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Nov 23, 2015

State of the Nation: Buzzfeed

Very interesting article by Jonah Peretti about Buzzfeed's status quo and where they are heading. Every media executive should read this. Yeah, they serve 5bn content views a month now. Yeah, there was a story that went viral in Germany (Techniker ist informiert) and after that viral in the US (did that ever happen before?). For Buzzfeed, that's a sign of their globalization. But the most interesting sentence to me is this one:

"We help advertisers transform and evolve their advertising and marketing for a world where audiences have shifted to social and mobile media consumption, where disruptive and intrusive advertising is blocked or ignored, and where consumers expect branded content to earn their attention."

So is this video here - how to bake brownies with nutella + 2 ingredients - advertising or not? It achieved 75 million views in 5 languages. It sure was relevant. It made an impact. It entertained people. BuzzFeed is betting big on this as the future of advertising. Most publishers see social and mobile happening. But are they preparing for the according advertising world, where the golden rule of money following eyeballs still applies?

YouTube embedded player - a hail Mary pass?

According to Wikipedia, a Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success. Seeing YouTube's numbers, you have to be reluctant to think of "desperation" and "small chance of success". Then again, you hear rumors about YouTube paying huge bonuses to their big channels to not abandon their platform as soon as Facebook is finished with suggested video. And Facebook announces they have 8 bn video views a day, doubled since April, and without even having really rolled ou the video news feed, the true product behind all this.
Who cares of FB counts three seconds of autoplay as a video view and that in minutes served, YouTube must still be far ahead of Facebook? How far, that is the question, and can they stop or reverse the dynamic? One step to do so could be the embedded player. News and video sites had to invest a lot of money in video display and delivery, content and asset management etc., just so that they could serve their own video pre- and midroll ads on their own video infrastructure. That time seems to be over soon since YouTube will offer their technology to them. As a side effect, their content is so easily published on YouTube, they won't abandon the site. Could be a hail Mary after all.

Strategy, not technology, drives digital transformation

Says me, the strategist. And says Deloitte, the strategy consultancy. Says MIT Sloan, the business school of the Massachusetts Insitutue of Technology. So yeah, there might be a bias. But the report is worth a read, interesting and inspiring thoughts come up, and from my experience with digitization (or digitalization), I agree with most points of their executive summary:
I also think that

- the digital agenda is driven from the top (and in most cases, that's a bad message)

- taking risks has to become a cultural norm (again, a bad message. I am accompanying a German company in trying to implement a "launch fast, kill fast" culture, and it is incredibly hard to collect the recognition someone deserves who kills a project fast instead of somehow managing to let it survive)

- employees want to work for digital leaders (see driven from the top) and that many skills have to be built within a company. There are not enough data analysts who have successfully done that exact data analysis that you will need in your company. And if they are, you can't pay them. "Bake them" instead of hiring them.

More here:

Facebook bets on three technologies

This article was shared by Mark himself and a bunch of employees. So I guess they won't be that wrong:

To further grow these services and any others that Facebook develops or acquires, Zuckerberg is betting his company’s future on three major technology initiatives. One is developing advanced artificial intelligence [...] The second is virtual reality [...] which Zuckerberg believes will be the next major technology we use to interact with each other. And the third is bringing the Internet [...] to the 4 billion–plus humans who aren’t yet connected.

We read this and it seems so logical and downright normal that we don't even realize what that actually means. But AI is not only M, facebook's answer to Amazon Echo and Siri and Cortana, but also really understanding people through advanced math, algorithms, their interests and their behaviours, running a lab that would probably make many universities proud, with bright minds who figure out academic, yet someday economic challenges. The second enables us as users and Facebook to use that intelligence not only for communication, but for immersive, full body-and-mind-experiences. The Oculus VR headset of today is just a start. Read this lengthy piece about Zuckerberg and his company to not only see the creepy, but also positive side of where we're heading.

Fantasy meets betting: money printing

I keep pushing for a legalization of betting in Sports, as I believe that as long as stuff like smoking isn't banned, gambling should be ok. And with some smart combination of legal age, pre-paid activities and maximum stakes across industry you should be able to track and influence the behaviour of 98% of sports fans, the 2% being those who will ruin their lives over gambling anyway, be it legal or not. As soon as you start betting on a game, it becomes more and more exciting. The most lame and boring, 3-0 standing soccer match from Sweden becomes fun when you can bet on which team will score next, who will have the next corner and so on. How great for any TV station showing sports! And when betting meets fantasy, the whole thing becomes even more exciting. If you don't believe me, look at the numbers from FanDuel and DraftKings. Any professional Sports league (or even clubs) should be very interested in their business models.

WhatsApp vs. Turkish Airlines

There's a picture going around in the web from a presentation, comparing Turkish Airlines and WhatsApp. There couldn't be a more apples-oranges-comparison, but it is bizarre and intriguing anyhow:

Founded 1933 (TA) vs. 1999 (WA)
Employees 23000 (TA) vs. 55 (WA)
Market Cap 4.3bn (TA) vs. 19bn (WA)
Assets Planes (TA) vs. Servers (WA)
Function transports people (TA) vs. transports messages (WA)

I disagree with the assets thing because I think that's an old-school, physical-asset-perspective for balance sheets, as the true assets for WA will of course not be servers, but maybe a) the address books of people and b) their 55 engineers who serve 900mn users. And whoever now thinks that "old economy" like airplane companies are dead and only software will survive is a naive weirdo. But it is still amazing to see how few people in how short a time can create something that we trust so much more to be creating value than transporting millions of people safely and comfortably around the globe.