“40% of adults now use voice search once per day” according to comscore

Mike Jeffs:

“Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text” via Search Engine Watch
 “Home Alone and Elf were the most requested 2016 holiday movies with Alexa.” via Amazon
 “Customers use Amazon Echo for many purposes, with one-third using it as an information provider responding to questions and over 40% as an audio speaker for listening to streaming music.” according to CIRP.
 “Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products.” via Social Media Today
 “High consumer usage of voice assistants in autos (51%) and household (39%) indicates increased comfort with the technology” – according to Activate via WSJ.

Google Uses Its Search Engine to Hawk Its Products

Jack Nicas:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google runs the world’s largest advertising business, selling space atop its search results. Google is also among the biggest buyers of those ads, promoting products from its music service to its app store.

Social Media Agency Of The Year Award For Not Doing Social Media


But if you want to work in our business you can’t just come out and say that. You need to hide it under steaming piles of jargon. Otherwise, you might lose your job for being “traditional.”
 No, you have to do what MediaPost does — take the obvious and make it incomprehensible.
 Anyone with a pulse and an IQ above 20 knows that social media marketing is largely a pile of horseshit and the only way to get any value out of Facebook is to buy ads.


‘A marriage of Twitter and The Economist’: How Axios is serving up news for social media addicts

Benjamin Mullen:

Chances are, you’re not going to finish this article.
 The rise of social media has turned us into a legion of swipers and scrollers who rarely reach the end of a story.
 The team behind Axios, a new startup from the founders of Politico, knows this. That’s why they’ve built a product designed to resemble a cross between Twitter and The Economist.
 “It really seemed like the stream — the same thing Facebook and Twitter do — was a good way to consume a lot of information very quickly,” said Roy Schwartz, co-founder and president of Axios.

The Problem With AMP


Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP is a markup language similar to HTML that allows publishers to write mobile optimized content that loads “instantly”. AMP is Google’s response to both the Apple News Format and Facebook’s Instant Articles. The goal of the AMP project is to make websites faster by essentially disabling external JavaScript and caching all pages on Google’s CDN. While the intentions of the project seem good, there are a number of issues with AMP that both promote lock-in and provide a poor user experience.

The PC Market continues to decline “infrequently used”


“There is the other side of the PC market, where PCs are infrequently used. Consumers in this segment have high dependency on smartphones, so they stretch PC life cycles longer. This side of the market is much bigger than the PC enthusiast segment; thus, steep declines in the infrequent PC user market offset the fast growth of the PC enthusiast market.”
 Ms. Kitagawa said that although the overall PC market will see stagnation, there are growth opportunities within the market, such as the engaged PC user market, the business market and gaming. However, these growth areas will not prevent the overall decline of the PC market, at least in the next year.
 Four of the top six vendors experienced an increase in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016 (see Table 1). The top three vendors all increased their global market share in the fourth quarter. Lenovo maintained the No. 1 position, as the company experienced shipment increases in North America and EMEA, while Asia/Pacific and Japan continued to be challenging markets.



Online advertising absurdity is about to reach new heights and should provide lots of rollicking good fun in the new year.
 Now that Facebook’s so-called metrics have been exposed as self-serving baloney, some previously brain-dead advertisers are starting to ask questions. It’s only taken them 10 years.
 The result is that Facebook is being dragged kicking and screaming into the real world of real advertising. Advertisers are starting to insist that Facebook allow third party monitoring of their numbers like every other responsible media company on the planet (except, of course, the other aristocracy of arrogance at Google.)
 Facebook is grudgingly allowing some limited third party monitoring and what is leaking out ain’t pretty.

Dinosaurs can’t climb trees: why your company is failing at innovation and what to do about it

Simon Dingle:

Deploy these teams as far away from the existing business as possible and protect them from your current executive staff, especially those who like the sound of their own voice or use the term, “I’m just playing devil’s advocate here…” in meetings. That guy is not invited. Read Tom Kelley’s book, recommended above, for why.
 Make sure your leopard is able to challenge the status quo unhindered.
 No, compliance can’t have a meeting with them to approve processes.
 No, your marketing people absolutely can’t do a review to make sure they’re, “on brand”.
 Fuck off. Go away. Leave the leopard alone. Those discussions can happen later once you’ve got something too good not to launch. Any business with a hope of succeeding in the internet era has to conduct user testing, implement agile processes, and spend a lot of time trying and failing in experiments to find market fit. It’s not pretty, it’s counterintuitive, and nothing they taught you at business school will help anyway.

7 Steps to Using Social Media Effectively

Libby Dubick:

Finally, Step No. 7: Think about how your social media-presence looks visually. Make sure your head shot is becoming and that you look approachable

Online Shopping

Luke Kawa

As a testament to the gloomy outlook for brick-and-mortar retailers, short interest in the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (ticker: XRT) has soared to 273 percent of float, the highest among U.S. equity products at the end of 2016. On Jan. 4, Macy’s Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. pointed to weak holiday sales when slashing their full-year earnings forecasts during the after-hours session.
 While non-store retailing is a fairly broad category, including mail-order programs and sales through infomercials, the most important part is pure-play e-commerce, like Amazon.com. (It’s important to note that sales made through the website of a brick-and-mortar retailer, like Kohls.com, are not included in this e-commerce segment.)

How time-saving technology destroys our productivity

Rory Sutherland:

In 1929 John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2029 people in the developed nations could enjoy a perfectly civilised standard of living while working for 16 hours a week. His hope was for our precious hours of extra leisure to be devoted to such edifying pursuits as playing Grand Theft Auto and watching kittens skateboarding on YouTube. (Actually he didn’t predict that bit — he suggested we’d be listening to string quartets and attending poetry recitals but, hey, that was the Bloomsbury Group for you.) Today, however, not only has the work week stayed constant but, in direct contradiction of the theory, the better-paid now work disproportionately longer hours.
 In 2008 some of the world’s leading economists contributed to a series of essays (Revisiting Keynes, MIT) discussing why Keynes’s dream now seems so wide of the mark. Between them, they furnished a number of competing theories. Some posited that people like working and that being busy now has the kind of social cachet that being leisured used to.

Mobile Fact Sheet

Pew Internet:

In contrast to the largely stationary internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while “on the go” via smartphones and other mobile devices. Explore the patterns and trends that have shaped the mobile revolution below.

Poor Neighborhoods Make the Best Investments

Strong Towns:

What is obvious here is that the poor neighborhoods are profitable while the affluent neighborhoods are not. Throughout the poor neighborhoods, the city is — TODAY — bringing in more revenue than they will spend to maintain the neighborhood, and that’s assuming they actually invest the money to maintain the neighborhood (which they have not been). If they fail to maintain the neighborhood, the profit margins will be even higher.
 This might strike some of you as surprising, yet it is important to understand that it is a consistent feature we see revealed in city after city after city all over North America. Poor neighborhoods subsidize the affluent; it is a ubiquitous condition of the American development pattern.
 As an example, consider what is probably our most famous case study here at Strong Towns, the Taco John’s in my hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota, as described in “The Cost of Auto Orientation.” The block on the left has been labeled as blight. It’s run down and neglected. The block on the right — same size, same amount of public infrastructure, just a different development approach — looks shiny and new. Poor versus affluent. The cost to the city is the same but the poor block is worth 78% more, and pays 78% more taxes, than the affluent block.

78% of Global Smartphones Will be Sold to Replacement Buyers in 2017

Linda Sui:

According to the latest report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services: Global Smartphone Sales by Replacement Sales vs. Sales to First Time Buyers by 88 Countries : 2013-2022, global smartphone replacement sales outweighed sales to first time buyers in 2013, for the first time ever. In 2017, we expect 78% of global smartphones will be sold to replacement buyers. We forecast replacement smartphone sales will continue to dominate smartphone sales across all 6 regions by 2022.
 This extensive report forecasts global smartphone sales by replacement sales and sales to first time smartphone buyers for 88 countries worldwide, from 2013 to 2022. Almost every major country worldwide is covered, including United States, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. This report can be used by operators, software developers, content developers, smartphone vendors, component makers, car manufacturers and other stakeholders to determine the distribution of smartphone ownership across the huge global smartphone market.

Daily TV minutes: 18-24 year olds

Facts and figures can be powerful weapons for technology’s giants

Alexandra Frean:

Uber’s decision this week to start releasing its traffic data from dozens of cities worldwide is a reminder that information can be as important to digital companies in shaping markets and creating value as the software and hardware used to access their services.
 Uber says that sharing average travel times gleaned from millions of trips will produce a public benefit. We can safely assume it is also acting for its own benefit. Not only is Uber probably hoping to buy loyalty from the city authorities with which it frequently clashes, it may also be seeking to gain a foothold in a key area of its business model presently outside its control: urban planning and traffic management.

10 Terrible Things About Adtech

David Carroll:

Anyone familiar with my research and commentary knows I’m no fan of adtech, the hidden layer of behavioral ad targeting arbitrage that monetizes attention by the proxy of impression-based economies of scale. The perverse incentives that ensue from this hidden code incentivizes unregulated marketing surveillance over the populace to glut their feeds with more worldview reinforcing hyperpartisan propaganda and disinformation than high-quality investigative journalism. Here are ten deeply concerning things about the world of adtech as I’ve been observing recently, especially thinking about election fallout.
 It’s terrible for buying attention. $1 ad dollar yields 3¢ of advertiser value.
 It’s terrible for selling attention. $1 ad dollar funds 45¢ of publisher revenue before adjusting for rampant fraud and blocking boycotts. Content creators probably earn pennies on the ad dollar after the fraudsters steal their share and savvy users block their share. No one really knows. Is it even worth it?
 It’s terribly fraudulent. The recently discovered Methbot fraud botnet stole millions per day and could have used a residential IP SaaS rental service illegimately as its sinister trick to evade fraud detection methods that sense IP clusters from data centers. Until law enforcement gets aggressive about combating the criminal ad fraud networks, we just don’t know for sure how bad it is out there.

What Style Is That House? Visual Guides to Domestic Architectural Designs

Kurt Kohlstedt:

Naming things helps us understand and keep track of them, so it should be no surprise that people regularly ask architects what “style” buildings fall into. Often there is no simple answer, but here are a few graphic design projects that can help you put architecture into its historical context and start to tease out stylistic influences.

Amazon Courts Retailers To Use Its Mobile App

Cory Weinberg

Amazon.com is planning to let competing retailers integrate with its mobile app, as part of a broader effort to power more shopping outside its digital walls, according to a person briefed by the company.
 The service, which Amazon is calling “place cards,” would let a consumer click on an email from a store that takes them to an app page that would look like the store’s app. But it would be actually part of Amazon’s app. Without this capability, consumers would click through to a mobile web page which is often slower to load and has clunkier check-out options.

Facebook will lose 80% of users by 2017, say Princeton researchers

Juliette Garside:

Facebook has spread like an infectious disease but we are slowly becoming immune to its attractions, and the platform will be largely abandoned by 2017, say researchers at Princeton University (pdf).
 The forecast of Facebook’s impending doom was made by comparing the growth curve of epidemics to those of online social networks. Scientists argue that, like bubonic plague, Facebook will eventually die out.
 The social network, which celebrates its 10th birthday on 4 February, has survived longer than rivals such as Myspace and Bebo, but the Princeton forecast says it will lose 80% of its peak user base within the next three years.
 John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, from the US university’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, have based their prediction on the number of times Facebook is typed into Google as a search term. The charts produced by the Google Trends service show Facebook searches peaked in December 2012 and have since begun to trail off.

The ad tech renaissance


Given the data above, I think it’s fair to say that Alphabet and Facebook as media companies are dominating the digital advertising space. However, if you look only at their ad technology assets, Google is flat year-on-year (with declining margins) and Facebook has effectively exited the ad tech space.
 I believe we are on the verge of a renaissance in ad technology, and this current phase – a cull, if you will – is necessary for us to get from here to there. Let’s be clear: this cull is not because Google and Facebook have won in ad:tech! Quite the contrary. It’s because today, if you’re a marketer and you want results, you usually get a better outcome buying inventory on Facebook than you do buying inventory on the open internet. However, we’ve seen Criteo demonstrate that through thoughtful inventory curation, the application of machine learning, and a focus on e-commerce, you can get outstanding results on the open internet. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
 The next cycle of ad technology will be based on a few key elements:

2017 Mobile Predictions

Chetan Sharma:

A very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017 to you and your family. Hope you had a good holiday and are ready to take on the new year with vigor and purpose. My thanks to all who participated in our 10th annual Mobile Predictions Survey. It is a unique polling of the insiders to get a glimpse into what the ecosystem is thinking about the future.
 As I have mentioned before, we are entering the Connected Intelligence Era and the mobile industry is growing beyond its traditional borders to transform every vertical industry and by extension – the global GDP. Proof is in the numbers. 7 Zettabytes of digital information created. 1.3 billion smartphones sold. Over 60 Exabytes of mobile data traffic (which btw will grow 15x+ in the next 5 years). Almost 100 million wearables sold. More than 16 billion connected devices. Almost half trillion dollars in data revenues. Over 400 billion dollars in OTT revenues. At least 77 companies generating a billion or more from 4th wave. At least 8 companies generating a billion or more from IoT.

Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

What the breakup of a broker’s empire means for everyone else

Brad Inman:

Lean and mean teams are also taking share from brokers.

They “are the potential agent phoenix rising,” said Steve Murray, president at Real Trends.

Recruiting agents is a slugfest with 360 degree competition from jab and grab indie brokers, the Keller Williams network effect, feisty teams and monied startups. Do you want to work for the yellow cab company or Uber?

Shining a light on out-of-touch habits, the au courant generation of real estate companies offer a collaborative work culture, a flat organizational structure, social media as a core company activity, community outreach built into the firm’s DNA, strategies for enabling and empowering teams and smart new ways of acquiring customers.

Basic real estate principles still apply, but adopting new technology tools and business tactics are essential for success. Brokers must try, test and deploy a litany of new technologies or risk being put out to pasture.

Consider the portals and consumer leads, once the domain of brokers and their agents — a gilded partnership. When the internet surfaced, they either mistakenly embraced the realtor.com salvation promise or they made slapdash efforts to offer a consumer proposition.

Neither strategy worked and now most internet leads are the domain of realtor.com and Zillow and its premier agents — not brokers and their top producers.

Technology acquisition is one thing, successful implementation and ongoing improvement is quite another.

President Signs Law Protecting Your Right to Review

Elliot Harmon:

President Obama recently signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (H.R. 5111), which passed both houses of Congress unanimously. The bill addresses a dangerous trend: businesses inserting clauses into their form contracts that attempt to limit their customers’ ability to criticize products and services online. We’re pleased to see Congress taking a big step to protect free speech online and rein in abusive form contracts.
 The CRFA tackles two different ways that businesses attempt to squash their customers’ reviews. The first is rather straightforward: simply inserting clauses into their form contracts saying that customers can’t post negative reviews online, or imposing a fine for them. For instance, the Union Street Guest House used such a contract and attempted to fine guests over their bad reviews.

Inside a Zombie Shopping Mall

John Nova Lomax:

Does Northwest Mall have a chance in its current form? Will malls come back into fashion? Who would be their tenants, as Internet-based retail continues to erode bricks-and-mortar? And won’t those driverless cars eliminate the need for 98 percent of that vast parking lot?
 Those dilemmas are hardly unique to Northwest Mall. If present trends continue, the space given over to retail and parking will shrink considerably in the coming years. Northwest Mall’s future is contingent on those trends and other vast forces beyond its control, and its fate is as unclear and mysterious as that doll’s in the strange jail diorama.

This French Grocery Chain Is Totally Trolling Amazon Go


WHY WE CARE: Not long ago, Amazon unveiled its plans for a beta version of its new cashierless grocery shopping experience called Go. Here, Monoprix sidesteps all the “computer vision,” “deep learning algorithms,” and “sensor fusion much like you’d find in self-driving cars” that Amazon touted about Go, and instead trolls the tech giant with an almost exact remake of the Go promo—actor doppelgangers dressed in the same outfits, similarly framed shots—with a human solution to the whole cashier line-up problem. And they deliver your groceries in an hour. Is there an Amazon drone for that yet?

Google facing FTC scrutiny over privacy — yet again

Craig Timberg:

Consumer advocates have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging that Google violated user privacy through a policy change that gives the company more leeway to build profiles of people as they browse the Web and use Google services.
 The complaint, submitted Thursday by Consumer Watchdog and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, alleges that Google acted in a “highly deceptive manner” in changing its privacy policy in June to allow the merging of data collected by various services owned by the company, such as Google Maps, Google search and the DoubleClick online advertising service. The result, the groups say, allows for the gathering of more comprehensive information on most people who use the Web.

2016 Global Mobile Consumer Survey

Deloitte (PDF):

Mobile devices are by now rmly entrenched in our lives. The rise of mobile has paved the way, not just for more robust forms of communications but for whole new markets, such as mobile payments (mPayments), the Internet of Things (IoT), location-based advertising, and an entire ecosystem of apps including social media. In fact, mobile devices have become so ubiquitous that anyone without access to one is unable to participate in the full spectrum of activities that comprise our global economy.

For the past six years, Deloitte’s global Telecom sector practice has been taking the pulse of consumer attitudes towards mobile technology. Our 2016 US survey con rms that mobile has become increasingly pervasive and indispensable across all demographics and geographies, with consumers enthusiastically embracing its future potential.

16 striking findings from 2016

Abigail Geiger:

Every year, we publish a collection of facts about the important events, issues and trends we documented in our wide-ranging research over the past 12 months. In 2016, Pew Research Center examined an array of topics in America – from immigration to the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats – as well as many from around the globe. Here are 16 of our most striking findings.

Why are browsers so slow?

Ilya Birman:

I understand why rendering a complicated layout may be slow. Or why executing a complicated script may be slow. Actually, browsers are rather fast doing these things. If you studied programming and have a rough idea about how many computations are made to render a page, it is surprising the browsers can do it all that fast.
 But I am not talking about rendering and scripts. I am talking about everything else. Safari may take a second or two just to open a new blank tab on a 2014 iMac. And with ten or fifteen open tabs it eventually becomes sluggish as hell. Chrome is better, but not much so.

Alphabet’s Google is searching for its next hit

The Economist

“JUDGE a man by his questions, rather than his answers,” Voltaire advised. Google has become one of the most successful firms in history by heeding that advice. It evaluates the intention of web-surfers’ queries and returns relevant advertising alongside search results. But for years there has been a lingering question about Google: can it create a new, highly profitable unit to rival its search business?
 Not yet. In the past five years, Alphabet, formed as a holding company for Google and other disparate projects in October 2015, has spent $46bn on research and development (see chart). Much has gone to so-called “moonshot” projects, such as self-driving cars, smart contact lenses and internet delivered via balloons. Its British artificial-intelligence unit, DeepMind, also falls into the category of other projects. Since the start of 2015, these bets have together recorded a loss of $6bn.

How Macy’s dismantled everything once right about department stores

Lee Peterson:

By becoming big generalists in a category that had personalization and specialization right decades ago, department stores dismantled the differentiation that might have saved them from obsolescence in an era of online algorithm-driven commerce. “Customers felt the loss of distinctiveness connected to historic nameplates,” author and historian Vicki Howard writes in the book “From Main Street to Mall: The Rise and Fall of the American Department Store.” “In the era of Wal-Mart, which many had come to see as a monopoly that destroyed local markets, department stores had joined ranks to create their own oligopoly.”

Huge Video ad Fraud

Bob Hoffman:

Well, maybe they’ll wake up now.
 Introducing Methbot — “the largest and most profitable ad fraud operation to strike digital advertising to date” says, WhiteOps, a provider of online fraud protection software.
 According to the Pivotal Research Group, Methbot is responsible for…
 – 200-300 million fraudulent video impressions a day
 – $3-$5 million in criminal revenue a day
 – More than $1 billion in annual revenue a year from fraudulent online video advertising
 When you realize that total US income from online video advertising will only be $7 billion this year, you can see how enormous this fraud is. Pivotal says, “the scale of this single fraud is stunning.”
 And nobody knows how many other bots are out there.
 According to Pivotal, here’s how Methbot works…
 “….it is focused on programmatic video inventory and because of the way it has fabricated both demand and supply of inventory. Among other details, Methbot produces counterfeit premium publisher sites and generates fraudulent ad calls that appear to originate from US-based internet providers including Verizon, Comcast and Spectrum. Methbot then generates revenue from programmatic sources of demand seeking premium video inventory.”

Understanding The Religion Of Business: 18 Management Fallacies

Steve Denning

In effect, The Economist urges reconsidering the fundamental validity of business thinking. “Management theorists sanctify capitalism in much the same way that clergymen of yore sanctified feudalism. Business schools are the cathedrals of capitalism. Consultants are its travelling friars.”
 It is time, says The Economist, to do what Martin Luther did to the Catholic Church back in 1517, namely, nail a list of management’s big bad ideas to the door of the cathedral of capitalism and begin again. “Management theorists,” says The Economist, “need to examine their church with the same clear-eyed iconoclasm with which Luther examined his… Management theory is ripe for a Reformation of its own.”

10 Social Media Predictions for 2017 (and Where You Should Be Spending Your Time)

Nicolas Cole:

With 2016 coming to a conclusion, I am going to make a few predictions about the current state of social media and what to expect in 2017.
 Over the past few years, we have watched one of the wildest transitions in media happen. People forget that just five years ago, we didn’t give much clout to how many “followers” you had on a social-media platform. In fact, to many people, the thought that over 100,000 people were “following” someone online was weird. It prompted head scratching and confusion, rather than instant respect and validation (as it does now). It has only been recently that your follower count and status on various social platforms is seen as an accurate representation of your “value.”
 Within this storm of change, we’ve watched brands pay obscene amounts of money to have e-famous teenagers subtly mention their products in Facebook posts and tweets, Vine (R.I.P.) videos and Instagram photos. And the most astounding part? As effective and groundbreaking as digital has become for big brands, a lot of them still put the majority of their budgets into old school avenues like television and print.


Disruption is not a strategy, it’s an outcome


It’s hard to imagine an industry more in need of disruption than the fossil fuel industry.
 There is no question that the burning of fossil fuels creates toxic byproducts that cause serious illnesses and death.
 There is compelling evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is contributing to what might turn out to be irreversible damage to the environmental stability of our planet.
 Geopolitically, the economics of attaining fossil fuels has caused hundreds of billions of dollars to be transferred from Western countries to places bent on our destruction.
 And individually, purchasing fossil fuels for automobiles is a major financial burden on many low income consumers.
 It’s hard to draw up a more compelling case for the need for disruption.
 Strangely, there is a very obvious technological solution to a substantial aspect of the problem — battery powered vehicles, or as we call them, electric cars.


Traffic Is Fake, Audience Numbers Are Garbage, And Nobody Knows How Many People See Anything

Leigh Beason:

How many living, breathing human beings really read Techdirt? The truth — the most basic, rarely-spoken truth — is that we have no earthly idea. With very few exceptions, no media property big or small, new or old, online or off, can truly tell you how big its audience is. They may have never thought about it that way — after all, we all get as close as we can to what we think is a reasonably accurate estimation, though we have no way of confirming that — but all these numbers are actually good for (maybe) is relative comparisons. What does it really mean when someone says “a million people” saw something? Or ten or a hundred million? I don’t know, and neither do you. (Netflix might, but we’ll get to that later.)
 Where should we start? How about this: internet traffic is half-fake and everyone’s known it for years, but there’s no incentive to actually acknowledge it. The situation is technically improving: 2015 was hailed (quietly, among people who aren’t in charge of selling advertising) as a banner year because humans took back the majority with a stunning 51.5% share of online traffic, so hurray for that I guess. All the analytics suites, the ad networks and the tracking pixels can try as they might to filter the rest out, and there’s plenty of advice on the endless Sisyphean task of helping them do so, but considering at least half of all that bot traffic comes from bots that fall into the “malicious” or at least “unauthorized” category, and thus have every incentive to subvert the mostly-voluntary systems that are our first line of defence against bots… Well, good luck. We already know that Alexa rankings are garbage, but what does this say about even the internal numbers that sites use to sell ad space? Could they even be off by a factor of 10? I don’t know, and neither do you. Hell, we don’t even know how accurate the 51.5% figure is — it could be way off… in either direction.
 Okay, so what about TV ratings? Well, there’s a reason they’ve been made fun of on the shows themselves for as long as our culture has been able to handle “meta” jokes without getting a headache. Nielsen ratings in their classic form are built on monitoring such a tiny sample of households that the whole country’s viewing profile can probably be swayed because someone forgot to turn off the TV before going on vacation. They sucked before DVRs and digital distribution began transforming the single household television into a quaint anachronism, and now it’s just chaos. Nielsen was slow to catch up with DVRs, and now the TV industry juggles scattered measurements including three or seven days of viewing beyond live air, and constantly complains that the ratings are off — specifically, that they’re too low. And they might be right, in the sense that they are too low by comparison to the garbage ratings from the pre-digital age that everyone eventually embraced as a standard for relative rankings. How big are these audiences really, in terms of real living breathing human beings? I don’t know, and neither do you.


Rocket AI: 2016’s Most Notorious AI Launch and the Problem with AI Hype

Riva-Melissa Tez

It’s 3 AM on a warm Thursday night in December, a usually quiet street in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona is bustling with activity, as a cohort of 200 artificial intelligence researchers leave in single-file out of a sprawling yellow mansion. The police count heads as the researchers film the procession on their phones and tweet #rocketai.
 The guest list looked like the results of a search for most popular AI authors on arXiv. Every major corporate and academic AI lab was in attendance — Google DeepMind, Open AI, Facebook AI Research, Google Brain, Stanford University, MIT, U of Montreal, as well as a multitude of other AI start-ups and investors from around the world — all in town for the 30th annual NIPS conference.
 NIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems) has become the academic and industry AI conference, growing near-exponentially over the past decade as corporate sponsors fight to keep the loyalty of their engineers and aggressively recruit others. Corporates plan months in advance to parade their capital expenditure and technical talent. Tickets for the main conference, despite nearly doubling in quantity since last year, sold out more than 6 weeks before the event.

See it All

One place for all client activity, from leads to closings:

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One tap lead generation:

How A Rust Belt Native and Silicon Valley Technologist Is Re-Thinking American Manufacturing

Kim-Mai Cutler:

Q: So what can be done from a policy perspective to support this type of labor?
 This breaks down to a number of problems.
 You need to find highly-skilled labor. The highly-skilled operators and CAM programmers? There’s not enough of them that are being created. Companies in the U.S. are shortsighted. They should just pay people to go to school. You have to remember that most of these people don’t have a lot of money. There’s a disconnect. In Germany, there are government subsidies for vocational training. We should have tax credits for this. If you train people a certain amount for a certification, you would get it back in tax credits if people leave. Companies can’t do it on their own though. The margins at a company like Flextronics are like 6 percent gross. So they are trying to squeeze every little penny out of it. In the long run, this is a big risk to them.

The Great A.I. Awakening

Gideon Lewis-Kraus

Rekimoto promoted his discovery to his hundred thousand or so followers on Twitter, and over the next few hours thousands of people broadcast their own experiments with the machine-translation service. Some were successful, others meant mostly for comic effect. As dawn broke over Tokyo, Google Translate was the No. 1 trend on Japanese Twitter, just above some cult anime series and the long-awaited new single from a girl-idol supergroup. Everybody wondered: How had Google Translate become so uncannily artful?
 Four days later, a couple of hundred journalists, entrepreneurs and advertisers from all over the world gathered in Google’s London engineering office for a special announcement. Guests were greeted with Translate-branded fortune cookies. Their paper slips had a foreign phrase on one side — mine was in Norwegian — and on the other, an invitation to download the Translate app. Tables were set with trays of doughnuts and smoothies, each labeled with a placard that advertised its flavor in German (zitrone), Portuguese (baunilha) or Spanish (manzana). After a while, everyone was ushered into a plush, dark theater.

‘Apps are the new magazines’: Why Bloomberg’s doubling down on apps

Sahil Patel:

The app was built by Bloomberg’s 20-person mobile apps team, which includes four full-time mobile editors. This group will also work on a new video app that will “rethink” how on-demand video and live video can function in streaming environments, Havens said.
 Overall on mobile, the mobile web still dominates apps in terms of pure scale. Research released earlier this year by comScore found that among the top 1,000 mobile apps and mobile sites, mobile sites averaged three times as many users as apps and were growing twice as fast. That said, apps still dominate in terms of prolonged usage, averaging 87 percent of mobile time spent in the U.S. for the last two years, according to comScore. What’s more, the same report said the number of U.S. apps with 5 million downloads or more grew by 8 percent year over year — all suggesting there’s a healthy market for publishers that choose to develop apps instead of focusing on mobile web or publishing inside social apps.
 “You can’t outsource your future as a publisher,” Havens said. “We’re not walking away from social platforms; there are a lot of potential app downloads that can come from Facebook. But we want to bring users into a direct relationship. To forego that is essentially waving a white flag.”

The Russian App That Has Destroyed Privacy Forever


It’s the sort of thing you see in a Jason Bourne movie. A security camera watching over a crowded space snaps a picture of someone. A few seconds later, a supercomputer churns through a database and returns the person’s identity. The CIA knows all.
 That same technology is now, for better or worse, available to anyone with a smartphone. Earlier this year, a couple of Russian programmers released an app called FindFace. It lets people take pictures of complete strangers and then almost instantly find them on social networks. See a pretty girl or guy on the street? Snap a pic, get to know them. What could go wrong?

More Than Half of All Video Viewing Now on Mobile, Tablet Viewing Flat (Report)

Jankovich Roettgers

Around 85 percent of those mobile views came from phones, with tablet video views essentially flat for the past four quarters.
 Also notable is that phone viewers increasingly gravitate to longer-form content. 48 percent of all video viewing on smartphones is now related to clips that are five minutes or longer, according to Ooyala. A year ago, that number was still at 23 percent. 30 percent of all viewing is about videos that last 20 minutes or longer.
 Unsurprisingly, longer-form content also dominates smart TV and connected device viewing. 90 percent of all viewing time on TV screens is about long-form content, according to Ooyala.

The Future of Privacy

William Gibson

Turning Point: Apple resists the F.B.I. in unlocking an iPhone in the San Bernardino terrorism case.
 I’ve never been able to fit the concepts of privacy, history and encryption together in a satisfying way, though it continues to seem that I should. Each concept has to do with information; each can be considered to concern the public and the private; and each involves aspects of society, and perhaps particularly digital society. But experience has taught me that all I can hope to do with these three concepts is demonstrate the problems that considering them together causes.

The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think

Jakob Nielsen:

One of usability’s most hard-earned lessons is that you are not the user. This is why it’s a disaster to guess at the users’ needs. Since designers are so different from the majority of the target audience, it’s not just irrelevant what you like or what you think is easy to use — it’s often misleading to rely on such personal preferences.
 For sure, anybody who works on a design project will have a more accurate and detailed mental model of the user interface than an outsider. If you target a broad consumer audience, you will also have a higher IQ than your average user, higher literacy levels, and, most likely, you’ll be younger and experience less age-driven degradation of your abilities than many of your users.

Uber allegedly tracked journalist with internal tool called ‘God View’

Rich McCormick:

Uber is investigating its top New York executive after he was alleged to have tracked a journalist’s location without her permission using an internal company tool called “God View.” Buzzfeed News reporter Johana Bhuiyan used the private car service earlier this month to travel to a meeting with Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber New York. On arriving at the company’s Long Island City headquarters, Bhuiyan says she found Mohrer waiting for her. “I was tracking you,” he reportedly said, and pointed to his iPhone.

Exactly How Bad Are Zillow “Zestimates”? [Case Study]


From my little data study, it seems that Los Angeles and Chicago fell pretty much within the margin of error as indicated by Zillow’s “Zestimate Accuracy Table”.
 However, the 3 homes sampled in New York were way off; i.e., +60.07, +33.13% and +66.04% sold above Zestimate figure, respectively.
 My first thought, was that it might have something to do with the algorithm handling densely populated regions.
 I reached out to several real estate professionals who service this particular area and shared my findings.