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Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA): 7 Strategies for Success

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Google Local Inventory Ads (LIA): 7 Strategies for Success

Reports show that shopper’s use of Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS)—also commonly known as Click-and-Collect—is only continuing to grow after a major pandemic boost in adoption. Consumers enjoy the efficiency and convenience of placing an order online, and picking it up already-bagged at their nearby store, making local availability one of the biggest factors impacting purchase decisions in 2023.

Source: https://forecasts-na1.emarketer.com/5df80ef0d5924101a08b78a5/5df80db59610370b18a15f25

Having the ability to reach your audience online before they make a product decision is crucial for local businesses, which is why there’s never been a better time to leverage Local Inventory Ads (LIA).

Screenshot reading “Tinuiti Joins Google’s new Local Inventory Ads Partner Program"

Tinuiti is excited to announce that we recently joined Google’s new Local Inventory Ad Partner Program, and are among the first US-based Agency partners to do so. As an official LIA Partner, our teams are fully equipped to handle campaign management, strategy, and execution, serving as an end-to-end resource for retailers—including helping to onboard the required feeds to Google.

Here’s how Local Inventory Ads help drive in-store traffic and sales, how to set them up, and some expert tips for optimizing your campaigns.

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“Local Inventory Ads give retailers an opportunity to reach local shoppers by showcasing products available in their stores on Google. On top of driving customers to your physical stores, new features like store pickup and merchant hosted local storefronts lead to online traffic and conversions, resulting in more omnichannel revenue growth for retailers.”

Portrait of Ashlee Wiltshire

— Ashlee Wiltshire, Senior Director, Shoppable Media at Tinuiti
 

Table of Contents

 

 
Local Inventory Ads (LIA) are Google Shopping ads that are displayed when a searched product is available for purchase or pickup in a local store, and can be an effective way for retailers to drive in-store traffic.

These inventory listings are great at capturing a customer’s attention by offering ready-to-retrieve products available from local stores.

example of local inventory ads for yoga mats

Think of local inventory ads as an online banner that appears underneath product listings for a given search query:

  • They appear at the top of the search results right below the search query
  •  

  • Potential customers can quickly review local businesses that carry the product
  •  

  • Users that click on your local inventory ad are either directed to a Google-hosted local storefront page, or a merchant website’s product page (if the info for local pricing + availability on the product page meets Google’s requirements)
example of how local inventory ads work with local storefront

Source: Google

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In addition to appearing within Search results, LIAs can also be served on Google Images, Google Assistant, and Google Maps. Customers still have the option to purchase directly from your website if they can’t make it into your store, meaning your local inventory ads can support both in-store and ecommerce sales.

Recognizing that not everything folks shop for locally falls within an immediately available category— such as large furniture items on display in a nearby store—Google also offers an on display to order feature (ODO). Items leveraging this feature will note that they are “In store – available to order.” Eligibility requirements for using the ODO feature include: the listed item must be deliverable to the shopper’s home within 90 days of purchase; the URL shoppers are directed to from the listing must provide all shipping details, including cost and policy.

 

 

Google offers three options for activating and delivering LIAs: Google-hosted local Storefronts (GHLS), and Merchant-hosted local Storefronts (MHLS)—full or basic. Let’s explore how each works…
 

Google Hosted Local Storefronts

When users who click your LIA are directed to your Google-hosted Local Storefront, you can showcase even more information about your business to help close the sale, including:

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  • A description of your product or business
  • Links to your website
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Map and navigation directions to your store

The opportunity to provide shoppers with a snapshot of this additional information is an advantage to using GHLS, but there is one primary con to consider: Shoppers are not taken directly to a page where they can purchase the item. For a one-click solution that gets folks straight from the ad to your website, Merchant-hosted Local Storefronts are recommended.
 

Merchant Hosted Local Storefronts (Full and Basic)

Google currently offers advertisers two options for Merchant-hosted Local Storefronts—full or basic. Both the full and basic programs are meant to break down some of the road blocks that have historically made local inventory ads tough to launch, and/or not as rewarding for merchants.

One of the key ways in which the full and basic programs differ is how much work is required to set them up, and keep them accurate. Let’s explore each more closely…
 

MHLS – Full Program

MHLS (full) includes local storefront information for a single merchant; when prospective customers click on one of these ads or listings, they will be taken directly to the advertising retailer’s website, similar to a regular Shopping ad.

Behind the scenes, this seamless shopping experience is being accomplished by a 2-step process after the ad or listing has been clicked. First, “Google passes a Business Profile store code where the item is available to the retailer.” Next, the retailer generates the landing page—customized to their specific store—for the product that was clicked. Google notes that while advertisers can self-detect customers’ locations, it is required that all customers clicking these ads are directed to the specific store Google passes in the URL generated by their click.

It’s important to note that the (full) program option for MHLS is only available to advertisers whose website product landing pages meet Google’s list of requirements. These stipulate the following: “Display your store’s local price or ensure that local prices match online prices, if only online prices are displayed. The price displayed on your landing page must match the price submitted in your local inventory feed for the selected store.”

Meeting those requirements is where things can quickly become a highly time-intensive project for your Web Design team, requiring that you’ve properly set up store-specific pages for every retail location, and done the necessary custom web design to ensure the price at that particular location is displayed. If you have the resources and the bandwidth, it’s a route worth considering. However, if time and ease are equally important factors, the basic program may be a better fit.
 

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MHLS – Basic Program

The MHLS (basic) program involves significantly less development work than the full program, requiring the following of your listings: “Show the omnichannel price on your product landing page. The price on your landing page must match the price value submitted in your primary product feed.”

“Managing prices for individual store locations can sometimes be chaotic, particularly for retailers with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of brick-and-mortar stores. The basic version of Google’s Merchant-hosted Local Storefront program enables advertisers to use a price match to help in navigating this issue.”

Mike Wojciechowski

Mike Wojciechowski, Senior Director, Shoppable Media at Tinuiti

When you implement LIAs using the basic program, customers who click on your ad or listing are directed to your omnichannel landing page; this page allows customers to select a specific store location for more information about the given item’s cost and availability. Similar to the full option, the basic program also represents a single merchant’s information.
 

The Pros and Cons of Product Listing Ads

 

  • Promoting in-store inventory: LIAs are connected to your local inventory feed, meaning you can promote your in-store inventory to local shoppers in real-time
  •  

  • Bringing a local shop online: The Google-hosted local storefront acts as an informative, digital local storefront that you can use to bring online awareness to your local store
  •  

  • Measuring performance: Stores have the ability to monitor the impact that digital ads have on foot traffic and in-store sales, and Google provides Store Visit data to help determine the true offline impact of your LIAs
  •  

  • Double exposure opportunity: You have the ability to run both regular Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Google Local Inventory Ads simultaneously, ultimately increasing your real estate in search results

“You can have products that your website sells, and only a select few that are actually carried in-store. If somebody searches for your product, but it’s only available online, then your PLA can still be displayed. Alternatively, with a product that is carried in-store, a regular PLA can be shown to drive traffic to your site, or you can have Google Local Inventory Ads displayed to push in-store transactions.”

Portrait of Roman Fitch

— Roman Fitch, Director, Growth Media at Tinuiti

One of the only drawbacks to Local Inventory Ads is the process required for setting them up and keeping them maintained. You need an individual product feed for each store location to be completed within Google Merchant Center. Without the technology and resources needed to keep in-store statuses up to date with Google product feeds, some businesses may run into some trouble.

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“In-store sales and conversions are going to change inventory conditions, and if businesses are not able to keep that up-to-date on the Google side of things, products may end up being disapproved and potentially even flagged. So that’s where the challenge comes in if you have a lot of stores,” explains Fitch.

 

 
Businesses must meet certain criteria to qualify for LIAs, including:

  • Own brick-and-mortar stores that are open to the public (e.g. no appointment required)
  •  

  • Stores must sell physical goods that do not require additional purchases (e.g. no memberships required)
  •  

  • The store’s physical location must be in the country ads are being targeted to (Google Local Inventory Ads are currently supported in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland)
  •  

  • Customer’s personally identifiable information (PII) must be protected
  •  

  • Google Shopping Policies must be met, and abided by

 

 
In order to get started with Google Local Inventory Ads, there are a few steps you need to follow.
 

Set up necessary accounts

Local Inventory Ads work in tandem with a multitude of Google’s offerings, so you’ll need accounts for the following:

  • Merchant Center: You’ll need to set-up a Merchant Center account and upload your business logo to it
  • Google Ads Account: This will need to be connected to your Merchant account
  • Google Business Profile Locations (fka Google My Business): This will require information about your business locations, so be sure to have that ready. This will also be where you create your store’s unique identifier, which you’ll need when you create your local feed

 

Enable Local Inventory Ads in Merchant Center

Once you have your accounts set up, you need to enable LIAs in your Merchant Center settings.

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how to enable local inventory ads in merchant center

  1. Sign in to Merchant Center
  2. Click Growth in the navigation menu
  3. Click Manage programs
  4. Click Get started on the local inventory ads card
  5. Confirm qualifications are met
  6. Click the plus button
  7. Choose the country where your physical stores are located

 

Create your Shopping and Local Products Feeds

Four data types and sources to run Local Inventory Ads, Store Information, Product Information and Inventory Information

Source: Google

To set-up Google Local Inventory, you’ll need to set-up four different feeds:

  • Google Shopping Feed: This is your standard product ads feed
  • Local Products Feed: This will display a list of available products at each of your store locations
  • Local Product Inventory Feed: This feed displays specifics about your product, such as price, inventory, and location-specific information
  • Business Information Feed: This displays information about each of your stores and feeds that information to Google Business Profile
Depiction of where Google obtains information for Product Feed

Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/3055932

From here, you can give Google information about your products through the local products feed.
Google has a complete list of mandatory and optional attributes, including:

  • ID
  • Title
  • Description
  • Image link
  • Brand

Once this has been created, it’s time to give Google location-specific information about your products. While some required attributes are standard across all items, others are conditional. Review the full list of local product inventory feed specification attribute requirements here, including:

  • Store code
  • Quantity
  • ID
  • Price

Taking the time to optimize your product feed can boost SERP visibility as well as sales, making it an important part of the feed creation process. If you’re not sure how to get started with feed creation, Google provides a detailed walk-through.
 

Register and submit inventory verification

Once your feeds are completed, you need to initiate inventory verification checks in your Merchant Center. After Google has received them, they’ll send out a representative to make sure your in-store inventory matches your local product feed, so be sure your information is accurate. Google may also schedule ongoing check-ins after their initial visit, so it’s vital to make sure your information is always up-to-date. If your inventory levels change frequently, we recommend sending multiple local product inventory feeds throughout the day.

Note that inventory verification is only required if you are using a Google-hosted Local Storefront, or a Merchant-hosted Local Storefront (basic) without a price match guarantee. Additionally, the number of required visits for GHLS users varies depending upon the number of store locations.

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If you are using MHLS (full) or MHLS (basic) with price match guarantee, no inventory verification store visits are required.

Chart with overview of how many inventory verifications are needed depending on landing page type and total number of stores

Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/7083859

 

Apply your Local Inventory Ads to Shopping Campaigns

Now that you’re ready to go, all that’s left is to enable your local inventory ads. You can do this by accessing your Google Ads account. From here, access the shopping campaign you want, navigate to Settings, then select Shopping Settings (Advanced).

Now, simply check the enable local inventory ads box and you’re good to go!

 

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Here are some techniques you can implement into your own Google Local Inventory Ad Strategy.
 

1. Increase bids for nearby shoppers

Use a location extension bid modifier to increase bids for shoppers close to your stores.

Local Inventory Ads are triggered within a 25 to 35-mile radius of your store, serving to potential customers who use their device within this distance.

Screenshot of Google’s location extension for targeting Local Inventory Ads

An especially useful strategy here is to increase bids for shoppers closest to your stores. The closer a shopper is, the more likely they are to visit your location and complete a purchase.
 

2. Increase bids during store hours

You can ramp up bids during your store hours using the location extension bid modifier and setting the modifier to reflect your store hours.

This will help push your store to more shoppers when they want and can get your products.

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Screenshot of Google’s location extension for scheduling and bid adjustment Local Inventory Ads

Note: Make sure your store hours are in blue.

However, this doesn’t mean you should turn off bidding outside of store hours. It’s still important for shoppers to be able to find your products at all hours—instead, simply minimize bid spending.

 

3. Add Store Pickup / Buy Online Pickup In-store options

A “Pick up today” badge on your Local Inventory Ad sends a powerful message that a customer can have their product in-hand very quickly, which can further improve click-through and conversions.

Example of standard LIA vs. BOPIS-eligible LIA for size 6 diapers

Source: Google

“The Buy Online, Pickup in Store feature has been a great addition for Google Shopping over the past few years and we expect to see continued adoption for this feature as many stores adapt to a world where curbside pickup is more prevalent and stores are becoming distribution centers for ecommerce orders.”

Mike Wojciechowski

— Mike Wojciechowski, Senior Director, Shoppable Media at Tinuiti

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To make your Local Inventory Ads eligible for Pickup today, next you need to meet a special set of conditions and also complete the appropriate Feed requirements.

Overview of required and optional feed attributes for BOPIS Local Inventory Ads

Source: https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/9432086

 

4. Use LIAs and Product Listing Ads (Shopping Ads) together

There’s a big benefit to running both organic Local Inventory Ads and paid Shopping Ads (Product Listing Ads) together.

  • You can increase your visibility by covering more of the search results for searches that trigger both your LIA and Shopping ads
  •  

  • For shoppers that are near your store, your LIAs will trigger for both mobile and desktop
  •  

  • For shoppers not nearby, Shopping ads can still trigger on both mobile and desktop

 

5. Run small scale holdout tests

If you have a lot of stores and are uncertain about whether to move forward with local inventory ads, one of the easiest things you can test out is to only run Local Inventory Ads for a few stores.

“Pick stores in different zip codes that have similar levels of advertising investment and in-store traffic. Track the impact of running Local Inventory Ads and gather information on whether store traffic ticks up,” says Wojciechowski.

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“Running this type of holdout test for a few stores will give you valuable insights that could help you gauge the potential impact if you roll out the program to all your stores. You can also work through how easy it is to track the impact for one store and come up with internal workflows that would make it easier to report on at scale.”
 

6. Send a limited amount of in-stock products

“If you can’t guarantee that you will be able to give Google accurate inventory for all of your products in every store location, instead of giving up on the program, you can send Google some of your products,” says Wojciechowski.

“Pick products that you know will be in stock. If you are a fashion retailer, you might want to send only certain sizes or colors of an item that you know most stores will carry/not run out of.”
 

7. Keep up on maintenance

Local Inventory Ads are not a “set-it-and-forget-it” solution.

You’ll need to update Google daily on your in-store inventory, and Google must have some way to verify those inventory counts. Google Business Profile must have all your business’s information, so ensuring this information is accurate is a must.

The solution also includes map pins and additional store information when searches are performed on laptops or desktops.

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big 5 case study for local inventory ads

With proper Feed setup and Local Inventory Ads campaigns, Big 5 Sporting Goods managed to drive a 25% increase in-store traffic, which boosted their ROAS by a factor of 13X.

Read the full story on how Search, Shopping, and Local Inventory Ads are leveraged together to produce results here.
 
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Greg Swan in May 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

 

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Optimizing Zoom’s digital experience for explosive growth

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Optimizing Zoom's digital experience for explosive growth

In February 2020, Zoom had millions of weekly visitors to their site, all of whom were coming to Zoom.us to do a handful of activities. Flashforward a month later to March, and Zoom’s traffic spiked to tens of millions of visitors every week. Those visitors arrived to not only use Zoom for a couple of work calls per week, but to entirely reinvent how they interacted with colleagues, partners, teachers, students, and even friends and family.   

Zoom used this opportunity to transform its users’ experience into incredible growth and customer happiness across geographies and verticals. How did they do it?  

At Opticon ’23, Alex London, Head of Digital Zoom and Jay Dettling, CEO of Hero Digital, joined Alex Atzberger, CEO, Optimizely to share how Zoom re-built their entire digital ecosystem. 

Keep reading to learn how Zoom partnered with Hero Digital and Optimizely to transform its customer experience and drive stellar results including these early wins: 

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  • Page load improved by 60% 
  • Speed to market improved by 50% 
  • Conversion improvement of 10% 
  • Publishing time from days to minutes (reduced by about half) 

The Year the World “Hopped on a Zoom Call” — & What Came Next

In March 2020, Zoom watched as web traffic, sign-ups, users and attendees grew from millions to hundreds of millions virtually overnight. Not only did its customer base and user group skyrocket, but its core use cases did, too: online meeting rooms were now used to host weddings, game nights, and math classes. At the same time, corporate brainstorms, sales calls, and even government processes requiring the highest security clearances moved to  Zoom to continue working as normally as possible. 

To meet the incredible demand for new use cases and services, the Zoom team had to ideate, test, and ship new products and features on a timeline that the internal teams refer to as “at the speed of Zoom.” Their success meant that their brand entered a hallowed hall of exclusive brands whose names made the transition from noun to verb. It was the year of: “Can we Zoom?” 

Getting there wasn’t just about building and launching products and features;  that was only half the battle. To scale and continue delivering happiness to customers, the team needed to ensure they told the story of Zoom across all customer touchpoints. 

Their goals

  1. Reimagine and rebuild the entire digital stack (including attribution models, analytics systems, acquisition, and localization) 
  2. Move from an existing agnostic, one-size-fits-all model to a global, flexible digital experience to cater to personas, geographies, and use cases 
  3. Improve their speed to market to continue moving “at the speed of Zoom” 

The Tactical Challenges of Reimagining Zoom’s Digital Stack 

Zoom’s overarching goal was to put the story at every single touchpoint of the customer journey. Given the dramatic change in their business, building a new site for Zoom would be incredibly complicated. Yet, if they succeeded, they’d generate demand, better enable purchases, and support its users.  

So how did they do it? Before making the leap, they looked to their strategic partners — Hero Digital and Optimizely.

 

 

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Zoom needed a new digital foundation to achieve all of its goals at scale. More importantly, their new foundation needed to untangle serious web traffic complexity.

Zoom has four primary visitor types — all arriving on Zoom’s marketing website by the millions. They include: 

  • Individuals and SMEs buying Zoom online 
  • Demo requests 
  • Product support requests 
  • Users and attendees accessing Zoom’s website as part of their workflow 

To add even more complexity, the teams needed to account for multi-lingual requirements for 20+ languages across the globe. 

“How do we build for these four levels of complexity? And how quickly can we move to tell our new platform story?” – Alex London, Head of Digital at Zoom

Before anything else, Zoom needed to build a new design system, and Hero Digital stepped in to help. Together, they built a minimum versatile component library that would scale across the website, mobile, ads, and anywhere else Zoom encountered customers. The initial minimum library featured 38 components with 29 variants and 8 page templates. 

Zoom also had to untangle the domain and subdomain issues of their own making. The past choice to build their digital foundation on ‘Zoom.us’ and create new subdomains for customers (coming in north of 10k subdomains) meant speed and ranking were complicated. Essentially, Zoom was competing with 10k+ sites that Zoom itself had created.  

Resolving this problem by choosing to unify content on a single domain, Zoom, Hero Digital, and Optimizely got to work. 

Hero Digital’s Foundation + Optimizely’s Architecture = Moving at the Speed of Zoom

By partnering with Hero Digital and Optimizely, Zoom reimagined its complete customer experience and upgraded to a best-in-class technology platform that combines AI-accelerated workflows with experiment-driven digital experiences. 

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The team deployed the Optimizely Digital Experience Platform, featuring Optimizely Content Management System, Content Management Platform, and Experimentation, as the architecture to bring their foundation to life and scale faster than they could ever imagine.

Component Library + Optimizely CMS  

One of Zoom’s goals was to move from its existing agnostic model to a global, flexible digital experience to cater to personas, geographies, and use cases. To do that, they needed a modern content management system. 

In the first phase of the build, the team focused on Zoom’s marketing site, now untangled but still over 200 pages. They established a foundation on Optimizely’s Content Management System to create a foundation with a migration plan over months. 

Even in the earliest stages, the results were huge because the CMS meant Zoom can could now push global changes in just minutes. They save hundreds of hours of work across the company by: 

  • Eliminating the devops processes, which previously took days or weeks to work through
  • Reducing publishing processes by half even with new added governance steps

 

Optimizely’s Content Marketing Platform

Improving speed to market was Zoom’s third goal. With the first two goals unlocked by their phased migration to Optimizely’s CMS, they needed to not only unblock the velocity but also the creativity and collaboration in producing new content. Zoom’s teams receive 80-100 requests a week for new content across their digital properties. 

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For Zoom, the re-build of the intake process for content requests was a key component of speeding up their processes. They built in guard rails and governance processes that when used within the CMP, reduced publishing time to minutes rather than days.

 

 

Now, with the first three goals— a reimagined digital stack, a flexible digital experience, and improved speed to market—accomplished, Zoom will focus on its next digital phase: experimentation and personalization. 

How could a digital experience platform help you navigate the next phase of your business? Learn more from the experts with access to The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2023 report.

 

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

In today’s fast-paced business environment, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) has emerged as a critical facilitator for enhancing operational efficiency and competitiveness. EMM solutions streamline workflows, ensuring that enterprises can adapt to the rapidly changing digital landscape. This blog discusses the indispensable role of EMM in modern businesses, focusing on how it revolutionizes workflows and positions businesses for success.

EMM solutions act as the backbone for securely managing mobile devices, applications, and content that facilitate remote work and on-the-go access to company resources. With a robust EMM platform, businesses can ensure data protection and compliance with regulatory requirements, even in highly dynamic environments. This not only minimizes the risk of data breaches but also reinforces the company’s reputation for reliability and security.

Seamless Integration Across Devices

In today’s digital era, seamless integration across devices is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for maintaining operational fluency within any organization. Our EMM solutions are designed to ensure that employees have secure and efficient access to the necessary resources, irrespective of the device being used. This cross-platform compatibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing for a unified user experience that supports both the agility and dynamism required in modern business operations. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, our solutions provide a cohesive ecosystem where data flows securely and effortlessly across mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, ensuring that your workforce remains connected and productive, regardless of their physical location. The adoption of our EMM solutions speaks volumes about an organization’s commitment to fostering a technologically forward and secure working environment, echoing its dedication to innovation and excellence.

Enhanced Productivity

EMM facilitates the seamless integration of mobile devices into the corporate environment, enabling employees to access corporate resources from anywhere. This flexibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing tasks to be completed outside of traditional office settings.

Unified Endpoint Management

The incorporation of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) within EMM solutions ensures that both mobile and fixed devices can be managed from a single console, simplifying IT operations and enhancing security.

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Advanced Security Protocols

Where cyber threats loom larger than ever, our EMM solutions incorporate cutting-edge security protocols designed to shield your organization’s data from unauthorized access and breaches. By consistently updating and refining our security measures, we ensure your assets are protected by the most advanced defenses available. This commitment to security not only safeguards your information but also reinforces your company’s reputation as a secure and trustworthy enterprise.

Data Protection

EMM solutions implement robust security measures to protect sensitive corporate data across all mobile devices. This includes encryption, secure VPN connections, and the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, thereby mitigating potential data breaches.

Compliance Management

By enforcing security policies and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, EMM helps businesses avoid costly fines and reputational damage associated with data breaches.

Driving Operational Efficiency

In the quest to drive operational efficiency, our solutions streamline processes, reduce redundancies, and automate routine tasks. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, we empower businesses to optimize their workflows, resulting in significant time and cost savings. Our approach not only enhances operational agility but also positions your organization at the forefront of innovation, setting a new standard in your industry.

Automated Workflows

By automating repetitive tasks, EMM reduces manual efforts, increases accuracy, and speeds up business processes. This automation supports operational efficiency and allows employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

Real-time Communication and Collaboration

EMM enhances communication and collaboration among team members by providing tools that facilitate real-time interactions. This immediate exchange of information accelerates decision-making processes and improves project outcomes.

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Testimonials from Industry Leaders

Leaders in various industries have witnessed tangible benefits from implementing EMM solutions, including increased productivity, improved security, and enhanced operational efficiency. Testimonials from these leaders underscore the transformative impact of EMM on their businesses, solidifying its vital role in modern operational strategies.

Our commitment to innovation and excellence propels us to continually refine our EMM solutions, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of technology. This dedication not only solidifies our standing as industry leaders but also guarantees that our clients receive the most advanced and effective operational tools available, tailored specifically to meet their unique business challenges.

Looking Ahead

The evolution of EMM solutions continues at a rapid pace, with advancements in technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) further enhancing their capabilities. These developments promise even greater efficiencies, security measures, and competitive advantages for businesses willing to invest in the future of mobility management.

Our proactive approach to integrating emerging technologies with EMM solutions positions our clients at the forefront of their industries. By leveraging our deep technical expertise and industry insights, we empower businesses to not only adapt to but also lead in an increasingly digital world, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient amidst rapid technological shifts.

In conclusion, the role of Enterprise Mobility Management in modern businesses cannot be overstated. Its ability to revolutionize workflows, enhance security, and drive operational efficiency positions it as a foundational element of digital transformation strategies. We invite businesses to explore the potential of EMM solutions and partner with us to achieve unprecedented levels of success and innovation in the digital era. Together, we can redefine the boundaries of what is possible in business operations and set new benchmarks for excellence in the industry.

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

Air Canada tried to throw its chatbot under the AI bus.

It didn’t work.

A Canadian court recently ruled Air Canada must compensate a customer who bought a full-price ticket after receiving inaccurate information from the airline’s chatbot.

Air Canada had argued its chatbot made up the answer, so it shouldn’t be liable. As Pepper Brooks from the movie Dodgeball might say, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ’em.” 

But what does that chatbot mistake mean for you as your brands add these conversational tools to their websites? What does it mean for the future of search and the impact on you when consumers use tools like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT to research your brand?

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AI disrupts Air Canada

AI seems like the only topic of conversation these days. Clients expect their agencies to use it as long as they accompany that use with a big discount on their services. “It’s so easy,” they say. “You must be so happy.”

Boards at startup companies pressure their management teams about it. “Where are we on an AI strategy,” they ask. “It’s so easy. Everybody is doing it.” Even Hollywood artists are hedging their bets by looking at the newest generative AI developments and saying, “Hmmm … Do we really want to invest more in humans?  

Let’s all take a breath. Humans are not going anywhere. Let me be super clear, “AI is NOT a strategy. It’s an innovation looking for a strategy.” Last week’s Air Canada decision may be the first real-world distinction of that.

The story starts with a man asking Air Canada’s chatbot if he could get a retroactive refund for a bereavement fare as long as he provided the proper paperwork. The chatbot encouraged him to book his flight to his grandmother’s funeral and then request a refund for the difference between the full-price and bereavement fair within 90 days. The passenger did what the chatbot suggested.

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Air Canada refused to give a refund, citing its policy that explicitly states it will not provide refunds for travel after the flight is booked.

When the passenger sued, Air Canada’s refusal to pay got more interesting. It argued it should not be responsible because the chatbot was a “separate legal entity” and, therefore, Air Canada shouldn’t be responsible for its actions.

I remember a similar defense in childhood: “I’m not responsible. My friends made me do it.” To which my mom would respond, “Well, if they told you to jump off a bridge, would you?”

My favorite part of the case was when a member of the tribunal said what my mom would have said, “Air Canada does not explain why it believes …. why its webpage titled ‘bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”

The BIG mistake in human thinking about AI

That is the interesting thing as you deal with this AI challenge of the moment. Companies mistake AI as a strategy to deploy rather than an innovation to a strategy that should be deployed. AI is not the answer for your content strategy. AI is simply a way to help an existing strategy be better.

Generative AI is only as good as the content — the data and the training — fed to it.  Generative AI is a fantastic recognizer of patterns and understanding of the probable next word choice. But it’s not doing any critical thinking. It cannot discern what is real and what is fiction.

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Think for a moment about your website as a learning model, a brain of sorts. How well could it accurately answer questions about the current state of your company? Think about all the help documents, manuals, and educational and training content. If you put all of that — and only that — into an artificial brain, only then could you trust the answers.

Your chatbot likely would deliver some great results and some bad answers. Air Canada’s case involved a minuscule challenge. But imagine when it’s not a small mistake. And what about the impact of unintended content? Imagine if the AI tool picked up that stray folder in your customer help repository — the one with all the snarky answers and idiotic responses? Or what if it finds the archive that details everything wrong with your product or safety? AI might not know you don’t want it to use that content.

ChatGPT, Gemini, and others present brand challenges, too

Publicly available generative AI solutions may create the biggest challenges.

I tested the problematic potential. I asked ChatGPT to give me the pricing for two of the best-known CRM systems. (I’ll let you guess which two.) I asked it to compare the pricing and features of the two similar packages and tell me which one might be more appropriate.

First, it told me it couldn’t provide pricing for either of them but included the pricing page for each in a footnote. I pressed the citation and asked it to compare the two named packages. For one of them, it proceeded to give me a price 30% too high, failing to note it was now discounted. And it still couldn’t provide the price for the other, saying the company did not disclose pricing but again footnoted the pricing page where the cost is clearly shown.

In another test, I asked ChatGPT, “What’s so great about the digital asset management (DAM) solution from [name of tech company]?” I know this company doesn’t offer a DAM system, but ChatGPT didn’t.

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It returned with an answer explaining this company’s DAM solution was a wonderful, single source of truth for digital assets and a great system. It didn’t tell me it paraphrased the answer from content on the company’s webpage that highlighted its ability to integrate into a third-party provider’s DAM system.

Now, these differences are small. I get it. I also should be clear that I got good answers for some of my harder questions in my brief testing. But that’s what’s so insidious. If users expected answers that were always a little wrong, they would check their veracity. But when the answers seem right and impressive, even though they are completely wrong or unintentionally accurate, users trust the whole system.

That’s the lesson from Air Canada and the subsequent challenges coming down the road.

AI is a tool, not a strategy

Remember, AI is not your content strategy. You still need to audit it. Just as you’ve done for over 20 years, you must ensure the entirety of your digital properties reflect the current values, integrity, accuracy, and trust you want to instill.

AI will not do this for you. It cannot know the value of those things unless you give it the value of those things. Think of AI as a way to innovate your human-centered content strategy. It can express your human story in different and possibly faster ways to all your stakeholders.

But only you can know if it’s your story. You have to create it, value it, and manage it, and then perhaps AI can help you tell it well. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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