Millennials will Drive the Digital Transformation of the Workplace

Carolina Milanesi:

At Creative Strategies, we asked over 1,400 18 to 24 years old in the US what would make them not choose a company to work for after they were offered a job. While 35% were just happy to get a job, 46% would see not being able to work flexible hours as a dealbreaker. 21% would walk away from a job that did not let them use a smartphone for work in conjunction with their laptop or desktop, while another 17% could not tolerate an IT department that restricts what can be done with a smartphone. Finally, 14% could not be in a job that did not offer collaboration practices that fit their desired workflow, such as using apps like Google Docs or Slack, as well as video conference support.
 
 Workflow is different for millennials. Aside from prioritizing collaboration, 65% said their preferred method to communicate is messaging apps. When it comes to collaboration, Google reigns supreme with 81% of US millennials regularly using Google Docs, 62% Google search, 59% Google Mail. Outside of Google, Apple iMessage scored the highest, with 57% of millennials saying they regularly rely on it, followed by Microsoft Word with 51%.
 
 When it comes to devices, given a choice of laptop brands by their employer, there are only two brands that seem to matter: 62% would pick an Apple Mac and 14% would choose a Microsoft Surface Pro. Mobility is also no longer a “nice to have”. 34% of millennials say it is extremely important that the software, services and business processes they use for work are available on mobile as well as on a laptop. Finally, when coming into a job, 46% would prefer to be able to choose what laptop is given to them.

Wal Mart’s No interest credit promotion

Dennis Eckert:

Special financing offers have been around for years. One type works by offering you, the customer, no interest on a purchase if you pay off the balance before the promotional period ends. This can be a good deal, so long as you do pay off your purchase before the promotional period ends.
 
 The issue is that, if you haven’t paid off the balance of your purchase by the time the grace period ends – let’s say that’s 12 months, for example – you may be stuck with a pile of interest that was building up during that time. So, even if you have just a fraction of the purchase price left to pay on day 366, you could owe 12 months’ worth of interest based on the balance. That means your wallet could take a significant hit.
 
 The reality is most people’s lives are anything but predictable, and paying off a purchase within a set period of time doesn’t always happen as planned. We have responsibilities that weigh on us – tasks and relationships to juggle and, of course, a never-ending stack of bills to pay.

The lock screen battle: How The New York Times, CNN and BuzzFeed News pushed the Trump-FBI story to mobile readers

Mădălina Ciobanu:

President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey has been making headlines since 9 May, when the White House published a statement citing the president’s decision, and the ramifications of this event have kept news organisations and readers’ lock screens busy ever since.
 
 At least once a day over the last week, if not more frequently, news outlets have been alerting audiences to new developments in the story.
 
 With so many updates, conflicting statements and key figures involved, it can be tricky for readers, even those with prior knowledge of Comey and his prominence in the 2016 US election, to keep track of what was happening, or to become interested in the news in the first place.

How The Economist found its niche on a visual platform

Ria Jones:

Instagram is one of our fastest-growing social media platforms, with engagements rising nearly 70% year on year. The platform has enabled us to showcase the breadth of our journalism beyond what we are traditionally known for, which is our print content. At The Economist we strive to reach a “globally curious” audience and our Instagram feed is no exception. Our presence has allowed us to cultivate a younger audience, and we are proud to have an even gender split of followers.
 Some of our most popular posts combine a striking image with a timely news event. The photo we posted of Bastille Day celebrations later summed up collective grief in the wake of the Nice attack. An image of composer Ludovico Einaudi, performing his specially composed “Elegy for the Arctic” in front of a glacier, was beautiful but also pertinent to conservation issues. In addition to photos, our feed also includes covers, cartoons, charts and videos to highlight the diversity of The Economist’s journalism.

ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA MYTH EVAPORATING

Bob Hoffman:

“Extensive new research” from a firm called EngagementLabs throws about an ocean of cold water on this belief.
 
 Here’s what they did. Over the course of a year, they did a week-by-week study comparing online chatter with real talk – “the conversations people have in person with family, friends, colleagues at work” – for 500 brands.
 
 They measured four parameters: Volume (the amount of talk); Net sentiment (positive talk minus negative talk; Sharing of content, and Influence (do the people who chatter matter?)
 
 Here’s what they found.
 For volume “the findings were mixed… But for all practical purposes, the association was not sufficient that a brand marketer could reasonably assume that one is a mirror to the other.”
 For sentiment, “no meaningful correlation at all.”
 For sharing “…the correlation for brand sharing was essentially zero…it is fair to conclude that consumer engagement with brands’ marketing content works entirely independently offline and online.”
 
 And finally, the affect on more influential consumers? “On this metric there is a slightly negative correlation.” In other words, the more online, the less real-world.
 
 While positive word-of-mouth is a valuable asset to marketers, this study is pretty damaging to the theory that social media is related to real-world word-of-mouth.
 
 Like so many other social media fantasies, the idea that social media chatter is the “tip of the iceberg” of consumer interest is turning out to be another marketing delusion.

Uber Doesn’t Want You to See This Document About Its Vast Data Surveillance System

Kashmir Hill:

The ever-expanding operations of Uber are defined by two interlocking and zealously guarded sets of information: the things the world-dominating ride-hailing company knows about you, and the things it doesn’t want you to know about it. Both kinds of secrets have been in play in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco, as Ward Spangenberg, a former forensic investigator for Uber, has pursued a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the company.
 
 The case, filed in May of last year, has weaponized Uber’s secrecy. Most sensationally, Spangenberg’s suit got significant press coverage in December for his claims that company employees accessed its data inappropriately to track exes and to spy on celebrities like Beyoncé. Uber responded to those claims by saying that employees only have access to the amount of customer data they need to do their jobs and that all data access is logged and routinely audited, with thorough investigations performed in the event of potential violations.

How Coca-Cola targeted ads based on people’s Facebook, Instagram photos

Tanya Dua:

When Coca-Cola wanted to push iced-tea drinkers to consider its Gold Peak brand this summer, it didn’t target people like most brands do by using their search history. Instead, it combed through consumers’ photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and served them ads based on images they shared on those platforms.
 
 Gold Peak tapped into an image recognition engine that identified people who posted images that featured glasses or jugs of iced tea, displayed emotions such as happiness and excitement as well as contained cans or bottles of its competitors, including Snapple, Honest Tea, Lipton and others. Those people were then served Gold Peak ads on 40 mobile sites and apps after leaving Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
 
 For example, if you posted a picnic table spread with a jug of iced tea somewhere in the mix on Instagram, Gold Peak could have targeted you with ads while you read an article on Business Insider or checked the weather on the AccuWeather app in the past month, thanks to your photo.

Tesco Now

Tesco:

What is Tesco Now?
 
 Tesco Now is a secret app that’s not yet available to the public. There has been no mention of it since 2015 when the supermarket trademarked the name.
 
 The app lets you order a limited range of groceries, similar to what you can find at a Tesco Express:

The end of petrol and diesel cars? All vehicles will be electric by 2025, says expert

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.
 
 This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.

DocuSign breach

DocuSign:

Last week and again this morning, DocuSign detected an increase in phishing emails sent to some of our customers and users – and we posted alerts here on the DocuSign Trust Site and in social media. The emails “spoofed” the DocuSign brand in an attempt to trick recipients into opening an attached Word document that, when clicked, installs malicious software. As part of our process in response to phishing incidents, we confirmed that DocuSign’s core eSignature service, envelopes and customer documents remain secure.
 
 However, as part of our ongoing investigation, today we confirmed that a malicious third party had gained temporary access to a separate, non-core system that allows us to communicate service-related announcements to users via email. A complete forensic analysis has confirmed that only email addresses were accessed; no names, physical addresses, passwords, social security numbers, credit card data or other information was accessed. No content or any customer documents sent through DocuSign’s eSignature system was accessed; and DocuSign’s core eSignature service, envelopes and customer documents and data remain secure.

Profits From Store-Branded Credit Cards Hide Depth of Retailers’ Troubles

Michael Corkery & Jessica Silver-Greenberg:

Department stores and big name retailers are increasingly making the hard sell to sign up customers for credit cards at the register. The store cards promise deep discounts on clothing, furniture and electronics, and are tough for shoppers to resist.
 
 For some retailers, those credit cards are not just a sales tool, but also an essential way to bolster their struggling businesses — a trend that has worrisome implications for the industry and its customers.
 
 The store cards, with steep interest rates that are often twice that of the average credit card, generate a rich profit stream for retailers at a time when many of America’s traditional retailers are losing the battle for sales against Amazon and other e-commerce rivals. Those profits on plastic are helping obscure the true extent of the industry’s pain, a major pressure point for a piece of the economy that employs one in 10 Americans.

Rent seeking and digital monopolies

pro market:

“The deeper you delve into the reasons artists are struggling in the digital age, the more you see that internet monopolies are at the heart of the problem and that the problem is no longer just for artists,” he writes. “Monopoly control of our data and corporate lobbying are at the heart of this story.”
 
 In an interview with ProMarket,1) Taplin discussed the rise of monopoly platforms and the part that rent-seeking and regulatory capture play in the digital economy today.
 
 Q: How did you become interested in antimonopoly?
 
 It was a very personal story. Levon Helm, who was the drummer for The Band, got throat cancer in 2000. He’d been making a decent living off of royalties from past records that he had made 15 years before, then Napster happened and that just ended. It just so happened that he got throat cancer at that very point. He had to pay for medical bills and he couldn’t go on the road because he could hardly sing.
 
 Eventually he figured out how to do something by having shows at his house, getting a bunch of friends to come and play and calling it the Midnight Rambles. He made a little money, but not enough, just barely paid his bills. It just seemed incredibly unfair to me. That’s how it started.

Continued rise in use of mobile devices for news

Pew Internet:

Nearly half of U.S. adults (45%) often get news on a mobile device. That is 9 percentage points above just a year ago, when 36% often got news this way, with significant growth occurring among Democrats but not Republicans. What’s more, an increasing share of Americans also prefer getting news on mobile over a desktop computer. Among those who get news on both types of devices, nearly two-thirds (65%) say they prefer mobile

Zillow faces lawsuit over ‘Zestimate’ tool that calculates a house’s worth

Kenneth Harney.

In an interview, Andersen told me she is considering bringing the issue to the Illinois attorney general because it affects all property owners in the state. She has also been approached about turning the matter into a class action, which could touch millions of owners across the country.

In the suit, Andersen said that she has been trying to sell her townhouse, which overlooks a golf course and is in a prime location, for $626,000 — roughly what she paid for it in 2009. Houses directly across the street but with greater square footage sell for $100,000 more, according to her court filing. But Zillow’s automated valuation system has apparently used sales of newly constructed houses from a different and less costly part of town as comparables in valuing her townhouse, she says. The most recent Zestimate is for $562,000. Andersen is seeking an injunction against Zillow and wants the company to either remove her Zestimate or amend it. For the time being, she is not seeking monetary damages, she told me.

“Anticipating needs”

Said Business School:

Marketing Tech’s ‘Connected Consumer’ report suggests that by 2020 57% of business buyers will switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs.
 
 Personalisation means that advertising will have to change. The rise of adblockers, particularly among young people, is not because consumers do not want to see advertisements. It’s just that the industry has failed to keep up with the type of content that people want to see and share. Google’s move from a 30-second advertisement format to a 6-second format spells the end of teasers, conceptual, and clever advertisements. Digital advertising now needs to be big-picture and very visual.
 
 They trust influencers
 
 Vloggers and social media influencers are word-of-mouth recommendations for the digital age. Beauty and digital make a particularly good match because they are both very visual. There are over 45 billion videos and tutorials available on the internet, 95% of them done by people in their bedrooms. Their apparent authenticity allows them to connect with consumers in a way that traditional magazines and advertisers are now struggling to do.

“The put price quoted Sept. 26 means a vendor would be paying 35 percent of the value of shipped goods on an annualized basis merely for payment protection. “

Reuters

The put option has “sky-rocketed into the uneconomical range,” said Marc Wagman, managing director of Aequus Trade Credit, whose clients include Sears vendors. “Sears suppliers in this case have few options.”
 
 Wagman said some of his clients are reconsidering whether they can afford the risk of selling to Sears.
 
 Brathwaite, the Sears spokesman, said he believed put prices and other insurance reflect “perception rather than reality” and that providers of these financial products can use “false information to their advantage.”

Introducing the Citymapper Smartbus

citymapper:

We also feel buses haven’t evolved enough. They still roam around cities utilising old systems of operations and inefficient technology. If we’re going to solve urgent problems of congestion and infrastructure, we need buses to improve, to operate smarter. In the era of smartphones we can have responsive buses that react to realtime needs.
 
 Buses also get a bad rep, and are seen as a subpar experience. Even when they’re the best transport option, some people don’t take them. Perhaps we can help change that by improving the bus experience.

USA TODAY asks FBI to probe rise in fake Facebook followers

Elizabeth Weise and Brad Heath:

The April purge of fake accounts reduced USA TODAY’s Facebook likesby 6 million, from 15.2 million to 9.5 million as of Thursday night. Wadsworth said Facebook told Gannett it planned to purge another 3 million accounts soon, which could reduce overall followers to as low as 6.5 million.
 
 Merely creating accounts – even a lot of them – that violate Facebook’s terms probably wouldn’t be a crime, said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and director of the school’s Cybersecurity Law Initiative. “Beyond that, it would depend on what they did with the fake accounts.”
 
 Facebook said in mid-April it didn’t appear the spam operation had been activated yet. It didn’t involve any paid ads. Still, Gannett had halted marketing efforts meant to attract new readers until it gets the issue under control, Wadsworth said. She said an internal investigation had found no evidence that Gannett or its marketing campaigns had deliberately attracted fake accounts.

Why the Retail Crisis Could Be Coming to American Groceries

Craig Giammona:

These are tough times for the U.S. retail industry, with stores closing at a record pace so far in 2017. It’s no secret why: Amazon is gobbling up more and more sales of clothing, electronics, and other items that once drew shoppers to department stores and malls. The grocery business has been a safe haven in recent years. Only about 1 percent of the roughly $1.5 trillion industry has moved online. That’s made supermarkets an attractive real estate tenant in an era when other shopping has moved from the mall to the living room couch. The reliability of food sales has also drawn more and more stores into the market for prepared food, snacks, and other traditional grocery items as a reliable driver of store traffic. After all, we have to eat and get more garbage bags.

“It’s perceived as relatively impervious to the shift online,” James Cook, director of retail research at JLL, said of the grocery business. “For most of America, food is not purchased online.”

Regulating the internet giants: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

The Economist

A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

60 Years of Urban Change: Midwest

Shane Hampton:

60 years has made a big difference in the urban form of American cities. The most rapid change occurred during the mid-century urban renewal period that cleared large tracts of urban land for new highways, parking, and public facilities or housing projects. Fine-grained networks of streets and buildings on small lots were replaced with superblocks and megastructures. While the period did make way for impressive new projects in many cities, many of the scars are still unhealed.
 
 We put together these sliders to show how cities have changed over half a century.

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he said. “That sucks.”

Ashlee Vance

In 2011 a young computer scientist named Jeff Hammerbacher said something profound while explaining why he’d decided to leave Facebook—and the promise of a small fortune—to start a company. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he said. “That sucks.”
 
 Hammerbacher was getting at the idea that so many of the world’s best and brightest people flocking to Silicon Valley for jobs at companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. might be an unhealthy use of human capital. Sure, these companies offered plenty of interesting work, but much of it revolved around the core business of advertising. Very smart people were pouring their energy into an unromantic goal: keeping the rest of us on their websites so we might click on an ad for an irritable bowel syndrome cure.
 
 Hammerbacher’s flippant remark has lived on because it captures a crucial sentiment, one that’s even more important today than in 2011. Google and Facebook are unlike any other two companies in history. They’re technology-and-advertising hybrids—strange amalgams with incredible power. They’re building the tools we use to communicate, to do business, to form and maintain relationships, to learn, to travel to and fro, and to relax. And they’re doing all of this while being wholly dependent on ad dollars for their survival. Never have advertising companies had such an all-encompassing influence on our life. And next year it will be even greater.

Americans hang up on landlines as cellphone homes dominate

Anick Jesdunan:

Deborah Braswell, a university administrator in Alabama, is a member of a dwindling group — people with a landline phone at home.
 
 According to a U.S. government study released Thursday, 50.8 percent of homes and apartments had only cellphone service in the latter half of 2016, the first time such households attained a majority in the survey. Braswell and her family are part of the 45.9 percent that still have landline phones. The remaining households have no phone service at all.
 
 More than 39 percent of U.S. households — including Braswell’s — have both landline and cellphone service. The landline comes in handy when someone misplaces one of the seven cellphones kicking around her three-story house in a Birmingham suburb. “You walk around your house calling yourself to find it,” she says.

Spotlight on consumer app usage

Eric Thompson:

How many apps do smartphone users regularly use, and how much time do they spend on their phones? Our latest report looks at just how engaged the average smartphone user is.
 
 Mobile’s continued global growth is evident when looking at market-level data. Take, for example, some of the statistics reported in our 2016 Retrospective: In 2016, users downloaded over 90 billion apps on the iOS App Store and Google Play, and they spent nearly 900 billion hours in apps.
 
 While these figures are impressive, they can only tell a broad story about the sum of many users’ actions. What about the users themselves? Just how prevalent are apps in the average user’s life?
 
 In our latest report, Spotlight on Consumer App Usage, we tackle this question. Thanks to data from App Annie Intelligence, we took a granular look at the average user’s app usage in major countries.

Three Hard Lessons the Internet Is Teaching Traditional Stores

Christopher Mims:

With brick-and-mortar stores closing at a record pace, retail in the U.S. feels like it’s at a tipping point. Many of the stores that once filled the malls of America have become “zombies,” while online retailers capture ever more of the most valuable consumers—the young and affluent.

Legacy retailers are trying to play catch-up, but they’re saddled by huge fixed costs, investors who prefer dividends to innovations, and CEOs incentivized to focus on the next quarter, not the next decade. It’s only a matter of time before Amazon.com ’s AMZN -0.75% army of physical retail formats turn into an existential threat to everyone from mom and pop to Kroger and Wal-Mart . WMT -0.10%

That doesn’t mean retailers are taking this lying down. As online brands begin to build physical shops, the old guard is taking notes—and in many cases, writing checks. Wal-Mart, for example, has been on an acquisition binge of late. It’s now in talks to buy men’s clothier Bonobos for $300 million.

I’m an ex-Facebook exec: don’t believe what they tell you about ads

Antonio Garcia-Martinez:

I was at Facebook in 2012, during the previous presidential race. The fact that Facebook could easily throw the election by selectively showing a Get Out the Vote reminder in certain counties of a swing state, for example, was a running joke.
 
 Converting Facebook data into money is harder than it sounds, mostly because the vast bulk of your user data is worthless. Turns out your blotto-drunk party pics and flirty co-worker messages have no commercial value whatsoever.
 
 
 Sign up to the new-look Media Briefing: bigger, better, brighter
  Read more
 But occasionally, if used very cleverly, with lots of machine-learning iteration and systematic trial-and-error, the canny marketer can find just the right admixture of age, geography, time of day, and music or film tastes that demarcate a demographic winner of an audience. The “clickthrough rate”, to use the advertiser’s parlance, doesn’t lie.
 
 Without seeing the leaked documents, which were reportedly based around a pitch Facebook made to a bank, it is impossible to know precisely what the platform was offering advertisers. There’s nothing in the trade I know of that targets ads at emotions. But Facebook has and does offer “psychometric”-type targeting, where the goal is to define a subset of the marketing audience that an advertiser thinks is particularly susceptible to their message.
 
 And knowing the Facebook sales playbook, I cannot imagine the company would have concocted such a pitch about teenage emotions without the final hook: “and this is how you execute this on the Facebook ads platform”. Why else would they be making the pitch?
 
 The question is not whether this can be done. It is whether Facebook should apply a moral filter to these decisions. Let’s assume Facebook does target ads at depressed teens. My reaction? So what. Sometimes data behaves unethically.

US housing wealth is growing for the oldest and wealthiest Americans, at the expense of everybody else

Dan Kopf

Since the 1970s, coastal US cities have implemented laws that make it impossible for housing supply to equal demand. Proponents of these laws argue they are important for historic preservation, environment protection, and the livability of cities. Conveniently, such laws also happen to inflate the housing prices of many of their supporters—mainly the old and wealthy, who are the clear winners of these kinds of market-constraining regulations.
 A new working paper (pdf) from the economists Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Joseph Gyourko of the University of Pennsylvania shows exactly how much the winners have gained. The researchers analyzed household survey data from 1983 to 2013 (the last year data was collected), and found that housing wealth increased “almost exclusively among the wealthiest, older Americans.”

Making Marketers Uncomfortable

Bob Hoffman:

This is why I am highly skeptical about what I hear and read from advertising and marketing experts these days. Particularly those of the digital stripe.

They tend to be awfully sure of themselves and very dismissive of those who disagree with them. They also tend to have a lot more opinions than experience.

It is certainly possible that they are brighter than I am and have more insight into consumer behavior. But, to be honest here, I really don’t think so.

I’ve been asked to do a lot of interviews lately (it probably has something to do with the shit-storm over online advertising that the last six months has produced and my sudden promotion from idiot to genius.) Sooner or later, the interviewer usually gets around to this question: Why do you write your blog?

Annual overview of global energy trends

Michael Liebreich:

Plenty of good news: unsubsidised solar below 2.7c/kWh; c. 10% annual decline in Li-ion battery packs to 2030 & increasingly flexible power markets.

Project Owl: Google hopes to improve by better surfacing authoritative content and enlisting feedback about suggested searches and Featured Snippets answers.

Danny Sullivan:

The takeaway from this? As I said, it’s going to be very much wait and see. One reason things might improve over time is that new data from those search quality raters is still coming in. When that gets processed, Google’s algorithms might get better.
 
 Those human raters don’t directly impact Google’s search results, a common misconception that came up recently when Google was accused of using them to censor the Infowars site (it didn’t; they couldn’t). One metaphor I’m using to help explain their role — and limitations — is as if they are diners at a restaurant, asked to fill out review cards.
 
 Those diners can say if they liked a particular dish or not. With enough feedback, the restaurant might decide to change its recipes to make food less salty or to serve some items at different temperatures. The diners themselves can’t go back into the kitchen and make changes.
 
 This is how it works with quality raters. They review Google’s search results to say how well those results seem to be fulfilling expectations. That feedback is used so that Google itself can tailor its “recipes” — its search algorithms — to improve results overall. The raters themselves have no ability to directly impact what’s on the menu, so to speak, or how the results are prepared.

The First Amendment.

The Next to be Left Behind

Noah Rothman:

These days, somewhat paradoxically, Forgotten America is on everyone’s mind. Even before Donald Trump won the presidency by appealing to demographics and themes that effete, urban Americans found gauche, books like J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy and John Judis’s The Populist Explosion focused elite minds on those left behind in the Great Recession’s “recovery.” Trump’s “Forgotten Man” was, however, forgotten long before 2008. By casting himself as a defender of the status quo ante—leaving it up to voters to determine for themselves precisely when their preferred “ante” was—Trump tapped into the political potency of nostalgia. The globalized information age is not done transforming the American economic landscape. Others will soon join the ranks of those left behind.
 
 The rise of Trump has focused the nation’s attention on the implosion of the Middle American plant town. Across the industrial Northeast and Midwest, working-class voters were left stranded in hollowed-out communities. That was only one stage of the modern economic metamorphosis. Another feature of the visible American marketplace may be about to collapse.

Consumers Show Signs of Frailty

Lisa Abramowicz:

If you were wondering when you should start worrying about weakening U.S. consumer credit, now is a good time.Consumers have been defaulting on their car loans in greater numbers over the past year, and some analysts have chalked this up to overly loose lending standards in the auto industry. But now some Americans are increasingly struggling to repay their credit-card bills. This was on full display on Tuesday in Capital One’s first-quarter earnings results, which showed a much higher rate of loan losses among its credit-card unit than both its management and investors expected.
 
 Rising Write-Offs
 Capital One’s card charge-off rates have risen to the highest level since 2011

QUIC in the wild, only for Google ad advantage

Luke Mulks:

QUIC is enabled by default in Google’s Chrome browser and underlying Chromium open source browser code. As of March 2017, Chrome accounts for 58.9% of users browsing the web.
 
 Brave blocks QUIC requests. QUIC is an opt-in feature in Opera, and is currently not available in other Firefox, Edge, and Safari. HTTPS requests containing the alt-svc: quic=”:443″ response header fall back to traditional TCP connections in other browsers, or when QUIC fails in Chrome.

I Joined Airbnb at 52, and Here’s What I Learned About Age, Wisdom, and the Tech Industry

Chip Conley:

I also learned that my best tactic was to reconceive my bewilderment as curiosity, and give free rein to it. I asked a lot of “why” and “what if” questions, forsaking the “what” and “how” questions on which most senior leaders focus. I didn’t know any better. Being in a tech company was new for this old fart. My beginner’s mind helped us see our blind spots a little better, as it was free of expert habits. We think of “why” and “what if” as little kid questions, but they don’t have to be. In fact, in my experience it can be easier for older people to admit how much we still don’t know. Paradoxically, this curiosity keeps us feeling young. Management theorist Peter Drucker was famously curious. He lived to age 95, and one of the ways he thrived later in life was by diving deeply into a new subject that intrigued him, from Japanese flower arranging to medieval war strategy.
 
 Although some older folks in the tech world feel they have to hide their age, I think doing that is a missed opportunity. Being open helped me succeed in tech; I’ve spent a lifetime being curious about people and things, which, I guess, means I’m well-read and well connected. I’m not sure there’s anyone in Airbnb who’s been asked to chat by a more diverse collection of employees. I always did my best to respond with an enthusiastic yes to these invitations. And I’m grateful. Because if I were to plot all of those conversations across the various islands (or departments) of the company, you’d see a rich web of relationships and knowledge. This served me even more as a strategic advisor to the founders, since I had a real sense of the pulse of the company and its various teams.

The army of fake accounts was more than double the number of “likes” on The Washington Post’s main page.

Nausicaa Renner and David Uberti:

The tech giant has come under fire in recent months for providing publishers and advertisers faulty metrics to evaluate audience reach. In September, Facebook apologized for long overestimating the time users spent watching videos. After additional measurement discrepancies were uncovered over the following months, it pledged to undergo an audit by the Media Rating Council, an industry watchdog.

“The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure”

Matt Taibi:
 

Many of the government officials who were involved in the decisions surrounding the GSE conservatorship are now in the private sector, working on proposals for much-anticipated GSE reform.
 
 Without getting too deeply into the weeds of this even more complicated tale, government officials have been working with Wall Street lobbyists for years on a plan to have a consortium of private banking interests step into the shoes of Fannie and Freddie.
 
 If this concept actually goes through, it would be the unlikeliest of coups for Wall Street. Having nearly triggered a global depression eight years ago, the usual-suspect, too-big-to-fail banks would essentially be put in control of the same housing markets they all but wrecked last time around.
 
 This would be a nonstarter politically, the ultimate public-relations disaster, were it not for the fact that Fannie and Freddie are about the only companies on earth less popular than the Wall Street banks. Still, replacing the one with the other would be madness by any objective standard.
 
 Are the gory details of that plan what the government is working so hard to keep under seal?
 
 We may never know. Judge Sweeney has yet to rule on the vast majority of the documents, and there’s no guarantee that she will ultimately unseal the remainder of the material. We may never find out what the government was so keen on keeping secret.
 
 The only thing that is clear is that there’s something odd going on, with the Obama administration asserting privilege over a volume of papers so large, it would make Nixon blush.
 
 “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” says David Thompson of Cooper and Kirk, one of the attorneys fighting to unseal the material.

 Related: sharing only part of Madison’s $460,000,000 k-12 budget.

Airline disruption: it will happen in the next decade – but no one is preparing for it

CAPA:

Why so unprepared? It seems inconceivable that the structure of an industry with so many artificial constraints can remain intact much past 70 years, while all around it has changed.
 
 This decade alone has been witness to major disruptions in the travel and transportation industries. Most prominent have been in ride sharing – Uber – and in hospitality – Airbnb. Telecommunications, media and music industries have also been turned on their heads; banks and payments are in the firing line; retail generally is being rapidly transformed. There is scarcely an industry whose fundamental structure remains intact. Except the airline industry.

Tracing Spam: Diet Pills from Beltway Bandits

Brian Krebs:

According to Guilmette, whoever Dan is or was at Gtacs.com, he got his account compromised by some fairly inept spammers who evidently did not know or didn’t care that they were inside of a U.S. defense contractor which specializes in custom military-grade communications. Instead, the intruders chose to use those systems in a way almost guaranteed to call attention to the compromised account and hacked servers used to forward the junk email.
 
 “Some…contractor who works for a Vienna, Va. based government/military ‘cybersecurity’ contractor company has apparently lost his outbound email credentials (which are probably useful also for remote login) to a spammer who, I believe, based on the available evidence, is most likely located in Romania,” Guilmette wrote in an email to this author.
 
 Guilmette told KrebsOnSecurity that he’s been tracking this particular pill spammer since Sept. 2015. Asked why he’s so certain the same guy is responsible for this and other specific spams, Guilmette shared that the spammer composes his spam messages with the same telltale HTML “signature” in the hyperlink that forms the bulk of the message: An extremely old version of Microsoft Office.

Revenge of the independent hardware store

Joe Hasler:

Every year, Deloitte releases what it calls the Retail Volatility Index, which measures how much market share businesses gain and lose in key retail segments, including hardware. In its 2016 report, Deloitte noted the emergence of a conventional-wisdom-busting trend. After a century of consolidation and concentration in retail, “smaller, more nimble players are stealing share from larger, more traditional, at-scale retailers.”
 
 As a strategy principal at Deloitte, Jacob Bruun-Jensen was one of the authors of the company’s 2016 index. He says the hardware retail market is emblematic of the new retail volatility. “These smaller players have found a niche and have been very successful in competing against the big national chains. It’s tied to this phenomenon of consumers seeking out local products or services and being willing to pay for that advice and that experience.”

Google Plans Ad-Blocking Feature in Popular Chrome Browser

Jack Marshall:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is planning to introduce an ad-blocking feature in the mobile and desktop versions of its popular Chrome web browser, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.

The ad-blocking feature, which could be switched on by default within Chrome, would filter out certain online ad types deemed to provide bad experiences for users as they move around the web.

Google could announce the feature within weeks, but it is still ironing out specific details and still could decide not to move ahead with the plan, the people said.

Unacceptable ad types would be those recently defined by the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that released a list of ad standards in March. According to those standards, ad formats such as pop-ups, auto-playing video ads with sound and “prestitial” ads with countdown timers are deemed to be “beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

Some ads are more equal than others.

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Kurt Gessler:

Starting in January of this year, we at the Chicago Tribune started to anecdotally see a fairly significant change in our post reach.
 
 We weren’t seeing a huge difference in post consumption or daily average reach, but we were just seeing more misses than hits. At the Tribune, we have a fairly stable and predictable audience. We had around a half million fans at the end of March and have seen slow but steady growth in the last year. Most Facebook posts fell into the 25,000 to 50,000 reach range — with a few big successes and few spectacular failures each day, usually based on the quality of the content or the quality and creativity of the share.
 
 But starting earlier this year, we started to see far more misses. And not reaches in the low 20,000’s but 4,000 reach or 6,000 reach. Digital Editor Randi Shaffer was one of the first to notice.

Time spent using apps is only going up, but mobile web usage has hit a wall


 
 Andy Boxall:

Time spent with apps on a smartphone has jumped by more than 10% in 2017, and will continue to rise between now and 2019; but time spent with the mobile internet remains steady this year, and is unlikely to rise significantly.
 
 This is according to eMarketer data, which shows in 2017, mobile users will spend two hours 25 minutes each day using an app on their phone, while 26 minutes will be spent on the mobile web. App usage is up 10.3% over 2016, and now represents 19.9% of the average person’s daily media time.
 
 In 2018, it’s estimated app usage time will rise to two hours and 35 minutes, and in 2019, reach two hours 43 minutes. Mobile web time is expected to stay at 26 minutes next year, before reaching 27 minutes in 2019.

The E-Scraper and E-Monopsony

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke:

An e-monopsonist and his cousin the e-scraper are robbing an upstream bank. The alarm is triggered. The nearby antitrust enforcer, seeing them holding bags of cash, asks: ‘Have you seen any suspects running away from the scene?’
 Let us unpack this tale’s moral.
 
 With the rise of Google, Amazon, Facebook and other ‘super-platforms,’ we tend to look down rather than up. It seems like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are using their power in the marketplace to deliver great value to us — wrestling lower prices from producers in the case of Amazon, bringing news onto a single platform in the case of Facebook, and organizing the world’s information, in the case of Google.
 
 While these companies appear to be furthering our interests, a closer look reveals how these super-platforms may wield their power downstream to harm us, the consumer. As our book Virtual Competition explores, the super-platforms can use our personal data to better price discriminate and their disincentive to protect our privacy (and promote technologies that do).
 
 Less discussed, but of significant concern, are the upstream effects of these super-platforms. They are in fact harming many of the companies from whom they buy or acquire content — and that harm ultimately harms us. Our competition laws deal with this kind of buyer power. These concerns, however, are often low on the enforcement agenda due to the indirect effects on consumer welfare. In the digital age, that urgently needs to change.

We all thought having more data was better. We were wrong.

David Fletcher:

For years, the mantra in the world of business software and enterprise IT has been “data is the new gold.” The idea was that companies of nearly every shape and size, across every industry imaginable, were essentially sitting on top of buried treasure that was just waiting to be tapped into. All they needed to do was to dig into the correct vein of their business data trove and they would be able to unleash valuable insights that could unlock hidden business opportunities, new sources of revenue, better efficiencies and much more.
 
 Big software companies like IBM, Oracle, SAP and many more all touted these visions of data grandeur, and turned the concept of big data analytics, or just Big Data, into everyday business nomenclature.
 
 Analytics is hard, and there’s no guarantee that analyzing huge chunks of data is going to translate into meaningful insights.
 
 Even now, analytics is also playing an important role in the Internet of Things, on both the commercial and industrial side, as well as on the consumer side. On the industrial side, companies are working to mine various datastreams for insights into how to improve their processes, while consumer-focused analytics show up in things like health and fitness data linked to wearables, and will soon be a part of assisted and autonomous driving systems in our cars.
 
 The truth is, analytics is hard, and there’s no guarantee that analyzing huge chunks of data is going to translate into meaningful insights. Challenges may arise from applying the wrong tools to a given job, not analyzing the right data, or not even really knowing exactly what to look for in the first place. Regardless, it’s becoming clear to many organizations that a decade or more into the “big data” revolution, not everyone is hitting it rich.

How Brands and Agencies Are Fighting Back Against Facebook and Google’s Measurement Snafus

Lauren Johnson:

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, a $1 billion U.S. advertiser, is fed up with playing by Facebook’s rules. As a result, the carmaker concocted its own set of measurement standards that combine video views with a layer of additional stats, prodded by what it sees as a lack of comparability for Facebook to other media it buys.
 
 “We’ve come to the conclusion that we need to standardize our own view of the metrics,” explains Amy McNeil, head of digital media at FCA U.S. “We are collaborating with [our media agency] Universal McCann on the addition of time spent as an engagement qualifier, along with delivering on demo and in-view.” Such work piecing together custom metrics puts “a value on that platform, their reach, how successful we were in video completion,” she adds. “When we can prove out that it looks like any other buy that we’re doing, that’s when we increase our [budget]. Until we can get that third-party validation, our spend levels are what they are.”

McDonald’s is poised to be the first major fast-food chain in America to allow customers to place orders via smartphone at all locations.

Kate Taylor:

The fast-food giant plans to roll out mobile ordering and payment at all 14,000 US locations in the fourth quarter of 2017. According to analysts, beating out the competition and becoming the first to debut mobile ordering nationally would be a major win for McDonald’s.
 
 “Among the hamburger players, we believe that MCD is establishing a first-mover advantage with digital that can drive sustainable share gains in late 2017 and beyond,” analyst Jeff Farmer wrote in a note to clients Monday, CNBC reported.
 
 Wendy’s seems likely to follow McDonald’s in achieving national mobile ordering, with plans to roll out mobile order and pay across half of its locations by the end of 2017, according to Farmer. Burger King and Jack in the Box are lagging behind, as their programs are still being tested.

United Air Lines – an OODA loop perspective

Chet Richards:

I’m not too good at reading minds, much less corporate minds, but one thing stands out: For all practical purposes, domestic airlines in the US today are monopolies. They have left just enough market share at their primary hubs to avoid the threat of federal action, and this limited capacity means that open skies treaties won’t significantly increase competition.
 
 When your orientation says “monopoly,” you act like a monopoly. In particular, without the threat of the marketplace, you have a lot of flexibility in the levels of service you provide — your quality — and in what you can charge. Play this game well and you can maximize the amount of money to be paid out to the the people who control the organization and to those who can fire them.
 
 However, as Tom Peters once pointed out, in Thriving on Chaos as I recall, after some point, it’s impossible to order cost cuts without also damaging the customer experience.
 
 Back in the pre-Toyota US auto industry, they had a similar orientation: Customers didn’t appreciate quality and wouldn’t pay for improvements in quality over what Detroit was already producing. As I said, that was pre-Toyota. But weren’t Toyotas cheaper than their American competitors? They were indeed less expensive, but their quality in terms of manufacturing defects and ride experience, was much higher. Detroit claimed “Dumping!” but extensive studies showed that Toyota had evolved a manufacturing system that reduced waste thereby lowering costs organically, rather than just arbitrarily cutting costs by leaving out things.

Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind

Tamsin Shaw:

We are living in an age in which the behavioral sciences have become inescapable. The findings of social psychology and behavioral economics are being employed to determine the news we read, the products we buy, the cultural and intellectual spheres we inhabit, and the human networks, online and in real life, of which we are a part. Aspects of human societies that were formerly guided by habit and tradition, or spontaneity and whim, are now increasingly the intended or unintended consequences of decisions made on the basis of scientific theories of the human mind and human well-being.

Amazon continues to grow lead over Google as starting point for online shoppers

Taylor Soper:

That’s one finding from a recent research report from Raymond James that surveyed 587 people about their online habits.
 
 The study found 52 percent of respondents who said they start their online purchasing process at Amazon, which is up from 47 percent last year, and 38 percent from the year prior.
 
 That compares to 26 percent who say they start at a search engine. This graph shows the changing habits clearly:

Facebook faces increased publisher resistance to Instant Articles

Lucia Moses:

Facebook’s Instant Article push is in danger of fizzling.
 
 Many publishers are deeply unhappy with the monetization on these pages, with major partners like The New York Times throwing in the towel and many others cutting back the amount of content pushed to the IA platform. In response, Facebook is making concessions to publishers, including new subscription options, in a rare show of weakness for the platform juggernaut.