Mobile Alters Landscape Where Google Operates

Rolfe Winkler:

Smartphone users spend the vast majority of their time—88%, according to Yahoo’s Flurry Analytics—inside apps rather than Web browsing. That hurts Google because its search engine was designed to follow links between Web pages. Smartphone apps typically don’t have links; they are more like islands of content.

ComScore estimates U.S. smartphone users spend a fifth of their time inside Facebook’s app alone. Other apps help smartphone users bypass Google for lucrative searches, using Amazon to search for products or Priceline to book a hotel room, for example.

As Economy Rebounds, Government Still Plays Role In Mortgage Business

Stacey Vanek Smith:

SMITH: By dropped, he means that it used to be 90 percent, so 72 percent – that’s what passes for progress. Here is what Fannie and Freddie do. If you get a mortgage, you get that loan from a bank. Fannie and Freddie buy up those mortgages from banks and slap a guarantee on them. So if you don’t pay your mortgage, Fannie and Freddie will make up the difference. Fannie and Freddie take a fee for doing this, and then they sell these guaranteed mortgages to investors.

Cecala says one reason the government has been reluctant to hand Fannie and Freddie over to the private sector is that a privately-run Fannie and Freddie might only be interested in guaranteeing certain loans, like loans to really rich people or people with practically perfect credit.

CECALA: We’d effectively be saying, OK, less wealthy people, you’re not going to necessarily be able to get a mortgage.

SMITH: Or if you could get one, it would be at a much higher interest rate. And higher interest rates are a very quick way to make houses all across America worth less. Adam Levitin is a professor of housing law at Georgetown. He thinks housing prices could drop as much as 20 percent if the government let go of Fannie and Freddie.

Google: ” Local sites dropped…..”

Danny Sullivan.

The hidden tricks of powerful persuasion

David Robson:

Olson has spent a lifetime exploring the subtle ways of tricking people’s perception, and it all began with magic. “I started magic tricks when I was five and performing when I was seven,” he says.
 As an undergraduate in psychology, he found the new understanding of the mind often chimed with the skills he had learnt with his hobby. “Lots of what they said about attention and memory were just what magicians had been saying in a different way,” he says.
 One card trick, in particular, captured his imagination as he set about his research. It involved flicking through a deck in front of an audience member, who is asked to pick a card randomly. Unknown to the volunteer, he already worked out which card they would choose, allowing him to reach into his pocket and pluck the exact card they had named – much to the astonishment of the crowd.

Why is it so hard to calculate ROI in Google Analytics?

 Ryan Evans:

“If I stopped doing paid search spend, would customers still find me through my other marketing efforts?”
 “How much would sales decrease if I cut paid search back a bit?”
 “If I did less paid search search and more blogging, what would happen to sales?”
 Those are dangerous questions for Google. Especially when spending boatloads of money on paid search has become such a religion. I’m not saying that everyone would flee Google in droves. Paid search IS often super valuable. But assigning 100% of the value to it when it’s just the last stop on a customer’s journey is a bit more than generous. It’s not exactly in Google’s best interest to make that clear.
 Google Analytics is a wonderful tool and can show you many things. But don’t trust the Leprechaun to show you where the gold is.


30 Seconds, 1 Minute, 2 Hours, 10 Years: Modern Recruiting & Retention

Recruiting and retention opportunities in the mobile era: four recent examples:

30 seconds

“I have 30 seconds to establish credibility with a prospect.

The agent app, with one tap, gives me immediate credibility. I know instantly what’s happening around my sellers home, at an open house or with a buyer. I no longer have to say, I’ll get back to you. One tap.”

1 Minute

“I was on vacation and a buyer called. I tapped once, moved the map and shared the latest information with them. One minute.”

2 Hours

“Buyer tours always have spare time. With the agent app, we can stop in front of any house and, with one tap review photos and market statistics. Touring keeps them engaged.”

10 Years

“This is the first product introduced in my 10 years at this brokerage that is worth learning…. deeply.”

Oh, there’s actually a fifth

“That’s not mobile! I see a laptop.” – a very successful middle age agent, watching me connect my laptop to a projector in order to share my iPad’s screen. Note, this can be done wirelessly with an Airplay or Apple TV device.

Her strong reaction indicates agents’ mobile awareness, that is, real apps vs repurposed web tools.

Contact Jim for a quick look: 608 468 6013 or

The truly personal computer: The smartphone is the defining technology of the age

The Economist:

By 2020, something like 80% of adults will own a smartphone connected to this remarkable global resource. If they are anything like today’s Europeans and Americans, who are leading in these matters, they will use them for about two hours a day; if they are like today’s European and American teenagers they will use them more than that. The idea that the natural place to find a computer is on a desk—let alone, before that, in a basement—will be long forgotten.
 Like the book, the clock and the internal combustion engine before it, the smartphone is changing the way people relate to each other and the world around them. By making the online world more relevant, and more applicable, to every task from getting from A to B to finding a date to watching over a child to checking the thermostat it is adding all sorts of convenience. Beyond convenience, though, a computer that is always with you removes many previous constraints on what can be done when and where, and undermines old certainties about what was what and who was who. Distinctions that were previously clear—the differences between a product and a service, between a car owner and a taxi driver, between a city square and a political movement—blur into each other. The world is becoming more fluid.

Still in the Search


Amit Singhal, who heads Google’s search team, uses this example to help illustrate how the world’s most popular — by far — search engine has transformed itself in the past few years. In interviews I’ve conducted with him over the years, Singhal has analogized making a major change in Google search to switching jet engines mid-air, as Google alters its algorithmic flight plan to refine its rankings, to add new corpora of information (like images, books, or travel), or to begin searching for queries before users finish typing them. In the past few years, though, Google changed not only the engines but much of the cockpit. The inexorable momentum of mobile — 2015 will probably be the year when people conduct more searches on phones and tablets than on the desktop — forced something bigger: a reconsideration of the entire mission in light of that sea change.

How Google Skewed Search Results

Rolfe Winkler & Brody Mullins:

For example, the FTC staff noted that Google presented results from its flight-search tool ahead of other travel sites, even though Google offered fewer flight options. Google’s shopping results were ranked above rival comparison-shopping engines, even though users didn’t click on them at the same rate, the staff found. Many of the ways Google boosted its own results have not been previously disclosed.

services in part because it feared losing searches, and advertising revenue, to rivals such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

One way Google favored its own results was to change its ranking criteria. Google typically ranks sites based on measures like the number of links that point to a site, or how often users click on the site in search results.

But Marissa Mayer, who was then a Google vice president, said Google didn’t use click-through rates to determine the ranking for its own specialized-search sites, because they would rank too low, according to the staff report. Ms. Mayer is now chief executive of Yahoo Inc. A Yahoo spokeswoman didn’t immediately make her available for comment.

Instead, Google would “automatically boost” its own sites for certain specialized searches that otherwise would favor rivals, the FTC found. If a comparison-shopping site was supposed to rank highly, Google Product Search was placed above it. When Yelp was deemed relevant to a user’s search query, Google Local would pop up on top of the results page, the staff wrote.

Danny Sullivan has more here and here.

Google’s “cost per click” has fallen for the 13th consecutive quarter.

Google averages one White House meeting per week.

How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation

American Press Institute:

Much of the concern has come from data that suggest adults age 18-34 — so-called Millennials — do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch television news, or seek out news in great numbers. This generation, instead, spends more time on social networks, often on mobile devices. The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.
 A new comprehensive study that looks closely at how people learn about the world on these different devices and platforms finds that this newest generation of American adults is anything but “newsless,” passive, or civically uninterested.

Apple Watch & Technology Evolution

Jeff Haynie:

By contrast, consider the mobile app. A good app can recognize where you are, what (or who) you’re near, whether you’re moving or standing still, which direction you’re pointed–all without a single input from you. Mobile apps provide an automatic contextual awareness that web applications can only dream about. It’s the choice between a dumb terminal and an anticipatory, participatory portable assistant.

Why Our Brains Love High Ceilings

Fast Company:

One of the first things a realtor will point out to prospective home buyers or apartment tenants is a high ceiling. To many of us, anything above the standard eight-foot ceiling is a big selling point. In recent times, home buyers have tended to pony up for the amenity of nine-foot ceilings; in the abstract, when added heights aren’t adding to mortgages or rents, people prefer their ceilings 10 feet high.
 Part of the appeal of high ceilings is no doubt related to a general preference for space, but the behavioral and brain evidence suggests there’s more to it than that. Some research from a few years back ties high ceilings to a psychological sense of freedom. And new neuroimaging work shows that a tall room triggers our tendencies toward spatial exploration.
 “You can imagine that our enjoyment of rooms with higher ceilings could be due to these two processes working in tandem,” psychologist Oshin Vartanian of the University of Toronto-Scarborough tells Co. Design. “On the one hand, such rooms promote visuospatial exploration, while at the same time they prompt us to think more freely. This could be a rather potent combination for inducing positive feelings.”

How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing


Millennials—the largest generation since the Baby Boomers—are the new darlings being targeted by marketers. Much has been written about the Millennial consumer: the most educated, most tech-savvy, most connected, thrifty, and socially and environmentally conscious.
 These digital natives are the force that’s driving a new era for consumer marketing, one focused on values, transparency, relevancy and engagement.
But what about business-to-business (B2B) marketing? Increasingly, Millennials are assuming positions at work where they influence purchasing decisions. How do their consumer shopping habits impact their attitudes and approach for researching business products and services and engaging with vendors?
To find out, we surveyed 704 individuals who influence or are responsible for B2B purchasing decisions of US$10,000 or more for their company. They come from organizations large and small, across 12 countries and 6 targeted industries. When we compared the responses of Millennial employees (born 1980–1993) with those of Gen X (born 1965–1979) and Baby Boomers (born 1954–1964), we discovered Millennials’ behavior differs somewhat from their older colleagues, and their consumer practices do effect their B2B purchasing expectations (with a few surprising exceptions).
Millennials, even more than Gen X or Baby Boomers, prize a hassle-free, omni-channel client experience personalized to their specific needs. They want data, speed and trusted advisors who are eager to collaborate.


Manager Tech Tips: “mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a CAGR of around 40%”

Ericsson Interim Mobility Report 2015 (PDF):

A shift from web browsing towards more app-based mobile usage indicates changing consumer preferences. Having studied nine key markets around the world, Ericsson ConsumerLab has identified a shift in consumer viewing behavior in those markets: this year for the first time more people will watch streamed on demand video than broadcast TV at least twice per week.

In 2015 and beyond, are your company dollar investments aligned with agents, clients, managers and the app revolution?

Learn more about Virtual Properties Agent App, Public App and CRM cloud services. Our single entry systems have you covered from apps, websites, intranets to closings and beyond.

Jim Zellmer +1 608 468 6013 or

The Four Horsemen: Amazon/Apple/Facebook & Google–Who Wins/Loses

Scott Galloway Video.

Eating out More

Mark Perry.

Apps Are Eating Weight Watchers Business

Annie Massa:

Meanwhile, with consumers paying more attention to how many calories they are burning from exercise or everyday activities, fitness gadgets have surged in popularity, with 51.2 million American adults using applications to track their health, according to Nielsen. That is making it harder for Weight Watchers to justify subscriptions starting at $20 a month, since activity trackers can be paired with free mobile apps that make it easy to analyze caloric input and output.
 ‘Get Modern’
 “Weight Watchers really has to change what they’re offering — they have to get modern,” said Meredith Adler, an analyst at Barclays. “People are just more digital now than they ever were.”
 New York-based Weight Watchers has embraced activity trackers. Subscribers can use FitBit, Jawbone and the company’s own ActiveLink gadget to track diets and exercise. On the call, Chambers acknowledged that the company still had work to do to remake its image and offerings.

Get ready for the most sweeping business change since the Industrial Revolution.

Ram Charan:

The single greatest instrument of change in today’s business world, and the one that is creating major uncertainties for an ever-growing universe of companies, is the advancement of mathematical algorithms and their related sophisticated software. Never before has so much artificial mental power been available to so many—power to deconstruct and predict patterns and changes in everything from consumer behavior to the maintenance requirements and operating lifetimes of industrial machinery. In combination with other technological factors—including broadband mobility, sensors, and vastly increased data-crunching capacity—algorithms are dramatically changing both the structure of the global economy and the nature of business.
 Though still in its infancy, the use of algorithms has already become an engine of creative destruction in the business world, fracturing time-tested business models and implementing dazzling new ones. The effects are most visible so far in retailing, creating new and highly interactive relationships between businesses and their customers, and making it possible for giant corporations to deal with customers as individuals. At Macy’s, for instance, algorithmic technology is helping fuse the online and the in-store experience, enabling a shopper to compare clothes online, try something on at the store, order it online, and return it in person. Algorithms help determine whether to pull inventory from a fulfillment center or a nearby store, while location-based technologies let companies target offers to specific consumers while they are shopping in stores.

Commentary on The Mortgage Market

Anthony Sanders:

“So the question becomes, ‘Who’s going to buy these mortgages?’ And if we’re talking about 30-year fixed rate mortgages, which are yielding less than 4 percent, who’s going to be crazy enough to buy [them] or put [them] on their balance sheet?” Bove asked.
 Who is crazy enough to buy 30 year fixed-rate mortgages and/or put them on their balance sheets? The Federal government and their proxies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, of course!
 But first of all, Dick, 2018 is a long way off and I wouldn’t announce the obituary for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac quite yet.
 Second, Michael Lea and I have been saying for a long time now that banks do not want to put 30 year mortgages on their books. Why? 30 year fixed-rate mortgages pose a number of risks to the lender/investor (interest rate risk, prepayment risk, default risk, underwriting risk, etc). Banks would prefer to hold short-term adjustable rate (aka, variable-rate) mortgages that have shorter duration (less risk exposure). Here is our Mercatus paper entitled “Do We Need The 30 Year Fixed-rate Mortgage?” In short, the US is the only country with an obsession with the 30 year fixed-rate mortgage. France, hardly the model of a healthy economy or banking system, is second with 67 percent of long-term fixed-rate mortgages.

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Agrihood

John Gittelsohn:

American builders have a long history of bulldozing farms to make way for housing developments. Now developers are starting farms to sell homes. Harvest, a $1 billion “urban agrarian” community being built by H. Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Development in Texas, hired a farmer to cultivate vegetables before construction began on a planned 3,200 houses. Willowsford, a community of 2,130 homes in Virginia’s Loudoun County, set aside 2,000 acres of green space, including 300 acres for raising fruit, vegetables, chickens, and goats. Developer DMB integrated produce fields and edible gardens into projects in Arizona, California, and Hawaii.

Smart Search:

Market [Trends] & Neighborhoods [Trends]

Client A is interested in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family home from $175,000 to 225,000 (tap refine, upper right).

I begin with a fast survey of the entire market using the Agent App.

I then tap trends & charts (upper left) and walk my client through all buyer and seller activity.

This accomplishes several things:

  1. Credibility: Instant market smarts with a tap or two.
  2. Flow: I can save this search for myself and my contacts. The search automatically appears in my contact’s CRM connections.
  3. SOI: I share trends & charts via text, email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and other destinations.
  4. Brand: On iPhone and iPad, I am always on top of the market. My competitors are still using 50 clicks.

Dive into Neighborhoods:

You are no longer limited to stale MLS statistics based on zip code, county, city or MLS area.

All of this in front of clients, in seconds.

Your work is immediately available in the CRM

and, of course auto-filled to your listing and offer documents.


720p iPhone version iPad 480p 720p

Interested in a quick look? Dial 1 608 468 6013 or email

Let’s compare technology usage data :)

(c) 2015 Virtual Properties, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Brand success in an era of Digital Darwinism

Jacques Bughin:

The challenges for brand-marketing executives will probably increase as consumers opt for more complete digital interactions. We found that the likelihood of brand conversion is lower for fully digital consumers than for experimenters. Specifically, when experimenters become aware of a brand, their conversion rate reaches about 40 percent. The conversion rate for fully digital consumers, by contrast, is only 25 percent.
 More actively digital consumers are prone to abandon a brand midstream for a number of reasons. They are more likely to have joined Facebook, Twitter, or product-evaluation platforms for conversations about the qualities of products or services. The greater number of touchpoints before purchase increases the odds a consumer will encounter a deal breaker along the digital highway. What’s more, companies have less control over more digitally seasoned consumers, who initiate their prepurchase interactions independently. And since the level and influence of advertising in the social-media space have yet to reach the levels common in offline channels, brand messages are less likely to influence decisions.
 Our research indicated, however, that some companies have managed to navigate this competitive turbulence successfully. To understand the differentiating factors for that success, we rated brands across four digital skills: the ability to create brand awareness among an unusually high share of digitally savvy consumers, to serve customers digitally during the purchase processes, to generate an online customer experience deemed at least as good as the offline one, and to track the digital comments of customers about their experience and to use those comments to improve it. We added the scores across these dimensions, compiling a digitization index that represents the weight of satisfactory touchpoints leading to a purchase across decision journeys.3

Real Estate Agents Are Desperate to Understand Millennial Homebuyers

Patrick Clark:

Now that millennials seem poised to flex their muscles and pour some money back into the housing market, real estate agents sound as if they’re afraid of being rejected.
 Last month, a 30-year-old marketing executive named Kyle Reyes took to ActiveRain, an online community for real estate professionals, to complain that Americans in his age group had lost the art of strong eye contact and a proper handshake. “It’s an entire generation that doesn’t know how to communicate,” Reyes wrote.
 Mumbling millennials have real estate agents worried—and for good reason. In a profession where success depends on gaining strangers’ trust and winning word-of-mouth referrals, older agents are scared they won’t be able to relate. “There’s a huge disconnect,” said Reyes, president of Manchester, Conn.-based Silent Partner Marketing, a company that has advised real estate brokerages on appealing to millennials. “I’m seeing a slow generational shift towards younger agents.”

Replacing Middle Management with APIs

Peter Reinhardt:

And I suspect these software layers will only get thicker. Entrepreneurial software developers will find ways to tie these APIs together, delivering products that combine several “human” APIs. Someone could use Mechanical Turk’s API to automate sales prospect research, plug that data into 99designs Tasks’ API to prepare customized infographics for the prospect sent via email. Or someone could use Redfin’s API to automatically purchase houses, and send a Zirtual assistant instructions via email on how to project-manage a renovation, flipping the house completely programmatically. These “real-world APIs” allow complex programs (or an AI in the spooky storyline here), to affect and control things in the real-world. It does seem apropos that we invest in AI safety now.

We see quite a bit of this in our CRM automation services.

The price of free part 2005: YouTube makes a move against brand-sponsored videos

Eric Blattberg:

YouTube is putting down the clamps on video creators who work directly with brands, nudging them instead to rely on Google’s sales team for deals.
 YouTube has quietly amended its ad policies to block “graphical title cards” from sponsors aiming to promote their brands and products on YouTube channels, according to a revised FAQ document in YouTube’s help and support section. Video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding are no longer allowed — unless the sponsor pays Google to advertise on that channel.
 A YouTube representative called this revision a clarification of its existing policy, one that occurred late last year, intended to prevent advertiser conflicts and ensure viewers don’t feel bombarded by ads. Paul Kontonis, executive director of the Global Online Video Association, however framed it as an explicit change that prevents YouTube stars and multichannel networks from working prominent sponsor logos and images into their videos without handing Google a cut of the revenue.

Dare Greatly

Peter De Lorenzo:

Is it something I personally like? No, but frankly, I’m not the target. It’s the new-generation “X” and “Y” buyers who matter. Was this a purposeful attempt to eradicate Cadillac’s glorious past? No, it was a stark admission that new stories had to be written for new generations of buyers who not only couldn’t care less about the history of the brand, but who are impatient to find the luxury brand that speaks to them most. In other words, whatever previous notions of Cadillac that were hovering out there in the mist simply no longer applied.
 What has transpired in the last six months in regards to Cadillac in terms of marketing strategy, product direction and everything else associated with this brand in transition has been monumental and is geared to what Cadillac will be in the future – where it needed and wanted to go, and what it will look and feel like on the journey there.
 This new Cadillac is armed with a driven leader bolstered by conviction and experience, one who has a completely different outlook for the brand. He has a like-minded and aggressive CMO at his side, a new advertising agency and a whole new way of thinking about the brand unfolding in staccato bursts of thought and creativity.
 And the result of this swirling maelstrom of new thinking?

Is Google making the web stupid?

Seth Godin:

The gaming of the SEO system combined with the power of first page results (virtually all search clicks come to those on the first page of results) combined with Google’s shift to controlling as much as possible of the unpaid clickstream means that this paradigm is no longer what it was.

That means that a thoughtful, well-written online magazine has a harder time being discovered by someone who might be searching for it, which makes it harder to scale.

If you’re a content provider, the shift to mobile, and to social and the shift in Google’s priorities mean that it’s worth a very hard look at how you’ll monetize and the value of permission (i.e. the subscribers to this blog are its backbone). And if you’re Google, it’s worth comparing the short-term upside of strangling the best (thoughtful, personal, informed) content to the long-term benefit of creating a healthy ecosystem.

Here’s the key question: Are the people who are making great content online doing it despite the search regime, or enabled by it?

For the first ten years of the web, the answer was obvious. I’m not sure it is any longer.

And if you’re still reading this long post, if you’re one of the billions of people who rely on the free content that’s shared widely, it’s worth thinking hard about whether the center of that content universe is pushing the library you rely on to get dumb, fast.

More from Marco.

Get ready for companies that run themselves

David Morris:

Imagine, for instance, a bike-rental system administered by a DAC hosted across hundreds or thousands of different computers in its home city. The DAC would handle the day-to-day management of bikes and payments, following parameters laid down by a group of founders. Those hosting the management programme would be paid in the system’s own cryptocurrency – let’s call it BikeCoin. That currency could be used to rent bikes – in fact, it would be required to, and would derive its value on exchanges such as BitShares from the demand for local bike rentals.
 Guided by its management protocols, our bike DAC would use its revenue to pay for repairs and other upkeep. It could use online information to find the right people for various maintenance tasks, and to evaluate their performance. A sufficiently advanced system could choose locations for new stations based on analysis of traffic information, and then make the arrangements to have them built.
 One of the most intriguing parts of such a system is that it allows the crowdfunding of large-scale projects without the centralisation and fees of either stock exchanges or platforms such as Kickstarter. The DAC platforms themselves are models – in the year since Bitcoin Miami, Ethereum has raised about $14 million, and BitShares around $6 million, solely through the direct sale of the digital currency that will allow people to run programs or make exchanges on their networks.

Install the best new iPhone and iPad apps from Pinterest


Over the years, we’ve added extra info to Pins to make them even more useful. Recipe Pins list ingredients and cook time, product Pins show you price and availability, and article Pins give you a headline and story description.
 Now if you’re on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll see another kind of Pin: app Pins. Let’s say you’re Pinning workout inspiration to your Marathon Training board. If you see a fitness app that helps you reach your goals, you can download it right from Pinterest.
 When you come across an app Pin, tap Install to download the app right to your iPhone or iPad without ever leaving Pinterest (you’ll only see app Pins when you’re using the Pinterest app on your iPhone or iPad).

Live TV viewing in the US was down by 12.7% y/y across the networks of major media companies in January

Lara O’Reilly:

A note released earlier this week from Nomura Research based on recent numbers from Nielsen found total live TV viewing in the US was down by 12.7% year over year across the networks of major media companies in January. The reason? Companies like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu tempting away viewers from watching content in the traditional way.
 That switch in behavior is resulting in a direct impact on the TV advertising market. Spend on TV advertising in the US dropped 2% year on year in the final quarter of 2014, Standard Media Index (which claims to pull 80% of US ad agency spend from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as some independent agencies) estimates.

Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you

Harry Brignall:

When Apple released iOS 6, one of the few new features not enthusiastically promoted by the company was Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) ad tracking. It assigned each device a unique identifier used to track browsing activity, information advertisers used to target ads. Even though IDFA is anonymous, it’s still unsettling to people who worry about privacy.
 Fortunately, Apple included a way to disable the feature. You won’t find it in the privacy settings, however. Instead, you have to go through a series of obscure options in the general settings menu. Now, “General” is a crappy name for a menu item. It’s mainly a bucket of miscellaneous stuff that they didn’t know what to do with. In the “General” menu, select “About.” Down at the bottom of this menu, next to the terms of service and license items, there’s a menu item listed as “Advertising.”
 If you haven’t been here before, the only option in the advertising menu, “Limit Ad Tracking” is probably selected “Off.”
 But let’s take a closer look at the way this is worded. It doesn’t say “Ad Tracking – Off” it says “Limit Ad Tracking – Off”. So it’s a double negative. It’s not being limited, so when this switch is off, ad tracking is actually on.

Aiming to Ease App Discovery, Apple Pairs With Pinterest

Mike Isaac:

There are more than 1.4 million mobile applications in Apple’s App Store. This is a good thing for Apple’s customers, because the choices are practically endless. This is also a bad thing for Apple’s customers, because the choices are practically endless.
 Unless you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it can be tough to stumble upon novel, surprising items among Apple’s sprawling garden of apps.
 Pinterest, the popular social bookmarking start-up, thinks it has a fix for this. The company is unveiling a new product on Thursday that could make it easier for people to discover new smartphone apps without even having to go into Apple’s App Store.

Mobile on the Move: How the News Travels and Where It’s Headed

Mariana Marcaletti:

That’s why many players, like David Cohn, creator of the ground-breaking news app, believe the future of mobile depends essentially on how well news can be integrated into people’s routines. “[We need to focus on]simplicity and an emphasis on products that people use in their daily lives,” he said.
 But what people use in their daily lives is changing by the day.
 “Now, we are doing great on smartphones and tablets, but we also built a product for Google Glass,” WatchUp’s Adriano Farano said. “Tomorrow, you might find us on TV. Mobile is, to me, is probably the most comfortable portable device. So much so that sometimes I feel like it’s an extension of myself … a sort of cyborg. These devices can augment our perception of the reality.”
 So can augmented reality, computer-generated elements that are added to real world images, said The Wall Street Journal’s Ho. The challenge in delivering mobile news is to overcome the boundaries of the physical world, allowing people to interact in ways that were unimaginable before.

Get Appy 1: Agent Promotion

The landscape:

1. 75% of Americans have smartphones. 90% in 2 years

2. 1.5billion iPhone, iPad, Google Android and open Android devices were sold in 2014. A number greater than all PC’s in use today.

3. Obvious always wins

Most real estate software was created for the now declining PC era. You have an outsized advantage with our public and agent apps. They are faster, simpler and far easier to use than the competition. Most importantly, you can easily brand yourself on the apps.

Stay in your clients’ flow with the best apps.

Video 1: Agents. Promote yourself in the public apps.

Tap to view the video.

A 720P version, ideal for office meetings, is available here. More: iPad (720p) and Samsung (720p).

Video 2: Simple & Fast Search tips. The public and agent apps allow you and your clients to fly through markets and properties. No other app comes close.

Tap to view the video.

A 720P version, ideal for office meetings, is available here.

Share sales training tips with your managers.

Call or email if you’d like a more detailed presentation. or +1 608 468 6013.

The android schism

Tim Bajarin:

I find it helpful to view certain tech industry moments as phases. These phases have some foundation in technology and the market’s maturity cycles. The PC industry went through a number of phases leading to where we are today. Mobile similarly has gone through its early phases and is now entering maturity both in technology and market/end customer phases. However, where the PC phase ended and is, for the most part, not changing much, mobile is entering uncharted waters.
 It is interesting to observe that the PC industry took computing only so far. Everything from size of desktops and notebooks (with their genuine lack of mobility), the complexity of the user interface, the need to learn to type efficiently and master the keyboard and mouse (to be PC literate), and high price points, has reached a total installed base of about 1.5 billion. It is important to note not all of the 1.5 billion PCs are owned by individuals. The individual owners of PCs in use is much lower by likely a few hundred million. The consumer portion of this number is in the 800m range. So, if we look beyond the business market, the PC took computing to just short of a billion people. The PC has peaked, reached maturity, and settled as a specialty computing product. To use a possibly worn out analogy, the PC is a truck.
 Turning to mobile, we see a different computing picture emerge. By achieving a smaller form factor (one truly able to be easily carried everywhere), dramatically less complicated user interface, and dramatically lower price points, the smartphone is bring computing to the masses in a way no computer before could have hoped to achieve. In doing so, the unique/individual owners of smartphones in use is nearing double that of the PC and will rise much higher. However, even within that context, a very important observation needs to be made.
 For the most part, this first phase of mobile grew from a somewhat technology literate/savvy customer. The vast majority of smartphones over the past decade have been sold to people who owned or were familiar/literate with a PC. Smartphones, for the most part, have reached saturation in developed markets like the West, Eastern Europe, and more developed regions in emerging markets like tier 1,2, and 3 (the more developed) cities in China and India. In fact, as I look at the regions of emerging markets where smartphones have the higher installed bases, it maps very closely to specific areas of those markets where PC penetration is high. The next phase of mobile is about bringing computing beyond those who are tech savvy or have PC literacy. But first, some points on the current smartphone market.


Why being tech savvy is no longer optional for employees

Juliet de Baubigny:

Learn to code. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software developers alone is expected to grow 22% between 2012 and 2022. And this doesn’t even include the extraordinary demand for design and product management skills that companies are searching for at career fairs and technical bootcamps.
 Regardless of which industry millennials choose to pursue, technology is becoming an integral part of everything they use today. Whether they are in agriculture, where drones and big data are revolutionizing the way we grow our food, or in healthcare, where hardware and mobile applications are fundamentally transforming clinical care — being tech savvy has become a requirement. No, this doesn’t mean understanding the difference between a Mac and a PC or being able to use Microsoft office – that’s table stakes. It means being able to program, code, design and truly understand how technologies scale. For example, at KPCB we launched the Fellows internship program to expose college students not just to engineering, but also to design and product management.

NowThis scraps its website, goes all-in on social

Jeremy Barr:

Senior V.P. of strategy and partnerships Athan Stephanopoulos said that the decision to essentially scrap the company’s website was a reaction to consumer demand, and an acknowledgement of the way people use technology in 2015. Other media companies will follow suit, he said, “unless we live in a world where people are not awake.”
 “We’re not trying to lead the industry,” he said. “We are leading the industry and kind of redefining what a media company today looks like.”
 Interestingly, NowThis’ decision came one day after The Awl co-editor John Herrman predicted an inevitable industry shift away from websites, and toward platform-native content.

How I won the housing market (without really trying)

Linda Grant:

In the summer of 1994 I was looking for a flat to buy in Crouch End, north London. It was then a neighbourhood not so much up-and-coming as one that hid itself on the map, a bus-ride from Finsbury Park, the nearest tube station, and popular with people who didn’t have to endure the daily commuting life. Corner shop windows bristled with those little tear-off paper tags with the phone numbers of local psychotherapists and aromatherapy masseurs. The bookshop window displayed the novels of local authors – my own first novel would soon join them. I was single, self-employed, didn’t have children, worked from home writing for the broadsheets and had one published book behind me and another on the way. I didn’t care about gardens, access to schools, or transport links, I just wanted a good size second bedroom to write in. Working at home all day, I had a tendency to feel claustrophobic so I needed good light. I like looking out of the window. Before the internet, I could do it for hours.
 I went round all the estate agents gathering details until one of them handed me a single page and said, “You want this.” It was a three-bedroom maisonette in an end-of-terrace house whose next-door neighbours were a Jamaican family who owned a shoe repair shop. The conversion of the house had been done in the 1970s by earlier owners (music teachers) who had made a granny flat on the ground floor and annexed the garden. The upper flat, the larger part of the building, had a roof terrace over the ground-floor kitchen extension. Each room was separated from the next by a flight of stairs. As a floor plan it was quite weird. And it was very run-down. Artex swirled across the ceilings as if it were a Cypriot taverna, embossed wallpaper peeled away from the dried-up paste hiding dodgy plaster, the nubs of the old gas mantels poked through the walls and the chimney breast still jutted out into the kitchen.

“There are more sales staff than customers around here. Everyone buys online n


shuttered shops, victims of the rise of Internet-based businesses like Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and billionaire Richard Qiangdong Liu’s, which started out in Zhongguancun almost two decades ago.
 The online revolution promises to boost productivity and could create 46 million new jobs in China by 2025, many of them higher-skilled, according to a report by New York-based McKinsey & Co. in July. The losers will be as many as 31 million traditional roles, the equivalent of the entire employed population in Britain.
 While such creative destruction is a global phenomenon, its speed and scale in China is unparalleled, said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center, a private research agency based in Hangzhou, the hometown of Alibaba.

Manager Tip 3: Discuss the Tech Landscape “Impossible to maintain the integrity of a pc over time”

A few links for your upcoming meetings:

1. Steven Sinofsky, Former Head of Windows 8: “Impossible to maintain the integrity of a pc over time”….

Note the Sony Hack’s role in driving usage away from the PC world.

“From the enterprise IT perspective, the transition from managing PCs to managing mobile devices (phones and tablets) is both a blessing and a curse. The faster that IT can get out of managing PCs, the better. The core challenge is that in the modern threat environment, it has become essentially impossible to maintain the integrity of a PC over time. Technical challenges, or even impossibility, mean that 2015 could literally see pressure to reduce PCs in use.

If you doubt this, consider the Sony breach and the potential impact it will have on the view of traditionally architected computing. The rise of tablets for productivity is, therefore, a blessing. Over time, any device in widespread use is eventually a target. Therefore, mobile presents the same risk as the bad actors find new techniques to exploit mobile. The curse, and therefore the opportunity, is that our industry has not yet created the right model for mobile device management. We have MDM, sandboxing and user profiles. All of these are so far not entirely well-received by users, and most IT feels they are not yet there, but for the wrong reasons. IT should not feel the need to reintroduce the PC approach to device security (stateful, log-on scripts, arbitrary code inserted all over the device, etc.).

This leads to a lot of opportunity in a critical area for 2015. First, a golden rule is required: Do not impact the performance (battery life, connectivity) or usability of the device. It isn’t more secure for the company to issue two phones — one the person wants to use, and the other they have to use. Like any such solution, people will simply work around the limitation or postpone work as long as possible. This dynamic is what causes people to travel with iPads and leave the laptop at home (along with weight, chargers, two-factor readers and more).

The best bet is to avoid using or emphasizing management solutions that work better on Android, simply because Android allows more hooks and invasive software in the OS. That’s quite typical in the broad MDM/security space right now and is quite counterintuitive. The existence of this level of flexibility enabling more control is itself a potential for security challenges, and the invasive approach to management will almost certainly impact performance, compatibility and usability just as such solutions have on PCs. As tempting as it is, it is neither viable nor more secure long term. Many are frustrated by the lack of iOS “management,” yet at the same time one would be hard-pressed to argue that the full Android stack is more secure. There will be an explosion in enterprise-managed mobile devices this year, especially as tablets are deployed to replace PCs in scenarios, and with that, a big opportunity for startups to get mobile management right.”

2. Facebook’s 4Q 2014 Results

Facebook has not updated their web stuff for years. Apps dominate (they tried mobile websites and killed that years ago).

3. Prioritize spending, training, recruiting and retention around real apps for buyers, sellers, agents and managers. This is much as Facebook and many others have done. Linkedin just released a new connections app….

No, I don’t mind keeping my buyers and sellers waiting“.

4. Google’s cost per click has fallen for the 13th consecutive quarter.

“Google’s slumping stock price has primarily been driven by two factors: steadily rising expenses and a general shift by people toward using smartphones instead of desktop and laptop computers to do searches and peruse digital content.”

5. Dessert:

Ubering your brokerage’s value equation.

A book that made me think of the relationship between brokers and agents. Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elbe’s.

6. Additional Reading:

a. Recruiting & Retention in the New Technology Landscape. [Link]

b. Presenting at sales meetings or to buyers & sellers. [Link]

Learn more about our native agent (usage data) and public apps and cloud CRM services. One tap success. or +1 608 468 6013

Apple Ranks As China’s Most Desirable Luxury Brand

Lorraine Luk:

“Apple’s positioning in Chinese consumers’ minds is getting stronger. Apple Watch should definitely benefit from this position,” said Neil Shah, analyst at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint research.
 While there is no doubt that Apple has done an excellent job of brand building in China, the technology company still has lots of room to grow in Central and Western China where the wealthy respondents told Hurun Research that they don’t have much passion for Apple’s products.
 Apple currently operates 15 retail stores in China and more than half of them are located in Beijing, Shanghai and other coastal areas.

The Safe Cities Index

The Economist:

The Safe Cities Index 2015 is an Economist Intelligence Unit report, sponsored by NEC. The report is based on an index composed of more than 40 quantitative and qualitative indicators. These indicators are split across four thematic categories: digital security; health security; infrastructure safety; and personal safety. Every city in the Index is scored across these four categories.
Each category, represented throughout the report by the icons shown in the key, comprises between three and eight sub-indicators. These indicators are divided between inputs, such as policy measures and levels of spending, and outputs, such as the frequency of vehicular accidents. A full explanation of the methodology is contained in Appendix 4.

“55 percent of Chinese consumers said they expected their phone to be the main way they made purchases in the future, versus 29 percent globally”

Christina Larson:

With these new mobile payment technologies, China has leapfrogged both checkbooks and desktop banking. Jane Yang, for example, went straight from paying rent in cash to paying via Alipay. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 79 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said they were happy to receive coupons via their mobile devices, versus just 53 percent globally. And 55 percent of Chinese consumers said they expected their phone to be the main way they made purchases in the future, versus 29 percent globally.

This is a remarkable turnaround for a country that for years seemed to be stuck in a far earlier, low-tech era of consumer financial services. “The banks did nothing to make customer service easy,” says Cavender, who notes that for many years paying a credit card bill required standing in line at a bank. It could not be done through the mail or online. Only those who had significant funds to invest and lived near large bank branches had easy access to wealth management options.

Has Technology Killed the Jewelry Industry?

Beejoli Shah:

I used to dream of taking over my dad’s jewelry business. I would spend summer vacations in his Los Angeles office taking orders, weighing sparkly loose diamonds no larger than specks of dust, oohing and aahing over cases of bejeweled rings the size of my nose as he prepared for sales trips, and often being reminded that if I wanted to be paid that week, for the last time, food was not allowed to be eaten on the diamond desk. This was back in the ’90s, and while some part of these fond memories can be chalked up to youthful revisionist history, it does seem—even now—like the phone never stopped ringing. There was always one more order to fill, always one more ring to be picked up from the setter to polish and send off to a nervous groom-to-be.
 A large part of the charm in ascending to the head of the family business was the glamour. Sure, some people’s parents might have corner offices in high-rise buildings, but spreadsheets never set anyone’s world on fire. But diamonds … everyone loves diamonds. Shah Jewel Inc. wasn’t just in the business of making sales; it was in the business of making memories, one fancy piece of jewelry at a time.


Niche Marketing Notes

Ben Thompson:

Think about a company like Facebook: true, there may be some Facebook-aholics who live in the service and would love if Facebook would just go crazy on the features, but serving those customers would endanger the right side of the curve – the people who are more take-it-or-leave-it. Ultimately, because Facebook monetizes through advertising, more eyeballs are more important than more intensive ones, so their product decisions are made with an eye towards appealing to as many people as possible. Of course Facebook doesn’t stop here – you can think of targeting as a way for them to make more money from some consumers than from others. Still, the goal is more users, not fewer.
 A site like mine, on the other hand, or any number of niche-focused sites and services, is much more concerned with people on the left-side of the curve. We don’t want pennies from millions, but tens or hundreds of dollars from thousands. This, though, means that our motivations when it comes to our product are far different: if we appeal to everyone, we are necessarily loved by no one.


Verizon’s Mobile ‘Supercookies’ Seen as Threat to Privacy

Natalie Singer & Brian Chen:

others use its header,” Mr. Mayer said. “There’s no doubt that this particular approach does introduce new privacy problems.”
 Websites, digital advertising networks and online analytics services have for years placed bits of code in people’s browsers to follow their online activities and show them advertising tailored to their interests. Verizon uses its customer tags to put subscribers into advertising categories, among other things.
 In a recent interview, Praveen Atreya, a Verizon technology director who helped develop the technology behind the mobile marketing program, said the company’s unique header was not intended for use by other companies to remember its subscribers or recover information about them.
 Indeed, after a report on the practice by ProPublica, Turn announced it would suspend its use of Verizon’s ID codes to regenerate tracking cookies and reconsider its use of the technique.
 “We feel this practice is legal,” Max Ochoa, Turn’s chief privacy officer, said in a phone interview. “But given people’s concerns, as soon as we get the new codes rolled out, we will suspend this practice.”


Why most market resea”Consumers didn’t really know what they wanted until they could get it.”

James Surowiecki:

As Darren Tristano, an analyst at Technomic, put it, “Consumers didn’t really know what they wanted until they could get it.” The archetype of this model is Starbucks. In 1990, the idea of spending two dollars for a cup of coffee seemed absurd to most Americans. But Starbucks changed people’s idea of what coffee tasted like and how much enjoyment could be got from it. The number of gourmet-coffee drinkers nearly quintupled between 1993 and 1999, and many of them have now abandoned Starbucks for even fancier options.

Related: the “experience revolution”.

Generation Y Prefers Suburban Home Over City Condo

Kris Hudson:

One of the hottest debates among housing economists these days isn’t the trajectory of home sales, but whether millennials, those born in the 1980s and 1990s, want to remain urbanites or eventually relocate to the suburbs.
 Some demographers and economists argue that the preference of millennials, also called Generation Y, for city living will remain long lasting. And surveys of these young urban residents have tended to show that they don’t mind small living quarters as long as they have access to mass transit and are close to entertainment, dining and their workplaces.
 But a survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, suggested otherwise. The survey, based on responses from 1,506 people born since 1977, found that most want to live in single-family homes outside of the urban center, even if they now reside in the city.


Millennials Set to Outnumber Baby Boomers

Douglas Quenqua:

75 is the approximate number, in millions, of millennials that the United States will have this year. The total of millennials — those born from 1981 to 1997 — will reach 75.3 million, overtaking baby boomers (1946 to 1964) as the United States’ largest living generation.
 How does a generation that has stopped enrolling members manage to keep growing? An influx of immigrants, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. And, of course, members of the boomer generation, currently at 74.9 million, are beginning to die in greater numbers.
 But deciding who belongs to which generation is neither an exact science nor a settled debate. While demographers long ago agreed on the dates defining the baby boom, many young people now considered millennials could one day be reclassified into the following generation (whatever we decide to call it).

Manager Tip 2 10X: Recruiting and Retention in the New Tech Landscape

  1. What does the emerging tech landscape mean for agents?
  2. Are agents, managers and brokers investing their time and money in the past or the future?
  3. Where can managers and brokers add value to agents – effectively?
  4. Does everyone need a CRM? If so, what is a CRM? What makes it effective?

i. The tech landscape:

a. Digital products are marketing. Digital experiences are marketing.
“by 2017 chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than their CIOs”The Economist.

b. Google’s Core Search Business is tied to the new declining PC-era – John Naughton. Consider the effectiveness and utility of SEO and keyword advertising spending. “SEO is a PC first strategy in a mobile first world” – Ben Thompson.

c. A Teenager’s View on Social Media – Andrew Watt.

d. Resetting the Score: A Primer on Technology Change by Benedict Evans:

The iPhone was the first time that personal computing got reset to zero since, well, ever, arguably. The result for Microsoft, which dominated the PC era but which unlike the Royal Navy missed the big shift, was a total change in its market position.

Yet, nearly all real estate technology is built for the now declining PC era.

e. The sea changes Evans mentions drive our mobile first public and Agent App strategy. New platforms for the new world. This is a very different strategy than other vendors, who are attempting to repurpose their old software, a failed strategy across tech changes.

f. Google won’t fix bug hitting 60 percent of Android phones – Peter Bright and Thomas Fox-Brewster:

Google’s position is complicated, because it has produced a platform that it has no power to update. There’s no Windows Update for Android phones, and Google has no ability to push out updates to the operating system; it has to depend on a range of OEMs and network operators to adopt its source code changes and distribute them to users. Both Apple and Microsoft, in contrast, have a direct channel to update their mobile operating systems.

g. Tablet users will top 1 billion before growth slows – Peter Baras. An executive at a new client recently told his agents that laptops are dinosaurs. He’s right. Smartphones and tablets are the focus of innovation and new software development.

h. The Most Innovative Companies Have Long Term Leadership – Maxwell Wessel. This is obvious in real estate.

i. 75% of Americans have Smartphones – Asymco. Apple dominated Christmas, 2014 – Jarah Euston.

j. We are living in an Uber and airbnb experience world.

ii. Investing for the future?

The Economist article (a, above) on digital experiences and marketing is worth considering when evaluating brokerage company dollar spending.

A simple company dollar pie chart tells the story.

iii. Where can managers and brokers add value to agents – effectively?

a. Some agents – not all – sense that we are in a mobile first world. Managers can help them understand the tools available and the buyer / seller landscape.

For example, the vast majority of Facebook’s activity is mobile. The utility of a listing web link is much lower than a real app share to Facebook or Twitter.

b. Devices. An agent walked up to me at a recent client sales meeting with a one day old LG “phablet” (large smartphone). The device would not properly run apps from the Google Play store. I suggested that she immediately return it for one that works or an iPhone. Another agent’s Samsung Galaxy S4’s browser displayed jumpy web pages.

It is very important to understand that a Google Android device on one carrier is not the same on another. Further, non Google Android is the fastest growing variant. We’ve also seen various Android devices that do not support javascript, a basic web function.

Agents and managers should completely understand what they are buying and be cautious about being sold a bill of goods by a cell phone salesperson.

c. Connectivity. Uber offers a new iPhone and data services to prospective drivers. This type of recruiting and retention offer will likely be attractive to agents. Brokerages can cut much better deals collectively, than agents might individually. I recognize the potential accounting issues, but this is the landscape that we operate in. Great cellular connectivity is more important than office wifi. I’ve seen a number of agents use personal cell services in the office for reliability purposes.

d. Coaching. A management consultant friend recently mentioned that former GE CEO Jack Welch assigned a technology assistant to each executive as part of his business transformation process. Indeed, if one does not understand the new world (part i above), it is difficult to re-imagine business processes and create new opportunities.

The recruiting and retention opportunities today are 10x those in the mid 1990s.

iv. CRM. Need it? What makes it effective?

a. Should agents, managers and brokers manage and leverage their contacts? Certainly.

b. Can brokerages add great value to agents’ contacts? Absolutely. Think automated searches with personal branding, market trends & statistics, birthday and anniversary greetings, enewsletters, seasonal reminders, and interactive CMA and sports schedules among others.

Automated, of course via our Main Street cloud CRM services.

c. Simple. Agents are most likely to maintain their contacts on their smartphones and iPads. Unfortunately, nearly all real estate CRM systems were created for the PC era, which means that it is difficult for agents to maintain their contacts, particularly when they are using social networking apps such as linked in, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others.

Remember, App time now exceeds all www time.

Virtual Properties’ new agent app automatically syncs cloud CRM contacts with the local address book and supports bulk import with duplicate check (iPhone and iPad). This makes it trivial to add contacts harvested from other apps to the brokerage CRM.

d. Leads to closings. One client automatically added 35K contacts to their transactions last year. No other system has this level of integration, from apps, websites, intranet, documents, core services and transactions/closings.

So, yes, CRM has a large role in the modern brokerage. But, it must be used strategically and not as yet another data island.

Mobile and an everywhere CRM.

Call for details: 1 608 468 6013 or email

Additional Reading:

1. Technology landscape discussion for your office meetings. [Link]

2. Presenting at sales meetings or to buyers & sellers. [Link]