Saturday, August 11, 2018

Capped Spend Reverse Discount

Just finished watching Ready Player One last night, it was a great movie and I very much enjoyed it. One of the primary premises of the story line is having to do with money; and in the virtual OASIS if you die and lose your "shit", in real life you actually can lose your "shit" and so many do.

In real life this problem already exist where the game is "free" but if you want to get very far you need to spend real money on coins and upgrades. Problem is a lot of the players already have an addictive personality and have trouble controlling their spending. That's where I started thinking about setting up a system that encourages spending still but at the same time encourages responsible spending.

Read though this whole idea first before you say to yourself or outloud how stupid it sounds.

The numbers in my examples are all arbitrary and are not based off of any real-world statistics, for this to be the most profitable the thresholds would have to be moved around. I am going to make up a fictitious game called "Mo Money" (nothing to do with Notorious B.I.G.) but you can imagine that if you wish.

Mo Money is a free download on the app store and lets you run around a city as a real estate investor and making your millions. You can also do in app purchases and get things going faster to buy coins so you can buy that virtual apartment building and start charging rent. You can play the game without spending any money but it takes a lot longer.

Now the company looks at the real-world money being spent and the average is $64 a month per player and the median is $31 a month per player. BUT there are a lot of players that spend nothing or less that a few dollars here and there. This might make up almost half the players. So how do you get those players to spend more money in Mo Money???

This is where the concept of a Capped Spend Reverse Discount (just made this up, might not be the best name) comes in.

  • A player selects a tier where they cannot spend more than a limit of money set in that tier.
  • A player can only move up tiers but not back down except once a year.
  • They must provide a form of payment that can auto-recharge like a credit card.
  • The account is fully funded up to the max at the beginning of each month.
  • There is a discount applied to each tier but the discount is greater for a lesser maximum balance.
Now this may not sound like the best way for a business model to make money. But remember you are trying to get players that don't spend money to spend some money and it all adds up really quickly.

Here are some sample tiers to give you a better idea.

Tier 1
$20 per month MAX
30% discount on all purchases

Tier 2
$40 per month MAX
20% discount on all purchases

Tier 3
$80 per month MAX
10% discount on all purchases

Tier 4
No MAX and no discounts but can purchase some items that discounted tiers cannot.

So the casual gamers are mostly going to pick the Tier 1. Then if they find that $20 a month just is not enough to satisfy their thirst for renting out scummy apartments, they can move up to Tier 2. And so on until they are so addicted they just spend spend spend with no regard for discounts or limits BWAAAHAHAHAHHAA. When moving up a tier you must read and agree to terms and every once in a while the game will remind you that you should play responsibly.

Pros to the consumer:
  • Controlled spending, if you don't spend anything then you just have the $20 sitting in your account forever and if you ever stop playing you can close your account and get a full refund.
  • Discounts for beginners, so you can get playing faster without such a commitment up front. Also an advantage to catching up to those that have been playing longer.
  • By being "locked" to a tier except to move up it encourages your to think about how much money you are spending.
Pros to the game maker:
  • More monthly revenue all around.
  • Can advertise that you care about responsible playing and want to make sure your customers don't spend themselves stupid.
  • Players that did not spend anything may spend a few dollars here and there plus you have a minimum of $20 in possibly millions of accounts just sitting there!
  • Ability to have flash sales for those that are enrolled in the tiers. Such as 50% off of any single purchase once a month or something like that. Then you make the real cool things more that $41 so Tier 1 would never be able to get those cool things even at a 50% discount. They just have to move to the next tier to get those cooler items.
A few other notes thoughts, you could even have a "roll-over" tier where $10 a month is debited every month until your account hits a max of say $100 with a discount of 15%. You cannot add more than $10 every month and if you don't use it you lose it. So after $100 you still pay $10 a month but it does not build your account balance up any more. Kinda like a subscription.

This makes a lot of sense for gaming but can be applied elsewhere in an ongoing spending/subscription model.

Hope I was able to sell you on the idea of Capped Spend Reverse Discounts, lets see if someone ever uses this model.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Block Chain Periodicals Archiving

Many of us older folks (some prefer "experienced") can remember when if you wanted to research anything you had to go to a library. There you could find books and periodicals on just about anything and as an example they had these things called microfiche. These microfiche readers would magnify a 105 x 148 mm piece of film that contained black and white text/images. As well there were many other forms of media to archive articles, books, and various documents.

The point I am trying to make in reminiscing, is these different medias could not be easily altered and would provide long term archival of information. Today most new information is published on a website and can easily be altered. The problems is for purposes of historical reference this is not a good thing.

I propose the following, that would create an international archive of publications in such a way where they could never be altered or at least it would be very difficult.

  • Have a purpose build "archival" engine scrape sites containing periodicals from all over the world in all languages.
  • Store each article/image/video in a compressed file and then generate a checksum and or digital signature for that compressed file.
  • A blockchain would then be used as an index for these compressed files along with their checksum and or digital signature to validate the authenticity of the file.
  • Versioning can be done as well with the blockchain index to link documents together that are from the same source/location when modified.
  • This archive could then be accessible by anyone throughout the world and be the primary archival index internationally.
  • Any entity that has the capacity and proper systems could replicate (mirror) the index in its entirety adding additional redundancy to the system.

Because of possible copyright issues with documents being copied there would need to be agreements between the originating sites and the archiving engine to allow for the archiving process to "scrape" their sites in full. Copyrights on periodicals are different than with, say a book. Since the point of a periodical is to be shared I do not believe the archival of them would be a problem. As long as the capturing of the documents includes the proper references to its original publisher.

Any paywalls would have to allow for the archiving engines to bypass them. As per agreements with sites that charge for content, a time delay would be set before releasing the documents publicly. We must respect that publishers have to make a living.

Sites that allow the archiving service to scrape their sites in full would have a seal identifying that they have the integrity to allow their works to be essentially "etched in stone" for the ages.

An archive would also encourage proper journalistic etiquette in properly documenting any corrections and or retractions.

Authentic historical documents are necessary for all of society. Unfortunately throughout the history of our world; many bad actors have altered these documents for malicious and subversive purposes.

I believe the world deserves historical truth to be preserved for all to see without censoring, unaltered, and in full context as it was originally published.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Better Way to Advertise

We are bombarded by advertisers on the Internet constantly. Everyone is trying to get you to see their products and services. Problem is that we have become numb to all this marketing and block most of it with ad-blocker (I do). I am a consumer and am interested in new products and services but the majority of the ads I am presented are just wasting my time.

Social media makes money mostly by selling your data and advertising. These companies need ongoing revenue to stay alive and can only keep afloat for so long without these revenues.

The advertising model has gotten much more complex and in some ways more intelligent, but they are still using the same old model that has been around since the beginning. That is to show you an advertisement based off of what they think you want.

So lets flip this around a bit shall we...

To explain my method of presenting the consumer with smart advertising I am going to make up a fictional family and friend chat program called "CrewChat".

Mom, Dad, and the two teenage Son and Daughter are all members of CrewChat and have invited some other family and a few friends into their group as well. CrewChat is using a new way to bring in revenue from its users. They have a choice for each member to pay an annual subscription of $20 for no advertisements OR a brand new method called "AdPick".

  • You choose from a list of advertisers that you like and are familiar with. You MUST do this otherwise you would have to pay the annual subscription.
  • Those advertisers will then show you ads for their products and services as well as specials that you would not be able to get anywhere else.
  • Some of the advertisements you see will be from competing products and services that are related to the the products and services you choose.
  • The longer you keep a particular product or service in your AdPicks the better discounts, specials, and coupons you will get.
  • There are a limited amount of slots so brand loyalty gets tested...
Here is how AdPick would work.
You choose Levi's, Verizon, Apple, and Starbucks as your preferred AdPicks. Now you will start seeing clothing advertisements, the latest in Smart Phones, Apple products, and all things coffee related. These are brands you already know about and like. Basically you are telling them you like their products/services and you want to spend money with them. Give me something special to keep me as a customer coming back again and again.

So you are chatting with your mom and see a 50% off coupon for any Grande drink at Starbucks that is good for the next 12 hours. Now you can share that with anyone inside the AdPicks program so other CrewChat users in this example.

Then later after you are hanging out at the Starbucks you are chatting with your best friend and up pops an ad for a new pair of designer jeans from May Company made by Tommy Hilfiger, now 40% off for the next 3 days. You love your Levi's and not really wanting to try something new. But you go ahead and share that special with your friend.

  • Ads that are relevant to your likes.
  • Does not waste as much of your time.
  • By these advertisers providing specials that are only available through the AdPick program it encourages more use of the CrewChat app as well as any other app that users the AdPick program.
  • Allows consumers to see new products and services that they are very likely to learn more about or try a competing product/service.
  • Can earn rewards by sharing ads with others as the original ad is targeted to you. So anyone that uses your code is essentially giving you credit. A company may then give you extra discounts on other items.
Bottom line is making advertising interactive and giving consumers a choice will be beneficial to everyone. Those that don't want to be bothered can just pay a subscription. Everyone is a winner!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Automating Food Service

With minimum wage increasing in many states across the country, service staff wages are increasing. This means that either food prices will go up or you will see less service staff. In reality both are going to happen and already are.

I have personally noticed that the speed and quality of food services has decreased in recent years to the point where I either don't want to eat out or expect a long wait for service and food.

When wages go up arbitrarily because of political pressure instead of free market driving the wages you will have many consequences.

First there will be higher prices, and if a business tries to control what they charged, they must cut costs. The biggest overhead for most employers especially in thes service sector are wages. So when your restaurant on a Friday night used to have 7 wait staff but now have 5, those wait staff have to work a LOT harder. Those wait staff may make more money but the amount of work is much higher than the pay raise. This will cause burn out and eventually the quality of the service will drop.

Higher prices will erase much of the wage increase. If prices go up 5 or 10 percent and your wage went up 5 or 10 percent. Will you do the math...

Entry level is too expensive and many people will not be able to get an entry level service job. If you have to pay a dishwasher $15 an hour where you used to pay them $8 or $10 an hour that is a huge difference. Plus they will not be more efficient, they will not do more dishes per house. Same dishwasher more overhead.

Wages need to increase organically with the market. If a waiter or waitress is willing to work for $7 an hour plus tips then let them. If a dishwasher is willing to work for $5 an hour, let them. If you can't get any cooks for less than $14 an hour then that is the market telling you that you must pay at least that much or you will not have any cooks.

FINALLY PEOPLE WILL BE REPLACED BY TECHNOLOGY! People have been replaced by technology since technology existed. Most people used to farm, percentage wise hardly anyone works on a farm anymore. What happened to all those jobs? Technology like combines, tractors, automated picking equipment, planting equipment, processing plants, and on and on. But employement is just as high if not higher today as there are different jobs to fill. As the service sector is continually automated those that used to fill those jobs will do something else. Including jobs that we can't even think of today. Like colonizing Mars?

As wages go up the ROI (return on investment) for automating a service job goes down. That robot burger flipper that costs $60,000 used to be too expensive when you only paid a person $20,000 a year. But at $30,000 a year the robot will be paid for in 2 years. And the robot is never late to work, does not need a break, never sick, and never complains. If your smart your new job will be to program and maintain those robots instead of complaining about them replacing you.

Now picture the future of food service...
You walk into your favorite restaurant and ask for a table for your family of 5. Instead of the typical 45 minute to an hour wait you get an answer of 16 minutes. This is because all the tables are tracked with an algorithm based on how many people there are at each table, what they are eating, and also how many alcoholic drinks they have had. Plus factor in how long it takes to clear a table and how many staff there are to work the tables; with historical data that 16 minute estimated wait time should be pretty close.

You sit down to wait and start deciding what you want to eat and drink from a tablet with a full menu. If you have any questions or have a special request, just press a button on the tablet for help or put in a note.

15 minutes later your table is ready (1 minute faster than expected! YEA!). The dedicated wait staff brings you to your table where your drinks are already showing up from the dedicated drink and table staff. Since everyone has already picked what they want to eat the kitchen has your orders and is preparing them as you sit down.

Back in the kitchen your orders are already being prepared based on how long each plate takes to make, slowest to fastest. Orders are shown on large screens with any special request in bright red so the kitchen staff does not miss them. Once a plate is completed it is set on the counter on top of a large display surface with your table number and a picture of each plate. The plates have RFIDs on the bottom of them and notify the staff when they are all ready as well as update your tablet that your order that it has been plated. When the dedicated drink and table staff comes by to pick up your order everything is ready to go at once and the customers get their food quickly.

Back at your table you already know that your food should be coming out in the next few minutes so you order another drink with a few presses on your tables tablet. Your drink shows up a few minutes later with the food.

The dedicated drink and table staff gets paid based on efficiency of bringing plates and drinks. There is no tipping in this restaurant, instead the staff is paid very well compared to a minimum wage job plus tips. Because the pay is based on efficiencies there is a lot of motivation for being quick and doing a great job. Customers can rate the friendliness of the staff as well by choosing their picture on the tables tablet and anonymously giving them ratings. These are all sent to the managers on staff in real-time. If they see complaints from a table they address the issue immediately.

During your meal drinks never run dry and any request or additional food is brought out quickly without having to wait for a staff member to come around. By the time everyone is finished with their meal the bill gets paid on the tables tablet quickly and easily. Each customer can pay individually or as a group with a credit card or cash.

In the end you have happy customers, happy staff that get paid better for doing a great job, and the restaurant is moving paying customers through quickly bringing in more revenue than ever before.

Sounds like a dream? Shouldn't be. All this technology exist and most customers today will have no problem with not ordering from a person in exchange for a faster and more pleasant experience. After all waiting is the worse part of eating out.