Sell your users, or sell to your users

isotopp image Kristian Köhntopp -
March 25, 2019
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There is a big change currently happening in the industry, and it is what drives and enables Facebooks “pivot to privacy” at the moment. It’s less the public criticism of their methods, that’s just a justification, it’s more a broader shift.

A lot of people misunderstand what’s going on: Facebook’s ‘pivot’ is less about privacy and more about profits

A plan to integrate the technical infrastructure of WhatsApp and Messenger with Instagram would allow users to seamlessly communicate across three platforms for the first time. More importantly for Zuckerberg, though, it would link billions of detailed Facebook accounts with WhatsApp users – opening stockpiles of data to mine for advertisers.

That’s nice for current Facebook, but not actually the point. The actual point is more here: Instagram adds in-app checkout as part of its big push into shopping

Instagram took its next step to becoming a full-fledged commerce business today, announcing that it is bringing a checkout feature to its mobile apps. With checkout, you can store your payment information with Instagram to make purchases more quickly. In return, Instagram is charging retailers a selling fee. More than 20 brands will use checkout to start, including Nike, Adidas, Dior, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Uniqlo, Warby Parker, and Zara.

The same thing happens at Google, Google Maps in this case, and in the customary bungled, half-assed way that is so characteristically socially inept Google: Google Maps for your hotel: All you need to know!

Book on Google is an option from your Google Hotel Ads account (at no additional cost). It allows your hotel to have a direct “booking button” which appears on the Google profile from the search results.

Companies that actually care about the model, because their entire business depends on getting it right are doing it slightly more engaged. Witness this analysis of Discord: ThreadreaderApp

As is common for start-ups, Discord is free + monetization hasn’t been a top priority… but less common is Discord’s aversion to monetizing user data.

In the thread you will find the various approaches of selling to users and to devs, instead of selling them out, that Discord tried and continues exploring. It’s like a blueprint for Facebook (and especially their Instagram efforts) and for many other “social” things. Meanwhile, Google continues to close all the halfway working things they ever had in this realm - Google plus, their collection of failed chat apps and small sharing environments. Without a structure for people to interact, you will not get access to people and their interactions, and you are outside the recommender system that really matters - their peer network and personal recommendations.

If, as a global meta-strategy, you refuse to interact with people like people and through other people, you are ultimately being driven into irrelevance, and no amount of AI compute power will change that.