Almost Timely News, 21 November 2021: The Widening AI Gap, 2022 Marketing Trends, SEO AMA

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Almost Timely News

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What’s On My Mind: What About the Gap?

No, not the clothing store.

The gap between the technological haves and have-nots. There are so many interesting problems, interesting challenges out there in the world to solve, so many applications of stuff like analytics, data science, and machine learning.

And most of those problems will go unsolved. Not because the technology does not exist, or even that the data does not exist, but because the ability to access it is out of reach for a lot of businesses.

In the era before popular, commercial use of machine learning, success in business was largely a combination of effort and luck. Effort encompasses the skill needed to make a good product and sell it well, and luck encompasses being in the right place at the right time, whether you’re the local burger joint or a multinational corporation

Today, data science, machine learning, and AI have thrown a bit of a wrinkle into this. So much of our lives are intermediated by machines and machine learning. What products we see, what ads we see, what news we see, what friends we see in the digital realm – which is the primary realm now for so many of these tasks ever since the smartphone became our external brains – are all controlled by machines and algorithms.

Those folks who have access to the technologies that can reverse-engineer these algorithms and find out what works will have a decided advantage over those folks who cannot. And that will mean larger companies, with more access to resources, talent, and budget, will have a greater advantage over most smaller companies. That’s a huge gap to close.

Here’s an example. A friend of mine is starting to build out a Tiktok account for her florist shop. She’s a tiny, solo proprietor up against some of the biggest household names in her industry, but those household names aren’t doing a particularly good job of understanding or using Tiktok well. I’ve started extracting data from Tiktok with all the major floral hashtags and building a model for her that indicates what topics and hashtags to use, and I anticipate she’ll be able to get better than average results from that analysis.

Figure 1. IBM Watson analysis of Tiktok data

In the example above, IBM Watson Studio found that of the language features in the dataset, posts about tulips outperformed posts about other flowers – not something I would have expected! Frankly, I expected roses to do the best.

But what if she didn’t know me? What if I didn’t have time once a month or so on a Saturday night to pull the data for her and process it? She wouldn’t have access to any of this data or technology, and thus the household names – despite their mediocre efforts – would be able to win more easily.

This is the challenge that many, many businesses are going to face in the coming years, and I don’t have a good answer for how they can level the playing field. For a while, the Internet presented a level playing field where a small business could appear larger than it was, where relevance and not budget could win the day. That 20-year golden era of Internet marketing – 1997-2017 – has been supplanted by the AI-powered marketing era, and this is an era in which whoever has the technical resources to win will do so.

To be clear, having great products, good prices, and phenomenal service will still be fundamental to succeeding at business. No amount of AI will change a crap product, prices that aren’t competitive, or abusive service and get people to buy, long-term, who would not have bought before. But becoming visible, being seen, will be harder for those without skillful use of AI.

The only thing I can suggest for now is that if you have analytical skills, if you have data science and machine learning capabilities, and you have local businesses or small businesses that you really like doing business with (or are friends with), consider donating some of your time and skills to help those businesses keep a level playing field against deeper-pocketed competitors. AI represents a considerable advantage and early adopters prolong that advantage over late adopters, so if you have businesses you truly love, help them out.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

If I had to suggest only one of these articles to read from this week, it would be the piece on data needs for AI. You probably need less of it than you think.

Skill Up With Free Classes

These are just a few of the free classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.

Thank You Notes

These are the places you’ve had or mentioned me – on your podcast, on your blog, in your newsletter. Thank you!

What I’m Reading: Your Stuff

Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.

Social Media Marketing

Media and Content

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Advertisement: Supermetrics for Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is an incredibly powerful tool for bringing your data into one place for analysis. Out of the box, it serves up Google ecosystem data that marketers need – Google Analytics, Google Search Console, YouTube, Google Ads.

But what about… Facebook data? LinkedIn data? SEO data? Data from your CRM or marketing automation software? That’s where Google Data Studio has some gaps.

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Click here for a free trial of Supermetrics for Google Data Studio »

Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

All Things IBM

Ad: Make Better Videos with Techsmith Camtasia

If you enjoy my videos, like You Ask, I Answer, Do Something With Your Marketing, Saturday Night Data Party, and many others, then consider using the platform I use to edit and publish them: Techsmith Camtasia. Camtasia is just the right balance between too easy and inflexible, like iMovie, and absurdly complex and expensive, like Adobe Premiere. It’s got just the right features, from subtitle editing to all the usual transitions and special effects, and it’s a desktop app, so there’s none of this crazy trying to “edit in the cloud” (which is insane for video production). If you need to produce videos, screencasts, and even animations, give Camtasia a try.

Good Reads, Long Reads, Interesting Stuff

Fun, Games, and Entertainment

Economics, Politics, Environment, and Society

Advertisement: AI For Marketers, Third Edition

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How to Stay in Touch

Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:

Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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