Here’s what I see coming for voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Lots of marketing opportunities here, and perhaps finally one eco-system to combine all social app data. More on that later.
What date did I move to San Francisco?
Who joined me at the Bruce Springsteen concert a few years ago?
What was the name of that Portland, Maine dive bar on the water with the oysters we loved?
When did I first buy raw maca powder?
That’s fairly simple stuff. The required data sources (which we’re already comfortable sharing) include:
Apps like Timehop can already tap into high level info like this and tell you where you were three years ago, but the social and detail layers will require more information and networked data.
What did I wear to Blackdiamondskye?
Which outfit should I wear today?
What topics did I research after my first lunch with Sandra?
Mobile GPS data (location services) from apps like Google Maps
Passbook (boarding passes, movie ticket stubs, event badges)
Messaging app history (iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.)
When was I happiest during the time I lived in New York?
Which job offer suits me best?
When did I know I was in love?
Everything we say and type? No – just all of the aforementioned sources, plus a future wearable or implanted device to monitor energy. Triangulate the data and apply some algorithms and AI.
Essentially, I think everything I currently rely on Evernote for will be available through a voice assistant that is continually self-improving a personalized tagging convention and data-rich picture of who I was, who I am, and who I will be (how I will behave).
Location, check-in, and social data – your digital footprint – will be accessible. Visuals included. The more you check in and document your every move, the richer your look-backs will be. This is similar to the re-do in my favorite Black Mirror episode, The Entire History of You, except what I envision is not based on a 24/7 life recorder, but an aggregation of experiential data shared by permission.
ICYMI – The Entire History of You premise: In an alternate reality, most people have a “grain” implanted behind their ear. It records everything they see, hear, and do, like a first person recorder for life. This allows memories to be (quite realistically) played back either in front of the person’s eyes or on a screen, a process known as a “re-do”.
I’m not advocating for a grain implant or anything as terrifying as what’s available in this show. But the personal data recall possibilities are pretty exciting.
Upside: wonderful for re-experiencing memories or pulling up information quickly.
Downside: our memories will get even weaker because we will exercise that muscle less and less. Oh, and privacy.
2016 was a year that everyone (in my echo chamber) was happy to see end. I reflected for a month, and here are six takeaways regarding health, happiness, social life, and apps:
There is usually no Ctrl+Shift+T for life, but you can always open a new tab. Retweet.
(Hasty clicker? This browser hotkey reopens the last closed tab. It’s Ctrl+Shift+T on Windows and Command+Shift+T on Mac OS X. Works in most browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Try Command+Z on Safari.)
Deleting Facebook from my phone made me read more books and go to bed happier. You’ve read the studies, you know Facebook makes you sad. Why are you still spending hours on it? I’m not saying you should quit, and I know there are good reasons to use Facebook. But time is the most valuable thing you have. The ideas and stories you read/see influence your outlook and mood.
Be discerning about what you let in. Add up all the hours you spent in 2016 letting Facebook wash over you with content chosen by its algorithm – not by you. Passive consumption can be dangerous (or at times, relaxing and perfectly okay). Bottom line: your time and attention are precious.
Boxed wine is back/good. Black Box has a tasty Chilean cabernet and it’s an incredible value: you pay about $17 for the box, which contains four bottles. It’s award-winning wine that costs 40% less. It lasts six weeks in the fridge. You reduce your carbon footprint and the spigot harkens back to the jug of Gatorade at childhood soccer games. It’s hydration for adult sports that’s better for the planet and your wallet.
Track your steps and walk around more. I hit the goal of 10,000 steps a day only about twice a week, but tracking it with the Pedometer++ app does make me move around more.
(Health tracking: I don’t do wearables because I don’t want a bluetooth device on my body 24/7. Here’s why. GMOs mess with your wiring; EMFs from tracking devices do the same. This app tracks steps while your phone is in your pocket or purse vs. a watch on your wrist. Those inches make a difference in exposure levels.)
If you love a piece of art, buy it. Surround yourself with beauty. Go buy original art, whether it’s off the street or on Etsy or at a gallery (but don’t pay too much). Don’t buy mass-produced shit (unless you love it).
See old friends whenever you can. Don’t trick yourself into believing that social media is a replacement for truly staying in touch. Make the drive, even if the visit is short. Schedule strategic layovers with enough time to grab lunch with a local friend. Bring a small gift (other than boxed wine). I recommend showing up with 99 cent bubbles on a spring day, like my college friend Shay.
By the end of 2016, all parking meters in New York City will accept payment via mobile app. New York isn’t the first city to offer mobile parking meter payment (joining Boston, Fort Worth, Seattle, SLC, and others) and it won’t be the last. Interesting: unused parking meter money will be refunded to users. This is one of very few situations in which the government would volunteer to forfeit funds already in their possession. Historically, they may have kept monies in similar cases of overpayment to increase revenue or more likely to avoid the cost of processing more paperwork. Losses in annual revenue due to the refund feature are expected to be nominal, so it’s likely the latter.
When technology makes transactions more seamless, it’s harder for either party not to play fair.
As the cloud replaces paper and user generated content competes with traditional journalism for greater media share of voice, policies that have served vendors and governments will give way to ones that serve users. Revenues from happy customers and their repeat purchases will characterize businesses that survive, rather than policies that hurt users but previously were not fought due to acceptance and a lower tech status quo.
Fine print, one-sided policies, and rigid contracts will go the way of the horse drawn carriage (and probably soon, the taxi). Keep an eye on companies like T-Mobile and Spirit Airlines. They put customers in control by foregoing required contracts, forced add-ons (e.g., paying for bags and peanuts), and in general offer more a la carte products. “We’ve never done it that way” and “our system wouldn’t support that” won’t be able to compete.
LinkedIn’s methods for gathering data from its over 450 million* registered users are shrouded. Usually, they don’t ask permission, they just uncheck new Privacy Controls for you. It’s no wonder they’ve faced numerous lawsuits.
LinkedIn seems to know everyone you’ve ever emailed: The People You May Know feature seems to make predictions based on information you’ve never knowingly transmitted. Before I explain how this works, here’s a quick fix:
How to remove your imported contacts from LinkedIn:
Go to Connections -> Add Connections -> Manage imported contacts (top right of page) -> click “select all” and delete all
(This is easiest to do on desktop: forget performing half the functions you want to on the iPhone app.)
How LinkedIn is seemingly psychic about people you may know
Other users’ actions: This algorithm is their secret sauce. LinkedIn analyzes other users’ searches and viewing histories to make assumptions about people you may know. I.e., if Sheryl and Dean searched for both you and Tony, then you and Tony may know each other. Multiply this across many users. The result is an algorithm that predicts your likely contacts without ever accessing your actual contacts. You may see recommendations to connect with someone who has the same name as someone you know, but is a totally different person.
Your contacts: You may have granted LinkedIn access to your contacts, which often happens inadvertently by using the app. “Inadvertent” is the keyword for most privacy issues with LinkedIn, because its strategy hinges upon 1) the fact that most users don’t read fine print and 2) that its UI, especially on mobile, effectively shuffles users along a permission-granting bender.
Your login: When logged in, even if you close the tab, LinkedIn has access to any activity you take on a site with a LinkedIn plugin or authentication that you’ve granted. To avoid this tracking, log out of LinkedIn whenever you’re done with your business.
In the last 1-2 years we’ve seen a trend of complimenting brands who are “rocking” Snapchat and other relatively new one-to-one social messaging apps. (I prefer Allison Steele’s term: attention deficit content creation platforms.)
After 5-10 years of oversharing, narcissism, and selfie culture resulting in enough privacy backlashes, firings, and divorces, many users are crunching inwards toward more private communication. Brands automatically assuming they belong in this new crop of apps is a me-too mistake, the result of too much demand for rapid reaction.
Where is the data indicating that Taco Bell, McDonald’s, General Electric, Heineken, the New Orleans Saints, 16 Handles, etc. are successful on Snapchat?
Brands on Snapchat hope to reach Millennials (those born in roughly the early 1980s to the early 2000s). Targeting a demo whose childhoods were filled with every-loser-gets-a-trophy-for-showing-up has translated to brands showing up – without even keeping score – being considered winners.
You can’t measure engagement within Snapchat.
A snap can’t benefit from the interaction of a Like, retweet, favorite, or share. Brands get more buzz off the flowery Mashable campaign coverage written by AYSO trophy-saturated writers who continually fail to proofread (a symptom of “A for effort”? – this is too easy). I’ve personally seen brand impressions from articles lauding the “organic/intimate/forward-thinking/risk-taking” efforts of marketers and their agencies for experimentation with Snapchat, Vine, etc. worth more than any fleeting impact the disappearing content may have on consumers. Not only do the messages disappear, the attention span of their target user base is the shortest on the planet.
Resources devoted to Snapchat when your other social ducks are anemic makes good linkbait when we’re all tired of hearing about the reach woes of Facebook and ineffective YouTube pre-roll. Instead of fixing problems on platforms with better tracking, targeting, reach, and content longevity, it’s easier and more fun to make stop motion videos. Now, Snapchat’s 32.9% penetration among 18-34 year-olds should not be ignored. And if you want to reach 18-25 year-olds with exclusive content – things like limited time coupons, flash sales, and behind-the-scenes footage – I see the draw. But where is the yardstick?
Lastly, we all know what Snapchat is for. Do you really want a brand’s snap next to your sext? The proximity alone should cause a panic attack.
Andrew Cunningham at HUGE wrote a nice summary of considerations if you choose to market with Snapchat. I am not saying avoid it: I’m saying stop handing out trophies for showing up at try-outs.
It’s a mobile messaging app that allows users to share photos and videos that disappear after a short time once the recipient opens the message (after 1-10 seconds or 24 hours for Stories). As of July 2014, users were sending 700 million photo messages each day, up from 400 million in October 2013.