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William A. Woods

William A. Woods

Google is rolling out a new report in Analytics which analyzes a website’s custom audiences.

This appears to be a quiet rollout with no official announcement, though Google is notifying users upon logging into Analytics.

Here is the notification that comes up for those who have access to the new report:

Clicking on “see report” will, of course, bring you to the report. It also triggers another notification with links to learn more about it.

The report can be accessed manually by opening “Reports,” expanding the “Audience” tab and clicking on “Audiences.” It’s clearly marked as “NEW” so you can’t miss it.

In order to collect any data in this report, you must first have audiences configured in your Google Analytics account. Otherwise, the report will appear blank.

A custom audience is a group of visitors that have met a pre-defined condition. For example, audiences can be created for new visitors, returning visitors, past purchasers, users who have visited a specific section of a site, and so on.

Once audiences have been created and published to Google Analytics, the Audiences report will begin to display the following metrics:

  • Acquisition: The volume of users an audience is sending you, and how well the audience works to generate potential new business.
  • Behavior: How well a site engages a particular audience based on bounce rate, pages per session, and time on site.
  • Conversions: How well an audience is performing in terms of goal completions and transactions.

Knowing how an audience is performing, or not performing, can help site owners determine how much of their time and budget should be spent marketing towards that specific segment of visitors.

Aside from a small amount of forum chatter I haven’t seen much information going around about this new report. That leads me to believe it could be rolling out on a limited basis. So if you don’t see this report in your Google Analytics, chances are it will be coming eventually.

Source: This article was published searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern

There is plenty of fake news circulating on the internet today. The vast majority falls into the category of “Nobody capable of reading could actually be dumb enough to think this is true,” and yet the stories are liked, shared, and promoted by millions who inexplicably believe them. Of course, it doesn’t help when the fake news stories are being offered up by what you might otherwise assume to be a credible source of information—like from Microsoft’s Bing.

If you visit the Bing website, it defaults to a beautiful picture of the day with a white Bing search box in the middle. Across the top are links for News, Maps, Videos and Images. If you click on News, it automatically populates the search field with “top stories”. If you then click the other links, the “top stories” term remains, and the results that appear are related to the search “top stories.”

A YouTube channel dedicated to propagating ludicrous fake news figured out how to exploit this design flaw and game the Microsoft Bing page into displaying their stories—almost exclusively. The name of the YouTube channel is “Top Stories Today,” so it automatically ranks higher in a search for “top stories” because it’s right in the name.

The titles of most of the videos make it obvious that they’re blatantly false. If that wasn’t enough, though, the source should also be a tip-off. Any tinfoil hat wearing nutjob who thinks the Earth is flat, or Infowars is legitimate news can cobble together a YouTube video to convey whatever hallucinogenic, fever-inspired conspiracy theory they wish.

I was reluctant, but I took one for the team and clicked on a link. The narrator's voice sounds computer-generated—like if you mixed Sean Hannity and Max Headroom—so that too should be a hint that this news is a few apples short of a bushel. The “story” I clicked breathlessly “enlightened” me about what an awesome job actor James Woods did spewing verifiably false things about former President Barack Obama on Twitter.

The danger here is that someone who doesn’t know any better, and—for whatever reason—can’t pick up on all the clues, will see these videos displayed among videos from MSN and USA Today, and actually believe them. The tricky part about a decent fake news story is that it contains just enough truth or plausible content to suck you in, so by the end, you’re at least thinking, “Huh. Maybe?” Then, those people will go on Facebook and post them to share the shocking news with their friends and family and spark heated partisan debates.

For what it’s worth, this only seems to happen if the first link you click on from the Bing website is News. If you click Videos, Maps or Images first, the search field is not automatically populated with “top stories”, and even if you subsequently visit the News link it doesn’t populate with “top stories” or remain persistent when you go to the other links.

Hopefully, Microsoft is now aware of this flaw and will take steps to do something about it. That is just the tip of the iceberg, though. There’s a lot more than search engines, social media sites, and legitimate news sources need to do to counter the rising tide of fake news and restore some sanity online.

Update: Microsoft did, in fact, take immediate action to remove the YouTube fake news links from the Videos feed on Bing as quickly as possible once it was notified. the behavior of automatically populating the search criteria with "Top Stories" when you click on News first still occurs, but the fake news YouTube videos have been stripped from the results.

Source: This article was published forbes.com By Tony Bradley

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