Big conference-based announcements from Google and re/code, the 2015 Internet trends you need to know, a focus on photo-based apps and increased visual communications, P2P payment options, a risky advertising/journalism play in Boston, the rise of Google Pants and Silicon Valley sex therapists, where we are with digital journalism, lawyers mining your data and more, it’s Last Week in Digital.
- One of the most anticipated events of the year, the Google I/O conference, was held this week. More details in the Platforms section below, but be ready for Google domination – particularly in mobile design. (BuzzFeed)
- Meanwhile, here are some highlights from the Code conference (all links are from re/code):
- Mary Meeker unveiled the 20th edition of her famed annual Internet Report. More on that in a special section below. (re/code)
- CBS isn’t worried about competition from Netflix.
- BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti hinted that the news and listicle viral sensation will move “upstream” in media markets, included in “linear TV.” Go figure. I had my money on sinusoidal TV. (re/code)
- General Motors is set to make Android Auto and Apple CarPlay available in 14 different models in 2016 Chevrolet vehicles. This could be the technology push that helps GM advance past other automakers with proprietary systems – or it could be the price of relevance, given their onboard wifi that comes with the car. (re/code)
- Then again, there are add-ons like Waze and Automatic that are connecting the final dots on the connected car using your existing data plan. An especially attractive option, as you’re less likely to upgrade the hardware (your car) than you are your phone or your apps. (Science Friday)
- Speaking of re/code, they took the occasion of their conference to announce that they were being acquired by Vox Media, a deal which combines the two tech powerhouses and gives Vox a conference business. (re/code and Vox)
- In other acquisition news, Salesforce acquired the machine learning calendar Tempo in a bid to make advances in artificial intelligence. Tempo’s service will shut down next month. Welp, there goes my favorite calendar system. (Business Intelligence)
- Ross Ulbrecht, creator of the dark web site Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison because of the nefarious activities that his creation supported. (New York Times)
- Google revealed and announced quite a few things during the I/O conference. Some of the highlights include: a vast update to the Android system – the latest being called Android M – that include easier permissions, direct linking from apps to the web, an expansion of Android Pay, an OS for the Internet of Things called “Brillo,” offline connectivity for apps (such as Google Maps) and much more. (The Next Web)
- One of the announcements worth covering separately is the launch of Google Photos, which include unlimited backup space for your photos. Product chief Bradley Horowitz considers itGmail for photos. This is a functionality that Google separated from the Google+ product, and it’s an extremely important one, pitting Google against Facebook, Yahoo and even Apple’s iCloud.Although, according to at least one high-volume photographer, it’s not enough. (Venture Beat and Thomas Hawk)
- Get ready for Google Pants. Levi’s and Google are teaming up for smart fabric that will respond to gestures and integrate with your devices. For those of you in the know, Marketing Companion predicted this development a year and a half ago. (Fusion)
- Launching in New York City: the ability to pay friends through the Facebook Messenger app, which also works directly in group chats. Just in case they aren’t paying up, you can also stalk them with Messenger using this Chrome extension. (TechCrunch and Medium) If you use Facebook, you need to check out Robert Scoble’s 22 tips for getting the most out of your experience. (Facebook / AdWeek)
- It doesn’t take a lot to be successful with Facebook ads. Here’s what $5 will do for you. (The Next Web)
- Earlier this spring, Twitter held talks to acquire Flipboard. Talks have since stalled. The pairing could be beneficial to each: Flipboard could use larger audience and revenue stream and Twitter would have a more visual layout of its content. (re/code)
- Snapchat has raised another $500 million from investors, with a valuation around $16 billion. It’s clear that investors are bullish in the future of the visual communications app as the company issued common stock rather than preferred stock in the transaction. (WSJ)
- Why are millennials obsessed with Snapchat? In short, because all of their friends are on it and it’s more personalized. And BTW, here’s what they think of adults on Snapchat: “Anyone over the age of 35 registered on Snapchat is probably also registered on Family WatchDog.” (Business Insider)
- As for brands, Snapchat has a very specific way of thinking: 6 ways Snapchat is thinking about digital advertising. (Contently)
- It’s not quite dead yet. In fact, Foursquare is getting better… The latest update includes an algorithm that makes recommendations more timely and helpful, and users don’t even have to create a profile to make use of them. (TechCrunch)
- The two b’s in Airbnb could stand for big business. The home sharing service is now hosting nearly 1 million people a night. (re/code)
- Homeless because of Airbnb: a host was blacklisted after a questionable gathering by a renter in her apartment and now she can’t get a lease in all of New York City. (Tumblr)
- A Boston television station is taking a huge risk with sponsored content. The 10 o’clock News on MyTV38 is airing a weekly conversation called “A Few Good Minutes” with short interviews that aren’t quite advertising nor are they quite journalism. The line continues to blur – dangerously so. (Boston Globe)
- Like it or not, headlines matter. A quick infographic on how to develop the best performing headlines. (Contently)
- Writing without planning is pointless. Whether you’re writing a book, a technical guide, a press release or anything else, you need these 11 planning tips for writers and the psychology behind them. (Without Bullshit)
Metrics / Measurement / Data
- If you’re in communications or marketing and you want to get schooled on data, it can be tricky to determine where to begin. Boston University is offering three different sessions of an intensive 5-day workshop called Storytelling with Data this summer that can help you get there. (Boston University)
- Google is giving app developers more tools, including AdWords, AdMob and Analytics, to help with the monetization of their apps. (Venture Beat)
Privacy / Security / Legal
- Here’s a fun (and self-admitted creepy) extension for your Chrome browser called Marauder’s Mapthat allows you to stalk your friends’ location using Facebook Messenger. The moral of the story: always be sure to check the settings on your apps and your devices. (Medium)
- What you post is being used by more than just your friends. Your friendly neighborhood ambulance chaser is also using Facebook and other data to track down medical victims. (Bloomberg)
- Be careful: it’s possible to get fined for using a smart watch while driving. Some people really love the Apple Watch. (CVT News Montreal)
When You Have the Time: Essential Watching / Listening / Reading
- An unintended consequence of a male-dominant tech industry in Silicon Valley: the rise of the sex therapist. (Vocativ)
- A very good long read on what’s become of journalism in the digital age – particularly the importance and diversity of digital journalism. (The New York Review of Books)
2015 Internet Trends Report
- Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers presented the company’s 20th annual Internet Trends report at the Code Conference this week. At 196 pages, it’s a long deck, so here are some highlights.
- About 39% of the world’s population is online and 73% have a mobile device.
- While the impact to consumers has been great, we have plenty of opportunities ahead in healthcare, education and government/policy areas.
- User growth is slowing (8% last year vs. 10% the prior year). Does this mean we’re in trouble? Hardly. It means stabilization and universality. But it reminds me of a former colleague who used to say, “If it isn’t growing, it’s dying” – as misinformed an absolutist position I’ve ever heard.
- Here’s why: Internet usage and engagement is growing 11% Y/Y – with mobile accounting for 3 hours a day of engagement.
- It’s 2015 and print still remains way over-indexed with respect to time spent – particularly on mobile.
- New ad formats for mobile, such as Facebook’s Carousel, Pinterest’s Cinematic Pin and Google’s Local Inventory will make things easier for brands.
- Buy buttons will permeate the social experience.
- Vertical video viewing is becoming a thing – but not because of poorly shot personal videos; vertical ads on visual communications-heavy apps perform up to 9X better than horizontal ads.
- Better tools for the enterprise are widely available and have the potential to streamline business processes.
- Messaging apps are growing in importance and their dominance will be assured with multiple functionalities and cross-platform operating systems.
- User-generated and curated content is remaking the Internet and 12-24 year-olds are the new trendsetters.
- Consumer spending and on-demand services are in a place where the trade-off of convenience for price is becoming more relevant. People will pay a little more for a customized experience.
- All eyes should be on China and India for sheer mass and addition of new users, respectively.