Facebook Memo Reverberates; How Voice Assistants May One Day Listen

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The ‘At Any Cost’ Cost

Facebook is reeling from internal backlash after a 2016 internal post written by VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth was published Friday by BuzzFeed. The post preaches the platform’s mission to “grow at any cost” and cites some of the ugly realities of what Facebook’s connectivity can enable. “The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good,” Boz wrote. “That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.” More. Inside the company, the report has opened a can of worms as some employees pushed back against media leaks while others wished for a less strained dialogue with the press. More on that at The Verge.

Eyes And Ears

A set of Google and Amazon patent applications open a window into how in-home audio and video-enabled devices could be tied to ecommerce and marketing. The companies say their assistant-enabled devices are activated by commands (“Hey, Alexa,” “Hey, Google”). But Amazon is filing for a “voice sniffer algorithm” that would capture moments when people use words like “love,” “bought” or “dislike” to inform preferences or confirm transactions, reports Sapna Maheshwari at The New York Times. Another Amazon patent details how passive audio data could determine mood – “volume of the user’s voice, detected breathing rate, crying and so forth” – and pick up coughing, sneezing and other early signs of a medical condition. Meanwhile, a Google patent shows how its Nest home setup could be used to prevent a baby from engaging in “mischief” and also lays out how brand and celebrity images around the house can be combined with browser and search history to improve and personalize preferences. More.

Hardly Working

The so-called “ad tech tax” could add up to $30 billion per year. A study by Warc finds that of the $63.4 billion spent on programmatic media in 2017, only 40%, or $25.4 billion, went to working media. The study doesn’t include measurements of fraud, which could push the share of working media dollars even lower, reports MediaPost. If 10% of media dollars go to fraud, working media would account for just 36% of marketer investments. Programmatic dollars break down, on average, as follows: 5% ($3.2 billion) goes to the marketer’s agency of record, 15% ($9.5 billion) goes to a trading desk, 10% ($6.3 billion) to a DSP, 25% ($15.9 billion) to data, targeting and verification vendors and 5% ($3.2 billion) to exchanges. More.  

But Wait, There’s More!

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