. Amazon Web Services (AWS) powers as much as 1/3 of the Internet.
    • A wide variety of sites and services were rendered inoperable, including Quora, Trello, IFTTT, Expedia, the SEC, Wix-created sites, Mailchimp, Apple's App Stores, and many more.
    • In addition to sites, the outage also took down Internet of Things objects such as Alexa, Nest systems, and even light bulbs. Makes you stop and wonder how we'd survive in the event of a major power disruption or catastrophe when nothing works any more.
    • The ultimate culprit in all of this? An engineer's typo in a standard command that was designed to remove a small number of servers.
    • And it was definitely the wrong day to be celebrating AWSome Day. True story.
    • Such a widespread outage is obviously problematic for a number of industries — and it should cause concern about where we host services. Amazon should be concerned as well, since AWS plays a significant role in Amazon's finances, netting over $3.5 billion in revenue and $926 million in profit in Q4 of 2016. There's an opportunity here for any large entity (Microsoft? Apple? Google? Walmart?) that wishes to compete with AWS head to head, in which they could create or expand a parallel web services offering that compete with Amazon's only profit center
Amazon engineer's oopsie

  • Last week, we highlighted the importance of interplay between digital and in-store experiences in retail; this week, we revisit that topic with the acknowledgement that brick and mortar isn't dead, but it's suffering. Some of the pervasive issues affecting the retail industry include: a sea of sameness, independent entities versus integrated channels, customer experience hiccups, lack of wow factor, and treating all customers the same.
  • Facebook is beginning to roll out its solution to fake news: flagging questionable content with a "disputed" label.
  • NRKbeta is combating trolls up front: the site is requiring readers to pass a quiz about the content they (supposedly) just read before they're allowed to comment on articles.
  • These 10 breakthrough technologies all have staying power. They will affect the economy and our politics, improve medicine, or influence our culture. Some are unfolding now; others will take a decade or more to develop. But you should know about all of them right now.
  • A look at the increasingly complex world of native advertising technology in 2017.


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  • Twitter has extended its abuse blocking to the main timeline. Now users can mute tweets containing certain keywords, phrases, hashtags or emojis from appearing in their timeline.
  • Twitter's clone in China, Sina Weibo, will soon have more users than Twitter. The product shows more ad revenue and has evolved its product more than once — something Twitter has not yet mastered.
  • The New York Times is publishing its journalists' tweetstorms in its print edition. Giving additional and more permanent life to Twitter commentary is a clever move that will help spread and preserve such correspondence that would otherwise be easily overlooked. It's a technique that brands might consider as well.



  • YouTube debuted YouTube TV, a $35/month service including broadcast networks, about 30 cable channels, cloud DVR with unlimited storage, personal recommendations. This will be a stand-alone app, separate from the subscription-based YouTube Red. Google got itself into trouble with multiple messaging apps. Might video be going the same way?
  • We're now watching over a billion hours a day of YouTube videos, a 10-fold increase since 2012, threatening to eclipse US TV viewership. Not me personally. But I wouldn't put it past my kids.


    • Leaked Snapchat emails show that the company told an anti-gun charity that NRA ads might appear on their videos if the charity didn't pay for advertising. Together with the Uber stories below, this kind of ethical conflict might make you question which apps are on your phone.
    • Snow is Snapchat's competitor in Asia, and it is a "Snapchat clone" that is tailored for the Asian market.
    • New Snapchat user numbers indicate that older groups are now more likely to tune in for content. The platform has multiple partnerships with television networks for mini-episodes. Meanwhile, the younger groups are less likely to add Snapchat when Instagram Stories can fulfill their broadcasting needs.
    U.S. Snapchat users by age, 2015-2021. Source: eMarketer


    Collaborative / Autonomous / AI

    • The on-demand grocery delivery company Instacart is raising a whopping $400 million on a $3 billion valuation. Is this a wise investment, given how many grocers are offering this service as part of the shopping experience?




    Virtual Reality / Audio



    • Program of the Week: Given our link above about broadening your political and news sources, our recommendation is KCRW's Left, Right and Center. American political discussion featuring a pundit from the left, right and center. Refreshingly civil, well-rounded, smart discourseDo you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet:  
    • And don't forget to subscribe to ours via email or on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherSpreaker or  SoundCloud.

    Content / Customer Experience / Influencer Marketing

    • Video is the new blogging: research from Convince & Convert and Vidyard indicate that there's more attention than ever being paid to videos today. In fact, 53% of videos that are 90 seconds or less are watched to completion.
    • The secret to marketing and customer experience success often boils down to one thing: empathy. You might be interested to know where our modern perception of empathy came from.


      Privacy / Security / Legal

      • The FCC has taken steps toward delaying its own rules protecting consumer privacy, which means that they won't be able to stop Internet providers from selling your data. Good. I hope they can see the gesture I'm making right now.
      • As we've previously shared, Alexa has been called as a witness in a murder case and Amazon is claiming First Amendment rights and protection of consumer privacy. But the question should be asked: just why is Amazon sitting on all of this data?
      • President Trump's advisers and career civil servants have spawned an encryption boom in Washington, DC as they try to conceal communications with employees and the press. The same might be happening at your business, which makes it all the more important to ensure you're building a culture of trust, transparency, accountability, and collaboration.

      Measurement / Metrics / Data


      Essential Watching / Listening / Reading

      • Given your role, you'll likely be called on to make a presentation or you'll have an idea for how a process might be improved. Doing so will require you to think about how you'll change people's thinking, and in preparing for that, you'll want to read How to Change Minds: Blaise Pascal on the Art of Persuasion. "The surest way of defeating the erroneous views of others is not by bombarding the bastion of their self-righteousness but by slipping in through the backdoor of their beliefs."
      • The top leadership actually wants to invest time into fixing what’s broken… not discussing what’s amazing. How to Tell Your CEO What They Really Want to Hear.
      • Have you heard of the Dull Men's Club? This international society of men who love being boring includes collecting hubcaps, the appreciation of new socks, and the 2017 Calendar of Post Boxes and Telephone Boxes of Wales.  As the documentary is titled, these guys are Born to be Mild.

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