Most contact pages are designed with function in mind.
They slap an email address, phone, and location on a plain background and call it a day.
But basic contact pages don’t inspire visitors to reach out and connect.
Other pages make it easy to contact the company – which is awesome.
Except, that can also drive up customer service costs.
So what makes the perfect Contact Us page?
An awesome Contact Us page finds just the right balance between making it easy to reach the company and sharing resources users can use to answer their questions right away.
Keep reading to discover 39 examples of Contact Us pages that go beyond the basics and will, hopefully, inspire you to take your site to the next level.
39 Awesome Contact Us Page Examples You Need to See
1. Broker Notes
At first glance, Broker Notes‘ contact page looks pretty bare.
There’s no graphics, no quirky copy, just a plain old contact form.
Great for UX, but not so great for inspiring users to reach out.
So what stands out on this page?
The drop-down menu under “How can we help you?” lets users share the reason they are contacting the site.
This makes it easier to sort through requests and respond to important contacts as soon as possible.
For example, if you select “I am a broker looking to advertise on Broker Notes,” it takes you to another form to share more information about your firm.
The little bar at the bottom lets you know how much time is left in the form, so users are less likely to get annoyed.
Sleeknote uses a similar format to Broker Notes – they ask how they can help and provide links to book a demo or become a partner.
If the user needs something else, they are invited to fill out the contact form.
Another feature that stands out is Sleeknote’s live chat option, where users can reach out to learn more about what they offer or ask questions.
Making it easy to find information serves two purposes. It:
- Helps the customer find what they need.
- Reduces the number of contacts the brand has to manage.
In other words, it’s a win-win.
Yeti‘s contact us page stands out for several reasons.
First, they offer a beautiful (and on-brand) photo background. It is striking without drawing away from the copy.
The copy is a bit cheeky, “While we’re good with smoke signals, there are simpler ways for us to get in touch.”
Below the fold, Yeti offers a range of resources, including product FAQs, info on warranties, and links to check gift card balances.
But they also don’t bury the contact info, which would just frustrate users.
Clicking on the “Send us an email” button takes you right to the contact form.
It’s easy to find but not too easy to find. (Which also helps keep away those pesky bots.)
BrightLocal keeps their contact page simple but personalizes it with the names and faces of their support team.
This helps users feel like they are connecting with real people, not just a faceless brand.
They also ask if users are a current customer, which lets them provide better service by understanding whether a contact is likely to have a question or need service.
There’s a lot to love about RedBull‘s website, but their contact page really stands out.
Like Yeti, they use a striking image in the background.
They also provide a category drop-down so users can share what they need help with.
Just below the standard contact form, they provide a special form just for Press members, which is a nice touch (and likely cuts down on the number of press requests they get through their regular contact form!)
The page then offers an expansive list of FAQs (which, again, helps keep those contacts to a minimum).
There are two things I really love about this page.
First, they get all up in your face to let you know that response times are longer than normal.
Yay for setting expectations.
But they also have a chatbot that helps people navigate the FAQs.
Chipotle strikes the perfect balance between limiting the number of emails and still providing great customer service.
If fun undies are your jam, then you’ll want to check out MeUndies.
The brand offers a fun vibe, and it shows on their contact us page.
Like most other brands, they try to steer users to their help center first.
Can’t find what you need?
They make it easy to reach out to their “CheekSquad” by chat, email, text, or social.
How many times have you reached out to customer support and spent days waiting for a response?
Podia starts out by highlighting their short wait time, which is really smart – especially as many people are working remotely these days.
They also share live chat hours and pictures of their support team to remind customers they’ll be talking to a real live person.
9. The Middle Finger Project
If you are looking for a book about getting unstuck and ridding yourself of imposter syndrome, I can’t recommend this book enough.
But, we’re here to talk about contact pages.
So, here’s The Middle Finger Project’s contact page:
Form-wise, it’s not super exciting, right?
But I love the cheeky language and “What I really want to say is…” and the send button:
I’m not sure what the average speed of a pack of wolves is, but it sounds good.
Who said contact pages had to be boring, anyway?
10. Brands to life
Brands to life is an Australian-based branding and creative agency that helps, well, bring brands to life.
They have a unique brand that is simple and straightforward.
Their contact page includes all the standard information — name, location, email, and so forth.
The page feels plain, but it fits with the rest of their site and their overall branding, which lets the user know who the brand is and what they can expect.
This just goes to show that contact pages don’t have to be fancy – especially if your brand’s personality is simple.
11. Kick Point
Kick Point does a great job of weeding out people they don’t want to work with right from the start – “Don’t address your email to us “Dear Sirs.” is a pretty strong statement to have top and center on your contact form!
A bit further down the contact page, the team shares how long they take to respond.
It’s all relatable and on-brand.
I dig it.
12. Leeds Golf Centre
What does a golf course have to teach us about creating an awesome contact page?
First, they make it easy to book online, which is likely the main reason folks head to their website.
A bit further down they list all their contact info – phone, email, even fax.
But what really stands out is their contact form, which features a nifty little checkbox for folks to sign up for their newsletter.
Users have to check the box – they aren’t being sneaky – but it’s an easy way to increase newsletter sign-ups.
Nebular is a U.S.-based digital development agency.
Their website is bold and loud, and their contact page sticks to that theme.
The self-deprecating humor shows off who they are as a business in just a few lines and the bold colors are carried over from the rest of the site.
Simple, but effective.
Who is on the other end of that contact form?
With some companies, you’ll never know.
Basecamp, however, shows off their teams smiling (though drawn) faces right at the top of the contact form.
They also include links to sign up, learn more about their offerings, and pricing.
As a result, their contact page feels welcoming and easy to use.
ConvertKit is known for its automated email service tools designed to help customers get the most out of their marketing.
Their contact page highlights one of their main goals – customer success.
Just below the hero image, customers can click to visit the knowledge base, reach out to support, or learn the basics in their workshops.
And, like many other brands, they offer live chat right on the contact page which can help reduce customer frustration by helping them find the info they need right away.
16. Moon Pie
Sadly, there was none of the tongue in cheek charm to be found on their contact page, but it is incredibly well laid out.
For starters, they offer easy links to call or contact each of the brand’s locations — and show where to place wholesale orders.
A bit further down they share FAQs such as “Where can I find MoonPies in my area.” and “Are MoonPies kosher?”
Only after sharing that information do they give you a contact form.
The contact form isn’t hidden at all – but they sure do everything they can to answer your questions before giving you the contact form.
17. Taco Bell
Here’s another brand known for its snarky social presence.
Like MoonPies, Taco Bell keeps it direct but casual on their contact page.
They ask for contact information and try to direct users to their FAQ pages first.
What really stands out is Taco Bell lets customers choose how to get a response – including an option for “No reply needed.”
This makes me feel like there’s a good chance they’ll actually respond to me.
18. Focus Lab
Here’s the thing – contact pages need to be functional.
If you get too crazy with the design, you might just end up frustrating users.
But, just because it has to work doesn’t mean it can’t be creative.
Focus Lab created this awesome interactive contact form that allows users to share their name, needs, and budget (which is critical for client work).
It is unique, which is part of its brand appeal.
And if the form feels like too much, you can scroll down just a bit further to find their email, location, and social accounts.
Contact pages often end up as a catch-all box – which can be time-consuming to sort through.
99Designs solves that problem by separating requests based on need with one link for help requests and a separate page for PR inquiries.
If your support times are way down, it might be worth looking for ways to segment your contact form into separate inboxes.
Freshbooks use their contact page to drive home one of their selling points – great customer support.
They don’t offer an email support form, but rather encourage customers to call and talk to a real, live person.
In a world of chatbots and email forms, this is pretty refreshing!
They also highlight what they offer and invite users to learn more about everything their software has to offer.
It’s almost a half landing page/half contact page. And if you expect a lot of non-customers will end up on your contact page, this is a good strategy.
Now, I may be partial to Five’s contact us page (full disclosure: I’ve worked with them in the past), but I’m obsessed with its drop-down feature from the main navigation.
As you hover over the navigation at the top, this drop-down appears on every page of the website, making it easy for users to ask questions wherever they are on the site.
My favorite piece of the Xbox contact page is the “Disability answer desk.”
I have yet to see another company add this feature to their contact us page.
As accessibility grows in importance for SEO, I’m hoping we will start to see more brands feature these types of contact options.
Thanks for leading the charge, Xbox!
Zendesk is giving us Matrix-style vibes with their choice to choose between speaking with a sales member or browsing the help center.
Will you take the red pill or the blue pill?
This is a common practice I’m beginning to see trending in the SaaS space.
As companies reduce overhead or work with minimum employees, they are forcing you to find the answer yourself within the help center.
But, if you want to buy, you have the opportunity to speak to a human.
25. Dollar Shave Club
While I was hoping for a unicorn or some sort of sarcasm while scanning Dollar Shave Club’s contact page, I was pleasantly surprised to find this interactive contact us page.
Dollar Shave Club merges the help center with their contact us page based on your query.
Kinsta, a premium WordPress hosting company, is one of my personal favorite WordPress hosting companies.
Mostly because I’ve seen page speed triple its performance after migrating to Kinsta.
But, Kinsta’s WordPress hosting isn’t the only thing I’m in love with.
Kinsta’s contact page answers questions directly while providing a direct email address and live chat.
Full disclosure: I have provided copywriting services for Kinsta in the past.
27. Swab the World
Swab the World is becoming one of my favorite websites, mostly for its quirky copy.
You can see in Swab the World’s contact page, they convey their conversational tone even in the minimal copy on the page.
Plus, I love the shout out to snail mail. Does anyone still love getting snail mail? 🙋♀️
Shopify serves up a friendly contact us page with a warm welcoming smile in the visuals.
More importantly, Shopify breaks down the sections of support you may need.
Shopify highlights its community forums, help center, and contact information for support.
Notice the arrangement?
It’s signaling to users to seek help from the forum, then the help center, until finally, you need support from a human.
Similar to Shopify, Trello calls out their Trello Community to help users gain support.
As more customers begin to use your services or product, it’s helpful to provide additional support from other users who may have experienced the same issue.
Still, when all else fails, users are able to contact Trello’s support team directly.
PayPal’s customer service identifies the common queries it receives with its contact us page.
You can see below PayPal highlights issues with passwords, payments, donations, disputes, etc.
However, if you are still unable to find a solution, PayPal shares additional links to help its users find their answers quickly.
32. Ben & Jerry’s
While Ben & Jerry’s is one of my favorite ice cream brands (shout out to Phish Food lovers!), Ben & Jerry’s website design and copy have always been on the top of my list.
Again, similar to PayPal, Ben & Jerry’s provides an FAQ section with the most common questions asked to help speed up the response time.
The crew at Friends stays true to its brand with the monotone colors and playful copy.
As you continue to scroll down the contact us page, Friends shares a peek inside its multiple offices to give potential clients insight into what daily life is like at Friends.
34. Bite Size Entertainment
Bite Size Entertainment took an interesting spin on its contact us page.
Instead of including a form, they use an interactive map embed to highlight restaurants, bars, and coffee shops near its office.
Bite Size Entertainment shows its personality by using inspiring copy like “your future dream job,” and getting personal with “talk over coffee.”
Even on its contact us page, the conversational tone is carried throughout the website.
After listening to a podcast with Suzy Batiz a few years back, I’ve been a big fan of the Poo-Pourri copy.
They play directly into their target audience as you can see in the live chat, “Tell us a bit about your stinkin’ self.”
36. Squatty Potty
But, Squatty Potty’s unique sense of humor and love for 💩 isn’t the only thing I love about this brand.
Squatty Potty’s contact us page is one you’ll want to take a peek at.
Not only does Squatty Potty provide a contact form, but they include an organized FAQ section below to help answer your questions faster.
Velocity is a B2B marketing agency that has been making me chuckle with its website copy for years.
It plays into its own services by acknowledging that if you land on this page, you’re in the “later stages of the B2B purchase journey.”
If you’re an SEO professional, you’ll love the way Velocity added directions to its offices sending tons of local signals to the SERPs by acknowledging specific train stations, cinemas, bridges, and more.
38. Ann Handley
Ann Handley has long been a fan favorite of the Search Engine Journal team.
But we’re not just fans of Ann’s storytelling.
Her contact us page nails it again.
After Ann charms you with her copy above, she dives into specifics on how to email her to get a quicker response.
39. Pit Viper Sunglasses
I have to admit, I bought a pair of these sunglasses based only on the website design and copy of Pit Vipers.
Between its borderline rude and snarky website copy and use of comic sans font, it’s difficult as an SEO nerd to not want to buy from this site.
Contact Us Pages Are the Tattoos of Your Site
It’s sad but true, contact us pages are the tattoos of your website.
You know they are there, but you probably forgot to take care of them and touch them up.
Contact pages need to put function first. But, as these examples show, contact pages don’t have to be boring.
Featured Image: Created by author, September 2020
All screenshots taken by author, September 2020
Sustaining A SaaS Brand & Organic Channel During A Recession
During an economic recession, marketing budgets and ROAS typically comes under much more scrutiny.
You should read this article for reasons you should not cut your SEO spending during a recession.
The next question will be about ROI and what you can do to mitigate the oncoming issues.
During an economic downturn, the objectives of reducing churn are amplified. Your sales pipelines may see less activity, and the C-suite may focus more on MRR (monthly recurring revenue) and ARR (annual recurring revenue).
In this article, I will look at subscription-model-based businesses and some methods and strategies that can pivot their SEO efforts toward maintaining performance and SEO ROI (return on investment).
Understanding Why Accounts Cancel
Customers cancel their subscriptions for myriad reasons, but during an economic downturn, reasons tend to gravitate toward costs and perceived value.
Other reasons include not receiving enough value from the subscription, difficulty canceling their subscription, or feeling that customer support is unresponsive or unhelpful.
You can identify these issues before customers provide feedback on an exit survey. Create opportunities for conversations and feedback loops with the sales and customer service teams. This lets customers address concerns before they cancel.
Targeting Disengagement & Value Shortfalls
To show this value, we can pivot our content and messaging to demonstrate opportunity costs and how the upfront cost prevents a more significant shortfall in the long run.
Encountering usage friction with the software is an identifiable problem.
Within the organization, teams should be able to provide you access to DAU (daily active user) and MAU (monthly active user) data.
Companies often boast about having high numbers of each, but the data can also be used to identify accounts with below-average or spare login frequency, and these can then be collated and reached out to.
- Put accounts on low and mid-tier subscriptions into an email gauntlet and reach out. Offer a consultation with an accounts person. You could also ask them to fill out a feedback form to identify pain points to help build a content strategy.
- Reach out to accounts on high-tier subscriptions with existing account managers.
Addressing customer issues could be as simple as rewording elements of commercial product pages, adding additional sections, or reinforcing the value proposition with case studies.
You can also address these issues with traditional blog content. Add more support articles to your support center and build out existing ones with media such as video to address common friction points.
Developing Content Against Competitor Value Pitfalls
Price is likely the most challenging reason for leaving to predict and manage. Price is informed and dictated by other business needs and costs. While it might make sense to offer deals to high-value accounts, reducing the price on a wide scale likely isn’t an option.
Price and cost are subjective to the value your solution provides. So Demonstrating your benefits can help customers justify the expenditure.
Any solution’s cost must, at minimum, balance out the problem or provide additional value.
This is known as a cost-benefit analysis. A vital part of a cost-benefit analysis is comparing the costs of the solution versus the benefits and determining a net present value.
During this assessment, your messaging can leverage and demonstrate additional benefits, or benefit enhancements, against your competitors.
In SaaS, you could break this down as comparisons between both product elements and overall “package” elements:
- Direct product features and performance of those features.
- Indirect product features and “add ons” that supplement the core product.
- The bandwidth of the solution on a monthly or annual basis.
- The number of user seats/sub-accounts per main account.
- Speed of customer support response (and level of customer support).
A typical approach to highlighting competitor pitfalls is with comparison tables and our-brand-v-competitor-brand URLs and blogs.
These pages will then compete with your competitors’ versions and independent websites, affiliates, and other reviews for clicks and to sway consumer opinion.
You must also explain these benefits and competitive advantages on the product pages themselves.
Bullet listing the product features is commonplace. But make sure the benefits are explained directly against your competitors. This can help these competitive advantages better resonate with your target audience.
Reinforcing Brand Solution Compounds
A brand compound search term is a term made up of two or more words and refers to a specific brand.
For example, the brand compound search term “Decathlon waterproofs” would highlight users wanting to find waterproofs specifically from the brand Decathlon.
Users performing searches like this also reaffirms the connection between topics and brands, helping Google further understand relationships and relevancy.
To optimize brand compound search terms, you need to understand the concept of semantic marketing. This means knowing how different words, phrases, and ideas relate in terms of meaning.
You should research how your target audience searches for information related to your product or service and use those search terms in your content.
Another strategy you can use is to add modifiers to your search terms.
These can be words like “best,” “how,” or any other qualifier that will make the search more specific. This will help you get more targeted traffic that will likely convert better than generic search terms.
While these are uncertain times and competition for users and recurring revenue becoming more fierce, pivoting your SEO and content strategy to focus on value propositions and addressing consumer friction points can help better qualify leads and provide objection questions that consumers will take to competitors.
In this strategy, the keyword search volumes and other values might not be high. When you’re addressing user friction points and concerns, the value is qualitative, not quantitative.
Featured Image: VectorMine/Shutterstock
Where Are The Advertisers Leaving Twitter Going For The Super Bowl?
Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter last October 27, 2022, things at the social media company have gone from bad to worse.
You probably saw this coming from a mile away – especially if you had read about a study by Media Matters that was published on November 22, 2022, entitled, “In less than a month, Elon Musk has driven away half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers.”
If you missed that, then you’ve probably read Matt G. Southern’s article in Search Engine Journal, which was entitled, “Twitter’s Revenue Down 40% As 500 Top Advertisers Pull Out.”
This mass exodus creates a challenge for digital advertising executives and their agencies. Where should they go long term?
And what should they do in the short term – with Super Bowl LVII coming up on Sunday, February 12, 2023?
Ideally, these advertisers would follow their audience. If they knew where Twitter users were going, their ad budgets could follow them.
But it isn’t clear where Twitter users are going – or if they’ve even left yet.
Fake Followers On Twitter And Brand Safety
According to the latest data from Similarweb, a digital intelligence platform, there were 6.9 billion monthly visits to Twitter worldwide during December 2022 – up slightly from 6.8 billion in November, and down slightly from 7.0 billion in October.
So, if a high-profile user like Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has taken a step back from the frequent posts on her Twitter account, @wutrain, which has more than 152,000 followers, then it appears that other users have stepped up their monthly visits.
This includes several accounts that had been banned previously for spreading disinformation, which Musk unbanned.
(Disinformation is defined as “deliberately misleading or biased information,” while misinformation may be spread without the sender having harmful intentions.)
It’s also worth noting that SparkToro, which provides audience research software, also has a free tool called Fake Follower Audit, which analyzes Twitter accounts.
This tool defines “fake followers” as ones that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets either because they’re spam, bots, and propaganda, or because they’re no longer active on Twitter.
On Jan. 24, 2023, I used this tool and found that 70.2% of the 126.5 million followers of the @elonmusk account were fake.
According to the tool, accounts with a similar-sized following to @elonmusk have a median of 41% fake followers. So, Elon Musk’s account has more fake followers than most.
By comparison, 20.6% of the followers of the @wutreain account were fake. So, Michelle Wu’s account has fewer fake followers than accounts with a similar-sized following.
In fact, most Twitter accounts have significant numbers of fake followers.
This underlines the brand safety concerns that many advertisers and media buyers have, but it doesn’t give them any guidance on where they should move their ad dollars.
Who Are Twitter’s Top Competitors And What Are Their Monthly Visits?
So, I asked Similarweb if they had more data that might help. And they sent me the monthly visits from desktop and mobile devices worldwide for Twitter and its top competitors:
- YouTube.com: 34.6 billion in December 2022, down 2.8% from 35.6 billion in December 2021.
- Facebook.com: 18.1 billion in December 2022, down 14.2% from 21.1 billion in December 2021.
- Twitter.com: 6.9 billion in December 2022, up 1.5% from 6.8 billion in December 2021.
- Instagram.com: 6.3 billion in December 2022, down 3.1% from 6.5 billion in December 2021.
- TikTok.com: 1.9 billion in December 2022, up 26.7% from 1.5 billion in December 2021.
- Reddit.com: 1.8 billion in December 2022, down 5.3% from 1.9 billion in December 2021.
- LinkedIn.com: 1.5 billion in December 2022, up 7.1% from 1.4 billion in December 2021.
- Pinterest.com: 1.0 billion in December 2022, up 11.1% from 0.9 billion in December 2021.
The most significant trends worth noting are monthly visits to TikTok are up 26.7% year over year from a smaller base, while monthly visits to Facebook are down 14.2% from a bigger base.
So, the short-term events at Twitter over the past 90 days may have taken the spotlight off the long-term trends at TikTok and Facebook over the past year for some industry observers.
But based on Southern’s article in Search Engine Journal, “Facebook Shifts Focus To Short-Form Video After Stock Plunge,” which was published on February 6, 2022, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is focused on these trends.
In a call with investors, Zuckerberg said back then:
“People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly. And this is why our focus on Reels is so important over the long term.”
Meanwhile, there were 91% more monthly visits to YouTube in December 2022 than there were to Facebook. And that only counts the visits that Similarweb tracks from mobile and desktop devices.
Similarweb doesn’t track visits from connected TVs (CTVs).
Measuring Data From Connected TVs (CTVs) And Co-Viewing
Why would I wish to draw your attention to CTVs?
First, global viewers watched a daily average of over 700 million hours of YouTube content on TV devices, according to YouTube internal data from January 2022.
And Insider Intelligence reported in 2022 that 36.4% of the U.S. share of average time spent per day with YouTube came from connected devices, including Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku, and Xfinity Flex, while 49.3% came from mobile devices, and 14.3% came from desktops or laptops.
Second, when people watch YouTube on a connected TV, they often watch it together with their friends, family, and colleagues – just like they did at Super Bowl parties before the pandemic.
There’s even a term for this behavior: Co-viewing.
And advertisers can now measure their total YouTube CTV audience using real-time and census-level surveys in over 100 countries and 70 languages.
This means Heineken and Marvel Studios can measure the co-viewing of their Super Bowl ad in more than 100 markets around the globe where Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic beer is sold, and/or 26 countries where “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” is scheduled to be released three to five days after the Big Game.
It also enables Apple Music to measure the co-viewing of their Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show during Big Game parties worldwide (except Mainland China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, where access to YouTube is currently blocked).
And, if FanDuel has already migrated to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), then the innovative sports-tech entertainment company can not only measure the co-viewing of their Big Game teasers on YouTube AdBlitz in 16 states where sports betting is legal, but also measure engaged-view conversions (EVCs) from YouTube within 3 days of viewing Rob Gronkowski’s attempt to kick a live field goal.
Advertisers couldn’t do that in 2022. But they could in a couple of weeks.
If advertisers want to follow their audience, then they should be moving some of their ad budgets out of Facebook, testing new tactics, and experimenting with new initiatives on YouTube in 2023.
Where should the advertisers leaving Twitter shift their budgets long term? And how will that change their Super Bowl strategies in the short term?
According to Similarweb, monthly visits to ads.twitter.com, the platform’s ad-buying portal dropped 15% worldwide from 2.5 million in December 2021 to 2.1 million in December 2022.
So, advertisers were heading for the exit weeks before they learned that 500 top advertisers had left the platform.
Where Did Their Ad Budgets Go?
Well, it’s hard to track YouTube advertising, which is buried in Google’s sprawling ad business.
And we can’t use business.facebook.com as a proxy for interest in advertising on that platform because it’s used by businesses for other purposes, such as managing organic content on their Facebook pages.
But monthly visits to ads.snapchat.com, that platform’s ad-buying portal, jumped 88.3% from 1.6 million in December 2021 to 3.0 million in December 2022.
Monthly visits to ads.tiktok.com are up 36.6% from 5.1 million in December 2021 to 7.0 million in December 2022.
Monthly visits to ads.pinterest.com are up 23.3% from 1.1 million in December 2021 to 1.4 million in December 2022.
And monthly visits to business.linkedin.com are up 14.6% from 5.7 million in December 2021 to 6.5 million in December 2022.
It appears that lots of advertisers are hedging their bets by spreading their money around.
Now, most of them should probably continue to move their ad budgets into Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, and LinkedIn – unless the “Chief Twit” can find a way to keep his microblogging service from becoming “a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”
How will advertisers leaving Twitter change their Super Bowl plan this year?
To double-check my analysis, I interviewed Joaquim Salguerio, who is the Paid Media Director at LINK Agency. He’s managed media budgets of over eight figures at multiple advertising agencies.
Below are my questions and his answers.
Greg Jarboe: “Which brands feel that Twitter has broken their trust since Musk bought the platform?”
Joaquim Salguerio: “I would say that several brands will have different reasonings for this break of trust.
First, if you’re an automaker, there’s suddenly a very tight relationship between Twitter and one of your competitors.
Second, advertisers that are quite averse to taking risks with their communications because of brand safety concerns might feel that they still need to be addressed.
Most of all, in a year where we’re seeing mass layoffs from several corporations, the Twitter troubles have given marketing teams a reason to re-evaluate its effectiveness during a time of budget cuts. That would be a more important factor than trust for most brands.
Obviously, there are some famous cases, such as the Lou Paskalis case, but it’s difficult to pinpoint a brand list that would have trust as their only concern.”
GJ: “Do you think it will be hard for Twitter to regain their trust before this year’s Super Bowl?”
JS: “It’s highly unlikely that any brand that has lost trust in Twitter will change its mind in the near future, and definitely not in time for the Super Bowl. Most marketing plans for the event will be finalized by now and recent communications by Twitter leadership haven’t signaled any change in direction.
If anything, from industry comments within my own network, I can say that comments from Musk recently (“Ads are too frequent on Twitter and too big. Taking steps to address both in coming weeks.”) were quite badly received. For any marketers that believe Twitter advertising isn’t sufficiently effective, this pushes them further away.
Brand communications should still occur on Twitter during Super Bowl though – it will have a peak in usage. And advertising verticals that should dominate the advertising space on Twitter are not the ones crossing the platform from their plans.”
GJ: “How do you think advertisers will change their Super Bowl plans around Twitter this year?”
JS: “The main change for advertising plans will likely be for brand comms amplification. As an example, the betting industry will likely be heavily present on Twitter during the game and I would expect little to no change in plans.”
In the FCMG category, though, time sensitivity won’t be as important, which means that social media teams will likely be making an attempt at virality without relying as much on paid dollars.
If budgets are to diverge, they will likely be moved within the social space and toward platforms that will have user discussion/engagement from the Super Bowl (TikTok, Reddit, etc.)”
GJ: “What trends will we see in advertising budget allocation for this year’s Super Bowl?”
Joaquim Salguerio: “We should see budget planning much in line with previous years in all honesty. TV is still the most important media channel on Super Bowl day.
Digital spend will likely go towards social platforms, we predict a growth in TikTok and Reddit advertising around the big day for most brands.
Twitter should still have a strong advertising budget allocated to the platform by the verticals aiming to get actions from users during the game (food delivery/betting/etc.).”
GJ: “Which platforms will benefit from this shift?”
JS: “Likely, we will see TikTok as the biggest winner from a shift in advertising dollars, as the growth numbers are making it harder to ignore the platform as a placement that needs to be in the plan.
Reddit can also capture some of this budget as it has the right characteristics marketers are looking for around the Super Bowl – it’s relevant to what’s happening at the moment and similar demographics.”
GJ: “Do you think advertisers that step away from Twitter for this year’s Big Game will stay away long term?”
JS: “That is impossible to know, as it’s completely dependent on how the platform evolves and the advertising solutions it will provide. Twitter’s proposition was always centered around brand marketing (their performance offering was always known to be sub-par).
Unless brand safety concerns are addressed by brands that decided to step away, it’s hard to foresee a change.
I would say that overall, Super Bowl ad spend on Twitter should not be as affected as it’s been portrayed – it makes sense to reach audiences where audiences are.
Especially if you know the mindset. The bigger issue is what happens when there isn’t a Super Bowl or a World Cup.”
Featured Image: Brocreative/Shutterstock
Is ChatGPT Use Of Web Content Fair?
Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT train using multiple sources of information, including web content. This data forms the basis of summaries of that content in the form of articles that are produced without attribution or benefit to those who published the original content used for training ChatGPT.
Search engines download website content (called crawling and indexing) to provide answers in the form of links to the websites.
Website publishers have the ability to opt-out of having their content crawled and indexed by search engines through the Robots Exclusion Protocol, commonly referred to as Robots.txt.
The Robots Exclusions Protocol is not an official Internet standard but it’s one that legitimate web crawlers obey.
Should web publishers be able to use the Robots.txt protocol to prevent large language models from using their website content?
Large Language Models Use Website Content Without Attribution
Some who are involved with search marketing are uncomfortable with how website data is used to train machines without giving anything back, like an acknowledgement or traffic.
Hans Petter Blindheim (LinkedIn profile), Senior Expert at Curamando shared his opinions with me.
“When an author writes something after having learned something from an article on your site, they will more often than not link to your original work because it offers credibility and as a professional courtesy.
It’s called a citation.
But the scale at which ChatGPT assimilates content and does not grant anything back differentiates it from both Google and people.
A website is generally created with a business directive in mind.
Google helps people find the content, providing traffic, which has a mutual benefit to it.
But it’s not like large language models asked your permission to use your content, they just use it in a broader sense than what was expected when your content was published.
And if the AI language models do not offer value in return – why should publishers allow them to crawl and use the content?
Does their use of your content meet the standards of fair use?
When ChatGPT and Google’s own ML/AI models trains on your content without permission, spins what it learns there and uses that while keeping people away from your websites – shouldn’t the industry and also lawmakers try to take back control over the Internet by forcing them to transition to an “opt-in” model?”
The concerns that Hans expresses are reasonable.
In light of how fast technology is evolving, should laws concerning fair use be reconsidered and updated?
I asked John Rizvi, a Registered Patent Attorney (LinkedIn profile) who is board certified in Intellectual Property Law, if Internet copyright laws are outdated.
“Yes, without a doubt.
One major bone of contention in cases like this is the fact that the law inevitably evolves far more slowly than technology does.
In the 1800s, this maybe didn’t matter so much because advances were relatively slow and so legal machinery was more or less tooled to match.
Today, however, runaway technological advances have far outstripped the ability of the law to keep up.
There are simply too many advances and too many moving parts for the law to keep up.
As it is currently constituted and administered, largely by people who are hardly experts in the areas of technology we’re discussing here, the law is poorly equipped or structured to keep pace with technology…and we must consider that this isn’t an entirely bad thing.
So, in one regard, yes, Intellectual Property law does need to evolve if it even purports, let alone hopes, to keep pace with technological advances.
The primary problem is striking a balance between keeping up with the ways various forms of tech can be used while holding back from blatant overreach or outright censorship for political gain cloaked in benevolent intentions.
The law also has to take care not to legislate against possible uses of tech so broadly as to strangle any potential benefit that may derive from them.
You could easily run afoul of the First Amendment and any number of settled cases that circumscribe how, why, and to what degree intellectual property can be used and by whom.
And attempting to envision every conceivable usage of technology years or decades before the framework exists to make it viable or even possible would be an exceedingly dangerous fool’s errand.
In situations like this, the law really cannot help but be reactive to how technology is used…not necessarily how it was intended.
That’s not likely to change anytime soon, unless we hit a massive and unanticipated tech plateau that allows the law time to catch up to current events.”
So it appears that the issue of copyright laws has many considerations to balance when it comes to how AI is trained, there is no simple answer.
OpenAI and Microsoft Sued
An interesting case that was recently filed is one in which OpenAI and Microsoft used open source code to create their CoPilot product.
The problem with using open source code is that the Creative Commons license requires attribution.
According to an article published in a scholarly journal:
“Plaintiffs allege that OpenAI and GitHub assembled and distributed a commercial product called Copilot to create generative code using publicly accessible code originally made available under various “open source”-style licenses, many of which include an attribution requirement.
As GitHub states, ‘…[t]rained on billions of lines of code, GitHub Copilot turns natural language prompts into coding suggestions across dozens of languages.’
The resulting product allegedly omitted any credit to the original creators.”
The author of that article, who is a legal expert on the subject of copyrights, wrote that many view open source Creative Commons licenses as a “free-for-all.”
Some may also consider the phrase free-for-all a fair description of the datasets comprised of Internet content are scraped and used to generate AI products like ChatGPT.
Background on LLMs and Datasets
Large language models train on multiple data sets of content. Datasets can consist of emails, books, government data, Wikipedia articles, and even datasets created of websites linked from posts on Reddit that have at least three upvotes.
Many of the datasets related to the content of the Internet have their origins in the crawl created by a non-profit organization called Common Crawl.
Their dataset, the Common Crawl dataset, is available free for download and use.
The Common Crawl dataset is the starting point for many other datasets that created from it.
For example, GPT-3 used a filtered version of Common Crawl (Language Models are Few-Shot Learners PDF).
This is how GPT-3 researchers used the website data contained within the Common Crawl dataset:
“Datasets for language models have rapidly expanded, culminating in the Common Crawl dataset… constituting nearly a trillion words.
This size of dataset is sufficient to train our largest models without ever updating on the same sequence twice.
However, we have found that unfiltered or lightly filtered versions of Common Crawl tend to have lower quality than more curated datasets.
Therefore, we took 3 steps to improve the average quality of our datasets:
(1) we downloaded and filtered a version of CommonCrawl based on similarity to a range of high-quality reference corpora,
(2) we performed fuzzy deduplication at the document level, within and across datasets, to prevent redundancy and preserve the integrity of our held-out validation set as an accurate measure of overfitting, and
(3) we also added known high-quality reference corpora to the training mix to augment CommonCrawl and increase its diversity.”
Google’s C4 dataset (Colossal, Cleaned Crawl Corpus), which was used to create the Text-to-Text Transfer Transformer (T5), has its roots in the Common Crawl dataset, too.
Their research paper (Exploring the Limits of Transfer Learning with a Unified Text-to-Text Transformer PDF) explains:
“Before presenting the results from our large-scale empirical study, we review the necessary background topics required to understand our results, including the Transformer model architecture and the downstream tasks we evaluate on.
We also introduce our approach for treating every problem as a text-to-text task and describe our “Colossal Clean Crawled Corpus” (C4), the Common Crawl-based data set we created as a source of unlabeled text data.
We refer to our model and framework as the ‘Text-to-Text Transfer Transformer’ (T5).”
Google published an article on their AI blog that further explains how Common Crawl data (which contains content scraped from the Internet) was used to create C4.
“An important ingredient for transfer learning is the unlabeled dataset used for pre-training.
To accurately measure the effect of scaling up the amount of pre-training, one needs a dataset that is not only high quality and diverse, but also massive.
Existing pre-training datasets don’t meet all three of these criteria — for example, text from Wikipedia is high quality, but uniform in style and relatively small for our purposes, while the Common Crawl web scrapes are enormous and highly diverse, but fairly low quality.
To satisfy these requirements, we developed the Colossal Clean Crawled Corpus (C4), a cleaned version of Common Crawl that is two orders of magnitude larger than Wikipedia.
Our cleaning process involved deduplication, discarding incomplete sentences, and removing offensive or noisy content.
This filtering led to better results on downstream tasks, while the additional size allowed the model size to increase without overfitting during pre-training.”
Google, OpenAI, even Oracle’s Open Data are using Internet content, your content, to create datasets that are then used to create AI applications like ChatGPT.
Common Crawl Can Be Blocked
It is possible to block Common Crawl and subsequently opt-out of all the datasets that are based on Common Crawl.
But if the site has already been crawled then the website data is already in datasets. There is no way to remove your content from the Common Crawl dataset and any of the other derivative datasets like C4 and .
Using the Robots.txt protocol will only block future crawls by Common Crawl, it won’t stop researchers from using content already in the dataset.
How to Block Common Crawl From Your Data
Blocking Common Crawl is possible through the use of the Robots.txt protocol, within the above discussed limitations.
The Common Crawl bot is called, CCBot.
It is identified using the most up to date CCBot User-Agent string: CCBot/2.0
Blocking CCBot with Robots.txt is accomplished the same as with any other bot.
Here is the code for blocking CCBot with Robots.txt.
User-agent: CCBot Disallow: /
CCBot crawls from Amazon AWS IP addresses.
CCBot also follows the nofollow Robots meta tag:
<meta name="robots" content="nofollow">
What If You’re Not Blocking Common Crawl?
Web content can be downloaded without permission, which is how browsers work, they download content.
Google or anybody else does not need permission to download and use content that is published publicly.
Website Publishers Have Limited Options
The consideration of whether it is ethical to train AI on web content doesn’t seem to be a part of any conversation about the ethics of how AI technology is developed.
It seems to be taken for granted that Internet content can be downloaded, summarized and transformed into a product called ChatGPT.
Does that seem fair? The answer is complicated.
Featured image by Shutterstock/Krakenimages.com
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