10 Things Robots Can’t Do Better Than Humans

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There’s been a lot of hype about AI, robots, chatbots and the like. And I admit I cover this topic. I speak on this topic as well – and I think it’s an exciting time in technology. But I’m getting tired of the hype of artificial intelligence.

While we talk up robots, AI and there is nothing like being served by someone who seems to genuinely want to be serving. One reason we are so excited about robots, automation and self-service technology is we’ve been trying to create space between brands and customers for years. Dealing with customers can be expensive, resource draining and time consuming.

The idea is: “how can we push as many people as possible through the same experience while keeping our operating costs as low as possible?” But let’s have a straight talk about robots and automation. Would you want a robot giving you an important medical diagnosis? Would you want to go to a theater and watch a cast of robots perform for you? Let’s talk about stuff robots can’t do and calm down with this dystopian view of the future where people lose their usefulness.

10 Things Robots Can’t Do

1. A robot can’t look you in the eye

Machines will not destroy man as long as we remember machines are in service to mankind. Last night I was watching the film “Hidden Figures” – in the movie the actor who plays astronaut John Glenn says regarding the IBM mainframe that shot out potentially incorrect trajectory information for his landing “you can’t trust something you cant look in the eyes.” He’s right. Would you trust something that can’t interpret events, actions, or tones as much as a human? Machines are in service to us. It should always be that way. When we let technology loose without much management or interference from a human – it usually doesn’t end well.

2. Consider the feelings of the other person

If an interactive voice response (IVR) program (a phone tree) could consider and interpret the feelings of customers on the other end of the phone, the robot might malfunction in shock. Many people have thrown their phone on the ground, tired of an IVR that doesn’t understand what they (the customer) are requesting. Or the IVR doesn’t offer what the customer requests. Customer service can be a messy business because you are dealing with human emotions. There’s a gray area. As customer frustration and anger goes up, a human being should be able to gauge that, sincerely apologize and offer some kind of appropriate service recovery. Service recovery means I will give you X for your inconvenience. Robots cannot consider feelings – genuinely, like a person can. Today millions of companies settle for terrible IVR experiences, keeping their customers at bay – never realizing how many customers they lose overnight because of these hard of hearing robots.

3. Make a person feel seen or heard

Sometimes working in customer service is like being a psychologist….

CMO Today: Marketers Seize More Control; Web Firms Buoy Ad Spending; Apple’s $1 Billion Content Budget

Good morning. President Donald Trump’s response to the violence that erupted in Charlottesville this weekend continues to dominate the headlines and present tough questions for companies assessing the brand risk of having ties to the administration. As The Wall Street Journal reports, recent events have “sparked a new round of soul-searching in U.S. corporate boardrooms over whether they should keep working closely with the White House.” One crisis management expert in the article is recommending corporate clients avoid any official Trump advisory panel or White House gathering of business leaders altogether.

Depending on which research you look at, spend on digital advertising has already eclipsed, or will overtake spend on “traditional” media this year. That inflection point, plus the heightened levels of scrutiny leveled at the online supply chain, has led to marketers increasingly taking back control of some of the digital advertising duties they once farmed out to their agencies, I reported for CMO Today. A survey from the World Federation of Advertisers found marketers have taken a range of actions over the past 12 months, such as setting up “hybrid” programmatic models — where they are building their own internal trading desks to handle a percentage of their digital ad spend — and adding clauses to their contracts about data ownership and audit rights. It’s important to note that agencies aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Marketers still benefit from their scale, expertise and experience dealing directly with digital vendors. But it can only be a good thing that more marketers are finally waking up to the fact that they need a complete handle over their digital activities.

Ad-funded internet companies are leading by example. Web companies increased their U.S. ad spending in the most-recent quarter at a “significantly faster pace” than other types of advertisers, according to Pivotal Research Group senior analyst Brian Wieser. That helped the overall U.S.ad market grow by around 5% in the second quarter, despite an estimated 1% decline in national TV advertising, double-digit declines for most print-based media and decreased spending among consumer packaged goods companies. Of course, the big spenders, like Google and Amazon, are also the online ad sellers benefiting from the wider digital advertising splurge. But all good things come to an end. Mr. Wieser says the double-digit growth in digital advertising we’ve witnessed in…

As Tile makes a long-term B2B play, its CMO says he’s right where he loves to be

In November of last year, Simon Fleming-Wood was named CMO of Tile, the company behind RFID hardware devices designed to help users keep track of things like lost keys or phones. In his role, the CMO oversees all marketing and communications efforts for the brand, including brand strategy, growth marketing, advertising and PR.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the role as the company is really expanding their retail footprint, introducing new products, making a long-term B2B play and really owning their category,” says Fleming-Wood. “That’s right where I love to be.”

Currently, Fleming-Wood’s team is focused on a brand strategy campaign that will launch during the holiday season.

“Tile has roughly 90 percent share of a category they created, but it’s still a category with low awareness overall, so there’s a real opportunity to build a meaningful brand here.”

Tile is also planning promotions around its Smart Location Platform. Launched last year, the new…

Video-Phobic Marketers: It’s Time to Get Over Your Fear of Producing Video

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Jeff Julian got his start in video at the ripe old age of 12. Video was a creative outlet for him during a challenging time … middle school.

“When I was in middle school, I went from an average size kid to a big kid,” Jeff explains. “I got picked on quite a bit. Playing with computers and electronics was a way for me to fit in and be creative. I began producing funny skits with my best friend. We impersonated ESPN, Saturday Night Live, and even Robin Leach from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Our videos became popular at school. No one else was doing it so those videos came to define me when I was a kid.”

After college, Jeff became a full-time software developer, but in his spare time he was blogging and recording video about technology – even before “blog” was a common word. Ultimately, he built what became the biggest technology blog community at the time: Geeks With Blogs. (Robert Scoble was an early influencer of the blog.) “I wasn’t a marketer,” says Jeff. “I was a software developer who created this community – and I had to learn how to sell advertising to keep it going.” Over time, Jeff migrated to marketing, ultimately founding a marketing-focused video blog called Enterprise Marketer.

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Jeff says marketers fear two primary aspects of video marketing. First, there’s tremendous anxiety about getting in front of the camera. He explains, “The fear of being judged scares people away from all video and audio media, even if they themselves aren’t the ones who will be in front of the camera.”

Also, Jeff says, marketers feel inadequate when it comes to transforming raw video assets into a final product. “I don’t think anyone’s afraid of things like cameras, lenses, tripods, or any technology on the recording end,” he says. “Their fear is about the production end of the process – the tools and expertise needed to make a complete project.”

Jeff shares his thoughts and tips on how to overcome that fear and learn to embrace video.

On why conquering fear matters more than ever

The way we consume content is moving more and more toward video, motion graphics, and audio. Of course, people have been saying this for years, but the growing sophistication of technologies like virtual reality, voice recognition (hello Alexa), and artificial intelligence means we will soon interact with screens very differently than we used to – and some screens will become obsolete. Add to that, younger generations are gravitating to video-based content in a way that will define how we publish in another decade. (Video-based recipes were uncommon even five years ago, but 30-second GIF recipes litter the web today.)

Content marketers need to look beyond the blog post, e-book, and print magazine; they have to adapt to the ways people prefer to consume content.

And I have not even mentioned live video or live streaming. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have all added live-streaming capabilities — and the format has taken off in popularity.

In short: Any brand that isn’t embracing video internally and growing its expertise is going to fall further and further behind.

On the virtues of starting small

To begin, think of the smallest audience you can impact with a short video. We’re talking the “babiest” of baby steps. For example, create a walk-through video of an internal tool you want your team to use. With such a small scope for your first video, the fear of rejection or being judged is low. Just make sure it’s valuable to that audience and lets you experiment with new tools and techniques in video production. It’s the video equivalent of writing a paragraph vs. a 10-page essay to get you comfortable with the process.

Another idea: Film a customer case study. You only need a single camera setup and an external microphone. Stand the camera left or right and ask customers to talk about themselves. (Just about everybody can talk about themselves and the projects they are a part of.) Cut up the clip, add motion graphics (you’ll find plenty of online tutorials), and show it to your sales reps. Ask them if it’s something they can use. If the answer is yes, you have another medium to jump on.

On when to consider a professional

It’s possible you’ll need a professional, but not in the way you might think.

It’s tough (read: impossible) to be in front of the camera and behind it at once. Depending on the quality and scope of your video project, you’ll need someone to assist you. That person, whether a professional or an assistant, should be trained to capture video and audio competently. (And more complex video projects may require even more people.)

If you want to get best bang for buck, consider hiring an independent videographer as your assistant. A freelance wedding videographer, for example, can help you through your beginner fears. Of course, you need…

5 ways to balance technical & non-technical SEO

In SEO’s earlier days, technical SEO was largely about coding. For a fun throwback, check out this 2008 SEL article on search-friendly code by Jonathan Hochman, an internet marketer and computer sciences grad from Yale. Technical SEO was all about how to optimize (and often, manipulate) code, metadata and link profiles to achieve better results.

And you know what? That basic purpose of technical SEO hasn’t changed.

As black hat tactics and manipulation became less effective and more dangerous, they fell out of favor. This gave rise to the more creative, non-technical SEO tactics designed to show search engines the value and relevance of each piece of content.

Technical and non-technical should never be pitted against one another, as both are critical to the health of your site and the success of your campaigns. Technical SEO is the framework on which truly great content is built, ensuring that each piece is structured and optimized for search engine discoverability and human consumption.

Here are a few tips to help you find balance between the technical and creative:

1. Understand the role of technical SEO in your organization

Today, in most organizations, technical SEO is a function entirely separate from development. You might still have some spillover between development and SEO in small companies or with freelancers. Typically, though, SEOs are an entity unto themselves, tasked with working alongside:

  • the uber-technical IT team, who manage the reception and storage of critical customer data.
  • web developers.
  • the non-technical SEOs (including link builders…

Demystifying AI: Understanding the human-machine relationship

The artificial intelligence of today has almost nothing in common with the AI of science fiction. In “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica,” we’re introduced to robots who behave like we do — they are aware of their surroundings, understand the context of their surroundings and can move around and interact with people just as I can with you. These characters and scenarios are postulated by writers and filmmakers as entertainment, and while one day humanity will inevitably develop an AI like this, it won’t happen in the lifetime of anyone reading this article.

Because we can rapidly feed vast amounts of data to them, machines appear to be learning and mimicking us, but in fact they are still at the mercy of the algorithms we provide. The way for us to think of modern artificial intelligence is to understand two concepts:

  1. Computers can ingest millions of data points per second and make instant calculations and predictions based on this data set.
  2. Very specific rules can be written to help a computer system understand what to do once a calculation is made. (Or, if training a neural network, very specific inputs and outputs must be provided for the data that’s being ingested.)

To illustrate this in grossly simplified terms, imagine a computer system in an autonomous car. Data comes from cameras placed around the vehicle, from road signs, from pictures that can be identified as hazards and so on. Rules are then written for the computer system to learn about all the data points and make calculations based on the rules of the road. The successful result is the vehicle driving from point A to B without making mistakes (hopefully).

The important thing to understand is that these systems don’t think like you and me. People are ridiculously good at pattern recognition, even to the point where we prefer forcing ourselves to see patterns when there are none. We use this skill to ingest less information and make quick decisions about what to do.

Computers have no such luxury; they have to ingest everything, and if you’ll forgive the pun, they can’t “think outside the box.” If a modern AI were to be programmed to understand a room (or any other volume) it would have to measure all of it.

Think of…

This Rain Delay Is Brought to You By …

Last Wednesday, as thunder boomed and rain poured over Yankee Stadium, groundskeepers rolled out a tarp to protect the dirt infield. Standard practice, perhaps, but this tarp was in fact a giant branded slice of Glad wrap.

The delay-filled day kept the Yankees and Detroit Tigers off the field for over four hours in a double-header. Fans and players were miserable. Glad, meanwhile, savored every minute of their captive audience.

The @gladproducts tarp is on the field. We’ll update you as soon as we can. pic.twitter.com/jpYk5D11Tl

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 2, 2017

While it’s unclear how much Glad paid for the approximately 160 square-foot infield cover, branded tarps are baseball’s newest revenue stream, with major-market teams like the Yankees and Chicago Cubs striking deals that spread messaging during the most dreaded period of any baseball game: rain delays.

“It’s a novel…

Affiliate is more than a platform

When I look at the affiliate business, I see it has truly grown in prominence over the last 10 years. Today, affiliate marketing gives brands nearly limitless opportunities to expand their partnerships, diversify distribution and reach new consumers.

And the importance of this channel for marketers will continue to grow. Forrester Consulting, in a study commissioned by my company, projected that US affiliate marketing spending will reach over $6.8 billion by 2020 (PDF). Of course, as someone who works for an affiliate network, I’m biased — but I have good reasons!

The marketing touch points that are afforded by this channel illustrate that affiliate is more than just the platform on which a program runs. Today, affiliate marketing has evolved to become the gateway for brands to create and nourish business partnerships. In fact, there is almost no one you can’t work with through an affiliate marketing relationship.

Now, I agree that a powerful affiliate platform is still integral to managing campaigns. Having sophisticated technology for tracking, payment processing, link generating tools and reporting is foundational for a thriving affiliate program.

But if you want to grow your brand, dominate market share and gain new customers, then you need an affiliate program that is much more dynamic than the platform that powers it. This is where an experienced network team that has the vision and resources to innovate scalable technology can help brands succeed in driving incremental profitable sales.

Let’s examine the ways that affiliate marketing can unlock more opportunities for brands.

Facilitating business development

Today there are almost an infinite number of publishers that brands can access. The challenge often becomes, “How do I connect with the ones that are right for my brand?”

That’s where an affiliate network comes in. Having an entire team of network development specialists, whose job is dedicated to actively seeking valuable partnerships, will allow brands to access higher-quality publishers and unique opportunities.

As brands grow and expand their program beyond “traditional affiliates,” it’s important that they start to use the channel more creatively, as a network for growing…

This Week in Content Marketing: Could Digital Advertising Be Ready to Pop?

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PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher. If you enjoy our show, we would love it if you would rate it or post a review on iTunes.

In this week’s episode

Robert ponders whether we can teach ourselves to be more curious. On the news front, we discuss the state of digital advertising based on reactions to this year’s Cannes Advertising Awards, and offer our strong opinions on yet another article that throws shade at the term “content marketing.” Our rants and raves include CPA Australia and why content creators are crazy; then we close the show with an artistic example of the week courtesy of Botticelli.

Download this week’s PNR: This Old Marketing podcast

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Show details

  • (00:01): An advertising blast from the past: “Gumball Bank”
  • (00:30): Robert muses on this week’s theme: Are you curious enough?
  • (04:30): Welcome to Episode 190: Recorded live on July 3, 2017 (Running time: 1:06:05)

The PNR perspective on notable news and trends

  • (08:32): Cannes delivers a lesson on the…

Big Q CMOs: The CMO’s role in today’s technically advanced world

Prakash Patel

by MarkLives (@marklives) Is there a new C-suite executive on the horizon? Is it time to redefine the role of the CMO, possibly by agreeing that the roles of CMO and CTO are aligning and need some level of collaboration? And can this result in more-effective growth strategies for organisations? We asked a panel of key industry executives for their take. First up is up is Prakash Patel of Fogg.

Once tasked with managing communications and brand, the modern CMO’s role has been expanding to include technology, data and impact (ie sales and the bottom line). Where this is not the case, anecdotal evidence suggests shorter tenures, and a loss of prominence and clout at board level.

Prakash Patel

Prakash Patel
Prakash Patel

(@PrakashPatel_1), a seasoned strategist and data-driven digital marketer, is managing director of Fogg Cape Town. Previously, he was CEO of Prezence and chief digital officer of FCB/Mesh. Prior to moving to SA, Prakash spent over 18 years at some of the world’s largest and independent data and digital agencies in the UK. Now he is trying to keep up with tomorrow today and helping brands add value in the #TraDigital era.

Is it a perfect marriage or a marriage of convenience? Either way, a marriage is in the horizon.

Today’s digitally savvy customers are far more-sophisticated, -demanding, -hyper-connected, anywhere and everywhere with their experiences underpinned by technology. This has changed their relationship with brands, where they are now in charge, and we, as marketers and brands, need to be and play where they are — regardless of what technology, platform or device they are using. This huge responsibility has most fallen mostly under the remit of both the CMO and CIO in today’s age of the customer.

Age of the customer

So, it’s with no surprise that the results in a survey conducted by Forrester quoted “what’s increasingly apparent is that to succeed in the age of the customer, CEOs depend upon their CMO and CIO to connect customer insights to business outcomes through business technology — the technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers.”

But I believe that the question is not only about how organisations and C-suite executives need to re-evaluate their roles but, more importantly, how they need to collaborate like never before to ride the waves of uncertainty for times of possibilities in aligning their goals using integrated technology, ICT, digital and data.

The Forrester report also looked at the partnerships and relationship between CIOs and CMO.

“Empowered customers have an unprecedented ability to make rapid decisions, weigh and review products with peers, and provide feedback in social channels anywhere in the world. Brand value is now tied to product experiences and the outcomes they deliver.”

In response to the survey, it’s not all gloom and doom, as technology harnesses the power of change and is the opportunity for marketers to rethink their internal business strategies from the top down. Like it or not, CMOs and marketing have found themselves in a unique position, in that technology and digital have become a prerequisite of marketing, whether it’s through websites, mobisites, apps, social media, emarketing, hardware, data, insights, databases or customer platforms — technology underpins and drives it all. Through this, the CIO and CMO’s strategic partnership is becoming…