Category Archives: Tech News

Usage of voice has plateaued — for now

Compared with past growth, 2020 survey data show flat-to-declining usage.

Roy Amara’s oft-cited law states, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” This appears to especially applicable to voice and voice search.

While there’s been steady growth in the use of voice and virtual assistants since Siri was introduced more than a decade ago, the market hasn’t been transformed. Smart speakers are even a better case-in-point: widely adopted, they’ve failed to become the revolutionary product many had expected.

Now survey data from Perficient Digital suggests voice may have hit a plateau of sorts. This is the fourth year the agency has asked over 1,000 U.S. adults about their use of voice, voice search and virtual assistants. Last year, the survey found voice was second only to the mobile browser as the “first choice” entry point for mobile search (with all answers combined, it ranked fourth).

The current survey didn’t replicate this “first choice” segmentation. And overall, voice search remained in fourth position. The question was: “how are you most likely to ask questions on your smart phone?” Manually entering text into a search app, browser or search bar on the phone all captured more total votes. Usage thus appears to be flat.

Beyond this, voice usage appears to be down for people at all education levels, although it’s positively correlated with education. College graduates and those with more education use voice more than those with less education.

The survey also asked respondents how often they use smart speakers to search for information. The responses “never” and “less than twice per week” constituted a majority (56%); 44% used them at least twice per week, while 20% of the 44% used them six to nine (or more) times per week. This argues smart speakers are not a search substitute for other devices, although overall “search” volume may be expanding as a result.

The survey goes on to explore what factors might explain the results. It asserts that user frustration with virtual assistants not understanding commands or questions (or delivering wrong answers) may partly explain this flat-to-declining usage. By the same token, improved accuracy and better comprehension would potentially generate additional usage frequency.

Why we care. As with so many compelling technologies, early hype has given way to slow, incremental growth. In one sense voice is just an alternative input mechanism for text. But in another it represents a fundamentally different user experience. And voice technology behind the scenes is becoming increasingly sophisticated, almost imperceptibly to the public.

As the survey discussion points out, voice is central for the majority of non-traditional connected devices: “77% of all Internet-connected devices are something other than a tablet, PC or smartphone.” Indeed voice is the UI for the next generation of devices and virtual assistants are the logical successor to “search.” It’s just going to take longer than expected.

Source: https://marketingland.com/usage-of-voice-has-plateaued-for-now-280241

2 tips quick for ecommerce site search

A good digital experience is more crucial now than it ever was. So how can retailers make sure their on-site search experience is as seamless, effective and easy to use as possible?

 

Search box placement and functionality

There’s more to search box and site search functionality than you may think. Even something as basic as search box placement can make a big difference to usability, and a few seemingly minor additions to functionality can vastly improve the overall experience of searching.

1. Make the search box easy to spot

The prominence of the search box on the page can influence the user’s decision to make use of it to find products – and determine how easily they can find it if they’re looking.

Therefore, if site search is important to your site and you want shoppers to use it, the prominence and visibility of the search field should reflect this.

Some retail websites, intentionally or unintentionally, sideline the search bar in their site design, effectively absorbing it into the background or crowding it out visually with distracting page artefacts and making it difficult to spot.

Take Boohoo, for example, whose business model and site design are much more oriented around customers browsing the site for products than searching for a specific item. There is a search icon in the header, but you practically need a magnifying glass to spot it:

2. Keep the search box placement consistent

While this might seem like a basic tip and one that most ecommerce retailers have mastered, it’s still worth bearing in mind: when you design your pages, make sure that your search box is located in the same place each time, so that customers know where to find it.

Final:

The components of a good digital experience are now more important than ever, and have a major role to play in ensuring that customers who visit your site are united with the products they’re looking for as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

On-site search is a big factor in the customer journey of those consumers who either know exactly what they’re looking for and have come to your site to find it, or who have some idea of what they’re looking to buy but may need some help narrowing it down.

A good site search experience will help them to find that product/those products and maybe several others that they either didn’t know they wanted or hadn’t thought to look for. But a poor site search experience will leave them frustrated, and result in them deciding to shop elsewhere for the product or at best, feeling less inclined to buy anything additional or shop via your website in the future.

Facebook Adds New Options for Brands to Control Ad Placements

Facebook has announced a new set of brand safety tools which will enable businesses to better control where their ads appear across Facebook’s various ad delivery networks.

The issue of brand placement came to the fore back in 2017 when YouTube lost millions of dollars in revenue after major brands pulled their YouTube spend over concerns that their ads were appearing alongside extremist content and hate speech.

Facebook has been working to provide measures to avoid the same over the last couple of years, and these new options add to that capacity, enabling more in-depth control and specification in ad placement.

Among the various measures, Facebook is adding:

A new, dedicated section within Business Manager/Ads Manager where brands can create block lists, get delivery reports and set account-level inventory filters (as opposed to having to apply them one campaign at a time).

Updated delivery reports which will enable advertisers to search by account ID or publisher without having to download the report. Facebook’s also looking to add content level information to its delivery reports.

A new brand safety partner in Zefr to help improve its brand safety tools. Zefr will join DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science and OpenSlate.
Publisher White Lists for Audience Network and in-stream ads on Facebook. Facebook is also looking to give advertisers the capacity to white-list the types of content they appear on for in-stream video ads.

The new measures will provide additional assurance for advertisers, enabling them to avoid any concerning associations, while also improving targeting options to their focus audiences.

As per Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson:

“The long term goal is to have an incredibly robust ecosystem where businesses can sell their products, [and] consumers have the confidence to buy them and know what they’re getting, and so that’s the long-range plan and these are just a series of steps along that path. It’s a lot that we’re doing to get there.”

Facebook also notes that while it has a zero-tolerance approach for harmful content on its platforms, “that doesn’t mean zero occurrence”. Given that some content can slip through the cracks, additional measures like this will provide advertisers with more options to manage their ad placements, and maintain greater awareness of the same.

As noted, Facebook has been developing its tools on this front for the last few years – earlier this year, Facebook added a new Inventory Filter which enables advertisers to choose a level of protection they want to apply to their ad placements.

Facebook inventory filter
As Facebook’s internal detection tools improve, so will its placement options, and these new elements move further along that line.

You can read more about Facebook’s new brand safety features here.

Facebook contractors categorize your private posts to train AI

The practice raises a few privacy concerns.

At any given time, Facebook has thousands of third-party staffers around the world looking at and labeling Facebook and Instagram posts. The work is meant to help train AI and to inform new products. But because the contractors see users’ public and private posts, some view it as a violation of privacy.

According to Reuters, as many as 260 contract workers in Hyderabad, India have spent more than a year labeling millions of Facebook posts dating back to 2014. They look for the subject of the post, the occasion and the author’s intent, and Facebook told Reuters, the company uses that information to develop new features and to potentially increase usage and ad revenue.

Around the globe, Facebook has as many as 200 similar content labeling projects, many of which are used to train the company’s AI. As Reuterspoints out, that’s not uncommon. Many companies hire staff for “data annotation” — like helping AI identify traffic lights or pedestrians in videos.

But that probably won’t make Facebook users feel any better. The contractors working in Hyderabad told Reuters they see everything from text-based status updates to videos, photos and Stories across Facebook and Instagram — including those that are shared privately. And even as Facebook embarks on its “the future is private” platform, one Facebook employee told Reuters he can’t imagine the practice going away. It’s a core part of training AI and developing the company’s products.

Instagram Adds Option to Link to Instagram Stories, Expands Stories Promote Tool

This is an interesting one – Instagram looks to be rolling out a new option which would enable users to share a direct link back to an Instagram Story, providing a new way to boost Stories awareness and engagement.

Spotted by user Lindsey Gamble, the new option looks to provide a separate URL for an Instagram Story – either your own or someone else’s.

The addition could be a big bonus for brands who are looking to maximize their investment in Stories creation. Part of what’s initially caused some businesses to hold off on going all-in on Stories is the ephemeral nature of the option, with that content you’ve worked hard to create – and/or paid good money for – disappearing after 24 hours. The addition of Stories Archive and Highlights in late 2017 changed this, while more recently, Instagram’s also been looking to add in more ways to help brands raise awareness of their on-platform content, including Nametag Codes and simplified Stories cross-posting to Facebook.

The ability to share your Stories via a separate link was actually rolled out on Snapchat early last year, though limited to only certain Stories. Given that, it’s actually surprising Instagram has taken so long to catch up – they normally replicate Snapchat’s features at a much faster clip.

The Promote tool, available via the ‘More’ menu at the bottom right of your Stories frame, enables users to either drive traffic to their website, to their Instagram profile or to prompt viewers to send them a message via their Direct inbox.

Given parent company Facebook’s broader emphasis on Stories, it makes sense for Instagram to be rolling out these tools, and both could have significant implications for brands looking to make best use of the option.

The capacity to drive traffic back to your Stories via other social networks – or even via your website or e-mail newsletter – could be hugely beneficial for brand use, while Stories promotion could also provide another avenue to boost interest in your content, even if, initially, some users might be a little surprised by Stories content from profiles they don’t follow appearing in their feed.

5 Ways to Generate More Engagement (and Reach) on Facebook

Facebook organic reach and engagement has taken a significant hit in recent times. That’s not great news for brands looking to use the platform to generate business, but reminding yourself of some basic engagement “hacks” can be a good way to increase your Facebook traction with the fans you already have.

This is important, because nurturing your current audience will lead to more success in attracting new followers. In this post I’ll highlight a few ways to “trick” the Facebook algorithm to help generate more engagement from your fans, and therefore more reach to new audiences.

1. Try posting links in the first comment

Now, I haven’t tried this one personally, but I’ve seen other big players in the social media space use this tactic.

Here’s a little background on why this is a good idea – Facebook likes to keep people on its platform. This means that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm doesn’t particularly like posts which take people to an outside website, so any post with an off-platform link could, theoretically, be penalized, and shown to fewer people within your audience.

As an alternative approach, you could try creating a longer form caption, then letting your audience know that if they want more information they can find the link in the first comment on the post.

Again, I don’t have any definitive data on this, but it’s something to consider in your experiments.

2. Post engaging content in between website links

My second tip is a little more obvious, and really, an old-school Facebook marketing strategy – though it remains a solid one.

The first step is to get to know your audience – research similar Pages, pay attention to your analytics and understand what it is that your followers like and respond to. Then, you should look to create content which is super engaging, before you even try posting any of your own links.

This principle behind this is that since you’ve posted amazing content that your audience loves before you’ve sought to use the same to drive website traffic, the algorithm will look at your Page content more favorably, because it will know that you’re already driving significant engagement. Therefore, your posts with links will, ideally, be granted the same reach benefits.

3. Use Messenger Bots

Using chatbots and Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers and keep fans updated is one of the new hot topics in social media marketing. Connecting through Messenger gives you the opportunity to interact with people who may not like your Page (yet), and I’ve seen some really great Messenger bots which link you to different content based on your responses (I’m currently giving one a spin on my own Facebook fan page).

Messenger bots can be used for lead nurturing, retaining customers, and sharing your knowledge. Although chatbots may seem a little daunting to set up (the thought deterred me from trying for a while), there’s a range of some tools that can make this easier on you.

Within your Facebook Page messaging option, you can set up instant replies, and replies to frequently asked questions. For a more robust messenger chat bot you can try a third party service.

4. Try videos and live videos

I can’t stress the importance of incorporating videos into your social media strategy enough – it’s not so much that the News Feed Algorithm loves video necessarily, but videos are just a more popular form of content to consume.

Using tools like Adobe Spark PostQuikVideoshopBoomerang and Hyperlapse can make the process of creating quality videos for your posts easier – Facebook even has some built-in video creation tools (including the slideshow post option and video effects for boosted posts).

But the easiest way to dive into videos is by going live. Live-streaming creates a sense of urgency, while it’s also a pretty simple way to interact with your audience without needing a fancy set up.

5. Boost Posts

You might not want to hear this, but boosting posts is also a viable, and effective, way to increase your Facebook audience engagement.

The positive is that you don’t need a huge budget. Try putting some money behind posts which organically perform well. The key here is to target the right audience effectively – you can target people who follow your Page, or anyone who’s engaged with your Page in the past.

This type of targeting is efficient because you’re reaching people who are already familiar with your work, and will most likely be happy to see more from you.

Will you try these “hacks” to help you with the Facebook algorithm and get some engagement back from your current followers? Remember this year we should focus on the audience we have, and the new eyes will follow.

China cracks down on Twitter users critical of its government

It won’t surprise you to hear that China keeps a tight lid on homegrown social networks, but it’s now doing more to stifle free expression on outside networks, too. The New York Times reported that Chinese law enforcement recently began a crackdown on residents who post criticism of the government on Twitter, even though the service is officially blocked inside the country. Police have threatened action, interrogated activists for hours and detained at least one person for 15 days.

And when officials demand that tweets disappear, they don’t necessarily take “no” for an answer. When human rights campaigner Wang Aizhong refused to delete his tweets, someone hijacked his account and deleted 3,000 of his messages. While there’s no confirmation of who was responsible, Wang put the blame on government-linked hackers who insisted on silencing him.
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The likely aim, as you might imagine, is to maintain the ruling party’s authority and control the country’s image. China is happy to use Twitter and other foreign social networks to promote its official point of view, but doesn’t want its residents to challenge that view on those same networks. And unfortunately, that makes life even more difficult for activists who may lose access to one of their few remaining public outlets.

Instagram DOWN – Social network not working as outage hits hundreds of users

Instagram users are facing a night without access to the popular social media app as it appears to be down and not working.

Problems seem to have started at around 9.45pm tonight with hundreds of reports across the UK and many parts of Europe.

Independent website monitor, Down Detector, is showing a surge of issues with users currently unable to access or use the app.

Down Detector is an independent website which tracks social mentions around certain topics to detect outages across the globe.

Users of the Facebook-owned social network have also begun flocking to rival service Twitter to report issues with Instagram.

One fan of the app tweeted: “My instagram is down so I had to come on twitter and make sure I’m not the only one

And another added: “The app is completely down, I can‘t even log in – like what is going on?”

It’s currently unclear what is causing the problems, or when Instagram will be back online.

This isn’t the first time this year that Instagram users have faced issues with the app.

Instagram has been hit by a number of outages in 2018 with a number of users unable to access the app as early as last month.

Outages also hit Instagram in May and July.

Along with Instagram it also appears some other Facebook-owned services are also struggling tonight with WhatsApp and Facebook fans suffering problems.

One Facebook users confirmed: “My Facebook just keeps coming up with an error message when I try to log on saying error code 1”

And another added: “Just getting a message: “Service Unavailable”

 

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/1012543/Instagram-down-not-working-photo-social-network

The 5 biggest announcements from Facebook’s F8 developer conference keynote

Facebook just wrapped day one of its F8 developer conference keynote, which comes at an unfortunate time this year after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal seems to have put Facebook at odds with how it is handling user data within its developer community. Nevertheless, the show had to go on, and Mark Zuckerberg tried his best to keep developers excited about continuing to build on his platform.

The CEO spent a brief moment of the keynote rallying developers to keep building and using their skills to bring people together. To do so, the company unveiled several updates coming to its product lineup, including the core Facebook app, Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp.

1) FACEBOOK DATING IS COMING

Facebook is already a combination of several services you use online — Facebook Marketplace is to Craigslist as Stories is to Snapchat — and now it appears the social network is coming after Tinder next. Today, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will soon offer a dating feature that allows people to browse potential matches at inside groups or events you’re interested in attending. The feature will allow people to message each other using only their first names, and start conversations that are separate from the core Facebook or Messenger app.

Facebook did not say when the feature will launch, but just minutes after the announcement, Tinder and OkCupid parent company Match Group saw its stock plummet as low as 20 percent from $46.22 to $36.12 per share at the time this article published.

2) OCULUS GO is a GO!

The $199 standalone virtual reality headset from Facebook is now available for purchaseafter Amazon accidentally put preorders up hours before the official launch. The new Oculus Go will support social experiences like Watch Party, multiplayer games, and even live shows such as concerts and experiential theater.

In addition to the headset, there will now be an Oculus TV hub for users to stream content from ESPN, Netflix, Showtime, and more. Some of these services have been available via Hulu for some time, but the new hub should add more options for those investing in the new headset.

3) MESSENGER REVAMP

Facebook has already admitted that it’s allowed Messenger to become extremely bloated after unbundling it from the core Facebook app, and now, it looks to be simplifying — at least visually. Messenger VP of product David Marcus says the overall refresh is focused on making things cleaner and faster, with an upcoming dark mode teased in a short promotional video.

4) ALL-IN ON INSTAGRAM STORIES

Most of the updates for Instagram today arrive to the app’s most popular feature to date: Stories. Soon, users will be able to user AR face filters from brands and influencers without waiting for Instagram to release its own. Users will also get more third-party integrations when uploading a story. For example, a GoPro clip could be cropped and ported right to Instagram Stories or you can share what you’re currently listening to on Spotify while offering a deep link within a story to open that song in a viewer’s own Spotify app.

Instagram is also continuing to transform into a full-fledged messaging app, with new video calling features that will allow group conferencing as well.

5) WHATSAPP GETS A FEW UPDATES, TOO

After a moment of thanking WhatsApp founder Jan Koum in regards to his recent departure, Facebook moved right into sharing stories about how impactful WhatsApp has been around the world. The Stories feature also appears to be taking off well on WhatsApp: Facebook revealed that 450 million users share a story on WhatsApp daily. Additionally, 65 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp every day.

While WhatsApp is not getting a refresh quite as dramatic as Messenger, it will be receiving a few minor updates such as group video calls and stickers. Features targeted at businesses are to come, though the company did not outline specifically what during the keynote.

Perhaps what Facebook didn’t say is equally important to note. During the keynote, Zuckerberg did not mention Cambridge Analytica’s Aleksandr Kogan at all, and he only used moments in the opening remarks to poke fun at himself about when he testified in Congressearly last month and to inform developers that app reviews are back on after a brief pause to investigate potential bad actors. Clearly, it was a move to excite developers than warn them — with Zuckerberg looking and sounding more upbeat than he has been in recent public appearances.

 

source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/1/17302462/facebook-f8-conference-2018-keynote-highlights-summary-day-1

 

Twitter’s AR boss departs after 18 months

Twitter’s head of AR/VR, Alessandro Sabatelli, has announced he’s leaving the company after just 18 months with the site. His departure comes during a period of AR activity for Twitter’s competitors — Apple, Google and Facebook have all been busy showing off their AR/VR development platforms — while things have been relatively quiet for Twitter, whose most significant work in the area was its work on Live 360 video in Periscope in December 2016. With no word yet on Sabatelli’s replacement, or if he will be replaced at all, it seems likely that Twitter is now revisiting its plans for, and position within, the AR space.

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