January 31, 2018: Amazon opens Amazon Go grocery store, Netflix reaches $100B in value, Procter & Gamble cuts ties with half its agencies, Airbnb invests $5M in Experiences, and PEW addresses issues with relying on online opt-ins.
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:


“These accounts are counterfeit coins in the booming economy of online influence, reaching into virtually any industry where a mass audience — or the illusion of it — can be monetized” – The Follower Factory, NY Times

In a recent investigation, The New York Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi, a company that sells Twitter followers and retweets to anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. It has more than 200,000 customers – NYT called out reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models, among others.

In today’s world where the swipe of a credit card can buy “instant” fame & popularity, marketers need to understand why they’re investing in influencer marketing in the first place. Influence is neither this flat, nor one-dimensional. Influence can not be determined or verified by follower count or engagement rates alone – not even Google has perfected the algorithm for that.

And that’s beside the point. If you’re using influencers for reach and engagement alone, you’re doing it wrong … and you are at risk for fraud. But if you are investing building relationships with those who influence your consumers for their trust, knowledge, and expertise as insightful co-creators and collaborators throughout the marketing process – it’s quite easy and quick to determine who is a fraud, and who’s not.

Ready, Set, Go

No carts, no cashiers, no problem. Last week, Amazon opened its new brick-and-mortar convenience store in Seattle and it’s safe to say shoppers are pretty excited. Upon entering the Amazon Go store, shoppers scan a QR code and proceed as usual, simply grabbing the item(s) they want off the shelves. Infrared tech cameras mounted all over the store record what shoppers place in their bags and, when they leave, their credit card on file gets charged a receipt appears in the app.

Did we mention its BYOB? (Bring your own bags)

What it means, IRL: No cashiers + no lines + quicker transactions = brick & mortar game-changer. Like the Amazon bookstore, Amazon Go utilizes many of Amazon’s advantages to deliver faster, cheaper, and more convenient goods & services to consumers. Assuming the Go store continues to be successful, it’s possible the company could expand the smart-store concept to its recently acquired Whole Foods stores. Also, similar to how Amazon licensed its Alexa technology to others (including some competitors), it’s possible that it could do the same with their smart-store model for other brick and mortars in the space. #CantStopWontStop

Make it work: With the new store model, the role of employees shifts to become service-oriented. Employees will begin to serve as influencers in their own rights – providing valuable product knowledge & expertise to consumers throughout the buying journey. While it’s likely that Amazon will eventually implement some form of augmented reality so consumers can seamlessly access ratings & reviews, until then, employee advocates could serve as another form of influence along the customer journey. Lastly, the technology accompanying Amazon Go expands the use cases for real-time near-field communication tools to deliver more contextually relevant promotions to consumers.

Skip Intro

^ arguably the best feature Netflix has introduced since autoplay.

No introduction needed: Netflix is now worth $100 billion. Despite increasing its prices by 10%, Netflix managed to gain 8.3 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2017, increasing its total subscriber count up to 117 million worldwide. The streaming-giant sustains its growth and commercial success through its content & programming – not only exceeding projections, but also in spite of ‘critics’ reviews.

For the famously data-driven Netflix, indicators of success are measured more in Google Trends data (i.e. if programming is being searched for, then it’s an indicator of viewer intent and content consumption) than critical acclaim. To replicate this strategy, look to consumer feedback, including  influencers that your target audience follows and social listening, as well as search trends, to vet & validate content and programming ideas to determine if they have mass appeal. However, proceed with caution, as the wrong influencer as content lead can be costly (Kevin Spacey cost Netflix $39 million).

The Purge

It’s no secret that Marc Pritchard has major concerns with the digital media industry, often criticizing the industry for its lack of transparency and overall ineffectiveness. In Pritchard’s ongoing quest reduce waste and increase efficiencies, P&G has dropped half the agencies they work with (and plans to cut that number in half again by the end of 2018). In addition to holding its agency and media partners to a higher standard, P&G has also decreased costs by open-sourcing creative talent and media production (i.e. influencers, freelancers), and scaling it through automated distribution. With P&G setting the tone for the rest of the industry, it’s likely that we’ll see the rest of the industry follow suit.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere

Last year Airbnb launched its Experiences platform – an initiative than enables small businesses, entrepreneurs, and community non-profits to create and promote immersive experience for travelers. This year Airbnb is investing $5 million in Experiences with plans to expand the initiative to include 200 cities in the U.S.

Why? Because the number of Experiences booked has increased 500%, with consumers actively looking for more authentic experiences. What does this mean for brands? Partner with local influencers, small businesses and community leaders to create unique experiences, knowing that people are seeking these out.

Survey Says

What if the consumer insights you’re basing your next campaign on are entirely false? Chances are, if you or your team is using research panels for consumer insights, you’re getting biased results. In a new study by PEW, research suggests that even the most effective weighting methods for online opt-in data are unable to remove about 30% of original bias.

When it comes to the quality vs. quantity of results, quality prevails. From the quality of questions you’re asking to the quality of the consumers you’re surveying – both matter more than a larger sample size, more ‘advanced’ statistics, and/or ‘better’ methodologies. For the rest of the findings, check out the report.


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