Vende Buzz: Butt dialing Siri for help, Google “near me”

by Ray Larson
  |  September 8, 2015  |  
September 8, 2015

Surprise, surprise, surprise – more news about Google and Facebook! We also do have Hulu news, but in the end that is kind of about Facebook too…and Google “near me”, always!

Facebook’s new AI – “M”

SIRI is the subject of serious argument.

On one hand, a Tennessee teen was saved recently by SIRI after he got pinned under his truck in a remote location. How did SIRI save him? The kid accidentally activated SIRI with his rear….yes, he butt-dialed SIRI. He was then able to have SIRI call 911.

On the other hand, everyone hates SIRI. SIRI usually has no idea what you are saying and doesn’t get a lot better. In theory, SIRI should learn how you speak and improve her listening skills – but apparently she is not that bright. Actually, SIRI is built on old technology, not on the newest artificial intelligence which “learns”.

Samsung has S voice, Google has Google Now, Microsoft just intro’d Cortana ….no one is happy. So, naturally, Facebook is getting into the game with the new “M” virtual assistant but Facebook’s feature is one-up on the others.

M is built on the Facebook Messenger app – which a lot of people were disgruntled after the disclosure that “messenger” was spying on you. This may end the grumbling because, after all, what does your “assistant” not know about you?

M recently started arriving on phones in certain areas…mysteriously of course and according to Facebook, it can handle a broader range of requests – including complex tasks like “Can you book a flight for me?”

The difference is that the AI is reportedly supervised by people – and works in tandem with those people with the humans answering questions that are too difficult for the computer. Yes, apparently there will be people sitting by, waiting for you to book travel, make dinner reservations or find a decent seafood restaurant.

Eventually, Facebook hopes that the system will “learn” like “natural language processing” is supposed to work. The system could take years to learn how to sort pictures of cats, evaluate baby formulas or any other inane questions a person might have for an AI program but they hope it will happen.

The odd thing is that Facebook was able to do this because they bought the company of the guy who developed the older algorithms (which SIRI et al use). He still works there – now he works for Facebook.

Facebook has only given M to a few hundred people in San Francisco so far, but over 700,000 use Messenger – and will eventually get “M” too. For now, when one of those few hundred people ask M to make an appointment at the hairdresser, a human will actually do the calling. In the future – who knows? Remember, Facebook was started by a college kid to communicate with his classmates.

Get the intelligence on AI at Wired.

Point is: We wonder why Facebook was able to buy the company that developed SIRI technology in the first place? Were Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft all out to lunch? But really, the important part is that once again, Facebook proves they are out to get your forever attention and so far, they are doing a pretty good job. In the end though, as with everything – it comes down to how they will make money on it…and you know that means advertising. Maybe, this will spur improvements in SIRI too, but the only real advice is “stay tuned” on the advertising front.

Coming soon to a television near you…at least those who watch Hulu

For most small business, television advertising has become a non-option due to expense, lack of targeting ability, falling view rates of “regular” TV and a host of other issues. A good number of millennials have ditched even the satellite television in favor of a Hulu subscription which offers on-demand programing for their favorite show.

Up until now, Hulu has offered advertising but a lot of users have “opted out” by paying a bigger monthly cost. This has obviously been driven by the fact that many people find most advertising, simply annoying. Hulu wasn’t doing such a great job at streaming appropriate ads – so a lot of subscribers complained.

This fall, the video service (owned by NBC Universal, Fox and Walt Disney) will offer video advertising using Facebook’s LiveRail exchange to let marketers more easily purchase ads with better targeting. In addition to targeting that Hulu comes up with, businesses can combine their own data with Hulu’s, making the system more cost-effective – less like broad TV targeting and more like Facebook.

Hulu had been slow to jump on the “self-serve” bandwagon (easier design, management and purchase) and they still plan to have actual humans do some of the sales work in combination with the programmatic sales. Hulu also plans to make all of the inventory available through the platform but advertisers will need to “sign-up” for that privilege – likely with an up-front deal.

Even though they chose the LiveRail platform, Hulu says the deal has nothing to do with Facebook – and they aren’t giving them any data.

Get the rundown on Hulu ads at Advertising Age.

Point is: Hah. Right now they aren’t sharing data – but we’ll see. We have no real reason to say that but since Facebook continues to eat everything….we’ll see. In any case, though it looks like mostly big brands will use the service at first, likely it will eventually be available to everyone. When it is, you may be able to reach more of that demographic that you have a hard time getting to – since Instagram and Vine don’t always translate well….video is still on the rise – so get moving.

Google “near me” searches are moving

Google still (and will for some time to come) has the search thing locked up. We all know that they “are” search – including mobile.

Smart devices have changed how we use the internet. No more sitting at the desk – now a good portion of internet use – including search is on the couch, in the meeting and most importantly – on the move. Every smartphone user has those “I want to” moments where they hop on the device and find out whatever “it” is, right now. These are the “I want to know”, “I want to buy” and “I want to go” moments. Google is on top of it.

Google recently announced a feature that lets users see when local businesses are busiest and those “near me” searches are on the rise. This is the “I want to go” moment that businesses need to focus on.

“Near me” searches as in “find a coffee shop near me”, are conducted 34 times more often now than in 2011 and more than twice as often as last year. Most of these searches come from mobile.

Retailers are also noticing customers who walk into a store with a picture on their phone and say “I want this”. Up to 50% of consumers who do a local search on a mobile device visit a brick and mortar shop within a day – and nearly 20% of those searches result in a purchase.

It’s just as good with food service too but even in a shorter time-frame. Statistics show that up to half (even more if you are a millennial) of people who search for restaurants do so within an hour of arriving at the restaurant. Interestingly – the millennials also search for information about menu items – while sitting at the table.

Not surprisingly, “near me” searches go up when people travel and spike during holidays. They are also more common on weekends when more people aren’t at work. Google has even stratified when people are most likely to do location searches for pizza, movie theaters, car washes – pretty much everything – even urgent care clinics.

The big brands are using new “inventory” ad types to show availability of products based on location searches. Some of these brands are moving more of their budgets to location ads that drive customers to retail spots as insight has shown that 10% or more of these clicks on ads found on local search lead to a store visit. Ten percent of the ad clicks, combined with the 50% “within a day” stats from above – that’s pretty fast, effective advertising.

It isn’t all good news though, Google has tweaked the search results so that in some cases, “regular” search on mobile leads to a view of location ads rather than organic listings – forcing the user to scroll down the page for other results. Actually good for some – bad for others.

This news is from all over – Think with Google, TechCrunch and Search Engine Roundtable…check ‘em out.

Point is: If you have a brick and mortar business – you might need to consider location advertising, particularly if you are in a high competition area. One thing is sure though, if you don’t have a local SEO strategy – you are screwed.

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