online privacy

Is Consent Enough to Make Audio Recordings Safe for Human Processing?

Recently, a number of high-profile tech firms have been uncovered permitting human employees to access private conversations consumers believed were only processed by AI.

Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa have all been placed in the limelight, and now Facebook has also come under fire for letting human employees access sensitive personal conversations for transcription purposes.

In the case of AI assistants, private conversations are primarily harvested from consumers who own and use their devices directly. However, there is an emerging body of evidence that these technologies are also harvesting secondary persons’ conversations — completely unknown to those individuals.

retail store

How Retailers Use AI, Mapping to Boost ROI on Store Remodels

Walmart, Walgreens, and Sephora are all using artificial intelligence technology to improve the retail experience. While the majority of use cases for AI in retail have focused on enhancing the shopping experience for customers, forward-thinking analytics firms are innovating and developing new uses for their existing AI technology.

The analytics firm Fractal Analytics is pushing forward in the retail space with its own solution that relies on AI to forecast the cost of retail store remodels, as well as determine the ROI from large-scale renovation projects. Although Fractal works solely with Fortune 500 companies, the solutions it is developing could be adopted more broadly throughout the retail space.

How to Identify and Connect with Your Ideal Podcast Ad Audience

While just over half of Americans have listened to them, podcasts are finding new audiences every day. U.S. advertisers spent $479 million on podcast ads in 2018, up 53% year-over-year; that figure is expected to hit $1 billion in 2021. And those people who do listen to podcasts listen to them a LOT. Podcasts are the number one audio source by time of consumption among podcast listeners, and weekly listeners consume an average seven podcasts per week, according to Edison Research.

Podcast advertising is rapidly evolving, as are podcasts themselves. It’s no wonder, then, that advertisers could use help identifying the right podcasts for their products and connecting with podcast audiences. Here’s what you need to know about podcasts and their audiences to find the right home for your podcast advertisements. 

Phone-as-a-Service?

It’s becoming clear that we’re headed toward a new vision for our devices: the Phone as a Service (PaaS). Yes, sounds crazy, but look at the parallels between your phone and how/why other “X”s have become services:

X-as-a-service (XaaS) is delivery of X directly via the internet, eliminating the need to use and manage multiple and independent solutions on locally hosted devices, right? So, PaaS is the delivery of personalized media via the phone, eliminating the need to use and manage multiple and independent, locally hosted apps. We’re already seeing that happen.

Data Trends with the Highest Impact In 2019

At the beginning of the year, we like to take time and speculate on which data science trends will make the biggest splash in the year. Now that we’re entering the second half of 2019, it is a good time to take a look at our initial assumptions regarding these trends and re-evaluate each one’s impact on the industry.

The Deceptive Arguments Amazon Uses to Shirk Responsibility for AI

In a recent column, Recode founder and New York Times columnist Kara Swisher cut to the core of what would seem to be concessionary calls for regulation from Big Tech firms, summarizing their attitude like this: “We make, we break, you fix.” She’s right, and with Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook doubling their combined lobbying spending from 2016 to $55 million in 2018, it is worth taking a closer look at the kinds of arguments the companies are trotting out to avoid responsibility for the outcomes of the technology they produce and sell. We should be particularly concerned about the arguments tech firms are making about AI, which is already remaking our society, replacing steps in crucial human decision-making processes with machine-generated solutions.

For an example of how tech firms are attempting to get away with peddling potentially dangerous AI-based tech to powerful entities like law enforcement agencies while accepting minimal accountability, consider Amazon’s Rekognition.

July Focus: Retail Transformation in the Amazon Age

Street Fight is rolling into July with the monthly theme Disrupting Retail: a look at how retail continues to transform, driven by competition from Amazon and key trends like “retail-as-a-service.”

But why is this important to Street Fight (and to you)? As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. And that’s usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

Consumers Welcome Some Automated Business Messaging, But Humans Must Tag Along to Help

More than half of consumers are frustrated by customer-service situations in which they can only interact with automated agents, and nearly one in five even reporting feeling angry in those situations. That’s per a new survey of U.S. consumers conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by call tracking and analytics firm Invoca.

Heard on the Street, Episode 28: Location-Based Survival of the Fittest, With Gimbal

According to Gimbal’s SVP of location platforms Adrian Tompsett, the key to the location business is having a long-term and holistic view of customer value. That means using location intelligence to go beyond just triggering promotions to increase the customers’ basket size, instead using the technology in ways that will provide additional value in the long term.

How to Use Facebook’s Simplified Campaign Structure to Your Advantage

It’s a brave new advertising world. The algorithms are taking over, whether human advertising managers like it or not. Our best bet is to understand how the algorithms work and to give them the freedom, the data, the budgets, and the creative assets they need for optimal performance.  The Facebook algorithm will take away budget lever from humans when Campaign Budget Optimization becomes mandatory in September 2019.

Walmart Tests Out the “Future of Retail” in Long Island Store

There’s no time for the future of retail like the present. That is the motto at Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, a live experiment in AI-driven shopping experiences that is now open to the public at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, NY. 

How Emerging Technologies Allow Businesses to Merge Their Digital and Traditional Marketing

New technologies (and new spins on old ones) are the modern company’s ally in merging digital and traditional marketing. The brands that find a sensible balance between the two are the brands that will outperform the competition. Let’s take a look at four major examples of innovation in this arena.

Brands See Risk and Reward When Automating Reputation Management

With the reviews and other content being posted online about brands coming from an increasingly wide swath of sources, manual techniques for reputation management are no longer viable on a large scale. At the same time, the volume of online opinions bombarding potential customers is making it more important than ever for brands to constantly monitor what’s being said about them online. How are brands coping with the challenge?

AI Is No Magic Bullet for Policing Hateful Content

The task Facebook must take up as it attempts to police hateful content is one inseparable from political values, human judgment, and the interpretation of statements that need to be parsed by well-trained eyes and bright minds with a stomach for horror to boot. While machines will play an indispensable role in content moderation on a platform of Facebook’s scale, they will be far from sufficient. That’s because monitoring hate speech touches on nothing less than some of humanistic inquiry’s age-old questions: the debatable violence, status of truth, and foundations of meaning in language.

Things Not Strings: Google’s New Hotel Profiles Exemplify Its Approach to Entities

Google’s Knowledge Graph ambitions are expanding to include obviating heavy reliance on secondary sources like Wikipedia and being able instead to classify and cross-reference information as a native, self-sustaining activity on web pages themselves. That’s what makes a recent patent filing different from the evidence of the Knowledge Graph we’ve already seen in the wild.

While this more ambitious way of surfacing information about entities is not yet standard, in researching Google’s new interface for hotels, I think I’m seeing evidence of a real-world example.

Heard on the Street, Episode 23: Google, AI, 5G and Marketing Champagne

What do Google’s AI-fueled search results, 5G, and marketing champagne all have in common? They’re the central topics of a roundtable discussion on the latest episode of Street Fight’s podcast, Heard on the Street.

As we do quarterly, this is a bonus episode that puts aside our typical interview format and instead invites the leading thinkers from the Street Fight newsroom and executive ranks to discuss news and insights that are top of mind.

Human Judgment, Automation, and the Future of Ad Tech

For now, I propose two major concerns—two challenges, even, for further thought—surrounding AI for the ad tech industry. The first is that the datafication of human experience that has allowed for precise ad targeting needs to be radically reconsidered, not just in terms of what can be done to obtain the consent of consumers for data collection, as the rising privacy movement has called tech companies to consider, but also in terms of what is lost and what is truly gained when the attributes of real people are transformed into consumer data. The second is that the human-machine hybrid decision-making model, while surely the best available in a hypothetical set that also includes human-only and machine-only models, will have to grapple with the bias and poor decisions of the humans who program the machines that will take on the task of regulating large platforms at scale. 

AI Technology is Getting within Reach for Small Restaurants

Rodion Yeroshek: The majority of restaurant businesses, especially the small ones, remain slow adopters and non-adopters of AI technology. People may think that the introduction of AI in small restaurant operations is nothing more than jumping on the bandwagon. However, research on the impact of AI on the world economy by McKinsey Global Institute warns the naysayers. The research predicts that by 2030 active adopters of AI technologies could double their cash flow, while non-adopters could lose up to 20% of theirs. This is a hint for restaurant managers who plan to stay in business for the next 10-15 years that it’s time they embrace AI tools or prepare to lose a big part of their market share for good.

LBMA Vidcast: LG Builds Amazon Dash into All Appliances, Tide Launches 24/7 Delivery

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: 180byTwo’s eCHO, Outdoorsy the AirBnB for RVs, Outer, Tide launches 24/7 laundry service, LG builds Amazon Dash into all appliances, Baidu builds AI cat shelters. New research from Blis.

7 Delivery Trends You Should Know in 2019

Greater customer expectations and technological advancements are driving big changes in delivery. What’s more, the delivery experience has emerged as a differentiating factor for customers when choosing one retailer over another. eCommerce retailers that operate solely online and omnichannel retailers that offer a physical and digital presence are both beginning to expand their delivery options to meet customer demand. Here are seven trends that will define retail delivery during 2019.