Episode 8: Marketing News Recap: Google, OUYA, W3C, WHATWG, Twitter, and Rev

Google debuts a new mobile SERP that makes paid and organic results look the same, the browser makers take over the HTML and DOM standards, and Twitter buys a company to help make it less toxic.

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Welcome to the eighth episode of the Coywolf Digital Marketing podcast. I’m your host, Jon Henshaw, and today I’m going to be talking about recent stories in the news. I launched Coywolf News, and I’m publishing daily news articles about things that interest me, that I think affect most marketers. I’m going to be going through the different stories that I covered and kind of giving a little more color on them. Coywolf News is meant to be a true news site. It’s supposed to be a little more journalistic, whereas this is where I actually talk about what I think.

So the first one is about Google debuting a new mobile search result. This result is now using favicons. It’s using the little icons for your site. That’s kind of cool. Especially considering everybody else has been doing that for quite some time. Duck Duck Go, and Bing, and I guess that’s actually about it as far as search engines go. And now Google’s doing it.

But what’s really interesting about how they’ve decided to do it is they have done the same thing for their ads. We no longer have the green little icon, the green text, that designates an ad as an ad. Instead, you just have a little thing that says “ad,” and it’s black. All the results kind of look the same, and they all kind of blend together, and it’s right out of AdSense. AdSense’s own suggestions on how you show your ads to trick users into reading it and clicking on it. Now Google is doing the same thing.

A lot of people complain about this. I’m not really sure if it’s good or bad. It almost seems more inevitable. The thing that’s worse to me is actually having just all ads above the fold, which is something that they seem to be doing, and that seems to be the direction that they’re going.

I’m more bothered by that than actually blending ads together. I’m sure it’s a shock for a lot of people to see it, especially in the Local Packs. But I feel like it was inevitable. They had been recommending it to everybody who runs ads, particularly in the AdSense network, so to see them do it themselves is just sort of like, “Meh, okay. So they’re eating their own food.”

That happened. Let’s see. Razer bought a gaming system called Ouya, and it was something that was a Kickstarter. It was supposed to be an Indie game platform, kind of like Roku for gaming. I remember being excited about it when it came out, or at least I was interested in it as a first adopter. I always like to test these different things.

It was never that good. There still may be a place out there for somebody who wants to disrupt something that has the big boys out there, the gorillas, but unfortunately for Ouya, it just wasn’t that great. There was nothing that really set it apart from others than kind of how I see Firefox. Firefox just isn’t quite there yet to replace Chrome for me, even though I want it to. I want it to, but it’s just not as good as Chrome.

I guess Chrome would really have to just … take away all the things. I would have to be at a point where I feel bad using Chrome, which I think is probably where a lot of Firefox users are. They use Firefox because they’re just anti-Google, anti-this, nobody respects my privacy, that type of thing. I’m still at a place where I haven’t reached that tipping point yet. There’s still so much I get from Chrome, particularly from Dev Tools and some of the extensions that I can’t quite give it up yet.

Anyways, the point of that is Ouya just wasn’t quite there, and Razer tried to buy them. They were going to try themselves to get into TV and all the rest of the stuff, something called Forge TV, and compete with everybody. Sometimes it’s just really hard. If you don’t have something that is just truly exceptional and enough to pull you away from the companies that have millions if not sometimes billions pouring into what they’re providing, it’s just really hard to compete with that.

What’s the lesson from that? I guess the lesson is very careful before you take on the giants, and make sure that you have something that is a wow thing that the other people don’t have, and something that’s not easily replicable.

Another thing that happened this past week that I thought was very interesting was with HTML standards. There have been two bodies, the W3C and WHATWG, both crazy-sounding acronyms and names. But anyways. They got to a point where they actually split, and it was announced that W3C was essentially conceding to WHATWG.

So far, that may not make any sense to you up to this point as far as what I’m talking about, but what it means is that these two bodies are in charge, or you could say in control of, the different standards for HTML and what gets made and that type of thing.

If you want to think back a long time ago to what Microsoft tried to do when they were on their own when they tried to branch off, they were doing something called ActiveX controls and a bunch of other stuff that was only possible on Windows and Internet Explorer, and it was awful. That’s why we went back to trying to adhere to these more open public standards that every browser-maker could adhere to.

Well, it ends up that they somehow decided somebody has to run this. Anyways, they’re conceding to WHATWG, but what’s interesting about WHATWG is that WHATWG is actually managed by Google and Apple and Microsoft and Mozilla. So it’s kind of a weird place to be because on one side, that’s kind of a good thing. It’s kind of a good thing that all of the major companies that make the web browsers that we depend on every day and the engine behind it, they are talking to each other, and they are creating standards together, and hopefully then, of course, adopting those into the Blink engine or WebKit.

But, with exception of the fact that Mozilla’s there, it’s all commercial interests. So that is a potential concern because we’re essentially putting the control of what those standards are into the control of commercial interests as opposed to just general public interests. W3C says that they’re still going to be a part of the process. They’ll have a voice at the table. So hopefully that will act as a way to keep things from getting totally out of control.

All right. Some other things that I thought were kind of interesting. I was listening to Sam Harris’ podcast because he was interviewing Jack Dorsey. Which, if you like Jack Dorsey, you should know who he is. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the guy who founded Twitter.

A lot of their conversation was about toxic conversations, bullying, abuse, whatever. All the words out there around what makes up Twitter and what makes Twitter such a garbage fire sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean all the time in certain places.

He had mentioned that they were going to really focus a lot on machine learning, and particularly deep learning. Not too long after that, I found out that Twitter had acquired an AI company called Fabula AI, and that’s their entire thing, is through deep learning being able to fight abuse. I thought that was pretty interesting.

It will be very interesting to see what they do with that because nobody has gotten this figured out yet. Nobody has figured it out. Even I was kind of hopeful, maybe it was two years ago, maybe three, when Google came out with their Perspective API, which was supposed to do something similar. But really up to this point, nobody has been able to figure this out, and I know that everybody is kind of relying on the magic of AI to somehow make this all possible. But either way you go, there’s just so many problems with it. There are so many problems with censorship, there are so many problems with keeping you in a bubble. It’s extremely difficult and complicated.

I know that it is common for a lot of people to just really complain and have a great deal of anger towards the digital platforms. I kind of have a slightly different take. Maybe that’s just because I have a background in making software that was extremely not as sophisticated as some of these others, and so just knowing that I realize how difficult the problem is to solve.

And really even the things that they’re doing today, and I assume change all the time, and even just being a user of the platforms, of Twitter in particular, I see things improve over time. But it’s a very, very difficult, almost impossible task to be able to truly understand the intent of millions of people, of their words, what they’re writing, how they’re responding, down to what is sarcasm in a good or bad way.

But I hope that they make a lot of progress with it. I hope that the acquisition of Fabula AI is something that brings value to them and to all of us who actually like to use Twitter and find it pretty interesting.

The last thing I wanted to talk about was the transcript service I use is called. It’s at Rev.com. I don’t do sponsorships or any of that stuff. There are no ads, whatever. If I talk about a product or service on Coywolf anywhere, it’s just because I like it. So, just want to throw that out.

But anyways, Rev now is beta testing their automated speech-to-text, which is pretty awesome because Rev is already great for giving them any kind of audio, and getting it back in a pretty reasonable amount of time as in anywhere from a half an hour to two hours is fairly typical for me for a half an hour to an hour-long audio file. It’s really good. I have to do very little editing. They have human editors or transcribers, and they have been great for all the things I’ve used them for.

But I ended up testing out this new service because I got an invitation, kind of an early beta invite invitation. It’s pretty good. Not only is it kind of instantaneous. I mean, we’re talking like it takes a minute or two to return back your audio, but they had told me, at least in their copy, that they have a 90% accuracy rate. What I got was much higher than that. I mean, what I got back was more like 95%. I didn’t have to change much at all.

I encourage you to go to Rev.com. It may not be available to everyone yet, but look for it or even request access to it. Even regardless of the automated speech-to-text, I would just encourage you to use their service anyways. I’ve been using it for a few years, and it’s good for people who just like to read things, and they don’t want to listen. It’s also good for Google bot to come and crawl. It’s just like having a big, nice, long article.

That’s it for this week. I hope you will check out https://www.coywolf.news and see what’s going on in the world of marketing in the digital age. Thanks for listening.

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Jon Henshaw

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @[email protected]