Tag: Google+

#TechNews – Google ups the game with wearable tech…

Google puts ‘on’ switch in hoodies

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/google-puts-on-switch-in-hoodies-x8h0tknqw

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How Google is Helping Marketers Understand Rising Consumer Interests During COVID-19

At the beginning of COVID-19, we saw an initial rush on sanitizers and toilet paper but this was only the beginning when it came to the major retail changes that would result from this domino effect.

With billions around the world forced to quarantine for the past few months, consumer activity has adapted even further — spikes in virtual education, upticks in sales of jigsaw puzzles, bread makers, hair care products as people take their self-care from the salons to their home. As we look ahead and see enforcements around social distancing ease, it’s become more apparent that while we may regain some semblance of normalcy, any patterns that held pre-COVID-19 are highly unlikely to remain unchanged.

Gathering deeper consumer insights

It’s impossible to know how exactly consumer behavior will evolve with the exception we can expect to need to adjust our strategies according to the shifts. Google is looking to make this transition for brands easier with a new “Rising Retail Categories” tool via Think with Google. In the official announcement the company explained that businesses are grasping onto whatever resources they can to gain insight to make decisions on the fly from Google Trends, social listening, surveys, and their own data but the efforts lack structure and concrete guidance.

“If they don’t know what to look for, there isn’t an easy way to understand which product categories are gaining in popularity, and might pose an opportunity.” Pallavi Naresh, Product Manager explained. Google’s move comes at a time several leading platforms are looking to support retailers including Pinterest, which recently launched an updated business community to facilitate a connection between business owners.

How it works

While you may wonder how this tool differs from the already-existing Google Trends, the new offering was designed to emphasize product searches gaining the most traction. This can fluctuate day to day or even on a monthly basis depending on the region and the government advice that applies to the specific location.

With the new tool, you can filter the data by category and country — U.S., U.K., and Australia to start — and time frame — weekly, monthly, or yearly. Once you’re in a designated category you can get even more granular and learn what people are searching for within that space. For instance, searches for “volleyball nets” have grown by 60 percent in the past week and under that, “crossnets” are of particular interest.

Taking a step back and reflecting on the month of April, swimming pools, golf bag accessories, and trampolines took the leading spots as the most searched products in the U.S. Only time will tell how this may shift into the summer months and again come the fall.

Looking ahead: the use cases

“Having information on the fastest-growing product categories from Google can have a big impact on multiple areas of marketing, particularly at the geographic level as states reopen at different paces,” Jim Leichenko, Director of Marketing and Media at Kantar, shared in a statement to Adweek.

In this effort, Google previewed data with a variety of businesses before an official rollout and saw several creative ideas ensue from having access to these evolving trends.

In one example, a cookware company noticed “flour” was a growing category in the U.S. so it teamed up with a well-known local chef to create content about recipes that incorporate the ingredient. In another, a jewelry and accessories company noted a growing interest in products falling under the “free weights” category. The team then made the decision to work with fitness influencers to promote their products authentically.

Finally, an apparel company with a “fast and flexible” production model is applying the information to inspire new product line ideas and inform what products are featured on its homepage throughout the pandemic. Aside from brand new product ideas, these insights can also enable product offering pivots where the product itself doesn’t change; just the angle in which it’s presented.

The future will be turbulent and as we move forward the “one size fits all” and “set it and forget” mentalities will unarguably do more harm than good. Having communities and the insights to propel us forward will be critical as we look to navigate whatever the “new normal” in a post-COVID age ultimately looks like.

You can check out Google’s ‘Rising retail Categories’ full listing here.

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The post How Google is Helping Marketers Understand Rising Consumer Interests During COVID-19 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/05/how-google-is-helping-marketers-understand-rising-consumer-interests-during-covid-19/

Apple and Google join forces to build coronavirus tracking into iOS and Android

Apple and Google are adapting iOS and Android to help track the spread of Covid-19 (Apple/Google)Apple and Google have made a joint announcement that…

Apple and Google join forces to build coronavirus tracking into iOS and Android

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Apple and Google join forces to build coronavirus tracking into iOS and Android

Apple and Google are adapting iOS and Android to help track the spread of Covid-19 (Apple/Google)Apple and Google have made a joint announcement that…

Apple and Google join forces to build coronavirus tracking into iOS and Android

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Apple and Google are to create contact tracing technology aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Apple and Google have announced they are working together to create contact tracing technology aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus. In a rare …

Apple and Google are to create contact tracing technology aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Google Pledges $800 Million to COVID-19 Relief and Support Efforts – #PositiveCoronavirusNews

Google has pledged a massive $800 million to a range of COVID-19 relief and support efforts.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/google-pledges-800-million-to-covid-19-relief-and-support-efforts/575057/

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Google Launches COVID-19 Help Site To Keep You Informed From A To Z

Image via Google

Google has launched an extensive website on the novel coronavirus, which aims to help internet users stay informed about COVID-19 while providing them the necessary tools and resources to keep up during this uncertain time.

From health information to safety and prevention tips, the site enables users to disregard fake news while up-keeping measures to prevent the spread of the virus. It also includes data and insights based on searches, and offers maps to see where the virus is currently prevalent.

The site also includes links to official bodies such as the World Health Organization and the respective public health departments from various states. Those practicing self-isolation and are working from home can browse through its ideas on living and coping well amid the crisis.

You can also take part in coronavirus relief efforts or read more about the contagion on Google’s blog. The site is presently directed to US-based visitors, but more content and languages are scheduled for rollout to the rest of the world.

Google’s efforts to fight COVID-19 are in line with Apple’s update to Siri that screens users for the virus.

Do these five simple things to help stop coronavirus (COVID-19).

DO THE FIVE
1️⃣ HANDS: Wash them often
2️⃣ ELBOW: Cough into it
3️⃣ FACE: Don’t touch it
4️⃣ FEET: Stay more than 3ft (1m) apart
5️⃣ FEEL: Sick? Stay home

*General public health information* pic.twitter.com/7SNGV1ROxZ

— Google (@Google) March 14, 2020

[via The Next Web, cover image via Google] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/409208/Google-Launches-COVID-19-Help-Site-To-Keep-You-Informed-From-A-To-Z/

Google Rolls Out Real-Time Translation in Multiple Languages for Google Translate

Google is launching a real-time audio translation option, in multiple languages, within Google Translate.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/google-rolls-out-real-time-translation-in-multiple-languages-for-google-tra/574358/

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Google Outlines Latest COVID-19 Tools on Google and YouTube, Including Changes to Content Reviews

Google has announced a new set of updates and tools as it seeks to help the community amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/google-outlines-latest-covid-19-tools-on-google-and-youtube-including-chan/574236/

Google’s Pixel 4a Gets Leaked In Shop And Even Has A Hands-On Video Review

[Click here to view the video in this article]



Image via IrinaKobrina / Shutterstock.com

Google is infamous for not safekeeping its upcoming smartphones from the public eye. The company doesn’t leave fans very surprised during Pixel events, because the phones’ designs and specifications get leaked months in advance.

And now, it looks like there’s not much else to say at the next Google Pixel event, as someone has managed to get their hands on the yet-to-be-released Pixel 4a, even producing an entire hands-on review to help you decide—way ahead—whether to purchase the model or not.

Cuban YouTube channel TecnoLike Plus spotted the model at a local mobile shop, and contacted the outlet for more details.

Google’s not going to like this, but the shop promptly sent the channel videos and full specs for the anticipated Pixel 4a.

The video below, which is in Spanish, shows the device with a coded alias and a fake logo on its rear, indicating that it is just a prototype. However, TNW believes the iteration to be “near-final.”

The prototype is shown with a purple wallpaper, which could mean that Google Pixel 4a will be available in purple. It also “feels like metal” to the reviewer, though it is made with plastic.

It seems that alike the Pixel 4, the 4a will come with a fingerprint sensor and a single back-facing camera. However, this version is seen with a hole-punch camera at the front, which Google hasn’t introduced yet.

The reviewer expressed that the smartphone’s camera has a “very good quality.”

Notable specs expected to arrive in the Google Pixel 4a include a Snapdragon 730 processor, a 5.81-inch display with 1080-by-2340 resolution, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, a hole-punch 8MP front camera, a 3,080 mAh battery, a 60Hz refresh rate, Dual-SIM support, a fingerprint reader, and even a headphone jack. Whether or not there’s an XL version remains to be known.

[via TNW, video via TecnoLike Plus, cover image via IrinaKobrina / Shutterstock.com] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/408997/Google-s-Pixel-4a-Gets-Leaked-In-Shop-And-Even-Has-A-Hands-On-Video-Review/

And That’s How the Google Cookie Crumbles

The days of third-party data tracking within the world’s most popular browser are over.

After months of speculation, Google has finally confirmed that it will join Safari and Firefox in withdrawing support for third-party cookies by 2022.

The growth of the ad tech ecosystem as we know it was due in large part to advertisers’ ability to use third-party products to “follow” customers around the web, understanding their behaviors and preferences, and then serve targeted advertising to them efficiently via digital media. As the major browsers (and consumers themselves, via ad-blockers) eliminate the ability to “tag” consumers, the industry can expect a sharp departure from the way things were.

That said, personalization is here to stay. What the news does reinforce is the strength of so-called “walled gardens” like Google, Amazon, and Facebook that carry so much individual scale that they don’t need to rely on cookies to make hyper-personalized targeting possible.

What are cookies, anyway?

Most consumers are “cookied” every day without even being aware. A cookie refers to text or small packets of data sent by websites to be stored in your computer’s browser.

Third-party cookies, specifically, are those that are set by an alternative site than the one you are on including a third-party video provider, social channel, or ad platform. When a publisher or site strikes a partnership with one of these businesses, they add a line of code to their site.

Cookies help create user profiles, which provide detailed information on the sites you visit and the journey of what you do during your browsing time. This gives advertisers key insight into your interests and preferences allowing them to deliver a more targeted advertising experience.

Industry implications

Google’s Chrome browser makes up 69 percent and 40 percent, respectively, of desktop and mobile browser share — accounting for more than half of all web traffic overall. The bottom line?

Anyone with a website, including brands, agencies, and publishers, will be affected by the move. While some may argue this was an inevitable move, this doesn’t change its significance and the impact it will have today and in years ahead.

  • In the short term, marketers lose an instrumental method they currently use to target many of their customers.
  • In the long-term, they must find a more sustainable solution that is more direct and personal to the consumer.

One way to achieve this is by seeking out and relying on first-party data from owned audiences. The other, and what would be much more complicated to navigate, building better relationships with customers and the media they consume.

Moreover, many experts predict that the real winners will be walled gardens like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, who now stand alone in their ability to provide a high degree of targeting at scale.

The trend toward a cookieless web impacts publishers and third-party ad-tech platforms the most, since this will require them to sell and serve ads in new ways. Digital publishing was already under pressure as ad budgets have shifted from their owned and operated properties to the big platforms. Some publishers, like The New York Times, have had success by refocusing their efforts on driving digital subscriptions.

In short, we can expect a greater emphasis on one-to-one relationships that are personalized and relevant — but this won’t come without some obstacles and the likely continued flow of ad budgets to the big platforms.

Learn more about Privacy Matters as part of our 2020 global theme: HUMAN.X and help us establish a human-first, experience-driven approach to digital marketing. Secure your early-bird discount today to save 20% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).

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The post And That’s How the Google Cookie Crumbles appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/02/and-thats-how-the-google-cookie-crumbles/

4 Major Brands and Platforms Addressing Digital Literacy and Fake News in 2020

The majority of marketers realize the issues presented by fake news and “deepfake” techniques in skewing the information we’re exposed to and the implications for determining what is fact from fiction.

We face a critical point in our industry where many brands and platforms are facing increased pressure for setting a benchmark for detecting these types of conversations.

Here are a few that are taking action in 2020.

Tumblr’s Digital Literacy Initiative “World Wide What”

With the 2020 election on the horizon, social media platforms are making moves to update their strategies to curb the spread of information. The latest to join the bandwagon is Tumblr, which recently launched an internet literacy campaign targeted to help younger demographics entering the voting scene spot fake news and unsavory posts.

The initiative, World Wide What, was developed in partnership with UK-based internet literacy organization, Ditch the Label. The campaign’s structure emphasizes six core community topics in video form that include fake news skewed views, authenticity, cyberbullying, the importance of minimizing screen time, how much we share online, and creating a safer internet through moderation.

Unlike traditional literacy materials, the platform is tapping into visual, more culturally messaging such as GIFs, memes, and short text in line with imagery native to the Tumblr brand. Videos will also leverage outside experts and industry leaders to tackle certain subjects through a series of Q&As in the coming weeks and months.

“We are constantly striving to learn and utilize new ways to create a safe place for our communities,” Tumblr shared in a statement on the World Wide What site.

Google x Jigsaw Visual Database of Deepfakes

In September 2019, Google tapped Jigsaw in an effort to develop a dataset of visual deepfakes aimed to boost early detection efforts. The tech giant worked with both paid and consenting actors to record and gather hundreds of videos which ultimately were crafted into deepfakes. The final products including both real and fake videos, were then incorporated into the Technical University of Munich and the FaceForensics benchmark and made widely available for synthetic video detection methods.

Fast forward to November, Jigsaw has continued on this momentum by releasing what it refers to as “the largest public data set of comments and annotations with toxicity labels and identity labels. “ This includes the addition of comments and annotations with toxicity and identity labels. The goal with incorporating these details is to more accurately measure bias within AI comment classification systems. Traditionally conversations are measured with synthetic data from template sentences that often fail to address the complexity and variety of comments.

“By labeling identity mentions in real data, we are able to measure bias in our models in a more realistic setting, and we hope to enable further research into unintended bias across the field,” shared in a recent Medium post. The key in the ever-evolving deepfake tech space will be a healthy and growing research community.

Twitter Policies Targeting Synthetic and Manipulated Media

Twitter is looking to its community for support in fleshing out its strategy for addressing synthetic and manipulated media, what the company defines as “…any photo, audio, or video that has been significantly altered or fabricated in a way that intends to mislead people or changes its original meaning.

As a draft to its policy, the platform has outlined that it will:

  • Place a notice next to Tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media
  • Warn people before they share or like Tweets with synthetic or manipulated media
  • Add a link – for example, to a news article or Twitter Moment – so that people can read more about why various sources believe the media is synthetic or manipulated

The platform also vowed to remove any deepfake believed capable of threatening someone or leading to serious harm. This raises the question as to how it would address these types of manipulated conversations spurring a falsity but not technically causing harm or that use newer creation methods that lag behind the detection techniques.

To garner feedback from users, the platform created a multiple-choice survey that addresses the broader preference of removing versus flagging (e.g. should altered photos and videos be removed, have warning labels, or not be removed at all). To date, the survey is closed and the platform is reported to be working on an official policy that will be announced 30 days prior to roll out.

Facebook’s “Deepfake Challenge” and Ban

This past fall Facebook teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, and academics from Cornell Tech, University of Oxford, UC Berkley, University of Maryland, and SUNY Albany to launch the Deepfake Detection Challenge. The DFDC as its referred to includes a data set of 100k+ videos using paid actors — as well as grants and awards —aimed to inspire new ways of detecting and preventing AI-manipulated media.

The DFDC will run to the end of March of this year with the goal of “…producing technology that everyone can use to better detect when AI has been used to alter a video in order to mislead the viewer.” According to the official website, a winner will be determined based on “a test mechanism that enables teams to score the effectiveness of their models, against one or more black-box tests from our founding partners,” the company shared.

‘Deepfake’ techniques, which present realistic AI-generated videos of real people doing and saying fictional things, have significant implications for determining the legitimacy of information presented online,” shared Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer in a recent blog post.

In addition to these efforts, the platform followed up with a new policy that would remove synthesized or edited content in ways that “aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead,” or deepfake posts that use AI technologies to “merge, replace, or superimpose content onto a video, making it appear authentic.”

Again, the issue becomes how we as an industry will move forward walking the fine line between malicious deepfakes and those with less-harmful intents of creative parodies or satire.

Learn more about this topic as part of our 2020 theme HUMAN.X through the lens of the subtheme Privacy Matters. Read the official announcement here and secure your early-bird discount today to save 20% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).

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The post 4 Major Brands and Platforms Addressing Digital Literacy and Fake News in 2020 appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2020/01/4-major-brands-and-platforms-addressing-digital-literacy-and-fake-news-in-2020/

YouTube Brings Shopping Ads to the Home Feed: What It Means for Your Visual Advertising Efforts

Nearly two-thirds of consumers claim that online video has informed and inspired their decision to make a purchase according to recent research and more than 90 percent report having discovered a new product or brand from YouTube.

To tap into this trend and how more shoppers are using video in their buying journey, the Google-owned platform is introducing Shopping ads to its home feed and search results.

Capture users earlier and make it personal

“Consumers are continuing to watch more content on the YouTube platform and we want to be where they are, to reach and engage them,” said Rick Almeida, Vice President of E-commerce at Puma Group. “This new opportunity will enable Puma to extend our shopping strategy into a new property and inspire consumers.”

Puma is just one debut advertiser of the Shopping ad product, but the company’s experience points to promising results for other brands eager to expand their visual advertising efforts.

As depicted below, the display will be very similar to other ads delivered through Google’s platform including Search, Shopping, and various partner websites and the larger Google Display network. More specifically, they’ll be targeted and delivered based on a user’s interest leveraging details about the product and the brand.

Instead of having to specifically enter the name “Puma” in a search bar to see ads for running shoes, simply expressing an interest in running could trigger ads from other retailers offering related gear highlighting different products and prices.

The new YouTube ads are just one update from Google as it looks to become more of a visual advertising option for brands.

Drive action through interactivity

The company also shared that it’s working towards enhancing the interactivity of ads within videos themselves so they’re more actionable. For example, clicking on a video to be directed to store location specifics and interest forms. In the coming months, this will be expanded to sitelink extensions for TrueView for action ads, making it more seamless to navigate to additional landing pages such as holiday catalogs. A beta test conducted with 30 advertisers yielded a 23 percent boost in conversions after added sitelinks.

Fuel inspiration through rich imagery

In a study led by Google in partnership with Ipsos, 85 percent of people take action within the first 24 hours of discovery — spanning actions including reading reviews, comparing prices, or committing to purchase.

In the spirit of these findings, Showcase Shopping ads are now available on Google Images with the intent of making it easier to browse more products from a single click through grouping related products together. With additional categories like cosmetics and electronics, the hope is to boost consideration and create a unique experience for those unfamiliar with a specific brand.

Online shopping is most definitely not a one-size-fits-all game. People expect personalization and targeted ads whether they’re shopping for themselves or someone else and they have less time to do it. It’s up to brands to make experiences frictionless and efficient through listening, anticipation, and being present when it matters.

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The post YouTube Brings Shopping Ads to the Home Feed: What It Means for Your Visual Advertising Efforts appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/11/youtube-brings-shopping-ads-to-the-home-feed-what-it-means-for-your-visual-advertising-efforts/

Who (or What) Killed YouTube’s Direct Messenger?

YouTube Messenger made its debut in August 2017 as a way to enable sharing of videos (and, as a result, increases in traffic) between users and their friends or followers. The service was added to the web interface in May of the following year. But this week, its shuttering was quietly announced, not with a blog post but with a post in YouTube’s support forums.

“Heads Up: we’re removing the ability to message directly on YouTube after September 18,” the post was titled, with a four line note about its removal. Although their brief message cited a desire to focus on the quality of the platform’s public conversations, such an answer feels incomplete. Further, given the larger move that other popular social media networks have made toward private communication, it’s difficult to justify from a market need perspective. While we may never know the precise reason (or combination of reasons) that led to this decision, we break down a few possible options here.

Possible Culprit #1: Spam

It’s possible that, like Google Plus, the Messenger feature was plaguing users with spam requests, messages, and videos. For my part, I do recall using the now-defunct platform primarily for the Hangouts function, only to find that random users would hop on and off the calls I shared with friends and colleagues. Critics of G+ repeatedly used the term “drowning” to describe their inundation with unwanted or uninvited messages.

But this doesn’t seem like the likely culprit for YouTube’s direct messaging. For one, it’s not as popular enough of a feature to merit that type of throttling from spammers and bots. For another, if this were the case, it’s likely that more users would have noticed or reported the issue. But in this explanation, lies a second, more likely contributor to the tool’s shuttering.

Possible Culprit #2: Underutilization

Even a company the size of Google, which has…everything to burn: money, time, resources, and the like, can choose to not pursue something that isn’t worth the team’s attention. And direct messaging on the site could easily be counted among those things. The company isn’t afraid to shutter products that underperform (see also: Allo, Spark, or even Google Plus when the time came). And has someone who was only fully aware of the feature within the last two months or so, it’s easy to imagine that many other users had similarly overlooked—and therefore, not used—the tool.

This seems like the most likely cause for the feature’s coming shutdown. And yet that doesn’t mean that the brief announcement didn’t come without complaints. Who those complaints came from, though, could hold the key behind the most likely reason that direct messaging is leaving the platform.

Possible Culprit #3: Further Crackdowns on the Kid Experience

Sarah Perez’s examination of the decision for TechCrunch focused on one very specific element of the blowback on the Support post: the most vocal dismay seemed to come from the site’s youngest users. As she highlighted selections from the comments, she pointed out some of the common sentiments. “A sizable number of commenters are complaining that YouTube was the “only place” they could message their friends because they didn’t have a phone or weren’t allowed to give out their phone number. Some said they used the feature to “talk to their mom” or because they weren’t allowed to use social media.” And, to use Perez’s words from later in the piece, “That’s not a good look for YouTube at this time.”

Given their recent struggles with the content being served to kids, as well as the discovery of a pedophile ring in the comments of several videos, it makes complete sense that a space that allowed younger users to flout the authority of their parents would get shut down. Moreover, this could be the “improving public conversations” charge that is mentioned in the support post. As they do that, they claim to be focusing on comments, posts, and Stories (yep, YouTube has those); no one would argue that YouTube and Google should spend their time correcting the ongoing consequences of these scandals.

In the grand scheme, I think YouTube had the right idea when they added direct messaging to the platform a few years back; it allowed them to increase circulation of videos within their own domain. With that said, in the face of scandal around their youngest users’ experience and low utilization in other market segments, I think it also has the right idea in shutting it down. It stands to have a minimal impact on the platform experience for most users, and prioritizes the safety of those who did depend on it most.

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The post Who (or What) Killed YouTube’s Direct Messenger? appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/08/who-or-what-killed-youtubes-direct-messenger/

Why Google Photos’ OCR Compliance Could Predict a Major Step Forward for Social Media Managers

An accidental find by a Google Photos user has the potential to make images more accessible, and make digital marketers’ lives easier in the process.

Twitter user Can Duruk made the realization when using the app last week, sharing with his followers that “@googlephotos has OCR to turn screenshots into copy/paste text!” The Google account replied, “Starting this month, we’re rolling out the ability to search your photos by the text in them.

Once you find the photo you’re looking for, click the Lens button to easily copy and paste text.” This is a major discovery for anyone using the tool and struggling to search for images that have text in them, but the announcement of this technology could have major implications for digital marketers, or anyone wanting to make the internet more visual…and more accessible in the process.

The Promise of OCR

OCR, or optical character recognition, is an invaluable feature for those using screen readers or other accessibility tools to experience an increasingly visual internet. Whereas now, images and PDFs that are not OCR-enabled can be difficult for anyone using a screen reader (a challenge when things like transcripts or forms are uploaded in PDF or JPG formats), the power of OCR can make more types of files accessible to visually-impaired internet users.

Google Lens has enabled it since its inception; major apps like Photos enabling this technology could pave the way for other Google properties, like Google Images or Google Slides, to similar deploy this capability. I liken it to the ubiquity of QR code reading capabilities, a feature once only available by downloading “unitasking” apps to do it.

The result? Simpler interpretation of images that also feature text, in more and more places across the internet. And in an online landscape dense with inspirational quotes overlaid over scenic landscapes or pensive men, this could unlock a far easier way to make this experience seamless for the visually impaired.

An Alternative to Alt-Text

At present, if we upload an image with text to a website or social media post, users who can’t see the image are at the mercy of our ability to describe the image (including the text within) in the alt-text or the image’s caption.

But if OCR recognition of the type currently found with Google Lens and Google Photos were to spread, it could spread some of the “work” required to make these images usable out, requiring less description from social professionals who frequently must include it as part of the photo-posting process. Especially when platforms like LinkedIn or Medium severely limit the characters permitted to do this (generally around 125 characters), tools that pull text from images can widen the scope of understanding.

What To Do in the Meantime

At present, this capability only exists in Google Photos, although users of Google Lens can apply it in a variety of other spaces. For those of us currently in charge of creating common understanding with our posts, the following can serve as helpful measures until OCR support becomes more widely available:

  • Use alt-text, every time. Be as descriptive as possible in the limited characters provided. As with crafting a tweet, it can be challenging to get the point across in a small space. But with practice, it becomes easier.
  • Supplement overlaid text with captions or additional inline text that could help a reader glean understanding even if alt-text is incomplete.
  • Be thoughtful about how information ordinarily presented in images or “flat” PDFs is presented. Are there more accessible formats you can have available? If so, lean toward those and encourage colleagues to do the same.

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The post Why Google Photos’ OCR Compliance Could Predict a Major Step Forward for Social Media Managers appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/08/why-google-photos-ocr-compliance-could-predict-a-major-step-forward-for-social-media-managers/

Google Drive’s Newly Developed Font Prizes Fast Reading – Should Your Brand Do the Same?

How long does it take a reader to get through your content?

As content creators, we’ve taken on a number of measures to ensure that this number is as small as possible: estimated read times, thorough synopses, and even multimedia interpretations on a topic. The Google Drive properties—Docs, Sheets, and Slides—have taken a different approach to this challenge…the introduction of a new font.

The new font family, called Lexend, features eight variations on a sans serif font that was designed to optimize readability. Its designer, Thomas Jockin (who also developed the crisp Quicksand font), applied data from a number of studies to create a new, clean typeface that enabled quick comprehension and understanding. As brands and organizations, should our fonts be similarly designed? What would it take to create a font that allows people to simply and accessibly digest our content?

Fonts for Humanity

Lexend is a font that falls under what is called a humanist typeface. Its letters are inspired by geometric shapes, and it is incredibly difficult to mistake one letter for another. This unmistakeability is crucial when selecting a font to align with your brand. Venngage, in their analysis of brand fonts, says a selected typeface “should be easy to read and understand any text styled in your brand fonts…uppercase or lowercase, large or small, numbers or letters.” And while it’s possible that the density of your content is slowing down your reader, it’s also possible that the density of your text could be the culprit. How could your font choice be complicating that problem?

Saying So Long to Serifs

In addition to being a humanistic font, Lexend is a sans serif font; it lacks the decorative “feet” that are customary on fonts such as Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia. While these sorts of fonts are more traditional, and may lend a sense of gravitas to text, they can also be challenging for speed-reading, and are typically more difficult for some with learning disabilities like dyslexia to digest.

Sans serif fonts, in addition to offering a sense of modernity, offer more openness in characters and spacing. It can make your carefully crafted language easier and more accessible to any reader that comes across it. And in an industry that strives to develop clear messaging, the fonts we use should be considered in that process.

Satisfying at Any Size

Dynamic layouts, in contrast to the static nature of formats like PDF, mean that our chosen font may be manipulated by a user in order to be legible. The Lexend family of fonts is an attractive option because irrespective of size it remains legible, clear, and…well, attractive. For those who value both readability and beautiful design, it matters that we choose fonts to honor both metrics of success.

The new font is available now in Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and can be set as your default by selecting “More Fonts” from the font menu. But even if Lexend doesn’t end up being your font of choice, it can prove instructive as you evaluate your brand’s current style guide…and for whom it is a good choice. Evaluate the typeface you’re presently using with the following questions:

Are we currently using a font that similarly translates beautifully at any size?
Does it obstruct understanding or reading speed with serifs?
Does it prize legibility as well as readability?

As Hubspot’s Jesse Mawhinney puts it, “well-crafted typography is focused on function, and that function is to communicate the message.” Evaluating your current style guide, and exploring the possibility of a new one, could prove essential to helping consumers see, hear, and identify with your message through new—and unmistakable—eyes.

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The post Google Drive’s Newly Developed Font Prizes Fast Reading – Should Your Brand Do the Same? appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/08/google-drives-newly-developed-font-prizes-fast-reading-should-your-brand-do-the-same/

Podcasts Have a Spotlight in Google Search – Here’s How to Make Sure Yours Shines

There’s a great deal to love about podcasting: the depth with which they can report on a topic, the exposure they provide for rising creators and talent, and the communities they can build of loyal listeners and devotees. But they can’t do any of this unless people can find them. And after years of struggling with this problem, podcast discovery is about to get easier…with the help of Google.

The search giant announced last week that individual podcast episodes will now be a part of Google Search results, appearing alongside relevant images, news, and videos on a given topic. This means that a standout episode of a show on, say, avocados, could show up when someone searches for avocados—even if the search query doesn’t include the word “podcasts.” Is your show ready for this kind of spotlight? As your discovery looms, we have a few tips for you to ready your podcast for search:

Maximize Your Metadata

Whereas we’re accustomed to being diligent about metadata on webpages and with blog posts, it’s a bit easier to let it fall to the wayside with podcasts. But now that search can help users surface relevant content, creators and producers simply can’t afford to overlook this crucial information. The Bello Collective’s Wil Williams outlines the points that you should be most concerned about as you prepare your podcast for prime time:

Metadata is one of the least exciting parts of making a podcast, but it’s so important both for new listeners and continuing listeners […] There are three issues I usually see with podcasters’ metadata: their episode titles, their podcast’s official title, and their show notes.

By addressing these three points, you can make your episodes more attractive (literally and figuratively) to a search engine. Number your episodes intuitively, so users who go into an episode as a “one-off” can catch up easily, connect your podcast title to a larger topic, and ensure that show notes feature key words to maximize SEO. That last bit is more important now than ever.

Take Time for Transcription

Not long ago, we cited transcripts as a valuable tool for accessibility, newsworthiness, and search engines. That last point has become more essential than ever with the introduction of searchability of these shows:

As SEO continues to move away from “keyword stuffing” as a viable or acceptable practice, it instead looks for natural, frequent occurrences that can show a page’s relevance to a search term. Incidentally, regular speech does this well.

Having transcripts available for your show makes it easier for listeners to understand and truly digest the material, but they’re also essential for spelling out just how relevant an episode or series is to the query at hand. It may add time, effort, and additional cost to the production schedule, but the increased eyes (well, ears) on your work will be worth it.

Delicate Connection to Brand

At times, branded podcasts can be structured in a way that assumes that listeners are familiar with the associated product, service, or company. But now that discovery can come from other places, it’s likely that you’ll attract an audience who isn’t automatically familiar. In these instances, it will be key to lean on the expertise and utility of your brand…but not so much that a lack of knowledge would confuse a listener.

How can you convey your desired message without jargon or “insider knowledge”? How can you demonstrate value without too strong of a branded message? Again, the need to provide valuable content before making a sell was once the goal of our written content; the same also needs to be true of audio content. Doing so thoughtfully can earn you listeners who may have stumbled into the proverbial booth, but like what they hear and choose to stay.

Google is currently in the process of indexing millions of shows and episodes, and the results will determine how shows appear in search. By ensuring that metadata is complete, transcripts highlight your show’s utility, and your brand plays a supporting role in your content, you stand a chance of making it to the top of the heap…and your product or service along with it.

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The post Podcasts Have a Spotlight in Google Search – Here’s How to Make Sure Yours Shines appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/08/podcasts-have-a-spotlight-in-google-search-heres-how-to-make-sure-yours-shines/

5 Questions with Paulina Mustafa, Product Designer, Google

According to recent research, exponential improvements in and broader adoption of artificial intelligence is projected to more than double revenue to become a $12.5 billion industry by 2020. This represents a 20% annual growth rate putting AI in position to claim a total market cap of $120-180 billion.

Numbers aside, indeed AI is being used in more and more applications, however, ultimately it is a tool designed by humans. In this sense, AIs are like stories, constantly evolving and being shaped by the context in which they are developed, but we are still the authors.

On Friday, 1 November during #SMWLDN, Paulina Mustafa, Product Designer at Google, will discuss the design process behind AI, including why it’s never ending, and what we can do to proactively author the direction the industry takes.

We recently sat down with Paulina to learn about designing human-focused AI products, the AI experience as a craft, and much more.

SMW: What has been the biggest challenge in developing human-focused AI products?

PM: Humans and AIs process and express information incredibly differently. An AI is trained for a very specific task, and therefore can only process very specific things, albeit at extraordinary speeds humans aren’t capable of.

Humans can take in all kinds of inputs and make sense of them, even with imperfect information or ambiguity. We, humans, can do that because we intuitively understand the context around us— whether it’s cultural, social, or even physical context. Context is abstract, continually changing, and requires understanding so many bits of information. Humans can make sense of a new context upon encountering it for the first time, but an AI would need some kind of explicit training on how to recognize that pattern in order to make sense of it.

SMW: In your perspective, how can design help humanize AI experiences? What are some examples of design considerations that make AI more human?

PM: We’ve come to expect that machines are precise and predictable. When you put a complex multiplication into a calculator, you expect the correct answer, and you expect it every time. However, machine learning ‘ML,’ works a bit differently.

ML is based on complex probabilistic models, which means it provides the most likely answer, not the correct answer. The problems we’re solving with AI rarely have one single correct answer. Because there’s a degree of uncertainty involved with ML, it might make mistakes. To humanize AI experiences, we’ll have to create interfaces that allow for the AI to make mistakes and for the human to be unpredictable. We’ll need to consider ways of exchanging information between the AI and the human that allow for unexpected behavior in both directions.

SMW: AI is often talked about in the context of algorithms and processes that occur behind the scenes. Can you explain AI experience as a craft and why it’s important?

PM: While AI on its own is a collection of complex algorithms and processes, there’s so much more that goes into creating an application of AI. First and most importantly, humans need to decide what problem needs to be solved and whether AI is even needed. Then, humans need to create a clear definition of success, since all AIs are optimizing for something.

Finally, the AIs need to learn how to achieve that definition of success from a set of training data. That training data is critical because the model will derive its initial assumptions from it. The model is the only part of this that involves algorithms. All the other parts involve very careful and deliberate human decision making. I would absolutely consider that to be a craft.

SMW: What guardrails, if any, do you feel need to be placed on AI to ensure we are unleashing the full power of AI without becoming a detriment to human health and wellbeing?

PM: That’s a huge question! One we’ll be debating forever, or at least until AI is still relevant. Broadly speaking, we’ll need to consider policy and ethics, and we’ll need to develop both global standards that apply to everyone, and more local standards that allow for cultural differences to persist. More importantly, we’ll have to be willing to continually re-evaluate our policies.

Technology is changing at rates we’ve never seen before, and we’ll have to work incredibly hard to make sure our policy stays relevant and effective. Guardrails that are appropriate today may be much less relevant and less effective in a few years. Finally, I think it’s worth considering any kind of policy on the use of technology in general, not just on the use of AI.

One example of how we’re designing guardrails now is through the Google AI Principles. I talk about these themes daily at work. Some of the principles that I think are particularly relevant are that AI should be socially beneficial, that it should avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias, and that it should be accountable to people by allowing for feedback and explanations. The principles also detail applications of AI we will not pursue, which include technologies that can harm people or be used as weapons. And as I mentioned earlier, the most important part about the principles is that they are dynamic and evolving, and should stay relevant over time.

SMW: AI experiences are increasingly embedded in our everyday products — many times without the user recognizing its AI. What are some key examples of this today? Do you believe companies and platforms have a fundamental responsibility to tell users when AI is being deployed (e.g. a chatbot experience that assumes the role of a human but is actually a bot?)

PM: Depending on how you define AI, an AI experience can be incredibly simple. It can be your new washing machine adjusting spin and time to dry your clothes well, or it can be your spam filter catching spam mail that you don’t want and hadn’t received before. There’s a running joke that’s maybe not a joke, which is that as soon as we use AI to solve a problem, it doesn’t seem like AI anymore!

Where I think it’s relevant and important to explain that AI is being used is when it’s an application of AI that is meant to mimic or replace human interaction, like in your chatbot example. From a user experience perspective, we believe that the better we can understand the system we are interacting with, the better the overall experience we’ll have.

One great example of this is the Live Relay feature that Google announced at IO. It helps people who want to make a call and, for a variety of reasons, may not be able to speak or hear. It takes the form of an assistive chat that can translate speech to text and text to speech. If you use this feature to make a call, it will identify itself as your assistive chat. That way, the person receiving the phone call will better understand how to communicate back, giving both all participants better outcomes and experiences.

SMW: One last bonus question. What is your favorite inspirational example of AI for good?

PM: I just read about this example and it made me incredibly happy. CSAIL at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital created a deep learning model that can take a mammogram and predict whether that woman will develop breast cancer in the future. What makes it better than current guidelines and other algorithms is that it works just as well for black women and for white women. The beauty of it all is that the reason it works just as well on all skin colors is because it was trained using mammograms of women of all skin colors.

I find it so promising that AI can help us improve our medical system by allowing us to incorporate so much more demographic variety in the tools doctors use for evaluation. Link here.

Don’t miss your chance to explore evolution of artificial intelligence with Paulina at #SMWLDN (31 Oct – 1 Nov). Claim your pass by 9 August to take advantage of our early-bird rate before it expires.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

WATCH THE #SMWLDN 2019 PROMO

The post 5 Questions with Paulina Mustafa, Product Designer, Google appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/07/5-questions-with-paulina-mustafa-product-designer-google/

5 Questions with Paulina Mustafa, Product Designer, Google

According to recent research, exponential improvements in and broader adoption of artificial intelligence is projected to more than double revenue to become a $12.5 billion industry by 2020. This represents a 20% annual growth rate putting AI in position to claim a total market cap of $120-180 billion.

Numbers aside, indeed AI is being used in more and more applications, however, ultimately it is a tool designed by humans. In this sense, AIs are like stories, constantly evolving and being shaped by the context in which they are developed, but we are still the authors.

On Friday, 1 November during #SMWLDN, Paulina Mustafa, Product Designer at Google, will discuss the design process behind AI, including why it’s never ending, and what we can do to proactively author the direction the industry takes.

We recently sat down with Paulina to learn about designing human-focused AI products, the AI experience as a craft, and much more.

SMW: What has been the biggest challenge in developing human-focused AI products?

PM: Humans and AIs process and express information incredibly differently. An AI is trained for a very specific task, and therefore can only process very specific things, albeit at extraordinary speeds humans aren’t capable of.

Humans can take in all kinds of inputs and make sense of them, even with imperfect information or ambiguity. We, humans, can do that because we intuitively understand the context around us— whether it’s cultural, social, or even physical context. Context is abstract, continually changing, and requires understanding so many bits of information. Humans can make sense of a new context upon encountering it for the first time, but an AI would need some kind of explicit training on how to recognize that pattern in order to make sense of it.

SMW: In your perspective, how can design help humanize AI experiences? What are some examples of design considerations that make AI more human?

PM: We’ve come to expect that machines are precise and predictable. When you put a complex multiplication into a calculator, you expect the correct answer, and you expect it every time. However, machine learning ‘ML,’ works a bit differently.

ML is based on complex probabilistic models, which means it provides the most likely answer, not the correct answer. The problems we’re solving with AI rarely have one single correct answer. Because there’s a degree of uncertainty involved with ML, it might make mistakes. To humanize AI experiences, we’ll have to create interfaces that allow for the AI to make mistakes and for the human to be unpredictable. We’ll need to consider ways of exchanging information between the AI and the human that allow for unexpected behavior in both directions.

SMW: AI is often talked about in the context of algorithms and processes that occur behind the scenes. Can you explain AI experience as a craft and why it’s important?

PM: While AI on its own is a collection of complex algorithms and processes, there’s so much more that goes into creating an application of AI. First and most importantly, humans need to decide what problem needs to be solved and whether AI is even needed. Then, humans need to create a clear definition of success, since all AIs are optimizing for something.

Finally, the AIs need to learn how to achieve that definition of success from a set of training data. That training data is critical because the model will derive its initial assumptions from it. The model is the only part of this that involves algorithms. All the other parts involve very careful and deliberate human decision making. I would absolutely consider that to be a craft.

SMW: What guardrails, if any, do you feel need to be placed on AI to ensure we are unleashing the full power of AI without becoming a detriment to human health and wellbeing?

PM: That’s a huge question! One we’ll be debating forever, or at least until AI is still relevant. Broadly speaking, we’ll need to consider policy and ethics, and we’ll need to develop both global standards that apply to everyone, and more local standards that allow for cultural differences to persist. More importantly, we’ll have to be willing to continually re-evaluate our policies.

Technology is changing at rates we’ve never seen before, and we’ll have to work incredibly hard to make sure our policy stays relevant and effective. Guardrails that are appropriate today may be much less relevant and less effective in a few years. Finally, I think it’s worth considering any kind of policy on the use of technology in general, not just on the use of AI.

One example of how we’re designing guardrails now is through the Google AI Principles. I talk about these themes daily at work. Some of the principles that I think are particularly relevant are that AI should be socially beneficial, that it should avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias, and that it should be accountable to people by allowing for feedback and explanations. The principles also detail applications of AI we will not pursue, which include technologies that can harm people or be used as weapons. And as I mentioned earlier, the most important part about the principles is that they are dynamic and evolving, and should stay relevant over time.

SMW: AI experiences are increasingly embedded in our everyday products — many times without the user recognizing its AI. What are some key examples of this today? Do you believe companies and platforms have a fundamental responsibility to tell users when AI is being deployed (e.g. a chatbot experience that assumes the role of a human but is actually a bot?)

PM: Depending on how you define AI, an AI experience can be incredibly simple. It can be your new washing machine adjusting spin and time to dry your clothes well, or it can be your spam filter catching spam mail that you don’t want and hadn’t received before. There’s a running joke that’s maybe not a joke, which is that as soon as we use AI to solve a problem, it doesn’t seem like AI anymore!

Where I think it’s relevant and important to explain that AI is being used is when it’s an application of AI that is meant to mimic or replace human interaction, like in your chatbot example. From a user experience perspective, we believe that the better we can understand the system we are interacting with, the better the overall experience we’ll have.

One great example of this is the Live Relay feature that Google announced at IO. It helps people who want to make a call and, for a variety of reasons, may not be able to speak or hear. It takes the form of an assistive chat that can translate speech to text and text to speech. If you use this feature to make a call, it will identify itself as your assistive chat. That way, the person receiving the phone call will better understand how to communicate back, giving both all participants better outcomes and experiences.

SMW: One last bonus question. What is your favorite inspirational example of AI for good?

PM: I just read about this example and it made me incredibly happy. CSAIL at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital created a deep learning model that can take a mammogram and predict whether that woman will develop breast cancer in the future. What makes it better than current guidelines and other algorithms is that it works just as well for black women and for white women. The beauty of it all is that the reason it works just as well on all skin colors is because it was trained using mammograms of women of all skin colors.

I find it so promising that AI can help us improve our medical system by allowing us to incorporate so much more demographic variety in the tools doctors use for evaluation. Link here.

Don’t miss your chance to explore evolution of artificial intelligence with Paulina at #SMWLDN (31 Oct – 1 Nov). Claim your pass by 9 August to take advantage of our early-bird rate before it expires.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

WATCH THE #SMWLDN 2019 PROMO

The post 5 Questions with Paulina Mustafa, Product Designer, Google appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/07/5-questions-with-paulina-mustafa-product-designer-google/

Google’s Latest Social Experiment Wants to “Loop” You In With Local Events

Google’s next foray into social networking won’t be undertaken with a goal of taking on giants like Facebook or Twitter. Their latest experiment, called Shoelace, is designed to connect people offline- and testing is taking place in New York City right now.

Developed in Google’s Area 120, their in-house incubator, Shoelace connects individuals local to an area based on common interest. As Engadget describes it, “you pick your interests, and the creators help you hook up with like-minded people for various activities” (called loops) “whether they’re custom-created or hand-picked.” The mechanism sounds similar to tools like Meetup or Eventbrite, allowing users to create events and then invite friends or publicize them to general users. But unlike Meetup or Eventbrite, or even Facebook Events, these “loops” can be shared with friends, colleagues or acquaintances whether they use Shoelace or not.

The smaller scope of the project seems smart, and is also being reflected in its rollout; at present, Shoelace is only being tested in NYC. iOS or Android users in the area interested in applying to test the product can do so here; depending on its early performance, testing may expand to other cities or even nationwide.

Despite being the product of an incubator, some have recognized that Shoelace bears a striking resemblance to a departed Google product, Schemer, which had a short-lived run helping users to organize offline events from 2011-2014. Time will tell if this app will outlive its predecessor, or evolve into a new form in the months to come.

Google’s last product that was tested in this fashion, Pigeon, never moved beyond the NYC-centric testing; however, its purpose (to help navigate the subway) lives on through key updates to Google Maps. Absorption into an existing Google Product (perhaps Hangouts or Drive) is also a viable future for the project. But in the meantime, we’ll await the opportunity to “loop” our friends in on upcoming plans through the new app.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

WATCH THE SMWLDN 2019 PROMO

The post Google’s Latest Social Experiment Wants to “Loop” You In With Local Events appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/07/googles-latest-social-experiment-wants-to-loop-you-in-with-local-events/

Google’s Latest Social Experiment Wants to “Loop” You In With Local Events

Google’s next foray into social networking won’t be undertaken with a goal of taking on giants like Facebook or Twitter. Their latest experiment, called Shoelace, is designed to connect people offline- and testing is taking place in New York City right now.

Developed in Google’s Area 120, their in-house incubator, Shoelace connects individuals local to an area based on common interest. As Engadget describes it, “you pick your interests, and the creators help you hook up with like-minded people for various activities” (called loops) “whether they’re custom-created or hand-picked.” The mechanism sounds similar to tools like Meetup or Eventbrite, allowing users to create events and then invite friends or publicize them to general users. But unlike Meetup or Eventbrite, or even Facebook Events, these “loops” can be shared with friends, colleagues or acquaintances whether they use Shoelace or not.

The smaller scope of the project seems smart, and is also being reflected in its rollout; at present, Shoelace is only being tested in NYC. iOS or Android users in the area interested in applying to test the product can do so here; depending on its early performance, testing may expand to other cities or even nationwide.

Despite being the product of an incubator, some have recognized that Shoelace bears a striking resemblance to a departed Google product, Schemer, which had a short-lived run helping users to organize offline events from 2011-2014. Time will tell if this app will outlive its predecessor, or evolve into a new form in the months to come.

Google’s last product that was tested in this fashion, Pigeon, never moved beyond the NYC-centric testing; however, its purpose (to help navigate the subway) lives on through key updates to Google Maps. Absorption into an existing Google Product (perhaps Hangouts or Drive) is also a viable future for the project. But in the meantime, we’ll await the opportunity to “loop” our friends in on upcoming plans through the new app.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

WATCH THE SMWLDN 2019 PROMO

The post Google’s Latest Social Experiment Wants to “Loop” You In With Local Events appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/07/googles-latest-social-experiment-wants-to-loop-you-in-with-local-events/

4 Tips for Accessible Branded Experiences, Inspired by Google’s Transit Updates

Earlier this month, Google Maps added a crucial update to its transit maps for six major cities: the ability to isolate wheelchair accessible routes. For travelers seeking out routes that could accommodate their need for elevators, easy entrance on buses and trains, and reliable curb cuts, these insights are invaluable. Currently, the routes are available for Boston, London, Mexico City, New York City, Sydney, and Tokyo, but Google isn’t stopping there.

“We’re looking forward to working with additional transit agencies in the coming months to bring more wheelchair accessible routes to Google Maps,” Maps product manager Rio Akasaka said in the feature announcement.

Why should this announcement matter to marketers? As customers pivot toward experiences as a way to spend their time, energy, and money, branded experiences will have an opportunity to captivate users and prospective consumers. Some of those consumers will need accommodations and instructions like those with Google’s wheelchair accessible routes will provide. As you plan your next talk, installation, or event, here are a few tips to ensure that the final product is accessible to as many people as possible.

Proactively mention accessibility details in pre-event communications.

For many organizations, the default means to ensure that attendees have reasonable accommodation for accessibility is to list a contact where those in need can get in touch. This is a viable strategy, but it places the burden of identifying the need on the individual. A more welcoming touch is to preemptively mention key points of accessibility when a participant confirms.

Include a labeled link for these instructions if your city has them. Link to a parking map where wheelchair accessible parking is clearly marked. If elevators or a wheelchair lift are present at the venue, say so. Even if you’re never contacted for additional accommodations, you’re demonstrating attention to the issue- and participants at all levels of ability can appreciate that.

Appoint someone to monitor transit conditions day of, sharing information on delays or construction as needed.

In acknowledging Google’s announcement of the new feature, London advocacy group Transport for All voiced an important caveat: “the success of this new […] option will depend on accurate data to prevent disabled people from being stranded on the network by broken lifts or inaccessible routes.”

They’re absolutely correct. A sign for an out of order elevator (or lift, in London and Sydney) may escape our consciousness if our mobility doesn’t depend on it. But for an attendee hoping for a smooth commute, these inconveniences are actually far more serious. Pay attention to the state of transit routes in the days leading up to your event or experience. If things change (e.g. an elevator is taken out of service, a parking lot is being repaved), let your attendees know in advance, providing alternatives when possible. These attentive touches will help more people than you know, and endear people to you and your brand as a result.

Don’t rely on ridesharing to fill the gap.

The advent of ridesharing has, for some cities, slowed the progress on accessibility for public transit. For example, Boston announced earlier this year that it would be collaborating with Uber and Lyft to supplement existing services for accessible rides. However, assuming that companies like Uber or Lyft are sufficiently equipped to fill this gap is a nice idea, but a dangerous assumption—even in major cities.

In a report released late last year, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest revealed that despite advertising the capacity to accommodate riders in wheelchairs, these vehicles (called WAVs by the companies) were unavailable 70% of the time for rideshare users in New York. When they were available, wait times were considerably longer than they would be for non-accessible vehicles. And not a single accessible vehicle was available at NYC’s two major airports. What does all of this mean? Where possible, acknowledge the fact that there will need to be more options available to your experience, conference, or event participants. Consult with local agencies on how to best address this need, and make this information easy to locate once it’s collected.

Use this cue to make other elements of your event—location, setup, even menu—accessible.

Google recognizes that getting to a venue is only one part of making an event or experience accessible. What good does it do a wheelchair user to have a smooth ride to an event only to realize that there’s not a curb cut to the entrance, or that the space between set tables is too narrow for her to easily navigate the aisles? The company has filled in some of those gaps with the help of Local Guides, who “gathered at 200 meet-ups around the world to answer accessibility questions – like whether a place has a step-free entrance or an accessible restroom – for more than 12 million places.”

It’s worthwhile for you and your teams to ask similar questions of the experience you’re creating. How can someone who uses a wheelchair easily enter and exit the building? Will the setup be easy for them to traverse? Remember, many of these thoughts are useful not just for wheelchair users, but also for individuals with limited mobility, with temporary injuries or impairments, or even attendees using strollers to bring along children. These thoughts can even impact a menu: are food allergies and intolerances considered? Access can mean a number of things, and your attention to making an event an enjoyable and worry-free experience for as many people as possible can impact how they see you and your brand long-term.

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The post 4 Tips for Accessible Branded Experiences, Inspired by Google’s Transit Updates appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/06/4-tips-for-accessible-branded-experiences-inspired-by-googles-transit-updates/

3 Pro-Privacy Moves from Google, and 1 Way Brands Can Still Hold Their Ground

For a world dominated by talk of social platforms, “privacy” seems to be the word on everyone’s lips lately.

Facebook has touted its next steps as hospitable to a world where in-group conversations and ephemeral messaging reign. Apple’s most recent update to its Safari browser has taken draconian measures to limit cookies. And Google is joining in on the conversation, with CEO Sundar Pichai taking a strong stance by saying, “Privacy should not be a luxury good. We’re also working hard to challenge the assumption that products need more data to be helpful.” Three recent product updates from the company reflect their commitment to the latter statement, but what impact will these moves have on their success in – and the industry’s reliance on – the advertising tech business?

C is for Cookies, and Clarity

The three tenets Google has adopted to articulate their philosophy on privacy are transparency, control, and respect for user choice. Their forthcoming capability for cookies, in many ways, addresses all three of those tenets. A number of existing Chrome features are due for an overhaul, and will result in users having more control over how cookies are collected and how they can be removed.

A key element of this process is creating a clear distinction between third-party cookies (collected based on your actions taken online) and first-party cookies (information you input and request to have saved, like purchasing information and passwords). By ensuring that these types of cookies are differentiated from one another, users can remove information that informs their ad displays but still “remember” things like credit card numbers or challenging passwords.

Fighting Back with Browsers

Browser functionality is essential in enacting the changes listed above. To that end, several additional changes were announced specifically for Chrome, the market-leading web browser, as well as extensions for its competitors Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. First, the Chrome team is fighting back against what it calls ‘opaque tracking’ strategies, which don’t use cookies but do still capture user information. “Fingerprinting,” or the process of mining and aggregating data on browser type, IP address, time zone, and language, will be cracked down upon considerably.

But the transparency won’t stop there. For data that has already been collected and is in use for ad targeting, a new browser extension will demystify the ad “serving” process. Per AdWeek, “if a user is served an ad for a brand, the extension will tell them who paid for the placement plus the additional data segments used to personalize ads and the companies involved with the process.” Put another way by Google’s Senior VP for ads and commerce, “We want to give users more visibility into the data used to personalize ads and the companies involved in the process.” As calls for privacy grow ever louder from consumers rightfully concerned about their data and its safety, these measures go a long way to address and quiet those worries.

Saying “Later” to Locations and “Adios” to Activities

Earlier this month, the company announced that it was creating a capability to delete location and activity history from Google accounts. Users can toggle settings to keep this information forever, delete it after three months, or delete it after eighteen months. Compared to their nearest competitor in the ad market, Facebook – whose analogous feature has been delayed several times, Google seems more open to the possibility of holding less information from their users. Per CNET, you can also opt to disable web and app activity tracking.

CNET has opined that “for [Google’s focus on privacy] to work, Pichai’s promise [to optimize products with less data] has to be sincere.” And in a number of ways, they’re taking concrete actions that demonstrate that it is, at least for now. But in light of the considerable power these moves give Google users and prospective consumers, where do advertisers find themselves now?

Time to Ask Before You Act

Needless to say, rumors about proposed changes to this mammoth company’s ad practices (Google Ads is the largest player in the ad tech game, holding 31% of the market share) created worries for advertisers and brands. But they’re reportedly open to the changes that have been proposed, with S4 Capital’s head Martin Sorrell calling them “a good move.” He went on to share an important note for those grasping for new strategy in light of this newly empowered consumer base: the more difficult advertisers have it when accessing data on how their campaigns perform, the more important it will be for brands to have a direct relationship with consumers.

At last fall’s Social Media Week London, this exact challenge came up during “Can Privacy and Personalization Co-Exist?Wayin’s Rich Jones insisted that this new consumer awareness of ad targeting practices was not only the end of this era of marketing, but that “it’s going to make us better.” Brands who can connect meaningfully with prospective customers, earning their trust rather than co-opting it through data they may not have realized they’re sharing, will perform at a higher level and with more brand loyalty.

So yes, targeting may be a little less exact than before now that there’s more ease over controlling your data. What will you do with the attention you do garner? How will you use in good and trustworthy ways? The challenge course is now set, thanks to Google—it’s on us to do the right, smart, and better thing.

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The post 3 Pro-Privacy Moves from Google, and 1 Way Brands Can Still Hold Their Ground appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/05/3-pro-privacy-moves-from-google-and-1-way-brands-can-still-hold-their-ground/

Here’s How Google Harnessed the Cultural Zeitgeist

In an age of viral videos, online cultural trends, and memes that seem to take over the world, it’s no wonder major global brands are looking to hop on board with whatever is uniting the population in order to maximize their yield of potential consumers and advertise their products.

Basing a marketing campaign around the zeitgeist – or cultural phenomenon – of the times, is a sure-fire way of making sure your campaign hits – and is discussed by – a plethora of people. Social media, all of the existing platforms, is used by 3.2 billion people today. Its reach is unchallenged by any other medium.

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Addressing the crowd at #SMWNYC 2019, Raashi Rosenberger, Brand Marketing, Consumer Apps at Google, discussed how they found a cultural zeitgeist to craft to their wishes and created a marketing campaign that subsequently became one of their most successful ever — boosting their mention and impression rates by 24 and 71 percent respectively.

Here’s what we took away from Raashi’s masterclass.

Find Something That Unites Everyone

‘We live in a fragmented world,’ said Raashi. ‘It’s hard to find something that unites a lot of people.’

But Google did.

Avengers: Endgame, upon its theatrical release worldwide last week, broke almost every box office record imaginable and grossed $1.2 billion in its first weekend. Everyone loves movies, right?

‘We wanted to make a unifying experience for a load of people, not just a small fragment. So we picked the Oscars’.

Google, per Rosenberger, was late to the game with Google Assistant and Google Home. Siri’s been around for years, and Alexa, Amazon’s answer, has been rapidly gaining traction in recent years. They had to think of something that their consumers would simply have to see – and something that would reach a whole wealth of potential consumers that wouldn’t normally be users of either home assistants or Google products.

The Oscars were that. The people that were watching would, even if they were watching passively, have Google’s clips playing on their screen repeatedly during the night. Those who weren’t watching – they’d be interacting somehow with content online.

So they did it – created a campaign. The idea was genius – short ads which depicted a scene from a classic film – but where a character’s request, or dilemma, was heeded or made better with the use of Google Assistant. Take Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’, for example. In Google’s re-done version, no one needs to stay at the motel – as Google Assistant shows them the motel’s rating and asks them if they’d like a room.

Genius, right?

And That Has Legs on a Social Platform

Google’s campaign exploded on social media. They used influencers, Instagram story ads and Twitter promotions to reach as many people as possible – even those who didn’t care for the Oscars – because chances are, they’d care about the film that they were being targeted with.

The crux of it was that it was entertaining – and people were watching it for that, rather than the fact that it was advertising a Google product. But most of all, it was reproducible. The name of the campaign, Google’s starting block, was #heygoogle – simple, relevant and perfect for social media. Google focused on making their collaboration with GIPHY one of the most integral parts of the entire campaign. Social media users could recreate GIFS and make their own Google Home moments, showcasing how their day-to-day lives would be improved by the use of Google. Even those who only cared for the ads due to the cinematic references could drive Google’s reach and knowledge of the campaign by the nonchalant use of the hashtag.

Keep The Momentum

One of the most important aspects of the talk divulged on the timings of advertising campaigns, illustrated through a graphic depicting when Google rolled out their adverts on different social platforms.

‘The momentum around an event starts in advance and carries on the week after.’

If something’s based around a cultural zeitgeist, especially one that’s in the diary – and the start and end can be pinpointed – it’s critical to note that the beginning and end of the event should not be the beginning and end of the campaign. Building anticipation and sustaining a conversation, arguably, are more important than the launch itself. Google’s YouTube, Twitter and Instagram ads all rolled out up to two days before the event and carried on for days after.

‘Creative ideas stick and trigger conversation,’ says Raashi. Simple, isn’t it?

Establish An Emotional Connection With Everyday People

Not everyone has as much money as Google does. The price of some of their strategies is beyond the imaginable range of many start-ups, non-profits or small businesses. But the ideas work in the same way. The idea is key.

Google’s campaign was so successful because it was personal. It tugged on the nostalgia involved with a classic film that many viewers probably found joy in seeing referenced again. And it was funny. People liked it because it made them laugh, and subsequently remembered it.

71% of Google’s mentions over the Oscars period were by new users, and that tells a story in itself.

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The post Here’s How Google Harnessed the Cultural Zeitgeist appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2019/04/heres-how-google-harnessed-the-cultural-zeitgeist/