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Amazon to New York Times: Get your facts straight

BY Dan Berthiaume

SEATTLE — An Amazon.com executive is publicly disputing an August 2015 New York Times article that painted an unflattering picture of the retailer’s corporate culture.
 
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos blasted the article in an internal memo sent to employees shortly after it was published. However, Jay Carney, senior VP for global affairs of Amazon, is replying to the article in a new post on the blogging site Medium.
 
Carney leads off by revealing Bo Olson, a former Amazon employee quoted in the article as saying nearly everyone he saw cried at their desk, resigned from the company after admitting to defrauding vendors. According to Carney, the Times knew this fact but did not include it in the article.
 
In addition, Carney says reports of employees being anonymously criticized by coworkers through an anonymous feedback tool are false. The tool is not anonymous, and an Amazon employee quoted as saying she was “strafed” only received three pieces of feedback by named employees, who all included positive comments along with constructive suggestions for improvement.
 
Other specific items in the article Carney disputes include an employee who claimed he was berated in a performance review before obtaining a promotion actually receiving a positive written review and promotion. Carney also provided a quote from an employee who said in the article she once didn’t sleep for four days straight clarifying that it was her choice and related to an MBA program she was in.
 
Furthermore, Carney says he was promised by the Times reporters writing the story that it would be a balanced and nuanced look at Amazon’s culture. Amazon’s public editor has said the article is driven more by “generalization and anecdote” than “irrefutable proof.”
 
“Journalism 101 instructs that facts should be checked and sources should be vetted.,” Carney wrote. “When there are two sides of a story, a reader deserves to know them both. Why did the Times choose not to follow standard practice here? We don’t know. But it’s worth noting that they’ve now twice in less than a year been called out by their own public editor for bias and hype in their coverage of Amazon.”
 
The Times on Monday afternoon published executive editor Dean Baquet’s response to Carney’s piece on Medium, in which Baquet stands behind the reporting carried out by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld.
 
“The points in today’s posting challenge the credibility of four of the more than two dozen named current or former Amazon employees quoted in the story or cast doubt on their veracity,” the post said. ”The information for the most part, though, did not contradict what the former employees said in our story; instead, you mostly asserted that there were no records of what the workers were describing. Of course, plenty of conversations and interactions occur in workplaces that are not documented in personnel files.”
 
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Teradata’s Bob Fair offers retail, CPG marketing tips

BY Mike Troy

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Aside from some massively complex challenges, retailer and consumer packaged goods marketers have never had it so good, according to Bob Fair, president of marketing applications at Teradata.

“It is a great time to be a marketer,” Fair told a group of nearly 100 analysts and international media gathered here at the Anaheim Convention Center for the big data analytics and marketing applications company’s annual users conference. “There is an explosion of digital channels so companies no longer dictate how to interact with customers, the customers dictate how to interact with companies.”

Meanwhile, Fair noted that marketing budgets are not keeping pace with the rate of growth in the channels available to connect with consumers who expect individualized marketing.

“The customer doesn’t care how challenging individualized marketing is, they expect you to know who they are and what they have just done,” Fair said regarding consumers’ behavior at different touch point on the path to purchase.

Between the increased complexity and resource constraints, the scenario outlined by Fair sounded more like a nightmare than “a great time to be a marketer.” However, his enthusiasm about marketing stems from the fact that technological solutions now exists that help markets cost effectively solve huge challenges to create business value.

Most notably, marketers today have access to more customer data and more digital and offline channels for brand engagement than ever before. As a result, both the process and technology of modern marketing have advanced  from an advertising-driven mix of TV, print, radio, direct mail, and programmatic marketing  to today’s data-driven environment with the Internet of Things, new devices, and new channels including search, social media, email, mobile, web and more.  According to Teradata, the added complexity puts marketers in critical need of a Data Management Platform (DMP) to collect and integrate all of the data for use in real time across all channel opportunities.

How to address those critical needs amid the big data explosion is one of the reasons why Teradata’s 30th annual Partners conference attracted roughly 6,000 attendees. It’s also why Fair is excited by what Teradata has done with a major upgrade to the Teradata’s Integrated Marketing Cloud and one of the company’s recent acquisitions.

Teradata acquired the Netherlands-based DMP provider FLXone on Sept. 30 to serve as the foundation for Teradata’s Integrated Marketing Cloud. As a result, Teradata contends it is the first company to bring online advertising and customer marketing data together to drive real-time interactions across all channels and provide integrated, individualized insights directly to marketing.  FLXone also brings an extensive partner ecosystem with more than 40 leading advertisers, publishers, agencies, and media trading desks, including AppNexus, Google DoubleClick and MediaMath, according to Teradata.

“These partnerships will enable customers to quickly integrate their data and applications with the Teradata Integrated Marketing Cloud, so they can leverage data in real-time, across all channels, to provide a consistent customer-engagement experience,” the company said in a statement.

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Survey: Most U.S. shoppers hate Black Friday

BY Gina Acosta

Most U.S. shoppers dislike Black Friday, but a third of them say they're planning to spend more than $500 that weekend anyway, according to a new survey.

BestBlackFriday.com, a deal tracking website focused on analyzing holiday sales, has released its annual survey made up of 1,140 participants who plan on shopping this year. While 47% of participants believe that stores should be closed on Thanksgiving, 33% will still shop in-stores or online.

Here are a few key points from the survey:

Estimated Black Friday Spending:
• 32% plan on spending $501 or more (53% men, 47% women)
• 38% plan on spending $1-$250 (45% men, 55% women)
• The 35+ group will spend more than the 18-24 group

Thanksgiving:
• Of the 34% who believe stores should open on Thanksgiving, 57% are men and 53% are in the 18-24 group
• 68% of participants will begin their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving
• Only 16% believe Thanksgiving has better deals than Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Black Friday:
• Only 29% believe Black Friday has the best deals of the season
• 79% dislike the Black Friday research and shopping process
• 81% believe that Black Friday deals are not improving from year-to-year

Items by Interest:
• 43% said Electronics
• 26% said Apparel
• 17% said Toys/Games
• 6% said Appliances
• 8% said Other

Holiday Season:
• 94% believe they will make at least one in-store purchase this holiday season
• 35% will use cash for in-store purchases. 39% will use debit cards and 23% credit cards.

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