​The Britton Digital Update—Week of August 7, 2017

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

We have come quite far with online sales. Just a decade ago, consumers were apprehensive about giving out financial information to make an online purchase. Retail TouchPoints reported this week that “US online sales are expected to reach more than $459 billion in 2017, rising 14 percent from last year.” Interestingly, that online-sales figure accounts for only 12.9 percent of total retail sales.

Here’s another astonishing fact: 90 percent of retail sales still happen in a store. Even in a time when we have massive amounts of retail stores closing and the doom-and-gloom reports of mall vacancies, nine out of 10 purchases happen in a retail store. (Believe it or not, many retail-mall general managers don’t mind the vacancies. They allow them to replace a 20-year-old lease with a new one that likely generates much higher revenue for the mall property.)

Perhaps this data is why online retail giants like Amazon are rushing to open brick-and-mortar locations. It is also a reason that mall owner General Growth Properties is trying out a new storefront concept called IRL (In Real Life). IRL will offer digital brands a chance to have a physical space. The first store, according to Glossy, will feature mattresses, furniture, and art, and “will be staged in home-inspired rooms throughout the 4,000-square-foot space.” The space will also include technology for consumer insights and preferences in real time. With no inventory, consumers will be able to order on the spot with iPads or receive a text with a link to purchase at a later time.

The idea of staged rooms isn’t new, but using e-commerce-only retailers in a mall space is possibly becoming a new trend. It’s ironic since part of the reason so many stores are closing is the growing threat of online purchasing. These stores will be paired with an experience—in this case, a lobster bar on the second level—plus, several events showcasing virtual reality and other technology to draw younger, tech-savvy millennials into the store.

Want to read more about how technology is changing the shopping experience in brick-and-mortar stores? Take a look at a blog I wrote on the topic last year titled “How Brands Are Using Digital to Drive Customers to Brick-and-Mortar Purchases.” If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest digital news, this Britton Digital Update can tell you everything you need to know in just five minutes. Enjoy!

DisneyFlix

The company responsible for the happiest place on earth made some people very unhappy this week—specifically, Netflix shareholders and their management. Disney announced that it is launching its own streaming service in 2019 and that it will end its distribution agreement with Netflix, beginning with its 2019 films.

Disney says the service will be the “exclusive home in the US for subscription-video-on-demand viewing.” With movies like Toy Story and Frozen, as well as the Star Wars franchise and additional short-form content, the service is expected to be a huge success.

In addition, Disney—which owns ESPN—also announced an ESPN sports-streaming service that will feature more than “10,000 live regional, national, and international games and events a year.” The Verge reported that the ESPN service is aimed at cord cutters and will launch in 2018.

Accidental Clicks

It’s no secret that there is a significant amount of waste and fraud when it comes to digital advertising. Adweek reported that $7.2 billion was wasted on ad fraud in 2016. Some of this ad fraud is in the form of bots, some from pixel stuffing and ghost sites, and some comes from of our fat fingers. Yep, accidental clicks. According to a 2016 report from Retale, 60 percent of all mobile banner clicks happen by accident.

When you accidentally click an ad, you usually immediately click back in your browser to get back to the content you were viewing. When reviewing drop-off rates, Facebook found that users who accidentally click on an Audience Network ad usually spend less than two seconds on a destination page. For this reason Facebook stated, “Moving forward, we will no longer count clicks categorized as unintentional in advertisers’ campaigns.”

Facebook also announced plans to fight “cloaking,” a trick used today by spammers to show content moderators or search-engine spiders an innocent-looking version of their site while real visitors just see ads and scams. Basically, its play by Facebook’s rules or your account could be deactivated. With ad fraud and waste so prevalent in digital media, any effort toward removing spam or distorted results is a win.

Here is more Facebook news this week:

Total Eclipse of the Heart—Er, Sun

Excitement continues to grow as we approach the solar eclipse on August 21. Many people have been planning a long time for this event. We’re not talking tourism here; we’re talking solar power. As you can imagine, an event that blocks out the sun can have a negative effect on the solar-power industry.

As a matter of fact, Bloomberg said that the power lost due to the eclipse would be enough to generate electricity for nearly 7 million homes. It is forecast to be approximately 9,000 megawatts—the equivalent of nine nuclear reactors. Despite the outage, power-grid operators have made adjustments and don’t expect power outages or price impacts due to the eclipse. And you thought the only thing to worry about was getting your hands on a pair of those special eclipse glasses so that you could still view it.

Anchor Videos

Since Anchor was released last year, it has intrigued me. Originally billed as a personal-radio-station app, it allowed users to create short-form audio content. An update this spring allowed users to create an ongoing audio story—like an audio version of a Snapchat or an Instagram story. Since then it has added a number of features, including the ability to broadcast “call-ins” (audio replies) from your listeners and the ability to export your short-form audio content to Apple Podcasts or other podcast aggregators.

This week, Anchor added another feature—Anchor Videos—that could lead to some significant growth. Since many social media platforms lack the ability to share audio easily, Anchor added the ability to convert your short-form audio content into video. This allows the content to be shared on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with a video that can be played directly in each platform. Additionally, the videos feature audio transcription so that the videos can be viewed with or without sound. The transcription isn’t perfect, but Anchor does allow the ability to edit them. This is a huge step for Anchor content discovery and has the potential to catapult the app to a much wider audience. Of course that doesn’t mean that Facebook and Instagram won’t copy that feature (it already transcribes captions for video) and try to put Anchor out of business

Do You Copy?

Snapchat knows that game well (being copied). It creates a feature and Facebook or Instagram copies it—along with just about everyone else. It happened with the Stories format of content, it happened with filters and the augmented-reality camera, and now it could happen with its Discover section.

Google is reportedly working on a feature called Stamp (“St” for stories and “amp” for its mobile webpage-optimization technology) that would mimic Snapchat’s Discover section of high-quality, magazine-like content produced by CNN, BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, and others. According to the Verve, “There is the possibility that it could live beneath the search bar, where on Android users are already served a list of recommended websites and news stories.” Other rumors have the Stamp feature showing up in search results. No word on whether these would be sharable with other social networks, like Facebook.

Facebook tried to buy Snapchat in 2011, for $3 billion, but failed. Facebook made the company pay for saying no by cutting into Snapchat’s business by coping its features. Google tried to buy Snapchat in 2016 for $30 billion. Again, CEO Evan Spiegel and crew declined. Will history repeat itself with Google making Snapchat pay the price for that business decision, too?

Biological Differences

Google was in the news—and it wasn’t positive—for other reasons this week. A Google engineer, James Damore, wrote a 10-page memo stating that the gender gap at Google and other tech companies is the result of a biological difference between men and women. He basically stated that women are less equipped than men to handle work in the tech industry and that Google’s attempts to overcome that difference are drowning out “ideological diversity” and creating a culture that discriminates against “conservative viewpoints.”

The memo quickly spread internally, and then externally among the press. At first, Google’s vice president of diversity said, “Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions.”

As the public-relations crisis continued to grow, Google took action by terminating the employee. CEO Sundar Pichai returned early from a family vacation to handle the matter internally. In an email, he wrote, “Portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace. … To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”

Damore filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that Google upper management was “misrepresenting and shaming” and adding that “I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment.”

This isn’t going away for Google. However, it could spur a conversation (both internal and external) to discuss the work environment, which has been the subject of criticism in the past, inside one of the tech industry’s largest companies.

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:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode