Monday, March 11, 2019

Private (To Us, at Least) – March 11, 2019

Facebook opts for more intimate, private conversations; cameras under the watchful eye of A.I.; darker skin and autonomous vehicles don't mix; the percentage of marketing executives who'll increase their budgets this year; advertisers continue to overlook women over 40; retailers are eliminating innovation labs; the hotly anticipated Infinite Dial 2019 shows a dramatic increase in podcast consumption; Facebook's reputation took a hit last year; the only growing social network; Airbnb is going mainstream; one network's attempt at quashing anti-vaccination content; businesses are collecting a 'rolling hairball' of data but have trouble with insights; the problem with nostalgia; and more in the Private (To Us, at Least) edition of The Full Monty for the week of March 11, 2019.

Special thanks to colleagues who inspired me with link-worthy stories: Chris Brogan, Tom Webster, Jay Baer, Ann Handley, Jason Falls, Mark Schaefer, and Josh Spector. All of these fine folks crank out some amazing content on a regular basis. Check them out.

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


On March 12, 2019 at 1:00 pm ET / 10 am PT, I'll be giving a webinar for AdWeek in conjunction with Sprinklr titled Is Your Corporate Culture Transformation-Friendly? What's at Stake.
In it, I'll share the elements of a successful digital transformation plan. You’ll find out:
  • The building blocks of strategic transformation
  • Ways to change your culture to prepare for digital transformation
  • How to move digital transformation beyond marketing

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Top Story

It was inevitable.

In the last decade, we've spent so much time accumulating friends and followers on various social networks that it's become impossible to truly follow all of them. This is a vestige of our DNA: in Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, Yuhal  Noah Harari referred to "the tens of thousands of years during which our ancestors hunted and gathered."

So, we hunted and gathered on social networks as well, to the point where we've got more than what Dunbar's number suggests we can handle. And now, like any pendulum, it's beginning to swing the other way.

Mark Zuckerberg's 3,200 word manifesto on the future of Facebook indicates that it will increasingly shift its focus away from public posts to private, encrypted, and ephemeral communications on its trio of messaging apps (Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp). How they'll be able to sell advertising against fewer public data points is something that Zuckerberg hasn't addressed. But Zuckerberg was more emphatic in his focus on safety and the spread of misinformation.

Here's the thing: while it may make users more comfortable that their data aren't public, the fact remains that users' data will still be on the platform. Facebook might as well have said, "Your secret is safe with us." Not to mention that by forcing publicly odious opinions and fake news to go underground via private messaging, it's going to be even more dangerous and insidious because of Facebook's (or anyone else's) inability to track it.

Bottom line: Facebook isn't doing this because they heard our concerns about privacy and are now turning over a new leaf. Facebook's plan is to dominate private messaging.

But if you've shared a secret on their platform, your secret is out. Given their past performance on data and trustworthiness, is it reasonable to expect them to perform differently under these new circumstances?

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  
– Benjamin Franklin 

If you enjoyed this commentary, please sign up for Timeless Wisdom in addition to this newsletter. I'll be sharing some additional thoughts about this move by Facebook.

About this week's image: The Raft of the Medusa is the work of Théodore Géricault, who took a contemporary news event and transformed it into a timeless icon. In 1816, the French naval vessel Medusa sunk off the coast of Africa, which left 147 sailors adrift on a hastily constructed raft. That number dwindled quickly, with only 15 remaining after a 13 day ordeal at sea that included incidents of cannibalism among the desperate men. The larger-than-life-size painting captures the moment the raft’s emaciated crew spots a rescue ship.

Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous

The latest in A.I., machine learning, and bots; mobility and autonomous everything.
Aʀᴛɪꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟ Iɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢᴇɴᴄᴇ / Mᴀᴄʜɪɴᴇ Lᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ
Aᴜᴛᴏɴᴏᴍᴏᴜs / Mᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ
  • Tesla is dealing with the failure to achieve full self-driving vehicles by moving the goalposts, as it continues using its customers as unpaid safety drivers for its technology. (Ars Technica) Did we say you'd be able to summon your car autonomously to Los Angeles from New York by 2018? We meant "future use of these features without supervision is dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience." Or something.
  • Researchers have developed a smart stop sign that will flash a light at the right moment to make sure drivers don’t roll past the sign altogether, therefore raising the risk of an accident. (New Atlas)
  • A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology found that individuals with darker skin are 5 percent less likely to be detected by autonomous vehicles. (Vox) Good grief. Algorithmic bias, most commonly reflecting human biases, is a big problem in the world of A.I. and machine learning. That's because the algorithms rely on training data from the real world—including content from media outlets like Vox.
  • BMW and Mercedes Benz maker Daimler recently announced that they’ll collaborate on ride-sharing and mobility services as part of a €1 billion joint investment. (CNBC)

Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

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

Sᴛʀᴀᴛᴇɢʏ / Mᴀʀᴋᴇᴛɪɴɢ / Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ
Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟɪsᴍ / Cᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs / Rᴇᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ
  • Women have never been more engaged, more motivated, more in control of their lives than ever before. And brands are missing out as they continue to overlook women over 40. (AdWeek) Interesting finding during the week that included #InternationalWomenDay.
  • People would not care if 77% of brands disappeared. However, more than three-quarters (76%) of consumers expect brands to contribute to their quality of life and well-being, according to a new report on meaningful brands. (Havas) It's time to start making consumers care – by caring about what matters to them.
  • New research finds that as Generation Z and young Millennials exhibit much greater price sensitivity and much lower brand loyalty than prior generations—a challenge for brands looking to grow loyalty with this elusive group. (Agility PR) As if we didn't have enough generational challenges already.
  • And if you need a positive boost about the power of humanity as a new brand gets off the ground, check out this Twitter thread. (Twitter)

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Retail Apocalypse

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

If you haven’t taken a moment to recommend The Full Monty in the past month, please find a couple of minutes. Three effective tactics (do one, two or all three):
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2. Write a review on your blog, LinkedIn or in your column.
3. Tweet a recommendation. You could try this one or create your own.


News to know about relevant social media and technology platforms that may affect your business.
  • Part of Edison Research's Infinite Dial 2019 (see more below in the Media section) included social media usage. Here are nine key discoveries in 2019 social media research. (Convince and Convert) This one may surprise you: only one network grew last year.
Fᴀᴄᴇʙᴏᴏᴋ / Iɴsᴛᴀɢʀᴀᴍ / WʜᴀᴛsAᴘᴘ


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

  • There's only one Blockbuster store left in the world. What's its secret? (CNN Business) Hint: there's one kind of content is provides that Netflix and Amazon don't.
  • The new streaming service from Disney, Disney+ will feature the company's entire catalog –including items that have long been in its vault. (Collider)
  • Netflix is a threat to the entire Big Media establishment – and Big Media is coming for Netflix. (Axios) It's not just coming from one direction. With Hulu, Disney+, Amazon, WarnerMedia, and others, this is an ongoing battle
  • Program of the Week: The featured show is Consider Our Knowledge, an award-winning home for the best NPR parody that we know of- where the news is fake, and the jokes are real.

If you're not already, please subscribe to The Full Monty podcast, 7 minutes of weekly business commentary, many times with a historical or literary twist. It's like Paul Harvey for business. New episodes every Wednesday.

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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
  • Airbnb is finally entering the hotel industry by buying HotelTonight. (Quartz)
  • Regarding the sharing economy: ‘sharing’ was supposed to save us. Instead, it became a Trojan horse for a precarious economic future. (OneZero) Virtually none of the sharing economy startups have demonstrated a cash flow-positive business model. At the center of it all: when you leave decisions up to society as a whole, people will chose the cheapest alternatives, and things will tend toward chaos rather than order.


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: The Raft of the Medusa by Jean Louis Théodore Géricault, 1818-19 (Wikimedia Commons - public domain)


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