For large swaths of consumers, the right to access free online content is seen as sacrosanct -- and has been hugely influential over their expectations of what the Internet is and what it should provide. But with ad-blocking on the rise, there is little recognition or willingness on the part of the consumer to accept that ads are at the core of this.

Frustration is the principal driver of ad-blocking at the moment. According to our research, almost six in ten ad blockers are in the “Frustrated” group (saying that ads are intrusive, annoying or that there are simply too many of them). Interestingly, four in ten find themselves in the Selective segment -- those who might be using ad blockers, but who also say they engage with some ads or have found brands/products via online advertising. Large numbers of ad-blocker users are still willing to engage with ads, then; the key is that ads need to be relevant and non-intrusive -- a feat that is possible, if far easier said than done. 


While some publishers have simply denied access to ad-blocker users (a tactic that is risky when so many competitors keep their doors open), others have tried to increase engagement with subscription-based models. The obvious problem here is that so many digital consumers remain reluctant to pay for online content that is currently available via ad-supported models. The substantial discrepancies between the numbers using, versus the numbers paying for, music and movie streaming services are stark reminders of this: far more people will subscribe to free ad-based versions of a service than pay for access to the premium tier.

Certainly, that 16- to-34-year-olds are the most likely to be paying for content is a dose of good news, suggesting that this mindset is likely to become more widespread in the future (particularly in light of Apple Music’s decision not to offer a free tier). In reality, however, willingness to pay is linked very strongly to the type of content on offer. Consumers are a lot more likely to be paying for content streaming services like Spotify or Netflix than they are for news Web sites or premium Web services. And this is where Amazon’s Prime service makes sense, bundling an expanding host of services (music, movies, video, commerce perks, food delivery, etc.) under one monthly subscription plan could well be a glimpse of the future. More services could choose to combine things that people will pay for with those they won't, ensuring that both get revenue.

Even so, stand-alone subscription models remain impractical for much online content. And here it is social channels that offer considerable promise. The almost universal reach of social media and the migration of many online activities onto social platforms has essentially positioned the likes of Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube as middlemen between content creators and consumers.

The ability of most of these social platforms to deliver (comparatively) user-friendly cross-device ads using logged-in data is already a clear strength, but the development of social chat bots and their future marketing potential is where the real value of social shines through. With the consent of the consumer, chat bots could re-engage users on a 1:1 basis in a non-intrusive and relevant manner, in an environment largely out of reach of ad blockers and at the cost of the brand or advertiser.

Such an evolution is in line with how consumer behaviours are changing. Look at the channels people say they use when they want more information about a product, brand or service and, while search engines still top the table in all demographics, the age-based splits are revealing. Older groups remain the most wedded to “traditional” sources such as consumer reviews, price-comparison sites and brand Web sites, but younger groups are leading the charge towards “newer” options such as vlogs, social networks and mobile apps. In fact, social networks are not far from toppling search engines as the top destination for 16- to-24-year-olds. No less important is that 16- to-24-year-olds are about twice as likely as 55- to-64-year-olds to be using voice search/control tools on their mobile devices -- almost one in four are.

Of course, pragmatism is essential here. Some consumers will always resist brand interactions in any form. AI and chat bots are still in their nascent stages, and it will take time for them to become sophisticated enough to handle non-basic interactions without any human intervention. And some brands will find a much warmer reception in social contexts than others (dictated largely by the services and content they have to offer).

Nevertheless, consumers are spending more time each year on social networks and on mobile devices, they are (relatively) happy to engage with brands in social contexts when the value exchange is clear, video consumption and search are both set to expand inside the social arena, and AI/bots will only become more and more sophisticated -- facilitating personalized and relevant conversations in a resource-light way. If free is to prevail, things are therefore likely to become still more social in the years ahead.  

Author : Jason Mander

Source : http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/292596/the-future-of-free-is-social.html

Categorized in Social

OULOUSE, France — Before talking about the future of search, one of Google’s top researchers wants you to understand just how dramatically search has changed in the past two years.

Speaking at the Futurapolis conference in Toulouse, Behshad Behzadi, director of search innovation at Google’s Zurich lab, pointed out that the majority of searches now happen on mobile devices.

And with Google’s cloud auto-tagging photos, searching images has become more effective. In addition, Google’s search will now even look into other apps on your smartphone for answers, he said, and open those apps that have the best info.

However, all of this is moving toward a larger goal.

“The future of search is to try to build the ultimate personal assistant,” he said.

To that end, there are four aspects of search that, according to Behzadi, will continue to be dramatically changed and reinvented in the coming years:


Voice: Google’s natural language processing has taken major leaps forward. Just two years ago, Google was noting a one-in-four error rate on spoken-word queries. Now that’s down to one in sixteen, Behzadi said. That, in turn, is driving voice searches that can sound as natural as most conversations with other people. It’s not quite “Her” quality, but Behzadi said that the kind of natural back-and-forth between human and computer seen in that movie is not as far away as we might think.

Context: Increasingly, Google’s search engine is linking your searches to understand what you’re trying to find or figure out. So, if you search using the word “castle,” for instance, you could get an infinite number of hits from around the world. But if you search first for “London,” and then for “castle,” the search engine remembers that you’re looking at London and automatically narrows the search field for you.

Also, on Android phones, if you’re looking at a Facebook post, for instance, and hold down the home button while making a voice query, Google will scan the contents of that app (or other apps) and find relevant information without your having to copy and paste things between apps to do a search.

Location: You can argue that this is also a type of context. But of course, location-based searches can also be quite specific to mobile. If you’re out and about taking a hike, you can ask Google, “What’s that lake” or “What’s that store?” and it will give you results just based on knowing where you are at that moment. Behzadi said this location awareness is growing more powerful and will become more proactive in alerting you to things that are nearby that might be of interest.

Personal information: Potentially transformative, but also potentially the most controversial, especially in Europe where privacy is a hot-button issue. As Google learns more about you, it continues to provide more and more reminders, or suggestions. If you’re using Gmail and Google Calendar, you’ve seen this feature gradually develop, as more of your info triggers alerts. Google has been tailoring search results to users for years. But as it collects more data, expect those results to become even more specialized, Behzadi said.

Finally, here’s a short clip of Behzadi being interviewed by Le Point, the news organization that hosted Futurapolis:


Source:  http://venturebeat.com/

Categorized in News & Politics

The Earth is in a perpetual state of change. Whether by human action or solar disturbances, it’s guaranteed that earth’s future will be more than interesting – but not exactly free of chaos. The following list presents ten major events that the earth is predicted to experience in the coming billion years.

10. New Ocean ~10 Million Years


One of the hottest places on Earth, the Afar depression – lying between Ethiopia and Eritrea – is on average 100 metres below sea level. With a mere 20km between the surface and the hot magma bubbling below, the land is being slowly thinned by tectonic movements. Hosting a deadly array of volcanos, geysers, earthquakes and even toxic superheated water, the depression is hardly a holiday resort; but come 10 million years when all this geological activity has ceased, leaving only a dry basin, it will eventually fill up with water and form a new ocean – perfect for jet skiing in the summer.

9. Major Impact Event ~100 Million Years

Impact Event 1

Given the eventful history of the Earth, and the relatively high number of anarchic rocks floating around in space with a vendetta against planets, it is predicted that within the next 100 million years, Earth will experience another impact event comparable to that which caused the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction 65 million years ago. This is of course bad news for any life on Planet Earth. Although some species will no doubt survive, the impact will likely mark the end of the age of mammals – the current Cenozoic Era – and instead usher in a new age of complex life forms. Who knows what sort of life will thrive on this newly purged Earth? Perhaps one day we’ll be sharing the universe with intelligent invertebrates or amphibians. For now though, our imagination is the only limit as to what may occur.

8. Pangaea Ultima ~250 Million Years

Earth From Space-2733

Within the next 50 million years Africa, which has been migrating north for the past 40 million years, will eventually begin to collide with southern Europe. This movement will seal up the Mediterranean sea within 100 million years, and thrust thousands of miles of new mountain ranges into existence, much to the glee of climbers worldwide. Australia and Antarctica will also want to be part of this new supercontinent, and shall continue their paths northwards to merge with Asia. Whilst all this is occurring, the Americas will proceed on their westward course away from Europe and Africa, towards ASIA.

What happens next is up for debate. It is believed that as the Atlantic ocean grows, a subduction zone will eventually form on the western border, which will drag the Atlantic sea floor down into the earth. This will effectively reverse the direction which the Americas are travelling, and eventually force it into the eastern border of the Eurasian supercontinent in around 250 million years time. If this doesn’t occur, we can expect the Americas to continue their path westward until they merge with Asia. Either way we can look forward to the formation of a new hypercontinent: Pangaea Ultima – 500 million years after the last, Pangaea. Following this it will likely split once more and start a new cycle of drifting and merging.

7. Gamma Ray Burst ~600 Million Years


If a major impact event every couple of hundred million years isn’t bad enough, Earth also has to contend with incredibly infrequent Gamma-ray bursts – streams of ultra-high energy radiation typically emitted from hypernovae. Although we are bombarded by weak Gamma-ray bursts daily, a burst originating from a nearby system – within 6500 light years away – has the potential to wreak havoc for anything standing in its way.


With more energy than the Sun will ever produce in its lifetime raining down upon Earth within period of minutes or even of seconds, Gamma-ray bursts can calmly strip away large portions of the earth’s ozone layer, triggering radical climate change and extensive ecological damage, including mass extinctions. It is believed by some that a Gamma-ray burst prompted the second largest mass extinction in history: the Ordovician-Silurian event, 450 million years ago, which eradicated 60% of all life. Like all things in astronomy, however, pinning down exactly when the unlikely set of event that leads to a Gamma-ray burst directed at Earth will occur is difficult, although typical estimates place it at between 0.5 and 2 billion years from now. But it could be as soon as a million years, should the threat from Eta Carinae be realised.

6. Uninhabitable ~1.5 Billion Years


As the Sun becomes progressively hotter as it slowly grows in size, the Earth will eventually lie outside of its habitable zone – too close to the sizzling sun. By this time, all but the most resilient of life on Earth would have perished. The oceans will have completely dried up, leaving only deserts of burning soil remaining. As time goes by and the temperature rises, Earth may go the way of Venus, and turn into toxic wasteland as it is heated to the boiling point of many poisonous metals. What remains of humanity will have had to vacate by this point to survive. Luckily, by this point Mars will lie inside the habitable zone, and may provide a temporary haven for any remaining humans.

5. Disappearance of the Magnetic Field ~2.5 Billion Years


It is believed by some, based upon our current understanding of the Earth’s core, that within 2.5 billion years the Earth’s outer core will no longer be liquid, but will have frozen solid. As the core cools, Earth’s magnetic field will slowly decay, until it ceases to exist altogether. With no magnetic field to protect it from the vicious solar wind, Earth’s atmosphere will be gradually stripped of its lighter compounds – such as ozone – until only a fragment of its former self remains. Now with a Venus-like atmosphere, the barren Earth will feel the full force of solar radiation – making the already inhospitable land even more treacherous.


4. Inner Solar System Calamity ~3.5 Billion Years


In around three billion years there is a small but significant chance that the the orbit of Mercury will have elongated enough to cross the path of Venus. Although we cannot currently predict exactly what will occur when this happens, the best case scenario is that Mercury will simply be consumed by the Sun, or destroyed by a collision with its bigger brother Venus. The worst case scenario? Well, the Earth could collide with any or all of the other major non-gaseous planets, whose orbits would have been radically destabilised by Mercury’s transgressions. If the inner solar system remains somehow intact and undisrupted, within five billion years the orbit of Mars will cross that of Earth, creating once more a recipe for disaster. 

3. New Night Sky ~4 Billion Years

654242Main P1220B3K

As the years pass, any life on Earth will have the pleasure of witnessing the Andromeda galaxy grow steadily larger in our night skies. It will be a truly magnificent sight to see the full majesty of a perfectly formed spiral galaxy glowing in the heavens, but it won’t last forever. Over time it will begin to horribly distort as both it and the Milky Way begin to merge, throwing the otherwise stable stellar arena into chaos. Although direct collision between astronomical bodies is incredibly unlikely, there is a small chance that our Solar System may be ejected and thrown into the universal abyss. Either way, our night sky will, at least temporarily, be adorned with trillions of new stars

2. Ring of Debris ~5 Billion Years

Permian Ring Arcs 1280

Although the Moon is steadily receding at a distance of 4cm a year, once the Sun has entered its red giant phase, it is likely that such a trend will cease altogether. The additional force exerted on the moon by our bloated star will be enough to cause Moon to slowly come crashing back down to Earth. Once the Moon reaches the Roche limit it will then begin to disintegrate, as the tidal force exceeds the gravity holding the satellite together. After this it is possible that the debris will form a ring around the Earth, giving any life a pleasant skyline, until it falls back to earth again after a period of many millions of years.

If this does not occur, there is another means by which the Moon may come plunging back towards its parent. Should the Earth and Moon continue to exist in their current form, with their orbits uninterrupted, then after around 50 billion years the Earth will become tidally locked with the Moon. Soon after this event the Moon’s orbital height will begin to decay, whilst the Earth’s rotational velocity rapidly increases. This process will continue until the Moon reaches the Roche limit and disintegrates, forming a ring around the earth.

1. Destruction ~Unknown

Ch6-4Horsemen Pastorpack Small

The probability of the Earth being destroyed within the next dozen billion years is high. Whether by the cold jaws of a rogue planet, or the smothering embrace of our dying Sun, it will no doubt be a sad moment for any surviving humans – should they even remember their birth planet. Let’s just hope that Earth doesn’t suffer the sad fate of drifting alone in the cold depths of space, having been ejected from its home system. Even then, once black holes have taken over (10 Duodecillion years from now) there will be little hope for its survival.

Source:  listverse.com

Categorized in News & Politics

Nearly a year ago, Google expanded their search engine to begin instantly answering questions, such as the death of a celebrity or a math problem. The result was a reaction to the true nature of search; nobody was writing something into Google without actively seeking an answer.

That answer may be finding a particular piece or a few different pieces of content, or simply a particular website, but you are asking the question; "where is this thing I want?" The instant responsiveness of Google and its ability to query an entire database of the Internet has made other sites take notice.

That's why sites like Periscope, Medium, Vevo and Hacker News have adopted Algolia's hosted cloud search platform, an API that brings Google's instant to near-instant search capabilities to their sites. The result is that their content is immediately searchable and relevant, so that if a user makes a complex query and/or a typo, they will still receive results that make sense for what they're looking for. "By leveraging the trove of internal data that websites or mobile apps have, we are helping them to deliver an experience that is even deeper and more personalized than what Google does for web searches," said Nicolas Dessaigne, CEO of Algolia. "Our goal is to make search seamless, nearly invisible.

Today we can deliver relevant results at the first keystroke. In the future, all results will be personalized and delivered before the question is even completely formulated." This is an important approach for businesses large and small to take, and closes in on AI; Algolia's technology works to not just index and search your data, but also make sure that it produces the right answer to a query.

This is an interesting comparison to the ever-growing world of the Internet of Things, led by Amazon's Echo. Users, despite their accents, stuttering or other things that make a question "imperfect" are still able to get an answer. Algolia, their competitor Elastic and Google all recognize this, with Algolia in particular even advertising directly on their website that you should try a test search with a typo, to show how the platform can answer the question regardless. Google will even go as far as to suggest what you may be trying to type, if not bringing you the exact answer despite your mistake.

As Quartz's Leo Mirani said, there are over 10 trillion web pages to index, including but not limited to the masses of social media services providing terabytes if not petabytes of information into said stream. This is the same problem that many startups and companies will begin to find, both from the angle of big data overload and the expectations of the user.


The instantaneous nature of search may make users unlikely to even browse the same way, as we move away from the original web's exploratory nature to people visiting each website with a purpose. In the same Quartz article, Mirani speaks to author Stefan Weitz, who wrote the book Search: How The Data Explosion Makes Us Faster, where Weitz argues that search must mature to mirror human nature, and be ready to answer a query at speed.

 "We must think of search as the omniscient watcher in the sky, aware of everything this happening on the ground below," said Weitz. "For this to happen, search itself needs to be deconstructed into its component tasks: indexing and understanding the world and everything in it; reading senses, so search systems can see and hear (and eventually smell and touch!) and interact with us in more natural ways; and communicating with us humans in contextually appropriate ways, whether that's in text, in speech, or simply by talking to other machines on our behalf to make things happen in the real world."

To Algolia's Dessaigne, this approach is a natural course. "Personalization of results is also going to be an important trend for websites and apps, particularly among big retailers and media websites. Along this progression, voice interfaces are going to gain traction. We are still far from truly conversational interfaces, but we'll eventually get there."

While we all dream of a day when we can have an answer as we speak, or even think of the question, we are far away from it. Nevertheless, startups are clearly ready to make the jump for us. We're in a world that's far from the days when having a search bar was a quirky feature; users have a question and to succeed in business, you'll need to have an answer.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/amy-cuddy/3-body-language-books-that-all-leaders-should-read-this-summer.html

Categorized in Search Engine

Google has announced its first artificial intelligence research lab outside the US in Switzerland. Headed by Emmanuel Mogenet, Google Research Europe will be based at the search giant’s Zurich office and focus on applying machine learning to Google products including Search, Photos, and Google's newly announced Assistant.

The team will reportedly be at least a few hundred strong. "We want to redress the balance of expertise between Mountain View and Europe,” Mogenet said.

The 49-year-old computer scientist, who sold his previous company to Apple in 2002, has been tasked with hiring as many European researchers as he can find, "the only limitation is talent," he said.

Google made its ambitions in AI clear in 2014 with its £400m acquisition of DeepMind, a British AI startup with no commercial products, which has hired at least 250 artificial intelligence experts in London.

Combined with the new Zurich team, the Californian company is amassing a formidable concentration of world-leading AI talent in Europe.

The new team has a distinct goal: to invent the future of Search, a voice-activated, human-like entity that can answer any query intelligently. “We are building the ultimate assistant. In two years, you can expect Google to become a personal life assistant across multiple surfaces, including your phone, Google Home, even cars,” Mogenet said.

Some of Google’s best-known products are already shaped by machine learning, the ability of computers to spot patterns in large datasets and learn by example. For instance, Google Photos uses it to understand the content of an image. This means you could search for “cardigan corgi” or “passport” or “birthday celebrations 2014” and the app will bring up the relevant photos.

Machine learning also powers the Smart Reply feature in Gmail which auto-suggests responses based on the text or photos in an email. Smart Reply, built in Google Zurich, is now used in over 10pc of all emails sent from Google’s Inbox app.


The big goal now is to apply it to search, the crown jewels of the Google empire.

In 2015, more Google searches occurred on mobile phones than desktops, the first time that was the case. It was also the first time voice searches grew faster than text-based searches, with voice making up roughly 20pc of all mobile searches, according to Behshad Behzadi, director of conversational search at Google.

In the last year, the error rate of Google’s speech recognition technology has dropped to 8pc which is a major contributor to its growing use, Behzadi said.

During a demo of the new voice-based Google Assistant, Behzadi showed off the AI’s understanding of context. For instance, asking “What are the rides at Europa Park?” followed by, “What are the height restrictions on Blue Fire?” and “How fast is it?” will return correct results without you having to clarify what Blue Fire, or “it” is.

There is currently a global race for AI talent, with major companies such as Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Amazon buying up AI startups around the world, and in Europe in particular.

“I can’t quantify our investment into AI, but it will eventually be embedded in everything,” Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google parent Alphabet, said in March. “They’re not in cul de sacs, they’re building things that will touch millions and millions of people.”

Source:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/17/googles-new-research-lab-in-zurich-is-inventing-the-future-of-se/ 

Categorized in Search Engine

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