The Britton Digital Update—Week of December 5, 2016
Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news
One of the things I have tried to teach my son about this year is traditions. Traditions are often passed from generation to generation because they have sentimental meaning—whether it is a tradition of watching Christmas Vacation 500 times between now and Christmas day, calling someone to wish them a happy birthday (actually with voice, not a text), or watching football every Sunday. I remember several years, as a child, when my family drove into downtown Chicago (we lived in the suburbs) during the holiday season to walk down those windy Chicago streets and see the window decorations at Marshall Field’s and Carson’s. They were always extravagant and often brought holiday or children’s tales to life (sometimes almost literally with the animatronics!). Google released a new website this week that can help relive some of those memories. It’s called Window Wonderland and it gives you the opportunity to have a high-res look at the spectacular retail window displays in New York City.
There are many traditions from my childhood that I still take part in today and many new ones we have created as a family. I encourage you to take the time to pass on those traditions this holiday season. Don’t forget to post them to Facebook so we can enjoy them, too! And while you do that, we’ll continue to curate the latest digital stories to make sure you don’t miss a beat.
Gone in Six Seconds
It sounds like the plot of a science-fiction movie we’ve all seen: Technology meant to enhance our lives is turned against us. It’s one of society's biggest fears when it comes to AI (artificial intelligence). We are seeing incredible advances in this area, because machine learning is making those leaps forward even quicker.
Some of this technology comes in the form of bots. A bot is a piece of software that can automate tasks online and can become more effective when utilized with data. While most programmers program bots to automate a task to enhance our lives, some are using this technology for harm. A team of Newcastle University (in the UK) researchers discovered that “thieves are using web bots to guess Visa credit and debit card info thanks to a flaw in the company’s payment system.” With a full credit-card number and expiration date (which can be easily purchased online), thieves can run a bot that tests for the three-digit CVV number on the back of the card on hundreds of websites at the same time. The bot can find this number in just six seconds! While MasterCard has a policy in place to flag this type of activity after 10 attempts, Visa apparently does not. Using cash for your Christmas shopping sounds more and more attractive, doesn’t it?
It touts itself as a food-shopping experience with “no lines, no checkout,” but what it really represents is the cusp of a new grocery model. After several hints, Amazon officially announced Amazon Go as a beta test for Amazon employees. It’s basically a convenience/grocery store with big tech upgrades. At Amazon Go, you grab snacks, drinks, or meal kits (think 30-minute meal prep, like Blue Apron) that you can cook at home and simply walk out. Sensors and cameras determine what you’re taking with you and charge your Amazon account. It removes one of the more stressful experiences of food shopping: trying to get the bar code to scan over and over again at the checkout only to have the scanner determine employee assistance is needed, when it usually isn’t.
There are several companies trying to utilize similar technology that can scan an entire grocery cart in seconds as you roll past. While this beta test is only for Amazon employees in Seattle, Amazon has big plans to take this experience nationwide, with as many as 2,000 locations planned. I can see these being popular in downtown locations where grocery stores aren’t as common, but the bigger application may in be making this technology mainstream and bringing it to gas-station convenience stores and grocery chains. Of course, Amazon might use some of the data it receives from tracking you inside the store to their benefit as well.
Lifestyles of the YouTube Famous
When we were young, our parents’ worst nightmare was that we would pick up a pair of drumsticks or a guitar, skip college, and start a band. Yes, that works out for some people, but for many others it’s an extra few years of financial support that a parent needs to provide. These days, kids have it much different. With internet accessibility and technology (and the world) at our fingertips, many kids grow up with the goal of becoming a YouTube star. Of course, as parents we realize that YouTube is not a fad, but could it be a real job?
This week, Forbes released its list of 2016 top YouTube earners and it is enough to make you want to rethink your career. The top star was PewDiePie (not his real Swedish name), who pocketed $15 million from ads that played on his channel, a series on YouTube Red, a book, and an app game. Other top names include Roman Atwood, Lilly Singh, Smosh, and Miranda Sings. The top 12 YouTubers “earned a combined $70.5 million in the 12 months ending in June—a 23% increase from last year,” according to Forbes.
Grande Nonfat PokeLatte
Pokémon GO was a huge summer success, but, like other apps, use has declined over time. (Not to say that it isn’t still huge. It’s still in the top 10, but it’s not No. 1 in the App Store). When it was released, many marketers saw the potential for retail partnerships that could drive traffic (Pokémon players) into stores to take advantage of special bonuses in the game. We are starting to see that potential realized as partnerships with Starbucks and Sprint were announced this week. Starbucks has created a Pokémon-inspired beverage, while both businesses are utilizing locations as PokéStops or PokéGyms, which are desirable locations for players to visit during gameplay.
While I can see a $5 coffee drink as being a way to quench the thirst of Pokémon GO player, I find it harder to believe that Sprint can convert players into mobile customers who aren’t already on their plans. To some degree, for both companies, it is more about awareness. However, sales will ultimately become metrics both use to determine if the partnership is valuable. Either way, I’m pretty sure I want some coffee now.
For the rest of the news this past week, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:
- New Safety App to Share Your Location with Loved Ones
- LinkedIn Adds Personalized Conversation Starters
- Showcasing Business Profiles on Pinterest
- Google Adds Quick-Citation Button
Same as last week, I am lazy and shameless: We’re getting close to the Super Bowl of advertising, also known as the Super Bowl. So we are brushing up on some of our favorite tunes used in commercials.