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Can you hear that?

Every time I ask Alexa to do something, I wonder – who’s listening? Where’s this data going? And when I start my car every morning, I get a message saying that data is reported back to the manufacturer… how paranoid should I be? I try to do as much as I can to limit the chance that personal information on my phone can be used against me.

Hmm… does that make my Samsung phone a paranoid android?? 😊

“Alexa, play Radiohead on Spotify”… and please listen with me as we see what the experts are saying this week.

What’s Your Smart Speaker Collecting?

I love my smart speakers. And I’m not alone. Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple’s HomePod… tens of millions of units are sold every quarter. These devices are fun and useful, but what else are they doing? Watching? Listening? Spying?

As a consumer and a marketer, I’m paranoid about what data I’m giving up – but also very intrigued by how the data is being used. If you’re going to the trouble of collecting the data, you might as well use it! And if you can make my life easier in the process… so be it!

Smart speakers are always on because they’re listening for their “wake word” (“Ok Google,” “Hey Siri,” etc)… and they record and remember everything said after the wake word. The problem is, some smart speakers use third-party developers outside the manufacturer. And according to Alan Cross, this is where the paranoia should kick in.

If one of these third parties is hacked – or unscrupulous – you could end up with eavesdropping and information theft. Alexa speakers are great for buying stuff. But without appropriate precautions, it’s (at least theoretically) possible for someone to buy stuff on your credit card using your Alexa device.

This makes me think about B2B – what data are we collecting from our clients and prospects? Many B2B marketers use intent data in their campaigns – but how accurate is it? Is this crossing the line and trying to act on those people’s activities? Your preference here is of no consequence – just make sure you’re transparent and USING the data intelligently.

Speaking of Streaming…

It was inevitable that after Spotify announced layoffs last week, all sorts of analysis would take place. Music Business Worldwide has picked apart all manner of stats – all of which leave you wondering what on earth is going on at the streaming giant.

A few stats that leaped out at me:

  • Over $1B spent on podcasting in the last three years
  • Only $200M earned from podcasting in 2021
  • Nearly $500M (50% of operating costs for Q3 2022) – spent on sales and marketing
  • $26M paid to Dawn Ostroff over three years

One can’t help but read through the article and feel that too many poor decisions have been made, the results from which have been entirely underwhelming.

Yes, Spotify has to be aggressive – but it also needs to be successful. Right now that is arguably not the case, with profit still eluding the company some 12 years in, and podcasting not shaping up to be any kind of competitor to music for revenue. I guess ambition makes them look pretty ugly…

I also wonder if we’re seeing a general return to sanity – not just around Spotify, but tech in general. Valuations have become ludicrous, as have salaries. As belts tighten, I wonder what Wall Street’s appetite for this will be in coming months and years.

As always, don’t hesitate to call me to brainstorm or just say hello!

Looking forward,

Rick Endrulat, President | ricke@v-causeway.com | www.linkedin.com/in/rickendrulat