Neville Hobson https://www.nevillehobson.com www.nevillehobson.com Fri, 21 Sep 2018 11:44:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 3316880 SDF Podcast 21: Attention, meaningful content and post-apocalyptic novels https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/09/10/sdf-podcast-21-attention-meaningful-content-and-post-apocalyptic-novels/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/09/10/sdf-podcast-21-attention-meaningful-content-and-post-apocalyptic-novels/#respond Mon, 10 Sep 2018 20:19:38 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=55014 Our latest podcast ended up being a tad longer than planned – clearly a sign of a lively, engaged discussion. In talking about various aspects of the attention economy, we managed to hold each other’s attention for a good 45 minutes. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Many ‘attention economists’ these days […]

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monitor

Our latest podcast ended up being a tad longer than planned – clearly a sign of a lively, engaged discussion. In talking about various aspects of the attention economy, we managed to hold each other’s attention for a good 45 minutes.

This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle.

Many ‘attention economists’ these days quote Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and his observation that a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. It is certainly a quote that has aged well, and one can only wonder what Simon would make of the world now, 47 years on from his famous statement.

Sam doesn’t quite see the crisis of attention that brands often lament. But quality and controllability matter more than ever, and producers of content – especially the advertising and media industries – need to up their game to stay relevant. Users control their online experience through ad blockers and subscription services to filter out interruptive commercial communication.

Yes, we like to communicate, but on our terms and with others of our choosing. And for content to be worthy of our attention, it needs to be accessible, usable and shareable. Or at least funny.

The role of advertising and marketing has become one of the central themes of our modern tech debates. It is a theme with a long shadow, as Tim Wu’s history of the Attention Merchants eloquently illustrates. How much has really changed from the days of PT Barnum and “there’s a sucker born every minute”, to today’s seemingly unstoppable datafication? Almost everything, and at the same time very little.

This is also the theme of a powerful recent article in The Atlantic, Welcome to the Age of Privacy Nihilism. Neville points our attention to the main conclusion:

The real difference between the old and the new ages of data-intelligence-driven consumer marketing, and the invasion of privacy they entail, is that lots of people are finally aware that it is taking place. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, the recent reports about Google, and related events have contributed to that knowledge, but not as much as the barrage of rapidly correlated advertising served in apps and on web pages.

The postal mail comes once a day, but people see hundreds or thousands of new renditions of their own private information in the same time on online. It’s easy to mistake the proximate cause—big, shadowy tech firms—for the ultimate one: over half a century of business-intelligence techniques that have been honed, productized, and weaponized out of sight. Google and Facebook are just the tip of an old, hardened iceberg.

So yes, the attention economy (first introduced as a concept by Davenport and Beck in 2001) is here. But crisis – well it depends on the context. We talk about Netflix, and how people in their subscription-funded walled gardens would rebel against non consumption behaviour-related ‘nudges’. Netflix have started to experiment with advertising and promos for other shows between episodes, and the reaction is mixed.

We all want just the stuff we care about. The word meaningful gets used a lot these days. But who defines meaningful, and for whom? Do we want to rely on Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of “meaningful social interactions” and “time well spent” – concepts that apparently drove the overhaul of the Facebook News Feed algorithms earlier this year? Personally, I’d rather follow the originator of the phrase “time well spent”, Tristan Harris, and the concepts and ideas developed in the Center for Humane Technology.

If data is indeed “everywhere and nowhere” and there is no escape, if the big data algorithmic ad ecosystem knows our every step, if we are continuously ‘nudged’, what happens to free will and choice? Neville is less worried since the retargeting algorithms are still dumb: they don’t anticipate, they just amplify what’s already there as observable online reality. But where might this be going? Sam imagines his smartphone hearing him chant at a match of his football team, and soon serving up ads for the next FIFA game, as well as fan merchandise for his son.

But is, as Neville suggests, data hoovering and blunt nudging no longer acceptable? It is true, awareness levels have increased significantly, thanks to Cambridge Analytica, GDPR and other headline-grabbing data and privacy stories. But then, as the story in The Atlantic reminded us, targeted relational database marketing has been a big deal for a long while – so how and why would it now be illegitimate or illegal?

WTF

Difficult questions, but thankfully there are people with very simple answers, as Sam reminds us when he mentions Donald Trump’s attack on Google’s apparently liberal bias. Perhaps he will soon back GDPR to be imposed across the US, and especially on Silicon Valley? This recent piece in The Observer discusses how big tech finds itself in an uncomfortable place, being pressured both from the left and from the right. Certainly a theme for the SmallDataForum to keep an eye on.

Talking of perspective (largely) from the left – I got a good dose of that at Byline Festival at the Bank Holiday weekend, where the “Spirit of ‘68” inspired attendees to “dance, discuss, laugh and change the world”. Up for discussion was everything from Brexit and Trump, to fake news and our global information disorder, corporate surveillance, the fifth battlespace, the rise of the alt-right, Russian disinformaziya, Silicon Valley’s threat to our democracy, digital rights and how to deal with Anti-semitism and Islamophobia. And the list goes on. A glut of important and difficult questions meeting a dearth of answers.

Not that there aren’t any (or at least good suggestions). The tech journalist and author Jamie Bartlett shared some of the ideas from his book The People vs Tech, which offers a dystopian and a utopian scenario: either big tech will destroy Western democracy as we know it, or Western civilization and democracy will find a way to regulate and rein in tech.

Solutions centre around how to treat the big platforms: as publishers? As utilities? Should they be subject to safety regulation similar to the aviation industry or the pharma industry? Perhaps Byline Fest 2019 will have the answers.

Next in our budding book club was Robert Peston’s “WTF?”, which Sam read recently. Plenty of discussion of SmallDataForum topics, amid broad themes such as a inequality and a decline in social mobility. And leading to economically-grounded, utopian perspectives such as a universal living wage.

Neville’s summer reading consisted mainly of post-apocalyptic novels, a metaphor for this day and age and modern versions of classic stories structured around Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, e.g. trying not to fall off the Brexit precipice.

We finished on a ROFL as we pondered P&G’s plan to trademark youth-speak and texting acronyms. This Campaign article provides some good perspective. LMFAO? WTF indeed.

Listen to episode 21:

Thomas StoeckleThomas Stoeckle is an independent business consultant and researcher in the fields of traditional and social media, and public opinion, with a particular interest in psychology and behavioural insights.

Until November 2017, Thomas led strategic business development at LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions (BIS). Prior to joining LexisNexis, he was group director and global analytics lead at W2O Group, and managing director at Report International (now CARMA).

A marketing communications researcher and business leader with 20-plus years’ experience in helping clients make sense of their global (social) media footprint, and how that affects perception and reputation, he believes passionately in meaning and insightful business story-telling through robust data evidence and compelling visualisation.

Originally from Germany, Thomas has been living and working in London for more than 16 years. A digital Neanderthal among digital natives, he is keenly aware that adequate solutions to communications problems demand fluency in the three languages of humans, machines, and business.

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For Immediate Release 152: LOL (TM) https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/08/28/fir-152-lol-tm/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/08/28/fir-152-lol-tm/#respond Tue, 28 Aug 2018 06:22:43 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/08/15/5900-revision-v1/ Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the August edition of The Hobson and Holtz Report on the FIR Podcast Network. Topics included… P&G is attempting to trademark common Internet acronyms, including LOL. Texting has become a common tool in political campaigns. Will it find its way into marketing? Gen Zers will outnumber Millennials […]

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Febreze

Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the August edition of The Hobson and Holtz Report on the FIR Podcast Network. Topics included…

  • P&G is attempting to trademark common Internet acronyms, including LOL.
  • Texting has become a common tool in political campaigns. Will it find its way into marketing?
  • Gen Zers will outnumber Millennials within a year. There are implications for communicators.
  • Should your company be on IGTV?
  • A look at vanished technologies from Gartner’s 2017 hypecycle of emerging technologies.
  • Engagement on Facebook is plummeting.

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

(Or download the MP3 file)

Links from this episode:

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SDF Podcast 20: GDPR, ePrivacy, copyright and antitrust: the EU’s long game https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/07/26/sdf-podcast-20-the-eus-long-game/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/07/26/sdf-podcast-20-the-eus-long-game/#respond Thu, 26 Jul 2018 20:24:38 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=54315 Show notes for this episode written by Thomas Stoeckle. “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A modern version of this 18th century thought experiment by the philosopher and cleric George Berkeley might read: “If the EU fines a big tech firm […]

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Show notes for this episode written by Thomas Stoeckle.

“If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A modern version of this 18th century thought experiment by the philosopher and cleric George Berkeley might read: “If the EU fines a big tech firm billions of dollars, and no one has the power to enforce it, has it actually happened?”

A recent opinion piece on AdExchanger discussed the connection between Google’s $5bn antitrust fine, and the enforcement of fines for GDPR non-compliance. Europe is committed to taking a stand against corporations when it comes to privacy rights of consumers, intellectual property rights of content producers (although the planned law is controversial), and anti-competitive market positions.

But there is potential tension between the goal of harmonizing privacy law across EU member states, and implementation and enforcement of the law on national level, where the regulation applies. Consumer protection has a different priority in different European countries, and even more so when comparing Europe with the US or China, say.

That’s why the EU Commissioner for Competition, Margarete Vestager, is seen by some as the spearhead of the only global regulator really standing up to arrogant American tech giants, and by others – not least the current US President – as a busybody trying to suffocate innovative tech businesses. We see a ‘commercial culture clash’ between Europe and US, between consumer protection and the right of corporations.

And what about China, which keeps working on its modern, global Silk Road, investing $1tn in physical infrastructure, while keeping its digital infrastructure in a walled garden, with Alibaba and Tencent being active and successful on the global stage?

Big questions for the SmallDataForum, as always. And on the topic of the EU’s role and potential impact, we agree: Sam is optimistic in describing how the world uses EU regulatory frameworks in trading. 28 countries (or perhaps 27 soon), plus many more internationally are actively following EU standards. Neville confirms that in Europe, there is greater appetite for privacy rights, than in the US.

I see the EU playing a long game, bringing together a number of pillars to create a more integrated framework of regulations to manage and balance the interests of consumers and corporations across personal data (GDPR), electronic communication (ePrivacy), digital copyright and antitrust issues – although some observers only see the smothering of creativity and innovation. These are complex and multi-faceted issues. On the topic of intellectual property, social media and the impact on communicators, the Institute for Public Relations’ legal expert Cayce Myers published a very informative and relevant piece recently about the challenges around the EU’s copyright reform.

As GDPR is becoming more of a routine part of businesses’ and organisations’ compliance activities, Sam notes that the implementation so far has passed without major incidents. Programmatic advertising needed to clean itself up, and according to DigiDay, GDPR is buoying both programmatic guaranteed deals, and contextual (rather than personal profile based) targeting. Neville points to the thorny issue of managing consent across a supply chain of users, ad buyers and publishers. We all better learn “WTF is a consent string?”

In our ‘let’s all get a little more paranoid’ section, we discuss Alexa’s overzealous listening skills, as well as the murky world of fake followers and inflated reach and engagement metrics across the board of apps and platforms. As always, cranky marketing sage Mark Ritson has a pertinent point on the matter. Neville sees this as an opportunity for communicators to provide direction and guidance.

We round up episode 20 of the SDF with a look at the key findings of the Digital News Report 2018 by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. As Neville very rightly points out, every communicator needs to study this in detail (findings based on a survey of more than 74,000 online news consumers in 37 countries), and we could only touch on a few highlights such as the decline of social media use for news in some key markets such as the US, the UK, Brazil and France. This appears to be largely due to reduced news consumption via Facebook (where changes to Facebook’s news algorithm play a significant role).

Another key finding points to a general sense that the main responsibility for tackling the fake news problem lies with publishers and platforms – very much aligned with findings from a SNCR study in December 2017. The online news landscape keeps evolving rapidly, and overall the Reuters report is optimistic about the news industry.

Listen to episode 20:

Thomas StoeckleThomas Stoeckle is an independent business consultant and researcher in the fields of traditional and social media, and public opinion, with a particular interest in psychology and behavioural insights.

Until November 2017, Thomas led strategic business development at LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions (BIS). Prior to joining LexisNexis, he was group director and global analytics lead at W2O Group, and managing director at Report International (now CARMA).

A marketing communications researcher and business leader with 20-plus years’ experience in helping clients make sense of their global (social) media footprint, and how that affects perception and reputation, he believes passionately in meaning and insightful business story-telling through robust data evidence and compelling visualisation.

Originally from Germany, Thomas has been living and working in London for more than 16 years. A digital Neanderthal among digital natives, he is keenly aware that adequate solutions to communications problems demand fluency in the three languages of humans, machines, and business.

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For Immediate Release 147: Tell Me a (Facebook) Story https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/07/24/fir-147-tell-me-a-facebook-story/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/07/24/fir-147-tell-me-a-facebook-story/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2018 06:29:34 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=54277 Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the July edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics: Starbucks and plastic straws (listener comment from Kris Gallagher) British Airways asks customers to post personal data on Twitter ‘to comply with GDPR’ Will Facebook Stories (and Instagram Stories, Messenger Stories, WhatsApp Stories, […]

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Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the July edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics:

  • Starbucks and plastic straws (listener comment from Kris Gallagher)
  • British Airways asks customers to post personal data on Twitter ‘to comply with GDPR’
  • Will Facebook Stories (and Instagram Stories, Messenger Stories, WhatsApp Stories, and Snapchat Stories) change how marketers use social media?
  • Whatever the EU does about copyright laws, expect it to change social media globally
  • Chatrooms come out of closed beta at Reddit
  • Facebook has suspended Crimson Hexagon from accessing data while it investigates how that data is being used
  • New buyers of smart speakers want to reduce the amount of time they spend looking at screens

Also, Gini Dietrich shares her thoughts on companies shrugging off the “E” in the PESO model she helped develop, Dan York has his Tech Report, and more.

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this episode

Links from Dan York’s Report

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Twitter removes fake followers to build trust in follower counts https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/07/16/twitter-removes-fake-followers/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/07/16/twitter-removes-fake-followers/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2018 06:32:58 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=54025 If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in the number of people following you on Twitter, the likeliest reason would be action taken by Twitter last week as part of its efforts to build trust and confidence in follower counts – the number of people who follow others on the social network. In an announcement posted […]

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Twitter profile

If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in the number of people following you on Twitter, the likeliest reason would be action taken by Twitter last week as part of its efforts to build trust and confidence in follower counts – the number of people who follow others on the social network.

In an announcement posted on July 11, Twitter said it had begun a global action to remove suspicious accounts from users’ followers, describing it as a step to improve Twitter and ensure everyone can have confidence in their followers.

As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down. Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop. We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.

Twitter added:

Though the most significant changes are happening in the next few days, follower counts may continue to change more regularly as part of our ongoing work to proactively identify and challenge problematic accounts.

I noticed a drop in followers on my Twitter account, @jangles, over the weekend.

Before and After

From one day to the next, followers dropped from 14,520 to 14,134 – a net loss of 386 followers or roughly a 2.7 percent decline.

Clearly Twitter’s work on weeding out suspect accounts caught many that were following my account. If I understand Twitter’s methodology correctly, such accounts are genuine (ie, created by real people) rather than spam or bot accounts.

In most cases, these accounts were created by real people but we cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it. Spam accounts (sometimes referred to as bots) typically exhibit spammy behavior from the beginning, are increasingly predictable by our systems, and can be automatically shut down with our technology.

(You can read more about “spammy behaviour” in how Twitter is fighting spam and malicious automation on the Twitter blog.)

The New York Times has an analysis that goes deeper into Twitter’s latest moves, focusing on this action as taking aim at a pervasive form of social media fraud.

Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.

It’s often struck me how easy it would be to increase your follower count by purchasing them from companies that sell them (something I have never done, I would note). The Times gives an example of a Florida firm that sold fake followers and other social media engagement to hundreds of thousands of users around the world, including politicians, models, actors and authors.

Twitter executives said that The Times’s reporting pushed them to look more closely at steps the company could take to clamp down on the market for fakes, which is fueled in part by the growing political and commercial value of a widely followed Twitter account. Officials at Twitter acknowledged that easy access to fake followers, and the company’s slowness in responding to the problem, had devalued the influence accumulated by legitimate users, sowing suspicion around those who quickly attained a broad following.

That puts Twitter’s latest move into a bigger context where influence defined in part by how many followers a person has on Twitter plays a major role in attracting the interest of advertisers who want to use influential social media users to reach customers.

The Times says consumer goods giant Unilever – the world’s second-largest advertiser, spending $8.9 billion on marketing in 2017 – would no longer pay influencers who purchased followers. It quotes Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO, praising Twitter’s latest move.

People will believe more and read more on Twitter if they know there is less bot activity and more human activity. I would encourage and ask others to follow.

(More: Unilever takes stand against digital media’s fake followers.)

Fake followers, “problematic accounts,” spam and bots add up to a toxic mix of distrust. If Twitter’s latest actions do result in weeding out fake followers and other bad actors, then a reduction in your follower count is a good thing.

After all, quality not quantity is the key word.

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For Immediate Release 143: Fired by mistake by an AI https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/06/26/fir-143-fired-by-an-ai/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/06/26/fir-143-fired-by-an-ai/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 06:53:18 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=53509 Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the June edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics: An employee was mistakenly fired by an AI system and managers stood by powerless to correct the mistake. Was AI really to blame? IBM has introduced an AI designed for debate, which could mean […]

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Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the June edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics:

  • An employee was mistakenly fired by an AI system and managers stood by powerless to correct the mistake. Was AI really to blame?
  • IBM has introduced an AI designed for debate, which could mean there’s finally an unbiased devil’s advocate to point out the flaws in your business plan.
  • There is no minimizing the threat to the Internet posed by the draconian copyright restrictions the European Parliament could vote into law as early as the first week of July.
  • A couple of PRSA members are proposing an overhaul of ethics rules to make sure they apply to the group’s executive board (and making their case hasn’t been easy).
  • The World Cup is using a Video Assisted Referee, which would have applications far beyond sports.
  • Facebook is testing paid monthly Group subscriptions.
  • Dan York reports on the impending identification by Google Chrome of all http sites as “not secure,” Google’s dedicated podcast app for Android, Instagram’s launch of IGTV (which accommodates videos up to an hour long), and an iOS update that adds some pretty cool audio editing directly from an iPad.

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

FIR 143 The Hobson & Holtz Report

Listen Now

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this episode

Links from Dan York’s report

(Photo at top by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash)

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SDF Podcast 19: Is GDPR much ado about nothing? https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/06/17/sdf-podcast-19-is-gdpr-much-ado-about-nothing/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/06/17/sdf-podcast-19-is-gdpr-much-ado-about-nothing/#respond Sun, 17 Jun 2018 08:28:34 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=53345 Ten days after the EU General Data Protection Regulation came into action, the SmallDataForum convened to provide initial assessments and perspectives. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Are we witnessing comedy or drama? Much ado about nothing or the end of the world as we know it? Clearly it is much too […]

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GDPR

Ten days after the EU General Data Protection Regulation came into action, the SmallDataForum convened to provide initial assessments and perspectives. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle.

Are we witnessing comedy or drama? Much ado about nothing or the end of the world as we know it?

Clearly it is much too early to tell, and yet (of course) we found a lot to discuss, from varying levels of preparedness (not just on businesses’ side, but also among governments, regulators etc), to impacts on the data-driven digital advertising business, to the next level of EU rule regarding electronic communication, the so-called ePrivacy Regulation.

Among the early legal cases, the most prominent so far is Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems’s challenge of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (reported by the Irish Times). Sam points out that Schrems, the man behind the None of Your Business website (www.noyb.eu) may be politically motivated, but if his claim has merit, then it will be interesting to see whether the Irish regulator will be willing to see the case through. As bookies are offering odds on which company (or companies) might be hit with a fine first, we reserve judgment (although Sam sticks with an earlier prediction that Uber might be one of the first ones in trouble).

My own early experience is with the DSGVO, the hefty German acronym for the even heftier compound noun ‘Datenschutzgrundverordnung’. Working with an SME in the information business in Germany, I experienced the HR team and the nominated data protection officer grappling with the fine print of the regulation, both with regard to employee data, and with client data and websites. As an abstract political regulation is being filled with meaning through the interactions of the involved stakeholders, it appears that smaller businesses are more burdened by compliance, than the larger firms that the regulation is targeted at.

What is becoming clear is that everybody is underprepared: businesses, customers, regulators, enforcers: the interpretation and application of rules are co-evolving; data protection officers in companies and in government are learning the ropes just as legal counsel and IT consultants. And every stakeholder and representative has their organisation’s interests in mind first and foremost…

We might experience legal chain reactions where brands (advertisers) get sued, only to sue their agencies in turn. The only obvious beneficiary would be the legal profession. Already communication agencies are complaining that they are being forced by their clients to sign new MSAs (master service agreements) which stipulate them to accept responsibility for GDPR violations, for example where a brand’s website violates GDPR (this Digiday story has some detail).

Both Sam and Neville share their experiences with delving deeper into the privacy settings of their devices and the social platforms they’re using. After years and years of most of us almost sleepwalking into ever more generous, unwitting data sharing, finally we are getting more cognisant and cautious. Tech websites and users are sharing ways to improve security settings, such as this list of checks on iOS Gadget Hacks, and advice by The Verge on how to improve your online privacy. For Neville, the case is clear: he doesn’t trust Facebook, and regards Google as ‘less evil’.

We all noticed immediate improvements in the reduction of pointless marketing emails, and the flurry of desperate activities by digital marketers prior to the GDPR deadline (“please don’t leave us…”) was cause for much hilarity. Check out the GDPR Hall of Shame for some highlights.

Meanwhile, The Internet Society (where Neville works) offered a differentiated take on GDPR. It is focused on how Europe is putting itself in a position to achieve two things: first, provide some much-needed substance to the global debate on Internet privacy (which has long been a philosophical debate with few tangible results), and second, to position itself as a de facto global regulator for privacy. It will be interesting to see whether and how Europe will be able to enforce the GDPR regulation, not least in the light of pending international trade wobbles following the new trade tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. This Bloomberg opinion piece by the economist Tyler Cowen discusses the topics in context to each other.

GDPR might only be the first step, however. The next piece of EU rule is almost ready to launch: referring to a New York Times feature, Neville outlines how the planned ePrivacy Regulation regarding electronic communication might have a much more profound impact on the industry. Already there is a lot of hype and fear-mongering from tech firms, their supporters and representatives, about how data privacy legislation will chill and ultimately kill innovations.

Yet for all the lobbying and doom-saying, businesses are making sure they play by the (evolving) rules. Even Google, although their central role in digital advertising came under intense scrutiny as programmatic ad buying plummeted in Europe around GDPR day. According to Digiday, this was largely due to Google leaving it to the last minute to inform its ad platform partners that there would be “short-term disruption” until integration into the Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and IAB Tech Lab’s GDPR Transparency & Consent Framework has been completed. According to a Google spokesperson, the company has “worked with our third-party exchange partners to develop an interim solution to minimize disruption while we finalize integration with the IAB framework.” GDPR didn’t exactly happen overnight. In fact it came into existence in 2016. For Google to now put interim solutions in place, for some observers that does have a whiff of arrogance to it.

It’s early days, and we will continue to monitor and analyse what’s happening in this space. In about a month’s time, we will get together again and share our latest findings and thoughts. As always, watch this space.

Listen to episode 19:

Thomas Stoeckle is an independent business consultant and researcher in the fields of traditional and social media, and public opinion, with a particular interest in psychology and behavioural insights.

Until November 2017, Thomas led strategic business development at LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions (BIS). Prior to joining LexisNexis, he was group director and global analytics lead at W2O Group, and managing director at Report International (now CARMA).

A marketing communications researcher and business leader with 20-plus years’ experience in helping clients make sense of their global (social) media footprint, and how that affects perception and reputation, he believes passionately in meaning and insightful business story-telling through robust data evidence and compelling visualisation.

Originally from Germany, Thomas has been living and working in London for more than 16 years. A digital Neanderthal among digital natives, he is keenly aware that adequate solutions to communications problems demand fluency in the three languages of humans, machines, and business.

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For Immediate Release 139: Augmented PR https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/29/fir-139-augmented-pr/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/29/fir-139-augmented-pr/#respond Tue, 29 May 2018 06:22:08 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=53042 Neville and Shel get together via YouTube Hangout for the May 2018 installment of “The Hobson & Holtz Report,” with conversations about… GDPR, which officially went into effect on Friday May 25 BuzzFeed’s live-streaming experiment on Twitch CIPR’s white paper on the role of Artificial Intelligence in public relations Google is under pressure to up […]

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Neville and Shel get together via YouTube Hangout for the May 2018 installment of “The Hobson & Holtz Report,” with conversations about…

  • GDPR, which officially went into effect on Friday May 25
  • BuzzFeed’s live-streaming experiment on Twitch
  • CIPR’s white paper on the role of Artificial Intelligence in public relations
  • Google is under pressure to up its podcasting game
  • Google lets you see your history of interactions and it’s a lot less creepy than Facebook
  • Generation Z will bypass politics and engage via consumerism
  • Dan York reports on GDPR, Airbnb’s travel “stories,” Anchor’s new mobile import feature, and WordPress’ 15th anniversary

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this week’s episode

Links from Dan York’s Report

(Photo at top by rawpixel on Unsplash)

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SDF Podcast 18: Inertia, ethics, and breaches of trust https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/10/sdf-podcast-18-inertia-ethics-and-breaches-of-trust/ Thu, 10 May 2018 20:16:35 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/06/5900-revision-v1/ Data, data everywhere, but ethics in short supply. The latest episode of the Small Data Forum podcast follows the classic narrative arc of a three-act story. Beginning, middle, and end. The set-up, the confrontation, and the resolution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And although our wide-ranging discussion did run the risk of leaving all three co-hosts in […]

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Data, data everywhere, but ethics in short supply.

The latest episode of the Small Data Forum podcast follows the classic narrative arc of a three-act story. Beginning, middle, and end. The set-up, the confrontation, and the resolution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

And although our wide-ranging discussion did run the risk of leaving all three co-hosts in the depths of despair, Neville HobsonThomas Stoeckle, and I end up hoping that the asteroid NASA predicts is hurtling towards earth can be diverted from its nihilistic path.

This episode’s show notes were written by Sam Knowles.

We kick off considering the implications of Google recently losing a landmark “right to be forgotten” case in the UK courts. For me, the case says more about national (courts) and supranational (the EU) organisations looking to flex – and being seen to flex – their regulatory and legislative muscles in the face of the increasing hegemony of FAANG. Facebook Apple Amazon Netflix and Google.

This takes us naturally to consider yet another month of woes for Facebook. Since we last podded, Zuckerberg has appeared before Congress and the Senate and explained – as patiently as he could to Congressmen and Senators often more than twice his age – how the publisher-platform makes its money; “Senator, we sell ads!”

The company is preparing to be hauled over the coals at the House of Commons Select Committee run by the Department of Culture, Media, and (also) Sport in London. Apparently ham-fistedly, it has on-shoredits data warehouse of European users from Ireland to the U.S.A. “to get around GDPR”. And Money Saving Expert (and millionaire), consumer champion Martin Lewis is suing Facebook for defamation after his image appeared in bogus financial ads. Irony of irony, those ads were programmatically served alongside articles reporting Lewis’ legal action.

As recently as last August, people were talking about the prospect of President Zuckerberg by 2020. That prospect seems remote today.

And yet, and yet …. despite perhaps the worst run of bad news in recent corporate history, ad revenue and profitability at Facebook continue to grow. Big brands aren’t weaning themselves off their Facebook addiction, whatever big beasts including P&G’s Marc Pritchard and Unilever’s Keith Weed might say.

And not just Facebook. The head of Government communications in the UK – the very visible, conference favourite and former flatmate of George Osbourne, Alex Aiken – recently admitted that taking all departments off YouTube in the wake of the ad misplacement scandal stoked by The Times last year for three months had absolutely no impact on campaign KPIs. No fewer people recycling. No less applications for the army. And yet – despite that conclusive evidence – the UK Government is back spending with Alphabet’s video sharing site.

Marketing’s sweariest MBA professor, Mark Ritson, who moonlights as a columnist for Marketing Week, pointed the finger squarely at CMOs who have remained silent in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal … precisely because the psychographic targeting and use of 1st, 2nd, but particularly 3rd-party data has been the stock-in-trade of their digital advertising for years. More evidence of inertia from business to shift out of their shiny new ways of reaching consumers through FAANG.

But Facebook isn’t the only villain in this story. As we concluded in the previous episode  of the podcast, “If it’s free, you are the product”. The CA debacle has made this truism widely discussed for perhaps the first time in the mainstream media and among users. Many have been publicly outraged, and #DeleteFacebook campaigns have circled the globe, including on Facebook and led by some who’ve made billions from Facebook, most notably the cofounder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton.

As with advertisers, so with users. The numbers leaving the platform has been little more than a trickle. Some have tightened security settings – and many have denied Facebook the opportunity to apply facial recognition algorithms to recognise them where they’re untagged as part of a pre-GDPR update. But the threat of losing the chance of being poked by your first love is proving too much of an anchor to users. Inertia rules, despite the very clear appeals to reason.

Perhaps we’re living in the digital equivalent of when Sir Richard Doll first established a conclusive link between smoking and lung cancer in the 1950s, but smoking rates stayed stubbornly high. Indeed, the impact of likes and favourites, retweets and shares is mediated through the very same reward circuitry in the brain as each puff of a cigarette, so perhaps this inertia to shake our digital addiction isn’t surprising. This film says more.

Our conversation broadens from Facebook’s woes – accompanied by brands’ continued support for the tarnished behemoth – to bigger issues.

To discussions of who benefits from the data-driven digital revolution (FAANG rather than citizens).

To an exploration of the murky world of the military-digital industrial complex, exposed in a recent article from Tamsin Shaw in the New York Review of Books.

And to the naivety of the UK Institute of Practitioners of Advertising, in their declared goal of outlawing micro-targeting of voters with political messages in the wake of the CA cock-up.

I contend – as we hurtle towards despair – that ‘twas ever thus, and that it is a mistake to even consider the behaviour of corporations and governments in terms of individual morality. Yes, there are corporations – from Unilever to Kimberley Clark, Harley Davidson to Patagonia – that attempt to “do well by doing good”, to bake triple bottom-line sustainability into how they do business.

But the primary – legal – duty of the officers and board of (particularly) listed or quoted businesses is to maximise return to shareholders, and that can – will – and does bring ethical challenges to the heart of corporate life. The profit motive (almost) always trumps purpose.

More than once, as we come towards the end of our time – on this podcast, not on this planet – Thomas muses on whether our downloaded homunculi will still be discussing these same topics 50 years from now, on episode 618 of the Small Data Forum. And that – for me at least – was the climax or second act turning point of the narrative arc of this episode.

Perhaps, just perhaps, things can feel desperate because – for the first time – many more people (and potentially everyone) has a clear line of sight into what is actually happening. It’s confused, it’s nested and vested, it’s murky and dirty, and ordinary individual citizens don’t seem to have any heft or influence over the corporate-military-industrial complex. But you can’t do anything about anything unless you have line of sight. Hence my grain of optimism.

Neville, too, sees reasons to be cheerful, though rather more prosaically around the preparedness of big business for GDPR. While there are clear Millennium Bug parallels – including the legion consultants who’ve grown fat giving advice to confused corporates – he asserts that the world will most certainly not fall off its axis on 25 May, nor will it be shown to be flat. Neville is encouraged by the flurry of activity evident around compliance, and his optimism surrounds the fact that many companies will be “substantially compliant” by the deadline.

As ever, time is the enemy of we three podcasters. We don’t get to the ethics, legal, and little-big data implications of DNA. As a means of data storage and as permanent record of every citizen’s genetic inheritance, environmental reality, and likely cause and time of death and sickness. Insurance companies must be rubbing their hands with glee.

But more of that next time in episode 19, due to be prepared and served up just in time for GDPR Day.

Listen to episode 18:

Sam Knowles is the Founder & MD of Insight Agents, a corporate and brand storytelling consultancy. His book Narrative by Numbers: How to Tell Powerful & Purposeful Stories with Data was published by Routledge in April 2018. More at www.narrativebynumbers.com

(Photo at top by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash)

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For Immediate Release 134: We start with Starbucks and end with drones https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/24/for-immediate-release-134-we-start-with-starbucks-and-end-with-drones/ Tue, 24 Apr 2018 06:29:32 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=52414 In this April edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Neville and Shel talk about… Starbucks’ response to a racial incident in Philadelphia that went viral and sparked protests In an effort to reduce “noise pollution,” Ghana wants Muslims to issue the call to prayer via WhatsApp The line between earned and paid media is […]

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In this April edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Neville and Shel talk about…

  • Starbucks’ response to a racial incident in Philadelphia that went viral and sparked protests
  • In an effort to reduce “noise pollution,” Ghana wants Muslims to issue the call to prayer via WhatsApp
  • The line between earned and paid media is blurring and consumers don’t care which is which
  • There’s a reckoning coming for terms and conditions
  • Augmented Reality is making huge inroads (except in corporate communications)
  • Journalists in developing countries are using drones and sensors to cover environmental crimes and pollution

In his Tech Report, Dan York reports on what he found when he downloaded his Facebook data, Jordan Peel’s deepfake PSA from Barack Obama, why Chrome’s article recommendation feature could drive huge traffic to publishers, Flickr has been acquired by SmugMug (which plans to revitalize the photo service), and Mozilla has issued a call to storytellers to create content with Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this week’s episode

Links from Dan York’s report

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