Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Full Monty: The Fault, Dear Brutus – April 16, 2018

It's easy to throw shade at Facebook, AI and other technology, but the truth may be closer at hand; the four types of machine intelligence; ads are more intrusive now; B2B buyers care about the source of content; the best and worst companies at CX; how digital can help in-store purchases; the State of Digital Advertising 2018; Netflix dominates; Pandora commits to podcasts; why GDPR should matter to marketers; the data Facebook has on you (and won't give up); universal ad metrics across platforms; leadership challenges and digital transformation; the best GIF of 2017; and more in The Fault, Dear Brutus edition of The Full Monty from Brain+Trust Partners for the week of April 16, 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.


Top Stories

We've certainly learned quite a bit about Facebook over the last few weeks, haven't we? What's becoming increasingly clear with every conversation, every question answered (or skirted), and every discovery is that data privacy and ownership are at the center of things. And those issues remain critical for businesses to address with regard to their own customers. But more than that, we need to take a good hard look at the very technology that makes all of this possible.

AI to Facebook's rescue?

With regard to harmful content and its role in twisting what people see, read and believe, Mark Zuckerberg indicated that the short-term plan is more humans (up to 20,000 new hires!) and then artificial intelligence could handle the scale: “We’re going to shift increasingly to a method where more of this content is flagged up front by AI tools.”

In a confidential document recently uncovered by The Intercept, we find that instead of merely offering advertisers the ability to target people based on demographics and consumer preferences, Facebook will use AI to also offer the ability to predict future behavior. That is, Facebook promises the ability to target consumers based on how they will behave, what they will buy, and what they will think.

You know what else is powered by AI? Recommendation systems. They're behind Amazon's suggestions ("people who bought this also bought...") and they're behind the algorithms that control the content you see on Facebook. While they can save us time and bring us the content that (we think) we want, recommendation engines are perhaps the biggest threat to societal cohesion on the Internet – bubbles, conspiracy theories, and nonsense make their way to the top.

And this mist of online reality threatens to break down the basic elements that hold us together as a society offline, as arguments and people alike become intractable. "Fake news" and "alternative facts" have crept into our collective vocabulary and some members of society are unable to discern truth from fiction.

A turning point?

Are we already too far down a path of platform-induced destruction? Is it too late to wrest control of our fate from the algorithms? Is the result of making the world a more connected during this fractious political time actually made us more disagreeable than ever?

Elon Musk – that technological wunderkind known for embracing technology and all it has to offer – recently said "humans are underrated," noting that "excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake." And pioneers in areas of the Internet have begun apologizing for their creations.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

But maybe – just maybe – the underlying factor isn't the algorithms that drive the platforms, nor even the platforms themselves. Perhaps our problem lies within. When freely available information meets confirmation bias meets positive feedback loops, the fact is clear: we cannot resist. The temptation to engage is too much.

The sad truth about technology is deceptively simple: we're addicted.

Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous

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

Aʀᴛɪꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟ Iɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢᴇɴᴄᴇ / Mᴀᴄʜɪɴᴇ Lᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ

  • We need to obsess about the business of the AI buyer, and we need to obsess about their customers, too. These technologies need to fit the business, not the other way around. Otherwise, AI is a novelty without a clear path to profitability.
  • Cognitive computing, AI, machine learning, and deep learning are often used to describe the same thing, when they actually differ. Here, explained, is what the differences are between four types of machine intelligence so you can better understand how the pieces fit together.
  • European lawmakers, legal experts and manufacturers are already locked in a high-stakes debate about the legal status of robots: whether it’s these machines or human beings who should bear ultimate responsibility for their actions. As the Europeans seem to have jumped ahead in privacy concerns, we should closely watch where they net out with robot personhood.

Aᴜᴛᴏɴᴏᴍᴏᴜs / Mᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ

  • Ford Motor Company is preparing to launch its own self-driving car network, which should be "at scale" by 2021. 
  • In partnership with Getaround, Uber is launching a rental car service within its app. Uber Rent will initially launch in San Francisco and then most likely in the other nine markets in which Getaround is currently operating. The auto wars continue to get more complicated.

Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

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

Sᴛʀᴀᴛᴇɢʏ / Mᴀʀᴋᴇᴛɪɴɢ / Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ

Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟɪsᴍ / Cᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs / Rᴇᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ

Retail Apocalypse

Humans are a transactional species, and the practice — if not the very notion of what retail is  is undergoing a historical metamorphosis. 
  • Online shopping is a mainstream activity—eMarketer forecasts roughly 70% of the US population will make a purchase digitally this year—but more buying journeys still end offline. Here's a look at how digital can help in-store purchases.
  • Walmart is in talks to buy India's Flipkart, but because eBay owns a percentage of the company, Walmart may have to strike a deal with eBay first. This could be the deal that propels Walmart past Amazon in international markets. It could also lead to an interesting tie-up with eBay.
  • Speaking of India, it's home to the best-performing retailer in the world, which you probably haven't heard of. Find out what makes it so successful.
  • Walmart and Amazon are transforming grocery shopping, mostly by unlocking the missing piece in online food shopping: same-day delivery.


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


Fᴀᴄᴇʙᴏᴏᴋ / Iɴsᴛᴀɢʀᴀᴍ / WʜᴀᴛsAᴘᴘ

  • We've probably all got Facebook exhaustion from the goings-on in the last month – and certainly from the past week. We'll just leave you with Mr. Zuckerberg Explains the Internet to Elderly Senators. Plus, there's more Facebook news in the Pʀɪᴠᴀᴄʏ/Rᴇɢᴜʟᴀᴛᴏʀʏ section below.

Aʟᴘʜᴀʙᴇᴛ / Gᴏᴏɢʟᴇ / YᴏᴜTᴜʙᴇ



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



  • Edison Research, producer of the annual Infinite Dial report (shared in our March 12 edition) on digital media consumption, has released its Infinite Dial Canada 2018 report, its inaugural effort in the Great White North. 
  • Pandora is doubling down on podcasts, in an effort to grow its 75 million users through a more diversified catalog.
  • Program of the Week: Our pick this week is Stay Tuned with PreetPreet Bharara, former US Attorney who fought corruption, financial fraud and violent crime, hosts this plainspoken series about justice and fairness. Do you have a program to recommend? Add yours to our Google Sheet: smonty.co/yourpodcasts.  
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Privacy / Security / Regulatory 

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

Pʀɪᴠᴀᴄʏ / Sᴇᴄᴜʀɪᴛʏ / Hᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ

    Rᴇɢᴜʟᴀᴛᴏʀʏ / Oɴ-Dᴇᴍᴀɴᴅ Eᴄᴏɴᴏᴍʏ

    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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    Top image credit: The Course of the Empire - Destruction by Thomas Cole (public domain)



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