A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 25, 2019

The Supposedly Shrinking TV Audience

The audience for broadcast TV is aging, but when you're the largest generation in human history, that still counts for something - especially if you're an advertiser. JL

John Koblin reports in the New York Times:

Once-dependable viewers have continued their migration to Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, and those who have yet to break the network habit are aging out of the group prized by advertisers. While the overall TV audience is shrinking, however, it remains large enough to command billions of dollars from advertisers.

Waymo's Driverless Taxi Service Takes 6 Months To Gain 1,000 Customers

Whether that will be perceived as impossibly slow and a sign of disinterest, or as a logical precursor to an inevitable change remains to be seen.

By comparison with other tech rollouts to which the public has become accustomed, it appears glacial. But then those did not require both a change of habit and a leap of faith demanding personal risk. JL 

Insurance Journal reports via Bloomberg:

The first major self-driving taxi service needed six months to reach 1,000 customers, another sign that growth may be slow as companies try to build businesses around autonomous vehicles. Perhaps the greatest testament to Waymo’s progress in Arizona is that the magic of self-driving has already begun to fade. “Most of the time, I’m on my phone. It’s just a car taking me someplace.”

Has Amazon Gotten Too Big?

There are two elements to the answer. The first is whether, as a business, the company can continue to grow while operating efficiently and productively, given its size. There may be a point at which the law of big numbers simply makes it too big to continue to be manageable.

The second issue is whether its control has reached levels that raise public concern. And even though customer benefits remain manifest (especially compared to Facebook or Google), it may be closer to reaching  tipping point where influence becomes abuse. JL 

Barbara Kahn and Ryan Hamilton are interviewed in Knowledge@Wharton:

"One of the ways that we can overcome the creepiness factor is when people understand the benefits they’re getting from more invasive technology, then (they) are more accommodating to it.. That’s where Amazon has avoided the problems Facebook and Google have run into. It seems obvious to the consumer the benefits they’re getting from Amazon." But Amazon can’t continue to do everything. At some point, companies require a focus on core competencies. “There’s nothing that Amazon isn’t touching. It’s no longer about price; it’s about information, power, leverage, control."

May 24, 2019

Google Cloud and Informatica Partner To Organize Client Data

The rich get smarter. JL

Angus Loten reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Google Cloud, Alphabet Inc.’s cloud computing unit, is joining forces with data-management company Informatica LLC to help businesses draw more value from their data—part of a continuing push by Google into the enterprise information-technology market. The move will couple Informatica’s data-management and integration tools with Google Cloud services including data-storage platforms and market-analytics tools. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
The goal is to enable commercial users to more easily leverage massive amounts of data for use in artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advanced digital capabilities

Amazon Investors Reject Employee-Led Facial Recognition Limits Proposal

But the company's historic behavior suggests it ain't over.  JL

Karen Weise reports in the New York Times:

No shareholder resolution at Amazon has ever passed. But they have pushed the company to change. Last year, Amazon initially opposed a shareholder resolution to intentionally consider diverse candidates, which at the time had only white directors. But after public opposition, it reversed course and formally adopted the policy. The shareholders later dropped their proposal, and Amazon has since added two women of color to its board.

Measuring Success For Experiential Marketing Isnt Easy

Measuring impact has not kept up with creating impact. JL

Marty Swant reports in Ad Week:

From immersive theater to pop-up shops, experiences are becoming more common. But are they strong enough to have an impact? Metrics for how they perform and whether they’re worth the cost are often still a mystery. But “Experiential companies are going to need to adapt or go away. Brands are becoming more conscious of what they’re getting and whether they can prove some sort of ROI.” Heat-mapping, facial recognition and biometric data (can) gauge excitement. The value of experiential lives is projected revenue. "The experiences are memorable, but you’re not doing it in a time when someone is ready to pull the trigger.”

On China, Leverage and Values

The reality is that the US has more leverage than China in the current round of trade wars because it has better essential technology and know-how, it employs more Chinese than the Chinese employ Americans or Europeans and it may even rediscover the importance of its own values in the process of standing up for its socio-economics prospects. JL

Ben Thompson reports in Stratechery:

China has been limiting the economic upside of U.S. companies far longer than the U.S. has tried to limit China’s. (But) while tech devices are “Made in China”, little of the technology originates there. Much more goes to component suppliers in the United States, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. China is far behind when it comes to the manufacture of advanced components, and very far behind when it comes to advanced processing chips and the equipment that designs and fabricates them. Openness, creativity, and competition are just related. Infringement on any one of them should be taken as a threat to all three.