Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Full Monty: Now You See It, Now You Don't — March 5, 2018

The invisible killer of brands; expect an AI bestseller by 2049 (no, not by Isaac Asimov); smart speakers coming from Facebook; automakers increasingly getting into autonomous and ride-sharing; personalization is important — but not quite important enough; what's ailing ad agencies; social sharing is down 50 percent; Amazon's warehouse is totally random, and that's okay; a weekly TV news show from the NYT; Spotify filed for an IPO, but its margins need work; choosing between DDoS and extortion; UberHealth is here; measuring what matters in email newsletters; empathy powers innovation; and more in the Now You See It, Now You Don't edition of The Full Monty from Brain+Trust Partners for the week of March 5, 2018.

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The Full Monty, a Brain+Trust Partners publication, exposes you to virtually everything you need in business intelligence at the top of every week. Links are below with commentary in italics. Please sign up for our email updates to make sure you don't miss a thing.

We've got all of these links — and those that didn't make the cut for publication — in The Full Monty Magazine on Flipboard. You might also be interested in the Brain Trust magazine, as well as Salmagundi by Christopher Barger and Saddle Up by Tim Hayden.

Top Stories

They say that high blood pressure is "the silent killer." However, what will ultimately defeat CPG brands is not a silent killer, but rather an invisible one.

When you use an Amazon Echo, unless you've established some loyal relationship with a brand, you'll likely ask for the category of product you wish to buy (batteries, razor blades, laundry detergent, etc.). And what does Alexa do? It gives you those products that Amazon has predetermined that you should choose from — and more often than not, it's Amazon Choice and private labels.

Heh. Just think about that for a moment: Amazon Choice. That's exactly what it is: Amazon's choice! Not yours.

When you surrender your products to third party services, you are at their mercy. And with voice, it's sneaking up on us. It may not even be apparent that this is happening, which is what makes it so insidious. We don't have a visual layout of our options any more; with the web, consumers could browse around and find the best deal or product for them. While voice-enabled ordering may save time for consumers, it might be detrimental at the same time, as consumers are more likely to choose whichever recommendation they hear first or second.

So we face some tough decisions ahead: at the very minimum, brands must strive to make the processes and selections with voice-activated services as simple and easy as possible. Less is more. But at the same time, brands need to fundamentally re-think their relationship with customers and with third-party distribution and sales platforms. 

Do you really want to be giving up both your data and your sales advantage to a voice-enabled retailer? Maybe we can get a voice vote on that.

Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous

The latest in AI, machine learning, bots, and blockchain, mobility, and autonomous everything.



  • Toyota is starting a self-driving software company (TRI-AD) in conjunction with automotive supplier Aisin Seiki and Denso, and together, they plan to invest $2.8 billion into TRI-AD in the coming years and hire around 1,000 employees in order to develop software systems that can power fully self-driving vehicles. The autonomous wars are accelerating.
  • The list of OEMs trying their own hands at ride-sharing services is getting longer. It's a classic case of "if you can't join them, beat them."



The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester is an extraordinary tale of madness and genius, and the incredible obsessions of two men at the heart of one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters.


Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

Industry developments and trends, including advertising & marketing, journalism, customer experience, content, and influencer relations.



  • New data shows that social sharing is down by 50 percent over the last two years. What's the cause? A number of factors, including more content and competition, more private sharing (email, Slack, messaging apps), and Facebook algorithm tweaks. And search is back!
  • Check out the entire report from BuzzSumo.

Retail Apocalypse

Humans are a transactional species, and the practice — if not the very notion of what retail is  is undergoing a historical metamorphosis. 


Want 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, maybe you'd like to see your company's name here too. Let us know.


News to know about relevant social, virtual, and augmented reality platforms that may affect your business.


  • Twitter rolled out a Bookmark feature for saving tweets. The function only works on the mobile app and is not meant to replace the like/favorite feature.
  • Twitter is wondering whether Twitter is bad for society — and CEO Jack Dorsey is starting new research to find out.



  • Google is trying to one-up Slack by inviting G-Suite users to use Hangouts Chat.


  • Pew Internet Research found that a majority of Americans use Facebook and YouTube in its Social Media Use in 2018 study, but young adults are especially heavy users of Snapchat and Instagram. No surprises there.


The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.


  • Get ready for the Edison Research/Triton Digital Infinite Dial webinar, which will unveil the annual study of consumer behaviors around media and technology. It takes place on Thursday, March 8 at 2 pm Eastern. Via Tom Webster
  • The New York Times is planning a weekly TV news show. The company is hiring a producer and is in talks with various streaming services about a distribution deal. Does this mean we'l have the Failing New York Times TV Show?
  • CBS announced the launch of CBS Sports HQ, a new 24/7 streaming network for sports, highlights and analysis.


  • Spotify filed for an unusual IPO on the NYSE as SPOT, without an initial offering price and a warning that "the public price of our ordinary shares may be more volatile than in an underwritten initial public offering and could, upon listing on the NYSE, decline significantly and rapidly.
  • Everyone wants to build a giant consumer subscription business, just like Spotify. Only others may have a more enviable cash position from which to build.
  • As Spotify prepares to go public, here's a look at their business model from Stratechery. Their margins are very thin and recording labels are in the driver's seat. Makes you wonder if this is the right company to back for an IPO.
  • Program of the Week: This week's show is Akimbo by Seth Godin. Each episode is about 20 minutes long and focused on a single topic (no interviews, it's more like an audio blog post), followed by a little Q&A from the previous week's episode. Thanks to Josh Spector for the suggestion. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.  
Don't forget to subscribe to The Difference from Brain+Trust Partners!

Regulatory / Security 

Business disruptions in the legal, regulatory, and computer security fields, from hacking to the on-demand economy and more.



    Measurement / Analytics / Data

    The future is not in plastics, but in data. Those who know how to measure and analyze it will rule the world.

    Mental Nourishment

    Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.

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    Upcoming Brain+Trust Speaking Engagements

    In March we'll be at:
    • SXSW
    • IBM Think 
    • The National Automobile Dealers Association annual meeting
    Can we speak for your organization or event? Drop us a line.

    Brain+Trust Partners helps smart, risk-taking executives discern the real from the hype. From strategy development to technology and data vendor selection, and streamlining processes, our focus is on digital business transformation that improves customer experience and drives efficiency for your company. 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.

    Top image credit: An Incident of Whaling by William Bradford, public domain.



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