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By Megan Crouse

Plus, Google reveals plans to unleash Gemini across Workspace to make interpreting long email threads or creating spreadsheets easier.

AI Overviews, the next evolution of Search Generative Experience, will roll out in the U.S. starting May 14 and in more countries soon, Google announced during the Google I/O developer conference at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA. Google showed several other changes coming to Google Cloud, Gemini, Workspace and more, including AI actions and summarization that can work across apps — opening up interesting options for small businesses.

Google’s Search will include AI Overviews

AI Overviews is the expansion of Google’s Search Generative Experience, the AI-generated answers that appear at the top of Google searches. You may have seen SGE in action already, as select U.S. users have been able to try it since last October. SGE can also generate images or text. AI Overviews adds AI-generated information to the top of any Google Search Engine results.

With AI Overviews, “Google does the work for you. Instead of piecing together all the information yourself, you can ask your questions” and “get an answer instantly,” said Liz Reid, Google’s vice president of Search, during I/O.

By the end of the year, AI Overviews will be available to over a billion people, Reid said. Google wants to be able to answer “ten questions in one,” linking tasks together so the AI can make accurate connections between information; this is possible through multi-step reasoning. For example, someone could ask not only for the best yoga studios in the area, but also for the distance between the studios and their home and the studios’ introductory offers. All of this information will be listed in convenient columns at the top of the Search results.

Soon, AI Overviews will be able to answer questions about videos provided to it, too.

Availability of AI Overview

AI Overviews is rolling out starting May 14 in the U.S., with availability for everyone in the country expected within the week. Availability in other countries is “coming soon.” Previously, AI Overviews had been available in Search Labs.

Is AI Overviews useful?

Does AI Overviews actually make Google Search more useful? AI Overviews may dilute Search’s usefulness if the AI answers prove incorrect, irrelevant or misleading. Google said it will carefully note which images are AI generated and which come from the web.

Gemini 1.5 Pro gets upgrades, including a 2 million context window for select users

Google is expanding Gemini 1.5 Pro’s context window to 2 million for select Google Cloud customers. To get the wider context window, join the waitlist in Google AI Studio or Vertex AI.

The ultimate goal for the teams working on expanding Google Gemini’s context window is “infinite context,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

Google’s large language model Gemini 1.5 Pro is getting quality improvements for the API and a new version, Gemini 1.5 Flash. New features for developers in the Gemini API include video frame extraction, parallel function calling and context caching. Native video frame extraction and parallel function calling are available now; context caching is expected to drop in June.

Available today globally, Gemini 1.5 Flash is a smaller model focused on responding quickly. Users of Gemini 1.5 Pro and Gemini 1.5 will be able to input information for the AI to analyse in a 1 million context window.

Gemma 2 comes in 27B parameter size

Google’s small language model, Gemma, will get a major overhaul in June. Gemma 2 will have a 27B parameter model in response to developers requesting a bigger Gemma model that is still small enough to fit inside compact projects. Gemma 2 can run efficiently on a single TPU host in Vertex AI, Google said.

Plus, Google rolled out PaliGemma, a language and vision model for tasks like image captioning and asking questions based on images. PaliGemma is available now in Vertex AI.

Gemini summarization and other features will be attached to Google Workspace

Google Workspace is getting several AI enhancements, which are enabled by Gemini 1.5’s long context window and multimodality. For example, users can ask Gemini to summarize long email threads or Google Meet calls.

Gemini will be available in the Workspace side panel next month on desktop for businesses and consumers who use the Gemini for Workspace add-ons and the Google One AI Premium plan. The Gemini side panel is now available in Workspace Labs and for Gemini for Workspace Alpha users.

Workspace and AI Advanced customers will be able to use some new Gemini features going forward, starting for Labs users this month and generally available in July:

  • Summarize email threads.
  • Run a Q&A on your email inbox.
  • Use longer suggested replies in Smart Reply to draw contextual information from email threads.

Gemini 1.5 can make connections between apps in Workspace, such as Gmail and Docs. Google Vice President and General Manager for Workspace Aparna Pappu demonstrated this by showing how small business owners could use Gemini 1.5 to organize and track their travel receipts in a spreadsheet based on an email. This feature, Data Q&A, is rolling out to Labs users in July.

Next, Google is adding a Virtual Teammate to Workspace. The Virtual Teammate will act like an AI co-worker with an identity, a Workspace account and an objective (but without the need for PTO). Employees can ask the assistant questions about work, and the assistant will hold the “collective memory” of the team it works with.

The virtual teammate has a Workspace account and a profile. Users can set specific objectives for the AI in the profile. Image: Google

Google hasn’t announced a release date for Virtual Teammate yet. The company plans to add third-party capabilities to it going forward. This is just speculative, but Virtual Teammate might be especially useful for business if it connects to CRM applications.

Voice and video capabilities are coming to the Gemini app

Speaking and video capabilities are coming to the Gemini app later this year. Gemini will be able to “see” through your camera and respond in real time.

Users will be able to create “Gems,” customized agents to do things like act as personal writing coaches. The idea is to make Gemini “a true assistant,” which can, for example, plan a trip. Gems are coming to Gemini Advanced this summer.

The addition of multimodality to Gemini comes at an interesting time compared to the demonstration of ChatGPT with GPT-4o earlier this week. Both Gemini and ChatGPT held very natural-sounding conversations. ChatGPT responded to interruption, but mis-read or mis-interpreted some situations.

Imagen 3 improves at generating text

Google announced Imagen 3, the next evolution of its image generation AI. Imagen 3 is intended to be better at rendering text, which has been a major weakness for AI image generators in the past. Select creators can try Imagen 3 in ImageFX at Google Labs today, and Imagine 3 is coming soon for developers in Vertex AI.

Google and DeepMind reveal other creative AI tools

Another creative AI product Google announced was Veo, their next-generation generative video model from DeepMind.Veo created an impressive video of a car driving through a tunnel and onto a city street. Veo is available for select creators starting May 14 in VideoFX, an experimental tool found at labs.google. Google plans to add Veo to YouTube Shorts and other products at an unspecified date.

Other creative types might want to use the Music AI Sandbox, which is a set of generative AI tools for making music. Neither public nor private release dates for Music AI Sandbox have been announced.

Sixth-generation Trillium GPUs boost the power of Google Cloud data centres

Pichai introduced Google’s 6th generation Google Cloud TPUs called Trillium; Google claimed the TPUs show a 4.7X improvement over the previous generation. Trillium TPUs are intended to add greater performance to Google Cloud data centres and compete with NVIDIA’s AI accelerators.

Time on Trillium will be available to Google Cloud customers in late 2024. Plus, NVIDIA’s Blackwell GPUs will be available in Google Cloud starting in 2025.

By Megan Crouse

Sourced from TechRepublic

BY JEFF PEROUTKA

This two-pronged approach to SEO will increase your website’s relevance.

When others link to your website, Google wants to learn what value you can provide to users — the very reason someone gave you a backlink. That’s where digital public relations (digital PR) comes in.

Compared to manual link building, digital PR focuses on teaching a search engine about your expertise, which is reaffirmed by other publications linking to your content.

Let’s take a deeper look at how search engines like Google have evolved, how digital PR works and why using it together with manual link-building efforts is considered best to keep your website relevant.

Google has grown smart

Google is traditionally all about links — the more links inserted, the better. However, it has grown into a smart semantic search engine. Instead of simply looking at the links, it tries to understand the context, including the site’s information, what it offers and similar details.

Google’s focus is shifting to value sites that provide helpful content and strong Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T) signals. In other words, link quality will matter more than quantity.

For example, websites with limited authority, despite their high traffic, are focusing on establishing topical relevance. They’re basically convincing Google that they are experts in a particular topic or niche. And this is one of the defining factors between digital PR and manual link building.

Understanding digital PR

Digital PR is very much like traditional public relations, except that it’s focused on the digital space. It’s the use of online channels to manage your brand’s reputation and build positive relationships with your target audience.

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), digital PR helps in:

  • Attracting visitors to your website.
  • Getting other websites to link back to yours, which improves your website’s authority and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).

There’s no single way to perform digital PR outreach. However, a common but effective strategy involves content creation efforts. In other words, you need to create valuable assets, including reports, infographics, white papers, statistics, and other content that is good enough for other publications to link to your work organically.

Digital PR makes for quality backlinks but takes time

Organic backlinks — voluntary links to your content — are considered higher-quality links than those you manually build (either by guest posting or affiliate linking). Digital PR is a powerful tool for acquiring such high-quality backlinks. However, it’s a long shot that requires effort and patience to yield good results. Here’s why.

Building relationships

You must demonstrate your brand’s value and expertise consistently before your target audience members become willing to recommend or link to your content.

Creating valuable content

Researching topics, providing commentary or launching campaigns are not done in one sitting. You need to invest a significant amount of time and resources.

Earning organic coverage

Journalists get pitched constantly, so your content needs to be truly newsworthy and relevant to their audience to stand out and secure coverage. Sometimes, you must also have a strategic outreach plan to pitch your content to the right journalists and publications.

Manual link-building remains an effective SEO strategy

While digital PR is a great way to boost authority, manual link-building remains effective in maintaining your website’s visibility and relevance. The only difference is that you’re proactively getting the backlinks to your website rather than letting journalists voluntarily do the linking.

Still, given the change in the current landscape, you should focus your link-building efforts on earning juicy links rather than spamming them. Here are a few manual link-building strategies that might still provide good results:

Guest posting

Write high-quality articles for other relevant websites in your niche. Then, make sure that you include a link back to your own website within the content.

Broken link building

Find broken links on relevant websites and reach out to the website owners, suggesting your content as a replacement.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) pitching

There are certain platforms where journalists post their queries on topics that might be too niche. Respond to their questions with great answers, you might potentially earn a backlink in the published article.

Networking and relationship-building

Connecting with influences and leaders in your niche always remains a good tactic. As you build relationships for your business, you may also find natural link opportunities.

Manual link-building risks penalties

Manual link building is seen as a method to replicate digital PR link earning (which can take a long time). While it can be faster, it also carries the risk of getting your website penalized when done incorrectly. Here are some cases where this might happen:

Unnatural link profile

Search engines like Google analyse link patterns to identify websites engaging in manipulative link building. An example of this is when your website has a sudden surge of links that seem unnatural, including those from low-quality websites, identical anchor texts, or links to private blog networks.

Manipulative link-building techniques

Engaging in specific practices can be directly flagged as manipulative and lead to penalties. Examples include link buying, excessive link exchanges and comment spam.

A two-pronged approach to link building is the best

Truthfully speaking, search engines tend to rely more on topic relevance than human-driven linking efforts today. In other words, digital PR is becoming the trend — and you should hop on to it, too.

However, combining both approaches can help your business build a more effective strategy for building high-quality links. In particular, digital PR will help you get natural and authoritative links from reputable sources. Meanwhile, manual link building allows you to target and control link quality.

Digital PR can be resource-intensive, as compared with manual link building. If your team is not yet ready to focus on high-quality content creation, manual link building remains a great avenue to take.

BY JEFF PEROUTKA

ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK® CONTRIBUTOR

CEO of Pror Marketing. With five years of SEO experience, Jeff has led teams, taught Fortune 1000 companies, and worked with 120+ clients. As the founder of Pror.io, a seven-figure marketing agency, he’s dedicated to boosting businesses with top-notch SEO strategies. Upwork Expert-Vetted Freelancer.

Sourced from Entrepreneur

New policies signal a major change for brands that have relied on ‘spray-and-pray’ techniques to drive sales.

We all know the pain of misguided sales spam—and lots of it—cluttering our inboxes. Whether it’s emails to our personal addresses that assume our buying habits of a decade ago are the same today, or sales pitches to our work addresses that are completely irrelevant to our roles and responsibilities, we’ve become overwhelmed with poorly targeted emails. Statista found that spam accounted for 45% of the 333 billion emails sent daily in 2022, while research from Gong shows that only 4% of emails are ever even opened.

Why are business leaders still accepting this antiquated and ineffective way of doing things?

This month marks the beginning of new policies from Google and Yahoo to limit the bulk email sends that result in billions of irrelevant and poorly crafted sales pitches emailed daily. This signals a major change for brands that have relied on “spray-and-pray” techniques to drive sales. And for B2B brands, this too should be a wake-up call.

  • How will these new policies reshape how sales teams think about attracting customers?
  • Will mass emails become generally unacceptable in our professional inboxes, in addition to our personal ones?
  • And how will the disruption of a commonly used sales tactic impact bottom lines?

THE HISTORY OF SPAM

The first bulk emails were sent by Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager for a computer company, to promote the company’s products to some 400 people. Thuerk said in a 2007 interview that “complaints started coming in almost immediately” after sending the emails, but more importantly, the company “sold $13 million or $14 million worth of DEC machines through that email campaign.” With that, cold emailing as a sales tactic was born.

In the decades that followed, the practice grew, and email marketing tools enabled sales teams to contact an ever-growing list of potential customers, forsaking personalized outreach for a broader pool of recipients.

While more data-driven approaches to sales emails have been introduced over the years, the overwhelming volume of irrelevant sales pitches has led to widespread fatigue. In fact, Gong’s research found that 87% of buyers say that the emails they receive are not relevant to them.

This practice can convert to sales. Even if only 4% of bulk emails are opened, that translates to 40,000 people opening those emails for every million sent by a salesperson. But companies need to ask themselves if irritating and alienating the other 960,000 people is an acceptable sacrifice. And, even more importantly, are they missing out on valuable opportunities by not sending thoughtful, personalized messages to the appropriate buyers out there?

RETHINKING SALES SPAM WITH AI

The technology industry is at a pivotal moment. AI is transforming the ways we work, live, and interact with each other. Now bulk emails can be drafted by generative artificial intelligence far more quickly than by a marketing and sales pro.

The potential impact for teams sending out large email campaigns is significant. Will the rise of gen AI mean that inboxes are flooded even more? Can AI make a difference in how these companies communicate with prospects?

AI can also bring new knowledge and perspective. Using AI to draft emails based on a few lines of context isn’t new, innovative, or effective. But done right, it can actually help companies cut down on the volume, and instead target the right customers with the right message.

We’re seeing new applications of AI that capture and analyse customer interactions to create content and thoughtfully personalize outreach based on a holistic view of the relationship. These applications might be the new approach that could reshape how sales teams develop and assess their outreach programs, from the initial outreach to a prospective customer . . . and over the entire relationship.

The era of relying on volume over strategic precision is over.

AI as a blanket solution won’t solve this problem for businesses. Not all of these tools are created equally, and those without the proper knowledge will only exacerbate the problem. However, there is potential for well-designed AI tools to help teams change their approach.

HOW TO CREATE CHANGE

Google’s and Yahoo’s rules are a positive first step to end spray-and-pray practices, but sales teams will need to do more. The good news is that there’s a path forward that not only doesn’t harm the bottom line but also can improve it.

Business leaders need to stop accepting this practice as the status quo and rebuild these programs from the ground up. Teams have often been measured and evaluated on “activity metrics”—how many emails have been sent, how many phone calls have been made. They should instead be measured by meetings booked and qualified opportunities, giving sales teams the motivation, time, and resources to focus on targeted, relevant outreach.

Similarly, leaders should make sure that their teams haven’t become over reliant on email. Research from McKinsey shows that the number of channels that B2B companies use to interact with other businesses has doubled in the past five years, and includes email, phone, web conference, chat, and social. Leaders should ensure that their teams can meet those potential customers where they want to be met.

The onus is on business leaders to evolve their strategies. While a spray-and-pray approach may have worked in the past, the tides are changing, and to stay competitive, businesses need to take a step back and reimagine how their sales teams operate. And they need to do it soon, before their last emails go unanswered.

Feature Image Credit: 84 Video/Unsplash

BY AMIT BENDOV

Amit Bendov is the CEO and cofounder of Gong.io. More

Sourced from FastCompany

By 

Spam complaint rate rises across the B2B space

Back in October, Google and Yahoo unveiled a pivotal update to their bulk sender guidelines.

Launching February 1, these new regulations, which impact both bulk emailers (those sending over 5,000 emails daily to Gmail accounts) and general Gmail users alike, introduced authentication requirements and defined thresholds for spam complaints. Specifically, they defined a spam complaint threshold of 0.3%.

Our preliminary analysis of the announcement was that this 0.3% threshold wouldn’t be a major problem for most email marketers. In fact, for large companies with established customer bases and large inbound lists, this update would probably help those companies. They likely have low existing complaint rates and can more easily and safely expand their outbound efforts.

However, the smaller, less established companies, specifically, those in the B2B space that may be using more aggressive outbound email marketing strategies or have been leaning on ABM to establish their brand, would likely be in trouble.

And it turned out that we were right.

Spam complaint rates across the B2B space

To better understand how these new sender guidelines would impact outbound marketing and sales, particularly in the B2B space, we studied spam complaint rates across various industries.

Our findings showed that complaint rates were well beyond the 0.3% threshold laid out by Google and Yahoo. In fact, it wasn’t even close! The average spam complaint rate across the B2B space was 2.01%, with a range between 1.1% and 3.1%.

Even worse, for the top 9 spammiest verticals, we couldn’t find a single sender that was able to score below the 0.3% threshold. When you break it down by industry, it becomes ever more clear who the top offenders are:

  • B2B Software: Spam complaint rates peak at 3.2%, with a range of 1.3% to 4.3%.
  • Political Issue & Electioneering Communications: Rates hover around 2.9%, ranging from 1.5% to 3.4%.
  • Sales and Marketing Services: Experience a 2.8% rate, with a broad spectrum from 2.0% to 5.3%.
  • Recruiting: Faces a 2.1% rate, ranging between 1.7% and 3.1%.
  • Retail and E-Commerce: Encounter a 2.3% rate, with variations from 0.5% to 2.9%.
  • Real Estate: Deals with a 1.9% rate, spanning 1.5% to 3.4%.
  • Education and Training Providers: Show a 1.7% rate, within a range of 0.4% to 2.1%.
  • Financial Services: Encounter a lower rate of 1.1%, ranging from 0.7% to 1.9%.
  • Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals: Have the lowest rate at 0.9%, with a range of 0.7% to 1.4%.

This data isn’t entirely surprising when you think about it. B2B software companies and sales and marketing companies tend to do a lot of outbound. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals on the other hand are beholden to pretty strict laws and regulations around communication.

B2B sales & marketing teams must adjust quickly

This data signals a critical issue for B2B outbound marketing. For businesses that rely heavily on outbound emails for lead generation and sales, this is a significant hurdle. Meeting the new sub-0.3% threshold appears daunting, if not impossible. The good news is there are strategies to mitigate these hurdles:

Boost transactional email volume: If we want to reduce the spam complaint rate %, we may want to increase total emails sent and optimize email volume. Increase the volume of non-spammy, transactional emails such as order confirmations, tracking updates, or purchase follow-ups. These are less likely to be flagged as spam and can balance out your overall email metrics.

Prioritize warm leads: Focus your emails on high-intent users (think those who visited your pricing page or added something to their cart). Tools for website visitor identification can be invaluable here.

Provide clear & numerous unsubscribe options: The unsubscribe option should be easily accessible and in multiple places. Hidden or hard-to-find unsubscribe links increase the likelihood of being marked as spam.

Utilize intent-based email lists: In some instances, there is no getting around cold emails. What you can do however is use intent-based email lists that can help you create more appropriate messaging that will resonate with prospects. The more you know about what your audience is interested in, the more personalized messaging you can create.

For B2B companies, adapting to these new guidelines is crucial. While outbound isn’t gone, it is more challenging. The good news for users is that this new complaint rate threshold should improve the email marketing and outbound space as a whole.

These new guidelines will force B2B marketers to evolve their outbound strategies and build better campaigns. For users this means less spam and more relevant emails. For marketing and sales teams, this should mean better targeting, more personalization, and less laziness.

The result? Improved sales to lead time. At the end of the day, large email providers like Google and Yahoo are focused on creating a better user experience and this means less spam. For B2B teams, the answer is simple…don’t be a spammer.

We’ve listed the best sales management software.

Feature Image credit: Shutterstock/Billion Photos

By 

Larry Kim is the CEO of Customers.AI.

Sourced from techradar pro

This article was produced as part of TechRadarPro’s Expert Insights channel where we feature the best and brightest minds in the technology industry today. The views expressed here are those of the author and are not necessarily those of TechRadarPro or Future plc. If you are interested in contributing find out more here: https://www.techradar.com/news/submit-your-story-to-techradar-pro

By Tina Moffett

Google unveiled Meridian, an open-source marketing mix modelling (MMM) tool aimed at tackling crucial measurement challenges. MMM tools gauge the impact of marketing and media investments on vital performance indicators, such as sales or revenue, while also forecasting the revenue potential of marketing endeavours. According to Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2023, about 30% of B2C marketers use MMM tools to better understand how marketing drives value for the business.

Unpacking Google Meridian’s Core Pillars

Google’s foray into providing an open-source MMM tool reflects an understanding that restricted access to crucial data points within closed ecosystems impedes advertisers’ ability to effectively measure digital ads. Meridian aims to “[empower] teams to build best-in-class [MMM models] and drive better business outcomes.” The tech giant emphasizes Meridian’s “privacy-durable” approach grounded in innovation, transparency, actionability, and education. But B2C marketers must review Meridian’s claims with a critical eye:

  • “Privacy-durable” is redundant. MMM inherently maintains privacy durability, since it operates without individual customer behavior data. Inputs focus on aggregated media cost and revenue data, steering clear of clicks, views, or individual sales conversions.
  • “Innovation” claims are overstated. Most marketing analytics vendors already use the same methods as Meridian. Meridian’s MMM approach leans on solid but common techniques, such as a geo-level Bayesian hierarchical model incorporating seasonality, frequency, and reach data. The inclusion of nonmarketing indicators also remains ambiguous.
  • “Open source” does not equal complete transparency. While open source allows users to view and modify the MMM algorithm, complete transparency remains elusive, particularly for nontechnical stakeholders such as, for example, a VP of marketing. For many buyers, understanding ML approaches presents a significant challenge, necessitating considerable support and hand-holding.
  • “Actionability” may be limited to marketing use cases. Meridian’s scenario planning aligns with MMM providers’ offerings, aiding marketers in forecasting future marketing impacts. It’s unclear, however, whether Meridian offers scenario planning encompassing nonfinancial KPIs, constraint functionalities, frequent optimizations, or multiple optimization objectives.
  • “Education” skews technical, not practical. While Meridian’s technical specifications may satisfy ML engineers and data scientists, marketing executives require more comprehensive education and support. Marketing executives seek guidance on ML-driven models, while data scientists using Meridian need best practices for stakeholder engagement and model adoption.

Unlock Marketing Success Beyond MMM And Build A Comprehensive Measurement Strategy

Google’s announcement underscores the significance of ML-driven marketing analytics for measuring incremental marketing effectiveness and guiding budget allocations. Here are some key considerations before you build an MMM model:

  • Adopt a layered measurement approach. MMM alone will not provide ad tactic or spot level performance. It offers CMOs a guide on overall marketing mix performance and budget allocation. Incorporate marketing mix modelling as part of an overarching layered measurement strategy, utilizing various techniques to gauge marketing efficacy.
  • Choose vendors with diverse analytics capabilities. Evaluate vendors based on their industry experience, data normalization processes, measurement methodologies, and supporting services.
  • Manage expectations with MMM analysis. Expect to see MMM analyses such as channel halo effects, ad decay, optimal frequency of channels, and large-scale programs. But MMM may not offer granular insights into ad tactic performance — the models don’t process clicks and conversion level data as part of their analysis.
  • Implement incrementality testing. If you need help with an ad spot, or a particular display ad performance, testing approaches can help measure marketing uplift. Your data science teams, data-driven agencies, or independent vendors can help set up a rigorous marketing or media test to analyse the incremental impact of different marketing tactics.
  • Educate your organization on marketing analytics. Forrester believes that AI suffers from a trust problem, and explainable AI — the techniques and software capabilities for ensuring that people understand how AI systems arrive at their outputs — is a critical transparency mechanism. Prioritize transparency in MMM, and consider tools with explainable AI capabilities to enhance understanding and trust in AI-driven insights.

By Tina Moffett

This post was written by Principal Analyst Tina Moffett and it originally appeared here.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Forrester is one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. We help leaders across technology, customer experience, digital, marketing, sales, and product functions use customer obsession to accelerate growth.

Through Forrester’s proprietary research, consulting, and events, leaders from around the globe are empowered to be bold at work — to navigate change and put their customers at the center of their leadership, strategy, and operations.

Our unique insights are grounded in annual surveys of more than 700,000 consumers, business leaders, and technology leaders worldwide; rigorous and objective research methodologies, including Forrester Wave™ evaluations; 70 million real-time feedback votes; and the shared wisdom of our clients.

Sourced from Forbes

By John Quintet

The Competition Bureau of Canada has secured a Federal Court order to collect further information for its ongoing probe into Google’s online advertising operations.

Started in 2020, the investigation wants to know whether Google’s actions in the online display advertising sector may be stifling competition within the country.

Originally, the Bureau’s inquiry was based on accusations of Google exploiting its dominant position in video advertising to influence the advertiser buying tools market. But the scope has since expanded to investigate potential issues such as Google leveraging its market power to fend off competitors in display advertising technology, while using alleged predatory pricing strategies.

The investigation wants to find out if Google’s advertising practices are designed to undermine competition, affect competitors’ success, or lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation in the online display advertising services market.

Traditional media has seen their advertising profits decline because they do not have some of the smartest engineers in the world like Google, deploying a digital ad business. Google recently made a deal with the federal government over the Online News Act.

The Bureau is especially focused on figuring out if these practices contravene the Competition Act’s provisions against restrictive trade practices, including abuse of dominance.

Google is mandated by the court order to submit relevant records and written information. While the probe is still underway, there are no findings of misconduct at this stage.

This is not the Bureau’s first investigation into Google’s business practices. In 2021, it obtained an initial court order related to Google’s online advertising business, following a 2016 investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices related to online search and advertising.

Canada is likely following the lead of the U.S., which saw its Justice Department file a lawsuit against Google last year, alleging the latter abused its role brokering digital ads across the internet, points out the WSJ.

By John Quintet

Sourced from iPhone in Canada

BY AMIT BENDOV

New policies signal a major change for brands that have relied on ‘spray-and-pray’ techniques to drive sales.

We all know the pain of misguided sales spam—and lots of it—cluttering our inboxes. Whether it’s emails to our personal addresses that assume our buying habits of a decade ago are the same today, or sales pitches to our work addresses that are completely irrelevant to our roles and responsibilities, we’ve become overwhelmed with poorly targeted emails. Statista found that spam accounted for 45% of the 333 billion emails sent daily in 2022, while research from Gong shows that only 4% of emails are ever even opened.

Why are business leaders still accepting this antiquated and ineffective way of doing things?

This month marks the beginning of new policies from Google and Yahoo to limit the bulk email sends that result in billions of irrelevant and poorly crafted sales pitches emailed daily. This signals a major change for brands that have relied on “spray-and-pray” techniques to drive sales. And for B2B brands, this too should be a wake-up call.

  • How will these new policies reshape how sales teams think about attracting customers?
  • Will mass emails become generally unacceptable in our professional inboxes, in addition to our personal ones?
  • And how will the disruption of a commonly used sales tactic impact bottom lines?

THE HISTORY OF SPAM

The first bulk emails were sent by Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager for a computer company, to promote the company’s products to some 400 people. Thuerk said in a 2007 interview that “complaints started coming in almost immediately” after sending the emails, but more importantly, the company “sold $13 million or $14 million worth of DEC machines through that email campaign.” With that, cold emailing as a sales tactic was born.

In the decades that followed, the practice grew, and email marketing tools enabled sales teams to contact an ever-growing list of potential customers, forsaking personalized outreach for a broader pool of recipients.

While more data-driven approaches to sales emails have been introduced over the years, the overwhelming volume of irrelevant sales pitches has led to widespread fatigue. In fact, Gong’s research found that 87% of buyers say that the emails they receive are not relevant to them.

This practice can convert to sales. Even if only 4% of bulk emails are opened, that translates to 40,000 people opening those emails for every million sent by a salesperson. But companies need to ask themselves if irritating and alienating the other 960,000 people is an acceptable sacrifice. And, even more importantly, are they missing out on valuable opportunities by not sending thoughtful, personalized messages to the appropriate buyers out there?

RETHINKING SALES SPAM WITH AI

The technology industry is at a pivotal moment. AI is transforming the ways we work, live, and interact with each other. Now bulk emails can be drafted by generative artificial intelligence far more quickly than by a marketing and sales pro.

The potential impact for teams sending out large email campaigns is significant. Will the rise of gen AI mean that inboxes are flooded even more? Can AI make a difference in how these companies communicate with prospects?

AI can also bring new knowledge and perspective. Using AI to draft emails based on a few lines of context isn’t new, innovative, or effective. But done right, it can actually help companies cut down on the volume, and instead target the right customers with the right message.

We’re seeing new applications of AI that capture and analyse customer interactions to create content and thoughtfully personalize outreach based on a holistic view of the relationship. These applications might be the new approach that could reshape how sales teams develop and assess their outreach programs, from the initial outreach to a prospective customer . . . and over the entire relationship.

The era of relying on volume over strategic precision is over.

AI as a blanket solution won’t solve this problem for businesses. Not all of these tools are created equally, and those without the proper knowledge will only exacerbate the problem. However, there is potential for well-designed AI tools to help teams change their approach.

HOW TO CREATE CHANGE

Google’s and Yahoo’s rules are a positive first step to end spray-and-pray practices, but sales teams will need to do more. The good news is that there’s a path forward that not only doesn’t harm the bottom line but also can improve it.

Business leaders need to stop accepting this practice as the status quo and rebuild these programs from the ground up. Teams have often been measured and evaluated on “activity metrics”—how many emails have been sent, how many phone calls have been made. They should instead be measured by meetings booked and qualified opportunities, giving sales teams the motivation, time, and resources to focus on targeted, relevant outreach.

Similarly, leaders should make sure that their teams haven’t become over reliant on email. Research from McKinsey shows that the number of channels that B2B companies use to interact with other businesses has doubled in the past five years, and includes email, phone, web conference, chat, and social. Leaders should ensure that their teams can meet those potential customers where they want to be met.

The onus is on business leaders to evolve their strategies. While a spray-and-pray approach may have worked in the past, the tides are changing, and to stay competitive, businesses need to take a step back and reimagine how their sales teams operate. And they need to do it soon, before their last emails go unanswered.

Feature Image Credit: 84 Video/Unsplash

BY AMIT BENDOV

Sourced from Fast Company

By Sabrina Ortiz, 

The tech giant is entering the image generator scene in full swing with two new releases.

Google was quick to join the AI race, rushing to get its own AI chatbot, Google Bard, on the market. However, the company took an entirely different approach in the AI image generator space, declining to launch its capable Imagen model to the public — until now.

On Thursday, Google announced a series of AI updates. The biggest highlights were in the image-generating space, including a brand new image generator, as well as the ability to generate images in Bard.

ImageFX is a new image-generation tool that users can use to generate images from text the same way they would with any other AI model, such as DALL-E 3.

However, Google’s spin on the AI image generator features a prompt interface that includes “expressive chips,” which furthers user creativity by allowing them to experiment with “adjacent dimensions of your creation and ideas,” according to Google.

Users can access the tool in Google Labs, the company’s experimental platform in which users can test out the company’s early ideas for features and products, such as the Search Generative Experience (SGE).

The tool is powered by Imagen 2, Google’s most advanced text-to-image model, developed by Google DeepMind and released last month. Google claims it can generate its highest quality images, even rendering challenging tasks such as human faces and hands realistically.

Imagen 2 will also be found in Google Bard, giving the chatbot the ability to generate images for the first time. All you need to do is ask Bard to generate a photo using a conversational prompt, and Bard will be able to generate a high-quality image. The feature is available starting today in most countries in English.

Google is also infusing Imagen 2 across its offerings, including Ads, Duet AI in Workspace, SGE, and Google Cloud’s Vertex AI.

To address concerns regarding the misuse of AI image generators, Google reassured users that it has implemented the necessary guardrails to prevent generating violent, offensive, and sexually explicit content.

Additionally, all images generated with Imagen 2 will be watermarked with SynthID, a tool developed by Google DeepMind that watermarks photos in a way that is imperceptible to the human eye but can be used for identification.

When you look at the “About this image” insights in Search and Chrome, it will show whether the photo was generated using Google’s AI tools.

Feature Image: Generated with Imagen 2.

By Sabrina Ortiz, 

Sourced from ZDNET

Yeah, I’m not sure about Google’s various names for its generative AI products.

To clarify:

  • Bard is Google’s generative AI chatbot, much like ChatGPT
  • Gemini is Google’s large language model (LLM) group, like GPT
  • Imagen is Google’s AI image generation system

All clear?

Okay, then this paragraph from Google should now make more sense.

Last December, we brought Gemini Pro into Bard in English, giving Bard more advanced understanding, reasoning, summarizing and coding abilities. Today Gemini Pro in Bard will be available in over 40 languages and more than 230 countries and territories, so more people can collaborate with this faster, more capable version of Bard.”

I’m guessing that for most people, without the preceding context, the above explanation would have been somewhat bewildering, but basically, Google’s now making its Bard chatbot more powerful, with advanced AI models powering its responses, while it’s also adding image generation capability within Bard itself, powered by Imagen.

Google Imagen 2 in Bard

Google has taken a cautious approach with generative AI development, and has criticized others for pushing too hard, too fast, with their generative AI tools. Some have viewed this as anti-competitive bias, and Google simply protecting its turf, as more people turn to tools like ChatGPT for search queries. But Google’s view is that generative AI needs to be deployed slowly in order to mitigate misuse, which has already led to various issues in a regulatory sense.

But today, Google‘s taking the next steps with several of its generative AI tools, with Bard, as noted, getting improved system thinking and image creation, Google Maps now getting new conversational queries, powered by AI, to facilitate place discovery, and Imagen 2, the next stage of its visual creation system, also being rolled out within its image-generation tools.

Google Imagen 2

As explained by Google:

Imagen 2 has been trained on higher-quality, image-description pairings and generates more detailed images that are better aligned with the semantics of people’s language prompts. It’s more accurate than our previous system at processing details, and it’s more capable at capturing nuance – delivering more photorealistic images across a range of styles and use cases.”

That’ll provide more opportunity to create better visuals within Google’s systems, which will also be created with various safeguards in place, in order to limit “problematic outputs like violent, offensive, or sexually explicit content”.

“All images generated with Imagen 2 in our consumer products will be marked by SynthID, a tool developed by Google DeepMind, that adds a digital watermark directly into the pixels of images we generate. SynthID watermarks are imperceptible to the human eye but detectable for identification.”

Given the recent controversy surrounding AI generated images of Taylor Swift, this is an important measure, and is one of several concerns that Google has repeatedly raised in the rapid rollout of AI tools, that we don’t yet have all the systems and processes in place to fully protect against this kind of misuse.

Sourced from SocialMediaToday

By Steve Dent

Google says the feature, which saves a web page snapshot, is no longer needed.

One of Google Search‘s oldest and best-known features, cache links, are being retired, Google’s search liaison said in an X post seen by The Verge. Best known by the “Cached” button, those are a snapshot of a web page the last time Google indexed it. However, according to Google, they’re no longer required.

“It was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading,” Google’s Danny Sullivan wrote in the post. “These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it.

Nowadays, however, the feature is used for more than just a web page backup. Many people rely on it to check to validity of a site, and SEO managers can employ the feature to check their pages for errors. Many users, particularly news professionals, use the cache to see if a website has recently been updated, with information added or removed. And sometimes, a cache can let you check a site that’s geoblocked in your region.

Previously, clicking on the three-dot menu next to a result would open an “about this result” dialog with the Cached button at bottom right. Now, however, it opens a much larger menu showing a website’s “about” page, a Wikipedia description, privacy settings and more. The cached button is now nowhere to be seen.

None of the comments in Sullivan’s replies were positive, with one SEO user saying “come on, why delete the function? It’s really helpful for all SEO.” Sullivan did say that Google may one day add links to the Internet Archive where the cache link button used to be, within About This Result.

However, that sounds like it’s far from a done deal, and would shift a massive amount of traffic over to the Internet Archive. “No promises. We have to talk to them, see how it all might go — involves people well beyond me. But I think it would be nice all around,” he wrote.

Feature Image Credit: DeeCee Carter/MediaPunch/IPx

By Steve Dent

Sourced from engadget