Jul 16, 2018

Content Creation based on Data: Amazon vs Netflix

This article is a few weeks old, and at its core is a great Ted Talk from 2016 that compares how Amazon and Netflix used data to create content. The talk is just 12 min long and if you add 5 min for that article (with a lot of newer info), your time is well spent. In a nutshell, Amazon based their decisions on actual reactions of viewers who saw pilots (which they produced after holding a competition), while Netflix did not use (limited) reactive data to existing pieces of content, but reactions & insights about any content watched on Netflix - and created theirs from there. Amazon's result was "Alpha House", Netflix's was "House of Cards".

Article on Forbes incl. Sebastian Wernicke's Ted Talk:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinwestcottgrant/2018/05/28/netflixs-data-driven-strategy-strengthens-lead-for-best-original-content-in-2018/#6e61c1813a94

Talk only:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQILP19qABk

Hands On with the BBC News Lab

At the end of the article, they reveal that they are hiring, and it's a smart way to maybe attract developers: show them what is actually done at BBC News Lab. They describe their work as being divided into two categories: new tools to help journalists produce better content, and new news formats for BBC audiences. Interesting insights:

Jul 10, 2018

Meet JD.com, the Chinese E-Commerce Giant

When I started monitoring & including WeChat in talks a few years back, I came across the "Kingmaker Strategy": Buy a significant share in a fast growing (potential) leader in a segment, and leverage that investment by (sometimes exclusively) integrating that company in your own service. That's what Tencent did with JD.com (wouldn't integrate Alibaba as they have that big rivalry) on WeChat, and now that company has grown to a 65bn USD valuation. This is an interesting article on Wired about how they use automation and robotics, and what their approach to ecommerce is.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-jd-ecommerce-store-delivery-drones-amazon 

FC Bayern on Social Media 2017/2018

A few numbers and stats on FC Bayern during the last season, where they - in my opinion - upped their social media game significantly. The top post achieved close to 600,000 likes on Instagram alone, and it was - cat content. A cat selfie in front of the team. Unthinkable a few years back, but FC Bayern understood that stuff like this does not damage the brand, but rather increases relevance in target groups that you probably won't get on TV anymore (also because in most markets, Champions League football is on Pay TV anyway - and you'll need to provide some kind of exposure for sponsors, and make new fans on new channels). Some interesting numbers:

https://fcbayern.com/en/news/2018/07/fc-bayern-social-media-cat-content

Jul 9, 2018

Health & fitness apps success factors

Great overview by Stanwood's Hannes Kleist of the German market in fitness and health apps - which are the genres, which monetization models work, how a paywall or freemium model should be implemented, and how to find the right pricing, based on data. Read this:

https://medium.com/@HannesKleist/how-to-develop-successful-health-fitness-apps-c347f23fdc2d

[fun post] Bizarre correlations & statistics

If you want to make fun of statistics that don't entirely convince you, this is a great source - it shows bizarre correlations in data with nearly identical curves, like "US spending on science" and "Suicides by hanging and suffocation", or between "US crude oil imports from Norway" and "Drivers killed in collision with railway train". Not all data analysis that brings up statistically relevant / significant correlations makes sense, obviously.

http://tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

The Kindle edition of the book where these are from is just 7 bucks (German store):

https://www.amazon.de/Spurious-Correlations-Tyler-Vigen/dp/0316339431/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531126588&sr=8-1

AI acquisitons 2013-2017

Great overview by CBSinsights that shows how we are in an "acquisition binge" for AI startups - and nine companies are buying the majority of those. Alphabet/Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Intel, Twitter, Salesforce - and a monitoring form called Meltwater snap up most of them. In this article you will find a list of their acquisitions 2013-2017, and a number of charts on all other major M&A activities in this field. Great for a quick overview.

https://www.cbinsights.com/research/top-acquirers-ai-startups-ma-timeline/

Alibaba has an AI copywriting tool

Partners sell products on Alibaba's sites, so they upload images, product descriptions and advertisements like banners or 20-sec-video for marketing. In order to make that easier and more efficient, just like any other site, Alibaba offers tools (compare Facebook's ad planner). But Alibaba now claims they have a deep learnig/natural language processing tool that can write 20,000 lines of copy per second - and pass the turing test. You can even choose if your copy should be promotional, fun, heartwarming, functional or "poetic". Offered in Chinese only (currently), this shows us where we're headed - additionally to this, they have tools that automate banner-resizing to different formats and AI-powered video tools to easily generate 20 second ads for their platform. So the direction is: basic creative idea - human. Everything else: machine.

https://mumbrella.com.au/alibaba-claims-its-ai-is-about-to-revolutionise-copywriting-for-agencies-and-brands-527272

Is IGTV an attack on YouTube?

I am a firm believer in vertical video - basically in every format. From Snapchat over WhatsApp Status to Instagram Stories, short form works exceptionally good, and IGTV now opens that format for long form video, too. This article on Hacker Noon makes the case that in a few years' time, IGTV may do to YouTube what it made with Millenials to TV: to become a potentially dispensable part of their lives. Very interesting though that what is missing - and should be added by Instagram - is a smart search feature as the structure of content being tied to accounts that you follow may cover a "social" way of distributing content, but leaves the whole area of intentional viewing (YouTube's stronghold) mostly open. Will be interesting to see the further development here.

https://hackernoon.com/igtv-another-brick-in-the-wall-of-a-content-conundrum-ad426dae267c

Ben Evans about Machine Learning

If an article about machine learning begins with dismissing sentences like "data is the new oil", I am interested. Benedict Evans, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, offers his perspective, and as always, it's valuable. You should read it, but if I try to summarize, Ben makes a case that ML is currently a disruptor to what we used to call "data mining". While data analysis is the goal-oriented examination of data, data mining describes the analysis of data sets without asking a question - trying to find correlations, anomalies and potentially significant insights in data. So ML can help in both areas, give you better anwers to questions you already have, and deliver answers to questions that you didn't ask. And it can broaden your data set as ML makes it possible to include new data types in an analysis, like audio, video or images.
Worth the time to read through it:

https://www.ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2018/06/22/ways-to-think-about-machine-learning-8nefy

Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018

Pew Research Center with stats & numbers from the US market on generation Z. 95% of US teens have a smartphone, and 45% say they are online "almost constantly". That's coming from 24% in 2015 and is a dramatic increase. In platforms used overall YouTube leads (72%), followed by Instagram and Snapchat, while "most used platform" is led by Snapchat. Nothing that you wouldn't know if you have an n=2 group of teens in your personal environment, but it helps to see these impressions verified on scale by research. 

http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/

Twitter's turnaround

I recently made a quick research for a client about news apps and news aggregators, and I was surprised to find Twitter in the "news" section of app stores instead of social networking. At a time where Facebook positions itself away from news, Twitter seems to embrace that opening (although the article below says it's a coincidence). "Live" has always been boon and bane for Twitter - an algorithm clearly delivers more relevance than a purely time-based newsfeed, on the other hand these obstruct any "live"-news mass distribution as we can clearly see with the World Cup (where I get "goal" posts a day later on Facebook or Instagram). BuzzFeed News wrote an interesting overview about Twitter's comeback:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/how-twitter-made-the-tech-worlds-most-unlikely-comeback?

Aibaba vs Tencent

Or "Ma vs. Ma". Comprehensive piece from Forbes about the two Chinese giants, how they compete with each other and how they differ from their American peers. It includes some interesting info about the domestic Chinese market and a few great charts/stats, about their operations and investment strategies. And personally I wasn't aware of Alibaba's "integrated retail program". where even 7-11-sized shops and bodegas get modern inventory software, sensors that monitor foot traffic and camera generated heatmaps to optimize their physical stores. Great read:

http://fortune.com/longform/alibaba-tencent-china-internet/

Jul 7, 2018

Facebook sends less and less traffic

Lengthy article from Slate - including some very interesting numbers and stats from their own publication - about how Facebook's change in treating news, concentrating on a "trust ranking" among publishers and emphasizing meaningful interactions has impacted their business. Their traffic from Facebook dropped 87% from 2017 to 2018. They come to the conclusion that Facebook "retreats from the news business".

Full article:
https://slate.com/technology/2018/06/facebooks-retreat-from-the-news-has-painful-for-publishers-including-slate.html

Digiday's take (with less statistics):
http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/06/slates-facebook-traffic-has-dropped-by-87-percent-since-2017/

Jun 15, 2018

WhatsApp usage for news has tripled since 2014

Guess what doesn't have algorithmic orders (at least yet) and is great for sharing content? Messengers with groups and friends. A study based on 74,000 people in 37 countries has revealed a number of interesting stats published by Reuters Institute of Journalism - Digital News Report 2018. Obviously, the increase in messengers has happened at the expense of Facebook (from 42% usage for news down to 36%) and Twitter (in some countries fallen behind WhatsApp even).

Highlights here: https://www.theguardian.com/media/blog/2018/jun/14/whatsapp-popular-for-sharing-news-minus-the-toxic-debates

Full study: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/digital-news-report-2018.pdf


How the NBA built a winning digital strategy

Here's a comment from the Marketing insider on how the NBA managed to become the strongest sports media brand in digital. While I don't disagree with the points made there (a. the NBA is global and diverse, b) they embrace digital, c) they operate with transparency), I don't think these points are critical (check the article here: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/320516/how-the-nba-built-a-winning-digital-media-strategy.html).

In my point of view, the NBA differs from most leagues (football, American football, hockey etc) in this point: They have 1230 games per regular season, plus extensive playoffs. There's so much content, it doesn't make sense to try and limit exposure outside live broadcasts. In fact, action from a minute ago is the ideal piece of content to tune into TV now, and yesterday's content is ideal to advertise a game on TV tonight. Plus: Basketball, by nature, produces highlight plays each game which can easily be compiled into spectacular highlight reels (try this with football/soccer - you need way more "minutes played" to get something spectacular, and in fact you have less minutes played in each league). So they can afford to flood all digital channels with amazing content, which is essentially advertising the next or current live game. Live, realtime, the NBA is as restrictive as anyone, because that's still where the money is made. But outside live, they just have more and better content to distribute than anyone else. In football/soccer, highlights are a media right worth millions. While I believe that using these to advertise live would still be a wise choice (strategically: in order to make fans for the future, tactically: in order to help the live rights holders achieve great numbers/new subscribers), all other leagues simply have other, worse preconditions.

The economics of Netflix

Bottom line: Netflix is currently losing a lot of money (in free cash flow). The stock still soars, because many people believe it's a marathon, and we haven't even crossed the 5km mark yet. That's impossible to know and a question of belief, but it is very interesting to see how Netflix follows a third model between film studios and TV networks.
In Hollywood, 6% of the films account for half the profit (what I always call casino business, basically), and that is sold tickets at the box office. TV is different from that, with better risk distribution, but still depending directly on how many people tune in, and how that slot is sold to advertisers. And then there's Netflix. Revenue is not directly linked to who watches how much of what, but more on attracting and retaining subscribers, so a series or movie that works fantastic in a small niche may be worth more than one that many people "like" to see, but don't love. A very interesting blog post about "Netflix economics":

https://taimur.me/netflix/

Google insights about mobile app users

Nice interactive insights from "think with Google" about mobile app users. 91% of smartphone owners use apps they downloaded. Some Germany highlights - 42% of games app users are in these while "watching" TV and spend a daily average of 55 minutes there, while news apps are used only 21 minutes a day, 44% while travelling - and 62% of news app users are men. Sports apps are 81% male, 39yo average (biggest bracket 25-35 years though), 12 minutes a day, 37% while travelling - supporting my theory that this quick "kill time" usage (i am somewhere waiting - let's see for a minute what happened in Sports) is on the rise.
Numbers are available for the US, UK, Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany:

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile-app-user-demographics/

Facebook tracks just about everything

While I still don't believe Facebook listens to your conversations via microphone, the Senate hearing answers have revealed what else they track: everything. Mouse movements, file names on your phone, which other apps you have, the Wifi or cell network you're in, "nearby" devices in that network, your address book (if enabled) or you being other peoples' address books, available storage, connection speed... the list goes on.

Find an overview here
https://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolenguyen/here-are-18-things-you-might-not-have-realized-facebook?

or the entire document (222 pages)
https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/9d8e069d-2670-4530-bcdc-d3a63a8831c4/7C8DE61421D13E86FC6855CC2EA7AEA7.senate-commerce-committee-combined-qfrs-06.11.2018.pdf

May 31, 2018

The new Mary Meeker / Kleiner Perkins Internet Trends are out

As always: If you download only one study/research/statistics/numbers document this year, it has to be these 300 pages. Interesting how big the China sections became over the years, and that one of my mantras in the last two years: "in saturated markets, growth is harder to find" is emphasized right at the start. You either innovate to steal market share from others, or you win over generation Z. Download your copy here:

https://www.slideshare.net/joshsc/techcrunch-mary-meeker-2018-internet-trends-report

Recode's selection of highlights: https://www.recode.net/2018/5/30/17385116/mary-meeker-slides-internet-trends-code-conference-2018

May 25, 2018

A lesson about pricing power

If you ever wondered how much pricing power matters in the luxury segment, here's a hint: Richemont, the owner of brands like Cartier and Montblanc, destroyed / de-assembled watches worth close to 500 million (!) Euros during the past two years - to avoid having them in unwanted sales channels at discount prices.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/18/richemont-destroys-nearly-500m-of-watches-in-two-years-amid-buyback-policy

The Modern Football Fan (report)

UK-focused report on how generation Z consume online football content. It was conducted by Copa90, who will have their own agenda with such a study, but it's highly interesting nonetheless. It states that most of +16yr old fans get their introduction to football through video games (FIFA), often support more than one club and reject the traditional broadcast models. And they create: on April 3, 2018 - when Cristiano Ronaldo scored an amazing bicycle kick goal - over 5,600 accounts uploaded over 6,800 different videos/gifs of it to Twitter and Instagram.

Download the unreadable, terribly designed report here, at least full of numbers and stats:
http://copa90.media/insights/

or get the headlines from Digiday:
https://digiday.com/sponsored/copa90-copa90sbl-escaping-algorithm-young-football-fans-might-leave-big-social-platforms/

(The report also claims that young football fans "escape the algorithms" and try to avoid Instagram and such, but I suspect too much wishful thinking from Copa90 there).



May 24, 2018

A great guide to gas

This is a great overview of what Ethereum gas is, what its utility on the blockchain is and how it works. If you're a blockchain expert, don't bother, but if you want to get your head around these topics and understand why Ethereum won't be means of payment in a supermarket soon, but will power an economy of decentralized apps, read this article on Medium.

https://media.consensys.net/a-guide-to-gas-12b40d03605d

May 22, 2018

The moat map

Super interesting article about Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple - and how they differentiate through or commoditize suppliers, and externalize or internalize network effects. The two graphs are worth the visit alone, but I strongly recommend the full article. By the way, Ben Thompson, the guy running Stratechery, is probably one of the smartest guys in the universe and would be a superstar if he lived in Silicon Valley. I highly recommend the whole blog.

https://stratechery.com/2018/the-moat-map/

Computing power shows the acceleration in AI

Quote: "Three factors drive the advance of AI: algorithmic innovation, data (which can be either supervised data or interactive environments), and the amount of compute available for training." That last one is quantifiable, therefore a good indicator of what's going on. I mean: even if the other two were stable (which they are not), here's a number: Compared to supercomputer "Alex Net" in 2012, the computing power of Alpha Go Zero is a 300,000x increase.

https://blog.openai.com/ai-and-compute/



May 14, 2018

Voice search numbers & stats

Here's an article about voice search - I am not sure whether the title "How entrepreneurs can take advantage of voice search marketing" is true to its promise, but the article references a number of interesting studies and researches and includes a lot of Microsoft Bing & Cortana data about the state of voice search, and that's worth reading anyway:
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/311236

More:

Capgemini study linked in the article, including infographics:
https://www.capgemini.com/resources/conversational-commerce-dti-report/

Mary Meeker / Kleiner Perkins Voice Chapter:
http://dq756f9pzlyr3.cloudfront.net/file/Internet+Trends+2017+Report.pdf#page=46

Ogilvy Digital Trends report featuring a chapter "the end of typing":
https://www.ogilvy.com/topics/topics-digital/key-digital-trends-for-2018/


Pro Sports clubs are equal parts sports & media companies

Finally it's not me who keeps saying this, but I can quote a publication like Fast Company on that: "like all major pro sports teams, Manchester City as a brand is equal parts sports team and media company". The article outlines their media/content strategy without going into too much detail like technology or staffing, but gives a good overview of what (top) football teams have to deliver in digital media.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40568464/manchester-citys-most-important-product-after-soccer-is-content

More in the same direction about the MLS - they "doubled down on video", and, like with any media outlet, a new star adds a lot of relevance - in this case Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And new stars require the ability to adapt content strategies to their presence, or integrate them into existing strategies seamlessly.

https://frntofficesport.com/inside-mls-digital-strategy-and-the-impact-zlatan-has-had

And finally, if you are not convinced that we are talking about "media companies" here, read this lengthy article about a night with the Chicago Bulls media team. No less than 20 (!!) people are involved in the coverage of a match. What seems to us like "two dudes with smartphones" near the pitch and maybe one more guy in some office updating homepages and apps, is in reality a full-on professional media operation that optimizes content management systems and other crucial parts of technology and creates first-hand, unique content for fans in an already "over-covered" sports media space.

https://www.ama.org/publications/marketingnews/pages/how-chicago-bulls-use-social-media-to-humanize-players.aspx 

May 11, 2018

We are data factories (not mines)

Super-interesting read by Nicholas Carr on data. An older theory of mine is that we made a foundational mistake when the internet unfolded: we gave ownership to the data to the place where it was created rather to the people creating it. So when I purchase a product on Amazon, or even if I search for something on Google, that data could (in my eyes: should) be mine. But it isn't. In this case, it's Amazon's and Google's, and we are struggling to find regulations like GDPR to give me as a consumer at least some control over it. Carr provides a sophisticated overview on how to approach this question by seperating two philosophies by the metaphors of mines and factories. Plus links to other very interesting articles on that topic that I wouldn't have stumbled upon on my own. If you're interested in data, read this.

http://www.roughtype.com/?p=8394

The new NYT article page

I keep telling my publisher clients that the two destinations they should worry about are the article page and the video player page, instead of redesigning apps, homepages, editorial structures and navigations. The NYT seems to be working a lot on their article pages and even if you don't want to follow their ideas, the approach and the mentality behind are something to be aspiring to:

https://digiday.com/media/new-york-times-brings-unified-ad-editorial-approach-new-article-page/ 

A new Google News may try to beat filter bubbles

Google I/O was not only AI phone calls. The Google News app will be revamped, and two features are striking - the "full coverage" and "newscast". Both promise to give you a comprehensive look on news events by compiling video, articles and more from different sources on a single news topic. This may be a (pre-emptive) move over criticism on being responsible how me see the world. Also worth noting, if you saw the keynote, how much they emphasized towards publishers that "we come in peace" .-)

https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/8/17329074/google-news-update-new-features-newsstand-io-2018

A theory of economic impact of AI

A highly interesting, unique perspective offered by professor Ajay Agrawal looks at AI as means to decrease the cost of predictions. McKinsey took this thought and published what they call a "CEO guide to parsing and prioritizing AI opportunities". Interesting read and, unlike many AI articles, coming from a unique angle:

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-analytics/our-insights/the-economics-of-artificial-intelligence

2017 US digital advertising market numbers - 57% mobile, Google & Facebook landgrab slows down

According to the Internet advertising revenue report by the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau), the US digital ad market is 88bn, 49,9bn of that in mobile (57%). The study also states that search makes up 46% of the market (mobile & desktop, 40bn, up from 34bn) - but down from 47% last year, so Google's search business has grown significantly, but the overall share hasn't. There are no stats on individual companies, but I believe that Amazon's growing ad business may also play a role here. More key facts from the article:

  • Digital video advertising is at 11.9bn with 33% growth (while banners make 27bn with 23% growth, 67% of it on mobile)
  • Mobile digital video contributes 6.2bn to the above mentioned 11.9bn - while growing 54%
  • Social advertising is 22.6bn, growing 36 percent on 2016
  • Digital audio grows 39% to 1.6bn


More here:
https://www.iab.com/news/digital-ad-spend-reaches-all-time-high-88-billion-2017-mobile-upswing-unabated-accounting-57-revenue/

Apr 23, 2018

Amazing Amazon

You can criticize Amazon in many ways, but there's an angle to this company where you have to be in awe - the angle is how strategic, long-term, against-your-traditional-wisdom and innovative the company is being led. Here are three things that I love, and maybe you didn't know all of them.

1. Ever since 1997, I have used Bezos' shareholder letters in presentations and talks. They are well known and the first one is an eternal classic. I think the 2018 one is also wonderful. Besides talking about milestones and how customers are "divinely discontent", you also learn a few inspiring things about the company:

"We don't do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon. Instead, we write narratively six-page memos. We silently read one at the beginning of each meeting in a kind of "study hall". Not surprisingly, the quality of these memos varies widely. Some have the clarity of angels singing. They are brilliant and thoughtful and set up the meeting for high-quality discussions. Sometimes they come in at the other end of the spectrum [...] by tradition at Amazon, authors' names never appear on the memos - the memo is from the whole team."

Read the current (and 1997) letter here:

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312518121161/d456916dex991.htm 


2. They have an annual, ultra-exclusive, invitation-only, super secretive conference (MARS) where anyone who is an important contributor to our future, from science, business, philosophy, politics etc. (except people from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, for obvious reasons) come together and discuss, play, explore. Not only listening to talks - but really participating.

More about Mars here:
https://www.fastcompany.com/40547902/at-amazons-mars-conference-jeff-bezos-plots-the-future-with-200-very-big-brains
https://qz.com/1234822/inside-amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-private-mars-conference-for-a-new-golden-age/


3. They invested the ridicolous amount of 22.6 billion USD in R&D in 2017

That's 41% more than in 2016. Google's parent company Alphabet came in second with 16.6bn, Alibaba is estimated at 15 bn (source here). Facebook spends more than Pfizer or Daimler on R&D - with 7.8bn. And that's roughly a third of what Amazon invests in innovation, research and development. Amazing.

https://www.recode.net/2018/4/9/17204004/amazon-research-development-rd


Talking to books

AI powered new search tool by Google that sounds super promising: "Talk to books". You can send out a query in natural language and you can access the wisdom captured in books (instead of websites with traditional Google search).

Tool: https://books.google.com/talktobooks/

Article: https://qz.com/1252664/talk-to-books-at-ted-2018-ray-kurzweil-unveils-googles-astounding-new-search-tool-will-answer-any-question-by-reading-thousands-of-books/

Google’s AI-enhanced spreadsheets are a taste of white-collar automation

The headline above is copy pasted from their clickbait on Facebook - terrible. Not everything that is cool & new in software is an AI threat to jobs, subsequently democracy and will ultimately destroy humanity. The article is about a super nice UI tweak for spread sheets: you can ask "create a histogram of xyz sales" and the spreadsheet just does it if the according data is there. There may be AI involved. But that is so far away from an AI deciding whether it makes sense to create that histogram, or what to do with it, or "white collar automation" in any way.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608023/google-sprinkles-ai-on-its-spreadsheets-to-automate-away-some-office-work/

Network effects @ Facebook

I still think that network effects are the most under-estimated dynamic in digital businesses. There are far more complex ones than the easy to grasp two-sided networks like seller/buyer platforms. This article gives a great overview on the layered structure of network effects within Facebook, and although I would maybe argue about some details here and there, it is a recommended read because you can apply the structure of network effects so well on other businesses and strategies.

https://medium.com/@nfx/network-effects-predict-the-future-of-facebook-35f9d3c214ec

Apr 10, 2018

GIFs should be part of any content strategy

I wouldn't go so far to talk about "GIF strategies", but having both terms in one sentence is already satisfying for me. Bayern Munich, also Bundesliga (DFL), Borussia Dortmund and others have embraced GIFs as an accelerator of social media communication, and one GIF says more than a thousand words in many cases. Nice piece about GIF in sports:

https://digitalsport.co/gifs-sport-clubs-leagues

Generation Z is a huge experiment

I am afraid we have no clue (but also little options) about what we are doing to Generation Z and all that are following. We give them tablets when they are 4 and tell everyone how intuitive they swipe and press. When they get older, they spend 6-12 hours of screen time a day, and we have no clue what this does to them. We have some indications, but then again, there can't be long term studies as smartphones are not around that long, and especially everything that happens on smartphones changes quickly. A generation that is served by algorithms seems to get bored quickly, though:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/generation-z-is-already-bored-by-the-internet 

Does your country have an AI strategy?

If you are not in France, ask yourself this: Could your head of state, or even a secretary, give an interview like this on AI? Or do they even know what "Wired" is? Read up on Emmanuel Macron's view of AI. Meanwhile, we are discussing how ridiculous or desirable flying taxis would be in Germany.

https://www.wired.com/story/emmanuel-macron-talks-to-wired-about-frances-ai-strategy/

Incentive based sponsoring

About time: So many sponsoring deals, even on the highest level, are just based on gut feeling, on fear of missing out, or on personal desires of high-ranked managers. Anheuser Busch / Budweiser now obviously implements a new type of contracts and model that may very well influence the whole industry (and probably in the right direction): based on a flat fee, certain KPI milestones unlock incentives. As Anheuser is more or less involved in every corner of US sports (NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL etc.), this can be hugely influential. It would make governing bodies and teams measure what they do, and other sponsors may follow. Exciting to see where this may lead us:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2018/04/02/anheuser-busch-launches-revolutionary-incentive-based-sponsorship-model/#31deee393d5f

Dynamic / personalized pricing is coming

For products that you could buy physically, it might take a longer time. For services like transportation, we are close already: Uber is reportedly already applying dynamic pricing - best guessing what you are ready and willing to pay individually, at a certain point in time, for a fare instead of calculating one price that is the same for everyone anytime. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, this can be a great business tool. It can also be a kind of "socialist" tool to adjust prices. Who said that "one and the same price for everyone" is the most correct system of pricing? Fines for example, for running over a red traffic light, are vastly different for a student, for me, or for a football professional, although we comitted the same "crime". On the other hand, it might be also very dangerous for businesses: If I have the feeling I am getting ripped off... especially because I was a good customer (would buy anyway, so no discounts or special offers for this guy - the opposite, a higher price)... it would kill my loyalty in an instant. Difficult topic, interesting to observe.

Overview in the Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/global/2017/nov/20/dynamic-personalised-pricing

Airlines:
http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Airline-News/Airlines-inching-closer-to-dynamic-pricing

Uber:
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16706164

Mar 16, 2018

4% of users own 96% of Bitcoin

At least that was the case in Sept 2017, and I see no reason why that should have shifted dramatically. Just wanted to throw this out there. This would mean that the wealth disparity in bitcoin would be worse than that of FIAT currency.

https://medium.com/@BambouClub/are-you-in-the-bitcoin-1-a-new-model-of-the-distribution-of-bitcoin-wealth-6adb0d4a6a95

https://www.fastcompany.com/40537404/how-bitcoin-ends?


Shifting attention from Facebook video to YouTube

Personally, I still believe that we#re talking different ballgames, at least as long as Facebook watch is not a real competitor - to me, Facebook dominates discovery, while YouTube has a large amount of intentional visits - people go there explicitly to watch video, often even with a certain channel in mind. Achieving this on Facebook, where people go to see what's up, often with the intention to kill time, 2 minutes here, 5 minutes there, will be very hard. This article explains why House of Highlights (Bleacher) didn't even consider Facebook to expand their strong Instagram footprint.

https://digiday.com/media/media-companies-shifting-attention-facebook-youtube/

Democratize big data

I keep saying (here in German from 2011) that my purchases on Amazon or my searches on Google or my likes on Facebook should be mine - just because I happen to cause them on an application built by someone else, who said that the data should be owned by those offering the application? To me, this is a fundamental flaw in how we built the internet (and my hope in blockchain is that we may fix this in a "crypto web 3.0"). Here's an interesting piece in the Guardian - with a longer version that will be published soon in an interesting magazine called "Logic" - about another way to democratize big data, proposing a "data dividend", coming from a more societal perspective on data ownership and governance:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/14/tech-big-data-capitalism-give-wealth-back-to-people

Mining data of taxi rides in NYC

There's so much stuff hidden in data, and so much to learn - it's simply amazing: NYC's government released data of over 1bn cab rides between 2009 and 2014. One student analyzed trips between big banks and the Federal Reserve, and there's a statistical correlation between the number of rides and major decisions taken by the Fed. You can't prove illegal arrangements just by taxi rides, but at least there's another argument the public availability of non-personalized data.

https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21738396-novel-data-source-reveals-surprising-patterns-mining-data-cab-rides-show

Mar 13, 2018

John Oliver explains "blockchain"

There are hundreds of not thousands blockchain explainers out there. But there is none like John Oliver, so here's some entertainment around Bitcoin, Ethereum and blockchain involving Chicken McNuggets and weddings at Burning Man. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6iDZspbRMg&feature=youtu.be

Mar 12, 2018

We are far away from (knowing how to gain) control over fake news

No major election, less discussion about fake news - but we haven't achieved much yet. Facebook's strange introduction of "meaningful social interactions" and a two-question-survey about trusted publishers is borderline ridicolous. Currently, I heard this from FB directly, meaningful social interactions (MSI) are defined as comments and shares. Guess which stories get the most of these - "refugee ate a 4 year old blond kid". A German stat about interactions revealed a high climb for right wing publications in January and February. While established publishers are at a level they were 30 months ago (in interactions), anonymousnews.ru (not linked on purpose) climbed 147% in Jan/Feb. I guess MSI at its current state can't be the answer, Facebook. A number of studies have been conducted, and they all draw a dark picture - we have no clue how to deal with the fact that every part of society creates their own reality, one the want to believe is true.

Fake news spread faster than real news:
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/03/fake-news-spreads-faster-true-news-twitter-thanks-people-not-bots

Largest ever study on fake news:
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/03/largest-study-ever-fake-news-mit-twitter/555104/

What if Publishing and Advertising do not need each other anymore?

I think journalists have a bright future. I really do, and always have to emphasize this when I give talks about digital publishing, AI generated story summaries and how technoogy will be a bigger source of competitive advantage than quality of journalism. I am not so very sure about the profession in newsrooms and publisher organizations, but I am sure about the fact that we all need and want storytelling, and I am sure that many, many companies will hire journalists in order to tell their stories - distinct from creating campaigns which will still be done by advertising agencies. 

Background is that any company could be their own publisher nowadays. The barrier to entry is so low, 14yo kids become global publishers. So here's one simple, but fundamental thought: what if publishers and advertisers wouldn't need each other any more? I just stumbled upon this 15page PDF, published in a joint effort by Harvard Business School and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism from Columbia Journalism School from October 2017. It's a very interesting, inspiring and thought-provoking read, you can download the PDF from this page here:

Google AMP Overview

With Facebook sending less traffic to publishers, Google's accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are getting even more popular than they were before already. This article is insightful yet not at all in favor of AMP - its tone is basically "the next desaster to happen to publishers", mainly adressing an often voiced, seldomly heard or discussed criticism of AMP handing over too much control to Google. New to me is that AMP's experienced fast load reportedly doesn't come from its actual design but from pre-loading:

https://ferdychristant.com/amp-the-missing-controversy-3b424031047

Another view worth sharing is this from The Verge about AMP as a new web standard:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/8/17095078/google-amp-accelerated-mobile-page-announcement-standard-web-packaging-urls

Feb 26, 2018

Automated propaganda

here's an interesting piece that, thankfully, isn't just a simple "techlash"-rant. But of course, the question is legitimate: If software, machine learning, AI and technology progress in general makes producing content more effective, faster, harder, better, then of course it will make evil-doers more effective, faster, harder and better, too: This article sees fake news merely as a subset of automated propaganda.

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/algorithm-russia-facebook.php

Remote work outperforms offices

I have been saying this since two decades now (and after reading "work naked" (a book from 2001) to my then-boss, with success) and I am glad there are studies supporting this thought: that remote work is more productive. I just wonder why so many companies bother to install coffee corners, playgrounds for kids and adults and many more things that are meant to make your stay at offices less terrible instead of working to implement better, more effective remote work models that will probably turn out to be cheaper and more effective at the same time.

https://www.inc.com/brian-de-haaff/3-ways-remote-workers-outperform-office-workers.html


Implications of driverless cars & trucks

Interesting list of 73 implications of driverless cars and trucks. Some may look obvious (no one will actually own a transportation device, data rich, software companies will organize algorithm-based routes for ost effective transport of people and goods, city infrastructures will change completely...), some you may not have thought of yet (when local transport of everything will become cheap and ubiquitous, physical sales of goods at a store will probably vanish; malls will become places of service or face entirely new use cases; municipalities and governments will have seriously less revenue from speeding and parking tickets and other fines, petroleum and car taxes etc.). It is an interesting read, and I don't say that often, but here the comments to the article include some inspiring thoughts, too.

https://medium.com/hult-business-school-draft/73-mind-blowing-implications-of-a-driverless-future-58d23d1f338d

Google replaces Facebook traffic to publishers

Google sent 40% more traffic to publishers in the first week of February 2018 compared to Jan 2017, while Facebook sent approx. 20% less. Of course, this has to do with Facebook's algorithm changes, but also with the growing (and still accelerating) adoption of Google AMP.

Interesting data from Chartbeat for the last 13 months:
https://www.recode.net/2018/2/15/17013618/google-facebook-traffic-publishers-amp-chartbeat 

Similar numbers from Shareaholic:
https://venturebeat.com/2018/02/22/shareaholic-search-overtook-social-for-referral-traffic-in-2017-as-google-passed-facebook/

Analysis on Digiday with interesting numbers from Popsugar, NBC, TrueAnthem and others:
https://digiday.com/media/promised-facebook-traffic-news-publishers-declines-post-news-free-change/

Streaming at CBS / Paywalls

Unlike print publishers, TV stations had a digital advertising business that was less affected by the mobile shift, substitution in social etc: pre rolls. Still, very much like print publishers, digital ads do not pay for the content they require, and B2C payment models are introduced everywhere (below a link CBS' approach). It's also about time that paywalls (and freemium/upgrade based streaming models) get more sophisticated.

Streaming at CBS:
https://digiday.com/media/entertainment-news-and-now-sports-inside-cbss-efforts-to-go-over-the-top/

Individualized paywall at Wall Street Journal:
http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/02/after-years-of-testing-the-wall-street-journal-has-built-a-paywall-that-bends-to-the-individual-reader

Also, Google's AMP project embraces paywalls more and more:
https://amphtml.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/amp-supporting-paywalls-and-subscriptions/

Feb 23, 2018

Buzzfeed was the biggest video publisher on Social in 2017

According to Tubuluar Labs, BuzzFeed's brands generated 64.8 billion views accross platforms in 2017. While the single brand ranking has been dominated bei Unilad over the past months (almost entirely based on Facebook reach), an aggregate of 110 BuzzFeed brands made 7.4 billion views on YouTube and 57.4 bn views on Facebook (remember that Facebook counts a video view after 3 seconds, with autoplay, while YouTube needs 30 seconds or 50% completion). The interesting question here is: how much money can you make with these numbers? According to Tubular, approx 8% of the video views generated by BuzzFeed's probably best marketed channel, Tasty, were sponsored content. Roughly 1 billion views from the 12 bn Tasty views. No clue how much money was in there. It just shows: You need many, many views to make money with sponsored content (as a publisher), and Facebook ad breaks are probably not there yet.

Overview from Variety:
http://variety.com/2018/digital/news/buzzfeed-65-billion-video-views-2017-advertising-1202704765/

Sponsored Video Charts (Feb 18):
http://tubularinsights.com/tubular-top-sponsored-video-chart/

Leaderboards January 18:
https://tubularlabs.com/app/leaderboards/creator/overall

Feb 20, 2018

What is "quality" in sports?

I have always argued that the actual "quality" of sports that we are watching on TV is maybe a quarter of its success (and value). With Winter Olympics running, do I care if it's a world class performance if some guy flies 145 meters on his skiers, or isn't it more important where people come from (nations), what they stand for (characters, whatever the commentator tells me), how close the competition is (rivalries etc.) - if all of them where coming in at 119m, 118.8m and 117.9m meters under the same circumstances, I wouldn't have noticed that "real world class ski jumpers" would have gone 25 meters more. What I am trying to say here: put some second class footballers in Real Madrid & Barcelona Jerseys and in front of 100k people in a sold out stadium in Spain's capital, you will still have great entertainment, and put Messi and Ronaldo under fake names and with fake beards in a 3rd tier match in Romania, and no one will care, or notice. If one of them does something crazy, you will get a viral video out of it, forgotten tomorrow. No TV station will show interest to license rights of 3rd tier football in Romania. So:
The actual, objective quality of what we see is just a tiny part of sports entertainment. There are some interesting experiments around this, from people trying to invent and establish new sports (which I am big fan of) or people who think of how to disrupt the Olympics (which I am also a fan of, but can't link anywhere). One other interesting example is this: Barstool Sports sells PPV on boxing events. The thing is: the boxers are complete amateurs. Last time, they hit 41000 subscribers at 10 USD. That's serious money.

https://digiday.com/media/barstool-sports-got-41000-people-to-pay-for-its-latest-amateur-boxing-ppv/

Why decentralization matters

Chris Dixon explains - without telling you to buy coins of any kind, although (like: once) the terms blockchain and Ethereum are used - why decentralization matters. The interesting case that he makes is the structural comparison to the alternative (internet of today): centralized platforms, GAFA, and how they (must) behave. The more I truly understand about blockchain and decentralization, the more I would love to know what is *really* going on in Zuckerberg's head about this.

https://medium.com/@cdixon/why-decentralization-matters-5e3f79f7638e

Feb 16, 2018

Technology is not neutral (re ethics, say Harvard, MIT, Stanford and others)

"Technology ethics" may be something that we all would want, but unless we have some clear legal and regulatory guidelines, I am not sure there will be an effect. But besides training future managers and scientists, maybe courses at top universities about ethics in tech will ultimately lead to such rules & laws. Interesting piece by NYT about ethics courses at ivy league universities (and, by the way, interesting to see how far advanced they are in their mindset compared to Europe).

Feb 15, 2018

The Guardian on Instagram

Interesting insights on Digiday about The Guardian's activities on Instagram. Most intriguing to me is that it is seen as part of an effort to build a young, loyal audience that doesn't visit its main digital properties. Still haven't wrapped my head around whether that is a promising endeavour, at least on a platform like Instagram. Will be interesting to observe.

https://digiday.com/media/guardians-instagram-strategy-winning-new-readers/ 

The infocalypse: when everyone can produce fake news that are believable

You may remember a few weeks ago, when everybody reported about how easy it has become to generate fake porn with celebrity faces. In light of fake news and the tech available to all of us, Aviv Ovadya thinks about what happens when anyone can make it appear as if anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did. The answer is: the infocalypse. Really worth a read, spoiler alert though: it won't make you more optimistic about the future. And BuzzFeed CAN do really good journalism.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/the-terrifying-future-of-fake-news

Satoshi Nakamoto versus Karl Marx

It might be a bit early to give Satoshi Nakamoto a historic and world changing role. Just a tiny little bit. But it's interesting to see parallels between the contents of the Bitcoin white paper (a PDF of few pages) and Marx's theories (extracted from his exhaustive publications). Brain teaser, not more, but not less:

https://www.coindesk.com/understand-bitcoin-studied-karl-marx/

Feb 13, 2018

It's not only Facebook: YouTube has an algorithm problem, too

In light of Trump, Brexit, Russia we have all focused on Facebook's way of organizing information, distributing media and how it favors 'fake' stories apparently because they create more shares and engagement. It's not only Facebook, and it is likely that not only Facebook's mechanism were "hacked" in order to spread stories. Great piece in the Guardian about YouTube's algorithm:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/feb/02/how-youtubes-algorithm-distorts-truth

Tinder at the Olympics

This is amazing: 1850% increase of people passporting to South Korea in order to match on Tinder - who wouldn't want to match with their Snowboarding idol or that gorgeous ice princess? .-)) there's a 644% increase of mathes in the area. More interesting stats in the article linked below, and waiting for the Pornhub stats of the Olympic village to follow :-)

https://mashable.com/2018/02/12/winter-olympics-tinder-usage/#Mn3dtNeNKsOq

Regulation of the big four / GAFA will come

Great article by Scott Galloway with a number of highly interesting charts and facts that reflect the total insanity of our economy if you see where 4 single companies can go compared to... the rest of the economy. The call to regulate them and break them up would traditionally come from the far left - politically - but we have reached a point where hardcore capitalists believe this is unsustainable and Bill Gates calls for robots to pay taxes, which is basically the idea that who owns the means of production has to benefit the public - hello Marx! Absurd times. But a great article:

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a15895746/bust-big-tech-silicon-valley/

Advertising on Amazon

Reportedly, Amazon already sells more ads than Snap or Twitter. Compared to the rest of its businesses, this is still small, but for the media, advertising and search industry it isn't. If I were a SEO guy, I'd position myself as an Amazon search specialist today. Two interesting reads on this:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/amazon-has-a-plan-tobecome-profitable-it-s-called-advertising

https://www.fastcompany.com/40523584/amazon-already-sells-more-ads-than-snap-and-twitter



And related to that: Amazon for media/publishers: https://aps.amazon.com/aps/index.html

Blockchain vs. "the big four" - GAFA

I don't agree with 100% of the observations here, but most I share and I also find it a bit baffling how little and defensive Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon deal with crypto and blockchain. Very few public statements, very few showcases, demos, visions - it my very well be that these companies see crypto as a major threat, the way an offline retailer or publisher must have seen the internet as a threat: there surely are opportunities, but they are at a point where they have more to lose than to gain.

https://hackernoon.com/blockchain-vs-the-big-four-92829cb42bb1

Blockchain vs. "old" internet

Although many have reached 4.0, 5.0 and whatnot in their internet or industry iterations, I agree that a true vision of what "3.0" could be wasn't there until blockchain. Matteo Zago tries to show how "dApps" relate to their possible future predecessors.

https://medium.com/@matteozago/why-the-web-3-0-matters-and-you-should-know-about-it-a5851d63c949

The true potential of blockchain

NYT's "Beyond the Bitcoin bubble" is easily in the top3 articles I have ever read on this topic. Exhaustive information on both the technology side as well as the crazy financial side of crypto. Without the panic or euphoria most other authors use to make their point. Longer read, but you won't regret it if you stop what you're doing right now and read this thing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/16/magazine/beyond-the-bitcoin-bubble.html?referer=

The last 2 years at Facebook

This is amazing journalism. Very long read, but not only do you get a better understanding about the relationship between publishers / news / media and Facebook, you also get deep insights into how Facebook works - in terms of inner workings and mechanisms inside the company as well as "the platform".

https://www.wired.com/story/inside-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-2-years-of-hell/

Jan 29, 2018

Netflix will spend around 2 billion USD in advertising in 2018

Coming from 1.3 bn in 2017. Is there a bigger advertiser out there? The 2 bn are budgeted to turn the 8 billion spend for content in 2018 into business. It is believed that the majority of the money goes into digital, and there into programmatic buying specifically, executed in-house as Netflix is a data hoarder and analyzer anyway:

https://digiday.com/marketing/data-everything-netflix-pouring-money-marketing-benefit-programmatic/

Reuters Institute Digital News Project / 2018 predictions

Reuters Institute made a survey among 190+ media and publisher executives. Many interesting insights, among others that nearly 3 out of 4 execs want to experiment with AI to improve recommendations, automate workflows, optimize ad targeting and pricing as well as AI driven paywalls that try to predict how likely you are to become a subscriber based on which stories you consume in which frequency, and when the best time will come to make you an offer. Also, publishers and media will enter the platforms in the "fight for the home", like Amazon Echo, Home Pod etc. Much more insights in this PDF:

http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-01/Journalism%2C%20Media%20and%20Technology%20Trends%20and%20Predictions%202018%20Newman.pdf 

Gains and losses for publishers on Facebook

Highly interesting data published by recode about the development of traffic referrals via Facebook from Jan2017 to Dec 2017 - so before the new algorithm kicked in: for example, ESPN -65%, WaPo -66%, Rolling Stone -81%. Also, some surprising numbers: Buzzfeed's share of Facebook Traffic in December 2017 seems to have been only 16.9%. I can remember times where this was way above 50%. More here:

https://www.recode.net/2018/1/25/16927676/facebook-algorithm-change-publisher-traffic-lose-advertising-reach-distribution

Artwork personalization on Netflix

As a user, I am always disappointed by Netflix' and Amazon's inability to deeply understand what I might need at a certain point in time (compared to Spotify's Discover weekly, for example). As a consultant, I understand how complex this is and and am always fascinated when I get a blimpse into these systems. This article about teasers on Netflix is highly interesting and many insights can be applied to ecommerce or publishers - it's "A/B testing on steroids". With the steroids being machine learning.

Driverless cars will end the automobile

I think the era of individually motorized mobility - no matter how the motor works - has to end at least in cities. All innovations we are talking about (end of combustion engines, "human logistics, driverless cars etc.) will ultimately lead to new forms of public or group transports. Owning a device for your personal mobility will be a total luxury, or will phase out completely. In cities. And this will make sense not only economically - read this article here.

Jan 7, 2018

2018 blockchain predictions

The Co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, Dan Tapscott, makes 10 predictions about blockchain and crypto for 2018. I have spent a great amount of time during Christmas and New Year's on reading up and digging into this area, a lot more than the occasional surface scratching of the past years. Honestly: I am shocked that yes, in every meeting and every conference of us people in "traditional" digital business, we mentioned Bitcoin and blockchain. And we talked more about our portfolios and coins as investment vehicles. I admit: We didn't take it serious enough. We should be in constant alarm mode, and I don't mean investing 1k in the next Bitcoin. I mean that the nerds are taking over, and rightfully so. The more I understand, the more I see that blockchain technology is our chance to make things right. To create applications the way the internet was designed to work. Many years back, I had the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow printed on plexiglass. It's on the wall next to my desk. The last few years, it was frustrating to read it. But If you look at it from a blockchain perspective now: We may be back on track.

So my new years resolution is this: deeply, and I mean it, deeply understand the stuff. Find a positioning for a digital strategist in this. Or change my job. And in order to understand how fundamental the change to expect will be, read this article:

https://qz.com/1171977/ten-2018-predictions-from-the-founder-of-the-blockchain-research-institute/ 

Dec 14, 2017

Buzzfeed's new strategy

They call it the "multi-revenue model", but it's nothing less than a new strategy, reacting to the overwhelming power of Google and Facebook. Not only will Buzzfeed integrate programmatic advertising and pivot away from the "native/branded only" approach they pursued in the past, but they will diversify their income streams in "9 boxes". And advertising is only three of the boxes - which is a sign for other media companies, too. Of course, this approach is not for everyone and cannot serve as a blueprint for any media company, but it is interesting to see how they try to leverage their tech/data/media approach in different fields, and how advertising might not be the one major pillar that future media will be built on (and i have to advertise my post concerning the importance of tech in media once again).

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jonah/9-boxes?utm_term=.kswQBzmOrW#.qqoK17yAGN

Facebook Messenger review 2017

Some interesting stats from Messenger in 2017. Besides these non-comprehensible numbers like 1.7 billion emojis being shared every day, what strikes me most are the group stats. 2.5 million groups are created every day, with an average size of 10 participants. These are private micro-networks, where every message is develivered to every participant, the "feed" is organized by time instead of an algorithm, and the content remains in a confined space. If you wonder where these very private posts by your friends on Facebook have gone, it's there.

https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/12/messengers-2017-year-in-review/

About You finally launches its third party service

About You is one of the most interesting digital innovations that came out of a big, established corporation in Germany in recent years. I raved about it (in German: here) by the time they published a few insights into their strategy, and speculated that an infrastructure like this would have the potential to become a platform that could be used for third parties, too. The day has come and About You has launched their "cloud" offering. I am still convinced that this may be nothing less than a cornerstone of Otto Group's future.

https://medium.com/about-developer-blog/introducing-the-about-you-cloud-9ac0608532c0 

Software based news detection by Reuters

I keep insisting on the observation that nearly every step of the media/news value chain can be optimized with technology, and that in the media business, tech will be the single most impactful source of competitive advantage. Here's one example from the very beginning of the value chain - the detection of news/breaking news. In the past, news agencies and ambitious news organizations always wanted to be first - the first on site, the first to break a story. These times are gone, it's almost always a citizen smartphone that's first. Here's how Reuter reacts, using software to real-time analyze Twitter to be the first news agency following the citizen smartphones (I am not sure how much AI is involved - every piece of software today is AI or at least a bot). It's intriguing anyway.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/609558/how-reuterss-revolutionary-ai-system-gathers-global-news/

Fjord Trend Report 2018

I like the Fjord Trend report because it does not focus on single products or technologies, but it tries to put several developments into a bigger context, not only in digital, but societal and political environments, too. It's less number crunching and more a try to understand and interpret what is going on. Full PDF here: https://trends.fjordnet.com/Trends2018Report.pdf

Toutiao may be the next generation of content aggregators

We learned to look at China and take Alibaba and Tencent seriously, but most of us don't look beyond the two. Then Bytedance acquired Musical.ly, and everyone wondered who they are... well, they are an exciting new player who also owns a very interesting app called Toutiao. Much like Facebook, or Upday, Apple News and others it puts together a news feed for customers by aggregating content, and the selection is not done by editors, but by advanced algorithms - for example, it automatically tags videos based on object and image recognition to learn about individual preferences. Newsfeeds are built on each user's individual behaviour - currently, they have 120 million daily active users with (attention:) an average time spent of 74 minutes (!!) in the app. If they manage to use their insights from China for other markets, and they declared that's an objective, Toutiao might be a candidate for one of the first really successful digital exports to the US and Europe.

https://www.techinasia.com/bytedance-overseas-expansion-strategy-break-down 

Traffic - and reach - from Facebook is decreasing

Analytics company Parse.ly has been monitoring the traffic sources for their clients for years and has constantly published the relationof "the big three" - direct traffic, Google traffic and Facebook traffic across their client network. For years, Facebook was gaining share. The new numbers are in and Facebook, including Instant articles, is down significantly. They attribute this to the success of Google AMP, but I guess Facebook's concentration on native video, in-feed, is another reason. For publishers, 2018 may be the year to decide whether they believe in in-feed monetization by Facebook through video, or strengthen their owned and operated platforms. Not an easy one, as acquisition of traffic and monetization don't get easier.

https://blog.parse.ly/post/6605/google-referrals-amp-traffic/  

Is the end of wholesale retail near?

Very interesting piece about brands focusing on direct-to-consumer business and, at least in the physical space, scale down their exposure in mass-market-retail, following an announcement by Nike - saying that from 30,000 retail partners today, it would concentrate its efforts on forty (!) of them. E-commerce may be one major reason for the end of the big retailers (standalone and in malls) in our cities, but another is that all of them did not only disconnect the manufacturer from the customers (with ever increasing pressure on margins), but most of them did not bother to build meaningful relationships to customers themselves.

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/opinion/why-mass-merchants-are-toxic-and-a-new-era-of-retail-is-coming

Nov 7, 2017

Selfies & visual communication

Whoever deals with teens and Generation X may have noticed that read/write are not their primary choices of communication anymore. I get "k" for "yes" or "ok" as a text response, and almost always I would have wished for a bit more info than that. If I get a text like "Hello there! Yes, I arrived safely, and I hope I will have a good time. My friends are here, too. Miss you already." - I know the kids have been abducted and the phone is used by someone else. Because If I get more than "k", it's normally a picture, a video or a voice message. While on my personal smartphone the front camera doesn't get even close to 2% usage and the rest is done with what I call "the real camera", generation X seems to use 90% the front camera. In every talk I give, this two year old video (2015) about teen girls at a baseball game is always a shocker to the audience, but they recognize some of that behaviour in teens. Here's an interesting article about that type of communication behaviour - "selfies as a second language".

http://www.eugenewei.com/blog/2017/9/14/selfies-as-a-second-language
 

Oct 18, 2017

Reuters Institute about Journalism

Two interesting papers (study/research) about digital journalism and the publishing business from Reuters.

Their 2017 predictions, now that we are coming close to 2018, are worth a read and most of them are accurate - they predicted the most important topics correctly, although, as always, trends need more time than expected to really become mainstream. But if you're working in or you're interested in digital pubishing, this one is worth a read:

Full PDF: http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2017-04/Journalism%2C%20Media%20and%20Technology%20Trends%20and%20Predictions%202017.pdf 

A great resource for statistics, numbers and data is the 2017 digital news report with country by country numbers from Europe, Americas and Asia/Pacific

https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/Digital%20News%20Report%202017%20web_0.pdf

Younger generations as sports fans

We get different studies about how Generation X, Millenials and Generation Z consume sports. But the general rule seems to be: the younger, the smaller the attention spans, the less trust in governing bodies, the less live consumption on TV (legal and illegal streaming), the more social media and highlights consumption.

McKinsey says that GenerationX and Millenials are very similar in their sports attitudes and even in media behaviour, although they also diagnose a) significantly more streaming than linear TV on the Millenial side and b) significantly more social media activity around sports for Millenials.

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/media-and-entertainment/our-insights/we-are-wrong-about-millennial-sports-fans

At the same time, PWC sees total disruption imminent because of younger generations and tech development in their 2017 Sports Survey

Full PDF: http://www.pwc.ch/en/publications/2017/pwc-sports-survey-2017.pdf

German article: https://www.sponsors.de/pwc-studie-junge-zielgruppe-bedroht-sportbranche

With regards to business, besides the "media packaging" that needs to be done to attract younger fans, two are also worth mentioning:

65% of 18-34yo stream Premier League matches illegally at least once a month (see  link below). Even McKinsey points out that "converting the pirates" is one major activity to focus on.
http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/40483486

And trust in governing bodies is decreasing (PWC study) heavily and should be of major concern (for both the governing bodies maybe intending to stream / sell matches themselves one day, but also for media acquiring rights).


Edit: One more research from Deloitte, Full PDF - https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/consumer-business/us-cb-deloittes_sports_industry_starting_lineup_2017_final.pdf



Oct 16, 2017

The state of data journalism

Interesting analysis about data journalists in newsrooms, how many there are and what they do. Next step: Data analysts in newsrooms who work closely with editors not on content as such, but on which content to choose and how to package it for maximum success on various platforms. Plus they need to work with IT to ensure journalists get a tech infrastructure that enables them to perform best, and keeps generating meaningful data the analysts can work with. In my opinion much more needed than "traditional" data journalists.

https://www.blog.google/topics/journalism-news/data-journalism-2017/

and here's the full PDF:

https://newslab.withgoogle.com/assets/docs/data-journalism-in-2017.pdf

Voice is the next big thing

I believe there will be several "next big things", but if we look at the typical exponential curve, voice is in my opinion very likely to currently be in the "valley of disappointment" - but soon reach that infliction point where it "explodes". All the ingredients are  there:

https://medium.com/point-nine-news/voice-is-the-next-big-thing-913b9bbf9016

Alibaba invests 15 bn USD in R&D

We talk a lot about exponential and how it makes it impossible for (traditional, linear) competition to keep up. Here's another example: A company like Alibaba can invest 15 billion in researching AI, quantum computing, or anything potentially "foundational and disruptive". I'll make sure to tell this to a local ecommerce company...

https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/11/16458486/alibaba-research-investment-fund-15-billion-ai

Spotify's Deep Learning

"Discover more", the weekly playlist with 30 titles that Spotify suggests for each user individually, seems like some kind of sorcery after using the platform for a few weeks: recommendations are so accurate, Spotify seems like that good old friend who helped build your record collection a few decades back by helping you discover great tracks and artists. The magic behind it is deep learning and narrow AI, and although music is an "easy" field - for example a music track can hardly be "outdated" or "out of stock, compared to journalism or e-commerce - the logic behind it is relevant to almost everyone doing digital business: learn about your customer from usage (not questionnaires) as much as you can, and the be able to apply these learnings in an individually relevant selection from your inventory. Increasingly, this will not be an "if this then that" matching, but an AI / machine learning task. Interesting read:

https://hackernoon.com/spotifys-discover-weekly-how-machine-learning-finds-your-new-music-19a41ab76efe 

Sep 29, 2017

The state of live streaming in Sports

Many say that Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple - plus Netflix - are bound to take over the huge broadcasting deals for sports rights from TV stations (especially pay TV), which will accelerate the death of traditional, linear TV. This article gives a good overview about the current state, and although there very little far-future insights or predictions, it is worth reading.

https://digiday.com/media/state-live-streaming-sports/

Amazon's power in combining Sports Live Streams & E-Commerce

Amazon started bidding for a number of sports broadcasting rights in diefferent markets. What makes Amazon's offer unique is that, if they show ads, they can immediately measure the impact of those ads. Plus, they know exactly who is in front of the TV, at least which household, as the rights are connected to an Amazon prime membership, so they have geographical, sociodemographic, and first and foremost historical ecommerce data about these people. This combination is so powerful, it may be the beginning of a revolution in what we perceive as "TV ads".

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/amazon-streaming-nfl-games-collecting-ad-data-110006168.html

Sep 19, 2017

How not lose your job to AI

Great talk by a great speaker: Rand Hindi speaks a bit less than 20 minutes about AI and how we can adapt to a future where software does not take away our jobs. Take the time:


https://videos.theconference.se/dr-rand-hindi-how-not-to-lose-your-job-to-ai

Do positive visions of the future drive economic growth?

Interesting, lengthy read about optimism as an economic value. As many companies employ futurists and have installed innovation labs, the questions about their contribution to economic success is rising. This article makes a connection between economic growth in general and optimism in society (and in different generations of society), and one could probably translate this thought into productivity within a company, too. Worth to explore the chain of thoughts:

http://danwang.co/definite-optimism-as-human-capital/

Is automation destroying, but also creating jobs?

And I don't mean destroying 1,000 jobs and creating one for a system administrator. A study by Deloitte showcases a development in UK where automation destroyed 800k jobs but created 3.5mn better paying (average) ones, too. I have no clue if this is a "trickle down"-like narrative to make us buy into a bright future where all of us work less and earn more, only to find ourselves out-competed by software once AI takes over. And there are other stories happening today, like this great eassay by Lant Pritchett about "Geniuses destroying Jobs in Uganda". A field that's worth to dig into.

https://venturebeat.com/2017/09/07/automation-replaced-800000-workers-then-created-3-5-million-new-jobs/

Study by Deloitte:
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/Growth/deloitte-uk-insights-from-brawns-to-brain.pdf

AR on phones

When Ex-high-profile Googler and now CEO of Niantic (the company behind Ingress and Pokemon Go), John Hanke, writes about the future of AR and what phones and glasses may contribute to it, you shouldn't miss it.

https://medium.com/@johnhanke/did-we-just-glimpse-the-future-of-augmented-reality-3a859d9f89e2

Blockchain marketing technology = ad tech disruption

A friend of mine recently posted a success formula: ([old thing]*now on blockchain)=funding. That may be sarcastic and sadly true in some cases, but this article makes a compelling case that ad tech - a business where 44 cent of each dollar goes to middlemen - is more or less overdue to be disrupted by a technology that replaces middlemen by providing a trusted, almost institutionalized relation between two former "third parties".

https://venturebeat.com/2017/09/18/blockchain-marketing-technology-has-arrived-and-is-about-to-explode/

Lessons from 20 years of Gartner's Hype Cycle

I posted the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle only a few days ago. It is a helpful tool, but as always, one needs to understand what the tool can and can't do in order to derive the right conclusions. This article is super-helpful when it comes to the hype cycle.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/8-lessons-from-20-years-hype-cycles-michael-mullany

Non-linear thinking

Exponential times, second half of the chessboard, we get it. The real challenge here is not to observe, understand, identify exponential developments, but to challenge your (natural) linear thinking. This is an excellent article that explains the problem and gives tangible examples about linear thinking and non-linear thinking. Must read.

https://hbr.org/2017/05/linear-thinking-in-a-nonlinear-world

Sep 4, 2017

Ubers first pitch deck

Here's the 25 slide presentation Uber used to pitch its idea. It's easy to understand in retrospect, now that we know where Uber went from there, and hard to try and imagine receiving this deck at a time where development for Symbian is mentioned in the presentation. But it serves as a great resource for people putting together a pitch deck today. Keep it simple. And don't worry about design .-)

https://medium.com/@gc/the-beginning-of-uber-7fb17e544851

New Gartner hype cycle 2017

You can argue about its accuracy, but the Gartner hype cycle is always a good tool to explain tech and stay on top of major developments. Also worth to read the comments to the graphic.

http://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/top-trends-in-the-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies-2017/

57 lines of code vs. a 86 million $ project

Public investments are always way higher than private because they follow so many regulations. And IT projects are often unnecessarily expensive because no one making the real decisions has any clue about tech and programming. There should be "open source evaluation boards" or something like that where independent tech poeple can check and evaluate public projects. Read this article about how a guy replicated an 86mn project with 57 lines of code.

https://medium.freecodecamp.org/how-i-replicated-an-86-million-project-in-57-lines-of-code-277031330ee9

Digital identity initiative by German industry

I think this one has been underreported extremely: a cross-industry alliance by German industry giants including Axel Springer, Lufthansa, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom, Allianz and more to create a digital identity system that complies with the upcoming EU GDPR regulation. The first product will be a unified Login ID, I imagine very much like a Facebook login, and will probably be followed by more ID/data management functions. This is clearly a shot at the Google/FB duopoly. Maybe the last one.

https://digiday.com/media/german-publishers-joining-forces-duopoly/



Jul 28, 2017

Amazon's new messaging app anytime

Here's an article that I disagree with on many levels - it may very well be that Amazon's Anytime aspires to be the WeChat of the West (while the article says it "will"), and that it may even achieve it. But based on messaging, group chatting, not needing to know numbers and "SMS disruption" (didn't that happen during the last one and a half decades?) it won't get there. My take is that if Amazon manages to integrate Anytime with their media and especially their commerce offering, they may be onto something. And maybe this is a major defense play to prevent Messenger becoming a shopping destination through bots with integrated commerce, on- and offline? Still an interesting read.


https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/amazons-new-messaging-app-wechat-america-michael-spencer

McKinsey on Artificial Intelligence

Interesting collection of research, studies and statistics about AI from McKinsey. As always, handle the numbers with care, but they give us a good impression on how the field develops. For example, I would hate to be the CRM and loyalty guy at Netflix trying to come up with human intelligence solutions, when AI improves search results in a way that cancellations were avoided worth about a billion dollars. More here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2017/07/09/mckinseys-state-of-machine-learning-and-ai-2017/#2092419875b6 

Computer-predicted results of startup-success

Take 50,000 companies that received venture capital. Compare the fields/industries they are in, and see how influential and bigger investment firms spread their money across these industries and across the 50,000 companies. Do some math, and voila: the predictions are stunning.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/computer-ai-machine-learning-predict-the-success-of-startups/ 

Transitional business platforms

Ultimately, all businesses are transitional in some ways as markets, consumers and environments change. But some are transitional in a sense that they change or create markets. Great article by Kellogg Innovation Professor Robert C. Wolcott that leads to four characteristics of these businesses:

  • they substantially outperform the status quo from the customer's perspective
  • they tend to violate traditional constraints
  • they build brand presence before markets have been clearly defined
  • they enable adaption as conditions change


Read the details here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/foresight-business-building-future-just-defending-past-wolcott

More insights into Magic Leap

Magic Leap, the billion-funded uber-secretive AR/VR startup that the world is waiting for, published a paper called "Towards Geometric Deep SLAM". As it is all gibberish to me, i found this article that explains the stuff they are talking about in English. The article is pretty short, so I fail to summarize it without just copy-pasting 80% of it. Read for yourself:

https://www.roadtovr.com/magic-leap-researchers-reveal-deep-slam-tracking-algorithm/

The success of Buzzfeed's Tasty

By the time Buzzfeed started "Tasty", many publishers had already realized that food was a strong and promising area to create a vertical for. I have seen many try, also earlier than BF, but not really succeed. So how did Tasty do it? Good article on NYT about their explorative and data driven way of approaching things.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/technology/how-buzzfeeds-tasty-conquered-online-food.html

The Golden Age of UX is over

Berlin's own Jonathan Courtney from AJ & Smart argues that UX became more or less a commodity because "good UX" is - compared to a few years back - relatively easy to achieve, given the free tools that are accessible to anyone. Besides his interesting view on what a design agency should do next, the article is filled with links to great resources. Must read/bookmark.

https://uxplanet.org/the-golden-age-of-ux-is-over-ac318099c5b9