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Brands questioning the universally blind dependency on digital advertising

(TECH NEWS) Advertising is adjusting to find the new normal as brands learn that using a social media giants isn’t always the best bet possible.

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Massive metric mistakes

Within the past year, Facebook has been rattled by massive metrics blunders.

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Even its once-vaunted algorithm has come under increased scrutiny for failing to be judicious about its displayed content, whether in cases of privacy issues, trending fake news, or catering to people’s ideological bubbles.

Poking holes in the boat

Critics have pounced on these vulnerabilities, and have called into question the social networking giant’s accuracy in reporting data, and by extension, effectiveness of digital advertising.

But none threatens its bottom line like digital ad effectiveness.

At the core of the controversy stands issues like ‘viewability’ and ‘in-target reach’, the metric that media plans its measurements on.

A quickly sinking ship

Big brands have demanded digital ad giants like Facebook and Google to do more than “grade their own homeworks”, by implementing immediate safeguards for their clients.

Both companies seemed to have given way to such criticism and announced their willingness to share their ad metrics and data with Media Rating Council.

In January on this year, Facebook tried to further address these criticisms by expanding its third-party verification partnerships to a global total of 24, adding new ones like DoubleVerify, and strengthening existing ones, like Nielsens’s.

Bigger than just saying sorry

Calls for greater transparency forced Facebook’s hand to go beyond just damage control.

Facebook also launched a marketing portal to give advertiser measurement agencies greater insight into the media mix by collecting data from Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network.

But skepticism against digital media —especially ad targeting— is on the rise, and has suddenly found traction beyond the fringe disbelievers.

Subpar performance

A recent IAB (Internet Advertising Revenue) survey found that client satisfaction with digital marketing was below 30 per cent.

Critics also came from the very top.

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Proctor & Gamble has been particularly unsparing.

He’s not having it

Pritchard called out digital advertising for having “acute problems”, and delivering a “crappy” experience, all the while collecting revenues of $72 billion, “surpassing television”.

“We bombard consumers with thousands of ads a day, subject them to endless ad load times, interrupt them with pop-ups and overpopulate their screens and feeds. And with ad blockers growing 40% and fraud as high as 20%, who knows if they’re even seeing our ads”.

The benefit of doubt is over

Pritchard called the recent Facebook announcements of third-party partnership as “not enough.”

“At P&G we are choosing to vote with our dollars” he said, “We don’t want to waste time and money on a crappy media supply chain”.

While not all clients may be ready to equate inflated video views to mean ineffectiveness and failure of digital advertising strategies altogether, most clients are going to become increasingly analytical.

Oil and water, tech and advertising?

Ian Leslie of Financial Times argued The Mad Men of advertising have entirely lost the plot.

Leslie’s reasoning: Just a decade ago, advertising and technology were worlds apart.

Now, suddenly ads and tech are inextricably linked, making measurements of what works and what doesn’t entirely dependent on tech metrics that advertisers do not understand very well. Advertisers blind faith in the latest technologies has made them lose sight of what actually works. They are slowly realizing that digital landscape is suitable for certain types of products and not others.

Seeing isn’t alwas believing

“Interacting with a favored entertainer is different from interacting with a brand of rental car or orange juice” says Douglas Hoult in Harvard Business Review.

Visibility does not translate to revenue. More reach doesn’t make you richer.

The dominance of digital advertising giants like Facebook, and the tsunami-sized disruptions they have caused in the market cannot be overstated.

The costs of advertising

A 2016 survey showed that 79 percent of American local advertisers were cutting print advertising in newspapers to fund digital spends. A small business now spends between $1,000 and $2,000 a year on Facebook ads.

The irony is almost cruel. For example, Shahidha Bari of The Guardian asks poignantly in a rather philosophical essay, “Facebook is watching us, but who is watching Facebook?” At the very bottom of the page, The Guardian bemoans its falling revenues and asks for help to remain open for all.

Play your cards right

2016 may have been profitable for Facebook. But it was also a year of revelations—of the shortcomings of digital spending.

More people and companies are now questioning their blind dependency on digital advertising.Click To Tweet

The challenge lies in asking the right ones. Properly assessing the efficacy of digital advertising is a good first step.

#FacebookAdBlowBack

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Tech News

A look into why AI couldn’t save the world from COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, but we just don’t have the data yet. So perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet.

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Even in the best of times, the human race can hardly be defined by our patience in the face of uncertainty. COVID-19 has rocked our feelings of safety and security. Hospitals have struggled to keep up with demand for care, and researchers are working tirelessly to create a vaccine. Early on in the fight against this virus, some looked to artificial intelligence technology to lead the pack in finding a solution to the global health crisis, but science takes time and AI is no different.

Over two months ago, when COVID-19 was still most prevalent in China, researchers were already attempting to use AI to fight the virus’ spread. As Wired reports, researchers in Wuhan, China attempted to screen for COVID-19 by programming an AI to analyze chest CTs of patients with pneumonia.

The AI would then decipher if the patient’s pneumonia stemmed from COVID-19 or something less insidious. This plan failed for the same reason many pursuits do – a lack of time and data to pull it off.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization examined the lung CT tool, but it was deemed unfit for widespread use. The lung CT tool, and all other AI driven projects, are limited by the humans designing and operating them.

We have struggled to collect and synthesize data in relation to COVID-19, and as a result tools, like the lung CT scans, cannot hope to succeed. AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, so perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet. Our tenacity and optimism continue to drive AI forward, but progress can only be sped up so much.

Like all science, AI has its limitations, and we cannot expect it to be a miracle cure for all our problems. It requires data, experimentation, and testing just like any other scientific pursuit. There are many problems to unlock before AI can be a leader in the driving force for positive change, but its shortcomings do not outweigh its potential. AI couldn’t save us from COVID-19, but as researchers continue to learn from this global event, AI may still save us in the future.

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Tech News

Chrome can now group and color code your open tabs

(TECH NEWS) Do you have too many tabs, and can’t tell what’s what? Google has tab groups that make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

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Are you a tab collector? That’s Google’s name for people who have tabs upon tabs upon tabs open on their Google Chrome browser. And while third party apps are already available to help collectors manage tabs, Google is now stepping in with Tab Groups.

Tab Groups, try it here, allows users to color-code, group and add text or emoji labels to separate clusters of tabs in their browser.

Right-click on any tab and choose Add to New Group. A gray dot will appear to the left of the tab and outline it in the same color. Clicking on the dot lets users update the color, label and name the group. Once grouped together, the tab groups can be moved and reordered. They’re also saved when Chrome is closed and reopened.

Google said after testing Tab Groups for months, they noticed people usually arranged their tabs by topic and that appeared most common when people shopped or were working on a project.
“Others have been grouping their tabs by how urgent they are, “ASAP,” “this week” and “later.” Similarly, tab groups can help keep track of your progress on certain tasks: “haven’t started,” “in progress,” “need to follow up” and “completed.”

Of course, this new feature does nothing to dissuade users from opening too many tabs, despite research that says multitasking may change the structure of your brain and Chrome is notorious for using too much RAM. So now you can’t concentrate, and your computer is running hot and slowing down.

A solution? Use Chrome extensions such as The Great Suspender, which suspends tabs that have been inactive for a specific amount of time. Don’t worry, you can whitelist specific websites so if you always need a tab for Twitter open, it won’t be suspended.

Another tip is to focus on one task at a time using the Pomodoro Technique, breaking tasks and your workday into 25-minute bursts of productivity with five-minute breaks in between. FocusMe uses a timer and website blocker to reduce the risk of getting distracted. You’re on the internet, after all.

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Quarantine bod got you down? AI trainer Artifit lifts you up

(TECH NEWS) If staying home has caused some unfortunate weight gain, Artifit can help you keep your home body fit during and way after quarantine is over.

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Mandatory lockdown’s have changed people’s routine’s in every conceivable way. From the way we work and cook to how we exercise. Home workout routines have been a hot topic in the last couple of months. People are trying to find a way to retain some sense of normalcy and maintain their healthy lifestyles We’ve all heard jokes about the so called “Quarantine 15” online and maybe you’ve even made a disparaging comment or two about your weight since gyms closed.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a little weight gain the face of a global pandemic. The world is changing, your life is changing, and times are scary. Be gentle with yourself and those around you.

If you are looking for a way to get regular workouts back into your life and YouTube videos just aren’t cutting it, there is a high-tech solution. Artifit is an AI personal trainer designed to make your solo workouts safer and more effective. The app acts as your personal trainer by creating your workout plans, tracking progress, and providing posture corrections.

The app uses your phone’s camera to track your reps and spot errors in form while providing real time audio feedback. According to the app creators, [Artifit] recognizes 20 major joints movements via mobile camera, and we are constantly working on adding new joints and improving the algorithm.”

Beyond the workouts, Artifit taps into your competitive side by providing you with a score at the end of each work out that you can then share with friends. The app measures and analyze your progress over time and uses this data to create a workout plan that is best suited for you.

There are a ton of reasons you might be looking for a tech-driven approach to your workout routine. Most of us already rely on technology to track out movement in one way or another – think about the Health app on your phone or your Fitbit. Working out from home isn’t for everyone, but some are thriving under a more flexible schedule and want to keep it that way.

If you are not sure when you’re going to feel comfortable going to the gym again or you no longer want to fuss over scheduling appointments with a personal trainer, this could be the app for you. Artifit can help you keep your homebody tendencies intact way after quarantine is over.

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