Mobile apps may or may not be collecting your child’s data—but here’s why you should assume they are

This week two democratic senators are calling on federal regulators to investigate if children’s apps are tracking their data.

Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission, writing they are concerned that numerous apps are potentially violating the law.

Without explicit parental consent, it is illegal to collect data on children under the age of 13 according to the Children Online Privacy Protection Act, which went into effect in 2000.

This comes after last month when the New Mexico Attorney Generalsued the maker of app Fun Kid Racing, as well as the online ad businesses run by Google, Twitter and three other companies.

The suit accused the companies of violating the law, and that Google misled parents by allowing apps to remain in its Google Play store children’s section after it was notified by researchers that thousands of apps may be tracking young children.

“The problem is this – we don’t know where the onus lies,” New York Times reporter Edmund Lee told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.

Lee says the law isn’t clear on whether it should be the platform such as Google or Apple to make sure the apps in their stores are complying with the law, whether it’s up to the game developer or if it should be up to the third party data firm tracking the data.

“So there’s a whole system in place that everyone keeps passing the buck and there’s no case law yet,” says Lee. “Even the legislation – it’s not entirely clear who is ultimately responsible.”

Fortnite

So what should a parent do if they are concerned their child is being tracked?

Lee says, “You should just assume it’s going to happen you should assume you’re going to be tracked.”

“Right now it’s the ‘Wild West’ there are very few protections, few sort of places of enforcement around it, and that’s why it’s hard as a parent and as a kid to navigate,” he added.

However, Lee notes most of these are harmless games, and the tracking data is used for advertising purposes, which is how these companies make money.

For parents worried about their child’s privacy – Lee says he tells his own daughter to keep her communication online only with people she knows.

“You’re not going to be able to look and know every single piece of data that’s being floated out there until there’s legislation and case law in place. But in the meantime make sure you know who your kid is talking to and it shouldn’t be strangers and it shouldn’t be someone they just met online.”

[“source=businessinsider”]

Supercharging your SEO with AI: Insights, automation and personalization

Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting at SMX London on Supercharging your SEO with AIand thought I would share some of the insights with Search Engine Land readers.

Google made global headlines with the demonstration of its new Duplex at this year’s I/O developers conference. This artificial intelligence (AI) system can “converse” in natural language with people to schedule an appointment at a hair salon or book a table at a restaurant, for example.

To pass the Turing Test, AI must behave in a manner indistinguishable from that of a human. To many, Google Duplex has proven that it can pass this test, but in truth, we are only seeing the beginnings of its future potential.


This particular use of AI made headlines because people are drawn to applications of AI that can mimic human interactions, whether in science fiction or in real life. While that response is driven by fascination, it is also host to an element of fear.

Can AI replace people?

As marketers, we typically encounter two perspectives on this. Either AI will take our jobs and render us obsolete or it will complement our skills and make us more effective.

According to a study by the Economist,  75 percent of executives say AI will be “actively implemented” in companies within the next three years, so this is more than a hypothetical discussion.

As hype turns to reality, we are realizing that the second perspective is the likely outcome. This would certainly be the most beneficial outcome, with PricewaterhouseCoopers predicting that AI will add $15.7 trillion to global GDP annually by 2030.

Moreover, AI is already all around us, embedded in products and services we use every day, like Netflix and Pandora.

Perhaps most pertinently to us as marketers, AI is deeply embedded in search, and it opens a raft of new opportunities for SEOs that embrace this technology early.

The role of AI in search

Artificial intelligence is making search more human. Although search does not yet “speak” to users in the same way the Google Duplex demo could, its objective is very similar.

Google’s RankBrain technology uses machine learning to understand the meaning of the content it crawls; it infers intent from ambiguous search queries; and it uses feedback data to improve the accuracy of its results.

In other words, it listens and it learns.

Though we may not always have visibility over these processes, we do see the outputs very clearly. Research by BrightEdge (my company) into a dataset of over 50 million keywords revealed that 84.4 percent of queries return universal search results. This occurs as Google uses AI to match the layout of search results pages to the user’s intent.

There are now 37 different search engine result page (SERP) categories, a number that will only increase over the coming months and years.

The potential for personalization has not yet been truly tapped, but Google’s Sundar Pichai recently made public its goal to be an “AI-first” company. As such, we should all expect the search landscape to change dramatically as AI takes center stage in the way it has already done in products like Google Photos and Google Lens.

As co-founder Sergey Brin put it:

“AI touches every single one of our main projects, ranging from search to photos to ads.”

The pace of development on this front is accelerating, as Google is all too aware that AI can simply deliver better, more personalized experiences for consumers. However, search marketers need to pay close attention to these technological advancements if they are to avail themselves of these opportunities for SEO.

How to supercharge SEO with AI

There are three key areas in which AI can improve SEO performance:

  • Insights.
  • Automation.
  • Personalization.

Insights

Artificial intelligence can process and interpret patterns in data at a scale people could simply never replicate. This makes it an essential complement to any search strategist, as AI can deliver the information we need to make informed decisions out of noisy, unstructured data.

Some common tasks where AI can aid search engine optimization (SEO) performance include:

  • Market trends analysis.
  • Site performance analysis.
  • Competitor insights.
  • Customer intent reports.
  • SERP performance.
  • SEO and pay-per-click spend management.

In each of these scenarios, AI can surface new insights that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. As search moves beyond the traditional SERP and becomes a multidisciplinary channel, this will be increasingly important. New developments like visual search are bringing to light the central role of AI in processing new types of media, too.

Pinterest uses deep learning to interpret the content and context of images, opening up new opportunities for retailers to capitalize on “discovery search.”


Google Lens plans to use augmented reality to blend the physical and virtual worlds, using objects as queries rather than typed keywords.

Of course, these developments will lead to the creation of invaluable data, with each interaction revealing something new about our audience. As marketers, we should employ AI to ensure that we capture, process and use this data correctly to shape our search strategies.

How can you use AI for SEO insights?

  • Understand underlying need in a customer journey.
  • Identify content opportunities.
  • Define opportunity space in the competitive context.
  • Map intent to content.
  • Use structured data and markup.
  • Invest in more long-tail content.
  • Ensure content can be crawled and surfaced easily by all user-agents.

Automation

SEO is a labor-intensive industry that requires a huge amount of attention over the long term. Where we can automate tasks to receive the same output we could produce ourselves, we should make this a top priority. The time saved through automation can be applied to the areas that require our skills, like strategy and creative content.

The chart below shows the average amount of time spent on the essential but at times repetitive task of keyword research based on the size of the site in question.

Here are some of the tasks that are ripe for automation in SEO:

  • Technical audits.
  • Keyword research.
  • Content optimization.
  • Content distribution.
  • Tag management.
  • Internal linking.

In these instances, computers do replace people, but we are in control of what they do, and it is a logical decision to hand over such tasks to artificial intelligence. In the process, we can free up valuable time to take on the more challenging aspects of SEO strategy.

Some tips to get started with AI for SEO automation:

  • Break down tasks into sub-tasks, then score their potential for automation from 0-10.
  • Use rule-based automation to handle simple but time-intensive jobs.
  • Find the right balance between human labor and automation.
  • Feed ML algorithms the right quality and quantity of data.
  • Focus on user experience and speed monitoring and alerts; engagement rates will only increase in importance.

Personalization

Personalization allows marketers to create relevant, useful experiences for each individual customer. Achieving this at scale requires technological assistance, with AI an integral part of this process.

Amazon has long been regarded as the market leader in personalization, as it takes user data to suggest new products based on their historical activity. This allows Amazon to surface products that do not typically receive much visibility, based on their relevance to each individual consumer.


Search marketers can take a number of lessons from this approach.

By mapping content to different states of intent, we can capitalize on these opportunities to cross-sell additional products.

This starts to move beyond traditional SEO and into the realm of vertical search optimization. We can see this trend in Google’s recent announcements, namely the integration of Assistant into Google Maps and the upgraded Google News app.


Content discovery is no longer limited to the search results page, so marketers must truly understand their consumers to ensure they can engage with them, anywhere and at any time.

Artificial intelligence is of vital importance at every stage of this journey. The field of predictive analytics, which makes predictions based on patterns in historical data, can help marketers to plan their content to meet consumer demand states.

How can you use AI for SEO personalization?

  • Create content by persona, customer journey stage and delivery mechanism.
  • Enhance user experience and conversion through personalization.
  • Use semantically specific pages to associate query and intent.
  • Use personalization and audience lists to nurture leads across search and social.
  • Use AI to help publish content at the right times on the right networks.

Conclusion

The artificial intelligence revolution is already upon us, and sophisticated marketers are taking advantage!

Most AI systems are invisible, but that does not lessen the significance of their inner workings. The search landscape is in constant flux, and consumers are creating vast amounts of data, all of which can be turned into insights.

Automation can help us make sense of these insights and free enough time for marketers to develop innovative, personalized strategies. There can be little doubt that the tech giants have gone AI-first. Marketers who follow suit can supercharge their SEO strategies by using AI in three core areas: insights, automation and personalization.

[“Source-searchengineland”]

Being Creative Increases Your Risk Of Schizophrenia By 90 Percent

From van Gogh and Beethoven to Darwin and Plath, the number of creative geniuses that have suffered from mental health issues has long sparked the debate – is there a tie between creativity and mental health? Well, according to a new study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry there is, as creatives are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression than the rest of the population.

Previous research has often been limited due to issues like small samples sizes, however, this new study looked at the health records of the whole of Sweden – providing a sample of almost 4.5 million people. The researchers then took into account whether these people studied an artistic subject – like music or drama – at university.

Strangely enough, those with artsy degrees were 90 percent more likely to be hospitalized for schizophrenia than their less creative counterparts. The hospitalizations were most likely to happen at some point during their 30s.

What’s more, artists were 62 percent more likely to be admitted to hospital due to bipolar disorder and 39 percent more likely to go to hospital for depression. The researchers determined that it wasn’t simply the act of going to university that affected mental health, as those with law degrees did not have higher rates of these illnesses than the general population. Variables like IQ were also taken into account.

This is not the first study to find a link between mental health and creativity. For example, in 2010 brain scans revealed similarities between the thought pathways of schizophrenics and very creative people. Meanwhile, a 2015 study found that creative people have a raised risk of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, a 2012 study found that just writers are at a higher risk.

So why does this connection exist?

Well, it’s still not really clear. It could be that creative people are more likely to think deeply and be emotionally unstable, making them more vulnerable to conditions like depression. Meanwhile, bouts of productivity and high energy are linked to both creativity and bipolar disorder. Lead author James McCabe told New Scientistthat the genetics behind creativity might also influence mental health.

“Creativity often involves linking ideas or concepts in ways that other people wouldn’t think of,” he told New Scientist. “But that’s similar to how delusions work – for example, seeing a connection between the color of someone’s clothes and being part of an MI5 conspiracy.”

However, while creative people are naturally more likely to study art subjects, many creative people do not, so the new study is limited in that it used degree subject as the sole measure of creativity.

However, taking previous research into account too, there does appear to be some sort of link. Still, it’s important to remember that the rates of conditions like schizophrenia are still very low even among creative people, so if you are an artist yourself, there’s no need to worry.

[“Source-iflscience”]

Station combines all your messy web apps into a single app

Meet Station, a startup that was created by startup studio eFounders. Station has been working on the only work app you need. It combines all the services you need into a single window and handles notifications and documents better than a normal browser.

If you don’t spend your life in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook, chances are you spend most of your days in a web browser, navigating between countless of tabs. When you are working with five different Google Spreadsheets, a couple of Trello dashboards and a handful of other services, it gets harder to find what you’re looking for.

With Station, you can find the document you’re looking for more easily. Station is a Mac and Windows app. You then need to add all your accounts one by one. Station supports dozens of services, but the most popular ones are Gmail, Google Drive, Slack and Trello.

“We have 300 app integrations. We have a good user base with 2,500 people who use Station at least 4 days per week,” co-founder and CTO Alexandre Lacheze told me.

Each service has its own icon in the bar on the left. You can switch from one service to another just like you’d switch from one account to another in Slack. This app metaphor works quite well for document-based apps, such as Google Drive. When you click on the icon, Station shows you your most recent documents and you don’t get lost between multiple tabs.

By centralizing everything in one app, Station adds a couple of nifty features. For instance, there’s a universal search bar that lets you search for content across all your apps. Think about it as a sort of Spotlight for web apps.

Notifications also get their own tab. You can scan recent emails, Trello notifications and Slack messages in the same interface. And there’s also a focus mode that lets you silence notifications for a 15 minutes or an hour.

“We noticed high retention rates among marketing and sales teams,” co-founder and CEO Julien Berthomier told me. “It works well for operational, support and marketing profiles. The usual marketing person is going to use more than 20 different apps.”

While Station is free for now, the startup is working on a paid offering for teams. Companies will be able to subscribe to Station to build pre-configured profiles. If a company recruits new marketing persons, the marketing team will be able to share a Station template so that new employees have everything they need from day one.

Station is also a good way to get insights about who is using what. For instance, if a company pays for a service but nobody is using it, chances are you can cancel your corporate subscription. Let’s see if this will be enough to make companies pay for Station.

[“Source-techcrunch”]