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YouTube boycott: How ISIS is changing digital ad rules forever

(TECH NEWS) In response to ads appearing next to ISIS videos, YouTube changed their content rules which has created more drama for the online video site.

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YouTube faux pas

It has been several weeks since hundreds of prominent advertisers pulled their ads from YouTube. As reported by The American Genius, ads of prominent companies inadvertently appeared next to extremist videos inciting violence. In that episode, brands as varied as HSBC, McDonald’s, AT&T, L’Oreal, and The Guardian parted ways with YouTube.

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In an especially embarrassing moment for Google, which owns YouTube, British government ads played next to ISIS videos, essentially providing the extremist group with taxpayer money.

Momentum change

Two recent developments suggest that YouTube’s nightmare isn’t over just yet. First, it appears that Google’s effort to mitigate the fallout might have proven too rigid.

The crackdown has unintentionally hurt a whole new group of people: video content creators.

Secondly, smelling blood, ad rivals have leapt at Google’s weaknesses to curb out every bit of market share they can from the tech giant.

Too lax to too strict

NPR Morning News Brief reported on April 13, that many content creators who post on the site are now criticizing YouTube for inefficiently changing the algorithms as a response to the ad placement fallout. The censorship has been so severe, they contend, that apparently harmless content is now in danger of being banned from the YouTube site.

This includes instances of minor “adult language,” which are no longer seen as “advertiser friendly.”

It seems that Google’s new technologies and controls to flag off offensive videos is not working properly. For instance, Ethan Klein of h3h3Productions reported to Laura Sydell of NPR that some YouTube videos containing the word “die” were taken down, irrespective of the non-violent context in which the word may have been spoken, for example “I could die of laughter.”

Similarly, the YouTube channel Real Women Real Stories, a woman advocacy group, reported that several of their videos got banned, even though the content talked about empowering survivors of sex trafficking and slavery, simply because of its graphic language, not video content.

Trying to appease the masses

YouTube is still struggling to accommodate the advertiser demands of more control over content display on one hand, and the freedom of expression of content creators on the other.

Google has promised “a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content.”

Nevertheless, as an Irish Times article noted, “It is not possible for human monitoring and manual intervention to solve the problem of industrial hate speech. The scale of its advertising networks mean the kind of solution that is required will come in algorithmic form.”

And therein lies the rub

Algorithms are programmatic, i.e., automated ad trading systems. Advertisers can never have full awareness or control of where their ads will be placed online. That is because advertisers do not book ads with particular brands anymore.

They pay intermediaries to target specific demographics, and the dissemination process is incredibly complex.

And yet, the YouTube crisis underlined the pitfalls of a completely automated advertising. There is a real demand a “curated market” for digital ads.

Get them while they’re down

That is where Google competitors like MediaMath Inc. come in. This New York-based software seller for online ad buying is introducing a new service to ensure ads run on “high quality” contents only.

“We’re developing for the largest brands in the world who need to be assured of a safe environment for digital advertising,” said Erich Wasserman, MediaMath’s co-founder.

“We’re happily able to do this at a time when the market is shouting for it.”

Similarly, mobile ad company Kargo Global Inc. signed a deal with NBCUniversal to place digital ads in a controlled environment: 300 digital properties across 70 companies. Kargo CEO Harry Kargman said “The YouTube boycott was a gift. We were prepared for a drawn out fight. Basically, the market has done it for us.”

Barely a scratch

YouTube boycott will have minimal impact in Google’s sales, most analysts agree. In the UK, despite the ad fiasco, internet ad spending crossed 10 billion pounds, most of it going to Google and Youtube. Google’s pockets are too deep, their clients too varied.

Clients will not be able to ignore YouTube—where 400 hours of videos are uploaded every minute— for long either.Click To Tweet

However, the fiasco is sure to rewrite the rules (and a hell lot of algorithms) of how ads are delivered to your screen, forever.

#YouTube

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.

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3 cool ways bug-sized robots are changing the world

(TECH NEWS) Robots are at the forefront of tech advancements. But why should we care? Here are some noticeable ways robots are changing the world.

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Bits of robots and microchips changing the world.

When we envision the robots that will (and already are) transforming our world, we’re most likely thinking of something human- or dog-sized. So why are scientists hyper-focusing on developing bug-sized (or even smaller!) robots?

Medical advances

Tiny robots could assist in better drug delivery, as well as conduct minor internal surgeries that wouldn’t otherwise require incisions.

Rescue operations

We’ve all heard about the robot dogs that can rescue people who’ve been buried beneath rubble or sheets of snow. However, in some circumstances these machines are too bulky to do the job safely. Bug-sized robots are a less invasive savior in high-intensity environments, such as mine fields, that larger robots would not be able to navigate without causing disruption.

Exploration

Much like the insects after which these robots were designed, they can be programmed to work together (think: ants building a bridge using their own bodies). This could be key in exploring surfaces like Mars, which are not safe for humans to explore freely. Additionally, tiny robots that can be set to construct and then deconstruct themselves could help astronauts in landings and other endeavors in space.

Why insects?

Well, perhaps the most important reason is that insects have “nature’s optimized design”. They can jump vast distances (fleas), hold items ten times the weight of their own bodies (ants) and perform tasks with the highest efficiency (bees) – all qualities that, if utilized correctly, would be extremely beneficial to humans. Furthermore, a bug-sized bot is economical. If one short-circuits or gets lost, it won’t totally break the bank.

What’s next?

Something scientists have yet to replicate in robotics is the material elements that make insects so unique and powerful, such as tiny claws or sticky pads. What if a robot could produce excrement that could build something, the way bees do in their hives, or spiders do with their webs? While replicating these materials is often difficult and costly, it is undoubtedly the next frontier in bug-inspired robotics – and it will likely open doors for humans that we never imaged possible.

This is all to say that in the pursuit of creating strong, powerful robots, they need not always be big in stature – sometimes, the tiniest robots are just the best for the task.

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4 ways startups prove their investment in upcoming technology trends

(TECH NEWS) Want to see into the future? Just take a look at what technology the tech field is exploring and investing in today — that’s the stuff that will make up the world of tomorrow.

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Woman testing VR technology

Big companies scout like for small ones that have proven ideas and prototypes, rather than take the initial risk on themselves. So startups have to stay ahead of technology by their very nature, in order to be stand-out candidates when selling their ideas to investors.

Innovation Leader, in partnership with KPMG LLP, recently conducted a study that sheds light onto the bleeding edge of tech: The technologies that the biggest companies are most interested in building right now.

The study asked its respondents to group 16 technologies into four categorical buckets, which Innovation Leader CEO Scott Kirsner refers to as “commitment level.”

The highest commitment level, “in-market or accelerating investment,” basically means that technology is already mainstream. For optimum tech-clairvoyance, keep your eyes on the technologies which land in the middle of the ranking.

“Investing or piloting” represents the second-highest commitment level – that means they have offerings that are approaching market-readiness.

The standout in this category is Advanced Analytics. That’s a pretty vague title, but it generally refers to the automated interpretation and prediction on data sets, and has overlap with Machine learning.

Wearables, on the other hand, are self explanatory. From smart watches to location trackers for children, these devices often pick up on input from the body, such heart rate.

The “Internet of Things” is finding new and improved ways to embed sensor and network capabilities into objects within the home, the workplace, and the world at large. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean anyone’s out there trying to reinvent Juicero, though.)

Collaboration tools and cloud computing also land on this list. That’s no shock, given the continuous pandemic.

The next tier is “learning and exploring”— that represents lower commitment, but a high level of curiosity. These technologies will take a longer time to become common, but only because they have an abundance of unexplored potential.

Blockchain was the highest ranked under this category. Not surprising, considering it’s the OG of making people go “wait, what?”

Augmented & virtual reality has been hyped up particularly hard recently and is in high demand (again, due to the pandemic forcing us to seek new ways to interact without human contact.)

And notably, AI & machine learning appears on rankings for both second and third commitment levels, indicating it’s possibly in transition between these categories.

The lowest level is “not exploring or investing,” which represents little to no interest.

Quantum computing is the standout selection for this category of technology. But there’s reason to believe that it, too, is just waiting for the right breakthroughs to happen.

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Tech News

Will AI take over copywriting roles? This tool hopes to make that a reality

(TECH NEWS) CopyAI hopes to give copywriters a run for their… well, WPM. But how much can AI fully replace copywriting skills?

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Hands typing on a laptop, working on copywriting piece.

Copywriting is an important trade. Writers are often able to breathe life into otherwise formulaic websites peddling products which, sans the copy from those writers, might very well suffer a fate of relative obscurity. However, copywriters are also expensive, and their duties—indispensable as they may be—can be replicated fairly easily by little more than basic machine learning.

The question is this: Can AI replace copywriters? That’s a question that CopyAI hopes to answer with a resounding “yes”.

CopyAI is an “AI powered [sic] assistant for writing and brainstorming marketing copy.” This makes it a powerful tool to complement human writing, at the very least; is it enough to put people like me out of a job?

From my experience with the tool, no—at least, not yet. CopyAI can’t create an engagement strategy, respond to customers, spin testimonials to evoke heart-felt reactions, or analyze its own trends.

But that doesn’t detract from how freaking cool it is in practice.

CopyAI asks for very little from its user. Upon selecting a style of copy—Facebook Market, website carousel, or even page header, for example–you are prompted to enter the title of your product and a couple of short sentences describing it in the context of your ad. CopyAI does the rest, and while the results can be hilariously out of touch, you’re able to pick the ones that sound the most like your desired copy and then generate more options that sound similar.

The service has a huge number of different options for advertisement types, and you can use multiple different copy projects in one specific campaign.

Naturally, CopyAI has a few flaws, most of which replicate the problems we’ve seen with machine learning-based writing in the past: It doesn’t sound quite human enough to be comfortable. However, that’s a problem for a skilled copywriter to solve—and quickly, thus making something like CopyAI a potentially preferable choice for mass copywriting.

So, again, we ask: Is there a way for CopyAI to replace copywriters entirely in the future? Probably not. The copy it produces is intriguing, and often close enough that underfunded campaigns might find some value in using it short-term, but it doesn’t have the punch that a real person can pack into an advertisement.

That said, combining CopyAI with a small team of copywriters to reduce burnout—and repetition—could make for some very efficient work on the back end.

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