Writing, Published Research and Books

Mary Meeker’s Top Five 2018 Internet Trends & Analysis

1. U.S. adults spent 5.9 hours per day on digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours the year before. Some 3.3 of those hours were spent on mobile.

ANALYSIS: The more time people spend online the more power the tech giants gain. Recent articles (The Tech Giants Covert Actions) show the main focus of the tech giants is 24/7 surveillance, censorship, and manipulation. The tech giants engage in these three things to drive revenues. They want to know everything people in order to sell targeted advertising. They censor companies and ideas because they seek to promote products, businesses and ideas that support their global revenue agendas. They manipulate in order convince shoppers to spend more time and money on the products they promote and to view the advertisers who pay them to appear on their platforms.

2. Voice-controlled products like Amazon Echo are taking off. The Echo’s installed base in the U.S. grew from 20 million in the third quarter of 2017 to more than 30 million in the fourth quarter.

ANALYSIS: Voice-controlled products all share one common feature – they limited their response to queries to those companies that are paying the most to the tech giant offering them. Voice-controlled products are NOT benign. The tech giants goal is to make people more passive and therefore susceptible to their surveillance, censorship, and manipulation

3. Tech companies are becoming a larger part of U.S. business. In April, they accounted for 25 percent of U.S. market capitalization. They are also responsible for a growing share of corporate R&D and capital spending.

ANALYSIS: The tech giants are already monopolies. Like all monopolies they cannot help but want to grow.

4. E-commerce sales growth is continuing to accelerate. It grew 16 percent in the U.S. in 2017, up from 14 percent in 2016. Amazon is taking a bigger share of those sales at 28 percent last year. Conversely, physical retail sales are continuing to decline.

ANALYSIS: Just think of the growth of online sales as a loss of local business sales. Ditto for Amazon’s share.

5. Big tech is competing on more fronts. Google is expanding from an ads platform to a commerce platform via Google Home Ordering. Amazon is moving into advertising.

ANALYSIS: Refer to the innate philosophy of all monopolies. These five points are interwoven. The bigger tech giants become the more capital they have to expand into new services and products which leads to people spending more time online. The more they expand the greater their surveillance, censorship, and manipulation. The cherry on top is voice-controlled products whose sole function is to support the revenue goals of the tech giants selling them.

 

Facebook quickly becoming as dangerous to local business as Amazon

Facebook is entering the home services market Facebook goes after local business. Starting today, U.S. Facebook users browsing the Facebook Marketplace will be able to search thousands of home service professionals through a new feature that helps users locate top-rated and vetted professionals like house cleaners, plumbers, contractors, and others, as well as receive quotes.

THE NET-NET. FACEBOOK GAINS DIRECT CONTROL OVER LOCAL SERVICE PROFESSIONALS. JUST LIKE AMAZON, WHO FACEBOOK USERS FIND WILL BE DIRECTLY LINKED TO HOW MUCH $$$$ EACH LOCAL SERVICE PROFESSIONAL SPENDS WITH FACEBOOK. Facebook after local businesses

When users click on one of the prompts, they’re walked through a form to fill out other relevant data in order to find matching home pros. The service pro who follows up will respond on Messenger.

THE NET-NET. FACEBOOK DIRECTLY CONTROLS THE CUSTOMER/SERVICE PROFESSIONAL INTERACTION. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

Amazon expanded into this category several years ago with Walmart quickly following.

THE NET-NET. LOCAL COMMUNITIES DON’T PROSPER. MAIN STREET BECOMES A GHOST TOWN. ALL THAT WILL REMAIN ARE THE TECH GIANTS AND THE GIANT RETAIL CHAINS.

Local Retail Nightmare – the Amazon monster under the bed is real. 

Local Retail Nightmare – the Amazon monster under the bed is real. 

Summary:

  • Amazon is at war. It has begun its attack on national, regional and local retailers
  • Amazon’s just launched 60 over-the-counter health products
  • The first casualties will local businesses.
  • As local businesses fail local media becomes collateral damage
  • Finally, local communities become ghost towns

Children throughout history have woke up screaming with fears of monsters.  Monsters in the closet and those terrifying monsters just under the bed.

Local retailers and even the retail giants like CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart are waking up to the fact that the Amazon monster is real. Unlike a nightmare, this monster kills for real by devouring margins.

In what seems like nothing less than bystander apathy, local newspapers, local radio, and local TV stations aren’t up in arms.  What they don’t know is that retail’s nightmare is already infecting their monetary blood streams.  They will be the collateral damage as their local advertisers’ margins shrink and advertising dollars dry up.

What makes Amazon such a lethal monster is its mastery of logistics and multiple streams of revenue.  It’s 2017 earnings were a whopping $178 billion.  In 2016 it earned $15 billion from its web services which accounted for 89% of its operating income.   Amazon earned an additional $2.8 billion from its 2017 advertising services. Its advertising revenues are expected to pop to $4.5 billion in 2018.  The monster has many heads and all the heads are growing.

The Amazon War Strategy.  Amazon uses the revenues from its different revenue streams to wage war in retail.  For Amazon it all makes sense.  When it wins in retail then manufacturers are forced to advertise and use Amazon web services.  It is an ever-expanding monopolistic web.  Amazon Ad Revenues

Tough for a retail chain or a local business to compete against a giant that DOES NOT NEED to make profit from its retail business.

Amazon is a real threat to national, regional, and local businesses.  Health products are just the beginning.  Amazon launched its Whole Foods delivery service.  They will deliver groceries, pizza, prepared meals, and home cooked meals.  Shoppers will live in an Amazon world, use their Amazon credit cards and talk to Alexa to do it all.  FYI – that charming AI driven Alexa people have in their homes is tracking everything they do and when they ask Alexa a question her first algorithm imperative is – Amazon products first.  Alexa is not Lady Liberty.

The Amazon monster eats companies, jobs, and local communities.  The local businesses, which already operates on razor thin margins soon, won’t be there.

The Slaughter is taking place in slow motion. A first glance Walmart with its $418B worldwide 2017 revenues and 5,000 Walmart stores might lead one to assume it is well positioned for the war.  Dig a little deeper and we find Walmart’s growth rate was a miserly .63% while Amazon posted a whooping increase in 25.2% sales growth in 2016 and 44.6% in 2017.  Amazon with its 63 million Prime members offers a 5% discount for shopping in its 470 Whole Foods Stores.  Think about it.  Amazon’s Whole Food stores require ZERO advertising expenditure while Walmart spends nearly $3B per year on advertising each year.

This isn’t a battle it is a slaughter in slow motion.

Alien Infection. Amazon uses a parasite strategy…inflect host companies like Acme, CVS, Rite Aid and eat their margins a small percentage at time.

 Angelica La Vito CNBC 2/20/18 article detailed what Amazon is preparing to do the retail giants.  Angelica LaVito // 20 Feb 2018 // CNBC. Amazon wages war on retailers

  • Amazon sells branded over-the-counter medications such as Advil, Mucinex and Nicorette as well as options from Perrigo’s generic GoodSense brand.
  • Basic Care, Amazon’s recently launched exclusive line of Perrigo OTC health products, is a direct challenge to pharmacy retail chains.
  • CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid are losing in-store traffic as people shop for OTC products online. Where they shop is Amazon.

In LaVito’s article the most telling revelation is that people are increasingly shopping for OTC products online.  Fortune Magazine reported, For the first time ever, shoppers are going to the web for most of their purchases. An annual survey by analytics firm comScore (scor, -0.92%) and UPS (ups, +1.11%) found that consumers are now buying more things online than in stores.

The survey, now in its fifth year, polled more than 5,000 consumers who make at least two online purchases in a three-month period. According to results, shoppers now make 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.” The shift to online shopping

Amazon is where 55%+ of online shoppers begin. LaVito goes on, “Pharmacies make money when people walk in looking to grab medicine and end up buying cosmetics and other goods. They’re already losing traffic as people shop for those products online, including on Amazon. Giving them another possible reason to skip the store could hurt even more.

Matthew Oster, head of consumer health research at global market research firm Euromonitor, knows what’s coming, “It’s a very different world, and having Amazon jump in is not a good sign for existing brands, either branded or private label, because the way Amazon works is its ability to take on unprofitable ventures for a time to see how things go.  And the fact they have a near monopoly in e-commerce gives them a lot of scale that can allow them to undercut price. So that aspect should be concerning for whoever their competitors are in that space.”

CVS, Rite Aid, Acme, Kroger, Safeway, Publix, and other large national and regional chains will fight back.  But like France against the German blitzkrieg, don’t expect the outcome to be positive.  The most immediate casualties will be local pharmacies, grocery stores, butcher shops, and other local businesses don’t stand a chance.  As these local business fall, local media collapses.

2018 – Big Brothers Are Watching

  • 2017 Facts:
    • In 2017 Facebook and Google account for 84% of new digital advertising and 96% of its growth.Threats to free thoughts
    • Amazon captured 50% of black Friday sales and 44% of all online sales in 2017. They reached 38% in 2016.
    • Google controls 90% of all online searches
    • All local businesses are under life threatening pressure from Amazon, online giants and mega retailers

Max Hasting’s recent article writes, “1984. Almost 70 years ago, George Orwell imagined a future in which ‘Big Brother’ scrutinizes an enslaved society with an all-seeing eye.” Big Brother saw and controlled everything. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have taken 1984’s nightmares into 2018’s second to second surveillance. We now carry our surveillance systems with us 24/7/265.

Follow the Money. Facebook’s #1 driver is money. Facebook is valued at around $175 billion, making it the fourth most valuable company on the planet. What makes him and his fellow-social media giants uniquely dangerous, however, is not their money, but their unprecedented, intimate personal knowledge of billions of people. No human can be entrusted with such data.

Dangerous. There is ZERO outcry when these giants work with China, Iran and other dictatorial countries to install repressive filters to block any information that the government deems undesirable. Don’t even think for a second they are not doing in U.S. according their own unpublished standards.

 

Amazon, Google, Facebook and the retail giants are destroying media and local businesses.  The game is rigged against local.  If these giants succeed local communities become ghost towns.

Google, Facebook and the other tech giants dancing on the edge of legality

Google could face a $9bn EU fine for rigging search results in its favour

 

Google faces $9Billion EU fine

The EU, of which I am not a fan, gets this one right.  Google rigs its search results.

The European Commission’s decision will come after a seven-year investigation into the world’s most popular internet search engine was triggered by scores of complaints from both US and European rivals.  The EU competition authority accused Google in April 2015 of distorting internet search results to favour its shopping service, harming both rivals and consumers.

What most small businesses never discover is that Goggle rigs search results 24/7/365.  There is ZERO ability of a small or medium businesses to discover the Google bait and switch.  The bait is that Google, ad agencies, advertising media and local media all market to local businesses to invest in Google search.  What they NEVER reveal is that regardless of how much a local business it is NOT going to appear in a typical search on Google.  Keep in mind shoppers rarely get past the first three listings.

 

The Commission’s tough line is in sharp contrast with the US Federal Trade Commission which settled its own web search case with the company in 2013 by requiring Google to stop “scraping” reviews and other data from rival websites for its own products.

Google is not alone in rigging its searching results.  Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, and all the other online companies do EXACTLY the same thing.  The local business does not stand a chance when it attempts to reach new customers looking for their product.

One of my favorite examples is a local Italian bakery.  This Italian bakery has been in business forty years and is the only one in our local town.  Type in local Italian bakery, Italian bakery, Italian bakery in this local town and they do NOT show up until page 3 or 4 depending on what search engine.

Local media companies need to stop attempting to working with Google, Facebook, Amazon and the other tech giants and fight back.  Run stories about the corruption of these tech giants.  This is not a call for revolution but instead a pragmatic call to fight for the survival of local.

 

 

Amazon Expands into Health

 

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway And JPMorgan Chase Launch New Health Care Company

Amazon moves into health care

When you read this following paragraph about the just announced new Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway you should step back and consider what they really mean “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett (left) in 2017; Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, in 2013; and JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon in 2013. Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are teaming up to create a health care company announced Tuesday that is “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

Here’s what it means:
– this giants are using money from other divisions to fund this new health care company
– they are after data
– they aren’t doing it for profits
– they have the powerful Amazon cloud to power it.

Their stated goal is to provide high quality health care for their employees at a lower cost.

Their real goal is to control health care data.  Amazon is an voracious monopoly which uses its technology and reach to gobble up of the markets.  Berkshire Hathaway uses its power to buy up local newspapers and real estate offices.  Together they represent a threat to local businesses, local real estate agencies, local insurance companies.

Have no doubt!  Their health care idea is a good one.  Healthcare needs to be reformed and injected with more competition.  But sadly that is not the point.  The point is they have an unfair and monopolistic market advantage because they focus is not on healthcare but DATA.  Unfair because they are using their enormous business revenues to fund this new healthcare enterprise which means they will be willing to lose billions of dollars a year for many years to gain market dominance.

Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Amazon’s Addiction Business Model

Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Amazon’s Addiction Business Model

Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Amazon’s Addiction Business Model

The world, albeit slowly, is waking to the Tech Giants’ Addiction Business Model. See Chamath Palihapitiya a former Facebook employee who has begun to blow the whistle on social media addiction. Their model is simple – provide a platform which requires no expertise, is self-administered, offers unlimited self-involvement, and membership in a cyber world that requires ZERO real world action.

In 2001 a powerful study titled, “Repeated self-administered cocaine “binges” in rats: effects on cocaine intake and withdrawal.” One of the keys to addiction was self-administered. Self-administration addiction.

On January 2, 2018 two powerful Apple shareholders told Cupertino to better protect children from the dangers of its addictive gadgets. In a 2017 Study researchers found, “Using Many Social Media Platforms Linked With Depression, Anxiety Risk.”

Adolescent research from UCLA, the American Psychological Association, and Harvard Medical School found that teens’ overuse of smart devices and social media leads to higher rates of depression, sleep deprivation, weight gain, poor self-image, and a lack of empathy.Negative effects of social media on teens

The Tech Giants are selling something better than cocaine. They are selling self-administered cyber addiction. The tech addiction is based on taking action that the addict believes in some way or other influences a desired outcome: Status, Need gratification, Social currency, and membership in a non-existent, unreal cyber community based on the assumption that “everything about me” is relevant to the cyber community. People belong to cyber communities, not to listen, but to emote, post, and highlight personal mundane events.

In the cyber world the mundane is seen by the self-involved as important. Reactions replace thought and participation replaces real-world action. There is no time or room for understanding, perspective, and another’s POV when the addict fears being left out of the narrative. It becomes essential to the addict to be online at all times. The tech giants want teens and adult addicts online in order to sell advertising and collect data.

There is however an even far greater negative impact from the Tech Giants model and that is what it has done to local media, local business and local communities. The Tech Giants control online search and online advertising. They control who sees what. Keep in mind, few online visitors ever get past the first page of any search. Who appears on the first page is controlled by MONEY. Money that local businesses cannot pay.

The Tech Giants control the cyber world. Addicted teens are simply collateral damage when hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue is at stake.

A staggering amount of U.S. retail stores closed in 2017

Michael B. Kelley // Editor // Yahoo Finance January 5, 2018

A staggering amount of U.S. retail stores closed in 2017
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/staggering-amount-u-s-retail-stores-closed-2017-161401876.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma

An estimated 7,795 U.S. retail store closures were announced in 2017, according to a new research note from UBS, setting a new record.

Store closures across the U.S.  Previously, the biggest slew of U.S. retail closures came in 2008 with 6,163 locations shuttering, according to a 2017 report by Credit Suisse. That report added that 5,077 stores closed in 2015 and 2,056 stores in 2016.

Looking at six traditional retailers who closed stores in 2017 — JCPenney (JCP), KMart (SHLD), Macy’s (M), Payless, RadioShack, and Sears (SHLD) — Yahoo Finance put together a map showing the wave of about 2,750 closures across the U.S.

Google, Facebook & Amazon’s threats to local business

Google, Facebook & Amazon’s threats to local business

2017-2018 Facts
• Online sales will account for 17% of all US retail sales by 2022. Think about any small business losing even 10% of current sales to online = failure
• Compete in new ways. Active communication about products, sales, sales, coupons, and online.
• In 2017 Facebook and Google account for 84% of new digital advertising and 96% of its growth.
• Amazon captured 50% of black Friday sales and 44% of all online sales in 2017. They reached 38% in 2016.
• Google controls 90% of all online searches
• All local businesses are under life threatening pressure from Amazon, online giants and mega retailers

By Max Hastings for the Daily Mail // Published: 2 January 2018 // RC edited
1984. Almost 70 years ago, George Orwell wrote a nightmare into our language when, in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, he imagined a future in which ‘Big Brother’ scrutinizes an enslaved society with an all-seeing eye. More recently, civil libertarians have warned ubiquitous CCTV and Government surveillance, born out of the fight against terrorism, have begun to fulfil Orwell’s prophesy. Yet both the fictional fantasies and daily realities pale into insignificance alongside the threat posed by social media. Scarcely imagined a generation ago, they have become a monstrous, intrusive presence in almost all our lives, especially frightening because of their influence upon children.

Ruthless. Don’t take my word for it. Facebook’s former technology chief said a few days ago the site is ripping apart the fabric of society — ‘eroding human interactions’ and leaving users feeling ‘vacant and empty’. Headed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, these men and women are armed with the most personal details about each and every one of us such as no Gestapo, KGB or Inquisition in history ever dreamed of possessing. And all this information is being extracted every second of every day — not by red hot irons and thumbscrews, but because we are handing it over through our own actions.

Comment – there seems to be ZERO outcry when these giants work with China, Iran and other dictatorial countries to install repressive filters to block any information that the government deems undesirable.

As for the scarily addictive Facebook, five years ago, when it reached a billion users, 55 per cent of them used it daily. Today, numbers have doubled — with two-thirds updating their entries every day.

We make constant voluntary sacrifices of privacy in pursuit of convenience and social exchange, seemingly unaware of the consequences. There are 32 million UK Facebook users, and the company uploads more than 300 million images every day. Many of the young not only expose every detail of their relationships, social and working lives, but some also photograph and then broadcast images of themselves having sex. Maja Pantic, a professor of affective and behavioural computing at Imperial College in London, offers a dire warning: ‘As individuals, we must get back the ownership of our own data — we just don’t understand how bad this really is.’

Already there is a fightback. Millions of iPhone users, led by the former chief of the consumer watchdog is seeking a £1 billion settlement after falling victim to Google embedding computer codes in their Apple devices which were designed to reveal to Google the websites users visited. As for the scarily addictive Facebook, five years ago, when it reached a billion users, 55 per cent of them used it daily. Today, numbers have doubled — with two-thirds updating their entries every day. For their part, while YouTube’s bosses profess a willingness to tackle abuses (some of them appalling) and Google at least pretends to think about them, Facebook simply does not care, according to a social media analyst.

The company’s origins explain a lot. Peter Thiel, one of its inventors, formed an early fascination for a 20th-century French philosopher and anthropologist called Rene Girard who identified a phenomenon known as ‘mimetic desire’. His reasoning was that, once human beings have met their basic needs for food and shelter, they are very vulnerable to a yearning to find out what other people are doing, then do it themselves. A testy stand-off happened between the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee and executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google, who were lambasted for the appalling content allowed on their sites. Thus, at the heart of Facebook’s stupendous success is how it exploits the human weakness of ‘me-tooism’ (our wish to copy the behaviour of others) on a global scale. Its system empowers individuals to connect with others who think like themselves, in a way that no other medium in history has made possible.

Targeting. In both the political and consumer spheres, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple are constantly refining its reach by targeting users with the precision of a telescopic sight through its knowledge of their age, race, sex, shopping habits and preferences. Its partnership with Experian, a consumer credit reporting agency, has dramatically increased its information on people’s credit ratings and purchases, reaching back over decades. Facebook trumpets its benevolence in enabling mankind to connect, to ‘build communities’, as if Mark Zuckerberg was a modern-day Mother Teresa, Walt Disney and William Caxton all rolled into one.

Dangerous. Zuckerberg’s prime interest is to make money from us. Facebook is valued at around £400 billion, making it the fourth most valuable company on the planet. Zuckerberg’s personal wealth is around £60 billion. What makes him and his fellow-social media giants uniquely dangerous, however, is not their money, but their unprecedented, intimate personal knowledge of billions of people. No human can be entrusted with such data, which we should properly view as a weapon of mass destruction. There must be regulation of social media, and every government in the world ought to address itself on how best this can be implemented, without, of course, imposing improper restrictions on free speech. It must be the beginning of wisdom that we understand how wildly excessive and deeply dangerous are the powers of the social media giants, headed by Facebook. They cannot be un-invented, but they must be tamed. Should we fail to do this, these wild beasts will devour our democracies, individual freedoms, media, and local businesses.

 

 

Facebook vs. Reality: why Facebooks ads don’t work

In a June 27th, 2017 a commentary in Media Post, Gord Hotchkiss lays out the problem with Facebook advertising.  Facebook is about self-advertising and Advertisers interfere with the self-adulation.  Hotchkiss writes,  “According to a study from the Georgia Institute of Tech, half of all selfies taken have one purpose. They are intended to show the world how attractive we are: our makeup, our clothes, our shoes, our lips, our hair. This category accounts for more selfies than all other categories combined — more than selfies taken with people or pets we love, more than us doing the things we love, more than being in the places we love, more than eating the food we love. It appears that the one thing we love the most is ourselves. The selfies have spoken.”

If one swills that static around just a bit in your cortical brew it can be quite disconcerting to think that fifty percent 1.9 billion Facebook users are, like Narcissist, captured by their cyber reflections.  To whom are these budding flowers posing for?  What is the outcome?  What is the gain?

Hotchkiss argues that Shakesphere knew the answer,  “All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players.” Hotchkiss aruges via the social psychology theories of Goffman that, “we are all playing the part of who we want to be perceived as. Our lives are divided up into two parts: the front, when we’re “on stage” and playing our part, and the “back,”when we prepare for our role. The roles we play depend on the context we’re in.”

Here’s the down side for advertisers is that Facebook is not about the consumer but how people, “are obsessed about how they are perceived by others. They’re the ones snapping selfies of themselves to show the world just how marvelous they look.”  This may account for the terribly low click-through-rates of 0.01 to 0.05% of Facebook ads.

Advertisers, like Facebook devotees, have been convinced that being on Facebook means something.  The positive benefits for advertisers is miniscule.  Shoppers, real people who know what they want are different than Facebook devotees.  Hotchkiss via Goffman says, “Others care little what the world thinks of them. They are internally centered and are focused on living their lives, rather than acting their way through their lives for the entertainment of —  and validation from —  others.”   According to Hotchkiss, “Goffman’s theory was created specifically to provide insight into face-to-face encounters. Technology has again throw a gigantic wrinkle into things — and that wrinkle may explain why we keep taking those narcissistic selfies.”

Shopping is fundamentally a face-to-face experience.  It is here that local businesses should be kicking ads but don’t.  They don’t because they think they should be more like Facebook” hip, cool, self-indulgent.  Shoppers, real shoppers, want a human interaction that motivates them to buy and come back more often.

 

The most bizarre twist of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, et al is the intimacy and acceptance they pretend to offer.  There is no intimacy or acceptance via social media of any kind.  What there is instead is a microphone attached to the ear of the speaker. 

 

 

Advertisers need to pay attention to whom they seek to engage…a person talking to himself or herself or x-self is not your target consumer. Hotchkiss, calls Facebook and social media, “This is pure catnip to the socially needy. Their need to craft a popular — but entirely inauthentic — persona goes into overdrive. Their lives are not lived so much as manufactured to create a veneer just thick enough to capture a quick click of approval. Increasingly, they retreat to an online world that follows the script they’ve written for themselves. Suddenly it makes sense why we keep taking all those selfies of ourselves. When all the world’s a stage, you need a good head shot.”

Advertisers might reevaluate their social media buys and think about shifting focus to person-to-person communication that takes place at the local level.  Imagine for a moment, General Foods, Ford, GM, et al investing in training local employees in local stores about the in-store experience, giving direct in-store shopper discounts, and giving up the board room agreement that, “we need a bigger online strategy.”