Home / 2019 / April (page 3)

Monthly Archives: April 2019

5 best practices to amplify your Facebook video ads

If you’re a regular Facebook user, you might have noticed a surge in the number of video ads on the platform. While businesses still Read more...

This post 5 best practices to amplify your Facebook video ads originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Read More »

17 Instagram stats marketers need to know for 2019

Although it joined the game a bit later than some of the other popular social networks (Instagram launched on October 6, 2010 while Facebook Read more...

This post 17 Instagram stats marketers need to know for 2019 originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Read More »

Inspiring Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing in Action

B2B Influencer Marketing Examples

B2B Influencer Marketing Examples

While Instagram influencer marketing is expected to hit $8 billion in spend by 2020, the growth trajectory of influencer marketing is not limited to consumer brands.

B2B companies are also realizing the value of collaborating with influential experts for marketing purposes and count the practice as one of the top 4 tactics planned for 2019, according to a study by Spiceworks of B2B tech marketers in North America and Europe.

Many B2B brands are considering engaging influencers for marketing but are not clear on exactly how or what the best practices are. Having worked with B2B brands that range from Dell to SAP to LinkedIn on influencer marketing programs over the past 6 years, I’ve had a chance to dig deep into exactly what makes influencer marketing work for B2B.

To help illustrate how business brands we work with are driving results with influencer marketing, I’ve pulled together ten examples of B2B companies that represent a mix of approaches and performance outcomes.

B2B tech marketers’ adoption of influencer marketing is expected to grow to 48% by the end of 2019. @marketingcharts

Prophix Influencer Marketing Example

1. Prophix - Driving a Message of Innovation and Influence with Interactive Audio

Situation: Prophix is a corporate performance management software solutions company serving the finance industry. They believed that finance leaders have the opportunity to shape the future of business and take a more prominent seat at the leadership table.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning will be critical to the innovation of finance, so Prophix wanted to start conversations and answer key questions on the role of AI in the next evolution of finance amongst its target audience.

Solution: To build thought leadership for the brand around AI and ML innovations in finance amongst its audience, experts collaborated to co-create an industry resource.

To add a tech-savvy flavor to the content experience of this resource, a simulated AI personality voice named Penny was created to help users navigate a microsite featuring industry experts. The site was titled, Adapt & Innovate: AI and the Next Evolution of Finance.

The microsite was complemented with a mix of content including promotional motion graphics video, email promotions, landing page, supporting blog content, social content and custom graphics for the contributing influencers to share.

Results: 642% increase in engagement, new relationships with top influencers and numerous conversations amongst the target audience about AI and finance in connection with the Prophix brand.

DivvyHQ Influencer Marketing Example

2. DivvyHQ - Create Thought Leadership & Lead Gen Momentum with Multi-Campaign Influencer Program

Situation: As an award-winning content planning and marketing software company, DivvyHQ wanted to elevate its reputation and more actively engage potential buyers.

Solution: A survey was conducted to surface top challenges and insights around content planning and marketing, sparking a multi-campaign program focused on future-proofing content marketing that included over 30 marketing influencers.

Each of the 5 campaigns focused on content and influencers specific to the topic ranging from the research report to a strategy ebook to a series of video interviews about content planning.

The final campaign repurposed the “best of content” from the first 4 campaigns into an interactive microsite using a Back to the Future theme. Each campaign was supported by blog posts, organic social content, influencer promotion and some paid social.

Results: Each campaign exceeded goals including 300% more downloads of the research report, hitting some KPI goals within a week of publishing, thousands of video views, new relationships with top marketing industry influencers and 140% of one conversion KPI within a week of publishing.

Introhive Influencer Marketing Example

3. Introhive - Improve Lead Quality with Influencer Insights and Research

Situation: The legal industry has been slow to adopt Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, something that Introhive, an automation solutions provider wanted to change.

Solution: With the goals of raising awareness and leads from the legal community, Introhive wanted to engage the audience they were marketing to through an industry survey and insights.

The survey identified the top challenges and Introhive designed a Playbook to solve those problems with a combination of brand insight and expertise from speakers at the industry’s Legal Marketing Association event. During the conference, the contributors shared the playbook and Introhive promoted it using the event hashtag.

Additional pieces of the content mix included 12 blog posts, landing page, organic and influencer social shares, paid social and email promotions.

Results: Improved marketing qualified lead quality, more playbook downloads in the first month than in the entire lifetime of previous reports, nearly 50% of all brand blog content views for the quarter and an 85% increase in new Twitter followers.

Cherwell Software Influencer Marketing Example

4. Cherwell Software - Achieve Thought Leadership, Engagement & Lead Gen Goals with Influence Optimization

Situation: With ambitious objectives to continue its rapid growth, Cherwell Software wanted to increase brand awareness as a leading ITSM software provider and develop a network of IT influencers.

Solution: Using insights gained from research of target accounts, 15 influencers were researched, identified and engaged to co-create content and promotions around next-generation IT Service Management.

The content mix included blog posts, IT Service Management 2020 ebook, landing page and both paid/organic social content for influencers to share.

Results: The ebook was viewed 170% more often than previous assets and shared nearly 2,000 times. Additionally, this one campaign was accountable for 22% of all sales leads for the entire year.

SAP SuccessFactors Influencer Marketing Example

5. SAP SuccessFactors - Increase Performance with a More Sophisticated Influencer Mix

Situation: Wellness programs are common but SAP SuccessFactors wanted to accentuate the importance of employee wellness from a more holistic approach to wellbeing.

Solution: To raise awareness of their health care management suite, SAP SuccessFactors developed a program to share relevant, useful and actionable insights about wellbeing from trusted experts, peers and even one business celebrity.

Just as the best wellness solutions are holistic, so was this approach to partnering with influencers including industry influencers, internal experts, SAP partners and clients.

The content mix included an ebook titled The True Impact of Health and Well-Being featuring 10 influencers, motion graphics, landing page, social content for the brand and influencers to share.

Results: 272% increase over the goal and a 68% conversion rate on the ebook downloads. Influencer shares represented 86% of all ebook views and 69% of the conversions.

Dell Technologies Influencer Marketing Example

6. Dell Technologies - Increase Brand Thought Leadership with Influencer Interview Podcast

Situation: While many companies focus on working with influencers, Dell Technologies wanted to partner with industry influencers to simultaneously create useful content for their customers and increase the influence of their internal experts.

Solution: Dell has developed relationships with a network of influencers including Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr, who host the Dell Luminaries podcast.

Their discussions with technology visionaries from inside Dell and out, putting a human face on technology innovation.

Results: The Dell Luminaries project effectively created a single platform to bring voices from multiple companies under the Dell brand together following a common thread while staying true to their individual expertise and influence.

3M Influencer Marketing Example

7. 3M - Humanize Science with Influencers and a Podcast

Situation: Science can seem out of reach to many and 3M wanted to make the innovations and complexities of science accessible to the everyday person.

Solution: 3M conducted the largest ever science study about global attitudes about science, the State of Science Index research report along with the launch of 3M’s first podcast: Science Champions Podcast.

Hosted by 3M’s Chief Science Advocate, Jayshree Seth, the first season of the podcast featured twenty one science experts and influencers on topics ranging from an introduction to science in everyday life to careers in science.

Results: Outside of creating relationships with science influencers and showcasing an internal influencer, the Science Champions podcast exceeded all expectations for downloads and engagement, resulting in the launch of season two in March 2019.

CMI Influencer Marketing Example

8. Content Marketing Institute - Activate Event Awareness & Engagement with Themed Influencer Content

Situation: There are many choices for marketers to attend industry events and Content Marketing Institute wanted to create broader awareness of its conference and showcase its speakers in a way that tapped their influence and helped them become more influential.

Solution: Many months before the conference, a selection of content marketing speakers were identified and engaged to share their expertise on specific content marketing topics.

With a conference theme of “Game on", the 36 influential marketing speakers’ contributions were assembled into a 48 page ebook called The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing with a retro video game theme. Each section of the ebook was supported by corresponding animation videos using an 8-bit video game theme featuring game character avatars for each influencer.

The content mix also included 6 long-form interviews, multiple promotional blog posts, email marketing, custom social graphics for the brand and influencers to share, organic and paid social promotion.

Results: A 258% increase in views of the main ebook asset and over 30,000 views of the promotional 8-bit video game interviews.

SAP Leonardo Influencer Marketing Example

9. SAP - Create New Platform Thought Leadership & Credibility with Influencers

Situation: SAP launched its Leonardo platform at the annual SAPPHIRE conference. With an event this large, key announcements can blur in the noise of communications. SAP wanted to launch Leonardo as a transformative technology vision.

Solution: An interactive experience called The Path to Digital Innovation was created showcasing SAP CEO Bill McDermott and 32 top industry influencers sharing insights across transformative technologies including IoT, machine learning, AI, blockchain, analytics, big data and cloud.

Results: 100% of participating influencers shared the Leonardo Path to Digital Innovation content, many of them multiple times. Reach was unprecedented, with over 21 million views of the interactive experience.

Where Does B2B Influencer Marketing Go From Here?

In the research report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing by Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis, 48% of B2C companies are running ongoing influencer marketing programs vs. only 11% of B2B brands. Nearly half of B2B brands are still in the experimentation stage, according to the study, which was conducted by Traackr and TopRank Marketing.

But this trend is changing and more B2B brands are realizing that while different than B2C, working with influencers in a business to business context represents a significant opportunity to create more credible content that can be promoted to interested buyers by people they trust.

Many of the examples in this article started with customer research and added outside expert commentary in a way that was relevant to both the brand and the audience. This shift in focus from the brand talking about itself towards a more collaborative approach involving external and internal influencers represents a key change successful B2B marketers have realized.

Trends come and go, but the value of trusted sources of information to customers looking for solutions couldn’t be any more timeless.

For more information about how TopRank Marketing works with B2B brands to improve industry awareness, increase influence and community engagement, drive leads and sales by partnering with industry experts, check out the influencer marketing section of our website.

A version of this post originally published on the Digital Marketing Institute website.

The post Inspiring Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing in Action appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Read More »

26 Mobile and Desktop Tools for Marketers

Looking for better ways to create videos, audio, and images? Want a list of tools to help? In this article, you’ll explore 26 apps and tools for mobile and desktop from the Social Media Marketing podcast’s Discovery of the Week. #1: Listen Notes Listen Notes is a free search engine just for podcasts and it […]

The post 26 Mobile and Desktop Tools for Marketers appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Read More »

Facebook Updates Advertising Tools

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore Facebook Ads Manager updates, new ad bidding strategies, and inventory filters with special guests Charlie Lawrance and Amanda […]

The post Facebook Updates Advertising Tools appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Read More »

Digital Marketing News: Influencers Try Escapex, Gating B2B Content, YouTube’s Quality Watch Time, & Pinterest Conversions

The post Digital Marketing News: Influencers Try Escapex, Gating B2B Content, YouTube’s Quality Watch Time, & Pinterest Conversions appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Read More »

How to Develop a Thriving Community

Is community important to your business? Wondering where you should build your community? To explore how to develop a thriving community beyond Facebook Groups, I interview Cate Stillman. Cate is podcaster, blogger, and author of the book Body Thrive. She’s also an expert in developing communities. Cate shares tips for developing a brand that incorporates […]

The post How to Develop a Thriving Community appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

Read More »

581 Sensory Words to Take Your Writing from Bland to Brilliant

It’s almost too easy. By using sensory words to evoke sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell; smart and attractive writers just like you are able to make their words burst to life in their readers’ minds. In this post, you’ll learn: The science behind sensory details (e.g. why sensory words are so persuasive); The definition(...)

The post 581 Sensory Words to Take Your Writing from Bland to Brilliant appeared first on Smart Blogger.

Read More »

Everything Old Is New Again: Why & How to Refresh B2B Content

Why & How to Refresh B2B Content

Why & How to Refresh B2B Content

Content creation—it’s the linchpin of our B2B content marketing strategies. And 56% of B2B content marketers have upped their investment in content creation over the past year—more than any other spending area.

Without a steady cadence of fresh, quality content we can’t proactively adapt to our audience’s changing needs nor consistently reach, inform, engage, entertain, or inspire action within them. And for most content marketers, this effort is often grounded in creating net-new content. But freshness is the eye of the beholder; quality content creation doesn’t have to be done from scratch.

Refreshing existing content is a massive opportunity, playing an integral role within your always-on content marketing strategy. It’s not only more efficient to produce, but when done strategically, it can also boost results, improve user experience, and extend the life and relevance of the content you’ve worked so hard to produce.

As it’s been sung, everything old can be new again. Below are all of the reasons why you need to identify refresh opportunities and how you should approach it.

3 Reasons to Refresh Existing Content

#1 - Content takes time to “mature in search”—and needs to be nurtured.

SEO is a foundational element of content marketing. You know your buyers are becoming increasingly self-directed in their search for answers, and you’re creating SEO-informed content to satisfy their queries. But if you just focus on new content creation, you’re leaving potential on the table.

We’ve all experienced those sweet, near-instant wins in search results after a new post goes live. But typically, it takes time and smart optimization to gain consistent organic traction. In its post analyzing top ranking factors, Moz’s Jeff Baker discusses three different correlations between the age of a post and its keyword position. Based on their research, it took roughly 100 days or more for a new article to realize its full potential.

Moz Data on Page Age & Keyword Position

Image credit: Moz.com

While pages need time to mature, without the proper nurturing their relevance can degrade over time; this is the “fresh” factor. Essentially, strategically updating older posts can improve rankings as search algorithms prefer fresh over stale content. Data and insight should guide the type of updates you make, but updates could include optimization tweaks to capitalize on new related keyword rankings, expanding or refining content around certain themes, and link building.

Once again, Moz illustrates how freshness can fade in the eyes of search engines.

Graph from Moz Showing Content Freshness

Image credit: Moz.com

[bctt tweet="Content takes time to mature in search, and it needs to be nurtured. @annieleuman #B2BContentMarketing #contentrefresh" username="toprank"]

#2 - Refreshing allows your content to grow WITH your audience.

Search is constantly evolving. Not only are search engines getting more sophisticated, but the way people are searching has changed as well:

  • Half of all smartphone users use voice technology. (comScore)
  • Mobile phones are expected to be used for 80% of all internet access in 2019, a 10% increase from 2017. (Quartz)
  • Mobile searches for queries with questions like “do I need”, “should I”, and “can I” have grown by at least 65% over the past two years. (Google)

As queries get more specific and question-based with natural language, making tweaks to your content to match those relevant queries and opportunities allows you to better match users needs. It paves the way for being the best answer, whenever, wherever, and however your audience is searching.

Read: Hey Alexa: How Do I Bake Voice Search Into My B2B Marketing Strategy?

#3 - Refreshing could give you leg-up on more than just your competitors.

Content marketing is no longer the new shiny object in the B2B realm. Content marketing is simply modern marketing. As content continues to proliferate you’re likely competing for visibility and reach with your direct competitors within your industry, as well as indirect competitors such as third-party review sites, industry publications, independent bloggers, technology providers, and so on.

There are hundreds of billions of webpages in the Google Search Index, and while serving different audiences and thought leadership purposes, there’s likely some overlap in keyword targeting. Let’s take “B2B content marketing” as an example—industry publications such as Search Engine Journal, tools like BuzzSumo or HubSpot, platforms like LinkedIn*, and of course B2B marketing agencies like us, have all produced content on this topic.

So, when it comes to refreshing content, you have the opportunity to see how your content is stacking up to all the competition and make data-informed tweaks to differentiate and personalize for your core audience.

How to Get Started with Refreshing Content

Identify Refresh Opportunities With a Content Audit

You’ve published a lot of content. And more than likely you have several that are top-performers, bringing in tons of traffic. You also may have some good performers or rising stars in there, as well as pieces that simply haven’t gained any meaningful traction.

Refreshes can help you bolster those top-performers and hopefully improve performance of other pieces.

To know where to focus your refreshing and optimization efforts, you need to know how your existing content is performing with an audit. By auditing your current content for current rankings, position changes, traffic trends, and more, you can see which posts have the greatest opportunity.

[bctt tweet="Content refreshes can help you bolster those top-performers and hopefully improve performance of other pieces. @annieleuman #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Put Experience in the Driver Seat

Refreshing is about both your audience and the search engine. So, when you revisit posts to make optimizations, you need to ensure you keep both parties in mind. Focusing solely on your audience could mean missing out on a critical SEO opportunity. And the opposite could be said when zeroing-in on SEO.

To tick both boxes, carefully research your content’s current user experience with metrics like time on page, click through rate, bounce rate, pages per session, or scroll depth. Analyzing these data points should give you an indication of which areas of the experience need the most attention and which sections of your content may need adjustments. This helps you avoid delivering an unsatisfactory user experience that results in drop-offs from both your audience and site crawlers.

Repurpose Where It Makes Sense

There’s refreshing and repurposing. Refreshing is updating something that already exists. Repurposing is taking something that exists and using it to create something new. And there’s a place for both in your content strategy.

When should you repurpose and when should you refresh?

A top-performing, broad post is a great repurposing opportunity. You’ve covered the topic with broad strokes. And through repurposing you can dig a little deeper into some of the specific themes or opportunities, using some of the existing content to support your narrative.

Conversely, in-depth content that is ranking for several long-tail keywords is another good repurposing opportunity. If you split the content into several pieces, with each one targeting a different long-tail variation, you could drastically improve those organic rankings and traffic — all by repurposing and restructuring the original piece.

In addition, repurposing can help you personalize content for specific verticals or audience segments. Through repurposing, you can take an existing article and tailor it for a different target audience with new data that’s relevant for them, solutions to their biggest pain points, and more.

Read: A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’

Refresh for Success

Everything old can be new again. From SEO to growing your content to match your audience’s needs, there are several benefits that come from refreshing content. Refresh for success by conducting a content audit, keeping both humans and search engines in mind, and repurposing when and where it makes sense.

via GIPHY

How else can you maximize the value of your B2B content? Get an inside look into the future of B2B Content.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Everything Old Is New Again: Why & How to Refresh B2B Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Read More »

The Fractured Web

Anyone can argue about the intent of a particular action & the outcome that is derived by it. But when the outcome is known, at some point the intent is inferred if the outcome is derived from a source of power & the outcome doesn't change.

Or, put another way, if a powerful entity (government, corporation, other organization) disliked an outcome which appeared to benefit them in the short term at great lasting cost to others, they could spend resources to adjust the system.

If they don't spend those resources (or, rather, spend them on lobbying rather than improving the ecosystem) then there is no desired change. The outcome is as desired. Change is unwanted.

News is a stock vs flow market where the flow of recent events drives most of the traffic to articles. News that is more than a couple days old is no longer news. A news site which stops publishing news stops becoming a habit & quickly loses relevancy. Algorithmically an abandoned archive of old news articles doesn't look much different than eHow, in spite of having a much higher cost structure.

According to SEMrush's traffic rank, ampproject.org gets more monthly visits than Yahoo.com.

Traffic Ranks.

That actually understates the prevalence of AMP because AMP is generally designed for mobile AND not all AMP-formatted content is displayed on ampproject.org.

Part of how AMP was able to get widespread adoption was because in the news vertical the organic search result set was displaced by an AMP block. If you were a news site either you were so differentiated that readers would scroll past the AMP block in the search results to look for you specifically, or you adopted AMP, or you were doomed.

Some news organizations like The Guardian have a team of about a dozen people reformatting their content to the duplicative & proprietary AMP format. That's wasteful, but necessary "In theory, adoption of AMP is voluntary. In reality, publishers that don’t want to see their search traffic evaporate have little choice. New data from publisher analytics firm Chartbeat shows just how much leverage Google has over publishers thanks to its dominant search engine."

It seems more than a bit backward that low margin publishers are doing duplicative work to distance themselves from their own readers while improving the profit margins of monopolies. But it is what it is. And that no doubt drew the ire of many publishers across the EU.

And now there are AMP Stories to eat up even more visual real estate.

If you spent a bunch of money to create a highly differentiated piece of content, why would you prefer that high spend flaghship content appear on a third party website rather than your own?

Google & Facebook have done such a fantastic job of eating the entire pie that some are celebrating Amazon as a prospective savior to the publishing industry. That view - IMHO - is rather suspect.

Where any of the tech monopolies dominate they cram down on partners. The New York Times acquired The Wirecutter in Q4 of 2016. In Q1 of 2017 Amazon adjusted their affiliate fee schedule.

Amazon generally treats consumers well, but they have been much harder on business partners with tough pricing negotiations, counterfeit protections, forced ad buying to have a high enough product rank to be able to rank organically, ad displacement of their organic search results below the fold (even for branded search queries), learning suppliers & cutting out the partners, private label products patterned after top sellers, in some cases running pop over ads for the private label products on product level pages where brands already spent money to drive traffic to the page, etc.

They've made things tougher for their partners in a way that mirrors the impact Facebook & Google have had on online publishers:

"Boyce’s experience on Amazon largely echoed what happens in the offline world: competitors entered the market, pushing down prices and making it harder to make a profit. So Boyce adapted. He stopped selling basketball hoops and developed his own line of foosball tables, air hockey tables, bocce ball sets and exercise equipment. The best way to make a decent profit on Amazon was to sell something no one else had and create your own brand. ... Amazon also started selling bocce ball sets that cost $15 less than Boyce’s. He says his products are higher quality, but Amazon gives prominent page space to its generic version and wins the cost-conscious shopper."

Google claims they have no idea how content publishers are with the trade off between themselves & the search engine, but every quarter Alphabet publish the share of ad spend occurring on owned & operated sites versus the share spent across the broader publisher network. And in almost every quarter for over a decade straight that ratio has grown worse for publishers.

The aggregate numbers for news publishers are worse than shown above as Google is ramping up ads in video games quite hard. They've partnered with Unity & promptly took away the ability to block ads from appearing in video games using googleadsenseformobileapps.com exclusion (hello flat thumb misclicks, my name is budget & I am gone!)

They will also track video game player behavior & alter game play to maximize revenues based on machine learning tied to surveillance of the user's account: "We’re bringing a new approach to monetization that combines ads and in-app purchases in one automated solution. Available today, new smart segmentation features in Google AdMob use machine learning to segment your players based on their likelihood to spend on in-app purchases. Ad units with smart segmentation will show ads only to users who are predicted not to spend on in-app purchases. Players who are predicted to spend will see no ads, and can simply continue playing."

And how does the growth of ampproject.org square against the following wisdom?

Literally only yesterday did Google begin supporting instant loading of self-hosted AMP pages.

China has a different set of tech leaders than the United States. Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent (BAT) instead of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (FANG). China tech companies may have won their domestic markets in part based on superior technology or better knowledge of the local culture, though those same companies have largely went nowhere fast in most foreign markets. A big part of winning was governmental assistance in putting a foot on the scales.

Part of the US-China trade war is about who controls the virtual "seas" upon which value flows:

it can easily be argued that the last 60 years were above all the era of the container-ship (with container-ships getting ever bigger). But will the coming decades still be the age of the container-ship? Possibly not, for the simple reason that things that have value increasingly no longer travel by ship, but instead by fiberoptic cables! ... you could almost argue that ZTE and Huawei have been the “East India Company” of the current imperial cycle. Unsurprisingly, it is these very companies, charged with laying out the “new roads” along which “tomorrow’s value” will flow, that find themselves at the center of the US backlash. ... if the symbol of British domination was the steamship, and the symbol of American strength was the Boeing 747, it seems increasingly clear that the question of the future will be whether tomorrow’s telecom switches and routers are produced by Huawei or Cisco. ... US attempts to take down Huawei and ZTE can be seen as the existing empire’s attempt to prevent the ascent of a new imperial power. With this in mind, I could go a step further and suggest that perhaps the Huawei crisis is this century’s version of Suez crisis. No wonder markets have been falling ever since the arrest of the Huawei CFO. In time, the Suez Crisis was brought to a halt by US threats to destroy the value of sterling. Could we now witness the same for the US dollar?

China maintains Huawei is an employee-owned company. But that proposition is suspect. Broadly stealing technology is vital to the growth of the Chinese economy & they have no incentive to stop unless their leading companies pay a direct cost. Meanwhile, China is investigating Ericsson over licensing technology.

Amazon will soon discontinue selling physical retail products in China: "Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days."

India has taken notice of the success of Chinese tech companies & thus began to promote "national champion" company policies. That, in turn, has also meant some of the Chinese-styled laws requiring localized data, antitrust inquiries, foreign ownership restrictions, requirements for platforms to not sell their own goods, promoting limits on data encryption, etc.

The secretary of India’s Telecommunications Department, Aruna Sundararajan, last week told a gathering of Indian startups in a closed-door meeting in the tech hub of Bangalore that the government will introduce a “national champion” policy “very soon” to encourage the rise of Indian companies, according to a person familiar with the matter. She said Indian policy makers had noted the success of China’s internet giants, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. ... Tensions began rising last year, when New Delhi decided to create a clearer set of rules for e-commerce and convened a group of local players to solicit suggestions. Amazon and Flipkart, even though they make up more than half the market, weren’t invited, according to people familiar with the matter.

Amazon vowed to invest $5 billion in India & they have done some remarkable work on logistics there. Walmart acquired Flipkart for $16 billion.

Other emerging markets also have many local ecommerce leaders like Jumia, MercadoLibre, OLX, Gumtree, Takealot, Konga, Kilimall, BidOrBuy, Tokopedia, Bukalapak, Shoppee, Lazada. If you live in the US you may have never heard of *any* of those companies. And if you live in an emerging market you may have never interacted with Amazon or eBay.

It makes sense that ecommerce leadership would be more localized since it requires moving things in the physical economy, dealing with local currencies, managing inventory, shipping goods, etc. whereas information flows are just bits floating on a fiber optic cable.

If the Internet is primarily seen as a communications platform it is easy for people in some emerging markets to think Facebook is the Internet. Free communication with friends and family members is a compelling offer & as the cost of data drops web usage increases.

At the same time, the web is incredibly deflationary. Every free form of entertainment which consumes time is time that is not spent consuming something else.

Add the technological disruption to the wealth polarization that happened in the wake of the great recession, then combine that with algorithms that promote extremist views & it is clearly causing increasing conflict.

If you are a parent and you think you child has no shot at a brighter future than your own life it is easy to be full of rage.

Empathy can radicalize otherwise normal people by giving them a more polarized view of the world:

Starting around 2000, the line starts to slide. More students say it's not their problem to help people in trouble, not their job to see the world from someone else's perspective. By 2009, on all the standard measures, Konrath found, young people on average measure 40 percent less empathetic than my own generation ... The new rule for empathy seems to be: reserve it, not for your "enemies," but for the people you believe are hurt, or you have decided need it the most. Empathy, but just for your own team. And empathizing with the other team? That's practically a taboo.

A complete lack of empathy could allow a psychopath to commit extreme crimes while feeling no guilt, shame or remorse. Extreme empathy can have the same sort of outcome:

"Sometimes we commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of successful, even overly successful, empathy. ... They emphasized that students would learn both sides, and the atrocities committed by one side or the other were always put into context. Students learned this curriculum, but follow-up studies showed that this new generation was more polarized than the one before. ... [Empathy] can be good when it leads to good action, but it can have downsides. For example, if you want the victims to say 'thank you.' You may even want to keep the people you help in that position of inferior victim because it can sustain your feeling of being a hero." - Fritz Breithaupt

News feeds will be read. Villages will be razed. Lynch mobs will become commonplace.

Many people will end up murdered by algorithmically generated empathy.

As technology increases absentee ownership & financial leverage, a society led by morally agnostic algorithms is not going to become more egalitarian.

When politicians throw fuel on the fire it only gets worse:

It’s particularly odd that the government is demanding “accountability and responsibility” from a phone app when some ruling party politicians are busy spreading divisive fake news. How can the government ask WhatsApp to control mobs when those convicted of lynching Muslims have been greeted, garlanded and fed sweets by some of the most progressive and cosmopolitan members of Modi’s council of ministers?

Mark Zuckerburg won't get caught downstream from platform blowback as he spends $20 million a year on his security.

The web is a mirror. Engagement-based algorithms reinforcing our perceptions & identities.

And every important story has at least 2 sides!

Some may "learn" vaccines don't work. Others may learn the vaccines their own children took did not work, as it failed to protect them from the antivax content spread by Facebook & Google, absorbed by people spreading measles & Medieval diseases.

Passion drives engagement, which drives algorithmic distribution: "There’s an asymmetry of passion at work. Which is to say, there’s very little counter-content to surface because it simply doesn’t occur to regular people (or, in this case, actual medical experts) that there’s a need to produce counter-content."

As the costs of "free" become harder to hide, social media companies which currently sell emerging markets as their next big growth area will end up having embedded regulatory compliance costs which will end up exceeding any sort of prospective revenue they could hope to generate.

The Pinterest S1 shows almost all their growth is in emerging markets, yet almost all their revenue is inside the United States.

As governments around the world see the real-world cost of the foreign tech companies & view some of them as piggy banks, eventually the likes of Facebook or Google will pull out of a variety of markets they no longer feel worth serving. It will be like Google did in mainland China with search after discovering pervasive hacking of activist Gmail accounts.

Lower friction & lower cost information markets will face more junk fees, hurdles & even some legitimate regulations. Information markets will start to behave more like physical goods markets.

The tech companies presume they will be able to use satellites, drones & balloons to beam in Internet while avoiding messy local issues tied to real world infrastructure, but when a local wealthy player is betting against them they'll probably end up losing those markets: "One of the biggest cheerleaders for the new rules was Reliance Jio, a fast-growing mobile phone company controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest industrialist. Mr. Ambani, an ally of Mr. Modi, has made no secret of his plans to turn Reliance Jio into an all-purpose information service that offers streaming video and music, messaging, money transfer, online shopping, and home broadband services."

Publishers do not have "their mojo back" because the tech companies have been so good to them, but rather because the tech companies have been so aggressive that they've earned so much blowback which will in turn lead publishers to opting out of future deals, which will eventually lead more people back to the trusted brands of yesterday.

Publishers feeling guilty about taking advertorial money from the tech companies to spread their propaganda will offset its publication with opinion pieces pointing in the other direction: "This is a lobbying campaign in which buying the good opinion of news brands is clearly important. If it was about reaching a target audience, there are plenty of metrics to suggest his words would reach further – at no cost – on Facebook. Similarly, Google is upping its presence in a less obvious manner via assorted media initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic. Its more direct approach to funding journalism seems to have the desired effect of making all media organisations (and indeed many academic institutions) touched by its money slightly less questioning and critical of its motives."

When Facebook goes down direct visits to leading news brand sites go up.

When Google penalizes a no-name me-too site almost nobody realizes it is missing. But if a big publisher opts out of the ecosystem people will notice.

The reliance on the tech platforms is largely a mirage. If enough key players were to opt out at the same time people would quickly reorient their information consumption habits.

If the platforms can change their focus overnight then why can't publishers band together & choose to dump them?

In Europe there is GDPR, which aimed to protect user privacy, but ultimately acted as a tax on innovation by local startups while being a subsidy to the big online ad networks. They also have Article 11 & Article 13, which passed in spite of Google's best efforts on the scaremongering anti-SERP tests, lobbying & propaganda fronts: "Google has sparked criticism by encouraging news publishers participating in its Digital News Initiative to lobby against proposed changes to EU copyright law at a time when the beleaguered sector is increasingly turning to the search giant for help."

Remember the Eric Schmidt comment about how brands are how you sort out (the non-YouTube portion of) the cesspool? As it turns out, he was allegedly wrong as Google claims they have been fighting for the little guy the whole time:

Article 11 could change that principle and require online services to strike commercial deals with publishers to show hyperlinks and short snippets of news. This means that search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licences in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out. Effectively, companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers. ... Why are large influential companies constraining how new and small publishers operate? ... The proposed rules will undoubtedly hurt diversity of voices, with large publishers setting business models for the whole industry. This will not benefit all equally. ... We believe the information we show should be based on quality, not on payment.

Facebook claims there is a local news problem: "Facebook Inc. has been looking to boost its local-news offerings since a 2017 survey showed most of its users were clamoring for more. It has run into a problem: There simply isn’t enough local news in vast swaths of the country. ... more than one in five newspapers have closed in the past decade and a half, leaving half the counties in the nation with just one newspaper, and 200 counties with no newspaper at all."

Google is so for the little guy that for their local news experiments they've partnered with a private equity backed newspaper roll up firm & another newspaper chain which did overpriced acquisitions & is trying to act like a PE firm (trying to not get eaten by the PE firm).

Does the above stock chart look in any way healthy?

Does it give off the scent of a firm that understood the impact of digital & rode it to new heights?

If you want good market-based outcomes, why not partner with journalists directly versus operating through PE chop shops?

If Patch is profitable & Google were a neutral ranking system based on quality, couldn't Google partner with journalists directly?

Throwing a few dollars at a PE firm in some nebulous partnership sure beats the sort of regulations coming out of the EU. And the EU's regulations (and prior link tax attempts) are in addition to the three multi billion Euro fines the European Union has levied against Alphabet for shopping search, Android & AdSense.

Google was also fined in Russia over Android bundling. The fine was tiny, but after consumers gained a search engine choice screen (much like Google pushed for in Europe on Microsoft years ago) Yandex's share of mobile search grew quickly.

The UK recently published a white paper on online harms. In some ways it is a regulation just like the tech companies might offer to participants in their ecosystems:

Companies will have to fulfil their new legal duties or face the consequences and “will still need to be compliant with the overarching duty of care even where a specific code does not exist, for example assessing and responding to the risk associated with emerging harms or technology”.

If web publishers should monitor inbound links to look for anything suspicious then the big platforms sure as hell have the resources & profit margins to monitor behavior on their own websites.

Australia passed the Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material bill which requires platforms to expeditiously remove violent videos & notify the Australian police about them.

There are other layers of fracturing going on in the web as well.

Programmatic advertising shifted revenue from publishers to adtech companies & the largest ad sellers. Ad blockers further lower the ad revenues of many publishers. If you routinely use an ad blocker, try surfing the web for a while without one & you will notice layover welcome AdSense ads on sites as you browse the web - the very type of ad they were allegedly against when promoting AMP.

Tracking protection in browsers & ad blocking features built directly into browsers leave publishers more uncertain. And who even knows who visited an AMP page hosted on a third party server, particularly when things like GDPR are mixed in? Those who lack first party data may end up having to make large acquisitions to stay relevant.

Voice search & personal assistants are now ad channels.

App stores are removing VPNs in China, removing Tiktok in India, and keeping female tracking apps in Saudi Arabia. App stores are centralized chokepoints for governments. Every centralized service is at risk of censorship. Web browsers from key state-connected players can also censor messages spread by developers on platforms like GitHub.

Microsoft's newest Edge web browser is based on Chromium, the source of Google Chrome. While Mozilla Firefox gets most of their revenue from a search deal with Google, Google has still went out of its way to use its services to both promote Chrome with pop overs AND break in competing web browsers:

"All of this is stuff you're allowed to do to compete, of course. But we were still a search partner, so we'd say 'hey what gives?' And every time, they'd say, 'oops. That was accidental. We'll fix it in the next push in 2 weeks.' Over and over. Oops. Another accident. We'll fix it soon. We want the same things. We're on the same team. There were dozens of oopses. Hundreds maybe?" - former Firefox VP Jonathan Nightingale

As phone sales fall & app downloads stall a hardware company like Apple is pushing hard into services while quietly raking in utterly fantastic ad revenues from search & ads in their app store.

Part of the reason people are downloading fewer apps is so many apps require registration as soon as they are opened, or only let a user engage with them for seconds before pushing aggressive upsells. And then many apps which were formerly one-off purchases are becoming subscription plays. As traffic acquisition costs have jumped, many apps must engage in sleight of hand behaviors (free but not really, we are collecting data totally unrelated to the purpose of our app & oops we sold your data, etc.) in order to get the numbers to back out. This in turn causes app stores to slow down app reviews.

Apple acquired the news subscription service Texture & turned it into Apple News Plus. Not only is Apple keeping half the subscription revenues, but soon the service will only work for people using Apple devices, leaving nearly 100,000 other subscribers out in the cold: "if you’re part of the 30% who used Texture to get your favorite magazines digitally on Android or Windows devices, you will soon be out of luck. Only Apple iOS devices will be able to access the 300 magazines available from publishers. At the time of the sale in March 2018 to Apple, Texture had about 240,000 subscribers."

Apple is also going to spend over a half-billion Dollars exclusively licensing independently developed games:

Several people involved in the project’s development say Apple is spending several million dollars each on most of the more than 100 games that have been selected to launch on Arcade, with its total budget likely to exceed $500m. The games service is expected to launch later this year. ... Apple is offering developers an extra incentive if they agree for their game to only be available on Arcade, withholding their release on Google’s Play app store for Android smartphones or other subscription gaming bundles such as Microsoft’s Xbox game pass.

Verizon wants to launch a video game streaming service. It will probably be almost as successful as their Go90 OTT service was. Microsoft is pushing to make Xbox games work on Android devices. Amazon is developing a game streaming service to compliment Twitch.

The hosts on Twitch, some of whom sign up exclusively with the platform in order to gain access to its moneymaking tools, are rewarded for their ability to make a connection with viewers as much as they are for their gaming prowess. Viewers who pay $4.99 a month for a basic subscription — the money is split evenly between the streamers and Twitch — are looking for immediacy and intimacy. While some hosts at YouTube Gaming offer a similar experience, they have struggled to build audiences as large, and as dedicated, as those on Twitch. ... While YouTube has made millionaires out of the creators of popular videos through its advertising program, Twitch’s hosts make money primarily from subscribers and one-off donations or tips. YouTube Gaming has made it possible for viewers to support hosts this way, but paying audiences haven’t materialized at the scale they have on Twitch.

Google, having a bit of Twitch envy, is also launching a video game streaming service which will be deeply integrated into YouTube: "With Stadia, YouTube watchers can press “Play now” at the end of a video, and be brought into the game within 5 seconds. The service provides “instant access” via button or link, just like any other piece of content on the web."

Google will also launch their own game studio making exclusive games for their platform.

When consoles don't use discs or cartridges so they can sell a subscription access to their software library it is hard to be a game retailer! GameStop's stock has been performing like an ICO. And these sorts of announcements from the tech companies have been hitting stock prices for companies like Nintendo & Sony: “There is no doubt this service makes life even more difficult for established platforms,” Amir Anvarzadeh, a market strategist at Asymmetric Advisors Pte, said in a note to clients. “Google will help further fragment the gaming market which is already coming under pressure by big games which have adopted the mobile gaming business model of giving the titles away for free in hope of generating in-game content sales.”

The big tech companies which promoted everything in adjacent markets being free are now erecting paywalls for themselves, balkanizing the web by paying for exclusives to drive their bundled subscriptions.

How many paid movie streaming services will the web have by the end of next year? 20? 50? Does anybody know?

Disney alone with operate Disney+, ESPN+ as well as Hulu.

And then the tech companies are not only licensing exclusives to drive their subscription-based services, but we're going to see more exclusionary policies like YouTube not working on Amazon Echo, Netflix dumping support for Apple's Airplay, or Amazon refusing to sell devices like Chromecast or Apple TV.

The good news in a fractured web is a broader publishing industry that contains many micro markets will have many opportunities embedded in it. A Facebook pivot away from games toward news, or a pivot away from news toward video won't kill third party publishers who have a more diverse traffic profile and more direct revenues. And a regional law blocking porn or gambling websites might lead to an increase in demand for VPNs or free to play points-based games with paid upgrades. Even the rise of metered paywalls will lead to people using more web browsers & more VPNs. Each fracture (good or bad) will create more market edges & ultimately more opportunities. Chinese enforcement of their gambling laws created a real estate boom in Manila.

So long as there are 4 or 5 game stores, 4 or 5 movie streaming sites, etc. ... they have to compete on merit or use money to try to buy exclusives. Either way is better than the old monopoly strategy of take it or leave it ultimatums.

The publisher wins because there is a competitive bid. There won't be an arbitrary 30% tax on everything. So long as there is competition from the open web there will be means to bypass the junk fees & the most successful companies that do so might create their own stores with a lower rate: "Mr. Schachter estimates that Apple and Google could see a hit of about 14% to pretax earnings if they reduced their own app commissions to match Epic’s take."

As the big media companies & big tech companies race to create subscription products they'll spend many billions on exclusives. And they will be training consumers that there's nothing wrong with paying for content. This will eventually lead to hundreds of thousands or even millions of successful niche publications which have incentives better aligned than all the issues the ad supported web has faced.

Categories: 

Read More »
css.php