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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

Earbuds that are noise cancelling hit the market just in time for the holidays

(TECH NEWS) There are no shortage of earbuds on the market, however, Nuheara’s noise cancelling, bluetooth earbuds are sure to top everyone’s wish list.

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Noise cancelling earbuds are efficient for blocking out the world around you – when all you want to hear is your music and nothing else. However, for those who want a smaller, sleeker alternative, Nuheara is the perfect fit.

Nuheara are wireless audio earbuds that are customizable to your hearing needs. Even though they have the same power as noise cancelling headphones, they can be adjusted to amplify or minimize sound based on each situation.

You can choose to blend the sounds of the streets and your new favorite album in order to be aware of the world around you. The earbuds are ideal for any situation.

The noise cancelling earbuds use SINC (Superior Intelligent Noise Control) technology, which lets every user create their custom hearing experience.

There are numerous times when it’s hard to hear because of the noise around us. This may be in crowded restaurants, concerts or even when you’re at home trying to avoid the noisy neighbor in the apartment above you.

The SINC technology applies a frequency filter to sounds you choose to hear or want to avoid. Additionally, the left and right earbuds have their own settings, so that they can be customized individually. Everything is customized through the app, so it’s up to each user to decide!

Prior to founding Nuheara, Justin Miller and David Cannington worked in the oil and gas companies creating industrial strength hearing headsets.

The feedback they received during these experiences paved the way for inventing Nuheara. People wanted a sleek headset that they could wear in everyday life, not just at their job.

The earbuds will set you back a few hundred bucks, but they come with accessories like a battery charger, carrying case and 8 different silicone tips. The battery charger provides three full charges. Nuheara earbuds are also sweat and water resistant, but they are not yet waterproof.

As wireless headphones, Nuheara are also compatible with most Bluetooth connected devices. The earbuds also use tap-touch control to make hands-free phone calls, control music and adjust settings.

There is no need to connect Nuheara to external devices to use their noise cancelling capabilities.

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Turn your FAQ page into a chatbot without knowing how to code

(TECH NEWS) An easy way to add a chatbot to your site and automate some of your work is through this new simple tool that doesn’t require any tech know-how.

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Reduce your workload and personalize customer service engagement with Faqbot, the tool that turns your online FAQ into a customized chatbot.

Co-founded by Denny Wong and CEO Mathis André, Faqbot uses machine learning to streamline frequently asked questions into a handy chatbot pal.

Based on your existing FAQ content, Faqbot builds a database that learns from every conversation to improve responses. Faqbot can also be used to automate sales and lead generation.

You get to design the conversation flow, mapping out a custom path to guide users to a desired outcome. Set predefined choices or free text, customize the bot’s responses, and determine what leading questions the bot should ask.

For example, on the Faqbot site, I was given two pre-set choices to click after each response from the bot. Clicking “Thanks for helping” gets the polite response “You are welcome! ;-)” complete with an old-school emoji featuring a nose.

If you select “not my question,” Faqbot uses its general response to any unanswerable question: “Sorry, I’m a chatbot. I am constantly learning and have answers to frequently asked questions. Thank you for leaving your email and we will get back to you shortly.”

Choose your own responses based on already defined FAQ or come up with new messaging to better engage and inform your customers as needed. The free text option is also available if customers wish to continue asking questions.

Of course, I had to try out some less than frequently asked questions. When I asked Faqbot “are we friends?” it kindly replied, “Absolutely. You don’t have to ask.” So I’m smitten.

However, when I tried to take it to the next level by asking “Do you love me?,” which seems to be the internet’s favorite way to harass a bot, I got the “Sorry, I’m a chatbot” response.

That’s okay. I’ll recover. Faqbot isn’t here to love, it’s here to answer questions.

You can easily install the chatbot by either copy/pasting the snippet of codes directly into your webpage, or connect Faqbot to your company’s Facebook page. No coding skills required.

Pricing is based on number of users per month, but all levels include the same service offerings of FAQ database management, messaging interface, a ticketing system, and DIY guided conversation flow. You can try out Faqbot free for 14 days by signing up on their site.

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Tech News

This note-taking app is perfect for the creative mind

(TECH NEWS) The newest app for note-taking could be a tremendous asset for a very specific type of creative that tools like trello and evernote fall short on… not all apps work for all people.

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If you’re like me, you’ve had many phases in your idea-having, note-taking life. There was the AP History period, where I decided the quality of my notes would be judged based on the tininess of my handwriting and the number of innovative abbreviations coined. There was the “song collection” period, in which I wrote down song and band names with reckless abandon, on any scrap of paper or non-paper within reach, and promptly scattered the scraps everywhere. There was the post-it era, in which every single idea was carefully documented on a “Sticky Note” that tiled over my Windows desktop and was impossible to find thereafter.

And then, there was Evernote, and Trello, and I thought my evolution was complete. I had neatly organized “Notebooks” and “Cards” and I felt very structured and efficient and spiritually done with my note-taking journey.

But a whisper of rebellion called out to me. It sounded musical, colorful, whimsical. It asked me whether I wouldn’t like to liberate myself from those neat lists and stacks, let my ideas flow, visualize my thoughts?

It introduced me to Milanote – the note-taking app truly made FOR images, not just tolerant of them.

Milanote markets itself toward creatives: “For the research, thinking and planning behind your next great piece of work.”

But the strengths of this app could benefit anyone who could use a more freeform space to collect their thoughts. A blank page resembles a peg board, and users can add images, notes, links, and more in any configuration their hearts desire. You can also link any elements together with a web of lines, or leave them on their own.

This could be a great app for early-stage brainstorming and planning, when you need to play around and be flexible.

Milanote can be collaborative, like Trello, or individual and personal, like my always-evolving grocery list in Evernote. Milanote currently works in any web browser, and iOs and Android apps are coming soon.

For up to 100 notes, Milanote can be yours free of charge. More than that, though, and you’ll have to pay $9.99 for the pro version.

Something tells me infinity should cost much more, but the organic, customizable concept is something to hold on to.

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