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AI Advancements Revealed During Latest Earnings Calls

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AI Advancements Revealed During Latest Earnings Calls

In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, major brands like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft invest heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) to maintain their competitive edge and enhance their services.

These companies leverage AI for coding assistance, advertising optimization, productivity improvements, cybersecurity, and more.

As the race for AI dominance heats up, industry leaders have come forward with ambitious plans to integrate AI-driven solutions, sparking discussions about the potential impact of AI on customers, businesses, and society.

Learn more about the AI advancements companies revealed during or ahead of the first earnings calls of 2023.

Amazon

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, discussed the latest AI for Amazon Web Services.

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  • Bedrock is a managed service that simplifies building and scaling enterprise-level generative AI applications by providing access to various foundation models, including AI21 Labs, Anthropic, Stability AI, and AWS’s exclusive Titan family.
  • Inferentia2 and Trn1n are two next-generation large language models (LLMs) with better price performance and training cost savings.
  • CodeWhisperer, an AI coding companion that provides real-time code suggestions, becomes available for AWS developers.

Jassy emphasized that AWS will continue to innovate, citing the recent announcement on LLMs, generative AI, and related chips and managed services in the hopes that the upcoming surge in machine learning drives significant new cloud business.

Chegg

Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg, stated “that generative AI and large language models are going to affect society and business, both positively and negatively. At a faster pace than people are used to.”

After a conversation with Sam Altman about the role of AI in education, Rosensweig swiftly shifted Chegg’s focus to emphasize the integration and adoption of AI within its offerings.

In partnership with OpenAI, Chegg developed CheggMate, a homework helper powered by GPT-4. It combines proprietary data with the knowledge of over 150,000 subject matter experts to improve accuracy.

Rosensweig maintained optimism about plans for the real-time, reliable AI learning companion.

Unfortunately, offering clarity into how ChatGPT may have impacted new Chegg signups led to a 40% drop in share pricing.

Dropbox

Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox, expressed excitement about AI and a new strategic objective this year to move beyond files and organize all cloud content for customers.

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Houston highlighted the new era of augmented knowledge work, where AI and machine learning advancements enable teams to tackle complex tasks and improve productivity. As cloud tools and remote work create chaotic work environments, Dropbox aims to help users organize and simplify their lives with universal search and content suggestions.

Despite economic challenges, Houston remained optimistic, emphasizing Dropbox’s scale, platform neutrality, trusted brand, and strong balance sheet as key strengths for navigating difficult times and investing in the future.

A week before the earnings call, Houston posted a memo to employees. It announced a layoff of 500 employees due to slow company growth and the need to shift resources to AI as the “next stage of growth requires a different mix of skill sets, particularly in AI and early-stage product development. We’ve been bringing in great talent in these areas over the last couple years, and we’ll need even more.”

Duolingo

In the upcoming earnings call, investors will likely hear about Duolingo’s use of AI in education.

Like Chegg, Duolingo partnered with OpenAI to incorporate GPT-4 into its service. Duolingo Max uses generative AI to answer translation-related questions and act as a language partner for conversational practice.

These developments align with thoughts from a TED Talk with Sal Khan, CEO of Khan Academy: AI can give every student (with access) an AI tutor and every teacher (with access) an AI assistant.

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Google

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, updated investors on recent advancements in AI.

  • Bard, the conversational AI service, now utilizes the PaLM model. This allows Bard to assist in coding development projects.
  • The PaLM API and MakerSuite tools allow developers to build generative AI applications quickly.
  • Organizations can utilize generative AI features in the Google Cloud Platform and Workspace.
  • Google Search will harness generative AI to offer new conversational search experiences.
  • Google Ads will leverage AI to help advertisers optimize and manage ad campaigns more effectively.

Pichai closed his introduction, excited about “helping people, businesses, and society reach their full potential with AI. ”

Philipp Schindler, SVP and CBO of Google elaborated on AI in Search keyword relevance, Smart Bidding, and Performance Max campaigns. Specifically, Google:

  • Updated Search keyword relevance using MUM model-based natural language AI, enhancing ad relevance and performance when multiple overlapping keywords are eligible for an auction.
  • Improved Smart Bidding models for bidding more accurately based on search ad format differences, allowing more effective bidding depending on user engagement preferences.
  • Expanded access to Automatically Created Assets (ACA) beta to all English-speaking advertisers, allowing them to generate text assets with responsive search ads and use AI to minimize manual work and maintain fresh, relevant creatives.
  • Encouraged advertisers to pair core Search with Performance Max, which reportedly resulted in over 18% more conversions at a similar CPA on average, a 5-point increase in 14 months.
  • Made advances in AI underpinning bidding, creatives, search query matching, and new formats like YouTube Shorts, contributing to improved results.

“AI has long been an important driver of our business. Advancements are powering our ability to help businesses, big and small, respond in real-time to rapidly changing market and consumer shifts and deliver measurable ROI when it’s needed most.”

Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet and Google, walked investors through using AI in Google Workspace to improve internal productivity. Porat also noted an intentionally slower hiring pace and continued focus on Google DeepMind, acquired in 2014.

Meta

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, made AI the key theme of Meta’s earnings call.

  • Over 20% of the Facebook & Instagram feed is filled with content chosen by AI from profiles, pages, and groups you don’t follow.
  • Useful AI agents could be made available to millions via WhatsApp and Messenger for business messaging, customer support, and more.
  • Continued investment in infrastructure will be required to support new LLMs and generative AI product scaling.

Susan Li, CFO of Meta, explained how AI could offer advertisers increased automation through Advantage+ Shopping and that capital expenditures reflected “ongoing build-out of AI capacity to support ads, Feed and Reels, along with increased investment in capacity for our generative AI initiatives.”

During Q&A, in response to a question about hiring, Li noted Meta had been in a hiring freeze for the past six months and, when hiring resumed, it would be for talent in generative AI, ads, infrastructure, and other new products.

Microsoft

During a recent earnings call, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, highlighted the company’s focus on and future in AI.

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  • Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service, gained market share as customers continued to choose it for AI-powered applications.
  • Azure OpenAI Service, which combines advanced models like ChatGPT and GPT-4 with Azure’s capabilities, has seen a tenfold increase in customers’ QoQ.
  • GitHub Copilot and Dynamics 365 Copilot for CRM and ERP systems showcased Microsoft’s commitment to enhancing productivity through AI.
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot, Viva Sales, and Security Copilot demonstrated AI integration in various aspects of the business.

Amy Hood, CFO of Microsoft, revealed that the company expects healthy revenue growth in the largest quarter of the year due to customer demand for differentiated solutions, such as their AI platform and Microsoft Cloud.

Hood emphasized Microsoft’s focus on delivering long-term financial growth and profitability as they enter the AI era. The company plans to continue investing in cloud infrastructure, especially AI-related spending, to scale with growing demand.

When asked about AI regulation, Nadella said Microsoft proactively addressed unintended consequences of AI rather than waiting for regulation to be implemented with AI principles, internal audits, and a Chief AI Officer responsible for maintaining standards and compliance.

Snapchat

Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat, reviewed its focus on visual communication between friends and family, setting it apart from other platforms with the launch of My AI, an AI-powered chatbot.

The new features include adding My AI to group conversations, providing Place recommendations from Snap Map, and suggesting relevant AR Lenses.

During the Q&A, Spiegel expanded on how Snapchat uses AI in messaging, augmented reality (AR), and content/ads.

  • In AR, AI-powered Lenses have driven significant engagement, and the intersection of AR and AI is crucial for future Spectacles.
  • On the messaging side, conversational AI plays to Snapchat’s strengths, with users enjoying communication with My AI.

Although no specific stats are shared, Spiegel said Snapchat is cautiously rolling out My AI while being pleased with the engagement so far.

Looking Forward

The growing emphasis on AI-driven solutions by industry giants such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others highlights the potentially transformative impact of AI on businesses and society at large.

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As companies increasingly invest in AI infrastructure and talent, they are shaping the future of technology and creating new opportunities for innovation.

However, this rapid shift towards AI integration also raises questions about potential risks, ethical considerations, and the need for regulation to ensure that the advancements in AI benefit everyone.


Featured image: iQoncept/Shutterstock



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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

Whether you are new to paid media or reevaluating your efforts, it’s critical to review your performance and best practices for your overall PPC marketing program, accounts, and campaigns.

Revisiting your paid media plan is an opportunity to ensure your strategy aligns with your current goals.

Reviewing best practices for pay-per-click is also a great way to keep up with trends and improve performance with newly released ad technologies.

As you review, you’ll find new strategies and features to incorporate into your paid search program, too.

Here are 10 PPC best practices to help you adjust and plan for the months ahead.

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1. Goals

When planning, it is best practice to define goals for the overall marketing program, ad platforms, and at the campaign level.

Defining primary and secondary goals guides the entire PPC program. For example, your primary conversion may be to generate leads from your ads.

You’ll also want to look at secondary goals, such as brand awareness that is higher in the sales funnel and can drive interest to ultimately get the sales lead-in.

2. Budget Review & Optimization

Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and reevaluate the distribution of their paid media budgets.

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

  • Reconcile your planned vs. spend for each account or campaign on a regular basis. Depending on the budget size, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually will work as long as you can hit budget numbers.
  • Determine if there are any campaigns that should be eliminated at this time to free up the budget for other campaigns.
  • Is there additional traffic available to capture and grow results for successful campaigns? The ad platforms often include a tool that will provide an estimated daily budget with clicks and costs. This is just an estimate to show more click potential if you are interested.
  • If other paid media channels perform mediocrely, does it make sense to shift those budgets to another?
  • For the overall paid search and paid social budget, can your company invest more in the positive campaign results?

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

If you can shift or increase your budgets, why not test out a new ad platform? Knowing your audience and where they spend time online will help inform your decision when choosing ad platforms.

Go beyond your comfort zone in Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads.

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

  • LinkedIn: Most appropriate for professional and business targeting. LinkedIn audiences can also be reached through Microsoft Ads.
  • TikTok: Younger Gen Z audience (16 to 24), video.
  • Pinterest: Products, services, and consumer goods with a female-focused target.
  • Snapchat: Younger demographic (13 to 35), video ads, app installs, filters, lenses.

Need more detailed information and even more ideas? Read more about the 5 Best Google Ads Alternatives.

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

Recently, trends in search and social ad platforms have presented opportunities to connect with prospects more precisely, creatively, and effectively.

Don’t overlook newer targeting and campaign types you may not have tried yet.

  • Video: Incorporating video into your PPC accounts takes some planning for the goals, ad creative, targeting, and ad types. There is a lot of opportunity here as you can simply include video in responsive display ads or get in-depth in YouTube targeting.
  • Performance Max: This automated campaign type serves across all of Google’s ad inventory. Microsoft Ads recently released PMAX so you can plan for consistency in campaign types across platforms. Do you want to allocate budget to PMax campaigns? Learn more about how PMax compares to search.
  • Automation: While AI can’t replace human strategy and creativity, it can help manage your campaigns more easily. During planning, identify which elements you want to automate, such as automatically created assets and/or how to successfully guide the AI in the Performance Max campaigns.

While exploring new features, check out some hidden PPC features you probably don’t know about.

5. Revisit Keywords

The role of keywords has evolved over the past several years with match types being less precise and loosening up to consider searcher intent.

For example, [exact match] keywords previously would literally match with the exact keyword search query. Now, ads can be triggered by search queries with the same meaning or intent.

A great planning exercise is to lay out keyword groups and evaluate if they are still accurately representing your brand and product/service.

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Review search term queries triggering ads to discover trends and behavior you may not have considered. It’s possible this has impacted performance and conversions over time.

Critical to your strategy:

  • Review the current keyword rules and determine if this may impact your account in terms of close variants or shifts in traffic volume.
  • Brush up on how keywords work in each platform because the differences really matter!
  • Review search term reports more frequently for irrelevant keywords that may pop up from match type changes. Incorporate these into match type changes or negative keywords lists as appropriate.

6. Revisit Your Audiences

Review the audiences you selected in the past, especially given so many campaign types that are intent-driven.

Automated features that expand your audience could be helpful, but keep an eye out for performance metrics and behavior on-site post-click.

Remember, an audience is simply a list of users who are grouped together by interests or behavior online.

Therefore, there are unlimited ways to mix and match those audiences and target per the sales funnel.

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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  • LinkedIn user targeting: Besides LinkedIn, this can be found exclusively in Microsoft Ads.
  • Detailed Demographics: Marital status, parental status, home ownership, education, household income.
  • In-market and custom intent: Searches and online behavior signaling buying cues.
  • Remarketing: Advertisers website visitors, interactions with ads, and video/ YouTube.

Note: This varies per the campaign type and seems to be updated frequently, so make this a regular check-point in your campaign management for all platforms.

7. Organize Data Sources

You will likely be running campaigns on different platforms with combinations of search, display, video, etc.

Looking back at your goals, what is the important data, and which platforms will you use to review and report? Can you get the majority of data in one analytics platform to compare and share?

Millions of companies use Google Analytics, which is a good option for centralized viewing of advertising performance, website behavior, and conversions.

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

It’s time to reevaluate your essential PPC key metrics and replace or add that data to your reports.

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

  • Are we still using this data? Is it still relevant?
  • Is the data we are viewing actionable?
  • What new metrics should we consider adding we haven’t thought about?
  • How often do we need to see this data?
  • Do the stakeholders receiving the report understand what they are looking at (aka data visualization)?

Adding new data should be purposeful, actionable, and helpful in making decisions for the marketing plan. It’s also helpful to decide what type of data is good to see as “deep dives” as needed.

9. Consider Using Scripts

The current ad platforms have plenty of AI recommendations and automated rules, and there is no shortage of third-party tools that can help with optimizations.

Scripts is another method for advertisers with large accounts or some scripting skills to automate report generation and repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts.

Navigating the world of scripts can seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is a post here on Search Engine Journal that provides use cases and resources to get started with scripts.

Luckily, you don’t need a Ph.D. in computer science — there are plenty of resources online with free or templated scripts.

10. Seek Collaboration

Another effective planning tactic is to seek out friendly resources and second opinions.

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Much of the skill and science of PPC management is unique to the individual or agency, so there is no shortage of ideas to share between you.

You can visit the Paid Search Association, a resource for paid ad managers worldwide, to make new connections and find industry events.

Preparing For Paid Media Success

Strategies should be based on clear and measurable business goals. Then, you can evaluate the current status of your campaigns based on those new targets.

Your paid media strategy should also be built with an eye for both past performance and future opportunities. Look backward and reevaluate your existing assumptions and systems while investigating new platforms, topics, audiences, and technologies.

Also, stay current with trends and keep learning. Check out ebooks, social media experts, and industry publications for resources and motivational tips.

More resources: 

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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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Featured Image:Ismael Juan/Shutterstock

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