Death of cash’ predicted within a decade

James Pickford.

The Best Tax Move To Shelter Property

Robert Milburn:

Investors in highly-appreciated multifamily homes or commercial office buildings can cash out without incurring a hefty tax bill. A 1031 Exchange is an IRS-sanctioned rule that allows investors to sell a property and buy another “like” property without incurring capital gains taxes. There are a few wrinkles, of course, but when coupled with smart tax and estate planning moves, it can be a remarkably effective way to transfer wealth.

Here’s how it works. Suppose an investor bought a multifamily home 40 years ago for $1 million. For tax purposes, the home’s value was depreciated over time so that today’s cost basis is zero. Now, if the property’s value had skyrocketed to $5 million, then at the time of the sale, the owner would be forced to pay $1.2 million in taxes (at the top federal capital gains rate of 23.8%). By using a 1031 exchange, the investor could sell off the property and use the proceeds to buy another $5 million property and defer the taxes.

Mobile Readers Abound; the Ads, Not So Much

Jack Marshall::

 Mind the gap: publishers’ mobile ad revenue isn’t keeping pace with traffic growth. Getty Images
 Meanwhile, online giants Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Twitter Inc.—who sidestep many of those issues—are mopping up the mobile dollars marketers are spending. Facebook alone accounted for 37% of all U.S. mobile display advertising revenue in 2014, according to eMarketer.
 At New York Times Co., more than half of visits to the company’s digital properties now come from smartphones and tablets, according to the chief revenue officer, Meredith Kopit Levien. Those devices accounted for just 15% of the company’s digital ad revenue in the second quarter.
 “[Mobile revenues] are definitely lagging audience. No question,” Ms. Levien said.
 It is a similar story at News Corp’s Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. More than half of unique visits to The Wall Street Journal Digital Network—which includes the Journal, MarketWatch, Barron’s, and WSJ Magazine—now come from non-desktop devices, but mobile accounts for less than 20% of the network’s digital ad revenue, according to a person familiar with the matter.

New research: Companies plan to massively increase spend on marketing analytics

Andrew Jones:

 A new research report on marketing analytics shows that brands plan to increase their spending on the category by a whopping 73 percent over the next three years. For big market cap B2C companies, it’s closer to a 100 percent increase.
 The category not only shows massive growth, but also a lot of funding — more than a billion dollars of VC money has been invested in data analytics companies so far this year.
 Overall, user data, investment data, and adoption data all indicate that analytics is one of the hottest marketing technology categories right now.

The Online Privacy Lie Is Unraveling

Natasha Lomas:

A new report into U.S. consumers’ attitude to the collection of personal data has highlighted the disconnect between commercial claims that web users are happy to trade privacy in exchange for ‘benefits’ like discounts. On the contrary, it asserts that a large majority of web users are not at all happy, but rather feel powerless to stop their data being harvested and used by marketers.
 The report authors’ argue it’s this sense of resignation that is resulting in data tradeoffs taking place — rather than consumers performing careful cost-benefit analysis to weigh up the pros and cons of giving up their data (as marketers try to claim). They also found that where consumers were most informed about marketing practices they were also more likely to be resigned to not being able to do anything to prevent their data being harvested.

Facebook has taken over from Google as a traffic source for news

Matthew Ingram:

Traffic analytics firm says its latest figures show the giant social network now accounts for more of the traffic to news sites than Google.
 Anyone who works for a major news website or publisher knows that social referrals—that is, links that are shared on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter—have become a crucial source of incoming traffic, and have been vying with search as a source of new readers for some time. Now, according to new numbers from the traffic-analytics service, Facebook is no longer just vying with Google but has overtaken it by a significant amount.’s chief technical officer Andrew Montalenti said in an interview with Fortune that the company’s latest estimates show that social-media sources (of which Facebook FB 1.32% is by far the largest) accounted for about 43% of the traffic to the network of media sites, while Google accounted for just 38%.
 The company’s clients include more than 400 major news and media outlets, including traditional publishers such as Wired, The Atlantic, Reuters and The Daily Telegraph, as well as a large group of digital-only outlets such as Mashable, The Next Web and Business Insider. Collectively, the network accounts for about 6 billion pageviews and more than one billion unique visitors per month.
 Parsely traffic sources
 This isn’t the first time that Facebook has edged past Google in the traffic-referral race, Montalenti said. The social network took the top spot by a small amount last October, but this month’s lead is far more dramatic — and the CTO said that from the company’s data, it’s clear that search has hit a kind of plateau and isn’t really growing any more as a referral source for media. Meanwhile, Facebook’s influence has “shown it’s on a continued growth trajectory.”
 That trajectory has been fairly dramatic: According to, as recently as January of last year, Facebook accounted for just 20% of all the traffic from documented sources to the company’s network of media sites, and now it is more than double that. Montalenti said this doesn’t mean Facebook accounts for 43% of all traffic, but just the sources that is able to get data on.
 Tony Haile, CEO of the traffic-analytics firm Chartbeat, said that his company’s data shows a similar theme: although Google has a much broader range of sites it sends traffic to via search, the larger news and media sites have become much more reliant on Facebook. “When we look at all the sites over our network, a third have more Facebook traffic than Google,” he said. “But when we only look at the largest 20%, about half of them have more traffic from Facebook than Google.”
 Parsley traffic FB vs Google
 Although there’s no question that social sharing has become a much more important source of traffic in its own right, the CTO said that a change in Google’s referral practices may also have played a role. While the search company used to show publishers what keywords were used to direct the most traffic to their articles, in most cases it doesn’t provide that kind of data any more. The company says this is for security reasons, but Montalenti says it could also be because Google doesn’t want publishers to game its algorithm.
 Whatever the reasoning, that lack of insight into what kind of traffic is coming from Google and why could have helped contribute to a lack of interest in SEO and growing interest in using social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter TWTR -2.62% . Facebook has also been trying to court media companies and get them to host more of their content on the site, Montalenti noted, through efforts such as the Instant Articles project it announced earlier this year.
 The only problem with that shift, the CTO says, is that Facebook is almost as impenetrable as Google when it comes to trying to figure out why one article did well and another didn’t. And that makes it difficult for publishers to build a coherent social-media strategy.
 “There’s a lot of effort among media companies being placed on specific social channels like Twitter, but our data shows that Twitter is basically a distant traffic source,” says Montalenti. “That’s unfortunate because Facebook is a lot less transparent around things like how the algorithm functions. There’s a lot more useful data from Twitter about their content, but FB is more like a black box in terms of how it operates. And yet it’s this huge and growing traffic source.”

What’s the future price of solar?

Ramez Naam

I’ll attempt to make some projections (tentatively) here.

tl;dr: If current rates of improvement hold, solar will be incredibly cheap by the time it’s a substantial fraction of the world’s electricity supply.
Background: The Exponential Decline in Solar Module Costs

It’s now fairly common knowledge that the cost of solar modules is dropping exponentially. I helped publicize that fact in a 2011 Scientific American blog post asking “Does Moore’s Law Apply to Solar Cells?” The answer is that something like Moore’s law, an exponential learning curve (albeit slower than in computing) applies. (For those that think Moore’s Law is a terrible analogy, here’s my post on why Moore’s Law is an excellent analogy for solar.)

How Facebook, Apple and Twitter are ending online equality

Mike Elgan

The latest trend in social networking is the rise of elitism.

It’s not an elitism that’s emerging spontaneously from the everyday social interaction of users. Facebook, Apple and Twitter are intentionally devising a new online world of inequality. This new social media elitism is being trotted out as a “feature.”

It’s sad, too. Egalitarianism used to be the signature attribute of new media.

While old media was a one-to-many affair (whoever was rich or famous had access to the TV cameras or the newspaper headlines while the rest of us were forced to sit in silence and passively receive their communications), new media was participatory and engendered equality. Even the most self-aggrandizing actor or preening musical diva had to set up a Myspace or Twitter or Facebook account and use the same tools and features as everybody else.

Of course, we all haven’t enjoyed complete equality in our reach or influence on social networks. Famous people have generally had larger audiences, and therefore more influence. But when the rich and/or famous have talked to us, we’ve been able to talk back. New media was different from old media in that it was a level playing field, where all of us — rich and poor, famous and obscure — used the same set of social media features, tools and interaction spaces.

I No Longer Have Any Trust In The Nest Protect

Michael Larabel:

When removing the unit from my Nest account, somehow all of the other Nests were still relaying these warnings. I couldn’t find a way to stop it.
 In the end, I ran out to my garage, 20lb sledgehammer, and began whacking on the device… Few hits later, peace and quiet was restored… I must say though, was quite impressed with the build quality of the Nest Protect. The housing broke but the Nest Protect remained largely intact after meeting the sledgehammer.

Learning New Information is Easier When it is Composed of Familiar Elements

Carnegie Mellon psychologists uncover critical relationship between working memory and strength of information ‘chunks’.
 People have more difficulty recalling the string of letters BIC, IAJ, FKI, RSU and SAF than FBI, CIA, JFK, IRS and USA. The well-established reason is that the amount of information we can hold in our short-term or working memory is affected by whether the information can be “chunked” into larger units.
 New research by Carnegie Mellon University psychologists takes this learning principle one step further by uncovering how the strength – or familiarity – of those chunks plays a crucial role. Published in Psychonomic Bulletin Review, they show for the first time that it is easier to learn new facts that are composed of more familiar chunks.

Commuting Kills


Every year we lose up to 10% of our electricity purely due to resistance during transmission. If you’ve ever wondered why a room-temperature superconductor is sought after, this is why. Thinking about superconductivity reminded me of the problem I have with companies who don’t allow telecommuting. The way I see it, remote-workers are like work-place superconductivity: Brain power and productivity arrive instantly where they’re needed with zero transmission cost.
 I decided to do the math on what the health and environmental costs are related to commuting to work every year.
 Moving people from home to work is surprisingly expensive in many ways. The average commute time by car in the United States is about 25 minutes each way. The average commute time by other means is also just over 25 minutes each way. [Source: US Census Bureau and data from] The average number of work days per year is 261. [Source:]

Manager Tip 7: Flow Taxes

A few notes for your upcoming recruiting conversations.

1. Agent Tax

Time is money in a tight inventory market. Most brokers require their agents to use 11 to 21 systems. That spaghetti is a significant tax on agents and their your margins.

A single entry system supports company dollar growth.

2. Lead Tax

A broker that I recently spoke with has so many systems that an agent must wait up to 36 hours for their listing photos to appear “everywhere”.

This, in an era where Instagram users add an average of 70 million images daily.

Some brokers are still operating on the newspaper cycle.

3. Flow tax.

Another broker mentioned that their marketing person is using xyz email service. This means that all agents must somehow move and maintain their contacts in multiple systems (how likely is that?) and lose CRM flow benefits. This is a classic example of optimizing for one person or a small part of the organization in competition with brokerage wide recruiting and retention benefits and goals.

Our integrated, real time CRM systems support lead to closing flow with your agents and prospects, from www sites, apps, saved searches, CMA’s, newsletters, ecards, documents, showings, postcards, brochures, notifications, surveys and mortgage opportunities. Agents maintain their contacts in one place.

4. Close deals NOW

Search listings, share and create a CMA on the fly and sign listing agreements using one fast app. Demo it in seconds on the Agent App.

Get started with this 3 minute video. or +1 608 468 6013

Inside an Instagram Bot Farm


People want Instagram followers so much, they don’t care if they’re bots—because when it comes to social media, appearances are reality. The businessmen who are happy to oblige those desperate for fake followers are rolling in the monies but at the same time, they’re locked in a weird arms race of algorithms—one where the bot farmers and social media platforms are constantly trying to outsmart the other.
 The biggest battle right now is over Instagram, and one group of bot farmers is winning.

The digital ad business is broken, says former CEO

Barry Levine:

 “The onion is slowly and surely getting peeled back.”
 Jim Spanfeller isn’t talking about how he’s making onion soup, although he does run The Daily Meal, a popular site about food and drink. This ex-CEO of, former publisher of Yahoo Internet Life, and chairman emeritus of the Internet Advertising Bureau is talking about how the problems in the current digital ad ecosystem are revealing themselves.
 The industry is in what charitably might be called a dilemma — and uncharitably, a crisis.

People now spend 3x more on smartphones than PCs with wearables coming on strong

Chetan Sharma:

With each passing day, more consumers are connected and are using more connected devices. The connected intelligence era is starting to take shape.

It is not just a western market phenomenon, the connected age is reaching the far corners of the planet.

The total number of connected devices will reach 16 billion by the end of 2015.

The biggest category of the devices will still be featurephones followed by smartphones and personal computers.

By 2020, Industrial and Smartphones will become the top two connected devices categories.

12 Hard Truths About Mobile Media

Mobile Media Memo:

 Mobile is disrupting all aspects of the media business – behavior, revenue and brand – and we have yet to experience the full extent of its bite.
 “I think things are probably much, much worse industry-wise than people acknowledge,” The Awl’s John Herrman explained to The Verge. “It is, to the web, what the web was to what came before it.”
 This time, it’s not just print in the crosshairs. It’s everyone.

What if you could replace performance evaluations with four simple questions?

Jena MacGregor:

Everyone loves to hate performance evaluations, and with good reason: Research has shown them to be ineffective, unreliable and unsatisfactory for seemingly everyone involved. They consume way too much time, leave most workers deflated and feel increasingly out of step with reality. A once-a-year, backwards-looking conversation with the boss hardly fits our forward-looking, instantly updated world. Yet despite all that frustration, many companies do little to change them, thinking there are few alternatives.
 That hasn’t been the case at Deloitte. The new issue of the Harvard Business Review, released Tuesday, unveils a detailed look at the professional services firm’s total redesign of its performance management program. It’s an overhaul the company first started rolling out nine months ago.

Is Advertising Morally Justifiable? The Importance of Protecting Our Attention

Thomas Wells:

Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted.
 Two problems result from this. The solution to both requires legal recognition of the property rights of human beings over our attention.
 First, advertising imposes costs on individuals without permission or compensation. It extracts our precious attention and emits toxic by-products, such as the sale of our personal information to dodgy third parties.
 Second, you may have noticed that the world’s fisheries are not in great shape. They are a standard example for explaining the theoretical concept of a tragedy of the commons, where rational maximising behaviour by individual harvesters leads to the unsustainable overexploitation of a resource.

Is the Banking Industry Living on Borrowed Time?

Jim Marous:

Based on this research, carried out for a new book called Bye Bye Banks?, written by James Haycock, and co-authored by technology reporter Shane Richmond, despite the fact that banks are spending billions of dollars on digital transformation and innovation activities, changing the entrenched culture within these organizations is very difficult. The extensive qualitative and quantitative research for the book stems from discussions with 110 senior managers, directors, C-Level executives, CEOs and Presidents within the retail banking sector.
 “The financial services playing field has been changed irreversibly in recent years by a new generation of companies and leaders who have torn the rulebook to pieces, adopting new technology, introducing new working practices, and serving customers whose lives are increasingly orientated around their mobile phones”, says the research. Thanks to the expansiveness of the web and the accessibility of the smartphone, digital disruption is happening all around us, breaking dominant business models in retail, entertainment, travel and telecommunications.

How robots are taking over our homes — but not as you’d expect

Tim Bradshaw:

Colin Angle may run a robotics company but even he struggles to corral the automatons in his home. As the chief executive of iRobot, he has no complaints about his company’s Roomba self-piloting vacuum cleaners, of course. But the co-founder of one of the world’s largest makers of domestic robots is frustrated with the expensive home automation system he installed at his home in Massachusetts a few years ago.
 The heating cannot keep up with his oft-changing schedule and the biggest advance to his lighting is being able to turn on several bulbs with one switch rather than three. Maintenance visits are required all too frequently.
 “Here I am, with 25 years as CEO of a robot company, using almost none of the power of a smart home system,” says Angle. “I was as excited as anyone when I put it in about snapping my fingers and having soufflés made. But it wasn’t the reality.”

The adblocking revolution is months away (with iOS 9) – with trouble for advertisers, publishers and Google

Charles Arthur:

TL:DR: when Apple’s iOS 9 comes out in September, there’s going to be a dramatic uptake of ad blockers on iOS – and it’s going to have far-reaching effects not just on websites and advertisers, but potentially also on the balance in mobile platforms and even on Google’s revenues.
 Now, the longer version.
 Remember newspapers?
 In the old days, adverts appeared in print, on the radio and on the TV. Most ad-supported news organisations that have shifted to the internet began in print.
 Ads in print were straightforward. Advertisers bought space, and editors could turn them down, or sometimes decide not to run them if a story broke that would bring about an awkward juxtaposition of, say, the advert for a shoe store on page 3 and the big breaking story now being placed on page 3 about people having feet crushed by a runaway steamroller. (The ad would get moved to another page.) Print ads were hard for advertisers to track, though they could use codes and so on that would clue them in to where someone had seen one if they responded directly.

The end of TV as we know it

Amol Sharma:

But even with those caveats, you can see how steep the fall-off in viewership among younger groups has been. Some media executives publicly complain that the ratings declines are partially due to Nielsen’s inability to keep up with changing media consumption habits, especially viewing on mobile devices.

Forcing children to watch TV is now a punishment as iPad becomes ‘first screen’

James Titcomb:

Taking away television privileges has long been viewed as an effective way to punish misbehaving children. But no longer, according to research.
 In fact, making kids sit in front of an actual TV is now a way of disciplining them, since young children are now so used to playing and watching videos on tablets that the TV has become an inferior “second screen”.
 Almost one in two parents will take away a child’s tablet and put them in front of the television as a punishment, according to research from Miner & Co.
 Unlike the TV, a passive, often-social experience, tablets “offer versatility, simple user interface and a ‘personal’ viewing experience”, the researchers wrote.

Mobile Addicts Multiply Across the Globe

Simon Khalaf:

On June 29th Bank of America released the findings of its second annual report on Consumer Mobility. The report showed that the US population is perpetually plugged-in with 71% of those surveyed disclosing they actually sleep with their smartphones. This prompted us to revisit the study we conducted in Q2 of 2014 in which we first uncovered the rise of a new breed of mobile users: the Mobile Addicts.
 Worldwide Mobile Addicts Grew 59% in the Last Year
 The chart below shows the results of the new research. It is clear from that chart that the trend Bank of America is talking about is not limited to the United States. In fact, that trend is global. From Q2 2014 to Q2 2015, the total population of smart devices measured by Flurry grew from 1.3B to 1.8B, a 38% year over year growth. Regular Users, consumers who use apps between once and 16 times daily, grew from 784 million to 985 million in the same period, a 25% increase. Super Users, consumers who use apps between 16 and 60 times daily, grew even more in that same period from 440 million to 590 million, a 34% increase.
 When we looked at Mobile Addicts, consumers who launch applications 60 times or more per day, we saw this group is growing at the fastest rate, from 176 million in Q2 2014 to a whopping 280 million in Q2 2015, a 59% increase.

A look at trends that are reshaping the modern office

Jena McGregor:

A couple of years ago, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer made the controversial announcement that her employees could no longer work from home and would need to return to working in the office.
 But lots of companies wrestling with how to get people to show their face at work, in an era during which telecommuting is increasingly popular, are trying to lure them back rather than mandate it. While organizations have long embraced the benefits of “hoteling,” in which employees reserve desks for themselves rather than getting a dedicated space to work every day, many are taking that concept even further, adding concierge-like staff and other perks to give workers more reasons to come on site.


A few recent data points worth consideration in light of traditional broker and agent spending:

  1. The Death of the PC has not been greatly exaggerated. – Davey Alba:
    But whatever the specifics of any given quarter, the trend line is still clear: it’s going down. Which points to the same consistent truth: mobile devices have become the dominant computing platform.

    Why else would, for instance, Google upend how its search engine works to prioritize mobile-friendly sites? Google knows that to be useful, it needs to work best on the devices people are actually using. Meanwhile, PC-dependent incumbents like Intel—the primary supplier of microprocessors for less-than-mobile devices—has cited weakening demand from businesses for desktop computers and revised its revenue outlook down.

    These days, the big players—Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook—are putting their resources toward optimizing their businesses for mobile. They haven’t all cracked the code, but they’re trying. In the meantime, PCs have yet to settle into a niche, given their diminished place in tech’s new hierarchy. With mobile, the question is, what else can we do with it? With PCs, the question is, what are they still good for?

  2. Steve Sinofsky (@stevesi) on the Death of the PC and the rise of mobile:
    3/Huge value-add comes from mobility, reliability, app stores, battery life, and all aspects of mobile OS. Today these are phones & tabs.

    6/The developer ecosystem is part of this. But as more and more work happens on iOS/Android the idea of going “back” makes little sense.

  3. Google pivots to apps:
    Add it all up, and “you have to rethink what search means pretty much from first principles,” he said.

    That helps explain why Mr. Singhal and his group are engaged in a race that has erupted across Silicon Valley to become the Google of Apps. Mr. Singhal, an engineer who was born in India, joined Google in 2000. He has spent the last 15 years adding speed and intelligence to the Google search box, which is just 17 years old but already sits alongside the Golden Arches in terms of cultural and economic impact. Today, however, as people spend more time on mobile devices, competitors are popping up everywhere and Google, while still a fast-growing and highly profitable company, is slipping in its position as the gateway to the Internet.

    Venture capitalists are funding new search start-ups that treat information and the web as legacy products and that focus on actions and apps instead. And while Google, with $65 billion in the bank, can buy any start-up it likes, one company it cannot buy — Apple — is also joining the mobile search fray. On Thursday, Apple released an early, or “beta,” version of the next version of its iOS mobile software, giving iPhone and iPad users the ability to tap Apple’s own search engine for searches of music, apps and local services — allowing them to potentially bypass Google.

    Microsoft software, which dominated the PC era, today runs on less than 10% of the world’s connected computers.

    51% (and growing) of an American’s Day is spent on mobile, 42% on desktop/laptop computers.

    This brief video compares a real app with a mobile website. The performance and user experience advantage is obvious.

    Oh, 70 million images are added to instagram on an average day. Facebook services share an average of 2 billion images per day. The vast majority of social network use is in apps.

I recently spoke with a mid-sized broker who is going all in on web seo… That’s an interesting choice in 2015.

Learn more about Virtual Properties’ iPhone, iPad and Google Android public and agent apps along with our cloud/www CRM, document and transaction services. +1 608 468 6013 or

Broker spending utility in the app era. “Becoming the Google of apps”

Conor Dougherty

In a recent interview at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Mr. Singhal laid out a widely held thesis for why smartphones are fundamentally changing how people are consuming information: Phones have small screens that are annoying to type on, and people have grown so addicted to their phones that they carry them everywhere and go to bed with them by their side. Also, in a shift with big implications for his company’s sway over the Internet, smartphone users spend the bulk of their time in mobile apps instead of the open web on which Google built its business.
 Add it all up, and “you have to rethink what search means pretty much from first principles,” he said.
 Start-Ups Try to Challenge Google, at Least on Mobile SearchMAY 3, 2015
 That helps explain why Mr. Singhal and his group are engaged in a race that has erupted across Silicon Valley to become the Google of Apps. Mr. Singhal, an engineer who was born in India, joined Google in 2000. He has spent the last 15 years adding speed and intelligence to the Google search box, which is just 17 years old but already sits alongside the Golden Arches in terms of cultural and economic impact. Today, however, as people spend more time on mobile devices, competitors are popping up everywhere and Google, while still a fast-growing and highly profitable company, is slipping in its position as the gateway to the Internet.
 Venture capitalists are funding new search start-ups that treat information and the web as legacy products and that focus on actions and apps instead. And while Google, with $65 billion in the bank, can buy any start-up it likes, one company it cannot buy — Apple — is also joining the mobile search fray. On Thursday, Apple released an early, or “beta,” version of the next version of its iOS mobile software, giving iPhone and iPad users the ability to tap Apple’s own search engine for searches of music, apps and local services — allowing them to potentially bypass Google.

Consumers are ‘dirtying’ databases with false details

Call Week:

People are deliberately giving brands false data about themselves to protect their privacy, and are ignoring brands’ efforts to empower them to take control of their data, according to a study of more than 2,400 UK consumers by research company Verve.
 It only takes a relatively small percentage of database entries to be ‘dirty’ before its value disproportionately declines, according to the report. Companies therefore need to up their efforts to encourage people to give the right information.
 The research shows that 60% of consumers intentionally provide incorrect information when submitting their personal details online. Broken down by the types of data provided, birth dates are the most commonly falsified, as almost a quarter of consumers (23%) give the wrong date of birth to companies ‘some of the time’, 9% do this ‘most of the time’ and 5% ‘always’ give the wrong date.

Facebook’s Piracy Problem

Will Oremus:

In September, Sandlin finally made a video he’d wanted to do for years. He toted a special high-speed camera to a tattoo parlor to capture the skin art process in painfully beautiful detail. “When I was editing it, I told my dad, ‘This is gonna be my biggest video,’ ” Sandlin told me. He was right. The result, titled “TATTOOING Close Up (in Slow Motion),” has racked up more than 20 million views in nine months.
 So far it sounds like a classic YouTube success story. But it’s actually….

Google’s ad system has become too big to control

Kevin Montgomery:

GOOGLE IS ONE of the most advanced search and advertising platforms on the Internet, but a research paper suggests the company may lack the ability to keep discriminatory and privacy policy-violating advertisements off its services.
 Research conducted by three computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and the International Computer Science Institute discovered that Google’s AdSense platform is capable of discriminating against women looking for employment and targeting consumers based on their health information.
 Using an automated tool they built called AdFisher, the research team utilized more than 17,000 simulated user profiles across 21 experiments to analyze how different user traits defined by Google’s Ad Settings would impact which ads were served. In one experiment, Google predominantly showed ads for executive-level positions to accounts identified as male. Female accounts, on the other hand, were more likely to be served job postings from an auto parts dealer, Goodwill, and a generic job-hunting service.

Adyen Mobile Payments Index reveals 36% of global mobile payments are now on iPhone


Smartphones now undisputed king of mobile transactions
 The Adyen MPI shows that in terms of transaction volume, smartphones emphatically rule, increasing their lead from 61.8% of all mobile transactions in Q1 to a total of 64.1% in Q2. And it’s not only due to the iPhone. Android smartphones continue to grow their share of mobile transaction volume, increasing from 27.2% in the first quarter of 2015, to 28.3%. By contrast, the use of tablets over the same period has dropped from 38.2% in Q1 2015 to 35.9% as of June 2015.
 iOS users spend more per transaction than Android users
 For the first time, this quarter the Mobile Payments Index tracked average transaction value (ATV) by device type. It found that shoppers using an iPad spend an average of €104 per transaction, significantly higher than the ATV for Android tablets at €84. ATV across smartphone operating systems echoed this trend, with iPhones having an ATV of €75 compared to an Android ATV of €68.
 “The continued rise in popularity of the iPhone for making online purchases, coupled with the higher ATV from shoppers using iOS, suggest that businesses – especially those that classify themselves as premium brands – should target this valuable demographic in particular,” said Roelant Prins, Chief Commercial Officer, Adyen. “Apple Pay, as it becomes available in more markets, represents a great opportunity for businesses to fulfil this as it enables them to deliver a seamless payment experience to iOS users.”

Fast Internet & Home Prices

Ryan Knutson:

In May, Kara Burke and Tom Cairns thought they had found their ideal house: a nicely-updated older three-bedroom home in Worthington, Mass.
 But they didn’t make an offer because it didn’t have high speed Internet.

Manager Tip 6: Recruiting and Agent Essentials

A great, long time client recently asked “do agents still need websites“?

While thinking about this question, let’s consider the world that buyers and sellers live in today, and tomorrow.

i. We know:

A. 86% of smartphone time is spent in apps.

B. 75% of Americans have smartphones.

C. 51% of an American’s Day is spent on mobile, 42% on desktop/laptop computers.

D. AirBnB and Uber are creating new, much simpler digital experiences.

E. Notifications are growing rapidly and becoming interactive.

F. Millennials love their smartphones. 87% say it never leaves their side. 44% use their smartphone’s camera daily.

G. The fact that this question is being asked today, in 2015, indicates that things have changed.

ii. Recruiting & Coaching Opportunities.

Let’s consider the tools necessary for most agent jobs to be done:

1. Prospecting

I have 30 seconds when I meet someone to be credible” – an agent at a recent app sales training session. With one tap, agents can immediately discuss and share the latest market information, trends and charts. Sharing is simple via text, email and social networks.

These techniques are far more effective at building relationships than handing out a printed brochure, or asking for two hours to return to the office and use the PC based MLS.

Sharing information electronically creates CRM profiles for your agent and brokerage.

In addition, that shared information contains – for our clients – a branded link back to the agent website, supplied by your brokerage.

These techniques are ideal for open houses as well.

Messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Many message apps support QR codes. Your agents can quickly generate and share QR codes for their websites, listings and reports.

2. Sphere of Influence

Buyers and sellers are flooded with data today. A great agent turns that data into useful, actionable information.

The agent, after meeting and discussing market trends with a prospect, can tap to save a search for the new or existing prospect. The prospect and agent will begin to receive automatic notification and/or email updates including the latest properties for sale along with status and price changes.

Notification and email messages include agent and broker branding along with links to the agent’s website. Again, this information auto-populates the cloud CRM for future market trends, documents, transactions, newsletters, survey and mortgage opportunities.

3. Buyers

Create buyer presentations and tours. Create and share favorites (note that favorite listings sync from between your agent/broker websites along with the public and agent apps and our cloud CRM). Create saved searches for your buyers.

Auto-fill and complete buyer agency and purchase documents. Sign “in person” with the agent app or via e-signature apps & services.

Keep buyers in your orbit with simple CRM plans, including market trends, tips, newsletters and mortgage information.

4. Sellers

interactive CMA immediately shares current market conditions with sellers. Agents swipe to add or delete comparables. One tap to save and another to share via text, email and social networks.

The new Listing Activity Report shares agent and brokerage marketing efforts with sellers in real time.

Everything is visible in the cloud and agent app CRM.

Auto-fill and share listing documents. Sign “in person” with the agent app or via e-signature apps & services.

5. Closings

Documents are auto-filled from listing, personnel and CRM data. Quickly, email, print or share via other apps.

Documents auto-populate downstream agent and brokerage transaction and customer for life processes – saving everyone time and hassle.

6. 360 degree CRM view.

All activity is visible within the single entry Agent App and cloud CRM system.

iii. Conclusion

– Do agents need websites, in 2015?

I’d say yes, as part of a larger, single entry broker and agent tool strategy. Remember, 41% of America’s digital time is spent on laptop and desktop computers while 51% (and growing) on mobile devices.

The examples noted above cover agents’ jobs to be done today and tomorrow across all client devices.

This list is an ideal checklist for manager recruiting and retention discussions.

Unfortunately, few brokers have the leadership and staff to pull this off. Those that do create significant separation from the competition.

Contact Jim Zellmer or 1 608 468 6013 for a more detailed presentation.

Google Manipulates Search Results, According to Study From Yelp and Legal Star Tim Wu

Mark Bergen

“When the facts change, your thinking should change,” Wu told Re/code about the evolution of his stance. “The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers.”
 He added: “This is the closest I’ve seen Google come to [being] the Microsoft case.”
 For Wu, the facts that changed came from Yelp. The local reviews company — and longstanding Google adversary — built a browser plugin meant to recreate Google’s organic search page stripped of its OneBox, the listings and map pairing Google began inserting in 2009 for searchers that triggers local results. Yelp named the alternative search results “Focus on the User,” after the anti-Google campaign it and other companies like TripAdvisor launched last year to convince EU regulators to move on an antitrust suit.

Communication in the world of apps

Ericsson (PDF):

In this report, we aim to explain how people communicate today in the world of apps, and what the future will look like as technology continues to develop to accommodate our needs. Through messaging and social media, keeping in touch with those around us has never been easier – even with those we see infrequently.
From smartphone user personalities to cultural variations, we examine the differing ways that today’s users relate to communication apps.

10 minute turn

Daniel Hajek:

“They were not yet a year old. They were consistently losing money. They were constantly scrambling to see what they could do to save cost or boost revenues,” says Terry Maxon, the aviation reporter at The Dallas Morning News.
 Desperate to keep up, Southwest’s vice president of ground operations, Bill Franklin, was tasked with finding a solution. The answer he came up with was simple: Unload and load passengers faster than the other airlines, and get the planes right back in the air.

High-Profile Study Turns Up the Antitrust Heat on Google

Brad Stone:

Google is facing a new high-profile adversary in the roiling fight over whether its monolithic search engine violates antitrust law: Columbia Law School professor and noted Internet theorist Tim Wu. The author of the influential book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires co-wrote a paper asserting that Google is engaging in anticompetitive behavior by prominently serving up its own content, like restaurant reviews and doctors office phone numbers, in search results.
 Wu is an unlikely person to join the antitrust chorus against Google. He’s often been an ally of the company over the years. Before an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor of New York state last year, Wu worked as an unpaid Google fellow in 2008 and served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in 2011 and 2012, helping draft Internet traffic regulation that Google favors. Wu coined the term “network neutrality,” and a 2008 Businessweek story credited him with partly inspiring Google’s open mobile strategy in Android.

4 New Moments Every Marketer Should Know

Think Google:

Consumer behavior and expectations have forever changed. With powerful phones in our pockets, we do more than just check the time, text a spouse, or catch up with friends. We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It’s in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped.

How renting became the new homeownership

Emily Badger:

The majority of American households still own their homes, a fact that will remain true as far into the future as demographers and economists can see. But the balance of homeowners and renters has been shifting in the U.S. in ways that have already altered the demographics of renting, the affordability of rental housing and the kind of new housing we build.
 This shift, underway since the housing bust, is flipping conventional images of what it means to rent: Renters are now living, by the millions, in single-family homes that were once owned. Wealthy households far from the stereotype of struggling twenty-somethings are renting, too. So are the parents of those twenty-somethings.

Publishers Prepare to Ramp Up News Distribution on Facebook’s Instant Articles in Coming Days

Lukas Alpert & Jack Marshall:

 By publishing articles directly to Facebook through Instant Articles instead of linking back to their own websites, publishers hope to increase the exposure of their content on the social networking service, especially on mobile devices, and improve load time. Under Facebook’s new program, publishers will get to keep 100% of revenue brought in from ads that they sell and 70% if Facebook sells the ad.
 The Atlantic has already signed up AMC’s upcoming sci-fi TV show “Humans” to advertise alongside its Instant Article offerings, said Mr. Cohn.
 Kinsey Wilson, the New York Times editor for innovation and strategy, said the paper intends to sell all the ads running with its stories itself, rather than having Facebook sell the ads.
 “We believe we can command a rate similar to what we get for an ad on our own site,” Mr. Wilson said.

Google Accused of “Abusive” Conduct in Privacy App Case

Ryan Gallagher:

Disconnect, a U.S. firm that designs privacy-enhancing technology, has filed a complaint with European antitrust regulators after its Android app was banned from the Google Play Store. The app was designed to protect smartphone users from invisible tracking and malware distributed through online advertisements.
 The complaint was submitted earlier this month, but the full allegations were not made public at the time. The Intercept has obtained a copy of the 104-page complaint, which attacks Google over its claimed commitment to privacy and accuses the tech titan of trying to stop people from using the Disconnect app because it poses an “existential threat” to its revenue sources.
 Google’s business, the complaint claims, “consists almost entirely of gathering data about the preferences, locations, and behavior of ordinary people and monetizing that data through the sale of targeted advertisements on the Internet.” Because of this, it alleges, Google is “using the full weight of its market power to deny users control over tracking, particularly mobile tracking.”

Is it better to buy or rent

Mike Bostock, Shan Carter & Archie Tse:

The choice between buying a home and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal. To help you answer this question, our calculator takes the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent. RELATED ARTICLE

Chinese Buyers Replace Canadians as Top Foreign Buyers of U.S. Homes

Laura Kusisto:

Chinese buyers have surpassed Canadian snowbirds as the dominant foreign buyers of homes in the U.S., according to the National Association of Realtors.
 Purchasers from China made up 16% of international buyers who bought primarily single-family homes and condominiums in the 12-month period that ended in March, according to the survey by the National Association of Realtors. That was up from 12% in 2013. Canadians made up 14% of…

San Francisco and New York Weigh Airbnb’s Effect on Rent

Room for Debate:

In July, San Francisco will vote on proposals to regulate Airbnb, the vacation rental website that some say is contributing to the rise in housing cost in high-demand cities, where many long-term residents are unable to afford rent.
 Is regulation necessary or is the threat exaggerated? How much is Airbnb affecting the housing market in cities like San Francisco where rent is high and rising?

Why Millennials Don’t Live Where You’d Expect Them To

Natalie Kitreoff:

Millennials are the most mobile generation in the U.S., and plenty of analysis has been devoted to figuring out their best and worst relocation options. But while they do a lot of moving, the reasons why may be more complicated than a ranked list can capture, according to new data from Livability, a website that tracks public opinion about cities and suburban areas. The survey, conducted by market-research firm Ipsos Public Affairs for Livability, asked more than 2,000 adults which characteristics of a place factored into their job decisions.

Western Firms Caught Off Guard as Chinese Shoppers Flock to Web

Laurie Burkitt & Peter Evans:

After enjoying nearly three decades of steady growth in its China business, Unilever PLC last year watched sales fall off a cliff.

The maker of Dove soap, Lux shampoo and Comfort fabric softener warned in October of a 20% drop in its third-quarter China sales. The next quarter, the company announced another 20% fall.

Unilever blamed a slowing Chinese economy and a pullback by shoppers. But a close look at retailing trends in China suggests Unilever was also feeling the pain of the migration of hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers to online shopping.

Unilever wasn’t the only Western company overestimating brick-and-mortar. Swiss food giant Nestlé SA has been burning instant coffee it couldn’t sell in stores. It recently told The Wall Street Journal it failed to fathom the extent of how quickly and broadly retail was changing in China. Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Germany’s Beiersdorf AG, which makes Nivea skin cream, have also cited problems with overstocking.

Car Dealers Aim to Curb Online Rivals

Christina Rogers & Anne Steele:

New-car dealers are sharpening their Web-sales skills, angling to cut out the middlemen in online transactions—companies such as TrueCar Inc. and—that funnel customers to their stores and have grown into potential rivals.

These websites attract potential customers looking for car information, reviews and pricing guides, and then charge dealers to steer buyers to their stores—a fee that in some cases costs up to $400 a referral. Today, they are sizable businesses in their own right, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. TrueCar went public last year and has a market value of more than $1 billion.

Now, after years of embracing these online firms, top car retailers such as AutoNation Inc., want to cut back on using third-party shopping sites in favor of their own online sales. Others want to curb the sites’ rising influence and revenue—which they see undercutting their own brands. Some have filed lawsuits challenging the businesses.

AutoNation Moves Customers Closer to Buying Cars Online.

Platforms all the way down

John Herrman:

Both moves make sense: They give these companies, who are not shy about reminding the public that they have presided over the creation of vast new industries, more control over what has grown, they feel, on their turf. Such changes might also fundamentally change what an app is, and how it should function: An operating system in which an app’s utility is extracted from its interface and integrated into the main software is an operating system that regards apps in a meaningfully different way than the iOS or Android of yesterday. Just as a publisher’s proposition to an advertiser is undermined by Facebook’s ability to advertise further up the referral chain, an app—even an app like Facebook!—might find business models reliant on platforms within platforms less appealing. (You could argue that in-app interfaces have already been demoted by notifications, which provide direct access not just to apps but to specific parts and actions of apps. A simple messaging app exists substantially within notifications; many in the first wave of Apple Watch apps are, essentially, notification filters.)
 This is the proper context to understand Apple’s music services and News app, which, not unlike Facebook’s Instant articles, will host publications’ content natively. (It will also allow publications to sell their own advertising, or supply ads for a cut of revenue.) Whether or not Apple’s News app will succeed is as much a question about how Apple’s platform will change as it is about the specifics of the first version of the app: Do people want a Flipboard-style panel of nicely formatted news stories with no social context? And if they do, won’t publishers face the same identity obliteration they found on News Feed, where publications’ names and reputations have been relegated to captions between panels of official platform content? Or is finding a foothold on Apple’s platform about making sure you’re at least present when media is proactively sent to users according to the judgment of software? Apple’s past attempts at bigfooting their developers haven’t always worked, but they have also been relatively constrained—a News app that’s just one more app in the grid doesn’t seem to change much on its own. But, again, Apple provides and exerts influence over that entire context.

Manager Tip 5: Pain Reliever

First, we are here:

Recruiting and retention is job number one for successful brokers. Yet, effective recruiting and retention is a struggle for many firms.

Consider two approaches:

“Broker a” has added 21 different marketing, CRM, transaction, document, CMA, brochure, SEO, social, drip, aggregation and website systems over the years. Agents and managers are largely on their own to navigate this information spaghetti. Contacts must be re-entered into many systems. Each system requires a unique login.


  1. If the broker has money, adding systems requires simply writing a check.
  2. A lengthy list of tools can be shared.
  3. Avoids staff, productivity or business process decisions.


  1. Time
  2. Lost staff, manager and agent time due to misplaced logins and duplicate efforts across 21 systems
  3. Lost leverage. Time spent in one area (CMA, documents) does not benefit another (transactions)
  4. Growth. It is very difficult to acquire firms and add offices with information spaghetti
  5. Recruiting/Retention. How can managers understand and sell complexity?
  6. Lacks stickiness
  7. Thin adoption
  8. Impossible to train agents/staff on so many systems

“Broker b” uses a single entry platform, from public and agent apps to websites, showings, CRM, CMA, documents, transactions, newsletters, drip and concierge services.

Information is entered once and used throughout the brokers business, including home warranty, mortgage, title, relocation, lead management, recruiting and retention. Sales training is effective because managers and staff can focus their efforts. Recruiting and retention is possible….


  1. Simple to sell
  2. It works
  3. Real apps for the mobile era
  4. It works
  5. Saves time
  6. Agents use it
  7. Powers growth
  8. Broker value add via CRM
  9. Simple to learn
  10. Sales training
  11. Costs less


  1. Requires leadership
  2. Requires strong staff
  3. Implementation requires thinking about processes and costs/benefits
  4. “Spinach is good for you…”

Any manager can do this, quickly, with agents and recruits.

Tap the short video below.

Finally, speaking of leadership, Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman & Chris Fussell is worth reading.

Contact Jim Zellmer 1 608 468 6013 or for more information.

Two-thirds (67%) of all US email opens occurred on a mobile device in 1Q15, according to a recent report from Movable Ink.

Ayaz Nanji:

Two-thirds (67%) of all US email opens occurred on a mobile device in 1Q15, according to a recent report from Movable Ink.

The report was based on data from 1.2 billion email opens that occurred between January and March 2015 in the United States. The emails were sent by Movable Ink’s customer base, which includes more than 250 enterprise B2C marketers from the retail, travel, financial, media, and telecommunications industries.

Some 50% of the email opens tracked occurred on a smartphone, and 17% occurred on a tablet, the analysis found; the remaining 33% of opens occurred on a desktop computer