Archive for May 2017


Google Prefers Mobile Friendly Sites
Smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous in South Africa and across the African continent. Obviously, the major benefit of having a smartphone is the gateway that it provides to access the internet. Due to the prohibitive price of laptops and desktop computers, and the dropping price of smartphones, mobile has become the Internet access method of choice for many South Africans. According to We Are Social’s yearly report on internet usage statistics, mobile accounts for at least 78% of internet usage in the country.
With so many people using mobile devices to access the internet, it only makes sense to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. If your site isn’t responsive on mobile, you could be shutting 78% of your visitors out. 
Mobile Friendly - What Does It Mean?
Mobile versions of sites can come in 3 categories: responsive, adaptive, or separate.
Responsive design responds to the user’s screen size and scales the website accordingly. This is achieved using portion-based grids (that are assigned a percentage rather than a pixel width) and varying CSS style rules. The same URL structure and HTML are maintained on desktops, tablets, and mobile. 
Adaptive design is sometimes referred to as dynamic serving. This method detects the user’s device and generates a different version of the site HTML to suit that device. URL structure remains the same, however there are multiple versions of the site based on device.
Separate mobile sites are easily identified by their top level domain; rather than seeing a “www.” at the beginning of the URL, you will see an “m.”. This method will show users different HTML on separate URLs according to their device.
Which is the best for SEO?
You may be familiar with what is now referred to as “mobilegeddon”. This was a name given by webmasters and SEOs to Google’s algorithm update from April 21 2015. The update gave preference to mobile friendly sites for searches made from mobile devices. Desktop searches were not affected. This was done by Google to improve user experience, as desktop versions of websites are not easy to navigate on smaller screens. 
Google has explicitly stated on their Developers website that their preference is responsively designed websites. This is most likely due to the fact that the site HTML remains the same with this method, and URLs do not change, so link sharing is easy.
Is your site mobile responsive? If not, it’s time to sort that out.

Thursday, 25 May 2017
Posted by Bathabile Dlodlo

Is Facebook Using Emotional Data To Target Ads?

Facebook has denied the allegations, but let’s delve a little deeper into the issue at hand.

Back in 2014 Facebook came under some serious fire for what is now known as their emotional manipulation study. The study was conducted by Facebook without notifying or obtaining consent from users and aimed to find out if a user’s emotional state could be manipulated according to what content they saw in their timeline. People were understandably quite annoyed by this due to the fact that they were not informed and that the research was then published in a paper titled “Experimental Evidence Of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks”.

The experiment aimed to confirm whether emotional contagion can in fact be passed from person to person, even if there is no physical contact involved (ie, over the internet). And to determine whether when people were shown more negative posts, they produced fewer ‘happy’ posts, and when shown more ‘happy’ posts, they produced fewer negative posts.

Now the social network is back in the line of fire over allegations that they claimed they could detect when teen users as young as 14 were feeling emotionally vulnerable, particularly the emotions of “stressed”, “defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”, “useless”, and a “failure”. This came to light after a presentation intended for advertisers was leaked.

The issue was originally reported on by the news network The Australian at the beginning of May, and Facebook has denied the allegations on all fronts. A Facebook spokesperson described The Australian’s report as misleading and denied that Facebook has any tools for advertisers to target users based on their emotional state.

But How Could Facebook Know What I’m Feeling?

One method that came to light in 2014 was analysis of the words in post content. Each word in your posts could have an emotional score attached to them, allowing the social network to determine your emotional state.

The other method that they could possibly use is information gathered from the reaction icons available on all posts. With these reaction buttons we are actually telling Facebook exactly how we feel about a post, which gives them more data on our personalities.

So What Do We Believe?

It’s hard to say which side of the story we should trust. On the one hand Facebook has been known to engage in this type of manipulative research before, but on the other hand it could all be a case of wrong accusations. At the same time, Facebook has not denied that they collected data along these lines, but rather that the data, which it claims is anonymous, was never used to target ads.

After the initial denial, Facebook did apologise and said studying users’ emotions broke internal rules on how it conducts research, promising an investigation into the matter.

The jury is still out on this one. Stay tuned for any further developments and updates.
Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Posted by Du-Ann Daniel

Burger King’s Voice Control Ad: Clever or Conniving?

Advances in technology have created new opportunities in advertising. With advances in augmented and virtual reality or highly targeted digital ads, the possibilities for coming up with creative ads has grown exponentially.

Last week in their home territory of the USA, Burger King launched their latest (and most short-lived) ad campaign. With just 7 simple words, Burger King has divided the advertising community. The ad features a Burger King employee saying “OK, Google: what is the Whopper burger?” which in turn activated the voice-control feature on phones running the Android OS and caused phones to read aloud the first line from the Wikipedia page for the burger.

Was it advantageous or annoying?

This is one of the questions that has divided the advertising community. On the one hand I would commend Burger King for taking advantage of a simple piece of technology that’s widely available in an unexpected way. On the other hand I would condemn the company for breaching my privacy and taking control of my phone.

Could it be considered unethical?

Google voice search is a pretty nifty piece of technology. It’s just one component of Google’s growing collection of voice control features and devices, which includes Google Home - a home assistant that can provide information, handle your schedule, or do things like change songs on your music playlist. Ironically, the ads for Google Home caused some user’s devices to activate.

One user commented online that the ad was tantamount to hacking as it took control of their personal device in order to convey a marketing message.

Wikipedia was also not pleased with Burger King and demanded a formal apology. Wikipedia is famously ad-free, so it’s understandable that they would be unhappy that their platform was used for the purposes of advertising.

And, as we all know, Wikipedia can be edited by anybody. However, Burger King didn’t anticipate this. Though the ad only lasted about 3 hours before Google shut it down and disavowed the phrase from activating its software, users were quick to jump on Wikipedia and start adding their own ingredients to the Whopper page. Some of these included “rat”, “toenail clippings” and “causes cancer”. These have now also been removed.

Burger King’s campaign was short-lived, but it definitely had an impact. Whether it was clever or conniving - the jury is still out.
Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Posted by Du-Ann Daniel

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