Google: 82% Of Super Bowl Ad Searches Happened On Mobile, Up From 70%

Ginny Marvin:

Pity the Super Bowl advertisers that didn’t take full advantage of mobile search this year. According to Google, 82 percent of TV ad-driven searches during the Super Bowl happened on smartphones. That’s a 12-point jump from last year, when 70 percent of Super Bowl ad-related searches across Google and YouTube derived from phones.
 
 During this year’s game, just 11 percent of searches related to ads aired during the big game happened on desktop/laptop, and seven percent occurred on tablets.

The Rich Are Already Using Robo-Advisers, and That Scares Banks

Hugh Son & Margaret Collins:

Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that’s one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant.
 
 Millennials and small investors aren’t the only ones using robo-advisers, a group that includes pioneers Wealthfront Inc. and Betterment LLC and services provided by mutual-fund giants, said Kendra Thompson, an Accenture Plc managing director. At Charles Schwab Corp., about 15 percent of those in automated portfolios have at least $1 million at the company.
 
 “It’s real money moving,” Thompson said in an interview. “You’re seeing experimentation from people with much larger portfolios, where they’re taking a portion of their money and putting them in these offerings to try them out.”
 

The real estate technique fuelling Vancouver’s housing market

Kathy Tomlinson:

They had a deal.
 
 The Rappaports’ home, on Vancouver’s West Side, would net the couple $5.2-million last year. Jo and her husband had bought the stately Craftsman home in 1987 for $362,000. They raised their sons there and loved it. But the neighbourhood had changed. Investors were razing the houses and it was time to move on.
 
 “It used to be the prettiest block,” Ms. Rappaport said. “And it has been a construction zone for the last two years.”
 
 The couple suspected the house would be torn down, like so many others on their lush and lucrative street, but they stood to profit nicely. There was some toing and froing over details, then a slight change of plans. For reasons the Rappaports never quite grasped, they were no longer selling their property to the foreign businessman whose offer they had accepted. Instead, they were selling to his real estate agent, Wayne Du of Amex Broadway West Realty, who told the Rappaports that he and the businessman’s wife would be purchasing instead, as co-owners.
 
 The Rappaports weren’t thrilled, but there was nothing they could do to prevent it. Their contract, after all, contained what’s called an “assignment clause,” which gave the businessman the option to sell or transfer his interest in the property before the closing date.
 
 Three months after the deal closed, the new broker-owner relisted the house – which he then had a stake in – and resold it for $6.2-million, a substantial if not unusual price increase that works out to roughly $11,000 a day. Mr. Du is now advertising the house for sale again for $6.58-million. It’s all perfectly legal, even if it displeases the Rappaports.
 

“uses Google Analytics figures, which are always far higher”

Jessica Davies:

Regardless, Petersen said digital is the growth engine for any company today, and that setting purposely over-ambitious targets is critical to sustaining motivation.
 
 “At TripAdvisor, if we wanted to reach 20 million monthly unique visitors, we’d aim for 50 million, because we certainly weren’t going to get there by aiming for 10 million. Thinking so big forces you to think differently,” she added.

Easy feels true: on surveys

Erika Hall:

Surveys are the most dangerous research tool — misunderstood and misused. They frequently straddle the qualitative and quantitative, and at their worst represent the worst of both.
 
 In tort law the attractive nuisance doctrine refers to a hazardous object likely to attract those who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object. In the world of design research, surveys can be just such a nuisance.
 
 Easy Feels True
 It is too easy to run a survey. That is why surveys are so dangerous. They are so easy to create and so easy to distribute, and the results are so easy to tally. And our poor human brains are such that information that is easier for us to process and comprehend feels more true. This is our cognitive bias. This ease makes survey results feel true and valid, no matter how false and misleading. And that ease is hard to argue with.

#SEO For Sale?! Exposing Google Loopholes In Light Of @FTC Native Guidelines

Marty Weintraub:

Mashable, a respected global media company focused on informing and entertaining “the digital generation,” was our inspiration. Mashable has joined the swelling ranks of websites selling native content articles to advertisers. Initially we were interested in participating in the program and reached out to Mashable regarding their native post advertising, which is called BrandSpeak or BrandLab.

As the conversation progressed, we were curious as to how Mashable native posts show up in Google search results and disclosure verbiage in light of new FTC native advertising guidelines. After we corresponded with a Mashable sales associate and researched BrandSpeak/BrandLab in detail, we were motivated to share our findings with the community as a point of learning about native content.

Those findings surprised (and astonished) us. Aimclear analysts identified a Google SEO loophole, which is perhaps the greatest ranking algorithm gap in years, allowing marketers to literally buy their way into Google search results with paid content.

Google Boots Ad Blockers From Google Play

Sarah Perez

Earlier this week, Samsung rolled out support for ad blocking in the new version of its web browser for mobile devices, the Samsung Internet Browser. Third-party developers quickly responded by launching ad-blocking mobile apps that work with the browser. Now those developers are finding their apps are being pulled from the Google Play, and their updates are being declined. The reason? It seems Google doesn’t want ad blockers to be distributed as standalone applications on its Google Play store.

In case you missed it: a few days ago, Samsung introduced ad blocking within its mobile web browser. The feature works a lot like Apple’s support for ad blocking in Safari, which arrived with the release of iOS 9. Specifically, Samsung launched a new Content Blocker extension API which allows third-party developers to build mobile apps that, once installed, will allow those surfing the mobile web via Samsung’s browser to block ads and other content that can slow down web pages, like trackers.

This House Costs Just $20,000—But It’s Nicer Than Yours

Fast Company:

For over a decade, architecture students at Rural Studio, Auburn University’s design-build program in a tiny town in West Alabama, have worked on a nearly impossible problem. How do you design a home that someone living below the poverty line can afford, but that anyone would want—while also providing a living wage for the local construction team that builds it?
 
 In January, after years of building prototypes, the team finished their first pilot project in the real world. Partnering with a commercial developer outside Atlanta, in a tiny community called Serenbe, they built two one-bedroom houses, with materials that cost just $14,000 each.

Facebook and Twitter: Users Process Mobile Content Faster

Jeffrey Graham, Fidji Simo:

Seventy-three percent of people in the U.S. say their phone is always with them. And nearly half say that they check their phone more than 30 times a day, with that percentage increasing to 62% for millennials, according to research conducted by Facebook.
 
 But people don’t just consume a lot of content on mobile devices throughout the day — they also process it faster. Twitter eye-tracking research has found that across all demographics, people consume content faster on mobile devices than on desktop computers. Facebook testing confirmed this finding: On average, people consume mobile content on Facebook faster than on a desktop (1.7 seconds vs. 2.5 seconds).
 
 Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all also found that scrolling speed varies by age, with younger people moving more quickly through their feeds.
 
 Lightning-fast retention
 Content viewed quickly can still break through and be memorable. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook found that the recall of messages can occur in very short amounts of time — even in the first second.

realized the incredible impact that great bosses have

Vick Wadwha:

“I don’t care if you have to take drugs, you have to build it in six months,” said my boss, Khurshed Birdie, when I told him that he was on drugs if he thought my team could create a software development toolset in less than three years. This was in 1986 at Credit Suisse First Boston, one of New York City’s top investment banks. We were rebuilding the company’s trade processing systems to run on a client–server model of computing. This technology is common now, but then it was as futuristic as “Star Wars.”

2016: Year of Opportunity or “Fake buildings were necessary…”

I review recent Facebook (mobile vs pc), smartphone and tablet market share data, discuss Uber’s street smarts and yet again, review a recent New York Times article on web bots, spam and perverse SEO incentives in this 8 minute video:

Learn more:

  1. The NYT Locksmith SEO spam article.
  2. In the know wherever you go: Notifications by Virtual Properties’ Apps and CRM services:
    Agents and brokers can stay connected with buyers and seller wherever they go. Smartphones (10x the pc market and growing) dominate America’s digital time, with 90% of that attention in apps.

    Tablets and emerging connected devices present another everywhere opportunity. Learn more in these short videos.

  3. More Americans using smartphones for getting directions, streaming TV by Monica Anderson.
  4. Bloomberg’s article on spam, bots and advertising fraud: by By Ben Elgin, Michael Riley, David Kocieniewski, and Joshua Brustein:
    “The room basically stopped,” Amram recalls. The team was concerned about their jobs; someone asked, “Can they do that? Is it legal?” But mostly it was disbelief and outrage. “It was like we’d been throwing our money to the mob,” Amram says. “As an advertiser we were paying for eyeballs and thought that we were buying views. But in the digital world, you’re just paying for the ad to be served, and there’s no guarantee who will see it, or whether a human will see it at all.”

  5. Ubering your brokerage’s value equation.
  6. Google’s Ad Revenue Rises in Q4 2015 Despite Continued Price Decline by Tim Peterson:
    It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter whether Google’s ad prices go down ad infinitum because it doesn’t appear to affect its ad revenue. Consider Google’s third-party ad business, in which the company sells ads on other publishers’ sites and apps. In the second and third quarters of 2015, that business registered year-over-year declines in the number of ad clicks and average price per click, yet it still recorded a year-over-year increase in revenue.
    The number of ads people clicked on and the price that advertisers pay for each click don’t likely paint a clear picture of Google’s ad business because Google’s ad business is no longer oriented around selling ads that people click on. Originally Google catered to direct-response advertisers that were looking to pay for people to click on their ads in order to visit their sites, but in recent years the company has been courting brand advertisers who primarily care that people saw their ads and pay for every thousand times their ads were served, regardless of whether anyone clicked on them. But Google only breaks down its ads based on the number of clicks and the average cost-per-click.

Uninstalling Facebook app saves up to 20% of Android battery life

Samuel Gibbs:

Facebook does not have the greatest track record with its Android app. Users have long complained about performance issues and it sucking up battery and last year Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, took the unusual step of making his staff ditch their iPhones and move to Android until they sorted out the issues.
 
 But the problems have remained, and recently they led the Android blogger Russell Holly to dump the app, starting a chain reaction which revealed something rather interesting about the app’s performance. Prompted by Holly’s revelation that life on Android was better without Facebook’s app, Reddit user pbrandes_eth tested the app’s impact on the performance of an LG G4.

Once Deemed Evil, Google Now Embraces “Paid Inclusion”

Danny Sullivan:

Back when Google was an upstart search engine, one way it distinguished itself was to fight against a pay-to-play business model called “paid inclusion.” Indeed, paid inclusion was one of the original sins Google listed as part of its “Don’t Be Evil” creed. But these days, Google seems comfortable with paid inclusion, raising potential concerns for publishers and searchers alike.
 
 What Is Paid Inclusion?
 There are two main ways that companies show up in Google’s search results. Companies either buy ads or hope that Google decides that their content is relevant enough to appear in what are called the “organic” or “natural” or “editorial” listings.

Personal Computers Approach Retirement Age

Cringely:

My birthday was this past week. When I came to Silicon Valley in 1977 I was 24 years old. Thirty-nine years later I am 63 and a lot changed around me in those four decades. I went from young to old. The personal computer industry, of which I consider myself to be a part, went from being two years old to 41 — an even greater change than I have experienced. And the point of this column is to write a bit about how personal computers have matured and where they are going, because I am pretty sure the PC is going away. And I have figured out why.
 
 It’s hard for those who weren’t there to imagine how different Silicon Valley was in 1977. There were orchards still in the valley — lots of them. There were millionaires, too, but you wouldn’t know them. I met Intel founder Bob Noyce for the first time waiting in line at the bank when I asked him to put out his cigarette (he did). I knew Dave Packard because his daughter Nancy had been my wife’s roommate at Stanford. Linus Pauling lived at one end of my street and Edward Teller lived at the other end: the Nobel Peace Prize winner and the father of the H-bomb lived only a few blocks apart. Across the street lived Tennessee Ernie Ford. One night while playing Trivial Pursuits we called Pauling on the phone to ask him a chemistry question and he happily gave us the answer.

iPhone-only? We’re closer than you might think

Justin Blanton:

To be totally honest, my quote above was thinking more about the iPhone 9 being something you docked into a “dumb” display for most of the day (e.g., while at work). It’s now clear that while that may happen soon (certainly the processing power has been there for a while, and other companies have built this sort of thing many times over), there is no doubt that the majority of people’s time is spent on the small screen, not the large one – the TV and the big computer are now “second screens”. That’s not going to change any time soon. In fact, the disparity is only going to get greater. Most of our entertainment and communication is sourced, if not experienced, via our phones, and it won’t be big computers that come back from the dead to change that (though it will be something).

More Americans using smartphones for getting directions, streaming TV

Monica Anderson:

Just as the Internet has changed the way people communicate, work and learn, mobile technology has changed when, where and how consumers access information and entertainment. And smartphone use that goes beyond routine calls and text messages does not appear to be slowing, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted in July 2015.
 
 The percentage of smartphone owners who say they have ever used their phone to watch movies or TV through a paid subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus has doubled in recent years – increasing from 15% in 2012 to 33% in 2015.

Resisting a mobile future is futile

Jamie Skella:

With a dwindling interest in desktops, laptops and tablets, some people might ask how anyone is getting anything of value done. The people asking that question might be surprised to learn that 13% of Americans are now smartphone-only, up from 8% in 2013. These are residents who don’t even have a fixed broadband service at home. As reflected upon by Pew, “the reason they do not have broadband at home is because their smartphone lets them do all they need to do online.”
 
 Looking at the trajectory of device sales data, we know that in 2016, the 5 billionth PC will be sold, but the 20 billionth mobile. By 2020, mobile will be at 10x the unit sales and 5x the install base of “PC”.

Google removed 780 million bad advertisements in 2015

BBC:

Other details about how Google manages its services emerged this week – including the fact that the firm removed 780 million “bad” advertisements from its sites last year.
 
 By bad, Google said it was referring to ads which linked to malware, promoted fake goods or covered up website content.

Free The Law

Harvard Law Library:

Our common law – the written decisions issued by our state and federal courts – is not freely accessible online. This lack of access harms justice and equality and stifles innovation in legal services.
 
 The Harvard Law School Library has one of the world’s largest, most comprehensive collections of court decisions in print form. Our collection totals over 42,000 volumes and roughly 40 million pages. The Free The Law project aims to transform the official print versions of these court decisions into digital files made freely accessible on

What Happens When Facebook Decides to Do Click Fraud?

Adarsh Thampy
 
:

ad. Get it approved. The ad goes live. You get traffic.
 Sounds simple, right?
 
 I tried to set up a Facebook ad for a smaller budget (INR 1000 per day), and created 4 ad variations. Waited for a day and a half.
 No traffic.
 
 I tried to increase CPC and change targeting. Again, no movement.

The FTC Issues Guidance on Native Advertising

Gregory T. Everts:

As the FTC’s new Guide on native advertising explains:

Advertisements or promotional messages are deceptive if they convey to consumers expressly or by implication that they’re independent, impartial, or from a source other than the sponsoring advertiser–in other words, that they’re something other than ads. Why would it be material to consumers to know the source of the information? Because knowing that something is an ad likely will affect whether consumers choose to interact with it and the weight or credibility consumers give the information it conveys.

See Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses, https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/native-advertising-guide-businesses. The FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement is available at: https://www.ftc.gov/public-statements/2015/12/commission-enforcement-policy-statement-deceptively-formatted.

In determining whether disclosure is necessary the FTC looks to the overall impression created by the advertisement’s text, images and sound. The similarity of the ad’s written, spoken, or visual style or subject matter to the non-advertising content near which it appears, and the degree to which it is distinguishable from such non-advertising content, are important factors. The more that native advertising resembles non-advertising content in the same space, the more likely disclosure is required.

Real harm to real people from shoddy PR news releases

Health News:

News consumers are often unaware of how much of what they read is dominated by – and may, in fact, be simply a minimal re-write of – PR news releases written by people whose job it is to make their institution, their faculty, their ideas, their research or their products look as good as they possibly can.
 
 Today, probably more than ever, many supposedly independently-vetted news stories are actually just mirror images of PR news releases.

Smart Battery for Home Alarms

Roost:

SET UP IS SO EASY
 
 EVEN AN ADULT CAN DO IT

As More Pay by Smartphone, Banks Scramble to Keep Up

Steve Lohr:

Ryan Craine hates carrying cash and finds writing checks to be a headache. He doesn’t do much of either anymore — he mostly uses his smartphone to pay for things.
 
 Mr. Craine, a 28-year-old tech support worker in Washington, D.C., uses Apple Pay at the stores and restaurants that accept it. About 20 times a month, he turns to Venmo, a digital wallet for transferring money from one person to another, to pay his share of rent, meals, groceries and utility bills. To refinance his student loans last year, he went to an online lending start-up, Earnest.
 
 Mr. Craine’s money choices point to the millennial-led shift toward new digital financial services, a change in behavior that threatens to upend the consumer banking industry. The popularity of the services has left the major banks rushing to adapt, even as they have regained their footing after the financial crisis.

IDC: PC sales drop to levels not seen since 2007

Mark Walton:

combination of holiday sales and the launch of Windows 10 weren’t enough to slow the decline of PC sales, which have fallen to their lowest levels since 2007. Shipments declined by as much as 10.6 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to analyst firm IDC. Fellow analyst Gartner had similarly dire numbers to share: 75.7 million PCs shipped for the quarter, down 8.3 percent on 2014.
 
 Overall sales for the year were just as bad, with IDC estimating shipments fell 10.4 percent to 276.2 million units, and Gartner pushing the slightly less terrifying number of 299.6 million units for an 8 percent fall.
 
 The only manufacturer to show any growth for the year was—you guessed it—Apple, which managed to grow 2.8 percent according to IDC and 5.8 percent according to Gartner. Everyone else’s sales shrunk, although Lenovo—the number one PC vendor worldwide—at least managed a mere 3.6 percent fall compared to the 6 percent-or-larger drops seen by HP, Dell, Asus, and Acer.

Confessions of an ad tech veteran on (click) fraud: ‘Advertisers need to react to what’s happening’

Jessica Davies:

Is there apathy because the fraud is factored into the cost?
 
 They’ll say 50 percent of our marketing isn’t working anyway, therefore we’re used to that and still get good performance. If it works and looks like it’s performing everyone pats themselves on the back. The funniest conversation I’ve ever had with an agency was when I told them a campaign they had run was 90 percent fraudulent, and their reply was: ‘Oh, I know, but it really performed well. The click-through rates were phenomenal.’ I re-emphasized that those click-throughs were fraudulent; the ads weren’t seen by humans, and their response was ‘The client is happy. We’re renewing the contract.’

Whirlpool’s new smart appliances have Amazon Dash built in

Rich McCormick:

Last October, Amazon partnered with a host of companies to incorporate its Dash order functionality directly into some of their products. Where previously you could only make Dash orders via dedicated Wi-Fi-enabled buttons, the integration with Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service meant you were able to buy printer ink, pet food, and detergent right from your appliances. Now Whirlpool — one of the first companies to commit to the service — has explained how its new connected appliances will work with Amazon’s, integrating its Dash Replenishment Service directly into its mobile Smart Kitchen Suite app.
 
 The app, which runs on iOS and Android, will let you buy regularly used items with one click directly from your mobile device. It’ll also connect directly with a host of Whirlpool Smart appliances to be shown off at CES this week, including a new top-loading washer and dryer, and a new connected dishwasher. Both devices are capable of working out how many wash cycles you’ve done since your last order of detergent, and will prompt you via the app to buy more when you might be running low. Smart Kitchen Suite can also tell Whirlpool’s smart washer and dryer to activate various modes, including quiet mode for those late night wash sessions, and “wrinkle shield” for when you’re away from home but don’t want your clothes crumpling in the dryer.

Downton Abbey creator turns to apps

Alexandra Alter:

Mr. Fellowes, the creator of the hit historical British melodrama “Downton Abbey,” has worked on screenplays, stage plays, novels and a children’s book. He wrote the book for “School of Rock,” a raucous new Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber adapted from the 2003 Richard Linklater movie, and he is working on his new NBC series “The Gilded Age,” set in New York in the late 19th century.
 
 Now, for his next project, “Belgravia,” Mr. Fellowes is marrying an old narrative form — the serialized novel, in the tradition of Charles Dickens’s “The Pickwick Papers” — with the latest digital delivery system: an app.
 
 “Belgravia” takes place in London in the 1840s and opens decades earlier during the Battle of Waterloo. It explores the class divisions between the established aristocracy and newly wealthy families who made their fortunes through the Industrial Revolution. But instead of having the sweeping narrative arc of a novel, it will unfold more like a new network TV series, in 10 weekly digital installments that will arrive automatically on readers’ phones, tablets or computers. The chapters cost $1.99 each, and $13.99 all together. The app will also incorporate an audio version, music, video, character portraits, family trees, images of period fashion and maps of Belgravia.

Silicon Valley house hunting

Todd Frankel:

It’s Sunday, which means house-hunting for Barry and Katie Templin. They have been on the prowl for months and saving for years, looking for a place with reasonable commutes to their technology jobs and good public schools for their two young children. They hope that is not too much to ask, even in Silicon Valley, the nation’s most expensive housing market.
 
 They pull their decade-old SUV up to a house that needs to be torn down yet is offered at $1.5 million. “Home has original GE metal kitchen cabinets,” the listing brags. They walk up to find the house unlocked and empty. Black mold crawls over the walls. The ceiling is caving in. The wood floors groan as they pass through.

Marc Andreessen: ‘In 20 years, every physical item will have a chip implanted in it’

Madhumita Murgia:

The hype around the Internet of Things has been rising steadily over the past five years. In tech analyst Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies report in 2015, the IoT is at the peak of “inflated expectations”, particularly for areas like the smart home, which involve controlling your lights, thermostat or TV using your mobile phone.
 
 But the era of sensors has only just dawned, according to renowned technology investor and internet pioneer Marc Andreessen. In 10 years, he predicts mobile phones themselves could disappear.

.

“their smartphone lets them do all they need to do online”

John Horrigan and Maeve Duggan:

…many “smartphone-only” users say that the reason they do not have broadband at home is because their smartphone lets them do all they need to do online, underscoring the device’s utility for those without a home high-speed subscription.
 
 Still, the fact that more Americans have only a smartphone for online access at home has consequences for how people get information. Those who are “smartphone-dependent” for access do encounter distinct challenges. Previous Pew Research Center findings show that they are more likely than other users to run up against data-cap limits that often accompany smartphone service plans. They also more frequently have to cancel or suspend service due to financial constraints. Additionally, a recent Pew Research Center survey found that those who use digital tools for job searches face challenges when it comes to key tasks such as filling out job applications and writing cover letters.
 
 In general, when given a choice, people prefer to use their smartphone for getting in touch with family or friends but, for watching video, they prefer a device with a larger screen that uses a home broadband connection. At the same time, many “smartphone-only” users say that the reason they do not have broadband at home is because their smartphone lets them do all they

Digital America: A tale of the haves and have-mores

James Manyika, Sree Ramaswamy, Somesh Khanna, Hugo Sarrazin, Gary Pinkus, Guru Sethupathy, and Andrew Yaffe:

Digital capabilities, adoption, and usage are evolving at a supercharged pace. While most users scramble just to keep up with the relentless rate of innovation, the sectors, companies, and individuals on the digital frontier continue to push the boundaries of technology use—and to capture disproportionate gains as a result.
 
 The pronounced gap between the digital “haves” and “have-mores” is a major factor shaping competition at all levels of the economy. The companies leading the charge are winning the battle for market share and profit growth; some are reshaping entire industries to their own advantage. Workers with the most sophisticated digital skills are in such high demand that they command wages far above the national average. Meanwhile, there is a growing opportunity cost for the organizations and individuals that fall behind.
 
 Our new McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, Digital America: A tale of the haves and have-mores, represents the first major attempt to measure the ongoing digitization of the US economy at a sector level. It introduces the MGI Industry Digitization Index, which combines dozens of indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of where and how companies are building digital assets, expanding digital usage, and creating a more digital workforce. In addition to the information- and communication-technology sector, media, financial services, and professional services are surging ahead, while others have significant upside to capture.

The Year We Started Buying Phones Like We Buy Cars

Brian Barrett:

Remember carrier contracts? Those were the days! Or the years, rather; it’s the only thing most cellular customers in the US ever knew. It was an imperfect system, but it worked well enough before anyone really knew what a data plan or smartphones was, much less what they should cost. It didn’t hurt that the only real carrier options, in much of the country, were AT&T or Verizon.
 
 They offered a simple deal: We’ll subsidize the price of your phone, as long as you stick with us for two years. (Think that was bad? Many Canadian cellular contracts lasted three years until new regulations forced carriers to phase it out last spring.) This is the magic that kept very few people from ever paying more than $200 for an iPhone with a retail price three times that.

Disruptive Mobility: AV Deployment Risks and Possibilities

Brian Johnson (PDF).

Curated Books 2015

Heywood Hill, Ltd:

Put your reading in the hands of our expert booksellers and discover a wealth of literary delights. Our monthly book subscription is the ultimate present for the avid bibliophile and offers a truly bespoke service. After an initial reading consultation, the recipient will receive twelve beautifully wrapped books over the course of a year carefully chosen to suit their reading tastes by their personal bookseller. A subscriber recently wrote: “I didn’t really give much of a clue about my interests, but the books received to date have been very interesting. A highly enjoyable experience both reading and awaiting the next mystery package.”

The Economist:

The best books this year are about North Korea, Detroit, Nagasaki and being a pilot

Financial Times:

Where does literature end and fantasy begin? The answer would seem to involve dragons — or at least, you might have thought so in the early months of 2015 if you were following the debate over Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in 10 years, The Buried Giant.

Speaking ahead of publication, the British writer had wondered whether readers might be put off by the surface elements of his story, which follows an elderly couple on a quest through a Dark Ages landscape populated by mythical creatures and shrouded in an amnesia-inducing mist. His fears were partly realised. One review in the New York Times described it as a “ham-handed fairy tale” reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones, while on the other side of the genre divide the novelist Ursula Le Guin took umbrage at Ishiguro’s apparent dismissiveness and wrote scathingly of how his book failed as fantasy. She and Ishiguro later patched things up but by then the terms of the discussion around the book were set: an old argument over literary snobbery had been reignited and The Buried Giant was caught between the lines.

Which was a shame, because in many ways this was an entirely characteristic Ishiguro novel — both a study in the unreliability of historical memory that harked back to his earliest works and a meditation on love and mortality that resonated movingly with its predecessor, Never Let Me Go (2005). And as the SF elements of that book showed, there is nothing new about Ishiguro experimenting with genre. Perhaps it was his choice this time of fantasy that did it; what Margaret Atwood refers to as “speculative fiction” might sometimes struggle for mainstream literary recognition but it still fares better than the likes of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, for all the brio and narrative skill with which the American novelist has constructed his epic of power and politics in an age of looming climate catastrophe.

Jeff Haden @ Inc:

Ultimately we’re all products of our influences. Even groundbreaking business thinkers use the ideas, perspectives, and advice of others as the basis for their own thoughts and actions.

Since much of that acquired knowledge comes from books — and since thousands of books were published this year and one can read everything — what were the best business books in 2015?

That’s a great question, one Jurgen Appelo, a speaker, author, and leader of the business network Happy Melly, set out to answer. (I published his list of the Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts last year.) His team factored in ratings, votes, and rankings in an attempt to quantify the best business books of the year.

I’ve included Jurgen’s description of the methodology at the bottom of this post. Though truly quantifying “best” is impossible, the approach Appelo’s team used makes sense, especially when you read the books that made the list.

Tattered Cover’s Very Impressive Book Selections

Every now and then we encounter a new book that we’re so excited about we want to shout it from the rooftops, so we’ve created a special tag to distinguish it from the rest: TC V.I.B. (very impressive book)! That means it’s a true stand-out in a season of many excellent and compelling new books.

Can home buying be brought into the digital age?

Betaboston:

ago, if you were involved with the Web in Boston, one of the people you likely ran into was a forward-thinking Cambridge real estate broker named Bill Wendel. In 1995, before most people had Internet access at home, he opened the Real Estate Café outside of Harvard Square.
 
 Wendel saw the Internet as “a tool to correct the problems in the industry,” giving buyers more information and lowering the fees they paid as part of buying a home. But in 1995, there wasn’t a way for buyers to search the primary database of for-sale properties — so Wendel opened a storefront where they could do that, long before Trulia, Redfin, or Zillow came along.

Did You Really Agree to That? The Evolution of Facebook’s Privacy Policy

Jennifer Shore and Jill Steinman:

Results summary: We harvested old copies of Facebook’s privacy policies from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine from 2005 to 2015. We ranked each Facebook privacy policy based on its compliance with each of 33 relevant PPR Framework criteria, on a scale from 0 to 4 (with 0 indicating that the privacy policy did not meet a criterion at all, and 4 indicating that the criterion was fully met). We found a decline in 22 of the 33 standards we measured in Facebook’s stated privacy policy. Here are some examples. The measure of whether Facebook’s privacy policy fully describes use of Internet monitoring technologies, including but not limited to beacons, weblogs, and cookies, dropped from 4 to 0. The measure of whether the privacy policy fully describes under what circumstances data are externally disclosed started at 3, rose to 4 and then dropped to 0. The measure of whether the privacy policy describes a system that allows users to clearly identify data used for profiling and targeting started at 4 and dropped to 0. The measure of whether the privacy policy fully describes what ability the [user] has to change, segment, delete, or amend their information started at 4, bounced to 2 and back, and then dropped to 0. Drops in these measures suggest that privacy policies became less informative over time, even as word count soared.

In the Know Wherever You Go: Notifications

Agents and brokers can stay connected with buyers and seller wherever they go. Smartphones (10x the pc market and growing) dominate America’s digital time, with 90% of that attention in apps.

Tablets and emerging connected devices present another everywhere opportunity. Learn more in these short videos.

The smartphone is eating the television, Nielsen admits

Matthew Ingram:

TV viewership peaked in the 2010 season and has been falling ever since.

A new study of media and attention by Nielsen Co. confirms what has now become conventional wisdom: Smartphones are winning and traditional television is losing, especially when it comes to viewers in the most desirable 18 to 34 demographic.

Nielsen also says that traditional TV viewing by all age groups peaked in the 2009-2010 season, and has been on the decline ever since. Until that point, the audience for TV had grown every year since 1949.

The study is Nielsen’s first attempt to come up with a comprehensive measurement of video-viewing behavior across devices.

“The bottom line is that 45 percent of work activities could be automated using already demonstrated technology.”

Ana Swanson:

We’re used to thinking that the jobs that are most likely to be taken over by automation are low-skilled ones: clerks, lowly paper pushers, assembly line workers. In contrast, those on the very high end of the wage scale — doctors, CEOs and hedge fund managers — seem like they will be comfortably insulated from the robot revolution.

But new research from McKinsey & Company, a consultancy, shows that that isn’t quite right. While there is a connection between a job’s skill level and the likelihood it will be automated, there are a lot of jobs that don’t fit that pattern. One example: CEOs, whose jobs will be more affected by automation than landscapers, the researchers say.

The researchers argue that the way we usually talk about robots displacing workers is misleading. We typically try to identify the jobs that will disappear because of automation. In the near term, however, very few occupations will be automated away entirely. McKinsey estimates that, with the technology available today, fewer than 5 percent of occupations could be entirely turned over to robots.

McKinsey:

The bottom line is that 45 percent of work activities could be automated using already demonstrated technology. If the technologies that process and “understand” natural language were to reach the median level of human performance, an additional 13 percent of work activities in the US economy could be automated. The magnitude of automation potential reflects the speed with which advances in artificial intelligence and its variants, such as machine learning, are challenging our assumptions about what is automatable. It’s no longer the case that only routine, codifiable activities are candidates for automation and that activities requiring “tacit” knowledge or experience that is difficult to translate into task specifications are immune to automation.

In many cases, automation technology can already match, or even exceed, the median level of human performance required. For instance, Narrative Science’s artificial-intelligence system, Quill, analyzes raw data and generates natural language, writing reports in seconds that readers would assume were written by a human author. Amazon’s fleet of Kiva robots is equipped with automation technologies that plan, navigate, and coordinate among individual robots to fulfill warehouse orders roughly four times faster than the company’s previous system. IBM’s Watson can suggest available treatments for specific ailments, drawing on the body of medical research for those diseases.

How Technology Will Transform Retirement

Joseph Coughlin:

The available training isn’t just for work skills. There’s also help available online for retirees who want to practice their interview technique. Artificial-intelligence-based coaches will help retirees test themselves with a variety of virtual interviewers. An avatar will shoot tough questions their way, readying them for an interview with a potential boss who is younger than their own children.
 
 All of that applies to retirees who will want to seek out a traditional professional job behind a desk. But the Internet is also opening up options for retirees who don’t want to be confined to an office, who want a sort-of retirement. Consider peer-to-peer companies, which let people connect with other people to order services. It often doesn’t take special training or experience to hire oneself out to these services, and they provide the ultimate in flexibility. Active retirees who don’t mind spending the day on the road, for instance, might sign up to become drivers with Uber.

Mobile dominates wal-mart’s holiday sales

Ashley Rodriguez:

Maybe they should rename it Mobile Monday.
 
 From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (aka yesterday, Nov. 30), nearly half of Walmart’s online orders were placed through mobile devices—doubling the retailer’s mobile transactions from the same period a year earlier.
 
 The shift away from desktop orders means mobile has “firmly established itself as the dominant shopping trend, for both traffic and sales,” said Fernando Madeira, president and CEO of Walmart.com.
 
 “Our customers went from previously mostly searching and browsing on mobile, to making purchases at a much higher rate.”
 
 Mobile now makes up more than 70% of Walmart’s online traffic, the company said. And while its app is the fastest-growing and most popular in bricks-and-mortar retail, it’s hardly the only big-box chain seeing a migration to mobile orders.
 
 According to Adobe Digital Index, mobile accounted for nearly half of online traffic and 28%, or $514 million, of online sales on Cyber Monday, based on data for 125 million visits to 4,500 retail websites. The boost in mobile shopping also helped make this the biggest Thanksgiving weekend ever for e-commerce, with $11 billion in online sales from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, a 15% increase from last year.

Africa’s Mobile-Sun Revolution

Steven Sinofsky:

are just at the start of this next revolution at improving the lives of people in developing economies using solar power.
 
 Three sets of advances will contribute to improved standards of living relative to economics, safety and comfort.
 
 First, more and more battery-operated appliances will make their way into the world marketplace. At CES this year, we saw battery-operated developed-market products for everything from vacuum cleaners to stoves. Once something is battery-powered, it can be easily charged. These innovations will make their way to appliances that are useful in the context of the developing world, as we have seen with home lighting. The improvement in batteries in both cost and capacity (and weight) will drive major changes in appliances across all markets.
 
 Second, the lowering of the price of solar panels will continue, and they will become commonplace as the next infrastructure requirement. This will then make possible all sorts of improvements in schools, work and safety. One thing that can then happen is an improvement in communication that comes from high speed Wi-Fi throughout villages like the one described here. Solar can power point-to-point connectivity or even a satellite uplink. Obviously, costs of connectivity itself will be something to deal with, but we’ve already seen how people adapt their needs and use of cash flow when something provides an extremely high benefit. It is far more likely that Wi-Fi will be built out before broad-based 3G or 4G coverage and upgrades can happen.

Black Friday: tablets outspend desktops and smart phone shoppers dominate

IBM Watson:

Tablets Out Spend Desktops: For the first time, Tablets average order value of $136.42 exceeded that of desktops, which ended the day at $134.06. Smartphone shoppers spent $121.06 per order, an increase of 4.3 percent over 2014.
 
Smartphones Shoppers Dominate: Smartphones remained the Black Friday shopper’s device of choice. Smartphones accounted for 44.7 percent of all online traffic, 3 and a half times that of tablets at 12.5 percent. Smartphones surpassed tablets in sales, driving 20.6 percent of online sales (up nearly 75 percent over 2014) versus tablets at 15.5 percent.

IBM100 – Icons of Progress

IBM:

n the span of a century, IBM has evolved from a small business that made scales, time clocks and tabulating machines to a globally integrated enterprise with more than 400,000 employees and a strong vision for the future. The stories that have emerged throughout our history are complex tales of big risks, lessons learned and discoveries that have transformed the way we work and live. These 100 iconic moments—these Icons of Progress—demonstrate our faith in science, our pursuit of knowledge and our belief that together we can make the world work better.

The less social media, the more effective

Gary Getto:

While the social media treatment was likely chosen to appeal to Millennials, creative effectiveness data for that demographic group showed no significant differences from other groups.
 
 As you can see below, the highest scoring ad with an ABX Index of 133 (almost 33% above average) made effective use of food beauty shots, while the least effective ad at 110 emphasized the use of social media graphics and did not emphasize the food.

How Mad Men Lost the Plot

Ian Leslie:

An industry that used to compete with Hollywood is starting to wonder if it has become a colonial outpost of Silicon Valley. The prime spots on the Cannes beachfront this year belonged to Facebook and Google. A recent report from Accenture said that “marketing is so inextricably linked to technology that, by 2017, chief marketing officers are projected to spend more on information technology and analytics than chief information officers.”
 
 Ten years ago, ad agencies thought they had hit on a new formula for success: move on from the blunt instruments of conventional advertising and embrace the laser-sharp selling tools of digital media. The industry’s about-turn was made partly out of an instinct for self-preservation, but also from a yearning to be aligned with the zeitgeist, in a world where glamour has migrated from Madison Avenue to Palo Alto. To some, however, it feels as if they have given up the ghost.
 
 Goodby’s cri de coeur echoed the anxieties of others. In April this year, Giles Hedger, chief of strategy for Leo Burnett Worldwide, wrote a polemic for the industry’s UK trade journal, Campaign, bemoaning the domination of advertising by technology: “The belief that [the] marketing contract can be stripped of all its joyful subjectivity until all that remains between consumer and brand is transaction . . . is the fallacy of our time.” Hedger described his views as “heresy” but said he believed “the voices of sanity are growing around us”.

Atom Bank founder: we will be the world’s first telepathic brand

Sara Spary:


 Anthony Thomson the founder of online-only bank Atom said the brand will be “telepathic” in its prediction of customer needs, offering up solutions to problems before they are even considered.
 
 Speaking at the Marketing Society annual conference in London, Thomson, who announced yesterday start-up bank Atom had won £135m in funding, said he wanted Atom to be so close to customers’ needs it almost read minds.
 
 The former marketer, who founded Atom with the mission of being the Uber of the banking sector, said the concept of Atom tapped into the proliferation of mobile and how embedded tech has become in daily life.

On Manipulating Search Results

Max Slater-Robins:

Executives at Yelp and TripAdvisor are angry at Google for burying their search results well below its own offerings — an issue the search giant says was caused by a “bug” — Re/code reports.
 
 Users who searched for queries that contained the company names — e.g. “yelp ozumo” or “TripAdvisor Hilton” — found that a Google-related result was the top option, which takes up the whole page on a mobile device. This would, according to Re/code, direct traffic away from Yelp and TripAdvisor.
 
 

Google Says Local Search Result That Buried Rivals Yelp, TripAdvisor Is Just a Bug

Mark Bergen:

Over the weekend, executives from public Internet companies Yelp and TripAdvisor noted a disturbing trend: Google searches on smartphones for their businesses had suddenly buried their results beneath Google’s own. It looked like a flagrant reversal of Google’s stated position on search, and a move to edge out rivals.
 
 Nope, it’s a bug, claims Google. “The issues cited were caused by a recent code push, which we’re working quickly to fix,” a Google spokeswoman said.
 
 In the meantime, the “issues” may be diverting tons of traffic from Google’s competitors. Some, particularly Google’s longtime rival Yelp, are not pleased. “Far from a glitch, this is a pattern of behavior by Google,” said its CEO Jeremy Stoppelman.