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Tim Peter

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November 12, 2019

Worried About a Recession Next Year? Here’s How Marketers Can Cope (Thinks Out Loud Episode 264)

November 12, 2019 | By | No Comments

Worried about a recession next year? Image of dollar sign with a devil's tail

There's an old joke that says if you laid all the economists in the world end-to-end, they wouldn't reach a conclusion. That seems entirely appropriate given the current reporting on the odds of — or against — a recession next year. Just check out the variety of (educated, mind you) opinions from an array of economists listed in the show notes below.

But here's the thing. Whether there's a recession or not isn't important. How you react, how you make your marketing work, in good times and bad is what separates the great marketers from the merely average.

Whether you're worried about a recession or not, the latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at what you can do in a down economy to ensure your business succeeds. And what's even better is these tips work during good times too.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links — Worried About a Recession Next Year? Here's How Marketers Can Cope (Thinks Out Loud Episode 264):

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 PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 22s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, 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

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October 8, 2019

Should You Quit Marketing and Become a Data Scientist Instead? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 261)

October 8, 2019 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Data scientist in marketing: Team of marketers analyzing data

Should You Quit Marketing and Become a Data Scientist Instead? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 261) — Headlines and Show Notes

Given the rise of data science in marketing, whether for personalization, AI, predictive analytics, or whatever comes down the pike next, you wouldn't be criticized for asking whether you should quit marketing and become a data scientist. But is that really a good idea? Is the future of marketing nothing more than writing algorithms? Or is there a future for creative people who focus on the customer in total.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at whether you should quit marketing and instead focus on becoming a data scientist – and how you can best succeed no matter what the future of marketing, or data, holds.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links:

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 PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 33s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, 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.

Should You Quit Marketing and Become a Data Scientist? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 261) – Transcript

Well, hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter and this is episode 261 of the big show. I think we've got a really cool show for you today, a lot of interesting stuff to talk about.

I want to start with a conversation I've been having with a number of marketing professionals lately around data, and what you as a marketer really need to know about data and how much you need to care about data, and I want to be really clear about this. Data is incredibly important when we talk about marketing today, you know, personalization and artificial intelligence and all of the many things that are going to make marketing more effective in 2020 depend on data.

But I think when we have that dialogue, a lot of marketers think they need to be data scientists, and I don't want to suggest that data isn't important. But what I do want to suggest is that it's not your job to be the data scientist. Instead, it's your job to ask the right questions of the data scientists.

I mean, if you want to be a data scientist, by all means you should. It's a great field. It's really interesting. You will be endlessly employable for the next, oh I don't know, decade or so. But your job as a marketer is to think about the business implications, to think about the implications for customers, to think about the customer experience.

I think of data, I think of the way companies should look at data almost like a two-by-two matrix, kind of like a BCG group matrix where the axes are on the, on the X-axis, do we have the data and on the Y-axis, do we know what questions to ask, right? And I sort of presuppose these are yes-no questions, but it clearly, it's going to be more of a spectrum.

You could do a two-by-two, you could do a three-by-three, but fundamentally it comes down to one of four positions, which are:

  1. Yes we have the data and yes, we know what questions to ask;
  2. Yes we have the data and no, we don't know what questions to ask;
  3. No, we don't have the data and yes, we know what questions to ask; and of course
  4. No, we don't have the data and no, we don't know what questions to ask.

Now I think too many companies spend their time worried about "no we don't have the data, but we know what questions to ask" and "no, we don't have the data and we don't know what questions to ask." And I think that's kind of a mistake. Now obviously if you don't have data and you know what questions to ask, so number three on my list, right? No, we don't have the data, and yes, we know what questions to ask then you need to go get the data.

But if you think about Douglas Hubbard's essential book, "How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business," which I've talked about before, Hubbard points out a series of rules for data that include 1) you have more data than you think, 2) you need less data than you think, and 3) new data is more readily available than you think.

So if you know the questions to ask and you don't have the data, getting the data itself is not the hard part. You know, it's become very popular to say data is the new oil and I don't think that's true. Data is not oil because oil is hard to come by. Insights are the new oil. Insights require the mining and the digging and the prospecting that you would expect to do if you were actually in the business of, I don't know, going out and exploring an oil field. But you have a ton of data and typically getting meaningful answers is easier than you think it is from the data that you have, excuse me, getting new data is easier than you think it is.

I saw a really interesting thing the other day that Google will let you automatically purge data. You can go into your settings in gmail or YouTube or Google Search, and it will automatically purge data after three months or after 18 months. And what's interesting about that to me is how specific those periods are. You know, why doesn't Google let you purge data after one month? Why doesn't it let you purge it after six months? Why doesn't it let your purge it after 12 months? It's either three or it's 18. Maybe that's just easier to program, but I would bet that the recency of the data that they want suggests that the data Google collects, they've probably found gets less useful as it gets old. It loses its predictive power. So they want to keep it for at least three months so they can learn something from it, and ideally 18 months or longer, but I bet after 18 months they don't really care because it probably doesn't tell them much.

So what's more interesting is yes, we have the data, but no, we don't know what questions to ask. And for you as a marketer, that's not a data science problem. That's an insight problem. That's being able to think about how you want to help your customer, and the kinds of products and services you want to offer, and the way you want to promote that, and the channels in which you want to sell it and the way you want to price it. That's where the really fascinating parts come in. Not that data science is not fascinating, but it's the kind of thing that you as a marketer can do with a better understanding of your customers.

Look at examples of companies where success seemed obvious in hindsight. We all know tons of these questions of these examples, but why were they successful and why did it seem obvious in hindsight? Because they knew how to ask the right questions and how to formulate the right thesis about what it was they were trying to do.

If you think about Uber, they had a fundamental insight about the quality of taxi services and the utilization of black car service. You know, there were lots of cars sitting idle. Why don't we connect the driver and the rider? Yes, it took data, but the fundamental insight was, man, there's a lot of cars sitting around and man, a lot of passengers who were unhappy with the quality of the service they're getting. Obviously they followed that up with peer-to-peer. What we think of as Uber today, UberX, actually didn't come around until two years after the company started and Sidecar and Lyft really started the peer-to-peer concept, but again it came down to asking can we make the drivers more useful and can we make the passengers more happy, right? I mean that's, that's fundamentally the really cool thing.

And I want to be fair, I'm definitely for purposes of this discussion, ignoring Uber's less than savory behaviors, but the point isn't to lob at the company for its ethics or behaviors, only to note their early insight and those of other folks in understanding, hey, we've got the opportunity for a two-sided market here. How do we put those together?

If you think of Airbnb, very similar concept, this time just for hospitality. If you think of a Stitch Fix, great company understood changes in shopping behavior. People have less time, people need a little bit more support, and so just went to a very simple model that has made them profitable since 2014.

And if you go much further back, you know, look at Amazon. My favorite story about Amazon is Amazon didn't set out to be a bookstore because Jeff Bezos had some abiding love of books. But instead, according to an article on entrepreneur.com, he drew up a list. Jeff Bezos drew up a list of 20 potential products he thought might sell well via the internet, including software, CDs, and books. Now I'm reading directly from this writeup. "After reviewing the list, books were the obvious choice, primarily because of the sheer number of titles in existence. Bezos realized that while even the largest superstores could stock only a few hundred thousand books, a mere fraction of what is available, a virtual bookstore could offer millions of titles."

Notice what they said. Books were the obvious choice. Were they? I mean clearly selection played a role and clearly so did the ease of shipping books. But if it was so obvious, why didn't Barnes & Noble or B. Dalton or Borders get there first? And the answer is not because they didn't have data that would tell them this would work, but because they didn't have the insight. They didn't ask the key question that might have made, I don't know, Borders be the Amazon of today. They missed the mark and it wasn't because they didn't have the data. It's because they didn't ask the right question.

So when you're thinking about how can I as a marketer use data to personalize, or use data to empower artificial intelligence and the like, think in terms of do we have the data, and more importantly, do we know what questions to ask? Because if you can do that well, you're going to do great regardless of what happens five years down the road, 10 years down the road, and that's a much better place to be.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to thank you again so much for tuning in. I genuinely appreciate it and I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of our past episodes by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that's timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 261.

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

While you're, there, I would very much appreciate it if you would provide us a positive rating or review. It makes it so much easier for new listeners to find us and would mean so much to me. You can find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/timpeter associates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or of course, you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

As ever, I'd 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.

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

Tim Peter

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October 1, 2019

State of the Podcast: Do Podcasts Work for B2B Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 260)

October 1, 2019 | By | No Comments

State of the Podcast: Do Podcasts Work for B2B Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 260): International Podcast Day Logo 2019Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


State of the Podcast: Does Podcasting Still Make Sense in 2020 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 260) — Headlines and Show Notes

With the growth of mobile, podcasting provides a huge content marketing opportunity for many businesses. In fact, we've found it very positive for our business here at Tim Peter & Associates. So, what lessons have we learned about using podcasts for B2B marketing? How can you build a successful podcast that meets the needs of your customers? And do podcasts work for B2B marketing?

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud provides a "state of the podcast" update for you, along with tips, tricks and lessons learned from over 260 episodes of podcasting for B2B marketing.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

State of the Podcast: Do Podcasts Work for B2B Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 260) -Relevant Links:

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 PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 06s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, 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.

State of the Podcast: Do Podcasts Work for B2B Marketing? (Thinks Out Loud Episode 260) — Transcript

Well, hello again everyone, and 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, October 1st, 2019 and this is episode 260 of the big show. Thank you so much for tuning in. I genuinely appreciate it, and I think we have a cool show for you today.

I'm going to do a follow up to a follow up to one of our very first episodes. It was international podcasting day the other day and I want to be fair, our episode schedule and actual international podcast day on September 30th don't really line up, so I'm posting this today on October 1st, but because I support international podcast day and especially because I'd want to support you, because I think podcasting does make a lot of sense for businesses, for many businesses, and that's really what I want to talk about today.

I have said since the day I started this podcast that I would always share information about how we're doing and whether or not podcasting makes sense for my business and whether or not it might make sense for your business. So think of this as sort of the state of the podcast episode, and an assessment of how is podcasting working in 2019 and how do I think it's going to work in 2020. So with that in mind, I want to get into a handful of reasons that I think podcasting makes sense, and the first goes back to an episode I just did last week, episode 259, where I talked about how mobile is a situation, not a device. One of the reasons podcasting makes sense for many businesses is because podcasts are a very mobile friendly type of content. They make sense because people use them wherever they are.

Again, it's a situation, not a device. They can listen to them in the car or they can listen to them on their commute. There's just a tremendous amount of growth there. And I'll share my own numbers. At least 58% of all of the downloads of this podcast happen on mobile. I would expect the odds are pretty good if you are listening to this podcast right now, you are listening on a mobile device, and you are likely listening in a mobile context, in a mobile situation. I'm going to be very candid. When I started this, it was a response to mobile initially. When you're a B2B services provider, when you work with businesses, mobile is not always the easiest thing to do. My firm is not going to create an app. That's not the the likely way most people are going to interact with my business, but what they will do is engage with content, and they will certainly engage with content that they can listen to, that you can listen to, wherever you happen to be.

That was a core consideration, the minute that I decided, or the minute that I considered doing podcasting as a way to grow my business. Now speaking of the growth side, so I talked about mobile a little bit, but speaking of the growth side, we're seeing tremendous growth, both from a consumption perspective and actually from a conversion perspective. So first on the consumption side, year to date listeners of this podcast are up about 43%. We should pass last year's total listenership probably by the middle of next month, possibly by the end of this month, based on some changes I'm making to the show, based on some changes we're making to the show, but we should actually cross last year's numbers by no later than mid November. Now I'll talk about this more in a minute.

December does tend to be a slow month, so we may fall off that 43% number a little bit, but we're moving in a very positive direction. December, because of the holidays and things like that, tends to be a shorter month from a listenership perspective. People don't tend to listen when they are hanging out with their family, and I know my content posting slows down a little bit, and those probably go hand in hand a bit, but I do expect we should finish up the year probably 35-40% up over last year.

July actually was the third biggest month ever for Thinks Out Loud, so thank you for that, and then from a conversion perspective, the podcast has directly led to several leads, several leads that have turned into sales for the company, for the business. So that's been really positive, and we can directly attribute that based on conversations we've had with those clients. The other thing that candidly I hadn't anticipated when I started the podcast was the retention aspect. Several clients, more than a couple of clients, have cited the podcast as one of the top sources of information that they enjoy, and validating what I was saying before about mobile, I've been told explicitly that they love the fact that they can engage with it in their car on their commute to work every day.

So again, that's a huge benefit of podcasting, that I don't know that I would have thought about when I started the show, but certainly has proved true going forward. It also has global reach, so we've talked about mobile, we've talked about growth, let's talk about global for a second. I get about 40%, just a little bit less than 40%, of traffic for the podcast from the U.S., and the rest is spread all around the world. We've got Western Europe, we've got Asia, we've got the middle East, we've got North America, countries like the UK, Singapore, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Israel, all big users of the podcast, big listeners to the podcast. There are no particular cities that dominate, though as you might imagine, they mostly come from high population centers, so cities in California, in New York, in Virginia, the city of London, Singapore itself. I suspect a lot of that has to do with we get lots of listenership from where there are lots of people.

That's pretty typical for most businesses. You tend to get lots of your business from people who are nearby, and then quickly you start to get feeder markets. You start to get lots of business from people where there are lots of people. Some of that's just a law of large numbers situation. In terms of distribution, a number of things. So iTunes and Apple podcasts are huge. Android less so, which that's surprising to me given how many mobile users there are listening to the podcast, though I want to be fair, I'm not an Android user and I don't know that I've done a good enough job, I don't know that we've done a good enough job optimizing for Android, so there's probably work there that we as the team, that I as a podcaster, need to learn how to do better. So I wouldn't say necessarily my experience on this one is a representative.

It's something that I need to look into and see if we need to do a better job to work on Android better. Obviously the timpeter.com website that we have for the business is a huge source of traffic and vice versa. The podcast actually generates a lot of traffic for the website. As you may know, I typically transcribe the podcast episodes using a service called rev.com, not a sponsor, but just something very handy to use, and that creates lots of rich content that then brings in a lot of traffic. The one real disappointment that I've seen is we started putting the podcast up on Spotify about six months ago, and so far the results have been underwhelming entirely. Again, that may be a learning opportunity. Maybe there's opportunities to improve there. To date, it hasn't proved to be that effective, but I suspect there's a learning opportunity there, how to do it better.

Now, since we're speaking about learning opportunities, some of the things I've learned: consistency matters. As you might imagine, the biggest months, the biggest shows for this podcast tend to be built around when we post episodes regularly. I went to a biweekly publishing schedule a year ago. The numbers fell off a pretty solid amount from 2017, so being consistent matters. At least for the type of content I do, posting earlier in the week also seems to work better, which if you think about it, makes a lot of sense. I talk to businesses, most of them are on a Monday to Friday schedule, so it does seem likely that that's going to have a real impact, being earlier in the week. Keyword research for the podcast seems to matter a ton. Again, that shouldn't surprise anybody, but it does matter, and if you think about the topics that have been really popular on the podcast.

We have episodes like Content is King, Customer Experience is Queen, episode 188 from over two years ago now, podcast episode 244, Hey Marketers, is 2019 Everything You've Hoped For, from April of this year, and Three Trends Driving Your Digital Strategy, Thinks Out Loud episode 185 from January of last year. All really big episodes where we'd done a lot of work around the keywords and around thinking about what mattered to the audience. So that shouldn't come as a big shock. Another lesson … and again, there's a timing thing here. I've found that summer works very well for podcasts. June, July, August, tend to do very well for this show. Now I'm digging into that a bit more. I don't know if it's because that's when more people listen or were we more consistent in publishing new materials during those dates, or were the topics just better? So as I learn more I will share that with you, but those are definitely all things that I would keep in mind as you think about whether or not you want to use podcasting for your business.

So what have we learned? Well, we've learned podcasting is about mobile. It's a great source of mobile traffic. It's a great way to connect with your customers on mobile. It drives lots of growth, both in terms of of interest and actual conversion. It's global. You have to think about your distribution strategy and then pay attention to what you've learned so you can continue to grow over time. Is podcasting right for your business? It's impossible to say to everyone I'm talking to, but it is certainly something you want to take a look at and see whether it works for your customers in those situations.

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to thank you again so much for tuning in. I very much appreciate it. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode, as well as an archive of all 260 of our past episodes, by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that's timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 260. 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 on iTunes or Stitcher Radio or Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those, and while you're there, I'd very much appreciate it if you can provide us a positive rating or review. It's incredibly helpful to help others find Thinks Out Loud, and it would mean a ton to me. 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 by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com. As ever, I'd 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.

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning in for the past 260 episodes. I look forward to talking with you again for the next 260 episodes, but in the meantime, I hope you have a great week, a wonderful weekend ahead, and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as ever, take care everybody.

Tim Peter

By

September 24, 2019

Mobile Is Not a Device; Mobile is a Situation (Thinks Out Loud Episode 259)

September 24, 2019 | By | No Comments

Mobile is a situation: Woman interacting with smart headphonesLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


Mobile Is Not a Device; Mobile is a Situation (Thinks Out Loud Episode 259) — Headlines and Show Notes

This shouldn't be news, but mobile is way bigger than you think. No, really. Much, much bigger. And the reason is because mobile is not a device; mobile is a situation. And it's a situation that major players like Apple, Google, and now Amazon are positioning themselves to take advantage of. The question is whether you're doing the same for you business.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look at the fact that mobile is a situation and asks how you get ready for your business to handle that situation in the coming year.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links:

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 PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 49s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, 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.

Mobile Is Not a Device; Mobile is a Situation (Thinks Out Loud Episode 259) — Transcript

Well, hello again everyone and 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, September 24th, 2019 and this is Episode 259 of the big show. Thank you so much for tuning in again. I really do appreciate it. I think we've got a really cool show for you today. There's some really interesting stuff going on. I'm kind of in this neat place today because I saw this story that blew my mind.

There's a story in CNBC that says Amazon is, and I'm reading from the story, Amazon is developing a new pair of Alexa powered wireless earbuds that double as a fitness tracking device. Their codenamed, "Puget", and they're expected to come with a built in accelerometer and be able to monitor things like the distance you run, how many calories you've burned, the pace of running and things along those lines. This is on top of Amazon recently introducing its Echo Auto device, which is a little tiny Echo you stick in your car so that you can use Alexa wherever you go while you're driving. I actually have one, I've been using it for the last couple of weeks and it's fascinating. It's got some problems, but it's really cool when it works correctly.

I think all of these are really sign posts. They really point to a trend that I think we overlook a bit. This is a trend that's been coming for about three years and we're probably not all the way there yet, but that trend is that mobile isn't what you think it is. When you think about mobile, when I think about mobile, when most people think about mobile, we tend to be talking about a piece of glass and aluminum that we're holding in our hands. The reality is that's not what mobile is. That's a device that allows you to be effective, to do computing, to connect with the information and the people that matter to you while your engaging in mobile activity.

As I've said before, mobile is a situation. It's not a device. The device that we're using to interact with mobile, the device we're using in mobile situations is starting to change. I put out a podcast, oh gosh, about three years ago actually when Apple introduced the AirPods called, "The Future of Digital Arrived Last Week". It was Episode 177, so this is a while ago. I want to be fair, we're not quite there yet, but I want you to think about the fact that in the time since Apple introduced the AirPods, they've sold 25 million of them. By one standard, it is the second best selling product Apple has ever introduced. It's sold more units over the first two years of its life than any other product they've ever sold, with the exception of the iPad, which by the way again, mobile device, right?

During the first two years that it was introduced, they also sold six million watches and now Amazon is about to introduce it's smart headphones. The reason is because this is the computer, this is the device we're all going to use in the future. By the future, I'm going to talk about in the moment, but this is the mobile revolution. The mistake is thinking that mobile is always or only going to look like a piece of glass and aluminum that you hold in your hand, but what we're seeing is to truly be mobile, people want to use things hands free. Maybe not always. Maybe not for every interaction, but your customers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of using any device that allows them to access music, and news, and weather, and information, and the people they want to interact with wherever they are.

That's what the real mobile revolution is. I've said this many times before and I will link to the many, many examples in the show notes, but Millennials and especially Gen Z, are going to take these devices for granted. This isn't some cool new tech. This isn't some cool new thing. This is simply a tool that allows your customers to do what they want to do. Now, I'm not going to make any bold predictions about how long it will take before everybody has these, whether Apple makes them or whether Google makes them or whether Microsoft makes them or whether Amazon makes them, it doesn't matter. I want to talk about the fact that there's a famous Bill Gates quote that I'm sure I've used here on the show before that says, "We always estimate the change that will occur in the next three years and underestimate that the change in the next 10." I do want to point out the AirPods have been out for just about three years, going on three years, but if you look back 10 years ago, it's been roughly 10 years since Apple introduced the iPhone. Okay. 11, but I mean, about 10 years. A couple of weeks ago they introduced the brand new one. Have you heard anybody going, "Oh my gosh, the brand new phone is the greatest thing ever. Oh, it's the best one"?

Of course you haven't because the new one is, to be honest, boring. It's great from everything I've heard about it. I actually ordered one. It should be showing up in the next couple of days, but it's boring. Nobody gets excited about a phone any longer. The category has matured to the point where it's no longer interesting. Yes, your customers are still adapting their behaviors, but the phone isn't what's next. It's what is. What's next is coming pretty quickly because it's been coming for the last three years. When things come along that change people's behaviors and change the norms, I usually say it takes five years. I want to be fair because I'm splitting the difference a little on Bill Gates' quote about overestimating three and underestimating 10.

If you figure it's somewhere between those, you're talking five to seven. The fact that you're seeing Amazon start to get into this space and the fact that you're seeing more movement in terms of how companies are thinking about how customers will interact with voice and the places they will interact with voice, we're probably starting to get into a place where that's going to become more normal. It might still take another couple of years, but it's also something that is very much coming and it's very much real. Apple didn't sell 25 million AirPods because nobody wants these. They haven't sold six million watches because nobody wants them. Amazon's probably going to sell some of these smart headphones. I'm not going to make predictions about how many because I don't really know. I do know that anybody who uses Alexa really likes it, so they're probably going to sell a bunch of them.

In a couple of years it's likely we're going to be looking around and say, "Oh my gosh, when did everybody start using these things?" The answer is, about three years ago. The fact of the matter is mobile is a situation, not a device. Your customers expect to use mobile when and where they are using whatever device helps them accomplish the objectives that they have. It's probably going to be some kind of headphones or some kind of watch as the technology gets good enough that you can make them really powerful in a really small package. You look at the new Apple Watch they've introduced, you look at the new AirPods they've introduced. We're getting closer to where you can actually make these things all day, computers that allow you to interact with what you want, where you want.

That's a really powerful difference. When you think about mobile for your business, when you think about how your customers will interact with your products and services using mobile, don't think in terms of a screen, don't think in terms of a device. Think in terms of an experience. Think in terms of how your customers will choose to interact with the information that they need and how you can help them do that. Then regardless of whether it takes three years or 10 years or somewhere in between, you will be ready for that situation that is mobile without having to worry too much about the device.

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I want to thank you again so much for tuning in. I genuinely do appreciate it. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode, as well as an archive of all our past episodes by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that's timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for Episode 259. 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 on iTunes, or Stitcher radio, or Google podcasts, or Apple podcasts, or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those.

While you're there, I'd also very much appreciate it if you can provide us a positive rating or review. It's so helpful to other listeners and it makes it easier for people to find us, so that would mean a lot to me. 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 by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

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 improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

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

Tim Peter

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September 11, 2019

Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Apple, Google, and Antitrust (Thinks Out Loud Episode 258)

September 11, 2019 | By | No Comments

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Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Apple, Google, and Antitrust (Thinks Out Loud Episode 258) – Headlines and Show Notes

Apple's getting in some trouble for how their App Store restricts access to apps that aren't Apple's. Google's getting in even more trouble with antitrust authorities. And Facebook's not super popular with regulators either, facing scrutiny from a handful of state attorneys general too. We live in a world where it's clear that gatekeepers gonna gate. But is antitrust regulation the right answer? Should Google and Apple and Facebook and Amazon have to reveal all the details of how they do what they do?

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud takes a look both at the reality that gatekeepers gonna gate and asks a series of questions about what you should expect of these tech giants, both as a marketer and as a consumer.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

Relevant Links:

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 PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 18m 58s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, 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.

Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Apple, Google, and Antitrust (Thinks Out Loud Episode 258) Transcript

Well. Hello again everyone and 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, September 10th, 2019. This is episode 258 of the big show. And as ever, I very much appreciate you tuning in. It's funny the name of this show is Thinks Out Loud. Today that title is probably more spot on than most.

Gatekeepers Gonna Gate: Introduction

The reason for that is because I have said for some time that gatekeeper's gonna gate. It's just the way they behave. It's the world in which they live. There are two new stories this week that got my attention around what gatekeeper's gonna gate might look like as we go forward through the rest of this year and into 2020.

The first was a story from the New York Times that noted Apple's apps ranked first, and I'm quoting, "For at least 700 search terms in the app store. Some searches produced as many as 14 Apple apps before showing results from rivals though," and the article continues, "Though competitors could pay Apple to place ads above the Apple results." I mean, that last line is a killer. If we're saying gatekeeper is going to gate, that pretty much sums it up right there.

They note in the article that searches for podcasts don't turn up Stitcher radio, which I talk about here all the time on the show, very popular podcatcher. They note that searches for music doesn't turn up Spotify. That's crazy. So clearly, this is a gatekeeper who's gonna gate and they're gating pretty hard.

The other article, of course, is that Google has been hit with an antitrust investigation from essentially every state's attorney general in the United States. Facebook has been invited to that party by another half dozen or so attorneys general. Which clearly that's a huge, huge step in terms of trying to reshape the marketplace.

Now, the reason that I think these are both interesting is because they're going to shape the landscape of what gatekeepers and you as a user of those gatekeepers, you as a marketer who tries to get your customers, who tries to reach customers using these folks, that's going to shape the landscape of the world you live in for the next couple of years. Now what's really interesting about this is the New York Times stated, this is from the New York Times article about Apple and the app store. I'm quoting this. It says, "Apple and other tech giants like Facebook and Google will not explain in detail how such algorithms work even when they blame the algorithms for problems."

Now I want to be really fair. I actually agree with the gatekeepers on this one. I have agreed with this approach forever. There are a couple of good reasons why gatekeepers should not make this information public.

The first is we've all seen how open access allows for trolls and allows for trouble. Look at 8chan or some of the more problematic boards on Reddit, or the rise of, well essentially Nazis on Twitter. There are just all whole host of horrible people out there who look for opportunities to pee in the public pool every chance they get. I've said many times before, quoting the French philosopher Paul DeLillo, "When you build the ship, you build the shipwreck."

Should Google's algorithm or Apple's be fully public? I think that's just going to make it easier for the trolls and troublemakers to game the system. There's a really great book by Emerson Brooking and Peter Singer called LikeWar. It's spelled #LikeWar, where Singer and Brooking say that once, every village had an idiot. It took the internet to bring them all together. And I'd add the same is true for every villages resident troll too.

Trolls used to exclusively live under bridges. Now, thanks to the internet, they coordinate their harassment and their hurt on a daily basis using digital to share tips on how to be the most effective and efficient trolls they possibly can be in their attacks. They have all the incentive in the world to keep doing it, to get better at that. Do we really think it's a good idea to provide them access to understand how to do it better? I don't. So clearly I'm not a fan of making the algorithm public for that reason alone.

I also, even in Google's case, more or less agree with their argument about the importance of keeping the algorithm private as a trade secret. I'm a capitalist. I'm a business guy. I think there's a lot of merit in saying there are things that companies are allowed to keep private. I do think the public good outweighs that sometimes and I will come to that, but Google in my experience is uniquely positioned both as a company that dominates the market place and also as one that could lose it all tomorrow.

Google's Power is Brittle: Is That Always True for Gatekeepers?

I've mentioned before here on the show how their power is brittle because switching costs for consumers are so low. Consumers tomorrow could start searching on Bing or DuckDuckGo in an instant. And it would significantly hurt Google's revenues right now. Last quarter, the company made about 85% of its revenues from paid clicks on advertising. Believe me, they'd notice if a large number of folks started searching somewhere else. Let's be fair about this, even switching from an Android device to an iPhone is relatively trivial, if we think about the history of switching costs.

Now, as for the switching costs argument for Apple and Amazon, I'd say somewhat similar dynamics apply. Though to be fair, you have to think that Amazon isn't a switching cost problem for customers. It's really a switching cost problem for sellers. That dynamic, the differences between Facebook and Google and Apple and Amazon, when we get into these details, underscores why actually it's tougher to look at these tech giants holistically than it might seem at first glance.

As an example of the contrasts, Facebook absolutely plays a huge role in digital media. And while it's free for customers to use, the switching costs for Facebook's users are for all practical purposes, infinite due to its network effects. You can't leave Facebook until and unless all the other people you want to connect with do too. The same is true for them in reverse. All your friends and family and fans and followers would all have to agree to leave at the same time and choose to go to the same place to really break free of Facebook's influence.

Now call me crazy, that seems pretty unlikely. Whereas Google and Amazon and Apple, that same dynamic doesn't exist. But all that said, I think it's safe to say that we should all agree that we don't want trolls to have better understanding of the algorithm, and that varying market dynamics might play a role in determining varying approaches to the differing players here.

"Do Nothing" Isn't a Good Answer Given that Gatekeepers Gonna Gate

Now, all that said, I also don't believe that the right answer is to do nothing. Google's power, no matter how brittle it may be, also is enormous. The same is true for Facebook and Amazon and Apple. They have within their respective spheres of influence, tremendous power over the marketplace. In most cases, it's safe to sow that they exercise either monopoly or monopsony power over some piece of the value chain.

So for me, the questions start to become:

  • What markets do they each actually have power in?
  • Is their power monopoly power, monopsony power — meaning they're the only place you can sell to, not the only place you can buy from — or is it some combination? Is it both monopoly and monopsony power? And I think in Google's case you can argue they definitely have some monopoly power and some monopsony power.
    • By the way, this is straight out of the legal framework, I didn't make these up.
  • But the next question is, are they unduly leveraging that power to hurt competition or consumers or again, both?
  • And assuming the answers to those first three questions lead in this direction, how do you best remedy the situation?

Now it's clear, it's apparent given that 50 states's attorneys general think it's worth investigating Google for antitrust, that at least, when it comes to Google, the answers to some of those questions are problematic. At least again, a half a dozen states attorneys general agree that the same is true for Facebook. So there's something there that we need to be paying attention to. I don't think we need states attorneys general tell us this. I think we see it both as consumers and as marketers every day.

Now in the book Information Rules, which I cite regularly here on the show, economist, Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian argue that these dominant players are a natural consequence of digital. I think they're right. Hell, I think the history of the last two decades has proven their point. By the way, I always have to point out that Hal Varian who wrote that book is now the chief economist for Google. So he didn't just put the writing on the wall. He read it and said, "I know where I want to be." But I think we need to look at this and say, "Okay, does this mean we can't compete?" And I'd say the answer's no. Because in that same book we do see you can be a differentiated player. And again, we see example after example where people pull that off or people accomplish that.

So I think we need to think about this in terms of are we competing effectively? The right answer for almost everybody who's going to listen to this show is not to compete by trying to be the dominant player in an information space. It's to be a differentiated player. It's to own your niche and own your customer more directly. It's, as I talked about last week, not to outsource your sales and marketing to any one of these folks. We are all better off when there is a Google and an Apple and an Amazon and a Facebook and whatever else comes down the pipe to help us ensure that no one of them becomes the single dominant player.

I think we have to start asking very serious questions about what role do we want government to play in shaping these remedies. What is an appropriate remedy. And is an inappropriate remedy throwing open the commons to everybody? Because as we've seen with comment boards and we've seen with 4chan and 8chan and things like that, I don't think that's really what we want. I don't think we really want to turn all the power over to the trolls because they have every incentive to take it and ruin it for everybody.

We also have to agree that that can't be the reason just because there might be a shipwreck is no reason to not invent a ship. Right? I mean we've got to be able to turn that phrase around. The reality is we need to take control of the commons in a way that makes sense for us. We need to come up with some basis for agreeing on where it's appropriate to say, "Okay, somebody got too much power and that's making it problematic for everybody." But also they have to be free to make use of their power where it's appropriate to to create a better space there too, and to compete commercially. Because maybe someday we'd like to be those folks.

I opened by saying, "This one's going to be something of a thinks out loud." I don't know that I know the answers. But I do think the right first step in coming up with the right answers is asking the question. And the questions are where do we want this to go? What kind of world do we want to live in? And how do we want to shape the environment in which we compete in a way that's better for everybody? Because if we get that right, all the rest of this takes care of itself.

I'd love to hear your point of view on this. I've mentioned every week that you can email me at podcast@timpeter.com. Again podcast@timpeter.com.

You can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/TimePeterAssociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @TCPeter. You can find me on my website and send a contact message, whatever you prefer. But I'd love to hear from you about what you think the right thing is here, and how it is that we make sure we're inventing the ship as well as a shipwreck, and making sure that if gatekeepers going to gate we understand where those walls are and where those gates are and which ones we're comfortable with. Because it may be true that gatekeepers are going to gate, but I think it's fair to say that we get a voice and a vote in terms of where those gates can be, and which tolls we're willing to pay and when it is that it's appropriate to actually break those gates wide open.

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time. But I want to thank you again so much for tuning in. I genuinely do appreciate it. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all our past episodes by going to TimPeter.com/podcast. Again, that's TimPeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 258. 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 subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher radio or the Google play music store or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just search for "Tim Peter Thinks," "Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud" or "Thinks Out Loud"; we should show up for any of those. While you're there, I'd very much appreciate it if you could provide a positive rating or review. It's so helpful. Makes it easier for others to find us.

As mentioned, 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 by sending an email to Podcast@TimPeter.com.

I'd also like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you 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, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

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