Political Voter Targeting

Joshua Green & Sasha Issenberg

On Oct. 19, as the third and final presidential debate gets going in Las Vegas, Donald Trump’s Facebook and Twitter feeds are being manned by Brad Parscale, a San Antonio marketing entrepreneur, whose buzz cut and long narrow beard make him look like a mixed martial arts fighter. His Trump tie has been paired with a dark Zegna suit. A lapel pin issued by the Secret Service signals his status. He’s equipped with a dashboard of 400 prewritten Trump tweets. “Command center,” he says, nodding at his laptop.

Disney CEO sees future and mobile video and technology

Ad age:

Walt Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said the company’s future lies in using technology to make more direct connections to consumers, although he declined to say whether he was interested in buying Twitter or Netflix.
 The following are excerpts from Mr. Iger’s remarks during a luncheon Wednesday at the Boston College Chief Executives Club. Mr. Iger, 65, made the remarks during in an on-stage conversation with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
 “Technology’s tools are giving the consumer an ability to pick and choose and even price in a much more consumer-centric manner, so you have to embrace it because it’s not going away. The biggest thing that we’re trying to do now is figure out what technology’s role is in distributing the great content that we have.”

Scheme to Delete Google Results Is Exposed

Jeff John Roberts

When a Google search turns up negative stories, Europeans can turn to a controversial “right to be forgotten” law. But in the United States, where no such law exists, Americans may try their luck with shifty “reputation management” companies that promise to scrub embarrassing Google GOOG -0.67% results.
 While such reputation “experts” have been around for years, one of them appears to have found a sneaky new way to purge Google results using court orders.
 The scheme, discovered by law professors Eugene Volokh and Paul Levy, relies on filing libel lawsuits against fake defendants, and then telling Google there is a court order to remove the content in question.

The Unintended Consequences of Law

Joe Bosquin:

“Building impact fees are now almost 20% of our costs,” says Burns, who is talking about building in Chico, a far more affordable place than, say, Mountain View, albeit the home of Cal State and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “They just keep throwing more on us. If you have to do an Environmental Impact Review, that’s going to add a year onto your project and cost $50,000 to start.”
 Despite the high fees, Burns has built 1,500 homes in California throughout his 46-year career. He’s constructed houses for the Irvine Co. in Orange County and worked for former NAHB president Sid Dunmore in the Bay Area and Sacramento. In Chico, where he’s overseeing the build-out of the 423-unit Creekside Landing subdivision as a site superintendent with Concord, Calif.–based Discovery Homes.
 “Don’t get me wrong, I am all for mitigating the impacts of new homes,” says Burns. “But it does come with a cost. In California, it has made entry-level housing almost nonexistent.”

Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking

Julia Angwin

When Google bought the advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy would be the company’s “number one priority when we contemplate new kinds of advertising products.”
 And, for nearly a decade, Google did in fact keep DoubleClick’s massive database of web-browsing records separate by default from the names and other personally identifiable information Google has collected from Gmail and its other login accounts.
 But this summer, Google quietly erased that last privacy line in the sand – literally crossing out the lines in its privacy policy that promised to keep the two pots of data separate by default. In its place, Google substituted new language that says browsing habits “may be” combined with what the company learns from the use Gmail and other tools.

Implicit, collaborative data collection minimizes privacy concerns: report

Joe McCarthy

The “creepiness cliff” for consumer data collection always seems to be one step away, yet consumers have become more tolerant to various practices as the shopping experience improves and brands act in a more mannered way, according to a new report by L2.
 Brands are moving their CRM programs to cloud-based solutions that better integrate data collected from diverse channels. As data silos collapse, brands can better shape data collection practices to minimize customer repulsion.

How BuzzFeed turned Tasty’s recipes into a viral video hit

Eric Johnson

On the new podcast, Frank shared the behind-the-scenes story of Tasty, a.k.a. those top-down recipe videos you’ve probably seen in your Facebook feed. Last year, when Facebook started autoplaying those videos as users scrolled past, BuzzFeed started experimenting with different types and lengths of videos to surface to its followers.

Travelers search for flights 48 times before actually booking one, Expedia says

Leslie Josephs:

Travelers are afraid of commitment.
 On average, would-be voyagers search for a flight 48 times before booking, according to Expedia, the largest online travel agency in the US.
 Even in the era of low fares throughout the airplane, finding the best one is certainly a reasonable, if time-consuming, goal. Google, which launched its travel app, Google Trips last month, is trying to cut down on the frequent searches with a new feature that taps into one of the great motivators of travel: the fear of missing out.
 Google Flights, its flight-search tool, now provides travelers alerts for when the fare is expected to rise, which could be a matter of hours. It is also giving travelers tips to get a lower fare, such as flying on other days, or to and from other airports.

I remember attending a conference years ago where the Travelocity CEO mentioned that the search to book ratio was 8 to 1.

Wealthy Chinese buyers are a growing force in U.S. real estate markets

Troy McMullen:

After a long and painful slide following the real estate collapse in 2008, Seattle’s property market is enjoying one of the sharpest rises anywhere in the United States. Buoyed by a rapidly expanding economy that has brought tens of thousands of high-paying jobs to the city, real estate values have nearly doubled since 2009, according to the online real estate database Zillow.

Yet while technology billionaires gobble up estates from Puget Sound to Lake Washington, Jim Conlan, a real estate broker with Century 21 North Homes Realty in Seattle, says the real catalyst for the dramatic upswing can be found in China.

In a new Pipper Jaffray survey, almost four out five teens say their next phone will be an iPhone.

Chris Matyszczyk

The latter premise stems from the latest Taking Stock With Teens survey released on Friday by investment bank Piper Jaffray.
 This is a survey performed every six months to see where teens’ fickle minds and feelings are at about certain product categories.
 This time, the surveyors talked to 10,000 US teens — up from 6,500 in April. The average age was 16 and the respondents came from households whose average income is $68,000.
 For quite some time, these teens have consistently claimed that their next phone will be an iPhone. In April, 75 percent said their next phone would be an iPhone.
 Here we are in October, and that number has risen to 79 percent.
 Moreover, while in April, 69 percent of teens said they already had an iPhone, in the latest survey 74 percent said they did.

Within months, Google to divide its index, giving mobile users better & fresher content

Barry Schwartz

Google first announced that it was experimenting with the idea of a mobile index last year at SMX East. Since that time, Google’s clearly decided that a mobile index makes sense and is moving ahead with the idea.
 It’s unclear exactly how the mobile index will work. For example, since the mobile index is the “primary” index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain “mobile-friendly” content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be? Desktop usage is now a minority of Google queries but still generates substantial usage.
 The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across “pure” mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.

Advertising’s century of flatline growth

Eric Chemi

The advertising industry has always held a special fascination because of its impact on our culture and our desires, a reality dramatized to great effect by such television series as thirtysomething and Mad Men. In the business world, the future of ad spending is an endlessly debated topic. Will new digital media kill old media, and if so, where will the ad dollars flow? What does megaconsolidation in the cable industry, powered by the merger of Comcast and Time Warner, mean for ad rates?
 But in one sense, the advertising business is about as static and boring as they come. The industry has never grown in scale. Looking at data since the 1920s, the U.S. advertising industry has always been about 1 percent of U.S. GDP. It’s surprisingly consistent, mostly tracking between 1 percent and 1.4 percent—and averaging 1.29 percent. This is according to DB5, a media and marketing research firm that specializes in bridging traditional and new media.

Data, Facts & Principles

Bob Hoffman

Right now, the online advertising industry is drowning in data, but has generated almost no useful facts or principles.
 Nobody can agree on anything related to online data. Other than the collection of it is obnoxious and intrusive.
 The encyclopedia of things we don’t know about online advertising since we started collecting “big data” is comical.
 We don’t know where our ads are running
 We don’t know who’s viewing our ads or if they’re even human
 We don’t know who’s clicking on our ads or why or, again, if they’re even human
 We don’t know if anything we’re told by online experts is true because everything they tell us seems to turn out wrong
 We don’t know if any of the data we’re gathering online is real or has value
 As my friends in Brooklyn would say, we don’t know shit.
 Traditional advertising is far from science. But over the years we have been able to develop some facts and derive some principles. Are they perfect? They’re barely adequate. But at least they provide us with some guideposts.

Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever known

Ellen P. Goodman and Julia Powles:

Google and Facebook have conveyed nearly all of us to this page, and just about every other idea or expression we’ll encounter today. Yet we don’t know how to talk about these companies, nor digest their sheer power.

We call them platforms, networks or gatekeepers. But these labels hardly fit. The appropriate metaphor eludes us; even if we describe them as vast empires, they are unlike any we’ve ever known. Far from being discrete points of departure, merely supporting the action or minding the gates, they have become something much more significant. They have become the medium through which we experience and understand the world.

As their users, we are like the blinkered young fish in the parable memorably retold by David Foster Wallace. When asked “How’s the water?” we swipe blank: “What the hell is water?”

Advertising’s lost generation

The contrarion

If you dared to question the received wisdom of the people who were “just smarter” than you, you might as well turn in your badge. You were done.
 Not surprisingly, the advertising industry is suffering. It is broadly acknowledged that the quality of advertising has reached an all-time low and is in free-fall. We are learning how foolish and misguided we were.
 But the satisfaction of seeing the ad industry floundering and in disrepute is small solace for the pain of driving for Uber.
 This post is dedicated to the thousands of talented ad people who were trampled in the insane stampede of advertising’s cultural revolution.

Botnets may be old news, but they are still a threat today


During the last years, there have been some big botnets that have hit the news. Today, botnets keep on running, but they are seldom newsworthy any more. They seem to have become “business as usual”. And for several years, botnets have been performing all kinds of tasks, such as data mining and espionage, in infected infrastructures, instead of just the typical dDos or spam email attacks.
 Botnets are like automated backdoors to your corporate network, and most malware attacks are somehow connected to botnets, which are used to get remote control of the system, and further distribute malware. Bots can also quite easily be used to target an organization, as compromised nodes can be rented fairly cheaply.

How Alphabet and Facebook Could Lose Out in Online Ads

Tiernan Ray:

That prompts him to ask, “Is Google really a search engine supported by advertising, or an advertising engine where people engage in some search activity?” If Google is increasingly a narrow funnel to shove advertising at consumers, maybe someone else will figure a better way to control that relationship.
 Dix tells me he thinks increasingly that advertisers will look to what he calls “paid attention,” which basically involves advertisers directly paying consumers to check them out. He cites the example of Volvo auto dealers that had run ads on the New York Times ’ Web site telling people to test-drive a Volvo. If you do, the dealers will make your first car payment for you, even if you end up buying a competitor’s car.
 IF NOT GOOGLE, who might dominate this next ad revolution? “There’s not someone I can point to right now,” says Dix. But he thinks it’s probably “going to be some party that facilitates the payments between advertiser and consumer.” He points out that Apple (AAPL) has filed for a patent on a scheme where consumers get paid for looking at ads. That makes sense, he says, given that Apple Pay, already in place on the iPhone, has the ability to make electronic payments.
 There are a couple of problems with all this, one being the notion of intent. If you dangle money in front of me, I will be initially very interested, but that may fade before I actually go through with any purchase. In answer to that, Dix suggests there is a “market clearing price” at which the interest by the consumer is real.

Homeowners on the Move Are Choosing More Affordable States

Chris Kirkham:

Homeowners making moves out of state are increasingly selling out of expensive markets like California, where price escalation is steep, and buying into lower-cost markets such as Texas and Arizona, according to an analysis by data company CoreLogic.
 Overall between 2000 and 2015, 2½ home sellers left California for every out-of-state buyer coming into the state, the study found, whereas in Texas, Arizona and North Carolina there have been more buyers coming than sellers leaving. That trend has accelerated as the housing recovery has progressed, with out-migration increasing among homeowners in fast-appreciating markets like California and Colorado, and decreasing in more affordable markets such as Texas.
 “When most people move, they’re either moving for opportunity or affordability,” said Sam Khater, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, who analyzed the data. “Moving across state lines you get a little bit of both. I can leave a place that’s expensive and rapidly appreciating, and I can get a job that pays the same or is better, but the cost of living is lower.”

“Prime members have the Amazon app on the front screen of their smartphones. “

Spencer Soper:

More than half of U.S. online consumers begin their product searches on Amazon.com Inc.’s website or mobile app, a survey found. That means that heading into the busy holiday season, the company is advancing its lead over major retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and search engines as the starting point for online shopping.


Facebook, It’s Time to Open Up

Leila Abboud:

The WPP boss has railed against the opacity of Facebook and Google for years, calling for independent checks on the effectiveness of advertising on the sites. So when Facebook said on Thursday that it had overestimated the average viewing time for video ads on the social network for the past two years, the veteran ad man was proven right.

This matters because big brands are pouring ad dollars online, with nearly half of spending going to Google and Facebook alone — as the chart below shows. Not only do the likes of Unilever and P&G want to make sure their dollars aren’t going to waste, they want to know they’re reaching the right people.

Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric For Two Years

Suzanne Vranica and Jack Marshall

Big ad buyers and marketers are upset with Facebook Inc. after learning the tech giant vastly overestimated average viewing time for video ads on its platform for two years, according to people familiar with the situation.
 Several weeks ago, Facebook disclosed in a post on its “Advertiser Help Center” that its metric for the average time users spent watching videos was artificially inflated because it was only factoring in video views of more than three seconds. The company said it was introducing a new metric to fix the problem.
 Some ad agency executives who were also informed by Facebook about the change started digging deeper, prompting Facebook to give them a more detailed account, one of the people familiar with the situation said.

2 out of 3 Young Millennials Now Use an Ad Blocker –

Eric Brantner

A new survey from Anatomy Media has found that two-thirds of young millennials now use ad blockers on desktop or mobile devices to avoid intrusive ads, improve privacy, and enjoy other benefits.
 The report titled Millennials At The Gate was based on a survey of 2,700 millennials aged 18 to 24. The group, which represents young millennials across the US, was surveyed between June 29 and July 5, 2016.

Google’s allo app will log conversations by default after all

Russell Brandom

When Allo was announced at Google’s I/O conference earlier this year, the messaging app was presented as a step forward for privacy. Alongside the end-to-end-encrypted Incognito Mode, the Allo team talked about bold new message retention practices, storing messages only transiently rather than indefinitely.
 But with the release of the app today, Google is backing off on some of those features.
 The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default — a clear change from Google’s earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Allo’s Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement.

Can e-bikes revolutionise long-distance commuting?

Renate Van der Zee

Every morning Dutchman Marc Dekker hops on his electric bike and cycles 40 miles from his house in a suburb of Utrecht to his work in the town of Ridderkerk. And when work is done, he cycles back another 40 miles. All in all it takes him about three and a half hours to commute. “The actual distance is 45km (28 miles), but I make a detour to avoid having to cross a river by ferry,” he says.

“The PC business model as we have traditionally known it is broken”


“The PC business model as we have traditionally known it is broken. The top five mobile PC vendors have gained 11% market share over the past five years — from 65% in 2011 to 76% in the first half of 2016; but this has come at the expense of profitable revenue,” said Tracy Tsai, research vice president at Gartner. “While this does not mean that the PC market is finished, the installed base of PCs will continue to decline over the next five years, with a continuing erosion of PC vendors’ revenue and profit.
 “The traditional way of gaining shipment market share by competing on price to stimulate demand simply won’t work for the PC market over the next five years,” said Ms. Tsai. “Today’s PC vendors need to adjust to the new realities that are shaping consumption, including the fact that PC users are extending PC lifetimes until end of life, business PC applications and storage are moving into the cloud, and are less reliant on PC performance and, crucially, that price and specification are not enough for a user to upgrade a PC — a new and better customer experience is the only true differentiation.”

The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report


Digital media time in the U.S. continues to increase – growing more than 50 percent in the past three years, with nearly 90 percent of that growth directly attributable to the mobile app. Mobile has grown so fast that it’s now the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for two-thirds of digital media time spent, and smartphone apps alone now capturing roughly half of digital media time.

Why have apps become such a powerful force in our daily media lives? The power of habit. The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report explores the dynamics of mobile media consumption, audiences, and user habits to understand what’s behind this surge in mobile activity, and how publishers and advertisers can take advantage.

Buyer/Seller Surveys: The Power of a True Enterprise CRM

Why implement a CRM?

For many brokers, it is simply check a box, and move on. For others, the few, the forward looking; a real, Enterprise CRM is the asset for recruiting and retention along with core service promotion.

The Main Street CRM is fully configurable. That means that you need not accept a plan that makes sense for a brokerage in Chicago, when your market in LA is rather different. Further, the Main Street CRM applies full automation with broker and agent branding throughout the real estate cycle.

Collecting buyer and seller feedback is done automatically via our transaction and CRM services. A link to the buyer or seller survey is sent based on your rules.

A survey example:

Many cookie cutter systems require agents to add contacts via clunky interfaces. The Agent App for iPhone, iPad and Android makes on boarding simple. One tap, and the app uploads the agents contacts – and does a duplicate check – in real time.

Those contacts are then used for:

  1. Saved searches with automatic market updates via notifications and/or email
  2. CMA
  3. My Markets
  4. eCards, eNewsletters
  5. Core Service Promotions such as rentals/mortgage applications
  6. Video presentations
  7. Open houses
  8. Buyer Tours
  9. Document auto-fill
  10. Transactions
  11. Concierge services
  12. Customer for life programs

Questions? Contact Jim Zellmer jim@vp.io or 608 468 6013 to learn more.

Demand for future transport

David Levinson

There are differing beliefs about the effects of autonomous vehicles on travel demand. On the one hand, we expect that automation of itself is a technology that makes travel easier, it pushes the demand curve to the right. For the same general cost, people are more willing to travel. Exurbanization has a similar effect (and automation and exurbanization form a nice positive feedback system as well).

Google says its app ad business is booming, with a billion installs in the last four months

Peter Kafka

Facebook has made a lot of money selling app install ads in the last few years. Now Google is, too.
 Google says developers have generated three billion installs for their apps using Google’s ads, up from two billion in May. That is: Google’s ads have generated one billion installs in four months.
 That’s a significant increase in a short period, which is what Google wants us to say when it releases a momentum stat like this. But it’s true!

L’Oréal: How technology is transforming beauty

Sophie Curtis

L’Oréal Paris has launched a beauty app called Makeup Genius that transforms the front-facing camera of an iPhone or iPad into a virtual mirror where users can ‘try on’ products virtually. The app uses advanced facial mapping technology that has previously only been used in Hollywood and in the gaming industry to overlay products like lipstick and eyeliner onto the user’s face.

Airbnb gets into the Property Management Business


Until today, Airbnb has basically been offering a single product: a platform that puts in contact hosts with an accommodation with people that need a place to sleep.
 Who works in the hospitality business will perfectly know that the job of a host doesn’t end with a guest sending a booking through the Airbnb platform. The actual stay is what will require most of the efforts and care to ensure the possible best experience for every guest, leading to a virtuous circle that will bring more customers in the future.
 The tasks of a host can be summarized in 3 main categories:

Mobile ad spend to exceed desktop by 2017


Mobile advertising taking over from desktop even faster than expected
 In June we forecast that mobile advertising would overtake desktop in 2017. We still expect that to happen, but we have upgraded our forecasts for mobile growth for this year (from 46% to 48%) and next year (from 29% to 33%), and now expect mobile adspend to exceed desktop by US$8bn in 2017, up from the US$2bn we predicted in June. By 2018 we expect mobile to account for 60% of all internet advertising, up from our previous forecast of 58%.
 Desktop to shrink by more than newspapers or magazines to 2018

Google voice search records and keeps conversations people have around their phones – but the files can be deleted

Andrew Griffin

Google could have a record of everything you have said around it for years, and you can listen to it yourself.
 The company quietly records many of the conversations that people have around its products.
 The feature works as a way of letting people search with their voice, and storing those recordings presumably lets Google improve its language recognition tools as well as the results that it gives to people.

Delete Google Maps? Go ahead, says Google, we’ll still track you

Kieren McCarthy:

Google, it seems, is very, very interested in knowing where you are at all times.
 Users have reported battery life issues with the latest Android build, with many pointing the finger at Google Play – Google’s app store – and its persistent, almost obsessive need to check where you are.
 Amid complaints that Google Play is always switching on GPS, it appears Google has made it impossible to prevent the app store from tracking your whereabouts unless you completely kill off location tracking for all applications.
 You can try to deny Google Play access to your handheld’s location by opening the Settings app and digging through Apps -> Google Play Store -> Permissions, and flipping the switch for “location.” But you’ll be told you can’t just shut out Google Play services: you have to switch off location services for all apps if you want to block the store from knowing your whereabouts. It’s all or nothing, which isn’t particularly nice.

Self-Driving Cars to Cut U.S. Insurance Premiums 40%, Aon Says

Oliver Suess & Jan-Henrik Foerster

Premiums for U.S. auto insurers may drop more than 40 percent once the use of automated vehicles has been fully adopted by 2050 and driving becomes safer, according to insurance broker Aon Plc.
 “We as an industry need to act quickly to ensure that we have the products available to align to the new paradigm,” Paul Mang, head of analytics at Aon, said at a press conference in Monte Carlo on Sunday. “Autonomous driving clearly moves the business mix to fleet products and commercial lines.”

Aon’s rhetoric strikes me as a less than expected rate reduction.

“The thing that you measure will get gamed”

Matt Levine:

Two basic principles of management, and regulation, and life, are:
 You get what you measure.
 The thing that you measure will get gamed.
 Really that’s just one principle: You get what you measure, but only exactly what you measure. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get the more general good thing that you thought you were approximately measuring. If you want hard workers and measure hours worked, you’ll get a lot of workers surfing the internet until midnight. If you want low banking bonuses and measure bonus-to-base-salary ratios, you’ll get high base salaries. Measurement is sort of an evil genie: It grants your wishes, but it takes them just a bit too literally.

How Google Analytics ruined marketing

Samuel Scott:

Marketers in the high-tech world who use phrases such as “social media marketing,” “Facebook marketing” and “content marketing” do not understand the basic difference between marketing strategies, marketing channels and marketing content. And Google Analytics is to blame.
 In the just over 10 years since the release of the platform in November 2005, too many tech marketers now ignore the difference between strategies and channels, favor digital channels that often deliver lower returns than traditional channels and think that direct responses are the only useful ROI metric.

Are Cities Too Complicated?

Richard Florida

In the book, you make a distinction between the complicated and the complex. What systems in cities do you think demonstrate that today?
 When something is complicated, it is intricate but often lacks the dynamics that makes a system hard to understand. On the other hand, a complex system implies feedback, a sensitive dependence on the initial conditions, and emergent phenomena that are hard to predict.
 At the level of urban infrastructure, we can see evidence of complex systems when things go wrong. When a water main breaks and vast portions of a city’s population receive water from a backup system (and have to boil their water, just in case), or when an outage can cause a city to be without power, we see the sensitivity of a city’s infrastructure and the vast complex system that operates for its population, which most of us are normally blissfully unaware of. Similarly, transportation networks, from a subway to the road networks, are also complex technological constructions that are difficult to fully grasp.

How do you get a job that doesn’t exist yet

Laurent Haug

A few years ago, I sat down with the CEO of a 40,000-people company and asked him to list the skills he thought would be needed in a digital, data-driven future. He mentioned programmers, designers and online marketing specialists. I then asked him to list the skills his company had on the payroll. The difference was painfully obvious.
 For those whose training is becoming obsolete, and organizations needing completely new skills in a short amount of time, the transition will be complicated. As the author Alvin Toffler once predicted, the future belongs to those who can unlearn and relearn.
 History tells us that technology creates more opportunities and jobs. The state of the world might look confusing and worrying, but it is not. Virtual or tangible, automated or humanized, work is changing in many ways, but the fundamentals remain: acquiring skills and doing things that people need.

The demise of advertising business models

John Hagel III

Here’s the thing. As vendors become more adept at increasing return on attention for their customers, their need to advertise is likely to diminish. If they are more and more helpful to their customers, word of mouth will spread among customers and they will flock to the vendors who can improve their return on attention. And, it won’t be just word of mouth among customers. On the product side, curators are likely to emerge to help customers sort through the ever expanding variety of products and services given deep expertise in certain categories of product and services. On the customer side, I have written about the emergence of trusted advisors who will invest in deeply understanding us as individual customers and become more and more helpful to us in recommending products or services we may not even have asked about.
 With all of these resources to draw on, what is the value of conventional product advertising to the customer or to the vendor? It’s likely to diminish in importance. As I’ve written elsewhere, the power of pull will replace the diminishing power of push. We will see much more helpful forms of marketing evolve – an approach that I’ve called collaboration marketing. In this rapidly evolving world, companies that continue to rely on advertising as a business model are likely to experience growing pressure. Customers will gladly pay for the opportunity to increase return on attention and find ever more sophisticated ways to evade the classic push model of advertising.
 This isn’t going to happen overnight. Companies have both the blessing of time and the curse of time. The blessing is that there is time to evolve and develop new business models. The curse is that, because this will not happen overnight, there is an understandable but very dangerous tendency to become complacent and not move aggressively enough to avoid the cliff ahead.

Speech Is 3x Faster than Typing for English and Mandarin Text Entry on Mobile Devices

Stanford HCI

With the ubiquity of mobile devices like smartphones, two new widely used methods have emerged: miniature touch screen keyboards and speech-based dictation. It is currently unknown how these two modern methods compare. We therefore evaluated the text entry performance of both methods in English and in Mandarin Chinese on a mobile smartphone. In the speech input case, our speech recognition system gave an initial transcription, and then recognition errors could be corrected using either speech again or the smartphone keyboard.
 We found that with speech recognition, the English input rate was 3.0x faster, and the Mandarin Chinese input rate 2.8x faster, than a state-of-the-art miniature smartphone keyboard. Further, with speech, the English error rate was 20.4% lower, and Mandarin error rate 63.4% lower, than the keyboard. Our experiment was carried out using Baidu’s Deep Speech 2, a deep learning-based speech recognition system, and the built-in Qwerty or Pinyin (Mandarin) Apple iOS keyboards. These results show that a significant shift from typing to speech might be imminent and impactful. Further research to develop effective speech interfaces is warranted.

“a family with a $300,000 mortgage can expect to pay at least $60,000 more over the course of the mortgage”

Fix the Debt

Growing national debt can drive up interest rates throughout the economy, leading to higher interest payments on mortgages, car loans, student loans, and credit card debt.
 Although rates are currently low – due mainly to the weak economy and temporary efforts by the Federal Reserve to keep them down – they will most certainly rise as the economy recovers, and they will rise much higher if debt continues to grow.
 Reducing the debt will help lower costs for middle-class families. Growing debt levels, on the other hand, will increase interest costs, squeeze family budgets, and put important family investments out of reach. In 25 years, interest rates would be 1 point higher because of debt.[2] Put another way, a family with a $300,000 mortgage can expect to pay at least $60,000 more over the course of the mortgage.
 Less Room for Investment in Infrastructure, Research, and the Next Generation
 Growing national debt means that the government must pay higher interest payments to service that debt. Interest will represent the fastest growing part of the federal budget. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects interest costs will more than triple from about $250 billion in 2016 to about $850 billion in ten years. By 2027, 100 percent of the revenue we collect will go toward interest payments and mandatory spending. That leaves little room for important priorities and investments such as national defense, education, infrastructure, low-income support, and basic research. As more of our budget goes to financing today’s spending and yesterday’s promises, spending targeted toward the next generation will continue to dwindle.

New Streets for North America’s Cities

Kevin Krizek & David Levinson

Driverless cars are real and getting better by the day. Tesla owners have already driven over 75 million km on Autopilot since October 2015. Over the coming years, not decades, machines will increasingly replace humans at the ‘steering wheel’. Autonomous vehicles drive more predictably and can follow each other closer than humans in cars ever could. This means that once enough of them are on the road, a given stretch of road can carry more vehicles, in narrower lanes, than human drivers who need space to drive poorly.

Spatial Economics

Bain & Company PDF

For centuries, the cost of distance has determined where businesses produce and sell, where employers locate jobs and where families choose to live, work, shop and play. What if this cost fell dramatically, thanks to new technologies? How would the global economy change if manufacturers could produce locally in small batches, without incur- ring excess cost? Would existing business models and supply chains, for instance, suddenly become uncompet- itive? If people could work from anywhere, would crowded neighborhoods start to thin out?
That change already has begun in the world’s advanced economies and is gathering momentum. Over the next two decades, the cost of distance will decline sharply, according to Bain research, altering the way we live and work—faster than most people expect and more broadly than many imagine. This next big economic shift will create an astonishing array of opportunities for businesses and investors—and unexpected risks.
The catalyst for this historic shift is an array of new platform technologies that have pushed the cost of distance to the tipping point. Multibillion-dollar investments in robotics, 3-D printing, delivery drones, logistics technology, autonomous vehicles and low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites are giving rise to new products and services that sharply erode the cost of moving people, goods and information. As these technologies combine and converge, change will accelerate.
For leaders steering companies through this transition, the change will feel turbulent and unfamiliar. Risks will multiply for industries of all kinds. As the very nature of growth shifts, some of the underlying assumptions of existing business models may no longer be valid, leaving many companies with assets stranded in the wrong locations or with businesses that are becoming obsolete.
Growth opportunities, in particular, will shift dramatically. Today’s high-growth emerging markets, the main focus of business investment for over a decade, are likely to struggle. In contrast, advanced economies will have the poten- tial to embark on a period of sustained expansion.

How monetizing became malvertising

Barrett Golding:

Bromium Labs found more than half the ads with malware payloads were on either news or entertainment websites, with news at the top of the pack (32 percent). Like all marketers, malvertisers want premiere placement on well-respected sites. The ad-bidding process grants them their wish.

In March 2016 the websites of The New York Times, BBC, Weather Network, The Hill, Newsweek, AOL, MSN, and NFL all, as CNET reported, “inadvertently ran malicious ads that attempted to hijack the computers of visitors and demand a ransom.”

This even juicier website-breaking news is from Engadget: “Forbes asked readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view the article. After doing so, visitors were immediately served with pop-under malware, primed to infect their computers, and likely silently steal passwords, personal data and banking information.”

Related: Fred Benenson:

I recently fell down a deep dark hole on the internet.

It began by researching a part for my central air conditioning but ended up with me stumbling upon a terrible development in modern advertising: spam driven by my browsing habits.

If that sounds like a privacy invading hellscape you’d like to avoid, read on, dear reader.

It was one of those manic googling sessions; copying and pasting in serial numbers, clicking frantically, trying to make sense of a piece of hardware I had assumed I would never need to understand.

Teens Who Say No to Social Media

Christine Rosen:

When 14-year-old Brian O’Neill of Washington, D.C., wanted to find out what his friends had been up to over summer vacation, he did something radical: He asked them. Unlike most kids his age, Brian isn’t on social media. He doesn’t scroll through his friends’ Instagram shots or post his own, nor does he use Facebook or Snapchat. “I don’t need social media to stay in touch,” he says.

Such abstention from social media places him in a small minority in his peer group. According to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center, 92% of American teenagers (ages 13-17) go online daily, including 24% who say they are on their devices “almost constantly.” Seventy-one percent use Facebook, half are on Instagram, and 41% are Snapchat users. And nearly three-quarters of teens use more than one social-networking site. A typical teen, according to Pew, has 145 Facebook friends and 150 Instagram followers.

But what if a teen doesn’t want to live in that networked world? In a culture where prosocial behavior happens increasingly online, it can seem antisocial to refuse to participate. Are kids who reject social media missing out?


David Levinson & Kevin Krizek:

Autonomous vehicles are coming. At their best, AVs are stimulating an impulse to drive genuine innovation. At its worst, they are a hubris that causes us to overthink the solutions to transport problems in cities.
 Big changes are coming for how people will get around in cities across the globe. The most important change will hinge on the introduction of autonomous vehicles (AVs). Simultaneously, cities will witness the conversion of the vehicle fleet to being primarily electric-powered (from a grid rapidly converting to renewable energy and off-the-grid solar charging) and new ownership models like shared mobility become more common.

Why the High Cost of Big-City Living Is Bad for Everyone

Mark Gimeon:

The story of Oppermann—who did not send the residents of San Francisco packing but merely crippled growth with arcane lot-size rules and off-street-parking-space minimums—comes down to us via a San Francisco Bay Area cartographer, programmer, and amateur historian named Eric Fischer. Fischer, a transplant from Indianapolis, has spent his free time in the past months digging through newspaper archives to understand how San Francisco housing came to be as insanely expensive as it now is.
 In a Twitter feed and a blog, Fischer has catalogued decades of planning decisions and concomitant rent increases, which, since the nineteen-fifties, have made real rents in San Francisco quadruple. In New York, Curbed, the real-estate Web site, undertook an anecdotal look at seventy years of New York City rental ads and found that the typical monthly rent went up from sixty dollars, in the nineteen-fifties (about five hundred and forty dollars, adjusted for inflation), to thirty-eight hundred dollars now. Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, in the 1967 movie “Barefoot in the Park,” had to settle for a walkup with no bathtub and a broken radiator. The modest West Village building at 111 Waverly Place, whose façade stood in for Fonda and Redford’s walkup? The Web site Trulia estimates its value at $5.5 million.

Relaxing Privacy Vow, WhatsApp Will Share Some Data With Facebook

Mike Isaac & Mark Scott

SAN FRANCISCO — When Facebook bought the start-up WhatsApp in 2014, Jan Koum, one of WhatsApp’s founders, declared that the deal would not affect the digital privacy of his mobile messaging service’s millions of users.
 “We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address,” Mr. Koum wrote in a blog post at the time. “None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”
 Two years later, in a move that is rankling some of the company’s more than one billion users, WhatsApp will soon begin to share some member information with Facebook.
 WhatsApp said on Thursday that it would start disclosing the phone numbers and analytics data of its users to Facebook. It will be the first time the messaging service has connected users’ accounts to the social network to share data, as Facebook tries to coordinate information across its collection of businesses.

The Japanese Zoning System

Alex Tabarrok

In Laissez-Faire in Tokyo Land Use I pointed to Japan’s constitutional protection of property rights and it’s relatively laissez-faire approach to land use to explain why housing prices in Japan have not risen in past decades, as they have elsewhere in the developed world. A very useful post at Urban kchoze offers more detail on Japan’s zoning system. Here are some of the key points.
 Japan has 12 basic zones, far fewer than is typical in an American city. The zones can be ordered in terms of nuisance or potential externality from low-rise residential to high-rise residential to commercial zone on through to light industrial and industrial. But, and this is key, in the US zones tend to be exclusive but in Japan the zones limit the maximum nuisance in a zone. So, for example, a factory can’t be built in a residential neighborhood but housing can be built in a light industrial zone.