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News: Trending Topics from CES 2019

By Site Strategics
January 27, 2019

Every time EDGE hosts Erin Sparks (Site Strategics CEO) and Tom Brodbeck (Site Strategics Digital Media Director) go on the air for a new episode of their acclaimed EDGE of the Web podcast, they kick the show off with trending digital marketing news. EDGE of the Web Episode 297 included some great stories, along with analysis by EDGE hosts and their special guest Jon Henshaw, founder of Coywolf – a site that publishes webmaster resources and digital marketing insights about SEO, social, content, productivity, and entrepreneurship. Here’s the latest news roundup from the EDGE:

Google Assistant vs Amazon Alexa at CES 2019

Google Assistant is coming after Amazon’s Alexa, and she better watch out! The Verge reported how even though Alexa preceded Google Assistant, Google is working hard to close that gap, which the tech giant made very clear with its massive presence at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Amazon’s presence, by contrast, felt decidedly small. Big mistake on Amazon’s part, because CES gets major amounts of press coverage, and Google definitely got the upper-hand in that regard, largely related to its Assistant. Here’s how Google Assistant is beating up on Alexa:

  • Achieving Ubiquity: Most third-party devices aren’t playing favorites, so many are compatible with both Assistant and Alexa, but when you throw in Google’s Android devices, their Assistant is available on ten times more devices than Alexa. The company expects Google Assistant to be available on a billion devices by February 2019 thanks to integrating it into Google Maps, up from 500 million back in May 2018. Alexa is available on a mere 100 million devices.
  • New Interpreter Mode: Currently being piloted in hotels around San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York, Google Assistant’s new interpreter mode can do real-time translations for 27 languages to facilitate conversations. It’s not perfect, but it works.
  • Getting Stuff Done: Google Assistant supports more than one million different actions and even provides a searchable database of all those things it can do. And they’re working on more robust “routines” that combine multiple actions into one command.

The smart speaker revolution is well underway and leaping forward with home-centric integrations, so what does EDGE Nation think of Google’s splashy presence at CES with its Assistant?

  • Jon Henshaw: Consumers might look at this and just think they’re trying to get into the Internet of Things (IoT), but I’m sure what it’s really about is data. Google is all about data, and the expansion of Assistant on so many devices is going to give them an incredible amount of data that they can then figure out how to monetize. They do massive amounts of experimentation, just throwing things out there to see what sticks. A lot of it will just disappear in a couple years. But make no mistake, at the core it’s all about finding ways to monetize data. Where are privacy rights in all of this?
  • Erin Sparks: Yes, it does seem that people enjoy how the voice-activated assistants can make things easier or more convenient – that’s what the consumer sees. What they don’t see is the massive amount of data they’re revealing and feeding right into those companies when using them.

Twitter Openly Testing New Conversation Tools

On the social media front, Engadget met up with Twitter at CES and found out how the social media platform is going to be testing new conversation tools out in the open. The idea is to let users reshape how conversations can take place on Twitter with new features that help get people actually talking with each other. Anyone can apply to be part of the testing, but only several thousand users are going to get in and participate. Those beta users will have the chance to provide feedback about various features so Twitter can see what’s working before rolling out new features to everyone.

  • Tom Brodbeck: It’s certainly true that trying to have actual conversations can get very confusing when the Tweets are flying and you’re trying to keep track of who’s who and who is saying what to whom, so if this can improve that process, that would be a good thing.
  • Erin Sparks: Crowdsourcing new features among loyalists who actually want to improve the platform seems like an inherently good thing to do.
  • Jon Henshaw: Yes, if this is an attempt to increase positive engagements among users in order to make having real conversations easier, great. And, of course, Twitter will also find ways to leverage that into serving up more ads, right? After all, that’s what it’s all about. But the fact they’re being open and transparent about it is very interesting given that they’re usually pretty secretive about that stuff.

Quora Allows Advertisers to Run Question Retargeting Campaigns

In another interesting move, Marketing Land reported that Quora will now allow advertisers to retarget users who looked at specific questions. Quora’s ad engine is a fairly recent development, but an important one because Quora users are highly engaged people asking and answering all kinds of questions. Giving marketers and advertisers the opportunity to get in front of those users with focused retargeting campaigns based on questions previously visited is a significant development.

  • Jon Henshaw: It’s a brilliant, no-brainer move to make. When I had my own SaaS offering, Raven Tools, we were very impressed with the conversions we got through Quora when the product was just organically mentioned in answers to questions. Adding in the ability of advertisers to target the people reading questions related to their products and services just make sense. And the marketers can develop their ads to really match up well with the intent of the question that was asked.
  • Erin Sparks: And then when you can start connecting more than one question together, you see the possibilities in terms of deconstruction the true intent of those users looking at those questions, giving you all the insights needed to craft the right content. It’s a gold mine!
  • Tom Brodbeck: JD Prater recently joined their team as the Quora Ads Evangelist. His PPC experience is no doubt driving a lot of these bold, smart moves at Quora.

As always, if you want to stay up-to-date on the latest digital marketing trends by having them delivered right into your inbox, all you have to do is sign up for our newsletter. Head over to EDGEofthewebradio.com and you’ll see the subscribe box at the very top of the page. And the only thing we’ll use your email address for is sending you digital nuggets of gold from the EDGE and our sponsor, Site Strategics – your agile digital marketing solutions provider.

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