Tag Archive | "About"

How Wrenches Changed the Way I Think about Digital Tools

About a year and a half ago, I made up my mind to rebuild a motorcycle. I had no mechanical…

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Oculus Exec Yelena Rachitzky Talks About How VR Can Move Beyond Gaming

Most virtual reality products are aimed at gamers because there is an automatically understood natural fit. Can VR move beyond gaming? Oculus executive produce of experiences at Oculus offers her insights.

Yelena Rachitsky, Executive Producer, Experiences at Oculus, a virtual reality technology company owned by Facebook, was recently interviewed by TechCrunch writer Lucus Matney:

It’s Not Just About Content, Technology is Making it Easier

We’re focusing a lot more on more highly interactive content and marrying concepts that were understanding from gaming into more narrative approaches. Instead of shooters and strategy, how do we use these mechanics of understanding on how our body works, natural intuitive mechanics to create pieces that people actually want to come back to, pieces people actually enjoy and don’t feel like they are playing a game necessarily.

So we’re marrying that knowledge also with the form factors, I think a few people have mentioned Quest which is something we’re super excited about, so it’s not just the content it’s also the technology that’s coming and making it easier.

Technology is Also Working to Make Things More Intuitive

A lot of technology is also working just to make things much more intuitive. It’s a combination of how we’re approaching content being more compelling, more intuitive, more interactive, more emotional, with the form factors in the hardware. The thing I’m really interested in is how we approach experiences that have very more natural intuitive interactions versus a lot of button pressing.

I gave this talk at Oculus Connect recently about embodiment and what makes us feel like something’s ours when they connect with an object and there’s this reality, our Facebook Reality Labs research talks about something called object believability, and we really believe that we’re picking up an object if it’s something that we recognize that we’ve done in the real world.

The Hard Part of VR is That We Are Holding Controllers

The hard part about VR is that we’re actually holding controllers in our hands. So how do you make your brain believe that you’re actually picking up those objects? People have approached this in different ways. With  Job Simulator (by Oculus) you have big hands that you press with really really big buttons. There’s something very rewarding about that. Then there’s a game that the studios’ team did called Lone Echo which they put a lot of effort into how the hands formed themselves around objects because if you’re seeing your hands actually shift in the way that they should in real life your brain believes that and it becomes super rewarding.

With a lot of the projects we’re creating we’re still experimenting, we still don’t know a lot of this stuff, but we’re going all the way from fully interactive to still slightly linear. There’s not a magic formula to it, everything’s just about the intent that you want to create and then all the tools that you use for VR that push forward that intent.

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Thinking About Using AI to Recruit New Staff? Amazon’s Failed Experiment Might Have You Thinking Twice

Companies that are planning to use artificial intelligence for recruitment should think twice before doing that. A new report revealed that Amazon’s AI machine learned gender bias and weeded out women as potential job candidates. The machine even downgraded applicants based on the school they attended.

A growing number of employers are using AI to boost the efficiency of their hiring process. The machine can be utilized to evaluate resumes, narrow down a list of applicants, and recommend candidates for the right post within a company. It can then pass on its findings to its live counterpart for human assessment. While AI is an effective tool for screening resumes, it has been shown to develop bias, as proven by Amazon’s experiment.

Reuters reported that the retail giant spent several years developing an AI that would vet job applicants. The machine was trained to look at the resumes that the company received for the past ten years. But as most of these applications were from male applicants, the patterns the AI identified were strongly oriented to that sex. In short, Amazon’s AI learned gender bias.

For instance, the AI developed a preference for terms like “captured” or “executed,” which were words commonly used by male engineers. The machine also began to penalize applications that included the word “women” or “women’s.” So describing yourself as the head of the “women’s physics club” was a strike against you.

A source familiar with Amazon’s AI program also admitted that the machine even downgraded applicants who graduated from two all-women’s universities. The names of the universities were not specified in the report.

The bias shown by the AI’s algorithm became noticeable a year after the project started, and Amazon admittedly tried to correct its AI. The company’s engineers initially edited the system to make it neutral to these specific words. However, there was no way of proving that the machine would not learn another way to sort candidates in a discriminatory manner.

The project was eventually shelved in 2017 because company executives lost confidence in it. The AI also reportedly failed at providing choices for strong and effective job candidates.

Fortunately for Amazon, the AI hiring experiment was just a trial run. The machine was never utilized by a larger group and was never used as the main recruiting agent. Nevertheless, the possibility is high that a qualified applicant was weeded out simply because she was a woman and did not think to use a masculine term like “capture.”

[Featured image via Pexels]

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This Is What Google Is Saying About The Google September Updates

So we had a nice number of updates to the Google search ranking algorithm in September. Google is honestly not saying much but they did confirm some of these updates, including the Google Birthday update. John Mueller from Google has commented about the update both in yesterday’s video hangout and on a Reddit thread.


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Twitter Ad Chief: We’ve Never Been More Clear About What is Our Superpower

Twitter ad chief Matt Derella is at Advertising Week in New York City spreading the message that Twitter video advertising is the best platform to reach valuable audiences when they are most receptive. He says Twitter has never been more clear about what is our superpower.

Matt Derella, Global Vice President, Revenue and Content Partnerships for Twitter, discussed why Twitter is valuable for advertisers on CNBC at Advertising Week in New York:

Twitter Video Ads Now Generate Over 50% of Revenue

If you look back to our previous quarter our ads business is incredibly strong right now growing over 27 percent year-on-year and its broad-based all around the world. I think that’s because we’re continuing to innovate and bring new products to bear. Video, in particular, is now over 50 percent of our revenue and marketers are getting great results from using it.

I was just on stage here at AdWeek sitting down with the head of digital at Nestle and he’s talking about the fact that two of his biggest brands,  DiGiorno and Lean Cuisine, Twitter was the number one platform among social platforms for return investment. As long as the results are there we’re going to continue to grow our business with our customers and continue to earn their trust.

We Want to be Really Transparent About Political Ads

Well, being completely transparent, I think Jack Dorsey (Twitter CEO) modeled this when he went to DC and actually talked to the regulators and the congressmen. We want to be really transparent about what we’re doing. There are some serious issues facing all services that are global in nature like ours we’ve taken some very tangible action just in the last few months.

You’ve heard about our Ad Transparency Center. This is a searchable database where anybody can go and see all the political advertising on Twitter and who is funding it. We’ve also introduced labels around all the political advertising so they’re clearly demarcated so you know and have trust in where that message is coming from.

Lastly, just on spam, we’re doing more than we ever have. Two times the amount of spam is being taken off the platform compared to just a year ago. This is what we’re talking to marketers about and content partners about to continue to get better.

Brands Can Target Very Specific Conversations

A big part of philosophically how we designed the platform is so that control goes in the hands of the advertiser. We have targeting that allows you to target just specific conversations. If you’re a brand who wants to connect with the NBA and all the conversation having around that that’s something that our tools allow to do.

I’m in charge of content partnerships and our content business has been flourishing. We’re helping partners grow their business. One of the great things about how we designed it is that marketers can actually choose the specific content that they want to align with and ensure that brand safety and brand alignment that’s so important for them.

We’ve Never Been More Clear About What is Our Superpower

The primary driver of everything we do is to help serve that public conversation that’s so unique to Twitter. Great content, whether it’s the World Cup highlights, that we had every single goal here in the US from the World Cup with Fox, is a great place for us to get video and bring that public conversation around it and it’s great for consumers. It also happens to be terrific for marketers who want to align with that passion here at Advertising Week.

I think for Twitter we’ve never been more clear about what is our superpower, we have the most valuable audiences when they’re most receptive. If you’re going to launch something new Twitter is the place to start because we have those valuable audiences when they are the most receptive. That’s the message we’ve been going with and we have the data to back it up. I think we have a very defensible position going forward with marketers.

We have to focus on the long-term and really what’s been incredibly encouraging is hearing from some of the most important influential CMO’s around the world supporting us as we make the decision to focus on the health of the service in the long term. Some of the decisions that we’re making, the hard decisions that might impact short-term metrics, but ultimately it’ll be the right thing for the platform.

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Clorox: Digital is About Changing the Way We Do Business

When you think of Clorox you probably think about bleach and consumer products. However, from a business operations and marketing perspective, you might be surprised to discover that Colox itself is undergoing a multi-year transformation with the goal of becoming a digital company.

Recently, at Salesforce Live, Doug Milliken, VP Digital Experience Transformation at The Clorox Company, described their digital journey:

We were doing digital, but we have to go to being digital. In the past, we’ve been doing digital marketing or doing e-commerce and we realized we really need to be digital, meaning the company needs to be organized around and operating in a digital way end-to-end.

Digital is About Changing the Way We Do Business

That led us to realize is that for us digital is not just a channel and a technology, digital fundamentally is about changing the way that we do business. Digital for us is about changing the way that every function in the company operates, leveraging the possibilities of digital technology.

We have efforts across the whole value chain of the company, how we do R&D, how we do product supply, how we do marketing and sales, and a program that’s funded and built into our three-year long-range plan across every sector of the company to digitize and change how we work.

Goal of Digitizing is to Improve the Consumer Experience

We then decided we have to have a North Star, why are we doing that and to what end are we digitizing the company? For us, that end is to improve the consumer experience. Digital transformation is changing how we work across the whole company in service of improving our consumers’ experience.

What this is about at the core is about becoming more radically consumer-centric and human-centered. Companies like Clorox,  most CPG companies, we are very consumer oriented, but we’ve typically been very brand-centric. We’re very organized and our thinking is very much around our brands.

What is the Goal of the Consumer?

Our brands are critical and they’re the unit of value for Clorox, but we’re trying to put the consumer much more at the center. Who is the exact consumer or the persona who we’re designing around and what is her goal?

If we take one of our brands, Renew Life, it’s a probiotic, that consumers goal is not to buy Renew Life, her goal might be to enhance her wellness. What is the consumer’s goal, what is her journey to that goal and what are the pain points or difficulties along those journeys that we can help with?

We’re trying to shift our mindset from how do we sell our brand or product to how can our brand help the consumer along this journey. That includes products but it could include other things too. It’s about their whole end-to-end experience and moving from being product and brand centered thinking to think about an end-to-end experience along a journey to a goal. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.

I think in the next three to five years this is going to really come to fruition. What we’re going to be able to do for our consumer, to move them along their journey, to enable them to reach their goal and our ability to help them and our ability to grow our business while we’re helping them do that is really exciting.

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SEO 2018 is All About Branded Search Queries

SEO pioneer and Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin was recently asked about the future of SEO and how SEO agencies and marketers should adjust to these changes. Rands says that SEO has changed to the point that the traditional SEO focus on generic related keywords for your products and services is becoming obsolete because of how Google now displays search results.

See below for highlights from Rand’s thoughts on the changing SEO landscape:

There is definitely this problem in the SEO space where the amount of opportunity in SEO (is lessened), because of Google entering all these business sectors and taking away of a lot of the clicks and trying to solve the searchers’ query before they ever click.

This means that you just don’t have as much opportunity to earn search clicks from this search engine anymore.

Branded Search Queries

How can we overcome that? I think the answer in SEO is pretty clear, which is the one thing that Google is not taking away from us, branded search queries. If somebody searches for StatBid or they search for Moz or they search for the North Face, that is a searcher telling Google to take me to this companies website. That’s a very very powerful undeniable signal that they want to reach your site. You’re getting 90% plus click-through rates on those.

If you can increase the number of people searching for your brand instead of drawing a smaller and smaller percentage of the people who search for outdoor jackets, because Google’s placing all these ads above the fold and trying to say these are the best outdoor jackets and having an instant answer and a featured snippet and all this type of stuff, yeah that’s that’s a big win.

Combining Classic SEO with New Stuff

I think for CMO’s and for marketing departments it’s going to be a combination of classic skill sets in SEO. First, how do we rank? How do we make sure that our site is technically optimized? How do we make sure that we’re doing good keyword research and keyword targeting? How do we create good content around all these things and solve searchers problems?

Then I think it’s also going to be some new forms of marketing that SEO’s are not generally familiar with, at least not historically. Those are things like creative that draws attention and eyeballs and interest. I think it’s a lot of storytelling. Great brands are built on the back of great storytelling and that is traditionally a big weak spot for SEO.

SEO Teams Need to Get Retooled

So yeah, I think there’s going to be a combination of new and old. That could mean that some (SEO & marketing) teams need to get retooled or new people need to be added. It could mean that agencies will have to upgrade those practices and I’ve already seen some agencies in the SEO world start to do that. I think serving existing demand is going to long-term not be as exciting as creating more demand.

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Are You Making These 7 Mistakes with Your About Page?

Good old Google. They do like to keep life interesting for web publishers. You may have heard rumblings about a recent update that wreaked havoc on a lot of “your money or your life” sites — the ones that talk about health, fitness, finances, or happiness. That update appeared to look at the credibility of
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SearchCap: It’s all about Google today–political ad transparency report, local packs, featured snippets launched & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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The Truth About Traveling Non-Stop

I’m writing you today from Castellon, a town one hour drive from Valencia in Spain. I’m here visiting my father, my 9-year-old little half-brother, and his mother, who is Spanish. This is my first time in Spain. A couple of weeks ago I was in London. Before that, I was in Lviv, Nice, Paris, Vancouver […]

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