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Good morning, Marketers, and how much of search is controlled by machines?
That’s what I’ve been thinking as I’ve been reading today’s news. We’ve covered quite a few stories around how ads and search providers keep moving to more automated solutions — and we’ve covered your varied reactions to it.
Bing openly says that they let the machines handle quite a bit of search, while Google is less open about how they use machine learning with their algorithms. Meanwhile, on the paid side, automation has taken over what a lot of PPC experts used to control manually.
Meanwhile, Barry spoke with Justin Abrams of BrightEdge about becoming a “human experience marketer” and it almost makes me feel a sense of equilibrium. Sure, the machines may be taking over on the search and paid advertising side, but we non-machine mortals will be here to anchor the search experience in our shared humanity.
Director of Search Content
COVID-19 PPC scams decline, but AI struggles to distinguish real from fake ads
With almost 42% of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the panic around hand sanitizer, face masks, and social distancing has become less frenzied. With time, it’s become a way of life, but it also means that the surge of fake ads for bogus hand sanitizer and unproven coronavirus cures has also declined.
Monitoring for fake COVID-related ads has required a whole new set of data, which requires engineers to constantly update their AI. “The Media Trust has looked to official resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to inform lists of keywords it uses to watch for ads hyping phony cures or products deemed inappropriate for treating coronavirus, which include terms such as ‘covid-aid tincture,’ ‘corona destroyer tea’ and ‘hydroxychloroquine,’” wrote Kate Kaye for Digiday.
But that sometimes means that legitimate ads from “small, local health departments or organizations disseminating important public health messaging or promoting vaccine appointments” can get caught in the mix.
Video: Justin Abrams on SEO customer success
In the latest vlog, Barry interviewed Jutin Abrams, the Senior SEO Consultant at BrightEdge and co-founder of Cause of a Kind.
Justin has a knack for truly understanding the person he is talking with and really being able to relate to that person on their own level — a real benefit when it comes to SEO. Our first topic of conversation was related to how to use human experience in your marketing. Justin explained that there is a shift in digital business going on. Early on, people were focused on driving web performance but now there is this shift where we’re moving from search marketers to human experience marketers. It is all about asking, “How does what I write, what services I provide, and what I build serve a human need?” It is about putting the human at the epicenter of the decision making process.
Marketing events of the future will be hybrid and “always-on”
Most marketers expect live events to return next year. But does that mean saying goodbye to the virtual environments rapidly constructed in 2020, and will brands be as willing as ever to pay the cost of live event attendance — including the carbon footprint of business travel?
“We’re going to have a mix,” said Denzil Rankine, founder and Executive Chairman of AMR International. “We’re going to find that some versions of events are working very well online; businesses are having an impact, making money, and so on. And certain models — for example, one-to-one meetings work that way.”
Hybrid events can mean anything from a global live-stream of an in-person event, to an in-person event with certain digital assets or an event app associated with it. How does Rankine view hybrid? “I think we simply say it’s live plus a digital extension,” he said.
A full-scale live-stream of an in-person event seems daunting, like producing two events at once. “I think it’s the future. A lot of venues are creating studios. We would advise hotels to have (audio-video) facilities available.”
Shorts: The app edition
Clubhouse is finally on Android. But at this point does it have the hype it did before? Yes, it’s still invite-only, but the announcement promises the floodgates will open “soon(ish).”
So far only 4% of iOS users have opted-in to app-tracking for ads. According to Verizon Media-owned Flurry Analytics, almost everyone is saying, “No thanks.”
TikTok still tops the app download chart. If you haven’t taken it seriously before now, it might be time. Especially if your target market is Gen Z.
How Google uses machine learning in Google search
“You don’t mention anything about machine learning changing the weights of ranking signals… Bing is very into saying, ‘Yeah, we have lots of ranking signals but we don’t know what the weights are at any moment because machine learning and AI changes that on the fly based on tons of factors.’ Does Google do a lot of that or it depends on the specific ranking factor or signal?”
That’s what Barry asked John Mueller in the livestream of the English Google SEO office hours last week. John’s answer. It depends, of course.
“For some signals I know that we do a lot of machine learning to try to figure out how we should integrate them and for others we don’t use that much. And it kind of also depends a little bit on the specifics of what we’re trying to figure out: Do we have a clear metric that we could kind of base this machine learning system on or are we doing something like I don’t know training the machine learning system on clicks and then it just finds the most click-baity titles that we can show and uses those in search? So that’s something where for some elements we definitely use machine learning for other elements we don’t use it as much.”
“Google has historically downplayed the significance of machine learning and AI with Google’s ranking algorithm. Google even said many algorithms are not suitable for machine learning,” says Barry.