Three interesting ways that AI is changing the hiring process

You can barely turn around these days without hearing something about artificial intelligence or big data technology. Many experts predict that AI tech is going to be one of the most influential developments of the modern age, touching every part of people’s lives from their health, to the way they buy things, all the way to how businesses are run.

Chances are that you have heard about how AI can improve marketing efforts by attracting more customers from all walks of life. But, did you know it can also help your business run better internally?

HR departments are starting to embrace AI into their hiring processes and are seeing all kinds of positive outcomes. Ideal’s report on AI-driven recruiting found that businesses that incorporated this technology into the hiring processes saw significant financial benefits. These included higher revenues per employee hired, and a 75% decrease in the cost of acquisition!

Curious to know how your company’s hiring process can be totally changed for the better with AI? Let’s dive in.

Creating a more strategic searching process

Attracting qualified talent to apply to your available positions requires some good marketing skills, which is clearly something AI excels at. Its ability to gather and analyse large sets of data can help recruiters target the best talent out there almost instantly.

But AI is not just helping hiring managers find great candidates; it is helping job seekers match up with job opportunities based on their skill levels and experiences. Online resume tools like Resumonk make it easy for applicants to create well-designed resumes with templates to upload, along with keyword recommendations that simplify the process of AI-assisted tools picking up on and matching credentials. From here, candidates can upload their resume on job sites, such as Leap.ai which uses AI technology to match up candidate profiles with available positions based on their experience and skills.

Can social insights truly improve the accuracy of media planning and buying?

You may have encountered the term ‘social listening’ a number of times in your career to date. The practice of monitoring online conversations about brands, products or industries has generally been met with ambiguity – to the point where Dr Jillian Ney has called for the creation of a global steering group for social data handling. Whilst the benefits of social insights have been presented in a number of studies, the application of social findings to the wider digital marketing strategy is often met with confusion.

So, how can we determine the value of social insights? And how can we apply them effectively to a digital marketing strategy?

A new approach

Social marketers have traditionally used tools to assess what you say on social media as a valid representation of who you are as a person. The methodology applied by many platforms identify and analyse signals relating to consumer sentiment and relevant keywords to build a picture of a specific consumer target audience. These nuanced data points are used to adjust social strategies by informing how to make creative more engaging or update demographic targeting in line with new findings. But so far, it has not been clear how these insights can be used outside of the social silo to buy digital media across other channels, such as desktop and mobile publishers.

To bridge the gap between user-generated content and display media, Fifty.io, a social data analysis provider, created an alternative solution based on the logic of ‘what you follow is who you are.’ As a result, brands can go beyond a typical social listening strategy, which only captures 5-10% of an audience. Through their unique algorithm capable of large-scale analysis of social data, advertisers are able to reach and understand a product or industry’s untapped social audience.

Once this data has been accumulated and organised into ‘tribes’ – in other words, categorised into segments via their common passion point – marketers are able to understand more than the interests of the group. The understanding of tribes shows marketers where their audience consumes news, media and content online in real-time, ultimately allowing advertisers to prospect their consumer groups far more effectively.

From analysis to activation

Following our work with Fifty, insights gained from social tribes are now directly applicable to target programmatically for the first time, making their tribes and custom segments available for marketers to plan and buy against. This arrival of the solution in the market aims to ultimately bridge the gap between social data insights and programmatic display to make social data available to target and measure against with ease.

This is demonstrated by our work in London’s vibrant musical and theatre scene, which is always buzzing with new productions competing for the attention of theatre-goers and tourists. In the performance industry, ticket sales are the lifeblood of each production and success is measured not only by glowing reviews, but sell-out nights and a consistently full house.

Working across several hundred West End shows in London this year, Fifty approached the planning process by analysing the unique interest groups for each individual play; the theatre itself, the stars, writer and producer of each show. This starting point enables bespoke targeting to be built for each show and seamlessly targeted in Avocet, outperforming other programmatic offerings in the market. Fifty and Avocet have targeted just over £800,000 in advertising budget and sold close to £6.5 million worth of tickets, generating significant returns for clients.

Marketers are actively looking for ways to move away from an archaic reliance on cookie data and connect disparate channels together. The availability of qualified social programmatic segments creates new opportunities for marketers to unify activity and measure the holistic impact of their campaigns. The analysis of social followership is a cutting-edge approach, enabling influencer and ambassador insights to be factored into media plans, whilst aiming to increase the effectiveness of media buys and reduce the risk surrounding product launches or new campaigns.

As marketers, the holy grail is to make valuable audience insights actionable for media planning and buying – and this is where programmatic can now demonstrate a clear return on investment.

Getting into home truths: Why is the experience of eCommerce still so poor?

There’s no denying that the digital world has changed the outside face of marketing. While many of the inner-face principles of marketing have (and always will) remain the same in terms of audience segmentation, targeting and positioning, the way brands now engage with their customers has changed faster in the past 10 years than throughout the rest of history put together.

Now, having a digital presence for large corporations has become the norm. It’s part and parcel of modern marketing. The experience itself has to be great as well, whether it’s on social media, digital advertising, mobile and more, otherwise customers will just go elsewhere. But as brands’ investment in digital properties increases, so too does the challenge of integrating eCommerce, the experience of which is rapidly diminishing for many brands.

Global eCommerce sales are predicted to almost double between 2017 and 2021. But, so many organisations still fail to provide a positive eCommerce experience. This problem is particularly acute at the end of the payment stage where the buyer makes the transaction, which has the highest drop-off rate in the entire online shopping process.

But why is the experience so poor? The reason so many large brands have struggled with the eCommerce experience is because of the rapid speed of change with regards to digital. Just as companies began to get to grips with desktop eCommerce, mobile quickly emerged as another major trend. Then big data. Then personalisation. There has been a lot to keep up with.

This has created different challenges for marketers and eCommerce developers. Merchants and commerce professionals have spent lots of time developing commerce engines that take orders, manage inventories and accept payments – they need to be robust, reliable and trusted. Whereas, marketers have tried to ‘uplevel’ the brand experience to digital – they are under pressure to keep pace with the latest trends. Making these worlds work as one has its own challenges that many companies are just scratching the surface of solving. It’s hard, but it’s one that needs work because it hits customers the most.

But what are these issues, exactly?

Unbranded, unpersonalised and clunky

First, on their own, most eCommerce engines don’t offer the flexibility to customise the front end, which creates a jarring templated, shopping experience for the customer with a grid of products to sift through. That’s understandable because branding has never really been eCommerce platform designers’ problem.

But imagine someone who interacts with a brand on social media, is exposed to advertising through multiple channels, and interacts with the brand’s website. Throughout that experience, they’re getting a “feel” for the brand, which suddenly disappears the moment they need to get their credit card out to pay online. Since consumer stress levels rise steadily peaking at the checkout stage, the last thing they need is a poor experience to put them off the purchase entirely.

Make solving data fragmentation key for 2019 to deliver a greater customer experience

What do marketers need to do in 2019 to deliver a better customer experience? According to a new industry report, it’s all about ensuring the possibility of conversion at any point in the customer journey.

The study from advertising platform provider Criteo, which polled more than 900 direct response marketers, found – to the surprise of not many – a plethora of applications and accounts marketers have to grapple with today. When it comes to budget allocation, the most popular tactics were paid display – accounting for 16% of budget on average – ahead of social (14%). Perhaps surprisingly, the traditional channels of print, direct mail and TV advertising still accounted for 13% of budgets – ahead of email and content marketing (both 10%).

Criteo envelopes the conversation around a need for greater control as the ‘awareness, consideration, conversion’ methodology. Marketers first need to think about how to maximise reach, then focus on traffic and where it is going, before tracking sales across each channel.

When it came to conversion, social – cited by 53% of those polled – was the most popular channel, ahead of paid display advertising (43%), email marketing (41%) and SEO (38%).

Yet more can be done about connecting different sets of data. Two in five (40%) respondents said they struggled to find data which connects online and offline shoppers. Fragmented data ‘makes it difficult for marketers to gain a true understanding of customers and to optimise future campaigns’, the company added.

Part of the problem is that there is no overall metric for measuring conversion. New revenue, cited by 35% of respondents, new customer rate (33%), and cost per action (30%) were the most popular – but this doesn’t take into account total revenue and new visitor rate, not to mention customer lifetime value.

The report noted what can be done to fix the issue of fragmented data. “Conversion campaigns are as much about attribution as they are about sales numbers,” Crito explained. “Without being able to show which channels and tactics really move the needle, marketers won’t be able to secure the budget or stakeholder buy-in that they need.

“When you have the proper tools and partners in place to measure data-driven attribution, then you can rest assured that your marketing dollars are being well spent.”

Breaking through the social advertising wall: 2019 plans and predictions

ocial leaders have made significant headway opening up their walled gardens in 2018: from YouTube’s JICWEBS certification in March to Twitter’s recent pledge prioritising the health of the platform, and Facebook’s focus on building a ‘foundation of trust.’ These platforms are well aware of the hurdles they face, and ready to keep progressing.

So, let’s take a closer look at the story so far, and what we can expect in 2019.

Social progress: The last 12 months

2018 saw an uptick in social media platforms taking action on multiple fronts. Firstly, several platforms moved to improve trust and transparency via third-party verification and certification. Following an extensive audit, Facebook and Instagram were granted Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for measuring ad impressions, and has since had the process for providing data to third parties for verification approved. Similarly, Google’s YouTube impression and viewability measurement also received the MRC stamp of approval, and Twitter continued its ongoingreview.

Secondly, key players opted to further enhance in-house reporting and measurement by partnering with independent companies and creating their own initiatives. For example, Snapchat integrated third party verification measurement covering viewability and ad fraud after an effective six-month beta test. Applying to Snap’s in-app video buys, the aim is to reduce uncertainty about audience reach by tracking fake, legitimate, and completed views. Meanwhile, Google launched a preferred partners programme that is intended to help advertisers identify trusted measurement providers — with 20 specialisation partners awarded badges — and Facebook extended its publisher lists capability to cover video ads; providing greater buyer control over where ads are placed.

Where are we now?

Social has arrived at the final quarter in a strong position. In part, this is down to its inherent appeal as an influential advertising medium with a vast user base. But its commitment in increasing clarity has also fuelled confidence and success. Either way, the statistics show healthy development; in the UK, marketers are predicted to spend £3.3 billion on social network advertising in 2018, a 24% increase on 2017. This equates to a quarter of all UK digital ad spend this year, according to eMarketer’s most recent forecast.

Yet this sizeable investment also means advertisers are keener than ever to ensure campaigns have the opportunity to engage target audiences and drive high returns, which means calls for continuous refinement in measurement persist. In particular, demand is increasing for metrics that address multiple concerns, from the safety of ad placements to the resulting campaign impact.

Future focus: Where will 2019 take social?

Placing ads in environments that amplify their impact and align with brand values is crucial to maintain advertiser and consumer favour. Consequently, we can expect brand safety to remain the top priority for advertisers and social platforms. In fact, Google is already working to offer advertisers better brand safety assurance: with testing of objective verification tools in progress, alongside an MRC audit that could potentially result in both brand safety and unique reach accreditation.

There is also increasing emphasis on expanding assessment to include a broader range of hygiene checks. Advertisers understand that constant verification and optimisation are vital to boost campaign results: with verification identifying value loss and protecting media, while optimisation based on performance data maximises the chances of engagement. As a result, demand is rising for customised metrics that go further than measuring against baseline viewability (such as the MRC’s benchmark) and provide interaction insight, especially time-based metrics.

For example, metrics such as time-in-view are gaining popularity as a means of evaluating potential to influence. In other words, establishing whether ads are in view for long enough to capture consumer interest and thereby achieve campaign outcomes. After all, in an environment such as social where windows to seize attention are short, advertisers must make sure every second counts — and this requires a clear idea of which ads are likely to stay in view.

Looking ahead, the cycle of social media’s power is set to keep running: rising audience numbers will keep attracting larger numbers of advertisers, creating more competition that drives the need to measure performance precisely and adjust ads for optimal impact. The advances made in 2018 won’t be the last, but it’s still important to acknowledge them. With every step made to help advertisers understand the effect of their impressions and spend, the social advertising industry moves closer towards a transparent, safe, and efficient ecosystem that works for everyone. So, this positive progress is more than worth celebrating and continuing.

How to Research, Monitor, and Optimize for Questions

Have you been optimizing your content for questions? There are a few powerful reasons for you to start doing it now:

  • Niche question research is the most powerful content inspiration source
  • Questions are highly engaging: Asking a question triggers a natural answering reflex in human beings. Using questions on your landing pages and / or social media will improve engagement
  • Questions are very useful for niche and audience research: What can’t people figure out in your industry and how can you best help them?
  • Question research allows you to understand natural language better and optimize for voice search
  • Question optimization allows for increased organic search visibility through both featured snippets and Google’s “People Also Ask” results.

Just to reinforce the latter point, Google is going a bit insane with understanding and featuring questions in SERPs. Here’s just one of their recent experiments showing a multifaceted featured snippet, addressing a possible follow-up question (courtesy of Barry Schwartz):

Types of niche questions and how to group them

  • Basic questions (these usually relate to defining concepts). In most cases you don’t need to write lengthy explanations because people searching for those seek quick easy-to-understand answers.
  • How-to questions (these usually relate to step-by-step instructions). Adding videos to better explain the process is almost always a good idea here
  • Branded questions (those usually include your or your competitor’s brand name or a product name). Like any branded queries**, these should be further categorized into:
  • ROPO questions (“research online, buy online / offline”). These are specific questions discussing your product, its pros and cons, reviews, etc.
    • High-intent questions: for example, questions asking how to buy your product.
    • Navigational questions: those addressing your site navigation, e.g. “How to login,” “How to cancel,” etc.
    • Competitive research questions: those comparing your brand to your competitors.
    • Reputational questions: those questions relating to your brand history, culture, etc.
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