Digital Dash: Amazon’s creepy new patent & more

Digital Dash: Amazon’s creepy new patent & more

1. Ready for an emotionally intelligent Alexa?

This is either really creepy or really cute. I can’t decide.

Amazon has just been granted a patent for tech that will enable Alexa to detect your physical, emotional and behavioural state.

Picture this: you’re feeling under the weather and don’t want to go outside if it’s too cold. You ask Alexa what the weather’s like today. She responds with the forecast – all very normal – but then continues to suggest you might like to buy some cough syrup. Huh? How did…. Huh?

Welcome to the Alexa of the (near) future.

As reported by Business Insider, the newly granted patent will allow Alexa to pick up on a much broader range of audible cues, including things like a cough or your tone of voice. With boosted intelligence, it will detect “abnormalities” compared to your individual “normal” and make suggestions based, at least in part, on that insight.

Essentially, it will draw conclusions on how you’re feeling as well as just what you’re saying. Then try to help.

The patent marks a major evolution for Alexa; a future where the device serves a much greater function in the home.

The thought of a “caring” voice assistant is nice on the one hand. The potential for this tech to genuinely benefit users’ lives is there. Imagine Alexa detecting that you’re stressed and suggesting stress relief tips, unprompted.

There’s a benefit for brands too, of course. The more personalised suggestions Alexa can make, the more products get a shout-out.

On the flip side, there’s already a culture of discomfort and suspicion around voice assistants. Many people are unsure about the true capabilities of the devices and concerned about potential privacy invasions – but some still judge the convenience of the product to be worth it. I wonder if adding another level of intelligence into the mix will prove a step too far, at least for now.

I guess we’ll find out!


2. LinkedIn feed algorithm update could make you more popular

“At the beginning of 2018, we were in danger of creating an economy where all the gains in viral actions accrued to the top 1% power users, while the majority of creators who don’t receive much feedback were receiving less than ever.”

The above quote from LinkedIn highlights a pretty major issue with the LinkedIn feed: posts from regular Joes are getting nothin’ but tumbleweed. The big fish however are revelling in an absolute avalanche of engagement.

And the equations are pretty simple. When your posts get only a little love, you’re disappointed and less likely to bother next time. Of course, the reverse is also true.

In fact, according to LinkedIn, “Members who receive 10+ likes when they post are 17% more likely to post again the following week compared to members who post but don’t get any feedback.”

With all this in mind, LinkedIn’s taking decisive action. It’s been quietly updating its feed algorithm to give minor-league creator’s posts a greater share of the limelight, which should in turn improve engagement.

The new algorithm element estimates “how much a user will appreciate getting feedback from a given viewer” when calculating the exposure it should get.

Since implementing the changes, LinkedIn reports that 8% of engagement has been taken from the top 0.1% of creators and shared out among the remaining 98%.


3. Facebook jumps into Google Analytics territory with arrival of Attribution

Facebook Attribution – a measurement tool designed to give marketers a more holistic view of the customer journey, both on and off Facebook – is now being rolled out after over a year in beta.

It’s also been upgraded with a new data-driven attribution model, and this is all very exciting.

I’ll explain why.

Attribution will help you understand the role that Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network and Messenger ads play in relation to incremental business results (when compared to not running them at all).

It will also give you detailed insights into how devices influenced conversions.

For example, and as you can see below, Facebook will tell you things like “67% of conversions on desktop happened after people interacted with your ads on mobile.”

Photo: Facebook

The other reason Attribution is a big deal is its ability to track activity outside of Facebook. This puts it in the same domain as Google Analytics – but with one major advantage: Facebook is much more sophisticated at tracking non-signed in users.


4. Facebook tests polls within ads, plus, wait… multi-brand ad units?

Facebook’s looking to make ads more interactive with the (potential) addition of polls.

First spotted by Matt Navara, the new option should act as an engagement booster. The poll will surely help the ad stand out from others and attract more attention that it otherwise might have.

Photo: Matt Navara via Social Media Today

I do think this kind of feature should be used with a little caution though.

Firstly, if it gets rolled out and proves popular with advertisers, people will get used to seeing it and novelty value will be lost.

Secondly, I can see high potential for brands to irritate users if these are not included sparingly or in a well-suited context. Cue tons of page unlikes.

Another even more intriguing Facebook test we heard about this week is multi-brand ad units.

Currently being tested in the US, UK and Canada, the format would see two different brands displaying ads within the same unit.

Photo: WeRSM

My first reaction to this was confusion. From a brand perspective, why would anyone want to do this?!

But after giving it a bit more thought, I can see some potential value. As long as the brand you’re pairing up with is a complimentary (or partner) business rather than a competitor, maybe it could work.

Another positive is the potential boost in reach and engagement – I’m assuming you could somehow get the benefit of another brand’s audience.

But there’s a problem with that. While brands will have to opt-in to be featured in a multi-brand ad, they’ll have no choice over which brands they appear alongside. Also, how the money and targeting etc. will be worked out or shared is still unknown.

I’m curious to see if this will take off.


5. New report: Instagram’s popularity continues to soar among US teens, Facebook’s not so much

Okay. So the fact that young people love Instagram – a lot – isn’t really news.

But, even if you’re clued up on general social media usage trends, it’s always interesting to take a more in-depth dive.

This week, a new report from Piper Jaffray has surfaced some eye-opening stats on the social media preferences of US teens.

As mentioned above, we all know Insta is adored by the young ones. And true to form, it topped the table in terms of platforms used at least once per month with 85%. This metric has increased consistently over the past two and a half years, rising from 74% in spring 2016.

Photo: Piper Jaffray

When it comes to Snapchat, you might be a little more surprised by results. It fell short of Instagram by only 1% in the above category, and also ranked as the “favorite social platform” with 46% of votes compared to 32% for Instagram.

That being said, Instagram’s results are again on the rise, gaining 6% in only 6 months.

Facebook on the other hand didn’t fare so well among the teen demographic. Which again isn’t exactly shocking.

Results showed engagement is declining across all age brackets within the 14-18 range, and adoption is slower the younger the user.

Photo: Piper Jaffray

Facebook was also rated as a favourite platform by only 5% of those surveyed, although 36% are still using it at least once a month.