Earlier this year I was back in Sydney and went into a Commonwealth Bank only to find the music blaring, 3 ATM machines and a lady standing there glancing up to smile before returning to tap away on her iPhone. No tellars. Do it yourself. Fast forward 6 months and I’m in Santa Monica and confronted with this sign. At least I was able to buy a coffee while getting out some cash. My kids and your kids dont use cash. They tap. Like the lady in the Commonwealth Bank. Ironic right?
When Amazon purchased Wholefoods, all of us in the Bay Area thought it was a bold move and wondered if prices or quality of foods would diminish. I almost hit my head on the glass casing when I rounded the isle in Wholefoods Redwood City one afternoon. Progress my friends. Disruption works for most people. I now drink coffee more at home, do most of my shopping/ banking via an app.
Apple Maps Vans have been spotted around the Bay Area and our team of Quality Assurance testers put thousands of retail store NAPUs (Name, Address, Phone Number, URLs) into Apple Maps on a range of iPhones to verify the correct details. Across the board, 25% of listings are needing updates. That’s a lot! In many cases, Apple Maps have images from Yelp.
There is no central dashboard to manage listings en mass yet Apple do allow an easy confirmation process and report back with when updates are made. Something Google could learn from!
Facebook is a walled garden (you have to login to access content only on Facebook) and the promise of Facebook content optimization has not materialized. When Facebook reduced news feed reach due to fake news scandals etc, it was a nail in the coffin for content sharing marketing addicts. Instead of littering the Facebook feed with often meaningless brand or product updates, Facebook Business Manager provides a very useful resources for customers of brands. That is, helping users on Facebook locate a store, ring the store and show the store location on a map. Sounds what Google Maps and Google My Business does right? YES it does.
So when Zuckerberg announced in the official post of when News Feed was changing at Facebook in January, I’m sure the team down at Google chuckled at his comment:
“Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.”
In recent months, we have been shifting our retail store network clients to focus on Facebook Location Store Listings inside Facebook Business Manager. While a little funky to set up, the tool allows stores who are busy serving customers in store to have a dedicated Facebook URL set up as part of the process. There is a nice toolset inside Facebook Business Manager to conveniently manage all locations and we will be tracking over time the impact of page visits, store visit and conversions as do Google with driving directions and phone calls to stores.
We remember the first chat bots that were on websites. They looked strange and out of place. Then Zendesk came along and made it all seem so beautiful. Boldchat and other chat technologies that weren’t that interesting have been trumped by newer smarter AI and CRM integration offerings like Drift.com.
While they don’t help nor hinder the online optimization process, they do help engage users and while remarketing was always SEO best friends for keeping those newly found users coming back to a site, the conversational applications now have users ready to use them (client and customer).
This month Microsoft acquired Semantic Machines to build upon new approaches to building conversational Artificial Intelligence technology for language interfaces that can better handle natural language interactions.
So we are just at the beginning of the generation where technology is starting to help people more based on their requests. Kind of makes you want to scream for joy right!
Submitting a list of URLs to a search engine is a good moment for any website developer. It means you’ve arrived at a point where the site or application is ready for prime time and pushing it into ‘the wild’ for everyone to see it is a cause for an mental high five. Or is it?
While submitting URLs via Google Search Console is easy enough using free XML Sitemap generators, dropping the file onto the root directory of the website server and then verifying it inside Google Search Console, the hard part is waiting for the indexation to occur and managing client reporting.
Enter Pro-SiteMaps that host the XML SiteMap. Their real time dashboard gives extra comfort beyond Google as you can see daily movements of URLs being indexed as the sitemaps are constantly being generated from their servers. Initially we were concerned about having duplicate sitemaps yet Oleg, the founder of Pro-SiteMaps, confirmed that multiple sitemaps isn’t deemed to be falling foul of Google’s indexation policies. There’s no rule book on this yet from what we can tell over dozens of clients, multiple sitemaps using both 3rd party services and Google Search Console is acceptable.
If you didn’t know, Facebook Ads are much lower than Adwords because you can target by psychographics. Cambridge Analytica made that global news this week. We in the online industry in Menlo Park have known it since Facebook had their Beacon program settlement.
What everyone failed to realize about Facebook is that just because my friend likes something, doesn’t mean I am going to like something, believe what they do, go where they go, eat what they eat. I mean at what point didn’t high school online reunions and long lost friends using Facebook realize they were going to be taken advantage of by ‘bad actors’.
This isn’t a data breach, it’s a full scale assault using Facebook on democracy and individual freedom. That’s why I’ve never been a Facebook user.
Finally. Twitter announces publicly “50,258 automated accounts that we identified as Russian-linked and Tweeting election-related content during the election period.”
Twitter also said “we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period.”
More at https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2018/2016-election-update.html
At SearchForecast, our clients over the years have included ThreatMetrix, Skybox Security, Brkt.com and Menlo Security. We are now live in a world where information cyber security software is paramount. While Facebook announced they are scaling back news and corporate posts in their feed and allowing users to rank news sources that they see as the most credible and trustworthy, this isn’t going to help the spread of ‘fake news’. A social network based on groups of friends ranking news is irrefutably at odds with editorial objectivity.
Many people theorize that artificial intelligence will make jobs redundant. Sure there will be some structural changes like all employment sectors go through as economies mature yet human’s will not be replaced. With over 7 billion people on the planet growing to around 10 billion by 2050, it’s important we understand that artificial intelligence is about giving computers a set of tools, a problem to solve and they find the solution, not giving computers step by step instructions to do human work.
While you might want to read about the threat population growth has to our planet which Thomas Robert Malthus predicted in his Essay on the Principal of Population, there is also a case for taking into account the future of space exploration and how that may help solve the ultimate resource issues of planet earth. So does artificial intelligence hold the answer?
Some technologist are looking beyond autonomous vehicles and in the book ‘No Higher Ground‘ by author Roman Godzich helps us understand how exploration has it’s reward and pitfalls.
Happy Halloween 2017!
On the back of Facebook announcing that Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts on the social network over a two-year period in an effort to sway U.S. politics and that about 126 million Americans may have seen the posts during that time, we decided to audit our clients Google Analytics accounts to detect any foreign abnormal activities.
And look what we found in one of our client accounts under “Audience > Geo > Language”. Now that is VERY SCARY!
My learned colleague Joshua Lowcock shared with me today that Snapchat has added an important feature – the ability to share links natively within iOS. This may not seem like a big deal, but it may reveal if Snap is able to drive traffic to websites organically within the platform. An interesting thing for clients to keep an eye on, to see if their sites or product pages are getting traffic from Snapchat (this is all the more interesting given Facebook’s no publisher feed tests).
Being a big Snapchat fan (mainly for the geofilters), we’ll keep and eye on it and help publish any findings on whether there is an Snapchat referrers found inside Google Analytics across our 80 client accounts.