How tech companies are trying to make augmented and virtual reality a thing, again

A man wearing a virtual reality headset reaches a hand toward the viewer.
A doctor in Germany testing mixed-reality glasses for use in cardiology.
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

It’s a good time to be a software engineer. And it’s an even better time to be a software engineer who can build virtual or augmented reality.

In the past few years, major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple have been investing in virtual reality (VR) and its sibling technology, augmented reality (AR). Google just released a new “Live View” option in its popular Maps app that uses AR tech to superimpose information onto your field of vision as seen through a smartphone camera. We’ve seen similar examples of simple AR use cases, like the Ikea Place app, which works with your smartphone camera so you can see what certain pieces of furniture might look like in your house. Google is also continuing to improve its ARCore platform so that almost any phone can do things like measure depth.

source: https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/2/11/21121275/augmented-virtual-reality-hiring-software-engineers-hired

Better hardware will undoubtedly unlock a lot of transformative potential for virtual reality — but even more so with augmented reality. Rumors suggest that Apple will release its first AR headset in 2023. Facebook, which sells its own line of Oculus virtual reality headset products, is also betting on augmented reality. Mark Zuckerberg has said he thinks there will be an AR “breakthrough” in the next decade on the technology, and Facebook is investing heavily in the field to be the company to do that. And Microsoft’s new HoloLens 2 is being used for industrial applications like training Airbus cabin crews in virtual airplanes as well as, more controversially, military applications, including helping US soldiers prepare for combat.

The rise of AR

When it comes to the potential of virtual reality technology versus augmented reality, it’s increasingly obvious that AR is where there’s broader popular appeal. While the reach of VR is limited to gamers who wear headsets, major tech companies see VR as a gateway to more wide-reaching possibilities of AR technology. The idea is that AR can reach widespread adoption in our everyday lives, as it does with the new Google Maps feature.

As it stands now, popular AR is app-centric — think Pokemon Go or the Ikea app that lets you envision new furniture in your living room. Both are popular apps, but they’re experiences that you must consciously log into and experience through a smartphone screen. A true AR revolution would be one where the technology seamlessly integrates into our lives without any effort. But the hardware isn’t quite there yet. The gadgets that exist now, like Magic Leap or HoloLens, may be getting closer to the dream of effortless AR, but so far they’ve been proven imperfect for the average human.

It should be noted that anticipation for AR’s big breakout moment has been building for the better part of a decade. Google tried to make AR for everyone — or at least those who could afford a $1,000 gadget — nearly six years ago with Glass, a wearable device that put a small display in front of the user’s eye. The product never reached widespread adoption, though the headset has seen some success in enterprise applications.

Many think Google Glass was ahead of its time, although the technology wasn’t advanced enough yet to justify wearing a Matrix-looking set of glasses on your head all day. With its focus on design and usability, Apple could revolutionize the AR headset space if it indeed builds a product. Others like Microsoft and Facebook are racing to do the same.

Naturally, all these companies are hiring more people to build these new technologies. And now, new data from job-matching site Hired shows just how much these companies have been staffing up. The growth in AR/VR job listings and companies seeking interviews for those jobs took off in the past 12 months; jobs in those categories barely registered on Hired’s radar in previous years.

Facebook currently has more than 3,000 jobs on its career page with the term “AR/VR.” Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have a total of about 1,000, depending on what variations of AR/VR keywords you use. A Facebook spokesperson said it currently employs “thousands” of people who work on AR/VR and plans to move its AR/VR teams to a new campus that will seat approximately 4,000 employees

“Demand is outstripping supply,” Hired CEO Mehul Patel told Recode.

There’s been a 1,400 percent growth in interview demand for AR/VR engineers in the past year, according to Hired. The company conducted a study that analyzed thousands of listings and companies in its annual state of software engineers report.

The overall number of listings has grown exponentially, too. The average salaries for these positions in major US tech hubs range from $135,000 to $150,000.

While the growth for AR/VR jobs may seem extreme, Hired said it mirrors the 517 percent annual growth in demand for blockchain engineers in 2018. Last year, however, the demand for blockchain engineers had slowed to 9 percent.

But while the blockchain craze may have slowed down, the number of AR/VR projects is only expected to increase in the years to come. In terms of the promise of big growth, software engineers tend to agree. Some 74 percent of those surveyed in Hired’s report said they think we’ll see the full impact of AR/VR within the next 5 years.

Meanwhile, plenty of other data points show how the technology industry is betting — and spending big — on AR and VR.

An explosion of inventions

In 2019, more than 7,000 AR/VR inventions were patented globally, more than in any year to date, according to Derwent, a subsidiary of Clarivate Analytics that keeps a comprehensive database of patent information. (Derwent counts inventions rather than patents because a single invention requires numerous patent documents.)

In the 15 years ending in 2017, Microsoft claimed more AR/VR inventions than any other company with 745. Facebook ranked fourth, after Samsung and Huawei. Keep in mind, this data doesn’t yet include the most recent spending growth on AR/VR in the past two years.

The role of education

Since there aren’t enough engineers who are already proficient in coding for AR/VR to meet the hiring demand, Hired says engineers are increasingly looking to self-teaching methods to broaden their skill set, in addition to seeking out computer science training in school. Across the board, AR/VR was second only to machine learning as the most desired field that engineers in Hired’s survey were most interested to learn about.

Stuart Zweben, professor of Computer Science & Engineering at Ohio State University, tracks data on computer science degrees. Zweben told Recode that his data isn’t granular enough to detect whether there’s been a rise in specializations in AR/VR, but depending on the degree program, traditional computer science graduates will likely have at least some of the skills necessary to take introductory jobs in AR/VR. He said, “They should have some basic fundamental skills they can apply to areas like this.”

According to Hired, positions in AR/VR require the ability to work with a large amount of data, generated on the web and stored in cloud databases as well as specific programming languages including React, Java, C++, and SQL.

A growing total market size

Market intelligence company IDC expects global spending on augmented and virtual reality to be nearly $19 billion this year, a growth of 79 percent from the 2019 estimate. That number includes the total of what individual shoppers, companies, governments, and other end consumers are all expected to spend on products like VR headsets and AR glasses and corresponding services.Spending will be led by the commercial sector, including industries like securities and investment services and banking.

While $19 billion may seem big, that’s still only a fraction (a little under 15 percent) of expected overall consumer spending on robotics systems and drones, for example, which was estimated by IDC to be about $127.8 billion next year.

While we know companies are spending big and hiring expensive talent to build out AR/VR, only time will tell if the consumer market continues to grow and those investments will pay off.

VR is already changing the way we play games and watch movies to become more interactive, immersive experiences. AR stands to be even more transformative. Whether we realize it or not, popular social features like live Snapchat and Instagram filters are already leveraging this type of tech. But more profoundly, AR in particular could change the way we live when we’re outside the realm of entertainment, like how we drive to work or buy groceries. At least that’s what tech companies are hoping with their latest AR/VR spending spree.

L’année 2019 a été marquée par une recrudescence d’enquêtes antitrust contre Google, Amazon, Facebook et Apple. Toujours tout-puissants en Bourse, les Gafa sont attaqués de toutes parts et vont devoir répondre de leur prédominance en 2020. (Les Echos)

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Damien Meyer/AFP

Publié le 2 janv. 2020 à 12h06
Mis à jour le 2 janv. 2020 à 20h38

Quid des Gafa en 2020 ? Après une année rocambolesque, marquée par la multiplication des enquêtes antitrust et la persistance de leur toute-puissance boursière, les Google, Apple, Facebook et Amazon ont du pain sur la planche. Attaqués de toutes parts, ils vont notamment devoir répondre de leur prédominance sur le marché publicitaire ou encore à la controverse sur l’utilisation des données personnelles. Tour en douze questions des principaux enjeux de cette année.

Où en sont les enquêtes sur les Gafa ?

L’année 2019 aura vu les enquêtes se multiplier pour les Gafa. La plupart seront longues et elles s’annoncent acharnées. Les géants de la tech ont renforcé leurs équipes juridiques et sont désormais à la tête  d’une armée de lobbyistes, déployés à Washington, à Bruxelles et dans les principales capitales mondiales.

Mais le climat a clairement changé, en particulier dans la classe politique américaine, et les fronts se sont multipliés. Récemment, le président de la Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a confirmé qu’il menait plusieurs enquêtes, en plus de celle, déjà annoncée, concernant Facebook – qui pourrait chercher à bloquer l’intégration des différentes applications, Facebook, Instagram et WhatsApp. Il n’a pas cité de noms, mais il s’agit de « plates-formes aux activités multiples, soupçonnées de pratiques illégales et dont les acquisitions ont été approuvées par les autorités de régulation »…

Aux Etats-Unis, le Département de la Justice a aussi entre les mains le dossier Facebook. Le secrétaire à la Justice, William Barr, a indiqué que le passage en revue des activités concernerait des sujets différents de ceux étudiés par la FTC. Et le Congrès a mis en place ses propres commissions d’enquête sur les Gafa…

Des procédures encore différentes de celles menées au niveau des Etats.  Cinquante procureurs généraux, représentant 48 Etats, se sont en effet regroupés pour chercher à savoir si Google et Facebook ont violé les règles sur la concurrence aux Etats-Unis. Le Texas, qui mène l’enquête sur Google, a récemment indiqué qu’il étendait son enquête, jusqu’ici cantonnée aux activités publicitaires du géant, à Android et au moteur de recherche. L’Etat de New York, qui dirige celle sur Facebook, n’exclut pas de s’intéresser également à la vie privée.

Des préoccupations partagées par l’Europe : Bruxelles vient de lancer une enquête préliminaire sur la collecte et la monétisation des données des utilisateurs de Google.

Les Gafa seront-ils démantelés ?

L’élection présidentielle de novembre prochain aux Etats-Unis donne des sueurs froides à certains acteurs de la Tech. La démocrate  Elizabeth Warren a notamment jugé qu’il était « temps de démanteler Google, Amazon et Facebook ». Elle conteste leur emprise sur la société mais juge aussi que leur poids nuit désormais à l’émergence de nouveaux acteurs innovants.

Sa proposition : séparer la propriété de l’outil technique et son usage quand un groupe dépasse 25 milliards de dollars de chiffre d’affaires. Donald Trump lui-même assure ne pas être très fan des Gafa, mais il les défend dans leur combat fiscal contre la France et n’a pas légiféré pour limiter leur influence. Joe Biden, en tête des sondages pour l’investiture démocrate, a pour l’instant surtout critiqué – parce qu’il en a été victime – les fausses publicités diffusées sans contrôle par Facebook.

Plus que le démantèlement, c’est une régulation plus serrée que les Gafa peuvent craindre, avec de multiples entrées possibles : la concurrence déloyale (quand Apple ou Amazon privilégient leurs services à partir de leurs produits ou de leur plate-forme), la protection et le partage des données personnelles ou encore la réglementation publicitaire, qui reste le coeur des revenus de Google et Facebook.

Qui aura la meilleure part du gâteau publicitaire ?

Plutôt que des Gafa, il faut surtout parler de Google et de Facebook quand il s’agit de mesurer le poids de ces acteurs dans les recettes publicitaires. Google a passé  la barre des 40 milliards de dollars de chiffre d’affaires au troisième trimestre, dont 83 % dans la publicité numérique, et Facebook 18 milliards de dollars de revenus en un trimestre. Selon l’institut Warc, les deux acteurs ont capté l’an dernier 56 % de la publicité numérique mondiale, un chiffre qui pourrait grimper à 61 % cette année. Rapportée au marché total de la publicité – en ligne et traditionnelle -, leur part était encore de près de 25 % l’an dernier.

Google et Facebook voient désormais  entrer sur leur terrain de jeu Amazon. La plate-forme, qui profite de ses places de marché et de sa connaissance fine des consommateurs pour envoyer des messages ciblés, pourrait capter 10 milliards de dollars de recettes publicitaires sur le marché américain cette année, soit près de 8 % du marché, selon une étude de e-marketer.

Les grandes plates-formes risquent donc de continuer à prendre des parts de marché sur les acteurs historiques que sont notamment les éditeurs de presse et la télévision. Et les tentatives de régulation et de partage des revenus se sont pour l’instant heurtées à un mur. Comme avec la « taxe Gafa » sur le chiffre d’affaires des grandes plates-formes, la France, qui a été  la première à avoir transposé la directive européenne sur le droit voisin pour la presse, espère faire reconnaître un abus de position dominante de Google et parvenir à un accord.

Ont-ils gagné la bataille du cloud ?

La tortue européenne peut-elle rattraper le lièvre américain ? Dans le domaine des infrastructures informatiques à la demande, la fable a peu de chances de se terminer comme dans la version originale. Les trois géants du cloud – Amazon, Microsoft et Google – ont pris dix ans d’avance sur la concurrence.

Le premier a inventé le concept avec sa filiale AWS créée en 2006. Il contrôle aujourd’hui plus du tiers de ce fabuleux marché, évalué à 100 milliards de dollars en 2019, et en croissance de 40 % par an. Son premier poursuivant, Microsoft Azure, est deux fois plus petit. Google Cloud quatre fois. A eux trois, c’est plus de la moitié du gâteau mondial du cloud. Avec les profits, mais aussi  les innovations et les économies d’échelle qui vont avec. A côté, le champion tricolore OVH, avec ses 600 millions d’euros de revenus attendus en 2019 – soit moins de 1 % du marché mondial -, pèse très peu.

Les seuls à pouvoir faire un peu d’ombre à l’Oncle Sam, ce sont les géants chinois du cloud : Alibaba et Tencent. Ce dernier vient d’annoncer  un investissement de plus de 10 milliards d’euros dans ses infrastructures cloud en Europe. Et en a profité pour expliquer aux autorités du Vieux Continent que la compétition mondiale était « largement passée ».

L’Europe a pourtant encore des ambitions, dopées par les inquiétudes  sur la protection des données personnelles ou industrielles. La France sonde ainsi les industriels tricolores pour bâtir  un « cloud de confiance », sept ans après l’échec fracassant des « clouds souverains »  Numergy et Cloudwatt. L’Allemagne pousse un  « cloud européen » baptisé Gaia-X. La volonté politique suffira-t-elle ? Il y a quelques années, la possibilité, voire l’intérêt, de concurrencer le GPS américain avec Galileo paraissait mince. Et pourtant il tourne…

Les banques vont-elles disparaître au profit des Gafa ?

Apple, qui  vient de lancer une carte bancaire avec Goldman Sachs, Google, qui se prépare à proposer un compte courant avec Citigroup l’an prochain… Depuis leur entrée sur le marché des moyens de paiement avec Apple Pay ou Google Pay, les Gafa misent sur le secteur bancaire pour se diversifier. Certains ont même des ambitions plus grandes, comme Facebook qui avait réuni une palette de partenaires bancaires pour lancer une cryptomonnaie, le Libra.

L’offensive de Facebook sur un sujet éminemment souverain a finalement déclenché plus de craintes que d’admiration, au moment où Mark Zuckerberg est la cible de critiques tous azimuts de la part des régulateurs et des parlementaires. Résultat, le projet de Libra est regardé avec circonspection et les partenaires bancaires sont partis un à un.

« Le Libra, c’est pour l’instant surtout une idée mais cela a forcé les régulateurs à se poser à nouveau la question de ce qu’est une banque », jugeait récemment un banquier américain. Début décembre, un rapport des superviseurs du G20 fédérés dans le Conseil de stabilité financière (FSB) a pointé  les risques que fait peser la « Big Tech » – avec des acteurs peu nombreux et maîtres du cloud – sur les performances des banques traditionnelles, et donc in fine sur la stabilité du système financier.

La santé, nouvel eldorado des Gafa?

Partenariat avec plusieurs laboratoires pharmaceutiques pour améliorer les essais cliniques, création de nouvelles divisions dédiées à la santé dirigées par des professeurs de médecine réputés, ouverture de cliniques pour leurs salariés… En 2019, les Gafa ont multiplié les annonces dans le domaine de la santé, un marché fragmenté représentant un cinquième du PIB des Etats-Unis qu’ils veulent disrupter.

La révélation en novembre par le « Wall Street Journal » du projet Nightingale de Google a confirmé le niveau  de leurs ambitions dans ce domaine. Ascension Health, le deuxième plus gros gestionnaire d’hôpitaux des Etats-Unis, a passé un partenariat avec le géant de Mountain View pour  transférer les dossiers médicaux de plus de 50 millions de patients vers ses serveurs informatiques. Objectif ? Suggérer des traitements aux médecins en appliquant ses outils d’intelligence artificielle aux données.

La nouvelle a suivi de peu l’annonce de  son offre de rachat de Fitbit,le fabricant de bracelets connectés dont les dernières versions permettent de surveiller son sommeil et son rythme cardiaque. La société ne veut pas se laisser distancer par Apple, qui a déjà positionné sa montre connectée comme appareil préventif. Depuis l’année dernière, deux des plus gros assureurs américains subventionnent les Apple Watch. Le géant à la pomme pourrait aller plus loin cette année avec des appareils mesurant le taux de glucose. Reste un mur à franchir :  la surveillance accrue des régulateurs et la défiance des patients à la suite des différents scandales sur leurs traitements des données.

Fiscalité du numérique : jusqu’où ira le duel Washington-Paris ?

Tout est à refaire, ou presque. Alors que les négociations semblaient avancer à l’OCDE, Paris et Washington ont connu un automne brûlant. L’administration Trump avait pourtant donné des signaux positifs, envisageant une solution concertée au niveau international et adoubant les  principes énoncés par l’OCDE (taxation des activités dans un pays même si la société n’a pas de présence physique, définition d’un taux minimum d’impôt sur les sociétés…).

Mais depuis, elle a fait volte-face et fait savoir à ses partenaires que, pour elle, ces mesures ne pouvaient être que… facultatives. Et en attendant qu’une solution soit trouvée, qui remplacerait la taxe Gafa adoptée en France, Washington a annoncé des  mesures de représailles, qui pourraient taxer jusqu’à 100 % des fromages français, du champagne, etc. Un arsenal soumis à une consultation publique jusqu’au 14 janvier.

Dans l’immédiat, les grandes plates-formes vont devoir s’acquitter des taxes en France. Elles pourraient être remboursées si une solution internationale était adoptée et que cet impôt était moins élevé que la taxe française. Mais, pour cela, il faudra se rasseoir à la table des négociations…

En attendant, Google a annoncé cette semaine qu’il arrêterait d’utiliser un mécanisme d’optimisation fiscale « Double Irish, Double Dutch sandwich » qui lui permettait de repousser le paiement de ses impôts aux Etats-Unis. Washington avait exhorté les sociétés qui y avaient recours à mettre fin à cette pratique avant 2020.

Les salariés des Gafa vont-ils suivre ou se rebeller ?

Ramener les entreprises technologiques dans le droit chemin : c’est la mission que se fixe un nombre croissant de salariés des Gafa. Longtemps apathiques,  quelques milliers d’entre eux multiplient désormais les manifestations et lettres ouvertes pour protester contre les pratiques internes et les choix stratégiques de leurs employeurs. Une douzaine est même allée jusqu’à démissionner.

La mobilisation est particulièrement forte chez Google, entreprise qui a toujours encouragé ses salariés à exprimer leurs opinions. Après la manifestation d’un quart des effectifs du groupe en novembre 2018 à la suite du traitement généreux de dirigeants accusés de harcèlement sexuel, leur activisme a permis d’améliorer les conditions de travail des intérimaires, de stopper la fourniture d’outils d’intelligence artificielle au Pentagone et de mettre fin à un projet de retour du moteur de recherche en Chine.

Le géant de Mountain View cherche désormais à torpiller une mobilisation qui ne faiblit pas. Après avoir réduit l’accès des « Googlers » aux documents ne les concernant pas directement, il a diminué le champ et la fréquence des réunions permettant aux salariés d’interroger la direction puis licencié cinq salariés activistes au cours des deux derniers mois. Reste à voir si cela sera suffisant pour étouffer un mouvement qui, s’il reste limité à une minorité d’employés, est de plus en plus vocal. Et si cette résistance ne va pas plutôt pousser les activistes à former un véritable syndicat.

Quel sera leur parcours boursier ?

Malgré les enquêtes qui se multiplient, malgré la guerre commerciale qui les a  sérieusement menacés, les Gafa ont battu des records boursiers en 2019, dans le sillage d’un Nasdaq qui a gagné 36 % en un an. Amazon a gagné 23 %, Alphabet 28 %, Facebook s’est envolé de 56 % et Apple de 85 % ! Ce dernier a engrangé plus de 530 milliards de capitalisation boursière en douze mois. Les marchés ont salué leurs résultats, portés par le contexte économique favorable aux Etats-Unis. Difficile, a priori, de faire mieux en 2020, alors que Wall Street pourrait hésiter face aux incertitudes internationales et se montrer relativement attentiste jusqu’à l’élection présidentielle américaine.

Les analystes s’attendent néanmoins à voir Apple franchir allègrement la barre des 300 dollars à la Bourse de New York, porté par les ventes de ses accessoires lors des fêtes de fin d’année. Ceux-ci (les AirPods et les Apple Watch notamment) pourraient doper les résultats du quatrième trimestre.

Les voyants sont aussi au vert pour Facebook. Les analystes d’Aegis Capital ont récemment relevé leur objectif de cours de 235 dollars à 300 dollars (contre un peu plus de 200 actuellement), optimistes sur les progrès de la monétisation de WhatsApp et Messenger, deux services contrôlés par le géant des réseaux sociaux. Quant à Amazon, UBS a fixé un objectif à 2.100 dollars par action sur douze mois, contre un peu plus de 1.800 actuellement, enthousiasmé par les activités de cloud.

Gafa versus BATX chinois : qui va gagner ?En 2020, la bataille va toujours faire rage entre les Gafa et les  BATX chinois. Derrière cet acronyme se cachent Baidu (moteur de recherche et voiture autonome), Alibaba (e-commerce et paiement mobile), Tencent (réseaux sociaux et jeux vidéo) et Xiaomi,  le quatrième fabricant mondial de smartphones.

Les quatre géants chinois sont les seules entreprises au monde à avoir l’échelle et la puissance de frappe financière pour rivaliser avec les Gafa américains. Avec 1,1 milliard d’utilisateurs sur sa messagerie WeChat, Tencent talonne Facebook (2,4 milliards de personnes) et sa capitalisation boursière fait des grands pas (458 milliards de dollars contre 585 milliards pour Facebook). Comme les Gafa, les BATX ont aussi enclenché un énorme mouvement de diversification (vers la voiture autonome, les contenus, l’intelligence artificielle…) fondé sur la croissance externe. Leur méthode privilégiée de développement reste en effet les acquisitions, tandis que sur ce terrain les Gafa américains sont plus prudents.

De plus en plus présents en Europe,  à l’image de Tencent qui vient de racheter 10 % du capital du français Universal Music, les BATX le sont toutefois encore peu aux Etats-Unis, en raison de la méfiance qu’ils suscitent, particulièrement depuis l’arrivée de Donald Trump à la Maison Blanche.

A ce stade, seule TikTok, l’application de vidéos éphémères du chinois ByteDance, a fait une percée fulgurante. Plus de 26 millions d’Américains utilisent la plate-forme, dont 60 % ont entre 16 et 24 ans, selon les chiffres officiels. Mieux, en 2018, TikTok a été davantage téléchargée dans le pays que Facebook, Instagram ou Snapchat.

Quels progrès peut-on attendre sur la protection de la vie privée ?

C’est la question explosive qui a fait tomber Facebook de son piédestal et forcé Mark Zuckerberg à multiplier les actes de contrition après  le scandale Cambridge Analytica . Comment empêcher les données personnelles des internautes d’être amassées, redistribuées et utilisées à tort et à travers pour des motifs parfois peu avouables ? C’est tout le modèle économique d’Internet – et de Google et Facebook en premier lieu – qui est en question.

Une pseudo-gratuité où, pour accéder à des services de grande qualité devenus parfois quasi indispensables, il faut accepter d’être pisté en permanence. Ce que Shoshana Zuboff résume par le titre de  son récent ouvrage : « L’âge du capitalisme de surveillance » . Où je suis, qui je contacte, qu’est-ce que j’aime… quantité d’informations peuvent dresser un portrait unique et extrêmement précis d’un individu.

« Les ‘J’aime’ sur Facebook permettent de déduire l’orientation sexuelle avec une précision de 88 % », note l’Institut Montaigne dans  une récente étude sur l’insuffisante protection des données personnelles . De quoi faire le bonheur des annonceurs… mais aussi le miel des services d’espionnage, le lit des fake news et le malheur de la démocratie.

Une prise de conscience s’amorce. Facebook comme Google offrent des outils aux utilisateurs pour gérer leurs informations personnelles. Apple fait de la protection de la vie privée  un argument marketing phare , même s’il ne peut pas contrôler toutes les données personnelles exfiltrées par les applications mobiles pour iPhone. L’Europe, suivie par la Californie ou l’Inde, a durci son cadre légal avec le RGPD.

Est-ce suffisant ? Certains plaident pour  un renforcement drastique de ces garde-fous. Mais certainement pas les Gafa. Les mauvaises pratiques de Facebook en matière de respect de la vie privée lui ont déjà valu  5 milliards de dollars d’amende aux Etats-Unis l’été dernier. Un cadre plus restrictif sur le pistage des internautes coûterait autrement plus cher à la tech américaine.

Quelles sont les grandes innovations attendues en 2020 ?

En 2020, les Gafa vont devoir réaffirmer leur capacité d’innovation, parfois « folle », dans tous les domaines. Voiture autonome, cerveau connecté, conquête de l’espace, réalité virtuelle… sont autant de chantiers.

Entre eux, c’est à celui qui surprendra le plus avec une innovation hors norme. Facebook cherche carrément  à supprimer la commande manuelle des smartphones et des ordinateurs, avec, à terme, un bracelet décodant l’activité des neurones en signaux numériques. La simple intention de poster une photo sur Instagram… suffirait à déclencher l’action !

Google lui met les bouchées doubles sur la voiture autonome, après l’acquisition d’une start-up britannique qui apprend aux machines à répliquer le comportement des humains. Le géant de Mountain View espère ainsi améliorer la réaction de ses véhicules autonomes en cas d’événement imprévu, par exemple lorsqu’un piéton traverse subitement la rue.

Amazon, pour sa part, a promis de lancer « dans les prochains mois » son nouveau drone autonome et électrique, Prime Air, qui pourra livrer les colis aux clients situés dans un rayon de 24 kilomètres en seulement…une demie-heure.

Apple travaille sur un casque de réalité augmentée, alors que l’entreprise  se renforce dans les jeux vidéos  avec Arcade et  les contenus avec Apple TV+. L’appétit d’Apple pour la réalité augmentée est devenu encore plus manifeste fin 2019  avec le rachat de la start-up Ikinema, son huitième rachat dans ce secteur au cours des dernières années.

Il faut aussi s’attendre à des prouesses côté puissance de calcul.  Google a ainsi revendiqué avoir atteint la « suprématie quantique » en mettant au point un algorithme qu’un ordinateur classique est incapable de faire tourner, provoquant un bras de fer avec IBM, qui conteste l’avancée de son concurrent.

La maison du futur devrait aussi être un enjeu important. Mouvement fort dans ce secteur où les Gafa ont longtemps été rivaux avec des écosystèmes concurrents (Assistant pour Google, Siri chez Apple et Alexa côté Amazon) :  les trois géants viennent de faire la paix pour élaborer d’ici à la fin 2020 un protocole commun.  Objectif : pouvoir piloter les différents objets connectés de la maison depuis n’importe quelle interface, et supprimer ainsi les problèmes actuels d’incompatibilité, dans ce secteur en pleine explosion. Un vrai changement d’ère…

 

Véronique Le Billon et Nicolas Rauline à New York, Anaïs Moutot à San Francisco, Sébastien Dumoulin, Raphaël Balenier

Goodbye, Facebook News Feed: 9 Things Publishers Need to Know About the News Feed Armageddon (Source: Inc)

CREDIT: Getty Images

Earlier today, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced the end of the Facebook News Feed as we know it.

In a nutshell, public posts from brands, pages, and publishers are being diminished in a substantial way from the Facebook News Feed.

Here are nine things you need to know about the impending news feed Armageddon:

1. In the near future, page posts from brands and publishers will be scored differently from posts from friends.

Facebook determines which status updates you see and in what order they appear in your news feed, by calculating a post ranking score for each status update.

Currently, this algorithm optimizes for time spent onsite and looks at other engagement metrics such as “likes,” clicks, comments, and shares of posts. Basically, Facebook wants you to be glued to Facebook as much as possible.

Going forward, the weightings of signals in the news feed algorithm will change dramatically. Posts from family and friends will be much more prominent, and posts from publisher pages will be suppressed, as much as 5x.

2. Zuckerberg is doing it to save Facebook.

Earlier this year, Zuckerberg acknowledged the damage the Facebook community is causing in the world, saying “Facebook has a lot of work to do,” and has made fixing it his personal challenge for 2018.

3. The effect on post-engagement will be devastating.

Some are saying that this change isn’t a big deal, as Facebook organic post reach has been declining for many years now.

We estimate that currently, average page reach per post is approximately 2 to 5 percent–meaning that if 100 people opted in to “liking” your page, only two to five of them are likely to see one of your posts.

But Zuckerberg says that publisher posts in aggregate still account for most of the content people see in their news feed. This is because publishers push out substantially more updates than regular users do (e.g., 10, 100, or even 1000 per day). So even if individual post reach is low, Facebook overall still generates an enormous amount of free exposure for brands.

Since Zuckerberg is saying that Facebook would like most updates to come from friends, we estimate that publishers will on average see an 80 percent reduction in page reach, clicks, and engagement. We view this as a devastating new reduction in publisher engagement, despite falling engagement rates over the past few years.

4. Time spent on Facebook will plummet.

Zuckerberg says that “by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down.”

5. Ad prices will skyrocket.

Zuckerberg adds: “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.” This is true not only for users but also advertisers.

If people are spending less time watching funny videos and consuming fake news on Facebook, it means that there’s going to be less ad inventory to purchase. Furthermore, desperate brands and publishers will likely resort to spending more on Facebook ads to revive their dead organic post reach. The combination of decreased supply of ads and increased advertiser competition will most certainly yield.

We estimate that Facebook ad costs have increased by approximately 41 percent in the past year, given the increased popularity of Facebook ads alone. The new change could increase ad prices by substantially more going forward.

6. Facebook acknowledges that spending time browsing videos and news on Facebook is bad for your health.

Zuckerberg explains that the news feed is bad for your brain: “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being. So we’ve studied this trend carefully by looking at the academic research and doing our own research with leading experts at universities.”

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

7. Publishers that resort to engagement-baiting will be punished.

Many advertisers bait users into engaging with their content with offers that promise a coupon code or other incentive for liking a publisher post, as a way to manufacture artificial engagement. Going forward, Facebook says, these tactics will result in demotion of post rank.

8. Meaningful discussion among friends matters the most.

Facebook says that “liking” a post is just a passive activity and is therefore a less meaningful signal to use for ranking purposes. The company intends to prioritize posts on the basis of how much meaningful discussion they spark. For example, posts that require longer-form responses and subsequent follow-up replies from your friends are the type that will do well.

9. Users can still opt into seeing posts from the pages they follow at the top of News Feed.

Users who want to see more posts from pages they follow or help ensure they see posts from certain pages can choose “See First” in News Feed Preferences.

Closing Thoughts

It’s time to re-think our Facebook marketing strategy and tactics. For more information, check out our Facebook News Feed Armageddon Survival Guide.

Sheryl Sandberg Explains the Most Important Thing to Get Right on Facebook

Why AI Is the ‘New Electricity’ (Source: Wharton)

Source: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/ai-new-electricity/

Just as electricity transformed the way industries functioned in the past century, artificial intelligence — the science of programming cognitive abilities into machines — has the power to substantially change society in the next 100 years. AI is being harnessed to enable such things as home robots, robo-taxis and mental health chatbots to make you feel better.

A startup is developing robots with AI that brings them closer to human level intelligence. Already, AI has been embedding itself in daily life — such as powering the brains of digital assistants Siri and Alexa. It lets consumers shop and search online more accurately and efficiently, among other tasks that people take for granted.

“AI is the new electricity,” said Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera and an adjunct Stanford professor who founded the Google Brain Deep Learning Project, in a keynote speech at the AI Frontiers conference that was held this past weekend in Silicon Valley. “About 100 years ago, electricity transformed every major industry. AI has advanced to the point where it has the power to transform” every major sector in coming years. And even though there’s a perception that AI was a fairly new development, it has actually been around for decades, he said. But it is taking off now because of the ability to scale data and computation.

Ng said most of the value created through AI today has been through supervised learning, in which an input of X leads to Y. But there have been two major waves of progress: One wave leverages deep learning to enable such things as predicting whether a consumer will click on an online ad after the algorithm gets some information about him. The second wave came when the output no longer has to be a number or integer but things like speech recognition, a sentence structure in another language or audio. For example, in self-driving cars, the input of an image can lead to an output of the positions of other cars on the road.

Indeed, deep learning — where a computer learns from datasets to perform functions, instead of just executing specific tasks it was programmed to do — was instrumental in achieving human parity in speech recognition, said Xuedong Huang, who led the team at Microsoft on the historic achievement in 2016 when their system booked a 5.9% error rate, the same as a human transcriptionist. “Thanks to deep learning, we were able to reach human parity after 20 years,” he said at the conference. The team has since lowered the error rate even more, to 5.1%.

“We have cheap motors, sensors, batteries, plastics and processors … why don’t we have Rosie?”–Dileep George

The Rise of Digital Assistants

Starting in 2010, the quality of speech recognition began to improve for the industry, eventually leading to the creation of Siri and Alexa. “Now, you almost take it for granted,” Ng said. That’s not all; speech is expected to replace touch-typing for input, said Ruhi Sarikaya, director of Amazon Alexa. The key to greater accuracy is to understand the context. For example, if a person asks Alexa what he should do for dinner, the digital assistant has to assess his intent. Is he asking Alexa to make a restaurant reservation, order food or find a recipe? If he asks Alexa to find ‘Hunger Games,’ does he want the music, video or audiobook?

And what’s next for the digital assistant is an even more advanced undertaking — to understand “meaning beyond words,” said Dilek Hakkani-Tur, research scientist at Google. For example, if the user uses the words “later today,” it could mean 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner or 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for meetings. This next level up also calls for more complex and lively conversations, multi-domain tasks and interactions beyond domain boundaries, she said. Moreover, Hakkani-Tur said, digital assistants should be able to do things such as easily read and summarize emails.

After speech, ‘computer vision’ — or the ability of computers to recognize images and categorize them — was the next to leap, speakers said. With many people uploading images and video, it became cumbersome to add metadata to all content as a way to categorize them. Facebook built an AI to understand and categorize videos at scale called Lumos, said Manohar Paluri, a research lead at the company. Facebook uses Lumos to do data collection of, for example, fireworks images and videos. The platform can also use people’s poses to identify a video, such as categorizing people lounging around on couches as hanging out.

“Her job is to bring a spot of life to your home. She provides entertainment — she can play music, podcasts, audiobooks.”–Kaijen Hsiao

What’s critical is to ascertain the primary semantic content of the uploaded video, added Rahul Sukthankar, head of video understanding at Google. And to help the computer correctly identify what’s in the video — for example, whether professionals or amateurs are dancing — his team mines YouTube for similar content that AI can learn from, such as having a certain frame rate for non-professional content. Sukthankar adds that a promising direction for future research is to do computer training using videos. So if a robot is shown a video of a person pouring cereal into a bowl at multiple angles, it should learn by watching.

At Alibaba, AI is used to boost sales. For example, shoppers of its Taobao e-commerce site can upload a picture of a product they would like to buy, like a trendy handbag sported by a stranger on the street, and the website will come up with handbags for sale that come closest to the photo. Alibaba also uses augmented reality/virtual reality to make people see and shop from stores like Costco. On its Youku video site, which is similar to YouTube, Alibaba is working on a way to insert virtual 3D objects into people’s uploaded videos, as a way to increase revenue. That’s because many video sites struggle with profitability. “YouTube still loses money,” said Xiaofeng Ren, a chief scientist at Alibaba.

Rosie and the Home Robot

But with all the advances in AI, it’s still no match for the human brain. Vicarious is a startup that aims to close the gap by developing human level intelligence in robots. Co-founder Dileep George said that the components are there for smarter robots.  “We have cheap motors, sensors, batteries, plastics and processors … why don’t we have Rosie?” He was referring to the multipurpose robot maid in the 1960s space-age cartoon The Jetsons. George said the current level of AI is like what he calls the “old brain,” similar to the cognitive ability of rats. The “new brain” is more developed such as what’s seen in primates and whales.

George said the “old brain” AI gets confused when small inputs are changed. For example, a robot that can play a video game goes awry when the colors are made just 2% brighter. “AI today is not ready,” he said. Vicarious uses deep learning to get the robot closer to human cognitive ability. In the same test, a robot with Vicarious’s AI kept playing the game even though the brightness had changed. Another thing that confuses “old brain” AI is putting two objects together. People can see two things superimposed on each other, such as a coffee mug partly obscuring a vase in a photo, but robots mistake it for one unidentified object. Vicarious, which counts Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as an investor, aims to solve such problems.

The intelligence inside Kuri, a robot companion and videographer meant for the home, is different. Kaijen Hsiao, chief technology officer of creator Mayfield Robotics, said there is a camera behind the robot’s left eye that gathers video in HD. Kuri has depth sensors to map the home and uses images to improve navigation. She also has pet and person detection features so she can smile or react when they are around. Kuri has place recognition as well, so she will remember she has been to a place before even if the lighting has changed, such as the kitchen during the day or night. Moment selection is another feature of the robot, which lets her recognize similar videos she records — such as dad playing with the baby in the living room — and eliminates redundant ones.

“Her job is to bring a spot of life to your home. She provides entertainment — she can play music, podcasts, audiobooks. You can check your home from anywhere,” Hsiao said. Kuri is the family’s videographer, going around the house recording so no one is left out. The robot will curate the videos and show the best ones. For this, Kuri uses vision and deep learning algorithms. “Her point is her personality … [as] an adorable companion,” Hsiao said. Kuri will hit the market in December at $799.

“About 100 years ago, electricity transformed every major industry. AI has advanced to the point where it has the power to transform” every major sector in coming years.–Andrew Ng

Business Response to AI

The U.S. and China lead the world in investments in AI, according to James Manyika, chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute. Last year, AI investment in North America ranged from $15 billion to $23 billion, Asia (mainly China) was $8 billion to $12 billion, and Europe lagged at $3 billion to $4 billion. Tech giants are the primary investors in AI, pouring in between $20 billion and $30 billion, with another $6 billion to $9 billion from others, such as venture capitalists and private equity firms.

Where did they put their money? Machine learning took 56% of the investments with computer vision second at 28%. Natural language garnered 7%, autonomous vehicles was at 6% and virtual assistants made up the rest. But despite the level of investment, actual business adoption of AI remains limited, even among firms that know its capabilities, Manyika said. Around 40% of firms are thinking about it, 40% experiment with it and only 20% actually adopt AI in a few areas.

The reason for such reticence is that 41% of companies surveyed are not convinced they can see a return on their investment, 30% said the business case isn’t quite there and the rest said they don’t have the skills to handle AI. However, McKinsey believes that AI can more than double the impact of other analytics and has the potential to materially raise corporate performance.

There are companies that get it. Among sectors leading in AI are telecom and tech companies, financial institutions and automakers. Manyika said these early adopters tend to be larger and digitally mature companies that incorporate AI into core activities, focus on growth and innovation over cost savings and enjoy the support of C-suite level executives. The slowest adopters are companies in health care, travel, professional services, education and construction. However, as AI becomes widespread, it’s a matter of time before firms get on board, experts said.

Social Media Interactions are Changing – Here’s Why That’s Important

In a recent post, marketing expert Mark Schaefer highlighted an important trend which is probably getting far less coverage than it should.

Source: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/social-media-interactions-are-changing-heres-why-thats-important/513658/

Schaefer actually took it a step further than that:

“I think this graph represents one of the most significant trends in the recent history of marketing … and yet there is relatively little conversation about it. Social interaction is migrating away from the public view into private spaces.”

Social Media Interactions are Changing - Here's Why That's Important | Social Media Today

No doubt you’re at least somewhat aware of this – both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp now have 1.3 billion users each, and both, as the chart shows, are seeing massive growth in comparison to your usual social platforms.

As social networking, as a concept, has expanded, so too have the risks and concerns with public posting. The data suggests that people are becoming more wary, more inclined to converse in smaller groups, as opposed to broadcasting everything. While the capacity to share with everyone is great, most conversations are probably better within a more refined group of friends and connections.

Even the social networks themselves have acknowledged this, and have moved to offer tools which cater to such usage – Facebook, for example, has put a bigger emphasis on groups this year, aligning with the trend towards more specific discussions, as opposed to the ‘public square’ approach.

But they’re actually going even further than that – Instagram’s been testing out a new ‘Lists’ feature which enables users to share posts and Stories with selected groups of friends only, creating a level of exclusivity and intimacy via their personal lists within the app.

Social Media Interactions are Changing - Here's Why That's Important

Instagram’s also considering splitting messages into its own separate app, further separating the public and private elements – they would only be seeking to do so if they saw a clear usage trend moving in this direction.

Facebook too is working on its own private sharing – or limited sharing – tools.

The shift is important to note, because it’s a different way of using social networks, requiring a different approach to connect with users. The main brand solution offered on this front thus far would be Messenger Bots, enabling simple, one-to-one communication, without the need for dedicated staff labor – but bots haven’t seen wide take-up as yet.

So what else should businesses do – what approach should they be taking to ensure they’re moving in line with audience trends and tapping into this new shift?

Creating more private, intimate brand connection is hard, and can easily veer into intrusive territory, but the broader impetus appears to highlight a need for more focus on brand communities, on building groups and participating in relevant conversations to help enhance your business standing, and give you a way into that more direct communication.

Content would be a key step, highlighting your expertize and willingness to provide valuable, relevant advice, but responsiveness is also critical – and that does require a dedicated human touch.

 Here’s How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions – Alphabet & Facebook: Advertising

Source: Chart: Here’s How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions

on May 12, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Chart: How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions

The Revenue Streams of the Five Largest Tech Companies

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Last year, we published a chart showing that tech companies have displaced traditional blue chip companies like Exxon Mobil and Walmart as the most valuable companies in the world.

Here are the latest market valuations for those same five companies:

Rank Company Market Cap (Billions, as of May 11, 2017) Primary Revenue Driver
#1 Apple $804 Hardware
#2 Alphabet $651 Advertising
#3 Microsoft $536 Software
#4 Amazon $455 Online Retail
#5 Facebook $434 Advertising
TOTAL $2,880

Together, they are worth $2.9 trillion in market capitalization – and they combined in FY2016 for revenues of $555 billion with a $94 billion bottom line.

BRINGING HOME THE BACON?

Despite all being at the top of the stock market food chain, the companies are at very different stages.

In 2016, Apple experienced its first annual revenue decline since 2001, but the company brought home a profit equal to that of all other four companies combined.

On the other hand, Amazon is becoming a revenue machine with very little margin, while Facebook generates 5x more profit despite far smaller top line numbers.

Company 2016 Revenue (Billions) 2016 Net Income (Billions) Margin
Apple $216 $46 21%
Alphabet $90 $19 21%
Microsoft $85 $17 20%
Amazon $136 $2 2%
Facebook $28 $10 36%

HOW THEY MAKE THEIR BILLIONS

Each of these companies is pretty unique in how they generate revenue, though there is some overlap:

  • Facebook and Alphabet each make the vast majority of their revenues from advertising (97% and 88%, respectively)
  • Apple makes 63% of their revenue from the iPhone, and another 21% coming from the iPad and Mac lines
  • Amazon makes 90% from its “Product” and “Media” categories, and 9% from AWS
  • Microsoft is diverse: Office (28%), servers (22%), Xbox (11%), Windows (9%), ads (7%), Surface (5%), and other (18%)

Lastly, for fun, what if we added all these companies’ revenues together, and categorized them by source?

Category 2016 Revenue (Millions) % Total Description
Hardware $197,020 36% iPhone, iPad, Mac, Xbox, Surface
Online Retail $122,205 22% Amazon (Product and Media Categories)
Advertising $112,366 20% Google, Facebook, YouTube, Bing ads
Software $31,692 6% Office, Windows
Cloud/Server $31,396 6% AWS, Microsoft Server, Azure
Other $60,177 11% Consulting, other services (iTunes, Google Play), etc.
$554,856 100%

Note: this isn’t perfect. As an example, Amazon’s fast-growing advertising business gets lumped into their “Other” category.

Hardware, e-commerce, and and advertising make up 76% of all revenues.

Meanwhile, software isn’t the cash cow it used to be, but it does help serve as a means to an end for some companies. For example, Android doesn’t generate any revenue directly, but it does allow more users to buy apps in the Play Store and to search Google via their mobile devices. Likewise, Apple bundles in operating systems with each hardware purchase.

Quelles évolutions pour les médias sociaux en 2017 ? (Hub Institute / Sciècle Digital)

Des chatbots, des fonctionnalités à venir sur Facebook et les autres réseaux sociaux, des marchés dévorés, du social CRM, de la détox, du live, des vidéos verticales, les influenceurs, de l’intelligence artificielle… Tout ce qui va émerger, exploser, ou encore se perfectionner en 2017 se trouve dans le report.

Daily chart: Which gaming company will dominate the virtual-reality market? | The Economist

Sony is expected to do better than its rivals in the high-end of the gaming industry

Source: Daily chart: Which gaming company will dominate the virtual-reality market? | The Economist

WITHIN a decade, virtual-reality (VR) technology is expected to transform the way businesses interact with customers. Immersive, 360-degree experiences, complete with touch and temperature sensations, should become the norm. As early as 2020, spending is forecast to reach $7.9 billion ≈ net worth of Rupert Murdoch, media mogul, 2011

≈ net worth of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, 2011
≈ Domestic box office gross, 2011

“>[≈ cost of 2011 Hurricane Irene] on VR headsets and $3.3 billion ≈ net worth of George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, 2011

≈ total US football salaries for all teams, 2011
≈ Beijing Airport Terminal 3

“>[≈ box office sales of Gone with the Wind, 1939] on VR entertainment. In the short run, however, VR primarily remains the preserve of gamers. The companies releasing the latest wave of console and headset devices are not only bringing joy to aficionados of “The Lab” and “Gunjack”, but also jockeying for position to compete in a much larger market once the technology goes mainstream.

So far, the VR-gaming industry has roughly been divided into a casual sector, dominated by Samsung and Google, and the high end led by Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive (both unveiled this spring). Sony, which released its own headset on October 13th with much fanfare, came relatively late to the game. But with a product more powerful than the mass-market devices, and more affordable than the top-tier ones, it may have a sweet spot all to itself. Moreover, it can rely on a captive global customer base of over40m Playstation 4 users, forecast to surpass 50m by Christmas. As a result, the Sony headset is expected to make an immediate impact. IHS Markit, an analytics provider, projects the firm will make $134m ≈ Finance industry 2011 political donations”>[≈ net worth of Dr. Dre, rapper, 2011] from VR sales in the next few months.

Six Digital Media Trends That Are Going To Shake Up Marketing Forever

Source: Six Digital Media Trends That Are Going To Shake Up Marketing Forever

Ross Simmonds is one of the best marketers, growth hackers, and businessmen we know, and he is about to give you some real gems you should pay attention too. Dig in, grab a notebook, and get this brainfood while its hot.

If you want to create a brand in the future, it’s unlikely that the exact same roadmaps used in the early 2000s are still going to be applicable. Some of the philosophies will still hold weight but many tactics are going to have been abused and no longer effective. Similar to how marketers have evolved from radio & magazines to programmatic advertising and social media as an avenue to drive results — change is coming.

Change is constant.

How’d you like to ensure that when change comes, you’re ready? How would you like to hear some of the latest media trends that are going to shake up marketing industry forever?

Well…

Luckily, today that’s exactly what I’m going to share.

Over the years, I’ve rode the waves of digital media opportunities. Whether it’s generating more than 1M views on Slideshare or helping brands grow to hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram — I’ve leveraged and capitalized on many of the latest trends. And in this post, I’m going to sharesix digital media trends that will shake up the industry for years to come.

1) The Consumerization Of Media & Influencers

The body scrub company, Frank Body was one of the first brands to capitalize on Instagram fame. With an estimated sales of roughly $20 million ≈ Organized labor 2011 political donations

≈ Annual hurricane research funding in 2011

“>[≈ Typical endowment, liberal-arts university] in 2015 — the brand has grown rapidly thanks to influencers and the consumerization of media. A quick look at their newsfeed and Instagram search will show you models and regular people promoting the product:

Some of these posts are fans.

Some of these posts are paid shout outs.

When talking about Influencers in a recent interview with Nathan Chan the co-founders of Frank Body expressed that they paid Jen Selter, $20,000 ≈ Per capita income – Australia, 2005

“>[≈ Per capita income – Taiwan, 2005] for a product placement on Instagram & Twitter. At the time, Jen had around 6M followers on Instagram but today she has more than 8.2M followers and some believe she’s charging $50,000≈ Median US household income, 2009”>[≈ cost of Ford F-150] per Instagram post.

Here’s one of Jen’s posts featuring the brand:

Influencer marketing isn’t new.

What’s new is a shift from the people with millions followers being compensated for shout outs to people with thousands.

The influencer marketing company, Markerly recently conducted a survey of2 million social media influencers. In their study, they found that influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers had a higher like rate than those between1,000 and 10,000 followers. While it’s possible that these individuals low engagement is related to Instagram’s algorithm and inactive followers — the idea that almost anyone could be considered an influencer is valid.

Today, millions of dollars are being exchanged for shoutouts on Instagram, Snapchat takeovers and retweets on Twitter. As more and more people begin to create mini-brands and followings, it can be expected that more people will monetize their reach and compete with media companies for their budget as it relates to digital marketing.

According to TheShelf, brands are quickly committing to this investment:

Sites like BuySellShoutOuts.com offer brands the ability to pay influencers with all accounts sizes and covering differenttopics to promote their brands:

But this is just the beginning.

Thunderclap is a social media platform that allows people to sign up in advance and share a unified message at a specific time. Many brands have already started using this tool to drive buzz around events, non-profits and products raising money on Kickstarter. In October 2015, a project called Phonebloks generated a reach of more than 381,745,40 with supporters likeElijah Wood signing up for the campaign.

Examples of campaigns that people signed up for

Users of Thunderclap don’t currently get compensated for their tweets but I’m willing to bet, it’s coming. The willingness to offer brands the ability to tweet on your behalf isn’t new. It’s something that has been tried by many companies over the years but the trends surrounding influencers and the markets understanding of the value is an indication that this is a trend worth watching.

2) Bots Are A Media Opportunity For Brands

One of the first media companies to launch a bot was the team at Quartz. The team launched an app that feels like a friend sharing news via SMS that you read with ease. It comes with gifs, emojis, articles and of course ads like the Mini Clubman banner you see on the left.

Bots have been a hot topic for the last few months but when Facebook announced during f8 that messenger boasts 900 million users per month and it was launching a bot marketplace — it became a new ball game.

Facebook is betting on bots.

As more bots are developed we will begin seeing different more use cases. Whether it’s bots being used for the news or bots being used for shopping; the ability to connect with people through a conversational interface is an opportunity that media companies and marketers should watch.

Native content and advertising is a trend that has been soaring over the last few years. Native or Sponsored content is a model in which brands pay to have their content distributed (sometimes created) by media companies directly into their channels in a way that is often viewed as regular editorial.

Here’s an example of native content from Delete Blood Cancer on Blavity:

So what does this have to do with bots?

Well.. Imagine you’re using a fitness app.

The bot will remind you to go for a run, offer advice for meal plans and even tell you what you should do for sciatic pain — but it will also send you an article that talks about Six Reasons Why You Should Invest In The Right Shoes. Sponsored by Adidas of course…

Native advertising has been found to consistently perform better than traditional banner ads. Brands will embrace this approach within bots because it works for both the user and the publisher. I predict we will see more media companies launching bots and more bots evolving into full-fledged media companies.

3) How Stories Will Evolve Content Consumption

Facebook changed the way we find our news.

Twitter changed the way news was broken.

Snapchat and Instagram are currently fighting to determine what’s the best way for the new generation to consume it.

The last year has been a big one for Snapchat. DJ Khaled made brands open their eyes to the network as an opportunity to reach millions. Business giants proclaimed it to be the future of TV, social media and media as a whole. The rise of Snapchat resulted in profile pictures all over Twitter & Facebook to quickly change from logos & headshots to snap codes:

Instagram was once a favourite amongst youth but Snapchat quickly became a serious threat. In fall 2015, Piper Jaffray’s survey of 6,500 US teens showedthat 33% of them considered Instagram their most important social network. By this spring, that number had fallen to 27% as Snapchat took the crown.

Fast forward a few months and the momentum of Snapchat continued when Kim Kardashian did what she does best. She broke the Internet.

When she released a phone recording of Taylor Swift and Kanye West on Snapchat, every social network felt it. Journalists, the media and fans proclaimed Kim the official queen of social media and Snapchat the future:

Moments like this, the rise of DJ Khaled and the increase in usage was a clear indicators that Snapchat found gold. So earlier this year, Instagram took and stand refusing to allow Snapchat to run away with this new format and launched their own version of Stories. Creatively, they called it…

Stories.

It shares the same functionality as Snapchat allowing users to create a rolling montage of pictures and videos from the last 24 hours. It’s in this format that brands are already advertising, media companies are being launched and millions of people are watching.

4) More Free-Time = More Media Consumption

In just a few years, the idea of autonomous vehicles have gone from a futuristic dream to a realistic and disruptive product. Regardless of who you think is going to come out as the industry leader in the race towards the first fully autonomous and safe vehicle — it’s going to have an impact on media.

According to a 2016 study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of Americans spend their free time watching TV.

Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time

The same trend was found in places like the UK and Canada. You see, the more free time people have the more time they spend consuming content. And if we no longer have to pay attention to the road, it’s likely that we spend more time consuming visual content.

As autonomous cars become more readily available, more time will be available for people to consume content. The average travel time to work in the United States is 25.4 minutes. Meaning that over the course of a year you could consume more than 98 episodes of The Wire.

Exactly.

5)The Rise Of Vertical Video Content

Snapchats success with vertical video content has resulted in a the rise of vertical video content. For years, people suggested that vertical video was bad and that horizontal video was good:

In a leaked Snapchat pitch deck the company shared that revenues in 2015 were $59 million. The company projected to reach between $250 million ≈ cost of Airbus A380, the largest passenger airplane

“>[≈ Typical endowment, research university] and $350 million in 2016, and between $500 million [≈ net worth of Jay-Z, rapper, 2011] and $1 billion ≈ box office sales of The Jungle Book, 1967

≈ box office sales of ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982
≈ box office sales of The Exorcist, 1973
≈ box office sales of Jaws, 1975

“>[≈ net worth of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, 2011] in in 2017.

What’s a key differentiator between Snapchat and other networks?

It embraces the vertical video. Here’s a slide from one of their earlier decks about the success that brands were having with vertical content:

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a consistent increase in the amount of video content being consumed vertically. According to eMarketer and the 2015 Mary Meeker report, 29% of all video consumed online was vertical.

Lyrical School is a Japanese female band who made a major debut into mainstream with their latest music video. Unlike most videos that are built for TV, the group created a vertical video that has more than 1.3M views:

But this is just the beginning.

More and more companies are developing ads in the vertical video format. More and more media companies are offering it as an ad unit. It’s a trend that offers a more optimal experience for mobile users and a more effective approach for brands and media companies to connect with them.

6) Big Media Begins To Niche Down

Country Side Network

Did you know that there is a magazine for almost everything?

From sheeps and pigs to technology and boats. If it’s a topic, there has likely been a magazine created about it at some point in the last 50 years. Over time, magazine sales have continue to plummet and many of the niche magazines have been the early victims of this medium’s decline.

The writing has been on the wall for years:

As the niche magazines continue to die — niche web opportunities arise.

It’s the model that allowed Reddit to become so successful. Reddit is one community that is filled with thousands of sub-communities talking about niche interests and topics. Whether it’s an entire community talking aboutBBQ or a community talking about PokemonGo — it’s a place where passionate people can learn, connect and stay up to date on interests.

Media companies are recognizing the opportunity to niche down and are investing in more niche topics to reach niche audiences. Over the last few months, we’ve seen media companies invest in more diverse categories of media content. As a result, marketers will have the ability to be more targeted in their efforts rather than making assumptions about what content their audience is likely to consume.


Are there any other trends that you think will shake things up? Did you learn something new in this post?

Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want more content like this, check out my semi-regular newsletter.


Ross Simmonds is a the founder of Foundation, a content marketing service company and the co-founder of Crate + Hustle & Grind.