Good Monday morning. It’s October 29th. Daylight savings time ends in 6 days. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Today’s Spotlight takes about 4 minutes to read
- Macros and executables aren’t the only dangers in your email. One group is trying to trick people into using PDFs that load malicious online resources. We’ll explain how to be safer below.
- Snapchat and Twitter both lost users this quarter. That’s not surprising for Twitter but a little surprising for Snap. Keep reading for details.
- Google Maps has shiny new upgrades including easier sharing of your ETAs, new accessibility information at 40 million locations, and the ability to follow businesses. Have a look below.
Google Maps Readies for the Road
Nearly 50 million Americans travel by car during the November-December holidays. For those traveling with a newer car in unfamiliar territory, Google Maps will highlight electric vehicle charging stations. Also new on Google Maps is crowd sourced information related to accessibility. Google has received 500 million responses from 7 million people when asking questions like, “Is there a wheelchair accessible entrance?” The information from those answers now appears on 40 million location listings.
Google users on Android (iOS updates coming) will also start seeing business listings up to 3 months before a business opens. Users will be able to “follow” any business–a term made familiar by social media listings. This will allow people to see information about special events and sales.
If you’re on the road to Grandmother’s house for some Thanksgiving turkey, Google Maps has also made it easier to share your progress and ETA, including posting it to third party platforms like Facebook. Their announcement is here.
Google earlier this month launched a Commuter tab that allows people to check on traffic with a single click or to see real-time information about buses and trains.
Be smart: Almost 90% of users who search for local information on a smartphone are then “likely to use driving directions”. Your organization needs to pay attention if people ever visit your office. (Search Engine Land)
Staying Safe with Apps & Email
Smartphone apps may track behavior users are unaware of or create subscriptions that are not clearly disclosed. Forbes and Buzzfeed have investigated separate cases and broke their stories within 6 days of each other. Buzzfeed’s is great reading for anyone who wants to understand how scammers bought legit apps and then defauded advertising networks.
The Forbes expose has much less detail but a huge consumer impact. Using tricky “Free Trial” buttons and not openly disclosing terms allowed some application developers to charge as much as $4/week for basic functioning apps like flashlights and barcode scanners.
There were big examples of fraud, too: a web translator app for Apple Safari that cost $89 weekly and something called “Life Tricks Ace” that cost $59.99 each week and which billed itself as “…the leading source of practical and adaptable knowledge dedicated to improving Productivity, Happiness, Health and more.”
We also learned this week that some bank employees received good phishing emails that didn’t include malicious code. Instead an attached “simple but authentic-looking” PDF tries to get the target to download a malicious macro to complete the form. Cyberscoop has the details.
The bottom line: Don’t click or open any file that you weren’t expecting even if you think you know the person’s identity.
What We Learned from Earnings Week
Well, we learned that guidance still remains a short play nightmare for all companies after Amazon posted record profits but missed its guidance and has been hammered since. Don’t cry yet. The company still controls half of e-commerce in North America and its market cap is still up $260 million during 2018.
But we also learned this week:
- Amazon didn’t just set record profits. That profit was nearly double what experts expected.
- Overall search volume is up 6%, and Google’s dominance in U.S. market share now matches its dominance in Europe. Yahoo! and Bing combine for about 8% of search. Google gets 90%.
- Search volume is down on desktops and tablets, but skyrocketing on mobile devices. This is the part where you’re reminded again that your website needs to be designed for mobile.
- Google (and Microsoft) continue coming for Amazon’s Web Services division.
- Breaking news Sunday has IBM paying $34 billion for Red Hat so they’re in the cloud game to win it, too.
- Snapchat lost users, but in the good citizen division, managed to help register 400,000 people to vote.
It’s Facebook’s turn under the microscope Tuesday afternoon when it reports third quarter earnings.
Companies like Spotify and Netflix are masterful at understanding how customers interact with them and predicting what will interest those customers next.
Your organization doesn’t have to be a tech giant to find data that people will enjoy. You already have amazing data that will engage your customers and prospects. Here’s a test that will prove that at your next meeting.
Show people the irresistible Merriam-Webster Time Traveler web page.
The kicker: the dictionary company already tracks when words first show in print. And they already track new words. They understood that they could make words personal for people.
Question: What’s the difference between the Oxford family of dictionaries, Random House, or Merriam-Webster?
Answer: I’m telling you about Merriam-Webster today.
And that’s how you differentiate in mature markets.
P.S. I want to hear your stories if you take my advice and test this page on people at your company. What are you brainstorming about as a result?