Friday Wrap #220: Renamed AVEs still suck, trust in newspapers grows, older Americans get social

Posted on June 30, 2017 11:05 am by | Chatbots | Virtual and Augmented Reality | Content | Healthcare | Advertising | Audio | Brands | Business | Facebook | Intranets | Legal | Marketing | Measurement | Media | Mobile | Podcasting | Politics | PR | Research | Search | Social Media | Technology | Video

Friday Wrap #220I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing.

The Big Stories

Voice search advertising is years away—Smart audio is upon us and its adoption is on a rapid pace (see “From the Blog” below). That presents challenges to both SEO and SEM, since rather than presenting a page with multiple results, voice search delivers “one true answer” (even though the answer could be different each time based on algorithms that choose from multiple search results). For SEO experts, the challenge is getting their content into the mix. It’s even harder for SEM, since there is no paid advertising yet in the smart audio ecosystem. Part of the problem is that getting an ad in response to a query is likely to dampen user enthusiasm for the technology. Google isn’t investing much in voice search advertising, opting instead to improve the user experience for now. In the meantime, some marketers are mulling over what voice search ads might sound like. Forrester predicts voice search will end digital advertising “as we know it.” The takeaway: While these are early days and somebody might crack the voice-tech ad code, marketers and communicators should be thinking about great content for interactive smart speakers. NPR is among the organizations thinking about how to make its traditional one-way audio content more interactive, responsive to queries and instructions, while lmany brands have developed “skills” for the Amazon Echo that make life easier for customers (like Tide’s quick advice for removing dozens of different kinds of stains). Don’t waste time learning the ins and outs of smart audio in its current state. Gartner expects 100 million smart speakers will be in American homes by 2020. Read more

We’re not preparing for a post-mobile world—Some argue that it’s a fantasy, that the smartphone is here to stay, but by 2020, 50% of all consumers expect AI and smart audio will be part of their day-to-day lives. A survey of communication professionals find an expectation that the future will be dominated by smart audio, voice search, and the Internet of Things. However, few communicators in-house or in agencies have done anything to prepare themselves. In fact, most marketers are still dealing with the transition from desktop to mobile, with more than a quarter believing mobile is still the next big thing. Only about 34% of marketers are planning to prepare for voice search, and 57% are unlikely to implement any element of AI this year, even though 32% believe it’s the next big thing. The takeaway: Little frustrates me more than our industry’s continued dismissal of technologies that are clearly destined to become core channels we’ll have to use. I have seen it with desktop publishing, email, the Web, and social media. History is repeating itself. If we don’t want PR and organizational communications to be driven into irrelevance (boutiques that get these technologies could be where organizations redirect their budgets), we have to get on top of these technologies now. Read more

Internal communications are also adopt new technologies—Even though employees are using newer channels to communicate and collaborate, internal communicators remain mired in the technologies of yesteryear. A survey found that 62% of respondents “either don’t have access or have a very difficult time accessing their company’s intranet through their mobile device.” Email remains a dominant form of internal communication. The takeaway: My new model for employee communication features the vital element of multiple channels. The intranet is dying and mobile is the go-to tool most employees use for accessing news and information outside the company. Forcing people to a single home page for news and information contradicts consumer behaviors bigly. Read more

Someone thinks renaming AVEs will keep them relevant—There’s a new PR metric in town calling itself Earned Media Value (EMV). It’s not new at all, though. It’s just a new name for the reviled Advertising Value Equivalencies (AVE). EMV “is being promoted by tool vendors, media, and public relations agencies as a simple means to measure and benchmark campaigns,” writes Stephen Waddington. EMV is being applied to influencer campaigns as they become more common. It’s calculated “by multiplying the reach of a piece of earned or social media content by the cost per so-called impression,” Waddington explains. “A further multiplier is added to the calculation based on the likelihood of conversion.” However, EMV as a valid PR metric is a chimera, failing “to provide clients with any measure of whether the campaign is actually working,” according to management consultant Scott Guthrie. Social media thought leader Philip Sheldrake calls EMV “an idiotic response that brings ridicule to the public relations and marketing professions.” The takeaway: Do not, under any circumstances, employ EMV or AVE. The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has condemned this kind of measurement, as has the Chartered Institute for Public Relations and most halfway intelligent PR professionals. Yet some clients still insist on them, leading good PR people to capitulate and provide them. That’s not a solution. We must educate ourselves and our employers/clients on why these are meaningful feel-good metrics, and why we need focus instead on the actual outcomes of our communications. Read more


Facebook reaches 2 billion user milestone—Facebook has announced that it now serves 2 billion monthly active users. As of March, it also had 1.28 billion daily users, meaning most people who use Facebook use it regularly. Among other data the company shared, 800 million people Like something every day and over 1 billion people use Groups at least once a month. Read more

Did Trump communications study use flawed methodology?—Last week, I reported on a study from the Center for Public Relations at USC’s Annenberg School that found over 80% of PR professionals believe White House spokespeople change their views and distort the truth, resulting in a diminished public perception of public relations. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, self-described moderate conservative Mary Beth West, who runs a PR agency in Tennessee, takes issue with the study. The poll was open to anyone online despite its target of PR professionals; “The online poll required no validation of PRSA affiliation or other professional credentials,” West wrote. “Respondents were merely asked what kind of company they worked for and how long they had been in a PR-related position. That setup yields what is known as a ‘convenience sample’—a survey group not necessarily representative of the population. Read more

Facebook offers cover videos—Instead of a cover photo, brands can now add a cover video to their Facebook pages. Facebook says the cover videos are designed to let brands better tell their story, though the feature will be available to everyone with a page. The move, which should increase engagement, is consistent with Facebook’s shift to video. Read more

Advocacy groups blast lack of influencer disclosure—Influencer marketing is still a gray ethical area, with a lot of the celebrities pitching products on Instagram failing to adequately disclose that they’re being paid for their posts. FTC letters have not been effective, according to a letter to the agency from Public Citizen, Commercial Alert, campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and the Center for Digital Democracy. The letter asserted that most posts lacking disclosures featured beauty products or cosmetic treatments. Read more

$2.7 billion antitrust fine could change Google search—On top of the staggering fine for favoring its own shopping service in search results, the European Union is demanding that Google change the way Google Shopping works in Wurope within 90 days. Google could change back to an earlier version, add links for competing products not included in its ads, or take other action. The company is considering an appeal. Read more

Facebook is getting into the TV programming game—Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and a host of other media outlets are spending big money to produce original TV programming, in the process ushering in a new “golden age of television.” So why not Facebook? The social network is reportedly “in talks with Hollywood studios about producing scripted, TV-quality shows, with an aim of launching original programming by late summer.” Read more

Confidence in newspapers is on the rise—Lest you think it’s time to scale back your media relations efforts, Gallup reports those saying they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers has risen 7% since last year. Twenty-seven percent is still low, but the rise is occurring in the midst of controversies over “fake news” and presidential attacks on the media. It’s also the highest level of confidence in newspapers in 30 years. Not surprisingly, Democrats account for the increase; only 13% of Republicans shared the positive view of newspapers. Twenty-four percent of Americans have high confidence in TV news and only 16% are confident of news credibility on the Internet. Read more

Podcast sponsorship revenue surges—Podcast advertising revenue has grown 85% since last year and is poised to reach more than $220 million this year. A report from the Internet Advertising Bureau and Pricewaterhouse Coopers finds that podcasting is becoming mainstream and thus “podcasting is an important and powerful marketing platform,” according to an IAB executive. Read more

Publicis CEO takes heat for Cannes snub—Publicis Groupe elicited gasps with the announcement it would submit nothing to the 2018 Cannes International Festival of Creativity. President and CEO Arthur Sadoun told a group of top Publicis creative leaders in a closed-door meeting that the group’s companies “have lost their thought leadership in Cannes.” Thus, he paused spending on Cannes and other award programs for a year. “The savings will fund development of an internal, AI-powered professional assistant program called Marcel,” according to one report.


Older Americans have taken to social media—A Nielsen report finds that the total amount of time the 50-plus demographic spends on social media increased by 64%, to 20%. That doesn’t mean they’re using all the same social media channels their grandchildren are, nor do they respond to the same kinds of content. Read more

Facebook is the top news source—Ogilvy’s annual global survey of reporters and editors found that Facebook is the top gatekeeper for news, ahead of legacy traditional media sources and maintaining a huge lead over other social networks and digital platforms (including Twitter and Google). Read more

Influencer videos are most trusted, drive purchases—Ninety percent of social media users make a purchase after seeing a video about the product or service, and 33% say social media influencers are their most trusted resources for products and services they’re interested in. Social media influencers are trusted nearly seven times more than celebrities. Read more

Gen Z likes branded stories—Ninety percent of Gen X, Millennials, and GenZ like custom branded content as a way for brands to engage them, and nearly as many believe branded content helps brands break through online clutter. Gen Z in particular is receptive to deepening their relationships with brands via branded content. Ninety-three percent want brands “to do something new and unique in order to connect with them, and 88% believe custom content is a way for new brands to reach out to them.” Read more

Twitter’s predictive capabilities outpace law enforcement—Analyzing tweets can identify dangerous situations up to an hour faster than reports made to police departments. A Cardiff University study applied machine learning algorithms to 1.6 million tweets from the 2011 London riots, looking at factors like location, frequency, the recurring use of key words, and timing. The result was detection of incidents faster than the police nearly every time.  The report cautions that the approach is focused on large-scale events and that it’s more difficult to detect smaller incidents like fires or car accidents.  Read more

Share Instagram posts on the weekends—Most marketers take weekends off, decreasing the total number of Instagram posts, which means your posts have a better chance of being seen thanks to less competition. As a result, posts on Saturdays and Sundays get the most engagement. Read more

Healthcare PR failing to meet journalists’ needs—A study has found a massive chasm between the information drug companies deliver and what journalists need to craft their content. Eighty-five percent of health journalists view healthcare communications as either “out of shape” or “on life support.” Only 2 % of journalists think the press releases and other information pharmas and healthcare companies release are “trustworthy.” Journalists also complain about the lack of video content, saying they want independent medical expert testimonials, patient testimonials, and B-roll. Only 22% of journalists said pharma and healthcare news and launches include enough relevant visual content. Read more

How to pronounce GIF—Among the weighty issues we face, few are more divisive than whether to use a hard G or a soft one when pronouncing GIF, the acronym for the Graphics Interchange Format. A survey found 65% using the hard G with 26% favoring the soft G. Even when factoring in the fact that some countries don’t use a soft G and others don’t use a hard one by “weighting answers from each country by its population,” the hard-G faction still comes out on top. For what it’s worth, the inventor of the GIF favors the soft G. Read more

The 20 most effective phrases in Facebook headlines—When it comes to articles on Facebook, which trigams (three-word phrases) in generate the most engagement? According to analysis of 100 million headlines, “will make you” is at the top, followed by “this is why,” “can we guess,” “only X in,” “the reason is,” and “are freaking out.” The study also found the worst-performing headline phrases, which start with “control of your, “your own business,” “work for you,” “the introduction of,” and “what’s new in.”  You’ll also find the top phrases starting and ending headlines. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Millennials prefer vertical videos on their phones—I know you may hate vertical videos, but not only are they not going anywhere, their popularity is growing. Young adults prefer vertical videos and 72% of Millennials don’t rotate their phones to watch a video in landscape mode. Read more

Create Snapchat filters in the app—Users can now create geofilters from directly within the Snapchat app rather than having to visit the website. Snapchat features a number of templates based on occasions and celebrations that you can then customize with text, bitmoji, and stickers. Prices start at $5.99 for a few hours and a minimum coverage of 20,000 square feet. It takes about a day for approval of filters. Read more

Virtual Assistants aren’t gaining traction—Siri, Alexa, Bixby, and Cortana get a lot of ink these days. If only they got corresponding love from smartphone owners. In a survey, only 5% of consumers ranked voice capabilities on their mobile wish lists. Sixty-two percent won’t give up their apps, even in exchange for a perfect voice assistant. Read more

Publishers sharpen focus on Instagram video—Video has become a key publisher focus on Instagram in the 15 months since the platform increased the maximum video length to one minute from 15 seconds. More than half of Time’s monthly Instagram output is now video, up from just 11% last March. ABC News’ output went from 4% to 87%; BBC News’ is now over 90%.” Most publishers contacted by Digiday said they were “pulling resources away from Snapchat or adding more to Instagram.” Read more

Top 15 apps is a stable list—“Over 80% of consumer time on mobile devices is now spent on the apps, websites, and properties” of Facebook, Google, Apple, Yelp, and Bing. The math isn’t hard. If your company has an app, it has to fit into the 20% of time consumers have left. Read more

Artificial Intelligence, Smart Audio, and Chatbots

Amazon partners with coding school to expand Alexa skills—Developers will be able to attend workshops hosted by Coding Dojo, which has six campuses across the U.S.. The 30-plus courses will teach developers how to work with the Alexa smart audio system and, in particular, how to use the Skills Kit and create new commands. Read more

Facebook makes it easier to discover chatbots on Messenger—Discovery has been one of the more problematic aspects of chatbots. To address that, Facebook is rolling out a Discover tab on the Messenger app. If the inclusion of tens of thousands of bots in Messenger makes it the “White Pages” of bots, the Discover tab adds a “Yellow Pages” component. Read more

Google Assistant outperforms Amazon’s Alexa—Amazon’s Alexa products may own 70% of the smart speaker market, but Google Assistant (available on Android phones and the Google Home smart speaker) is six times better at answer a user’s question, according to a Business Intelligence study. Of course, answer questions is just one of dozens of uses to which consumers put smart speakers (including playing music, delivering news, checking traffic, and more). Read more

IBM to use AI to create Wimbledon highlights—Cognitive Highlights is the AI tool IBM will use to produce Wimbledon highlights packages this year. “Using computer vision and other advanced AI technologies, Cognitive Highlights will assess footage and automatically produce highlight packages for individual matches that will be rolled out across digital platforms shortly after play comes to a close. The system works by combining information recorded by an on-court statistician with data from an array of different sensors.” Read more

New expertise required as AI becomes the face of brands—Whether it’s chatbots, smart speakers, actual robots, or some other tool employing AI, as customers interact more and more with it, it will become the face of your brand. Companies “will need to employ people with new types of expertise to ensure the brands continue to reflect the firm’s desired qualities and values,” according to a trio of Accenture experts writing in the Harvard Business Review. Read more

Alexa gets an intercom function—The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot now feature intercom functionality, letting users access one Echo device from another, or from the Alexa app. Each device in the home needs a name so you can say, “Alexa, call the kitchen,” for example. Families can use the feature to call from other rooms or from outside the home using the app. Read more

Three AI tools from Salesforce now available to developers—Three AI tools, part of Salesforce’s new Einstein Platform Services, have been launched for third-party developers to include in applications they are building using the Salesforce platform. The services include sentiment and intent analysis and image recognition analysis tools. The image recognition app could be used, for example, in inventory apps and for identifying products during customer service calls. Read more

Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality

Apple takes the AR lead—They may not have invented Augmented Reality (let’s be honest, Apple doesn’t really invent anything, they just take nascent technologies others have developed and make them gorgeous, easy to use, and practical), but the introduction of AR as a dominant feature in the next iPhone release means “AR will immediately reach millions of people who already have the requisite hardware.” Apple’s AR will find an audience with apps and tools that are genuinely useful, like one developed with its ARKit that adds a ruler to any image on the screen. Need to measure the space for a couch? Just point your iPhone at it and the ruler appears. Read more

Developers shift away from mobile—Virtual and Augmented Reality developers are shifting away from mobile-based platforms to higher-end systems like the HTC Vive and Sony Playstation VR, and Oculus Rift. Gaming is driving the trend. Read more


Blockchain oised to disrupt every industry—Jeremiah Owyang’s Crowd Companies has assembled a report that summarizes how blockchain technology will “upend the way every industry manages its information and data.” The report covers 10 industries: legal, government, energy, retail food, healthcare, travel and hospitality, education, insurance, education, and supply chains. Read more

Today’s wrap image is courtesy of John Rusk’s Flickr account. Rusk writes about the snake lily that its name ” comes from the twining habit where it wraps stems around itself and other plants.”

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