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March 19, 2019

Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 242)

March 19, 2019 | By | No Comments

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Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? Woman reads online news on social network

Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 242) – Headlines and Show Notes

Online plays a big role in the ways we interact with one another. And, unfortunately, the ways we interact with one another is not always positive. What caused this? Did we break the internet? Or did the internet break us? The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud offers some thoughts. Here are the show notes:

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 46s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Did We Break the Internet? Or Did the Internet Break Us? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 242) Transcript

Well, hi, everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud. My name is Tim Peter, today is Tuesday, March 19th, 2019. This is episode 242 of the big show, and as ever, I very much appreciate you tuning in.

So this is going to be a bit of a weird episode for me. But one that I hope is the start of a conversation. Obviously, there was a big tragedy this past week, these terrorist shootings in New Zealand. And while it’s a small part of the tragedy in real terms, obviously, given what I do, using digital and things like that, there’s the really important discussion that’s started, given the use of Facebook video by the shooter to livestream the shooting, a number of people are asking and I think they’re asking in good faith, whether social media specifically, and the internet more generally have caused or will cause more harm than good.

And I think their arguments are generally lucid, they’re well-reasoned, they’re well worth your time. I plan to link to another of some of the best ones I’ve seen in the show notes, and I’d really encourage you to take the time to engage with them. In effect, they’re asking if the internet has broken us, if the internet has broken who we are, as human beings?

It saddens me to say that there’s plenty of evidence to support those arguments. The thing about the internet is that it democratizes not only peoples’ access to information, but also peoples’ ability to distribute information. Anyone can post any content online, for anyone to read, hear, watch, experience. I tend to think that’s a good thing. I think history will show that it is a good thing.

Of course, one downside is that anyone can post content, no matter how vile or disturbing that content might be, which is what we saw this past week. Clearly, as I’ve described in a prior episode of the show, explaining why digital is like gravity, I would never argue that it’s an unlimited good thing. Clearly, peoples’ ability to distribute whatever content they want has its downsides.

I know I’ve referenced this before, but as the philosopher Paul Virilio said, “The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck.” I want to be clear, I want to go on the record right now. I don’t think we should abandon ship, simply because some people want to navigate that ship into rough waters, or because they want to run it aground.

The New Zealand shooter used the benefits of the internet to his advantage, as do lots of people who spread hate, incitement to violence, conspiracy theories, and frankly, all manner of trouble and trolling that you see on a daily basis, on social media. That’s a shame. It really is because people are using something that could be, and can be, and is a tool for great benefit, specifically to cause harm, specifically to cause pain, specifically to cause suffering, and specifically to spread and share that harm, and that pain, and that suffering with as many people as they can.

I think that’s twisted, I think it’s deranged, I think it’s wrong. I also think that blaming those actions on the internet is like blaming gravity when vandals throw bricks off bridges at cars. Yes, gravity plays a role, but it’s the vandals who are taking advantage of its inherent properties of gravity’s inherent use, its utility, who are to blame.

So this gets into a very, very difficult area of conversation because we need to think about the fact that, yes, other terrorists can use these tools, and these media to their advantage, that’s true. We also know that people who seek to divide us, are trying to do the same thing. They’re using these tools to drive wedges amongst people, between people, between groups of people, based on where they see fracture points.

And I think it’s fair to say, we have points of fracture, we have points of disagreement. It’s part of what makes us human. Nobody’s ever going to agree with everybody else about everything. I wish that that were true. And I think there are people who seek to divide us, who want to use those points of disagreement as a wedge, and to drive that wedge further between us, to make us dislike one another more, to make us ham one another more, whether with violence or whether simply with words.

So I don’t encourage that, obviously, and I understand completely how painful and awful a thing that can be. I also think it plays into the hands of the wrong people when we start to say, “How do we stop this?” I do. If you look at things like the Great Firewall of China, or a recent law that was passed in Russia, actually just signed yesterday by Vladimir Putin, that puts quote unquote, “Reasonable limits on content.” It allows authoritarians and people who seek to divide in other ways to restrict access to information that really would be beneficial to most of their population.

That’s not a good thing, I can’t see that as the right solution. And I think if you look at the internet more generally, you’ll see so many examples of where people have used the internet for good, for real good. I think about something like the Ice Bucket Challenge a couple of years ago, to raise awareness of ALS. We all remember it, it went completely viral. It cost the charity, the organization behind it very little money, and resulted in an enormous amount of publicity, and even better, an enormous amount of fundraising and attention to this awful disease, to try to do something to stop it. I’ve run into more stories than I can tell you over my years of working in digital, of times when people used the internet, learned that someone was thinking about killing themselves, thinking about suicide, and using that to help these people when they were in a time of crisis. And of course, it provides access to information for marginalized people all around the world. People who are struggling with their identity, people who are struggling with being oppressed in various communities around the world.

It is an enormous benefit. Yes, I clearly remain optimistic about this. I’m cautiously optimistic, and I share a number of concerns about the ways that digital and the internet can be used for harm. Despite that, I am optimistic all the same. And I recognize that that may sound foolish, after the horror of the past week. But I also think that trying to change the world for the better requires optimism. It requires us to hope, it requires us to think about where we want to be, and who we want to be, and envisioning ourselves into a better future.

Not a perfect future, not a future that won’t come with bumps and bruises, but a better place. I don’t think the internet has broken us, the internet is us. We still have a voice, and we still have influence, and we still have the opportunity to control, and shape the direction it takes. Yes, there are awful people, who want to take it in different directions. Yes, there are bad actors, who choose to use the internet for terrible ends. They also remain a minor share of total usage.

The shipwrecks might be real, but I strongly believe that this ship is worth saving. I’d encourage you to check out the show notes, you may feel different from me. I’d encourage you to take a look at the show notes, where I’ve linked to a number of posts, even those I disagree with so you can get a sense of other points of view on this. And after you’ve had a chance to check those out, I’d genuinely love to hear what you think about this. Maybe I’m wrong, this is supposed to be a dialogue.

Drop me a line on Twitter, using the handle @tcpeter, or an email at podcast@timpeter.com, or a message on Facebook at Facebook.com/timpeterassociates, and let me know what you think. Let’s use the internet in its best, most pure form, and I’ll be sure to share your thoughts in a future episode so that we can keep the conversation going. Because ultimately, I think that proves the strength, and the power, and the value that the internet provides, and the ability it helps us, the ability it offers us to steer the ship in a direction we want it to go. So I hope you’re willing to engage in this dialogue. I really look forward to continuing the discussion.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. But I do want to remind you, you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all of our episodes at timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s timpeter.com/podcast. This is episode 241.

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there, to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite pod catcher, every single episode. You can subscribe in iTunes, or the Google Play Music Store, or Stitcher Radio, or wherever your favorite pod catcher happens to be. Just do a search for “Tim Peter Thinks,” “Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud,” or “Thinks Out Loud,” we should show up for any of those.

With that, I want to wish you nothing but peace in your life. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, a fantastic weekend, and I do look forward to the ongoing discussion with you, here on Thinks Out Loud. Until then, please be well, be safe, and take care, everybody.

Tim Peter

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March 12, 2019

The History – and Future – of Trust in Digital Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 241)

March 12, 2019 | By | No Comments

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Trust in Digital Marketing: Customers using digital who don't trust you

The History – and Future – of Trust in Digital Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 241) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 51s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

The History – and Future – of Trust in Digital Marketing (Thinks Out Loud Episode 241) Transcript

Well, hello again, everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. Today is Tuesday, March 12th 2019. This is episode 241 of the big show, and as ever, I really, really appreciate you tuning in.

I’ve been talking for the past handful of episodes about data. I got a question from a listener, Steve in Cincinnati, who asked, “Should customers disguise their digital footprints from businesses? When customers are traveling around and interacting with your business, should they be protecting their data from you as a company?”

I think what Steve’s really asking is, “Shouldn’t customers be protecting their data from you as a company?” I think there are a couple of answers to this question, and to answer it, I’m going to have to take some odd digressions at points. First, whether or not customers should, we know that /they already do/. We know that customers already do with companies who haven’t earned their trust.

If you think about the rise of ad blockers and how prominent they have become, if you think about anonymous mode, if you think about GDPR, which was something I talked about in a previous episode. GDPR exists because we as marketers screwed up. GDPR exists because we did not do enough to protect our customers. Not even their data, but our customers themselves, their privacy, their rights.

Customers will increasingly protect their data, their digital footprints, whenever companies misstep. It’s obvious that you shouldn’t misuse something that doesn’t really belong to you. I’ve said many times that data is the crowned jewels, and that you need to protect that data as if your company depends upon it, because as I said many times, it does.

At the same time, I don’t want any of this to be but, because obviously everybody ignores everything that came before the but, so please don’t take this that way. I think it is also true that customers share data constantly. Everyone claims that they care about privacy, and they do until you offer them something of value in exchange.

Data really is a currency, and I’m sorry to say, I actually don’t think this is a good thing. But privacy is something of a currency. Customers have learned they can trade their privacy for some value. It could be coupons, could be a white paper download, it could be any number of things where customers say, “Yeah, I get that I’m giving up a little bit of my privacy, but in exchange, I’m going to receive some value.”

That’s something that I think is going to remain true for a long time. I think all the evidence suggests that that will remain true for a long time. What I find really fascinating, and I’m going to go kind of far afield on this for a moment, is that I think we’re going to see a number of technologically enabled solutions as we go forward. We’ve already seen some, and we’re starting to see more moves in this direction, but I want to explain why.

It used to be trust was something that was imbued in a brand. You chose your local bank, or your doctor, or the person who repaired your car, or a lawyer, or things along those lines, based on how much you trusted them. Based on word of mouth frequently, they had an inherited trust from what your friends and family told you about them, but also their reputation. The same was true for stores. You shopped at particular stores, or you bought from particular vendors, or you worked with particular companies because you had some trust relationship there. Something about them made them trustworthy.

What we’ve seen, one of the things that digital has done, is it’s sort of distributed the role of trust over the years. If we want to go back in history, this really started with Amazon reviews, and even more so, I would say eBay. eBay really invented the concept of trust on the internet, in that when you bought from Amazon, there was a big company there. I’m not talking about Amazon Marketplace, because at the time, Amazon Marketplace really didn’t exist.

But when you bought from eBay, when you bought a Beanie Baby from some person who you’ve never met before who lived in some other part of the country or some other country altogether, you didn’t know who this person was. You didn’t know that when you handed off your money. You didn’t know that the thing you were going to buy, the Beanie Baby, or a used guitar, or the cool T-shirt, or things along those lines, you had no idea prior to that whether or not you could count on it arriving, whether or not you could count on the person not pocketing your money and just taking off with it.

eBay and PayPal really started to say, “It’s okay. One, because you can trust this person, because we’ve got ratings and reviews, and two, because we’ve built some mechanisms that protect you from bad actors.” What that created was an ecosystem where you could trust people you’d never met, people who you would never meet. You knew that it was all going to be okay, because the system reinforced trust.

It’s really led to an environment … If you fast forward through all the years and all the different … I don’t want to jump over history too much, because there were some cool innovations along the way, but I also want to point out that today we have things like Uber, or Airbnb, or Etsy, where you can just buy from some little random shop person, no offense to the people on Etsy, but some craftsperson who you’ve never met, and know that you’re going to be taken care of.

You can go stay in someone’s home or someone’s apartment, sometimes with them there at the same time, even though you’ve never met them, because again, a trust framework has come up that says, “It’s going to be okay.” I know I’m not the first person to make this joke, but we were all taught as kids, “Don’t get into cars with strangers,” and now that’s what we do every time we take a ride on Uber, or Lyft, or any other ridesharing service, because trust is built into the system.

Obviously, if you get into things like scooters, and all these other kinds of transportation services, just leave your bikes sitting there, and somebody won’t take it and walk away from it. It’ll be fine. Or a service like Turo that lets people rent your car and just drive off in your car, and it’s okay, it comes back. Those are extraordinary extensions of what has happened with trust.

I think we’re going to get even further. I don’t know if it’s going to be blockchain, or if it’s going to be some other type of distributed ledger technology, but just as PayPal anonymized and protected your banking details or your credit card details when you made transactions, and obviously Venmo has picked up on that in recent time, I think we’re going to see distributed ledger technologies, possibly blockchain itself, more likely other services that are built on top of those distributed ledgers that allow you to release your private information in pieces, and pull it back in pieces, sort of escrow accounts for your personal information.

I think customers will increasingly have tools that will allow them to protect their data, to protect their privacy from companies that they don’t trust, and as they do, as those services begin to exist, I have no doubt that customers will take advantage of them, because that’s exactly how we got PayPal, and how PayPal led to Venmo. It’s exactly how we got eBay, and eBay led to Uber, and Airbnb, and Lyft, and Turo. It’s where these things kind of logically go.

Regulation’s one way we’re going to get there, but another way is that the market will find solutions. Now, what I would recommend is you can be the type of company that simply lets regulation tell you what to do, or you can be the type of company that doesn’t need it. Now, I get it, that might sound naive to say, “Oh no, don’t worry about regulation. Yada, yada, yada.” I don’t mean it that way.

Obviously, sometimes regulation is very necessary to protect customers from bad actors, and sometimes regulation causes unnecessary harm to the free market, and requires companies to push the boundaries, not because they’re trying to do anything wrong, but because they’re trying to do what’s right, because the boundaries actually are hurting people more than they’re helping people. I fully understand that.

What I’m saying is as customers have increasing control over who gets access to their data, and for how long, and in what ways, you’re only going to win if you’re the type of customer … if you’re the type of company that customers are okay letting that be you. Because fundamentally, they’re still only going to work with people that they trust, and so customers, Steve, will disguise their digital footprints. They will disguise their data. They will hide their data from companies. The question is, are you going to be the type of company that they’re going to want to do that?

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I’d like to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all our episodes, by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 241.

While you’re there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there, to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single episode. You can also subscribe in the iTunes, or the Google Play music store, or Stitcher Radio, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those.

I’d also very much appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating or review while we’re there. It’s so helpful. I really, very much appreciate it. Since we’re talking about trust, let people know you trust us to deliver you quality content in every episode.

I’d also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to Facebook.com/timpeterassociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or of course you can email me. Just send your emails to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that’s podcast@timpeter.com.

With that, I want to say thanks so much for listening. I really, really appreciate it. I hope you have a great week ahead. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as ever, take care, everybody.

Tim Peter

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March 6, 2019

Why Data Is Overrated (It’s Not What You Think) (Thinks Out Loud Episode 240)

March 6, 2019 | By | No Comments

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Why Data Is Overrated (It’s Not What You Think) (Thinks Out Loud Episode 240) – Headlines and Show Notes

Data is overrated: Marketer reviewing analytics dashboard

Everyone talks about how important data is for marketing today. And it is. But data is overrated for a very important reason too. The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud explains why data is overrated … and why that matters for your business.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 58s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

By

February 19, 2019

Data is the Crown Jewels: What That Means for Marketers Today (Thinks Out Loud Episode 239)

February 19, 2019 | By | No Comments

Data is the Crown Jewels for Marketers: Marketing professional analyzing customer dataLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Data is the Crown Jewels: What That Means Today (Thinks Out Loud Episode 239) – Headlines and Show Notes

We’ve long talked about how data is the crown jewels for business. But what does that mean for marketers today? The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look for you. And here are the show notes:

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 30s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Data is the Crown Jewels: What That Means for Marketers Today Transcript

Well hello again everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, today is Monday February 18th, and this is episode 239 of the big show. I am so thrilled that you are here with this today. Thanks so much for tuning in. I think we've got a really, really cool show. I wanted to begin by building on the discussions from last week about why Google is the beast that the 800-pound gorillas in your industry are afraid of. And I'm not gonna recap all of episode 238. You can go find that on the website, or on your favorite podcatcher.

Instead, I want to talk about one of the reasons why they're such a terrifying beast. And the answer is, because they have the most data. Google over the years has collected a tremendous amount of data. Let's just start with search, they're able to make their search results better because they have more data about what a positive search result looks like. Google know what you clicked on, they know when you come back and do another search. If you're searching for something different than what you searched for the last time, or if this is just you trying to update what you just searched for to get a better answer, and then they can use that data to improve the results, and make those results even better for the next person.

And that's before we talk about Google Analytics, or Gmail, or Google Docs, right, or Android, or all of these different tools that they have to get more access to more information about the customer. So Google is this incredible beast because of the data that they have available to them. Now I've mentioned many times that data is the crown jewels in any business. It is a thing that differentiates you and allows you to compete more effectively with your customer. And Google simply illustrates that point all the time.

I've talked in the past about whether digital will turn every business into a service, and asked the question that in a digital world is every company a software company? And the answer to both is, well not exactly. However every company is a data company. Every company depends on their data to get a deeper understanding of their customer. When we're talking about data, the reason we care about it is because of the deep customer insights that it gains for us. Your data provides a more complete picture of who your customer is, what they do, and to some degree why that matters.

Now I've talked many times in the past about the fact that we shouldn't get too hung up on the kinds of data we once did as marketers. For years we looked at things like demographic data, and to some degree psychographic data, to understand what our customers were doing. So we build these sophisticated demographic profiles of our profiles as, you know men between the ages of 18-34 with household incomes of greater than $65,000 per year, and so on. But the problem with that data was that it was a picture of who the customer was, but it wasn't necessarily predictive of what they would do. It was a proxy for what we expected someone would do.

What's been great about digital for us, is we actually can see what people do. And we don't really care which demographic bucket people fall into, because the data that is most predictive of what people will do is the data about what people have done. That data is tremendously useful. And when we talk about people like Google, and Facebook, and Amazon, and Expedia, and Airbnb, and Uber, and all these folks, one of the reasons that they are so effective is because they've done a terrific job of building up data around what people do.

And that behavioral data, that predictive data, enables them to have much deeper customer insights, a much clearer picture of what customers are apt to do, are likely to do. And then use that to put the right products, and services, and recommendations, and everything in front of those customers before you get the opportunity to. That's tremendously valuable. It's tremendously important in terms of understanding what customers do. It's made even more relevant when we think about the fact that customers are now carrying a mobile printing press with them. They're carrying a mobile broadcast television network with them.

When we think about what people post on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn, and all of these different tools that are part and parcel of their every day live, it provides the companies the platforms that provide customers with that printing press, with that HD television studio, with enormous insights into what matters. Think about the advertising business that Google has built, and think about the advertising business that Facebook has built. Why were they able to do that? Because they knew exactly what content mattered to their customers, to our customers ideally, because of the very things that people come in and tell them all the time.

Oh this customer over here likes artificial intelligence, oh this customer over here likes Italian restaurants, boy it makes it really easy to say, "Let's put an ad in front of person A about AI tools in a B2B marketing sense," and, "Oh let's put an ad in front of person B about Italian Restaurants that are new in their neighborhood," because we also know their geography. Oh and we also know the device they're on, and we also know what times of day they come online. All day, every day, that's remarkable in terms of our ability to target. And Google, and Facebook, and Amazon, and all the rest have spent years building up those capabilities. And most companies who are not those platform providers, while they've put some energies around it, it hasn't been their core focus.

Digital at its core is about data. And then using that data to understand what's going on with your customers. When we talk about artificial intelligence, AI needs data, it lives on data. And if you're going to compete as you go forward, you have to have the data that allows your AI, or any AIs you may use, to do something useful, to tell an accurate and interesting story about your customers. And if you think about any business, it doesn't matter whether in retail, or hospitality, or food service, or B2B, you have tremendous data about your customers in various places. And what becomes important is pulling that together into a wave that you can actually access it and do something with it, and learn from it.

Now I wanna be fair, you can do this wrong. There was a story a few weeks ago about Vizio, the television manufacturer, using smart televisions to track customers. To use data about what people were watching to then of course sell to advertisers. And of course we've heard lots of stories lately about telecoms selling location data. To say nothing about Facebook and all the various ways that they have frankly effed up in terms of the data that they are making public that probably most of their users would rather they didn't. So you've got to watch for that as you think about this. I don't think this can end well in the long run. I've argued in the past about why digital is like gravity, and how when you invent the ship you invent the shipwreck.

More importantly, I've talked about the fact that things like GDPR exist because marketers have screwed up, because we've made errors. We didn't treat our customers like people, we treated them like numbers. And so as you move forward on this journey, as you move forward on using data about your customers, you also need to think about how are we protecting the crown jewels. How are we using data in a way that is beneficial, and not creepy? So as you get started with this, there's a few things I would encourage you to do. First, start small, start with a pilot, start with a project that's focused on a very specific set of deliverables, and a very specific use case of where the data's going to help you.

Think about the data that you need to help customers on their journey. How are you using that data to create a better experience for your customers? You've heard me say repeatedly, "Content is king. Customer experience is queen, and data is the crowned jewels." Well this is the point, the data can only be effective as the crown jewels if you're actually using it to help your customer succeed. And I wanna be fair, yes you can sell the data to people. Yes you can use the data in lots of different ways, but if you think about the companies who are being most effective with this, they're using the data to power a better experience. And I'm looking at people like Apple. I'm looking at people like Google. I'm looking at people like Amazon. And I'm even looking at people like Facebook, who despite their challenges are designing things to say, "How do we put the right information in front of our customers so they'll stay on the site longer?"

You can argue both sides of that with Facebook, so I wanna be very fair. And I have argued both sides of that with Facebook, not everything they've done is for the better. But certainly Apple, certainly Google, certainly Amazon, they've done what they can to create a better experience, yes so people will use their products more, but also people will use their products more because they had a great experience. So think about the data you need to help customers on their journey.

Make sure this is someone's job. Who's accountable for this? Think about your team and your talents, do you have the right team and talents in place, and is someone accountable for delivering on a specific outcome of using this data. And of course when we talk about protecting the crown jewels, make sure somebody is looking out for the customer and their data. We've seen far too many news reports, far too many stories about companies getting hacked, and having issues because of this that matter, that have hurt the company's public standing, and in many cases their share price, because the crown jewels got hacked. So think about that as well, and make sure that's somebody's job.

But if you can do that all correctly, if you put the pieces in place to do this well, you will find that you are able to create a better experience for your customer, and that the crown jewels truly become something valuable to you. And that's where you ultimately want to end up.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. But I'd like to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode, as well as an archive of all our episodes, by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again that's timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 239. While you're there you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes that you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite pod catcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes, or the Google Play music store, or Stitcher radio, or whatever your favorite pod catcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those.

I'd also very much appreciate it if you could provide a positive review or rating while you're there. It would be so helpful to me, and it would just make me super happy, not gonna lie. I'd also like to thank our sponsor, Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI-driven content discovery, and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter, by going to solosegment.com. You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to Facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates.

You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter. Or of course you can shoot me an E-mail, just send an E-mail to podcast@timpeter.com. Again that's podcast@timpeter.com. With that I want to say thanks again so much for tuning in. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, a great weekend, and I look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and of course as ever, take care everybody.

Tim Peter

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February 12, 2019

Why Google is the Beast That Scares Your Industry’s 800-lb. Gorilla (Thinks Out Loud Episode 238)

February 12, 2019 | By | No Comments

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Google is the beast: Gorilla aggressively defending its territory

Why Google is the Beast That Frightens Your Industry’s 800-lb. Gorillas (Thinks Out Loud Episode 238) – Headlines and Show Notes

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Why Google is the Beast That Has Your Industry’s 800lb Gorillas Running Scared Transcript

Well, hello again everyone. Welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. Today is Monday, February 11th, and this is Episode 238 of the big show. I am so thrilled you are here with me again today. I really appreciate it.

I want to open by building on a whole chunk of episodes that we’ve been talking about over the past handful of weeks and months, and it all starts with a news story that I saw not long ago on skift.com where Mark Okerstrom, who’s the CEO of Expedia, was talking about how he’s a little scared of Google. He said that Google is their number one competitor. It’s not booking.com, it’s not other online travel agencies, it’s not hotel companies, it’s not even Airbnb. It’s Google. He said the internet has been littered with the bodies of companies put out of business by Google, and of course he’s trying to make sure Expedia isn’t one of them.

Now, you have to remember, this is a huge company. They get some 40 million visits a month, at least according to alexa.com, and are undoubtedly among the top five most important companies in the travel industry easily. More importantly, among the top digitally-native companies in the travel industry. This isn’t somebody who’s quote unquote a “legacy player,” trying to fight off some insurgent or the old story of the couple of guys in a garage who come out of nowhere to take down an incumbent leader. This is a digital-first, digital-native company that is now facing the biggest, most existential challenge it has ever faced by another digital-native, digital-first company that’s been around for about as long as they have. A little bit longer, but not a whole lot longer. And the reason is because Google is the ultimate gatekeeper.

There are a number of players out there who are the big gatekeepers. Google, obviously, and YouTube obviously, and Apple and Facebook. Facebook’s little buddy Instagram and Netflix and Amazon. These are the gatekeepers. They get to decide who lives and who dies based on where they send the customers who start their journeys with them. Let’s be fair, most customers start their journeys either for very specific types of content or very specific types of experiences with one of these folks. Obviously, they are the biggest competitors to one another because they’re competing with one another to be the place that customers start those experiences.

There was a funny story a couple of weeks ago … well, not “funny.” An interesting story about a week ago or so where Apple blocked Facebook and Google from its App Store for a couple of days because those companies broke the rules that Apple had established for what’s allowed in the App Store. Now, imagine if that happened to your business. What that would do to your business? What that would do to your company?

Now, you’ve probably heard people talk about earned, owned, and paid media, and I always ask people to consider when you think about Google or when you think about Facebook or when you think about Instagram, what kind of media are those? Are they earned? Are they owned? Or are they paid?

I frequently heard people say that really they’re all three because obviously if you earn links or you’re in social, trending, that is earned media. You also have your own page on Facebook or your own results on Google, so that’s owned. Of course, you can buy ads, so that’s paid. But I don’t think that’s the right way to think about it. I think that these folks represent none of these categories.

I think that they are leased media, L-E-A-S-E-D media, or maybe rented. It’s kind of like you have an apartment, not like you have a house. Maybe you can hang a few pictures or you can put some paint on the walls, but the walls themselves belong to, if I can mix a metaphor here, the gatekeeper. Do you control what people see on Facebook? No. On Instagram? No. On Google? Hell no. You don’t control any of those. They have an algorithm that says what people see and what people will experience even when they’re looking for your brand, when they’re looking for your business. We’re seeing more and more examples of that.

I’m gonna post a link in the show notes to some tests that Google’s been running where you have to scroll three, four, screens on mobile before you ever see an organic search result. Suddenly, something we’ve taken for granted for a long time is starting to go away. Now, there are some terrible implications here that we’ve talked about before in the episode about digital is like gravity.

Guillaume Chaslot, and I hope I’m pronouncing his name correctly, that’s G-C-H-A-S-L-O-T on Twitter, who works for YouTube, has an amazing thread from earlier today about his work on YouTube’s content recommendation AI and how it regularly offered some truly disturbing and challenging content to viewers. When I say challenging, I don’t mean challenging in the sense of made them think hard. Quite the opposite, it outlined things like Flat Earth videos being promoted 10 times more than ones that talked about the Earth being round. It creates this issue where these folks are deciding what our customers and what are citizens see every day, and that’s got a real challenge in all kinds of ways.

Now, in the interest of what we talk about on the show, what I talk about on the show, I’m gonna keep it to the business side, but obviously that’s incredibly important to recognize the amount of power that these gatekeepers hold with regard to your business. The fact of it is, customers need gatekeepers because they need guideposts to help them find everything that’s out on the internet, everything that exists when they have a problem that needs to be solved. Customers don’t want 50 different gatekeepers. That’s too hard. They’ll settle for just a few. In fact, they kind of have to because if there are 50 different gatekeepers, then they need another source to say, “Which of those 50 is appropriate for the specific challenge they have?” Which then means all we’re doing is creating one more gatekeeper and one bigger gatekeeper.

That’s one of the reasons that digital often means you have to get big or go niche, which is something Hal Varian and Carl Shapiro pointed out in their fantastic book Information Rules, and something I’ve talked about plenty of times because, A, I think it’s a great book, and, B, I think they’re right. It’s also one of the reasons why everything becomes a service in digital. It’s all about ease of access to information and products and services, but as I just described a moment ago, that’s also literally where the gatekeepers come from. They exist because customers need it to be easy to find the products and services that they want. If you make a product or you make a service, you have to exist in the universe of the gatekeeper or else they’ll never find you. Your customers will never find you.

Now, how do you compete with that? Well, I’ve talked before about how you can compete with Amazon and places like that, but I want to take a step back and say more generically what you need to do with regard to gatekeepers.

There are really about five different things.

First, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Years ago, I worked for a hotel company. I worked for a luxury hotel company and we ranked very well for search terms like “luxury hotels” and “extraordinary hotels” and things like that. Of course, the economic downturn came and our traffic dried up because we relied heavily on Google and especially organic search for the vast majority of our traffic.

Now, we knew that was a problem. We knew we had too many eggs in one basket there. Unfortunately the economy kicked us in the rear end before we had a chance to do anything about it because when the economic downturn happened, people stopped searching for “luxury hotels”. They started searching for “cheap hotels” and “discount hotels” and “really cheap hotels” and “really, really cheap hotels”. As somebody who worked for the company noted at the time, Google sneezed and we caught a cold.

You have to look at a channel mix that makes for … For your business that works for you business. Try to grow smaller channels like social or referral or email and I mean really email to represent, A, a healthy share of your business, and also to grow at a faster rate than you might from places like organic search or paid search because you want to mix where all your traffic sources come from so that no one gatekeeper can choke off your business completely.

The second is you have to own your own content because if you don’t … We’ve said many times before … I’ve said many times before that content is king, and if you don’t have content, you don’t have search. If you don’t have content, you don’t have social because there’s nothing for your customers to share. To get that healthy channel mix I mentioned a moment ago, you have to make sure that you have things to offer in those various channels, so think about the content that your customers need and the places that they consume it that you can help them find that you are the right answer to their problem when they need a product or they need a service.

You also need to support other channels that challenge the big gatekeeper. Most importantly, you’re not looking for Google #2. You’re not looking for Facebook #2. You’re looking for, where are those places where your customers congregate that maybe aren’t the big gatekeepers? It doesn’t matter if some social site or some vertical search is small overall. It matters if they’re able to reach the people you want to reach.

The fourth thing you need to do is make sure you play nice with the beasts that … They’re the 800-pound gorillas … Obviously, you want to make sure you show up on Google. You want to make sure you show up on Facebook. You want to make sure you adapt to their changing products. As Google does more with local search or does more with featured snippets, as it does more with InfoBoxes. You want to make sure you show up in those places for the right customers and for the right search.

However, and this is number five, you also should ask whether everything Google asks for you to do is good for your business. Obviously, you want to play nice with these giant beasts with these giant gatekeepers. You also want to make sure that you’re doing what’s right for your business. If you look at AMP pages, they’re not necessarily a good thing for every business. Sure, they’re great for Google, but are they good for you? Make sure you’re looking at whether you should participate in the various programs that Google and Facebook and Amazon and the other gatekeepers offer. Do they really help your business? Or do they only benefit the gatekeeper themselves?

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you own your own content. Support other channels that challenge the big gatekeepers. Yes, play nice with them, but also ask whether everything they ask for is good for you. If you do that, you put yourself in a good position to manage your relationship with the gatekeepers and succeed even as they continue to grow.

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I’d like to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode as well as an archive of all our episodes by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that’s timepeter.com/podcast. Just look for Episode 238. While you’re there, you can click on the Subscribe link in any of the episodes that you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes or the Google Play Music Store or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for “Tim Peter Thinks”, “Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud”, or “Thinks Out Loud”. We should show up for any of those.

I’d also very much appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating or review while you’re there. It would be so helpful to me. I’d also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to by Solo Segment. Solo Segment focuses on AI-driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/timpeterassociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or of course you can email me. Just send an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that’s podcast@timpeter.com.

With that, I want to say thanks again so much for tuning in. I very much appreciate it. I hope you have a wonderful week ahead, a great weekend, and I look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud again next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and of course as ever, take care everybody.