Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘facebook

Bot to Bot

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Facebook’s been in the news a fair amount this week.

Pivotal Research lowered its rating on Facebook to “sell” from “hold,” according to a report from CNBC, explaining it is “facing digital ad saturation risk as large companies are ‘scrutizing’ their marketing budgets.”

This despite the fact that Facebook has been one of the best-performing large-cap stocks in the market, growing nearly 50 percent year to date.

Earlier today, Fortune reported that Facebook is amping up its artificial intelligence capabilities, buying Ozlo, a small bot specialist based in Palo Alto.

Ozlo focuses on “conversational” bots that talk to users, and most of the company’s employees will join Facebook’s Messenger team.

But the story that really seemed to grab the Facebook headlines this week was the one that indicated two of its bots, instead of just talking to humans, were talking to one another and in a language that the chatbots “invented.”

Before you go all “Westworld” on me, let’s separate the fact from the fiction.

In an account from Karissa Bell at Mashable, Bell provided some much needed background to stifle the hype and get to the actual innovation. Bell wrote that “Facebook’s AI researchers published a paper back in June, detailing their efforts to teach chatbots to negotiate like humans. Their intention was to train the bots not just to imitate human interactions, but to actually act like humans.”

Which humans, we’re not yet sure of. The Mooch? Kim Kardashian? Kid Rock (Soon to be Senator Rock, to you!)

Unclear.

But Bell’s observation was that the narrative wasn’t just about the chats coming up with their own language, but instead this: That not only did the bots learn to act like humans, actual humans were apparently unable to discern the difference between bots and humans.

Where the bot chatter went off the rails was in their use of the English language, the grammar and syntax rules for which the bots were not instructed to use. Hence, some of the shortcut phrases like “I can can I I everything else.”

In the meantime, Elon Musk has cried AI Chicken Little once again, suggesting all this neural networking could be the end of humankind once and for all and that Zuck doesn’t “fully understand” the potential danger posed by AI.

The truth probably rests somewhere in the vast middle ground between the two, a truth I imagine the bots are having a good chuckle over as they create the new digital Esperanto they’ll need to take over the world.

Written by turbotodd

August 1, 2017 at 10:59 am

Social Data Kickoff

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How about them Cowboys?

I’m sorry, Giants fans, but you’ve won in our house too many times lately not for me to give you a hard time when America’s team sticks it to ya.

The Giants had the most turnovers last night since 1987, and it showed. Every time I looked down at my Facebook wall, I looked back up again only to find Eli Manning wondering how the ball ended up in the hands of another Cowboy.

That’s okay, it’s early yet — it was the first game — but the smell of victory is sweet, especially against the Giants.

I’m apparently not the only one interested in monitoring my Facebook wall during football games, and so Facebook is announcing some new tools to assist news organizations (and marketers) in better understanding the real-time social data around such major events.

For example: According to The New York Times Bits Blog, the N.F.L. season start generated over 20 million likes, comments, and shares on Facebook by over 8 million people.

Knowing that 3 million people suddenly burst into an eruptive cheer of “Go Cowboys!” is, of course, invaluable market insight that media buyers up and down Madison Avenue can leverage to sell Jerry Jones more ad space for his Papa John’s commercials.

But I digress.

This is all really about trying to tamp down the Twitter real-time data stream onslaught which has only, oh let’s say, about a five-year headstart on Zuck and company.

And that is, of course, because the Twitter powers that be have tried to operate at least partially in the spirit of a more open social realm, allowing large proportions of their API to be generously offered up to the world at large.

Whereas Facebook, on the other hand, has held their API very close to the vest, letting piece parts be revealed to the greater world only when the underlying motivation of monetization looms largest.

Though the Facebook silly wabbit may have turned the faucet just enough to let some interesting drips slip out, it’s the lingering but stalwart Twitter turtle that’s best currently positioned to win the social data race.

Written by turbotodd

September 9, 2013 at 9:23 am

Turbo Imagines Searching Through His Facebook Graph

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Facebook had the world waiting for its news yesterday.

There was interminable hyperbole about what the announcement would bring.

Facebook was preparing to conquer the world of mobile.

Facebook would FINALLY be introducing a mobile phone.

Facebook was going to send a coding team to Mars to write a search engine for Martians.

That last part I made up.

But hey, why not, everyone else in the world was conjecturing what was the primary topic of the looming announcement?

Being a marketer, I was caught up in it like everybody else, and also just as much in the dark.

Which was kind of the point.

There’s no question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken a few pages from the Steve Jobs “secrecy in marketing” playbook.

Announce you’re going to have an announce, be as positively vague as possible, and then wait for the speculation onslaught to begin.

In the end, it was all about search, which has for Facebook’s short life been one of its more miserable capabilities, so in that respect, the news was welcomed.

Facebook was going to fix its search capability, allowing its users (albeit initially in a limited beta) the opportunity to search their Facebook social “graph” across a range of functions: People, pictures, interests.

The fact that it took two displaced Google engineers to come into Facebook to build this function adds only a wee bit of irony to the equation.

I, for one, immediately went and asked to participate in the beta, though my invitation will likely loom ignored in Zuck’s inbox for some time.

In the meantime, I will wait impatiently for the opportunity to go out and search my high school Facebook sub-graph to discern, once and for all, the most popular band during our golden years (My money’s on AC/DC, but Pink Floyd might give them a run for their “Money”).

Or, to discover via the serendipity that is inevitably going to characterize Facebook’s search graph, that Austin still largely prefers Uchi (in South Austin) to Mushashino (off Mopac) for its finer sushi, although the latter is always a good escape valve for the Uchi unagi lines snaking along South Lamar.

Or to find out that Facebookers around the world who root for the Chelsea Blues pretty much detest anything to do with Manchester United, with the exception of one person on the planet (me).  I like ’em both, but perhaps that’s just my attempt to pick TWO winners to try and make up for the recent massive deficit left by the wandering Dallas Cowboys.

No, much of this I already know, and Facebook search will simply be my new vindication engine, confirming the best and worst I thought of humanity in one fell graph searching sweep.

I just wonder if the new search graph is going to tell me something I don’t know.

Excuse me while I run over to Google to see if I can find out.

Written by turbotodd

January 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Santa’s Virtual Elves

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I’ll be jetting off to Singapore early in the A.M. for the IBM InterConnect event, where I’ll be both blogging and broadcasting (via LiveStream and YouTube), interviewing a variety of IBM execs, partners, and clients.

Tune your TweetDeck now to hashtag #ibminterconnect to keep track of the festivities.  The event officially kicks off next Tuesday, October 9th.

As I was scanning my newsfeeds to catch up on what I’ve been missing all day while preparing for all those interviews, I saw that Facebook reached 1 billion users, although some of their recent moves, including the alteration of their algorithm to minimize brand page posts being seen by those who have opted in to “liking” that page, may start sending those numbers due south.

I also discovered that Microsoft is slated to launch its new Surface tablet at midnight on October 26th.

Midnight?  Really??  You guys couldn’t come up with something more original than that? 12:15, maybe? Or 12:30, even?

Sorry, dudes, I’m all tabletted out, although I will be keeping an eye on the horizon to see what gives with the iPad Mini.

Speaking of holiday shopping, the National Retail Federation released some important holiday shopping forecasts earlier this week that bear sharing.

The NRF’s 2012 holiday forecast expects sales will increase this season by 4.1 percent ($586.1 billion), well above the 10-year holiday average, but behind the 2011 season of 5.6 percent.

To which I say, “Bah, Humbug.” I do most ALL my holiday shopping online, so I’ll be doing my personal best to get those numbers up.  And I expect to pick up a few IBM “Smarter Commerce” tricks of the trade at the sessions next week in Singapore, which I’ll share.

Although I am inclined to show up on Black Friday to run at Wal-Mart with the mortar shopping “bulls!” Nothing like a little full contact holiday shopping, taking down a few eager shoppers to grab that last “Tickle Me Elmo!”

Kidding!

All these holiday tidings come just ahead of today’s news by Thomson Reuters, which reported that back-to-school sales growth slowed in September after “a strong August,” according to The New York Times “Economy” section.

Little Johnny don’t need no more pencils, Mom.  Get in line and buy that kid a Nexus 7!

But the story doesn’t end there.

AlixPartners’ Joel Bines is also quoted in the story as saying this doesn’t necessarily bode badly for the holiday shopping season, as no “conclusive” ten-year correlation between back-to-school and holiday sales seems evident.

As for me, as I fly Eastward, I’m going to have to start giving some serious consideration to my own Christmas holiday shopping list for Santa.

Of course, I’ve been extremely bad this year, which is par for the course, but hey, it never hurts to ask!

Next stop, Singapore, where I hope NOT to participate in any caning demonstrations.

But keep an eye out on YouTube just in case.

Back To School Goes In For Analysis

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Jay Henderson told us in his recent interview that IBM would soon be building upon its Holiday Benchmark e-commerce trend analysis for the holiday shopping period with the addition of a “back-to-school” analysis.

Alas, Rodney Daingerfield is no longer with us, but the IBM Benchmark can be your roommate this go ’round, the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results from the web sites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers.

Here’s a snapshot of the back-to-school trends:

  • July and August Online Sales: Overall sales for July increased more than 11 percent over July 2011 while August slowed with sales up 3.9 percent compared to last year.
  • Social commerce: In July, shopper referrals to retailer sites from social networks generated 1.6 percent of all sales, an increase of 25.1 percent over last year. This trend continued in August reaching 1.8 percent, an increase of 69.7 percent over the previous year.
  • Mobile commerce: Mobile commerce remains strong with sales from mobile devices reaching 15.7 percent in July and 15.4 percent over the month of August.

As for vertical industries the following categories experienced success over this timeframe:

  • Home goods: In July online sales grew by just over 30 percent and 25.5 percent in August with consumers shifting some back to school purchases toward the home. Over this period mobile sales also thrived, reaching 19.1 percent in July and topping out at 20.1 percent in August.
  • Department stores: Online sales grew 22.1 percent in July and 28.7 percent in August. Over this period mobile sales were strong, hitting 19.2 percent in July and 18.9 percent in August
  • Apparel stores: Online sales were up 9.2 percent in July and 9.8 percent in August. Over this period mobile sales reached 15.1 percent and 16.4 percent in August. Apparel stores also experienced strong social commerce with shoppers referred to their sites from social networks generating 1.4 percent of all sales in July and 2.2 percent in August, up more than 113 percent over 2011, more than any other industry.
  • Office Supplies/Electronics: Online sales grew by 6.3 percent in July while dropping by .92 percent in August. Mobile sales reached 5.7 percent in July remained steady in August a 5.9 percent.

Part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Benchmark provides intelligence on how consumers are responding to the products and services being offered to them.

With these insights CMOs and teams gain deeper insight into each customer which they can use to present personalized recommendations, promotions and other sales incentives across the wide variety of channels—including social networks and mobile devices.

What’s It All Mean?

While U.S. consumers shopped this July and August, they were not buying clothes and notebooks for their children but rather items for the home.

According to findings, the biggest retail gains this back to school shopping season came from home goods purchases which increased 30 percent in July and more than 25 percent in August over their respective months in 2012.

While experts speculate that consumers were holding off on back to school purchases to eye the choices of their peers, social networks appeared to drive purchases with social sales increasing 69.7 percent. 

The social influence was especially apparent when it came to apparel, where shoppers referred to online stores through social networks generated a 2.2 percent of all sales in August, an increase of more than 113 percent over 2011.

Mobile commerce also continued to grow with sales increasing 15.7 percent in July and 15.4 percent in August. For home goods mobile sales reached a high of 20.1 percent.

The growing influence of both mobile and social media further validates the need for a Smarter Commerce approach that helps retailers attain, understand, and act — in real-time — on deep insights about their customers in order to meet the unique needs of each.

“When I speak to executives at the leading companies, one of the discussions that continues to come up most frequently is around harnessing big data and their efforts to try and understand how to take all the noise and word of mouth that is being generated and make sense of it,” explained W. “RP” Raghupathi, Professor of Information Systems, School of Business, at Fordham University.

“Today, with so many consumers shopping and sharing their opinions online, we are seeing more and more retailers tap into the power of sophisticated analytics technology to help them react faster to evolving trends and customer needs.”

Read this blog post from IBM’s Mike Rhodin (or better yet, watch the video interview we conducted with him in Madrid this past May) to learn more about “insight-driven” computing and IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative.

Bada Bada Bing

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How can Microsoft get more bang out of Bing?

By hiring Burson-Marsteller PR firm CEO and former Hilary Clinton campaign loyalist, Mark Penn, the well-known strategist and political pollster.

According to the Wall Street Journal “Digits” blog, Penn is being brought in to help ignite “more consumer use of Bing,” Microsoft’s search engine, which lags well behind Google in terms of search market share.

When examining the earnings results from both Microsoft *and* Google this afternoon, it seems that Microsoft needs all the help it can muster in this particular battle.

Microsoft posted a $492 million loss for fiscal 4Q 2012, largely due to a $6.19 billion writedown of its failed acquisition of advertising-service engine aQuantive.

Google, on the other hand, seems to continue to act second only to the Federal Reserve when it comes to printing money, bringing in $1.25 billion in revenue for the quarter, and realizing a 42% rise in paid clicks year-over-year.

However, it seems Microsoft isn’t the only one out looking for some PR help.  Penn’s firm, Burson-Marsteller just released a study of how Global Fortune 100 companies are using social media (conducted in partnership with Visible Technologies) to create more influence.

First, the top most-often mentioned companies on social media in that group: HP, Ford, Sony, AT&T, Samsung, Toyota, Honda, Walmart, BP, and Verizon.

The study examined some key social media vehicles, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest.

CNET broke down the five key findings of the study:

  1. The Fortune Global 100 were mentioned a totla of 10,400,132 times online in a single month. Gone are the days that companies and brands could tally and sort through all of their media mentions each morning.
  2. Video content creation is on the rise, and there was a 39 percent jump in the percentage of companies with a branded YouTube channel in the last year (and excluding ALL skateboarding bulldogs!).
  3. Engagement is becoming second nature to companies. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts on Twitter attempt to engage with other users by retweeting and using @mentions.
  4. Multiple accounts on social media platforms allow companies to target audiences by geography, topic, or service.
  5. Companies are rapidly adapting to new platforms. Google Plus pages for businesses were launched last November, and by February 2012, nearly half (48%) of Fortune Global 100 companies already had a presence on the platform.

The study also highlighted that 93 percent of the Global Fortune 100 companies’ Facebook pages are updated weekly, up from 84 percent and 59 percent each of the past two years.

I’ll add my own two cents, considering IBM is a member of that Fortune Global 100.  In our own Facebook research, for example, we, too, have found video to be an increasingly impactful online resource.

We’re also seeing that the more data we share, the more interest we garner in terms of reshares (infographics are also impactful, but need to be used smartly and selectively).

That is to say, the more useful and insightful data an organization can share through its social media activities, the more they’re able to rise above the information overload fray and present prospects with “news they can use.”

No matter which famous political PR flack they hire.

Written by turbotodd

July 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Sewing Up The London Olympic Games

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The new Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms for U.S. Olympics athletes at the coming London Olympics games may look spiffy, but a number of U.S. politicians have come out recently to complain they were manufactured in China. Let the games begin!

Well, it seems that the London Olympic Games are only a couple of short weeks away now.

As we get closer and closer to the lighting of the London 2012 Olympic torch, we will also start to see lines get drawn in the digital and social sand, as this will likely be the most “social” Olympic Games ever.

There will be lots to juxtapose in this year’s games in London with those of Beijing in 2008.

Most notably, the fact that we won’t have a 12 hour delay by the broadcast networks. Instead, NBC has already indicated that they will show many of the events live.  American GDP could swoon to a new low in these London Olympic summer games!

If you’re looking for a place to follow the games, there will be no shortage of television and digital opportunities. Just this week, Facebook and NBC announced a collaboration for “transmedia” coverage of the London Olympic Games.

In that deal, data from Facebook will inform TV coverage on NBC and other channels that will carry portions of the Summer Games starting on July 27, according to The New York Times. The specific uses will vary, says the Times, but there will be a “Facebook Talk Meter”  occasionally shown on TV to reflect what is being said online.

Conversely, on Facebook the NBC Olympics page will get frequent updates with what the companies call “exclusive content” for fans only. Fans will then be able to share what videos and articles they’re perusing on the network’s Olympics website.

It’s hard to believe that in only 4 short years, Facebook has grown from 100 million users, the number they were at during the Beijing Olympic Games, to over 900 million.  There’s no question this will be a much more social Olympics, but let’s also not forget the projected TV audience is 4 billion (In Beijing, the global TV audience was estimated at 4.4 billion.)

Speaking of China, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) castigated the U.S. Olympic Committee for its decision to have the U.S. Olympics team dressed in Ralph Lauren-designed berets, blazers and pants that were manufactured in China even as the U.S. textile industry struggles to keep U.S. workers at their sewing machines.

Maybe they should introduce sewing into the Olympics as an official sport and we can have ourselves a “sew-off?”

I recently did some Olympic scouting of my own, looking for Websites and mobile apps to help make sure I keep up with the Virtual Joneses during the London sports festouche.  Here’s a few of them I unearthed:

I also found an interesting app for the iPad, the “Ultimate Olympic Guide,” which cost me a whopping $.99 and provided some nice background and overviews of each of the Olympic sports.

Feel free to add any other useful London Olympics resources in the comments section below.

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