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How Google May Annotate Images to Improve Search Results

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How might Google improve on information from sources such as knowledge bases to help them answer search queries?

That information may be learned from or inferred from sources outside of those knowledge bases when Google may:

  • Analyze and annotate images
  • Consider other data sources

A recent Google patent on this topic defines knowledge bases for us, why those are important, and it points out examples of how Google looks at entities while it may annotate images:

A knowledge base is an important repository of structured and unstructured data. The data stored in a knowledge base may include information such as entities, facts about entities, and relationships between entities. This information can be used to assist with or satisfy user search queries processed by a search engine.

Examples of knowledge bases include Google Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Vault, Microsoft Satori Knowledge Base, DBpedia, Yahoo! Knowledge Base, and Wolfram Knowledgebase.

The focus of this patent is upon improving upon information that can be found in knowledge bases:

The data stored in a knowledge base may be enriched or expanded by harvesting information from wide variety of sources. For example, entities and facts may be obtained by crawling text included in Internet web pages. As another example, entities and facts may be collected using machine learning algorithms.

All gathered information may be stored in a knowledge base to enrich the information that is available for processing search queries.

Analyzing Images to Enrich Knowledge Base Information

This approach may annotate images and select object entities contained in those images. It reminded me of a post I recently wrote about Google annotating images, How Google May Map Image Queries

This is an effort to better understand and annotate images, and explore related entities in images, so Google can focus on “relationships between the object entities and attribute entities, and store the relationships in a knowledge base.”

Google can learn from images of real-world objects (a phrase they used for entities when they started the Knowledge Graph in 2012.)

I wrote another post about image search becoming more semantic, in the labels they added to categories in Google image search results. I wrote about those in Google Image Search Labels Becoming More Semantic?

When writing about mapping image queries, I couldn’t help but think about labels helping to organize information in a useful way. I’ve suggested using those labels to better learn about entities when creating content or doing keyword research. Doing image searches and looking at those semantic labels can be worth the effort.

This new patent tells us how Google may assign annotations to images to identify entities contained in the images. While labeling, they may select an object entity from the entities pictured and then choose at least one attribute entity from the annotated images that contain the object entity. They could also infer a relationship between the object entity and the attribute entity or entities and include that relationship in a knowledge base.

In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, a computer-implemented method is provided for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. The method includes assigning annotations to images stored in a database. The annotations may identify entities contained in the images. An object entity among the entities may be selected based on the annotations. At least one attribute entity may be determined using the annotated images containing the object entity. A relationship between the object entity and the at least one attribute entity may be inferred and stored in a knowledge base.

For example, when I search for my hometown, Carlsbad in Google image search, one of the category labels is for Legoland, which is an amusement park located in Carlsbad, California. Showing that as a label tells us that Legoland is located in Carlsbad (the captions for the pictures of Legoland tell us that it is located in Carlsbad.)

Carlsbad-Legoland-Attribute Entity

This patent can be found at:

Computerized systems and methods for enriching a knowledge base for search queries
Inventors: Ran El Manor and Yaniv Leviathan
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,534,810
Granted: January 14, 2020
Filed: February 29, 2016


Systems and methods are disclosed for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. According to certain embodiments, images are assigned annotations that identify entities contained in the images. An object entity is selected among the entities based on the annotations and at least one attribute entity is determined using annotated images containing the object entity. A relationship between the object entity and the at least one attribute entity is inferred and stored in the knowledge base. In some embodiments, confidence may be calculated for the entities. The confidence scores may be aggregated across a plurality of images to identify an object entity.

Confidence Scores While Labeling of Entities in Images

One of the first phrases to jump out at me when I scanned this patent to decide that I wanted to write about it was the phrase, “confidence scores,” which reminded me of association scores which I wrote about discussing Google trying to extract information about entities and relationships with other entities and confidence scores about the relationships between those entities, and about attributes involving the entities. I mentioned association scores in the post Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs at Google, because those scores were described in the patent Computerized systems and methods for extracting and storing information regarding entities.

I also referred to these confidence scores when I wrote about Answering Questions Using Knowledge Graphs, because association scores or confidence scores can lead to better answers to questions about entities in search results, which is an aim of this patent, and how it attempts to analyze and label images and understand the relationships between entities shown in those images.

The patent lays out the purpose it serves when it may analyze and annotate images like this:

Embodiments of the present disclosure provide improved systems and methods for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. The information used to enrich a knowledge base may be learned or inferred from analyzing images and other data sources.

In accordance with some embodiments, object recognition technology is used to annotate images stored in databases or harvested from Internet web pages. The annotations may identify who and/or what is contained in the images.

The disclosed embodiments can learn which annotations are good indicators for facts by aggregating annotations over object entities and facts that are already known to be true. Grouping annotated images by object entity helps identify the top annotations for the object entity.

Top annotations can be selected as attributes for the object entities and relationships can be inferred between the object entities and the attributes.

As used herein, the term “inferring” refers to operations where an entity relationship is inferred from or determined using indirect factors such as image context, known entity relationships, and data stored in a knowledge base to draw an entity relationship conclusion instead of learning the entity-relationship from an explicit statement of the relationship such as in text on an Internet web page.

The inferred relationships may be stored in a knowledge base and subsequently used to assist with or respond to user search queries processed by a search engine.

The patent then tells us about how confidence scores are used, that they calculate confidence scores for annotations assigned to images. Those “confidence scores may reflect the likelihood that an entity identified by an annotation is actually contained in an image.”

If you look back up at the pictures for Legoland above, it may be considered an attribute entity of the Object Entity Carlsbad, because Legoland is located in Carlsbad. The label annotations indicate what the images portray, and infer a relationship between the entities.

Just like an image search for Milan Italy shows a category label for Duomo, a Cathedral located in the City. The Duomo is an attribute entity of the Object Entity of Milan because it is located in Milan Italy.

In those examples, we are inferring from Legoland being included under pictures of Carlsbad that it is an attribute entity of Carlsbad, and that the Duomo is an attribute entity of Milan because it is included in results of a search for Milan.

Milan Duomo Attribute Entity

A search engine may learn from label annotations and because of confidence scores about images because the search engine (or indexing engine thereof) may index:

  • Image annotations
  • Object entities
  • Attribute entities
  • Relationships between object entities and attribute entities
  • Facts learned about object entities

The Illustrations from the patent show us images of a Bear, eating a Fish, to tell us that the Bear is an Object Entity, and the Fish is an Attribute Entity and that Bears eat Fish.

Bear (Object Entity) & Fish (Attribute-Entity)

We are also shown that Bears, as object Entities have other Attribute Entities associated with them, since they will go into the water to hunt fish, and roam around on the grass.

Bears and attribute Entities

Annotations may be detailed and cover objects within photos or images, like the bear eating the fish above. The patent points out a range of entities that might appear in a single image by telling us about a photo from a baseball game:

An annotation may identify an entity contained in an image. An entity may be a person, place, thing, or concept. For example, an image taken at a baseball game may contain entities such as “baseball fan”, “grass”, “baseball player”, “baseball stadium”, etc.

An entity may also be a specific person, place, thing, or concept. For example, the image taken at the baseball game may contain entities such as “Nationals Park” and “Ryan Zimmerman”.

Defining an Object Entity in an Image

The patent provides more insights into what object entities are and how they might be selected:

An object entity may be an entity selected among the entities contained in a plurality of annotated images. Object entities may be used to group images to learn facts about those object entities. In some embodiments, a server may select a plurality of images and assign annotations to those images.

A server may select an object entity based on the entity contained in the greatest number of annotated images as identified by the annotations.

For example, a group of 50 images may be assigned annotations that identify George Washington in 30 of those images. Accordingly, a server may select George Washington as the object entity if 30 out of 50 annotated images is the greatest number for any identified entity.

Confidence scores may also be determined for annotations. Confidence scores are an indication that an entity identified by an annotation is actually contained in an image. It “quantifies a level of confidence in an annotation being accurate.” That confidence score could be calculated by using a template matching algorithm. The annotated image may be compared with a template image.

Defining an Attribute Entity in an Image

An attribute entity may be an entity that is among the entities contained in images that contain the object entity. They are entities other than the object entity.

Annotated images that contain the object entity may be grouped and an attribute entity may be selected based on what entity might be contained in the greatest number of grouped images as identified by the annotations.

So, a group of 30 annotated images containing object entity “George Washington” may also include 20 images that contain “Martha Washington.”

In that case, “Martha Washington,” may be considered an attribute entity

(Of Course, “Martha Washington Could be an object Entity, and “George Washington, appearing in a number of the “Martha Washington” labeled images could be considered the attribute entity.)

Infering Relationships between entities by Analyzing Images

If more than a threshold of images of “Michael Jordon” contains a basketball in his hand, a relationship between “Michael Jordan” and basketball might be made (That Michael Jordan is a basketball player.)

From analyzing images of bears hunting for fish in water, and roaming around on grassy fields, some relationships between bears and fish and water and grass can be made also:

inferences between entities

By analyzing images of Michael Jordan with a basketball in his hand wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey, a search query asking a question such as “What basketball team does Michael Jordan play for?” may be satisfied with the answer “Chicago Bulls”.

To answer a query such as “What team did Michael Jordan play basketball for, Google could perform an image search for “Michael Jordan playing basketball”. Having those images that contain the object entity of interest can allow the images to be analyzed and an answer provided. See the picture at the top of this post, showing Michael Jordan in a Bulls jersey.

Take Aways

This process to collect and annotate images can be done using any images found on the Web, and isn’t limited to images that might be found in places like Wikipedia.

Google can analyze images online in a way that scales on a web-wide basis, and by analyzing images, it may provide insights that a knowledge graph might not, such as to answer the question, “where do Grizzly Bears hunt?” an analysis of photos reveals that they like to hunt near water so that they can eat fish.

The confidence scores in this patent aren’t like the association scores in the other patents about entities that I wrote about, because they are trying to gauge how likely it is that what is in a photo or image is indeed the entity that it might then be labeled with.

The association scores that I wrote about were trying to gauge how likely relationships between entities and attributes might be more likely to be true based upon things such as the reliability and popularity of the sources of that information.

So, Google is trying to learn about real-world objects (entities) by analyzing pictures of those entities (ones that it has confidence in), as an alternative way of learning about the world and the things within it.

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via How Google May Annotate Images to Improve Search Results


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If B2B marketers want to solve buyer’s problems and encourage lead generation, they’ll have to publish more content than ever before. But after the prospect is converted into a lead, organizations often end their marketing principles.

B2B Marketers are usually confined to converting a lead after which a sales rep follows a totally different procedure to qualify and sell.

Generally, people tend to drive all their content marketing efforts to generate leads which can create a major marketing and sales gap. A study reports that a mere 10% of sales and marketing people across the globe agree that there is alignment between the two sectors.

For your content strategy to be strong, it is essential that there exists a perfect alignment between these two teams.

The following graph properly sums up the importance of reducing the marketing and sales gap for brand awareness and increasing performance.

Importance of Alignment for marketing and sales gap

Image Source:

So how do you go about it? Read on to find out.

How content marketing can help reduce the marketing and sales gap

Many marketers have a B2B demand generation myth that an increase in leads will automatically translate into more business and more revenue. If you’re able to collect highly qualified leads, you can still generate higher revenues even if you generate fewer leads.

Your business marketing team must formulate a lead generation strategy focusing on getting the sales team a higher number of qualified leads. If you want your leads to make a purchase, you must ensure that they’re closer to closing a deal with your business.

The more topics and keywords your lead searches for indicates their intention to make a purchase. For instance, if someone is looking for legal advice, they’ll search for phrases like ‘consult a lawyer’ or ‘find a lawyer’. If there are not ready to make a purchase, they’ll likely just try to understand particular sections of law.

When it comes to content marketing, you should distribute consistent and valuable content to your target audience to encourage profitable customer action. Your sales tools such as ROI assessments, pricing sheets, demos, collateral, etc. should be included in your content strategy. Your sales rep uses these sales tools to deliver personalized content to prospects to encourage them to make a purchase.

Content Objectives and sales funnel for marketing and sales gap

Initiate sales-oriented goals

The immediate goal of your sales team is to generate more sales, higher profits, and better revenue. Creating content is not a part of their day to day job. This can often make them confused about your marketing team’s content creation efforts.

Content marketing metrics driven by sales-oriented goals are very effective in examining and displaying content marketing value. You must ensure that your sales team targets and the content marketing goals are in sync. These goals will help your marketing strategies in generating more revenue and conversions.

One of the key benefits of B2B content marketing is a substantial increase in sales and revenue. As per the survey conducted with 700 B2B content marketers in North America, it was found that sales and revenue enhanced by 8% in just 12 months.

Benefits of Successful B2B Content Marketing for marketing and sales gap

If you want to generate quantifiable ROI, it’s better positioned for your marketing strategy to concentrate on conversions and not only on lead generation.

If one of your blogs goes viral, you should ask the following questions:

  • How many made a purchase?
  • How many booked a sales call?
  • How many inquired about your brand’s services and products?

Connect marketing and sales teams to enhance your customer persona

A customer persona is one of the numerous tools marketers use to produce effective content. Your sales team will be more directly involved with prospects. Naturally, they’re more aware of the issues they face and also their solutions. Marketers can take advantage of this to produce more personalized content for prospects and guide them through the funnel.

By communicating with your sales team, you can enhance your customer personas with more detailed insights. The more details these insights contain, the more personalized content your marketing team can produce.

For instance, instead of forming assumptions about your prospects, your sales team can directly provide you with data to refute or confirm your assumptions. Data-driven personalization will offer your business with more accurate sales predictions.

Date Driven Personalization for marketing and sales gap

Design content to reduce the pressure on the sales team

After some research by their decision-making teams, B2B buyers refer to your sales team. In this stage, sales teams are aware of producing valuable content that’ll influence prospects.

According to a survey, 73% of respondents rated the role of a sales account manager as ‘highly stressful’. Thus, it’s suggested that you balance out your sales and marketing teams for organizational productivity. Your marketing team should design the bottom of the funnel content to motivate your sales team’s process.

This will generate various kinds of content like case studies that display your enterprise’s success with a particular client. An infographic can also help in generating leads after or before they connect with your sales team.

Your marketing team could design detailed guides displaying each issue that your product or service solves for your clients. At the final phase of decision making, such guides can be influential on your prospects.

From the graph below, there is a huge contrast on whether businesses are effectively reducing the marketing and sales gap. According to the graph, a majority of respondents don’t feel that the teams are aligned. 31% of C-level executives contend that these two teams are perfectly aligned, whereas just 17% of individual contributors and managers feel the same.

Company's sales and marketing relationship for marketing and sales gap

Image Source: HubSpot

You must ensure maximum collaboration between your marketing and sales teams to produce personalized content. It heightens the probability of conversion by effectively targeting every member of the prospect’s decision-making team.

via How to Bridge the Marketing and Sales Gap With Content

What online marketers can learn from creating empathy in the sales process


By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Selling your ‘stuff’ in person is hard, hard work … especially when your product is an artwork and thus highly subjective in value.

But during the last months, I’ve learned tons about the process, which is helping sales for me and my artist peers. I’ve learned the value of embedding empathy in the sales process.

Below, I want to share three examples of closing sales that have taught me to be a better marketer online:

Use the the ‘two drawers’ mentality

Vera F. Birkenbihl, the late German entrepreneur and productivity coach, once introduced the two drawer analogy in her books. It’s a simple mental model where you put every statement of a business talk into two mental drawers:

  • What’s in it for them
  • What’s in it for you

This simple model works incredibly well, whether you’re buying or selling.

For example, if someone wants to sell a product to you, you use the two drawer model to determine how many of his sales arguments benefit him or you. The best deal then benefits both parties equally.

I used the same model to seal an artwork sale for a close friend.

A client wanted to buy one of her artworks worth a couple of thousand euros. He claimed the price was too high, and that he would definitely buy the work at a discount.

My artist friend soooo wanted the sale, but desperation is a deal killer.

Now, what to do?

If you discount your work, you risk reducing your artistic value, conditioning your customer to bargain and never accept the price you’ve set for yourself.

But if you straight-up deny your client’s request, you can easily lose the sale.

I used the two drawer mentality:

  • What does the client want: Making sure the artwork is affordable
  • What does the artist want: Selling the artwork for the full price

The solution was dead simple: Allow the client to buy the artwork in installments over a couple of months.

This way, he was easily able to afford it while my artist friend received the full sum without discounting her value.

Foster genuine customer care

I’m just about to finish my first art catalog, featuring the best 32 pieces of my work.

It’s an expensive venture, especially if you want thick and premium paper and vibrant colors.

So I was looking for a printing company in Berlin and checked many outlets offering competitive prices. I picked one company that an artist friend had recommended and promptly showed up at their Berlin HQ to pick up samples.

Unannounced, by the way.

One of the office workers quickly approached me, looking like a Berlin hipster including a lumberjack’s beard and skater cap.

I thought he was going to ask if I was lost but instead inquired about my project.

He generously shared valuable tips, including which paper format to pick and what kind of binding I should use and answered every question without being PUSHY or urging me to close the sale.

We ended up talking for almost 40 minutes before I left their little office with a couple of sample prints and brochures and a hurting head full of info.

Back at home, I thought: What a great little company, taking so much time to explain their stuff.

But after filling out my printing order online, I discovered that they were one of the BIGGEST printing companies in Berlin, which wowed my mind.

A giant company with the care and friendliness of a small, local biz.

It proves one of Mark Schaefer’s core statements that the most human company wins.

Supporting your client’s story

Selling artwork in person is hard work. I’ve learned the bitter lesson when I single-handedly screwed up a near-hit sale.

Here’s what happened:

During my last exhibition at a former military horse barn, a woman approached me with a glass of wine, raving about a particular artwork of a slob:

She explained her interpretation of the guy, involving a heavy political message which I hadn’t intended.

Being truthful, I quickly revealed my own intention behind the work, which contradicted her ‘story’.

You should have seen the gravity pulling at her face.

The conversation died in fewer than 30 seconds. Her smile vanished as my story obviously didn’t grab her as much as her own. She excused herself and shortly afterward, left the exhibition in her shiny Benz.

Lesson: When a potential client explains their reason for liking your work, don’t contradict them. Their interpretation and reasons trump yours. Adapt your approach instead, using empathy to seal the deal with their story.

via What online marketers can learn from creating empathy in the sales process


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Video marketing has become a top priority for businesses of all sizes. It is indispensable, irreplaceable and simply too important for businesses of all kinds. Why you ask?

Did you know that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text? This is one of the primary reasons why 85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands.

However, we understand that video marketing can be overwhelming and honestly a little terrifying to figure out how to start this process.

Don’t sweat it. We’ve created this compact, step-by-step guide for you, that will hold your hand and initiate you into the exciting but seemingly overwhelming world of video creation and video marketing.

Video marketing - What you will need
Video marketing - What you won't need

Let’s get started!

The Plan of Action

Step 1: The content plan
Step 2: The offer
Step 3: Snackable videos
Step 4: Video ads
Step 5: Upload and take videos live
Step 6: Promote and tell the world!

Step 1: The content plan

Alright, pay attention now, because this is where it gets interesting!

One very fascinating concept in sales and marketing is that of the sales funnel. An inverted triangle with a top, middle, and bottom.

At the top, there are those who don’t know of your business yet. We like to call this the Stage of Awareness.

The middle consists of those who are still researching before spending their money. These people are currently in the Stage of Consideration.

Those at the bottom are screaming “take my money” and are completely convinced to buy from you. These folks right here are at the final stage, which we call the Stage of Purchase.

The content needs for each of these categories are different, as they should be. Based on this categorization, you can devise your content plan, which will cater to each specific category of people, separately.

Let’s go one by one!

Attention – For those on the top who are blissfully unaware of your business, you require their attention. So you make a few snackable videos to draw their attention to your brand. What the heck are snackable videos? You’ll find out soon below.

Clicks – You have their attention, what next? Ideally, you would want them to visit your website now, which would require them to click on the ad. Offer up a video-ad and track the number of clicks you get to your site. If they are high, keep doing what you are doing, if not, regroup and shuffle it up.

Conversions – The ultimate aim of any marketing campaign? Conversions. At the end of the day, you are looking to make sure your products sell better.

Video marketing - sales funnel

Draft the perfect offer to make sure that your product sells and you are able to convert clicks to sales. We’ll teach you how!

Got your own sales funnel to fill now? Great! But here’s some important advice before you begin.

Do not chase perfection, because it is futile. Try to produce as much content as you can, while maintaining some basic guidelines, and keep iterating. Soon you’ll find unique content pegs that work wonders for you!

Be open to experimentation!

Step 2: The offer

Done and dusted with the content plan? Perfect, let’s get on with the next part.

If you are a business that is interested in video marketing, your primary aim would naturally be to convert a potential customer into a paying customer.

For that to happen, you have to present them with an offer that is simply too tempting to refuse.

So, how do you draft the perfect offer for your products? Let’s find out!

Let’s conduct a simple exercise. Go to any social media platform that you currently use, and study the first ad that you come across on that platform. Inevitably you will notice that in most cases, it will have the following three types of offers:

Download – Examples include Checklists, Ebooks, Guides, Applications, Plugins, etc.

Discounts – Examples include Coupons, Free Trials, Bundle Sales etc.

Destination – Examples include Event, Webinar, Training, Demo, Consultation, etc.

You can access many more Offer templates like the ones above on InVideo.

The moment you click on any of these offers, you will be redirected to a page where you will be asked to provide your email address.

What good are email ids, you ask? Well, this is when you establish the initial communication with your potential customers, where you introduce them to your brand.

Remember, the real money is in the follow-up. But you can’t follow up unless you have an email address, to begin with.

Once you have the perfect offer, you can start sending out emails.

Now the most important part of this step is to create an appealing landing page, which would serve up the offer to your potential customers on a silver platter.

The basic anatomy of a landing page is minimal. It usually has a headline and sub-headline on the top left corner, a supporting video to go with it and most importantly, a well-highlighted area for the visitors to type in their email address.

Video marketing - Landing page template

Here are two examples of what a good landing page looks like:

Video marketing - Landing page example #1
Video marketing - Landing page example #2

Step 3: Snackable videos


via The Ultimate Video Marketing Guide For 2020

2020 Marketing Projections: What You Need To Know Now To Be Competitive

To succeed this year, use these 2020 Marketing Projections.

These forecasts are based on the major 2019 disruptions to the marketing playing field.

3 key factors changed marketing in 2019:

  • Seismic Marketing Shift resulting from the convergence of voice-first, marketing AI and content saturation.
  • RIP Customer Journey for both consumer and business purchasing reflecting the change in customer behavior.
  • Uncertain Global Economic Environment causing businesses to reduce investment and look for internal efficiencies.

Together the marketing implications of these changes lay the foundation for your 2020 plans and beyond.

Bottom line:
Marketing must evolve to meet these new and rapidly changing challenges.

The good news:
These 2020 Marketing Projections are grounded in fundamental marketing principles. (Hat tip: Chris Marr)

By integrating these forecasts into your marketing, you’ll attract an audience, convert prospects into customers, and keep them happy while building business value to yield profitable revenues.

Marketing Projections Table of Contents (aka: TL;DR)

  1. Amazon continues to eat the business world and beyond
  2. Businesses must understand their audience and customer buying behavior better
  3. An owned, addressable audience becomes essential
  4. Content saturation continues to diminish marketers’ ability to attract new audiences
  5. Companies will need to take responsibility for data across their organization
  6. AI will become a more salient element of marketing and related MarTech
  7. Voice-first technology requires a place at the marketing table
  8. Digital communications continue to evolve requiring a seamless omni-channel approach
  9. The skills marketers need continue to shift requiring training, career development and new jobs
  10. Generational changes will have a greater impact on marketing
  11. Branding will enjoy renewed importance but must support societal goals
  12. Pressure to show measurable marketing results in financial terms continues to increase
  13. Marketing will get better integrated across the organization to increase efficiency
  14. Search will require increased marketing resources to stay visible
  15. Businesses will focus on customer on-boarding to improve results
  16. Businesses will allocate more resources to increase customer retention
  17. Marketing continues to use social media to meet specific objectives but must show measurable results
  18. The need for real life community and events continues to grow
  19. Businesses will face increased government regulation
  20. Globalization increasingly influences business plans


via 2020 Marketing Projections: What You Need To Know Now To Be Competitive


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With every year seeing new technological developments that shift the boundaries of business, working to take advantage of the new opportunities can be a challenge in digital marketing. One of these transformations in the market has been caused by the widespread adoption of voice search technology and its effects on internet usage.

As a consequence, this has had an impact on search engine optimization, where following SEO best practices is essential for most businesses in the current era. Internet voice search could be set to disrupt SEO conventions, so businesses would be well-advised to stay informed of the changes and plan accordingly.

The rise of voice technology

The introduction of IBM’s Watson in 2010 paved the way for voice technology devices. Watson is a powerful voice recognition question-answer computer system that stunned the world as a super-intelligent, thinking, and speaking robot that was able to beat Trivia grandmasters on the TV quiz show, ‘Jeopardy’. In the following year, Google launched its Voice Search and Apple released Siri for the iPhone 4S, the first digital personal assistant.

This was followed in 2014 by Cortana from Microsoft and Amazon Echo, a voice speaker powered by the personal assistant, Alexa. Google Assistant was launched in 2016, as well as the smart speaker Google Home. Initial figures showed Amazon Alexa to be leading the market, though Google Home is forecast to take the lead by 2020. Other prominent digital assistants on the global stage include Alice from Yandex, and AliGenie from Alibaba.

Voice recognition technology has significantly improved since its inception. Google claims 95 percent accuracy, while the Chinese iFlytek speech recognition system has an accuracy of 98%.

Voice technology has also spread to devices that fall under the umbrella term, the Internet of Things (IoT), such as a smart TV, a smart thermostat or a home kit. While it may be possible, internet voice search doesn’t have direct applications for most of these devices yet, and by far the greatest share of searches are currently made on either a smartphone or a smart speaker.

Twenty percent of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are made with voice, while 31% of smartphone users use voice at least once a week, according to Statistica.

Media analytics firm Comscore predicts that half of all online searches will be made through voice by 2020, while Gartner predicts that in the same year, 30% of online searches will be made on devices without a screen. This suggests an enormous rise in voice search, as well as the increased adoption of smart speakers. Earlier this year, Juniper Research predicted that 3.25 billion voice assistants were in use – a figure they forecast to reach eight billion by 2023.

The effects of voice on SEO

Voice is, therefore, transforming our approaches to technology and the internet, but what impact is it having on search engine optimization?

Natural language

With improved and reliable voice recognition systems, voice technology is well adapted to follow everyday language use, so users can give commands as if they were speaking to a human. For any areas of potential confusion, emerging technologies are seeking to improve the user experience. The 2018 Internet Trends Report by venture capitalist and internet trends specialist, Mary Meeker, found that 70% of English language voice searches were made in natural or conversational language.

Keyword length

Spoken language usually isn’t as concise as the written word, so queries will be longer than the three or four keyword searches more common to graphical user interfaces (GUI). Voice searches currently average 29 words in length, according to Backlinko. SEO strategists will need to adjust by using more long-tail keywords, with the added benefit that the longer the keyword phrases are, the higher the probability of conversion.

Graph showing voice search query phrase length

via What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2020?


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Economic Downturns: How Marketers Can Prepare

The warning signs of a recession are all around. Economic growth slowed down earlier this year, Treasury yields are down, freight shipments are slowing, and 60% of economists surveyed by the NABE expect a recession by the end of 2020.

Marketers would do well to heed the early warnings. Recession-proofing takes time and steady effort, and you will hit unforeseen speed bumps. With a head start, you can overcome those obstacles to ensure you have strong promotional offers, strategic product segmentation, and new creative ready in the wings when you need them.

Proactivity can also make you nimbler. “Set it and forget it” is an excellent strategy for your Crock-Pot, but it’s an outdated approach for marketing. In our “tradigital” media ecosystem, we need to build for agility. Many traditionally minded media companies—those that rely on ads for revenue—can’t shift quickly enough and might not make it through.

Tight times mean tighter budgets

To understand the need for a proactive recessionary plan, consider the effects of a recession on consumer behavior and brands’ media planning strategies.

As a recession rolls in, consumers make drastic changes to their spending habits:

via It’s Coming: Is Your Brand Prepared for an Economic Downturn?

Combining Physical and Digital Customer Experience: 3 Tactics for Brands

There is a clear trend of B2C brands that once existed only online opening physical locations: Everlane, Glossier, Bonobos, and of course Amazon are just a few examples.

Being online-first allowed those brands to tap into the convenience that digital offers, gradually building a strong audience of loyal customers. Now, the same brands are revitalizing brick-and-mortar retail.

It seems we have gone from physical experiences to digital, and now the pendulum is swinging back to physical. Why is this happening?

Digital transformation is all about moving from the physical world into the digital world. It’s about re-establishing processes and modernizing legacy systems to enable engagement with customers in an entirely new way. However, last time I checked, we still live in the physical world, where experiences can connect with all five senses. Yet, many brands have gone all in on digital, overcrowding customers and relying on two senses: sight and sound. Some 44% of companies have already moved to a digital-first approach for the customer experience, according to IDG.

Thinking of a customer experience in digital-only terms is limiting. I would argue that for brands to stand out and truly capture (and keep) customer attention, they must incorporate physical elements and appeal to all of a customer’s senses.

Like those digital-native brands that are opening storefronts, it’s about striking a balance.

An Unexpected Mailer Breaks Through the Noise

via From Physical to Digital and Back Again: Three Ways for Brands (B2C or B2B) to Stand Out


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