Monday, February 4, 2019

Capacity for Opacity — February 4, 2019

Transparency can go a long way toward trust; facial recognition may be getting better; A.I. for Marketers ebook; integration of mobility services is seen as key to success; global digital trends for 2019; creating value with marketing; the future of journalism is questioned; digital grocery loyalty is time-dependent; how to increase your Instagram followers; Twitter may be nearing an edit function; five executives doing social media well; Apple's streaming service coming in April; Spotify may be acquiring Gimlet for a huge sum; the percentage of companies that sell your data; which words are best to use with customers, as analyzed through big data; advice on thinking, decision-making and banking; and more in the Capacity for Opacity edition of The Full Monty for the week of February 4, 2019.

The Full Monty makes you smarter faster, by curating essential digital business intelligence 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 Story
Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous
Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy
Retail Apocalypse
Privacy / Security / Regulatory
Measurement / Analytics / Data
Mental Nourishment


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Top Story

In our last edition, I talked about lack of trust — in particular, how Facebook (once again) fell afoul of our trust, and how many of last week's links concerned breach of trust in some fashion.

But it got me to thinking about what's at the root of distrust: that is, why we end up being duped, willing or otherwise. Part of it exists within our own desire to believe, but it's exploited by companies that decide to withhold information, or make it particularly difficult to determine the truth.

Case in point: Facebook (sigh, again) has been accused by ProPublica of cutting off access to tools that let the public see exactly how Facebook users are being targeted by advertisers. That is, ProPublica and others such as Mozilla and Who Targets Me created a means for consumers to see how their data are being used — something you'd think that Facebook would have created and made apparent and easy to use.

Facebook's response? "We regularly improve the ways we prevent unauthorized access by third parties like web browser plugins to keep people’s information safe," according to a spokesperson.

Oh, they're protecting us. But "Rebuilding trust is the company's total focus," right?

These slippery explanations are designed to obscure the truth: that Facebook wants control over what you see and discover, and even the most well-meaning public watchdogs are not welcome.

If they bothered with even a little transparency, we might be inclined to trust them. Even McDonalds brought us inside a facility to see how Chicken McNuggets are made, in an effort to build trust and make the truth known.

Transparency doesn't mean giving away your secrets. Transparency means confidence in your business operations that lead to a willingness to be honest and show how the sausage (or McNuggets) are made.

It's abundantly clear that Facebook prefers being opaque.

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About this week's image:
James McNeill Whistler completed Nocturne of Grey and Gold - Picadilly in 1883. The image may evoke fear and mystery, with obscured buildings and people, and the knowledge that something—many somethings—must lurk beyond what is visible. For artists, the fog is beautiful, as Whistler attests in his Ten O'Clock Lecture (1885): "Nature, who, for once, has sung in tune, sings her exquisite song to the artists alone." But for others, the fog is a shroud that disguises the poverty, commercialism and squalor in the city on any other day.

Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous

The latest in A.I., machine learning, and bots; mobility and autonomous everything.
Aʀᴛɪꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟ Iɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢᴇɴᴄᴇ / Mᴀᴄʜɪɴᴇ Lᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ
  • Summit, the world's most powerful supercomputer, broke a record for the fastest-running machine learning experiment. The experiment used algorithms to detect extreme weather patterns such as hurricanes out of a huge dataset of climate simulations. (Wired) These kinds of experiments set the ground for other uses of machine learning across industries.
  • IBM released a new, annotated dataset for facial recognition called Diversity in Faces, or DiF. The dataset contains 1 million facial images sourced from Creative Commons that are labeled using ten different coding schemes. (Venture Beat)
  • In what appears to be an effort to condition searchers to use voice, Google added voice input and spoken results to mobile web search. (Search Engine Land via Pam Moore) Given that voice search works on all phones, Google is more likely to be the winner in voice search than any other platform. Right, Alexa and Siri?
 AI for Marketers
Be sure to download a copy of Christopher Penn's AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer (Second Edition). You'll find the kinds of questions you should be asking vendors, five practical applications of AI for marketing, what it will take for you to succeed on your journey, and more. (Disclosure: affiliate link)

Aᴜᴛᴏɴᴏᴍᴏᴜs / Mᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ
  • Could Waymo be the de facto victor in the autonomous vehicle race? (Financial Times) Perhaps, but they still need to get their vehicles from somewhere...
  • Argo A.I. has a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California. California is the fifth state where Ford's A.V. partner is now allowed to test its technology. (TechCrunch) While some debate the efficacy of OEMs vs. tech companies in autonomous vehicles, Ford's hybrid approach is one to watch.
  • Autonomous vehicles could make urban transit more efficient, but what's really needed is intelligent digital platforms to integrate different modes of transportation into a personal travel plan that's optimized for consumer preferences, like shortest travel time or lowest price. (Axios) There's no one-size fits all approach for A.V.s, even within a seemingly homogeneous place as a city. Multi-modal mobility options are essential.
  • Amazon is hauling some cargo in self-driving trucks from Embark. Embark integrates its self-driving systems into Peterbilt semis, rather than building its own vehicles completely from scratch. (CNBC) Kind of like Waymo...

Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

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

  • We Are Social and Hootsuite revealed the latest annual report Digital Trends 2019: everything you need to know about mobile, internet, social media, and e-commerce use around the world in 2019. (The Next Web) 

Sᴛʀᴀᴛᴇɢʏ / Mᴀʀᴋᴇᴛɪɴɢ / Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ
Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟɪsᴍ / Cᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs / Rᴇᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ
  • With layoffs at BuzzFeed, HuffPo and other big digital publishers, we're left to ask what went wrong with digital media? (The New York Times) There's plenty of blame to go around, over a long timeline. Perhaps we should look toward successful digital pubslishers like The Guardian, The New York Times, the Washington Post., etc. and ask what went right.
  • Journalism is changing. First, the pivot to video. Then, the pivot to podcasting. Now, the pivot to subscription. (Medium) What's next?
  • How can journalism survive? A good mini-history of what got us here. Here being consolidation, layoffs, and a disinterested public. (The New Yorker)
  • Instead of seeking out stories, a better option is letting stories come to you, preferably through email. Going all Marie Kondo, Mat Zucker suggests bringing joy to your inbox with these newsletters. (Forbes)


IRI Webinar

  • Personalization is needed more than ever. But how do you do it at scale? It's really all about knowing your audience and serving them up what matters to them, ideally based on what you know - such as their purchase history. IRI has the solution in their latest FREE webinar: How to Improve Audience Targeting for Your CPG Ad Campaigns. (IRI Worldwide) 

Retail Apocalypse

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

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News to know about relevant social media and technology platforms that may affect your business.
Fᴀᴄᴇʙᴏᴏᴋ / Iɴsᴛᴀɢʀᴀᴍ / WʜᴀᴛsAᴘᴘ
  • If you want to get away with posting fake news on Facebook, just change your website domain. This has allowed a number of previously debunked sites to fly under the radar of fact-checkers. (Poynter) 
  • Researchers at New York University and Stanford University found that deactivating Facebook for just four weeks could alter people’s behavior and state of mind, making them less informed but happier. (Washington Post)
  • Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity. (TechCrunch) But trust them.
  • How to increase your Instagram followers without resorting to hacks, buying fake followers, or unscrupulously turning your profile into an egg. (Medium via For the Interested)
  • Twitter's head of content partnerships says the social media network wants to work closely with publishers to ensure Twitter is correctly handling content they are creating. (AdWeek)
  • According to CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter is trying to figure out editable tweets. One possibility is having the original still show. (9to5Mac)
  • Twitter cut off access to its API for follow/unfollow services including ManageFlitter, CrowdFire and StatusBrew. (TechCrunch) While helpful for finding and unfollowing spam and bot accounts, these services have been gamed to allow unscrupulous users to follow and then unfollow accounts quickly, to boost their own numbers.
  • People who tweet are more open-minded than those who only post on Facebook. But they also tend to be more Machiavellian as well. (Insider) But not you—you're better than that.


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

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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.


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    Mental Nourishment

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

    Top image credit: Nocturne of Grey and Gold - Picadilly (public domain, Whistler House Museum of Art, Lowell, Massachusetts)


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