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

Spencer Soper:

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


Facebook, It’s Time to Open Up

Leila Abboud:

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

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

Facebook Overestimated Key Video Metric For Two Years

Suzanne Vranica and Jack Marshall

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

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

Eric Brantner

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

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

Russell Brandom

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

Can e-bikes revolutionise long-distance commuting?

Renate Van der Zee

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

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


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

The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report


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

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

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

Why implement a CRM?

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

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

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

A survey example:

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

Those contacts are then used for:

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

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

Demand for future transport

David Levinson

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

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

Peter Kafka

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

L’Oréal: How technology is transforming beauty

Sophie Curtis

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

Airbnb gets into the Property Management Business


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

Mobile ad spend to exceed desktop by 2017


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

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

Andrew Griffin

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

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

Kieren McCarthy:

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

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

Oliver Suess & Jan-Henrik Foerster

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

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

“The thing that you measure will get gamed”

Matt Levine:

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

How Google Analytics ruined marketing

Samuel Scott:

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

Are Cities Too Complicated?

Richard Florida

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

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

Laurent Haug

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

The demise of advertising business models

John Hagel III

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

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

Stanford HCI

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

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

Fix the Debt

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

New Streets for North America’s Cities

Kevin Krizek & David Levinson

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

Spatial Economics

Bain & Company PDF

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

How monetizing became malvertising

Barrett Golding:

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

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

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

Related: Fred Benenson:

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

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

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

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

Teens Who Say No to Social Media

Christine Rosen:

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

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

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


David Levinson & Kevin Krizek:

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

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

Mark Gimeon:

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

Relaxing Privacy Vow, WhatsApp Will Share Some Data With Facebook

Mike Isaac & Mark Scott

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

The Japanese Zoning System

Alex Tabarrok

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

The world’s most liveable cities

The Economist:

Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries. Melbourne tops the list for the sixth year in a row (see chart, right), and six of the top ten cities are in Australia or Canada. But Sydney, Australia’s largest city, drops out of the top ten due to fears over terrorism.
 Damascus is the lowest-ranked city with a rating of just 30.2 out of 100, scoring poorly in all categories (understandably, due to Syria’s ruinous civil war). Kiev, the only European city in the bottom ten, performs better for health care and education but has a low stability score due to Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

Nightmare on Main Street: America’s housing system lacks reform

The Economist:

WHAT are the most dysfunctional parts of the global financial system? China’s banking industry, you might say, with its great wall of bad debts and state-sponsored cronyism. Or the euro zone’s taped-together single currency, which stretches across 19 different countries, each with its own debts and frail financial firms. Both are worrying. But if sheer size is your yardstick, nothing beats America’s housing market.
 It is the world’s largest asset class, worth $26 trillion, more than America’s stockmarket. The slab of mortgage debt lurking beneath it is the planet’s biggest concentration of financial risk. When house prices started tumbling in the summer of 2006, a chain reaction led to a global crisis in 2008-09. A decade on, the presumption is that the mortgage-debt monster has been tamed. In fact, vast, nationalised, unprofitable and undercapitalised, it remains a menace to the world’s biggest economy.

“All of the growth is coming from the technology that we’re rolling out,”

Leslie Shaffer:

The tech investments can be seen in the earnings: Australia-listed Domino’s Pizza Enterprises reported on Tuesday that net profit for the year ended June 30 jumped around 29 percent to A$82.4 million ($63.32 million).
 Meij cited explosive growth in online ordering, which outstripped like-for-like store sales.
 “Japan was 31 percent online order growth, all the way up to parts of Europe, where we had over 120 percent order growth,” he said. “We continue to digitally expand.”

Can Tech Tools Make Apartment-Hunting in New York Affordable?

Patrick Clark:

“That’s the way the rental brokerages operate,” said Ori Goldman, a cofounder at Loftey, a year-old startup that promises to save renters money when they move. The tactic, Goldman said, is commonplace in a city where about 30,000 brokers—many part-time—compete to help renters sign about 5,000 or so leases every month. “The only way they know how to get clients is to bait and switch.”
 Obnoxious as it may be, sorting through fake listings is only the beginning of the ordeal for renters, who often parade through other people’s apartments at odd times of day in a high-pressure race against their own expiring leases. At the hunt’s end comes one last indignity: paying the broker, who in New York typically collects 15 percent of the annual rent on the apartment. That works out to an average broker fee of $5,600, according to Julia Ramsey, chief executive officer at Joinery, another startup tackling apartment-hunting pains.
 “There are a couple ways that renters are getting screwed,” Ramsey said. “The sheer amount you’re paying a broker is probably the biggest one.”

The 2015 Ad Blocking Report


In this report we drill into geographic detail, providing per-country and per-state information on ad block usage rates, monthly active user counts, as well as estimates of the total cost to publishers in many regions. We find that not only has ad blocking continued its fast growth on desktop, but it has also leaped onto mobile in Asia, and will soon go mobile in the West with the upcoming launch of content blocking on iOS.

Mimesis, Violence, and Facebook: Peter Thiel’s French Connection


As we saw previously, Thiel was ruminating on Strauss, Schmitt, and Girard in the summer of 2004, but also on the future of social media platforms, which he found himself in a position to help shape. It is worth adding that around the same time, Thiel was involved in the founding of Palantir Technologies, a data analysis company whose main clients are the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense – a company explicitly founded, according to Thiel, to forestall acts of destabilizing violence like 9/11. One may speculate that Thiel understood Facebook to serve a parallel function. According to his own account, he identified the new platform as a powerful conduit of mimetic desire. In Girard’s account, the original conduits of mimetic desire were religions, which channeled socially destructive, “profane” violence into sanctioned forms of socially consolidating violence. If the sacrificial and juridical superstructures designed to contain violence had reached their limits, Thiel seemed to understand social media as a new, technological means to achieving comparable ends.
 If we take Girard’s mimetic theory seriously, the consequences for the way we think about social media are potentially profound. For one, it would lead us to conclude that social media platforms, by channeling mimetic desire, also serve as conduits of the violence that goes along with it. That, in turn, would suggest that abuse, harassment, and bullying – the various forms of scapegoating that have become depressing constants of online behavior – are features, not bugs: the platforms’ basic social architecture, by concentrating mimetic behavior, also stokes the tendencies toward envy, rivalry, and hatred of the Other that feed online violence. From Thiel’s perspective, we may speculate, this means that those who operate those platforms are in the position to harness and manipulate the most powerful and potentially destabilizing forces in human social life – and most remarkably, to derive profits from them. For someone overtly concerned about the threat posed by such forces to those in positions of power, a crucial advantage would seem to lie in the possibility of deflecting violence away from the prominent figures who are the most obvious potential targets of popular ressentiment, and into internecine conflict with other users.

How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers?

Cara McGoogan:

data, prodding users to provide it with their memories, cherished moments and relationships. And for years, it has badgered users into handing out their phone numbers.
 More recently, however, it has taken a different tack – taking mobile numbers from other, less direct, sources and adding them to profiles. Users who don’t willingly give the company their mobile number are now asked to verify one that Facebook “thinks” is yours.
 This has shocked some users who, having not given the app permission to see their contacts, wondered how it had got hold of their numbers.

The Future of the Internet Isn’t the Web

Dillon Baker:

The app-centric internet seems to be winning—as of 2015, 85 percent of the time users spend on mobile is in apps.

As Chris Anderson argues in a 2010 Wired feature called “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet,” “As much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work.”

As that 2010 article from Wired suggests, media analysts have seen this change coming for a while. John Herrman, formerly of The Awl and now a fellow at The New York Times, wrote a series of articles called “Content Wars” in which he outlined the implications of a consolidated, platform-centric internet.

The most widely regarded of those articles is titled “The Next Internet Is TV.” In it, Herrman argues that the internet is increasingly taking the form of TV, in which users surf from “channel to channel.” In this case, the channels are platforms like Facebook and Snapchat. The subheading of the piece sums up his argument well: “Websites are unnecessary vestiges of a time before there were better ways to find things to look at on your computer or your phone.”

This transformation accelerated in 2015 and 2016. Facebook’s Instant Articles and its native video player have begun to subsume news and video, respectively. Apple has gotten into the news game with Apple News. And Snapchat’s Discover works with publishers and brand partners to produce platform-exclusive content.

Even Google has tried to adapt to the trend, releasing “accelerated mobile pages” in February in an attempt to match the speed and superior user experience of Facebook Instant Articles while sacrificing some of its commitment to a (relatively) open web. AMP is open to anyone (including brands), and became the default result for mobile search earlier this month—one of the biggest SEO developments in years.

The Case Against Everyone’s Favorite Tax Break: The Mortgage Interest Deduction

Massive new study lifts the lid on top websites’ tracking secrets

Bill Camarda:

So… according to the Princeton review, who tracks most? That’ll be news, arts, and sports sites, which typically provide content for free and “lack an external funding source, [and] are pressured to monetize page views with significantly more advertising.”
 And who tracks least? “Mostly sites which belong to government organizations, universities, and non-profit entities… websites [that] may be able to forgo advertising and tracking due to the presence of funding sources external to the web.” Oh, and adult sites, too.
 Next, Englehardt and Narayanan turned to fingerprinting: techniques for individually identifying anonymous site visitors based on the unique characteristics of their hardware and software. (Check out our detailed primer on fingerprinting here.) The researchers wanted to know: Is it really being used in the wild? How widely? Which techniques?
 They began with HTML Canvas fingerprinting, reflecting subtle differences in the way browsers and devices render HTML5 Canvas-based images. Canvas fingerprinting showed up on 14,371 sites – far more than a similar measurement in 2014.



expensive coffee and the skinny jeans/plaid shirt combo. True hipsters, however, identify themselves not only by a certain look but also by a set of ideals. According to UrbanDictionary.com, hipsters are mainly men and women in their 20s and 30s who dislike anything ‘mainstream,’ have progressive political ideas and enjoy indie rock and art.
 Whether you are intrigued by this subculture or would like to avoid it altogether, you need to know the cities where hipsters gather. And as we should all recognize, there’s more to hipsters than just the look. They are a group that frequents certain types of businesses, and whose communities share particular characteristics.
 From the perspective of a marketer or business owner, there is a competitive advantage to leverage when you know where your target market lives and the main characteristics and interests of their community.
 Infogroup, the leading provider of innovative marketing and data solutions, found which U.S. metros are more “hip” than others using its verified business database of more than 15 million records. The business data identified the metro areas which most closely identified with businesses providing products and services that appealed to hipsters.
 The types of businesses targeted as being closely related to “hipster” culture were microbreweries (manufacturers), records/tapes/CD (retail), music dealers, coffee shops (non-chains only), beer & ale (retail), thrift shops, bicycle dealers, tattoo parlors, and music and live entertainment.

Alphabet’s Earnings & Revenue Per Click/Tap

Richard Waters:

The lower pricing on mobile ads continued to weigh on its average cost per click, though the pressure moderated from the preceding quarter, with a decline of 7 per cent compared to 9 per cent in the first months of the year.

Recent efforts to cap its fast-growing expenses also continued in the latest quarter, lifting the company’s pro-forma operating profit margin by a percentage point, to 35 per cent.

Let’s Compare II

eight lessons we learned Social media team: one year later

Denise Law:

placed a big bet on social media. We expanded our editorial social-media team from two to ten people with the aim of delivering our journalism to more globally curious people around the world.
 The decline in print advertising — accelerated by the rapid rise of digital media — has prompted us to focus more on building a sustainable subscriptions-based business. We have long believed in the paywall model; that readers should pay for well-researched journalism they can’t get elsewhere. To expand our subscriber base, we need to find new subscribers, which is why we invested in a social-media team.

Let’s Compare


  1. MLS App is Slow, very un app like in 2016. Supports yesterday.
  2. Virtual Properties’ Agent App provides agents with useful tools in one tap. Consider the training, recruiting and retention benefits.
  3. Agent meets or talks with a prospect. Tap stats and immediately shares live trends and statistics on ALL searches, including your entire market.
  4. Modern sharing: immediately capture the client’s contact information AND provide them with something unique and useful.
  5. Agent and Broker Branding
    • Trends and statistics include:
      1. Market Absorption
      2. Days on Market
      3. List to Sale Price Ratio
      4. Live Ranges: Low, Median, Average, High Sale and List Prices (sales power for your agents – on the fly)
  6. Every screen and filter displays a live count. This allows your agents to immediately share data with clients. This is useful for pricing and location discussions.

    The MLS app only displays 75 properties at a time….Slow and incomplete. Yesterday.

    For example, what is the price/inventory difference between three and four bedroom homes or other filters? Your agents can answer these questions immediately.

    They are on top of the market with the Virtual Properties’ Agent App.

Call 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io for quick demonstration.

PANTONE Releases Its Color Forecast Report For A/W 2017-2018

Dorothy Tan:

Mauve shades gather in strength and focus.”
 In the context, colors play a distinctive role in “transforming appearance and fulfilling a fundamental desire for change”.
 Head over here to read more about PANTONE’s color report, and find out which colors it predicts would be trending next year.

Recruiting Win: Tap to Capture, Connect and Close

Grow your business and stay connected with today’s buyers and sellers.

An executive at a very large firm recently mentioned these factors when considering customer experiences and market share:

  1. 71% of internet time is now mobile [Link].
  2. Unlock your room with the Hilton app. Order room service. [Link]
  3. Unlock your rental car doors & flash the headlights using the Avis App [Link]
  4. Snapchat, a very fast growing app only experience [Link]
  5. Turkey’s President Erdogan communicated via iPhone FaceTime recently [Link].
  6. The old and new: [Link]
  7. Pokemon Go, a very popular “AR” (augmented reality) app [Link news]

Does your brokerage have the right tools for today and tomorrow?

One app, one system from leads to closings.

1. Capture

2. Connect


One app, one system from leads to closings.

These quick comparisons are useful for recruiting and retention discussions along with ongoing sales training.

Reply if you’d like a detailed comparison.

Call 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io

Money as Message How WeChat got users to adopt payments as a way to grow its network

Connie Chan:

Network effects — where a product or service becomes more valuable to its users as more people use it — are one of the key ways software businesses maintain a better product and more defensible market position. This is especially true of messaging apps like WeChat — which, as I’ve argued before, is not just a messaging app but is actually more of a portal, a platform, and a mobile operating system. However you label it, WeChat is an entire ecosystem in and of itself, especially as it’s used in Asia. This is largely enabled by the sheer amount of payments credentials attached to user accounts, which significantly reduces friction in transacting across the marketplace, both online and offline.