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The Edge.Email  #29

Welcome to the weekly newsletter from The Edge Group. The goal of each edition is to help you think differently about B2B content. If you know anyone who might enjoy this email, please have them sign up here.


1. BEER & DATA

Big Beer, Big Data, and the Big Implications of AB InBev’s RateBeer Acquisition

Does the question of who owns crowdsourced review platforms change the credibility of the ratings themselves? Does Rotten Tomatoes ownership by Fandango mean they might bias against Netflix productions? Does Amazon’s ownership of IMDB corrupt the ratings now that they have a strong interest in streaming?

Let’s bring this debate back….to beer. This week we learned that AB InBev has a venture capital arm called ZX Ventures. We also learned that they quietly invested in, and finally bought out, RateBeer, an online beer-rating platform that’s been around since 2000. Not everyone was happy about this:

Some brewers also oppose the acquisition. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder Sam Calagione issued a statement on June 5, 2017 asking RateBeer to remove any of the brewery’s data from its platform.

“It just doesn’t seem right for a brewer of any kind to be in a position to potentially manipulate what consumers are hearing and saying about beers, how they are rated and which ones are receiving extra publicity on what might appear to be a legitimate, 100 percent user-generated platform,” Calagione wrote in a blog post on Dogfish Head’s website. “It is our opinion that this initiative and others are ethically dubious and that the lack of transparency is troubling.”

One of our team even compared this to Facebook’s infamous Onavo acquistion, the one where via a VPN app, they tracked competitor app usage in order to determine who to quickly buy and kill. It’s a bit of a stretch, but not an unreasonable one. AB InBev now has full visibility into a dataset of consumer preferences initially uploaded under an assumption of neutrality. They can adjust their products and distribution accordingly to crush competition. The VinePair piece quotes an echoed sentiment from NYU Professor Jason Greenberg, the author of The Internet Information Inequality Machine?

The acquisition raises a number of questions around the editorial integrity of crowdsourced data, monopoly power, and internet commerce in general. Please just don’t ruin craft beer.

Side note: On the topic of conflict of interest in crowdsourced ratings, we highly recommend checking out this Fakespot chrome extension.


2. EMAIL

Happy 15th Birthday Gmail!


3. VR/AR

7 Ways Spatial Computing is Evolving Advertising & Marketing

This is a wonderfully detailed exploration from Tom Emrich on what the future of marketing in a world domainted by spatial computing could look like:

Spatial computing is the shift of computing from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions. To enable this shift, computers need the ability to understand space — the environment around it and everything in it including people. Computers are able to do this using sensors, such as cameras, and artificial intelligence.

Once computers understand space, we can use these informed computers to edit our real world by placing digital objects and information in it and view this all through a transparent digital screen like smart glasses or even our smartphone: this is Augmented Reality or AR.

Everything from virtual influencers, virtual human assistants, VR brand activations, augmented customer support, AR shopping apps, and even the evolution of display ads are covered. If you’re interested in the topic, this piece is definitely one for the archives.


4. PRINT

We are not huge fans of printing things out, but we do love obsessing over font choices. This week it was brought to our attention there have been studies on what fonts are the most ink-efficient when printing:

When Consumer Reports tested that idea several years ago, we got 27 percent more mileage from ink when using Times New Roman rather than Arial, a default font in many browsers. Calibri and Century Gothic both outperformed Arial as well.


5. JOURNALISM

“Florida Man” has become somewhat of a funny meme-ish storyline in media. Some crazy guy does some really crazy thing in Florida and we, as a nation, chuckle.

It turns out, the origin source for this meme is the comprehensive nature of public records laws in Florida. Gil Smart of Treasure Coast Newspapers in Florida explains how, as a journalist, getting access to public arrest records in Florida is incredibly easu, whereas in states like Pennsylvania, you are subject to details like the mood of the officer. It’s this transparency that makes it easy pickings for finding cheap traffic-driving oddities.


6. A NEWSLETTER

Ever since we read this December 2017 article about a company that raised $90 million to launch advertisements on the moon, we’ve been a bit curious about…..the space.

Apparently, it’s not just us, as Axios just announced they are launching a Space newsletter on April 9th. They won’t be the first, as we’ve been enjoyingInside Space, from the Inside.com newsletter portfolio, for a while now:


7. A VIDEO

Another video from the Tom Emrich piece above, featuring AR-powered talking wine bottles. Once mobile web augmented reality really takes off and you don’t have to download a dedicated app (we’re getting close!), we are incredibly bullish on experiences like this.