​The Britton Digital Update—Week of March 5, 2018

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

Want to listen to the Digital Update instead? Here’s the extended podcast (on SoundCloud) version. You can also subscribe through iTunes.  

As marketers and communicators for brands, it is important to not only know who your audience is but where you can find them. Is your audience still on Facebook? Did they leave Snapchat for Instagram? Marketing success requires familiarity with both the current status of the audience and industry trends. It is important to note that you should review each brand on a case-by-case basis since your brand’s audience is unique. The 2018 Social Media Use report from Pew Research is quite thorough and makes a great starting point.

This year’s report dispels a few myths making the rounds on social media. For example, are users ditching Facebook left and right? Pew says this is not the case. While Facebook isn’t growing at the pace of previous years, research shows that 68 percent of Americans are still using Facebook. This number hasn’t changed in almost two years. We do know, however, from some users (and probably personal experience) that audiences are using Facebook a little less often than they used to. Interestingly enough, YouTube seems to be growing, with 73 percent of survey respondents saying they use the video media channel.

It is no surprise that age plays a factor in audience usage of social media networks. While 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are on Snapchat and 71 percent are on Instagram, that number drops to less than 40 and 30 percent, respectively, when it comes to the 30- to 49-year-old age group. It drops even further beyond that: Only 16 percent of users on Instagram are over the age of 50. Needless to say, if you are targeting customers 50 years old and up, Instagram may not be the best platform to reach them. This is the kind of information you need to be aware of in order to be successful in reaching and communicating to your brand’s audience.

Have we lost you in the numbers yet? I’ll be honest: I geek out on them. If that’s not your thing, that’s okay. Each week, we deliver the latest data when it comes to audience targeting, platform updates, and more. We’ll geek out on the numbers and then pass the most relevant digital, marketing, social media, and retail information your way in the Britton Digital Update. This week we cover, Alexa terrorism, Amazon expansion, the next franchises to go mobile, and artificial intelligence going head-to-head against human lawyers. Enjoy!

Ha. Ha. Ha. No.

A young millennial fast asleep on the couch wakes up screaming in fear after hearing “hehehe” from the direction of their Amazon Echo. They exclaim, “Who’s there?!” It sounds like the beginning of a low-budget horror film where technology turns on society. Alexa, as it turns out, has not turned on us. She has, however, on multiple occasions recently, let out a creepy laugh. “There’s a good chance I get murdered tonight,” tweeted Gavin Hightower after hearing it.

Amazon admitted the random laugh has become a recent issue. “In rare circumstances,” Amazon told Buzzfeed News, “Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’” So, apparently, Alexa can hear that phrase in the middle of the night while someone is sleeping?

Amazon has released an update to disable that trigger phrase. Instead, Amazon is changing the phrase to be “Alexa, can you laugh?” which it says is less likely to have false positives. The Verge reports that Amazon also changed the response to “Sure, I can laugh,” followed by laughter, rather then just the laughter all on its own. I tested this out on my Echo Dot at home and can confirm the change has been made. We’re still going to sleep with one eye (err, ear?) open, just in case.

Penny-wise

Not everything Amazon touches is super creepy—unless, of course, you are a competitor. In that case, you should be scared. Very scared. Amazon is expanding into new categories faster than you can spell “Prime.” Just in the past few weeks, Amazon purchased doorbell-camera startup Ring for $1 billion to stake a bigger claim in the home security category. The online retail giant also entered the pharmaceutical industry with the launch of private-label, over-the-counter medications. And Amazon appears to be working with JPMorgan Chase to possibly create a checking account bank product aimed at millennials, an audience segment missing from the checking account scene (if they even know what a check is). This move pairs nicely with its massive online retail footprint and share of the grocery industry.

There is a whole lot more spending to come, too. The rumor mill is working overtime to try to leak the location of Amazon’s second world headquarters location. While the HQ2 location has been narrowed to 20 locations publicly, a recent Business Insider article points out evidence that it could end up being Washington, D.C. Apparently, there was an increase in web traffic to an article on environmentally-friendly policies in the area that came from an internal Amazon server, which lead to some of the speculation. It also doesn’t hurt that three of the top 20 locations are near Washington D.C. or that billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos has a home in the area. Official word on the HQ2 location isn’t expected until later this year.

Who You Gonna Call?

Outside of an evil Alexa laugh, when things get scary, there is really only one team to call: Ghostbusters! Recently, a collaboration was announced to expand the Ghostbusters universe into augmented reality. The result is Ghostbusters World, a game currently in development that is reminiscent of Pokèmon Go.

According to Digital Trends, the game “sends you on a quest to capture hundreds of ghosts from the Ghostbusters universe.” There is some nostalgia involved that is perhaps more mainstream than Pokemon Go, which went on to become one of the fastest growing mobile app games in history. It also paved the way for augmented reality gaming to become mainstream so franchises like Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, and Ghostbusters could have a pathway to success. I have to admit, I’m kind of excited about this one.

I’m not sure if I feel the same way about Jurassic World: Alive. It’s not that it doesn’t look like an amazing game with another no-brainer franchise adaption; it’s that the idea of walking around my neighborhood to spot a T-Rex or (gasp) a raptor is terrifying. It took many nights and a few therapy sessions to get that sound of the raptor nail tapping on metal out of my head. I’m not sure I can handle that again.

The Ghost in the Machine

Like it or not artificial intelligence and machine learning is already a major part of our lives and business. Whether it’s the Facebook algorithm, voice search, or visual object recognition, AI is already impacting how we market our brands. While it currently can’t replace humans for many tasks, it can be a tool to help us scale up efficiency and effectiveness.

A new study conducted by LawGeex (an AI contract review platform) demonstrated just how much of an impact these tools can make. The study matched artificial intelligence against 20 human lawyers in a review on legal contracts. In terms of accuracy, the AI computers were accurate 94 percent of the time compared to just 85 percent for the human lawyers. The big difference in performance came in terms of time needed to execute the review. It took the 20 lawyers an average of 92 minutes to review five non-disclosure agreements. How long did it take the artificial intelligence to review? Only 26 seconds. And it did so with more accuracy than the human lawyers. It’s being billed by LawGeex as the first time AI has surpassed human lawyers in performance.

So should we worry that artificial intelligence will replace us? While it is true that some jobs might be replaced, it is important to remember that the AI is best used as a tool. It allows us to automate some tasks, while completing them quickly and with more accuracy. It allows us to focus on the relationship with our clients and proper communication. This technology can be very exciting if approached with the right perspective. Well, until we hear an evil laugh out of nowhere (see Alexa story above).

For the rest of the latest news, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode