Do Not Read Until Monday – August 7

The sun is shining for once on a Friday afternoon – get out and enjoy it: Do Not Read Until Monday.

 

Amazon connects the dots with Alexa – will ads be next?

It was only a matter of time: Amazon’s using Alexa’s ubiquity to tighten its grip on the digital ecosystem like Jeff Bezos’ hand on a kettlebell.

You can now control your TV with Echo, utilize *500* new voice commands for music (if you have Prime), and, uh… look at pictures.

And while Amazon flexes on its competition in the voice assistant / smart speaker space, it’s also luring advertisers, who hope the company can break up the Google-Facebook digital duopoly. With the potential for ad incorporation to Alexa, music and video, a great data set of customers’ purchases and interests, plus existing display and search ads, it’s a good possibility.

 

Facebook is still convinced people need more “Stories” in their lives

Hey, remember when Facebook ripped off Snapchat successively with pretty much all its apps? It seemed laughable as it happened, but now the Instagram and WhatsApp versions have hundreds of millions of users each. Left behind are the versions on Messenger and natively on Facebook, the latter of which Facebook seems dead set on making happen.

Facebook Stories are the new ‘fetch’, apparently.

First, it’s made an option to create ‘public’ stories, opening a door for increased distribution. Days later, it emerged that Stories would be headed to desktop (boldly, one presumes, where no Story had gone before). Added to the fact Facebook seems to be waiting to bring brands and pages on board, it seems we’ll continue to see Facebook push this rarely used feature for at least the near future. Its best bet would be to unite the popular Instagram and WhatsApp versions with the underperforming alternatives to run across channels, but we’ll just have to see about that.

Stories taking off could be a great lead-in to its rumored “video chat device” as an additional form of visual communication. They could also possibly find a home on its other rumored device, a smart speaker with a touchscreen.

To that end, Facebook may be looking to contend with Alexa and Siri as well as Echo and HomePod, as it acquired AI start-up Ozlo, likely to beef up M. AI also found its way to Facebook’s fake news fight this week, and will now be providing language translations on the social network.

Final Facebook note: Soon, links to crappy websites will tank in News Feed. This may mean brands with content-heavy social campaigns should take a hard look at their web performance.

 

This Week In Snapchat Vs. The World: A stealth ‘W’?

The week seemed stacked against Snap. First, much of its stock freed up following a temporary freeze related to its IPO. Its price could have plummeted, but didn’t. Instagram tried to beef by releasing time-spent metrics – a Snap strong suit – for the first time in three years. Meanwhile, Snap dug into its core demographic, developing new products aimed at college students.

It also leaked that Google once offered $30 billion to buy Snapchat, which – rather than seem like a missed opportunity for Snap – more reinforced Google’s haplessness in social than anything. The also got rejected from the S&P 500 but oh hey a very notable advertiser suggested a $100M budget increase for Snap Ads so that even kinda evens out.

Who ripped them off? Mozilla? I guess? But Snap actually ripped off Facebook too.

The Verdict: OK, it’s not quite a W, but even breaking even this week seemed like one.

 

Odds & The End

 

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