Author Archives: John Koetsier

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12 New Alexa Products Show Amazon’s Massive Power (But Also Reveal Its Biggest Weakness)

Amazon unveiled no fewer than 12 new products yesterday in a AI-fed voice-powered smart home extravaganza. That’s amazing innovation, but it also highlights the company’s huge and pervasive weakness.

And no product exemplifies it more than Echo Auto.

Echo Auto brings Alexa to your car, so you can get weather, directions, and music from Amazon on the go. And add things to your shopping list, of course, solve simple math questions, and ask Alexa silly questions. (We’re all kids at heart.)

Or … “drop in” on friends via Amazon’s phone replacement service.

And there you have it. The phone.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Adobe Unveils AI Assistant So Marketers Can Use 100 Percent of Their Data, Not 1 to 3 Percent

Your data hides secrets that could unlock your growth, Adobe thinks. That’s why the company has unveiled new AI-driven technology to dig deeper into your data, revealing insights in seconds that data scientists would take five weeks to reveal.

“We track hundreds of billions of data points,” Adobe director of product management John Bates told me last week. “Only about 1-3% of the total data being collected is actually being analyzed.”

The result is obvious: some of the largest brands in the world are sitting on a mountain of data … and they’re not using it for growth insights.

According to Adobe, they should be.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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Mobile Gaming Entrepreneurs: Paying Players Up 33%, Whales Now Less Important

In the early stages of the mobile gaming explosion, every publisher hunted whales. Only a tiny fraction of gamers actually paid for in-app goodies, and while minnows were OK for ad revenue, big spenders — the whales — drove success.

That’s changing.

Over the past three years, the number of game players who actually pay rose by a third, game monetization platform DeltaDNA says. That’s a massive difference, even though the overall percentage is still very low: 4% in North America, and 2.5% in Europe. And that’s translated to increases of 200% in revenue for strategy games and 42% for casino games.

But the paying percentage is the real news.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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‘The hype is real:’ Lyft Head of Marketing Science Alok Gupta on marketing measurement

Marketing is an art. Marketing is a science. Just maybe, measurement is the Gordian knot that ties them both together.

We’ve certainly seen an increasing understanding of how the science of marketing is critical to unleashing the art of marketing in the last few years. Science — and data — ensure that art has maximum impact. That’s what growth marketers everywhere are learning.

Enabling it all?


“As a scientist, the only thing I believe in is experimentation,” Lyft Head of Marketing Science Alok Gupta said recently at UNIFY, Singular’s experts-only marketing technology conference. “I look at my current system, I perturb it through different creative and different levels of spend, and different bids, and new channels, and new partners, and I look what the effect is on the metric I care about.”

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

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Tipping Point: 48% of Americans Will Own An Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod By 2019

A third of American consumers own an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod, according to new research by Adobe. But by the end of the upcoming holiday season, that number will hit almost 50%.

Many current smart speaker owners are using voice do shop and do product research. Half also use voice assistants for news, asking questions, and online search.

The number of smart speak owners is up 14% just from January 2018, even though smart speakers are popular Christmas gifts, Adobe says. And that’s changing how we view voice.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Facebook Exec: How All Of Us Financed The Very Tools That Are Now Undermining Society And Elections

The internet is an amazing creation.

All of the world’s knowledge is at your fingertips. Global leaders’ thoughts flow from their fingers to your ears. Anyone can connect with virtually anyone else, and new opportunities for business and culture evolve almost daily.

But there’s a downside.

Fake news influenced the 2016 US election, and is impacting many other elections globally, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said today at Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

It’s also being used to tear our culture apart.


“Our technological capabilities outpace our ability to understand how people will abuse them,” Stamos said.

Get the full story in my story at Inc …

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Former Facebook Chief Security Officer: Election Hacking Still Very Possible

Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos said today that American elections are still hackable by nation-states such as Russia — and others.

“If there is no foreign interference in the midterm elections it’s not because we did a great job,” Stamos said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco today. “It’s because they decided to give us a break … the actual security of the election structure is no better.”

In fact Stamos said that while it’s hard to force a particular outcome in an election, it’s totally possible to throw “any election” into chaos.

Facebook started noticing foreign interference in elections in the spring of 2016, Stamos said. But most of the “fake news” trend on social media is not politically related.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes … 

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This AI Can Recognize Anger, Awe, Desire, Fear, Hate, Grief, Love … By How You Touch Your Phone

Artificially intelligent systems map our journeys, unlock our homes, entertain us, and foretell the weather. But could our electronic assistants also start to learn our emotions and use that knowledge to serve us better?

In other words, does Alexa know when you get mad? Or sad?

In fact, Amazon teams have been working on analyzing your emotions from your vocal intonations for over a year. But what about our phones?

Most of us use touch screens hundreds of times a day, and many of them are force sensitive. One researcher, Alicia Heraz of the Brain Mining Lab in Montreal, trained an algorithm to recognize anger, awe, desire, fear, hate, grief, laughter, love, plus no emotion … simply from the way we use touchscreens.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes … 

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Mobile ad fraud: 6 ways fraudsters win via dirty tricks, nasty scams, illegal tech, and cutting-edge camouflage

Ad fraud is a game where losing can look like winning, our Singular Fraud Index says. That’s why you need the latest intel — and the best fraud protection suite in the attribution industry — to protect you.

And understanding the enemy is the first step in winning the fraud war.

Or at least … not losing it.

At our recent UNIFY conference, IronSource’s Vice President for Growth Yevgeny Peres unpacked the science and data behind how fraudsters win. This was new intel to some of the world’s top digital marketers (not an easy task) and showed attendees how fraud was happening live in their campaigns right from the most innocuous, trustworthy, and high-quality apps.

Check out the full blog post (and video) on Singular’s blog …

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Marketing alignment: How LinkedIn, Lyft, Poshmark, and Calm align exec, finance, tech, creative, and BI teams for maximum ROI

In some fantasy world, growth marketers have all the cash, corporate support, creative assets, and analytics they need, and can do their jobs in splendid isolation. In the real world? No marketer is an island, every team is an integrated component of the overall organization, and marketing alignment is a tough challenge.

Which means that kindergarten lessons still apply.

And marketers need to play nice with others … for their own good.

That’s exactly what we recently discussed with key executives at fast-growing Lyft, LinkedIn, Poshmark, and Calm during our recent UNIFY conference.

Specifically, we asked them how marketers should align internal teams to achieve ROI.

Check out my post at Singular’s blog for the full story …


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Influencer Marketing: Apple v Samsung, Canon v Nikon, Amazon v Google, and Oculus v Vive

Apple Watch gets most of the influencer mentions among wearable products, but Fitbit gets more engagement. Similarly, iPhone drives almost 4X more social mentions than the Samsung Galaxy, but the Galaxy gets more engagment.

Those are just a few of the findings from a recent Traackr report on the state of influencer marketing, covering 500 top global influencers for the first three months of 2018.

When you’re doing influencer marketing, you want to find influencers who resonate with your brand and have followers who will engage with your product. Fail to do so, and you can drive mentions with cold hard cash, but they’ll be expensive and of limited worth, because they won’t generate engagement: likes, retweets, and comments. And that’s where the magic of social virality multiplies your initial investment.

Apparently, there’s a lot of failure.

Because gaps between mentions and engagement seem common.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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Spotted in the news >> Machine learning reveals crazy advertising ideas that actually work

I had the pleasure of being on a panel at VentureBeat’s AI-focused Transform event yesterday, and Sean Captain wrote up the session here:

Machine learning reveals crazy advertising ideas that actually work

One of my direct quotes is a bit of a silly one:

“You can do stupid stuff, and sometimes stupid stuff is smart stuff.”


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8 reasons why digital marketers need need need granularity (from experts at Kabam, Yelp, Nexon, N3twork)

Pebbles on a rocky beach are granular. The white sugar that we all hate to love is granular. The stars of the Milky Way that smudge together into a glorious sheet of light are, under closer inspection by a powerful telescope, also granular.

And so is the very best of digital and mobile marketing.


“Granularity sustains profitable scale,” says Singular’s Vice President of Customer Strategy Victor Savath. “Without granularity, you can scale… but it’s hard to monitor quality.”

Granularity is important both cross-channel and within channels, Savath said recently at UNIFY conference, where he interviewed experts from Yelp, Kabam, Postmates, Nexon, and N3twork on the topic. It’s important for creative. Granularity is also important for bids and CPIs. It’s critical to evaluating publishers and sub-publishers. And it’s something that impacts your daily budgets.

But exactly what is granularity?

And what does it achieve for digital marketers?

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

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Comcast Dives Deeper Into Smart Home With Voice-Activated Smart Lock Partnership

Comcast has been using its Xfinity brand to penetrate the smart home market using a smart voice-driven TV experience as the hub. Now it’s adding partnerships with home security companies for smart locks.

In other words, coach potatoes can tell their TVs to lock the front door without getting up.

Xfinity’s smart home solution now integrates smart locks from Yale.COMCAST
Comcast integrated Yale Locks and Hardware into its “Works with Xfinity” program so that you can remotely lock and unlock doors with the Xfinity Home mobile app, or just use voice commands if they have the latest remote control.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Solving cross-channel and cross-platform marketing with a modern tech stack

How do you build a modern marketing tech stack for cross-channel and cross-platform marketing? A good start might be emulating some of the best practices of top marketers from Instacart,, HER, and Riot Games.

But don’t expect it to be easy.

Finding the right solutions is tough.

“The martech landscape has grown over 40% year over year,” Tim Hsu, head of growth for Riot Games, said recently at Singular’s Unify conference. “The 2018 version of the martech landscape came out in April … in 2011 there were 150 solutions.”

“In 2018 there are 6,800 solutions by 6,200 providers in over 48 categories,” he added. “That is really complex.”

Get the full story in my post at Singular’s blog …


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Volareo Smart Speaker Challenges Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod With Crypto And Blockchain

A decentralized smart speaker is not exactly what it sounds like. The gadget, after all, is not decentralized. It is, however, the first to build in blockchain, crypto and…privacy.

“Volareo is a decentralised alternative to Google Home/Amazon Alexa,” says Conor Fitzpatrick, a company spokesman. “It’s the first to integrate with blockchain services (though it works with non-blockchain ones too).”

Smart speakers have been the breakout electronics category of the last few years, hitting an installed base of 50 million in the U.S. alone as of this month. All the options, however, are tied to a sponsoring company and its business model. Some are tied loosely, like Google Home. Some more tightly, like Amazon Echo. And some are completely intertwined into their company’s business model: HomePod.

Volareo is an attempt to reverse that.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Follow all of my fourth industrial revolution posts at Forbes …

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Data Explosion: The ugly truth facing modern marketing technology stacks

Marketing technology is a fast-growing industry. It’s worth $230 billion each year and growing 20% year over year, Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv said recently at Unify.

But that’s slow growth compare to marketing data itself.

“Marketing data is exploding,” Eliashiv said. “It’s growing much faster than the industry itself.”


There are more connected people, many with multiple devices. That’s more digital activity, all of which generates more data and more statistics. There are more software solutions for both martech and adtech, and each of them ingests, consumes, and generates additional data.

Get all the details (and full video) in my post on Singular’s blog …

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People Spent 85 Billion Hours In WhatsApp In The Past 3 Months (Versus 31 Billion In Facebook)

85 billion hours is a lot of time. It’s 3.5 billion days, or over nine million years — 9,582,650 years, to be exact. And it’s 11.425 hours for every human being on the planet.

That’s how long we’ve collectively spent in WhatsApp over the past three months.

At least according to app analytics company Apptopia.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Follow all of my fourth industrial revolution posts at Forbes …

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How Sendgrid Uses AI To Deliver 1.5B Emails Every Single Day (And Kill The Spammers)

Email is 20 years old and everyone claims to hate it … but it still tops the charts as a leading marketing channel. Today’s email, however, is not your grandma’s “You’ve Got Mail.”

For one thing, there’s a lot of AI behind the message.

The reason: to protect the future viability of the medium.

“We have had to invest an incredible amount of time and people and process and time in protecting email as a channel,” Sendgrid chief executive officer Sameer Dholakia told me today at Traction Conference in Vancouver, Canada. “We have numerous AI systems in place to determine: are companies a good customer at sign-up, and 100 different variables that tell us: is this mail actually wanted.”

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

Follow all of my martech/adtech stories at Inc …

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Apple Kicks Off Massive Digital Payments Promotion In San Francisco; Big Discounts With Apple Pay

Apple kicked off a major digital wallet promotion in San Francisco today. This is just days after CEO Tim Cook reported that the company tripled Apple Pay transactions this year, hitting more than $1 billion in annual volume.

That’s bigger than Square and more than Paypal’s mobile transactions, says Apple.

And it has some saying that Apple is now a major fintech player.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Follow all of my fourth industrial revolution posts at Forbes …


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Amazon Echo, Google Home Installed Base Hits 50 Million; Apple Has 6% Market Share, Report Says

The U.S. installed base of smart speakers has hit 50 million, according to a new report released today by research group CIRP.

The market share leader?

Amazon, unsurprisingly.

Amazon invented this market in 2015 and still has a majority market share: 70%, according to the study. Google, however, which has seen sales leadership in some quarters, has 24% market share. And Apple, which launched HomePod earlier this year, now has 6% of the market, according to CIRP.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Follow all of my fourth industrial revolution posts at Forbes …

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61% Of Consumers Will Share Personal Data For Personalized Marketing Communications

61% of American consumers say they’ll share more data with a company in order to get customized communications from them. 48% of UK consumers agreed.

The key: having control.

“While today’s technology allows companies to easily collect a tremendous amount
of customer data behind the scenes, more stringent privacy laws are putting more and more control over this data back into the hands of the consumer,” says a new study from Smart Communications. “To entice them to share the personal details necessary to make communications as meaningful as possible, companies must first prove that it will be worth it.”

Get the full story in my post at Inc. …

Follow all of my martech and adtech stories at Inc. …

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Modern Luddites Smash $15M Industrial Robots, Claim They Were Forced To Train Metal Replacements via “Skinning” Process

This is the fourth chapter of Insights from the Future, a book I’m writing about technology, innovation, and people … from the perspective of the future.

LOS ANGELES — Fifteen workers at the LAX Distribution Center in Los Angeles were arrested Monday for alleged robot-smashing: destroying nine robots worth an estimated $15 million.

The warehouse workers don’t deny the charges, but insist that what they were forced to do was inhuman and unfair, violated their collective bargaining agreement, and were simply protecting their families.

“The company forced us to wear skin suits that collect data on every motion,” one worker who declined to provide her name alleged. “They were training the robots that were going to take our jobs with our very own bodies.”

The new technology is called skinning.

Get the full story at Medium …

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8 Reasons “Hey Google” Is A Genius Assistant Wake Phrase (Versus Alexa, Hey Siri, or Hey Cortana)

Assistants are a big part of the future of human-computer interaction. So how you address the your artificially intelligent friend in the cloud is important.

Star Trek’s “computer” is accurate, but cold and sterile.

Of the current leading assistant technologies, three have aimed at friendly first-name approachability. Amazon has Alexa, which sounds fun, female, and friendly. Apple’s Siri is a bit more exotic, but is still approachable (and has a slightly wicked sense of humor). Microsoft’s Cortana continues the female trend, but adds a touch of geek with by referencing the helpful AI in Call of Duty.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

Also, follow my Forbes column for all my fourth industrial revolution, AI, and related stories …

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UnDigital Is AdTech Without The Tech, Selling Ad Space In The Billions of Packages E-Commerce Generates

Today UnDigital launched a platform for buying ad space in packages. The company is a unique adtech startup: it doesn’t do programmatic, doesn’t offer AI, has no new digital ad formats, and offers no new ads-to-consumers targeting technology.

Instead, UnDigital calls itself the “industry’s first package insert marketplace.”

In other words, you buy something. The package comes.
And inside is a little 5″ x 7″ card with an ad.

Get the full story in my post on Inc …

And, follow my Inc column for all my adtech and martech stories …

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Amazon Sells 1M+ Smart Home Devices On Prime Day; Apple Deletes Smart Doorbell Category

Amazon had its biggest smart home sales day yesterday in history, selling over a million smart home devices, the company said. On pretty much the same day Apple deleted the entire smart doorbell category from its list of HomeKit-compatible devices.

Insult to injury?

Ring, the smart video doorbell that Amazon bought for $1 billion in February, had its best sales day ever on July 16th and sold out. Yesterday, of course, was Amazon’s Prime Day, a sales event for Amazon Prime customers.

Amazon is in a privileged position in the smart home industry.

Get the full story at Forbes …

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Amazon Selling Amazon: 15 Of 16 Most-Promoted Prime Day Products … Are From Amazon

Smart homes, smart TVs, smart speakers, tablets, and more: you can get them all cheaper today, at Amazon’s now-iconic Prime Day. Interestingly however, 15 of the top 16 products Amazon is pushing for the company’s invented shopping holiday … are from Amazon.

The only one that isn’t?

A Toshiba TV with Alexa built in.

Get the full story in my post on Forbes … 

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Elon Musk Proves Once And For All: Don’t Tweet Tired

Tweeting tired is not a good idea. It’s not as bad as driving drunk, but it could have similar impact on your career.

Ask Elon Musk.

The car-building solar-power-generating space-conquering genius has feet of clay just like the rest of us, as a recent episode of since-deleted tweets reveal.

Musk and his engineers built a tiny unpowered sub that could have been used to help rescue the Thai soccer team that was stranded in a cave. But British cave diver Vern Unsworth, who helped Thai authorities with the search and rescue operation, called it a PR stunt.

Then Musk insinuated that Unsworth was a pedophile.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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Advertising Has To Solve Its Lying Problem (Or Die Trying)

Social media has had its “fake news” come-to-Jesus moment. Now it’s time for advertising.

Tony Robbins is dead, don’t you know? And he was murdered by one of his own followers, no less.

At least, if you believe ads.

Estimates for how many ads we see each day range from 4,000 to 10,000. More credible sources we’re exposed to 1.59 hours of advertising on traditional and modern media, each and ever day.

The question is, how many of them are out-and-out blatant lies?

Get the full story in my post at Inc …