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Google Policy Agenda Reveals AI Regulation Wishlist

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Google Policy Agenda Reveals AI Regulation Wishlist

Google published an AI Policy Agenda paper that outlines a vision for responsible deployment of AI and suggestions for how governments should regulate and encourage the industry.

Google AI Policy Agenda

Google announced the publication of an AI policy agenda with suggestions for responsible AI development and regulations.

The paper notes that government AI policies are independently forming around the world and calls for a cohesive AI agenda that strikes a balance between protecting against harmful outcomes while getting out of the way of innovation.

Google writes:

“Getting AI innovation right requires a policy framework that ensures accountability and enables trust.

We need a holistic AI strategy focused on:

(1) unlocking opportunity through innovation and inclusive economic growth;

(2) ensuring responsibility and enabling trust; and

(3) protecting global security.

A cohesive AI agenda needs to advance all three goals — not any one at the expense of the others.”

Google’s AI policy agenda has three core objectives:

  1. Opportunity
  2. Responsibility
  3. Security

Opportunity

This part of the agenda asks governments to be encouraging of the development of AI by investing in:

  • Research and development
  • Creating a friction-less legal environment that unfetters the development of AI
  • Planning the educational support for training an AI-ready workforce

In short, the agenda is asking governments to get out of the way and get behind AI to help advance technology.

The policy agenda observes:

“Countries have historically excelled when they maximize access to technology and leverage it to accomplish major public objectives, rather than trying to limit technological advancement.”

Responsibility

Google’s policy agenda argues that responsible deployment of AI will depend on a mixture of government laws, corporate self-regulation and input from non-governmental organizations.

The policy agenda recommends:

“Some challenges can be addressed through regulation, ensuring that AI technologies are developed and deployed in line with responsible industry practices and international standards.

Others will require fundamental research to better understand AI’s benefits and risks, and how to manage them, and developing and deploying new technical innovations in areas like interpretability and watermarking.

And others may require new organizations and institutions.”

The agenda also recommends:

“Encourage adoption of common approaches to AI regulation and governance, as well as a common lexicon, based on the work of the OECD. “

What is OECD?

The OECD is the OECD.AI Policy Observatory, which is supported by corporate and government partners.

The OECD government stakeholders include the US State Department and the US Commerce Department.

The corporate stakeholders are comprised of organizations like the Patrick J McGovern Foundation, whose leadership team is stacked with Silicon Valley investors and technology executives who have a self-interest in how technology is regulated.

Google Advocates Less Corporate Regulation

Google’s policy recommendation on regulation is that less regulation is better and that corporate transparency could hinder innovation.

It recommends:

“Focusing regulations on the highest-risk applications can also deter innovation in the highest-value applications where AI can offer the most significant benefits.

Transparency, which can support accountability and equity, can come at a cost in accuracy, security, and privacy.

Democracies need to carefully assess how to strike the right balances.”

Then later it recommends taking efficiency and productivity into consideration:

“Require regulatory agencies to consider trade-offs between different policy objectives, including efficiency and productivity enhancement, transparency, fairness, privacy, security, and resilience. “

There has always been, and will always be, a tug of war between corporate entities struggling against oversight and government regulators seeking to protect the public.

AI can solve humanities toughest problems and provide unprecedented benefits. Google is right that a balance should be found between the interests of the public and corporations.

Sensible Recommendations

The document contains sensible recommendations, such as suggesting that existing regulatory agencies develop guidelines specific to AI and to consider adopting the new ISO standards currently under development (such as ISO 42001).

The policy  agenda recommends:

“a) Direct sectoral regulators to update existing oversight and enforcement regimes to apply to AI systems, including on how existing authorities apply to the use of AI, and how to demonstrate compliance of an AI system with existing regulations using international consensus multistakeholder standards like the ISO 42001 series.

b) Instruct regulatory agencies to issue regular reports identifying capacity gaps that make it difficult both for covered entities to comply with regulations and for regulators to conduct effective oversight.”

In a way, those recommendations are stating the obvious, it’s a given that agencies will develop guidelines so that regulators know how to regulate.

Tucked away in that statement is the recommendation of the ISO 42001 as a model of what AI standards should look like.

It should be noted that the ISO 42001 standard is developed by the ISO/IEC committee for Artificial Intelligence, which is chaired by a twenty year Silicon Valley  technology executive and others from the technology industry.

AI and Security

This is the part that presents are real danger from the malicious use to create disinformation and misinformation as well as cyber-based harms.

Google outlines challenges:

“Our challenge is to maximize the potential benefits of AI for global security and stability while preventing threat actors from exploiting this technology for malicious purposes.”

And then offers a solution:

“Governments must simultaneously invest in R&D and accelerate public and private AI adoption while controlling the proliferation of tools that could be abused by malicious actors.”

Among the recommendations for governments to combat AI-based threats:

  • Develop ways to identify and prevent election interference
  • Share information about security vulnerabilities
  • Develop an international trade control framework for dealing with entities engaging in research and development of AI that threatens global security.

Reduce Bureaucracy and Increase Government Adoption of AI

The paper next advocates streamlining government adoption of AI, including more investment in it.

“Reform government acquisition policies to take advantage of and foster world-leading AI…

Examine institutional and bureaucratic barriers that prevent governments from breaking down data silos and adopt best-in-class data governance to harness the full power of AI.

Capitalize on data insights through human-machine teaming, building nimble teams with the skills to quickly build/adapt/leverage AI systems which no longer require computer science degrees…”

Google’s AI Policy Agenda

The policy agenda provides thoughtful suggestions for governments around the world to consider when formulating regulations surrounding the use of AI.

AI is capable of many positive breakthroughs in science and medicine, breakthroughs that can provide solutions to climate change, cure diseases and extend human life.

In a way it’s a shame that the first AI products released to the world are the comparatively trivial ChatGPT and Dall-E applications that do very little to benefit humanity.

Governments are trying to understand AI and how to regulate it as these technologies are adopted around the world.

Curiously, open source AI, the most consequential version of it, is mentioned only once.

The only context in which open source is addressed is in recommendations for dealing with misuse of AI:

“Clarify potential liability for misuse/abuse of both general-purpose and specialized AI systems (including open-source systems, as appropriate) by various participants — researchers and authors, creators, implementers, and end users.”

Given how Google is said to be frightened and believes it is already defeated by open source AI, it is curious how open source AI is only mentioned in the context of misuse of the technology.

Google’s AI Policy Agenda reflects legitimate concerns for over-regulation and inconsistent rules imposed around the world.

But the the organizations the policy agenda cites as helping develop industry standards and regulations are stacked with Silicon valley insiders. This raises questions about whose interests the standards and regulations reflect.

The policy agenda successfully communicates the the need and the urgency for developing meaningful and fair regulations to prevent harmful outcomes while allowing beneficial innovation to move forward.

Read Google’s article about the policy agenda:

A policy agenda for responsible AI progress: Opportunity, Responsibility, Security

Read the AI policy agenda itself (PDF)

A Policy Agenda for Responsible Progress in Artificial Intelligence

Featured image by Shutterstock/Shaheerrr



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Do Higher Content Scores Mean Higher Google Rankings? Our Data Says It’s Unlikely.

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Do Higher Content Scores Mean Higher Google Rankings? Our Data Says It's Unlikely.

I studied the correlation between rankings and content scores from four popular content optimization tools: Clearscope, Surfer, MarketMuse, and Frase. The result? Weak correlations all around.

This suggests (correlation does not necessarily imply causation!) that obsessing over your content score is unlikely to lead to significantly higher Google rankings.

Does that mean content optimization scores are pointless?

No. You just need to know how best to use them and understand their flaws.

Most tools’ content scores are based on keywords. If top-ranking pages mention keywords your page doesn’t, your score will be low. If it does, your score will be high.

While this has its obvious flaws (having more keyword mentions doesn’t always mean better topic coverage), content scores can at least give some indication of how comprehensively you’re covering the topic. This is something Google is looking for.

Google says that comprehensively covering the topic is a sign of quality contentGoogle says that comprehensively covering the topic is a sign of quality content

If your page’s score is significantly lower than the scores of competing pages, you’re probably missing important subtopics that searchers care about. Filling these “content gaps” might help improve your rankings.

However, there’s nuance to this. If competing pages score in the 80-85 range while your page scores 79, it likely isn’t worth worrying about. But if it’s 95 vs. 20 then yeah, you should probably try to cover the topic better.

Key takeaway

Don’t obsess over content scores. Use them as a barometer for topic coverage. If your score is significantly lower than competitors, you’re probably missing important subtopics and might rank higher by filling those “content gaps.”

There are at least two downsides you should be aware of when it comes to content scores.

They’re easy to cheat

Content scores tend to be largely based on how many times you use the recommended set of keywords. In some tools, you can literally copy-paste the entire list, draft nothing else, and get an almost perfect score.

Scoring 98 on MarketMuse after shoehorning all the suggested keywords without any semblance of a draftScoring 98 on MarketMuse after shoehorning all the suggested keywords without any semblance of a draft

This is something we aim to solve with our upcoming content optimization tool: Content Master.

I can’t reveal too much about this yet, but it has a big USP compared to most existing content optimization tools: its content score is based on topic coverage—not just keywords.

For example, it tells us that our SEO strategy template should better cover subtopics like keyword research, on-page SEO, and measuring and tracking SEO success.

Preview of our upcoming Content Master toolPreview of our upcoming Content Master tool

But, unlike other content optimization tools, lazily copying and pasting related keywords into the document won’t necessarily increase our content score. It’s smart enough to understand that keyword coverage and topic coverage are different things.

Sidenote.

This tool is still in production so the final release may look a little different.

They encourage copycat content

Content scores tell you how well you’re covering the topic based on what’s already out there. If you cover all important keywords and subtopics from the top-ranking pages and create the ultimate copycat content, you’ll score full marks.

This is a problem because quality content should bring something new to the table, not just rehash existing information. Google literally says this in their helpful content guidelines.

Google says quality content goes beyond obvious information. It needs to bring something new to the tableGoogle says quality content goes beyond obvious information. It needs to bring something new to the table

In fact, Google even filed a patent some years back to identify ‘information gain’: a measurement of the new information provided by a given article, over and above the information present in other articles on the same topic.

You can’t rely on content optimization tools or scores to create something unique. Making something that stands out from the rest of the search results will require experience, experimentation, or effort—something only humans can have/do.

Enrich common knowledge with new information and experiences in your contentEnrich common knowledge with new information and experiences in your content

Big thanks to my colleagues Si Quan and Calvinn who did the heavy lifting for this study. Nerd notes below. 😉

  • For the study, we selected 20 random keywords and pulled the top 20 ranking pages.
  • We pulled the SERPs before the March 2024 update was rolled out.
  • Some of the tools had issues pulling the top 20 pages, which we suspect was due to SERP features.
  • Clearscope didn’t give numerical scores; they opted for grades. We used ChatGPT to convert those grades into numbers.
  • Despite their increasing prominence in the SERPs, most of the tools had trouble analyzing Reddit, Quora, and YouTube. They typically gave a zero or no score for these results. If they gave no scores, we excluded them from the analysis.
  • The reason why we calculated both Spearman and Kendall correlations (and took the average) is because according to Calvinn (our Data Scientist), Spearman correlations are more sensitive and therefore more prone to being swayed by small sample size and outliers. On the other hand, the Kendall rank correlation coefficient only takes order into account. So, it is more robust for small sample sizes and less sensitive to outliers.

Final thoughts

Improving your content score is unlikely to hurt Google rankings. After all, although the correlation between scores and rankings is weak, it’s still positive. Just don’t obsess and spend hours trying to get a perfect score; scoring in the same ballpark as top-ranking pages is enough.

You also need to be aware of their downsides, most notably that they can’t help you craft unique content. That requires human creativity and effort.

Any questions or comments? Ping me on X or LinkedIn.



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Unlocking Brand Growth: Strategies for B2B and E-commerce Marketers

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Unlocking Brand Growth: Strategies for B2B and E-commerce Marketers

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, scaling a brand effectively requires more than just an innovative product or service. For B2B and e-commerce marketers, understanding the intricacies of growth strategies across different stages of business development is crucial.  

A recent analysis of 71 brands offers valuable insights into the optimal strategies for startups, scaleups, mature brands, and majority offline businesses. Here’s what we learned. 

Startup Stage: Building the Foundation 

Key Strategy: Startups focus on impressions-driven channels like Paid Social to establish their audience base. This approach is essential for gaining visibility and creating a strong initial footprint in the market. 

Case Study: Pooch & Mutt exemplified this strategy by leveraging Paid Social to achieve significant year-on-year revenue gains while also improving acquisition costs. This foundational step is crucial for setting the stage for future growth and stability. 

Scaleup Stage: Accelerating Conversion 

Key Strategy: For scaleups, having already established an audience, the focus shifts to conversion activities. Increasing spend in impressions-led media helps continue generating demand while maintaining a balance with acquisition costs. 

Case Study: The Essence Vault successfully applied this approach, scaling their Meta presence while minimizing cost increases. This stage emphasizes the importance of efficient spending to maximize conversion rates and sustain growth momentum. 

Mature Stage: Expanding Horizons 

Key Strategy: Mature brands invest in higher funnel activities to avoid market saturation and explore international expansion opportunities. This strategic pivot ensures sustained growth and market diversification. 

Case Study: Represent scaled their efforts on TikTok, enhancing growth and improving Meta efficiency. By expanding their presence in the US, they exemplified how mature brands can navigate saturation and seek new markets for continued success. 

Majority Offline Brands: Embracing Digital Channels 

Key Strategy: Majority offline brands primarily invest in click-based channels like Performance Max. However, the analysis reveals significant opportunities in Paid Social, suggesting a balanced approach for optimal results. 

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How To Use The Google Ads Search Terms Report

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How To Use The Google Ads Search Terms Report

One of the most essential aspects of a profitable Google Ads strategy is reaching the right people, with the right message, while they’re searching.

To do this correctly, you need to know exactly how your ads are doing and what words potential customers are using to search.

This is where the Google Ads search terms report comes in handy.

This report is a goldmine and an invaluable asset to every Google Ads account.

With insights into exact phrases being used to trigger your ads, the search terms report can help:

  • Significantly refine your keyword strategy.
  • Enhance your targeting.
  • Boost your return on investment (ROI).

Let’s get into why the Google Ads search terms report is not only helpful but essential for maximizing Google Ads profitability.

What Is The Google Ads Search Terms Report?

The search terms report is a performance tool that shows how your ad performed when triggered by actual searches on the Google Search Network.

The report shows specific terms and phrases that triggered your ad to show, which helps determine if you’re bidding on the right keywords or using the right match types.

If you find search terms that aren’t relevant for your business, you can easily add them to your negative keyword list repository.

This helps you spend your budget more effectively by ensuring your ads are only triggered for relevant, useful searches by potential customers.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between a search term and a keyword:

  • Search term: Shows the exact word or phrase a customer enters on the Google Search Network to trigger an ad.
  • Keyword: The word or phrase that Google Ads advertisers target and bid on to show their ads to customers.

How To Create A Search Terms Report

Creating a search terms report in your Google Ads account is simple, and better yet – it can be automated!

To view your search terms report, you’ll need to:

  • Log into your Google Ads account.
  • Navigate to “Campaigns” >> “Insights & reports” >> “Search terms”

Below is an example of where to navigate in your Google Ads account to find the search terms report.

Screenshot taken by author, April 2024

After running this report, there are multiple actions you can take as a marketer:

  • Add top-performing searches to corresponding ad groups as keywords.
  • Select the desired match type (e.g. broad, phrase, exact) if adding new keywords.
  • Add irrelevant search terms to a negative keyword list.

3 Ways To Use Search Terms Report Data

As mentioned above, there are numerous ways you can use the search terms report data to optimize campaign performance.

Let’s take a look at three examples of how to use this report to get the best bang for your buck.

1. Refine Existing Keyword Lists

The first area the search terms report can help with is refining existing keyword lists.

By combing through the search terms report, you can find areas of opportunities, including:

  • What searches are leading to conversions.
  • What searches are irrelevant to the product or service.
  • What searches have high impressions but low clicks.
  • How searches are being mapped to existing keywords and ad groups.

For searches leading to conversions, it likely makes sense to add those as keywords to an existing ad group or create a new ad group.

If you’re finding some searches to be irrelevant to what you’re selling, it’s best to add them as negative keywords. That prevents your ad from showing up for that search moving forward.

If some searches have a high volume of impressions, but very few clicks, these will take further consideration. If it’s a keyword worth bidding on, it may indicate that the bid strategy isn’t competitive enough – meaning you’ll have to take action on your bid strategy.

If a search term is being triggered by multiple keywords and ad groups, this is a case of cross-pollution of keywords. This can lead to lower ROI because it’s essentially having multiple keywords bid on that search term, which can drive up the cost. If this happens, you have a few options:

  • Review and update existing keyword match types as necessary.
  • Add negative keywords where appropriate at the ad group or campaign level to avoid cross-pollution.

Ultimately, using the search terms report in this way allows you to determine what is performing well and eliminate poor performers.

2. Understand How Your Audience Is Actually Searching For Your Product

Something I often see is a mismatch of how a company talks about its product or service vs. how a customer is actually searching for it in the real world.

If you’re bidding on keywords you think describe your product or service but are not getting any traction, you could be misaligning expectations.

Oftentimes, searches that lead to conversions are from terms you wouldn’t have thought to bid on without looking at the search terms report.

One of this report’s most underutilized use cases is finding lesser-known ways customers are searching for and finding your product.

Finding these types of keywords may result in the creation of a new campaign, especially if the search terms don’t fit existing ad group structures.

Building out campaigns by different search themes allows for appropriate bidding strategies for each because not all keyword values are created equal!

Understanding how a customer is describing their need for a product or service not only helps your keyword strategy but can lead to better-aligned product positioning.

This leads us to a third way the search term report can help your campaigns.

3. Optimize Ad Copy and Landing Pages

As discussed in #2, customers’ language and phrases can provide valuable insights into their needs and preferences.

Marketers can use the search terms report to better tailor ad copy, making it more relevant and appealing to prospective customers.

And let’s not forget about the corresponding landing page!

Once a user clicks on an ad, they expect to see an alignment of what they searched for and what is presented on a website.

Make sure that landing page content is updated regularly to better match the searcher’s intent.

This can result in a better user experience and an improvement in conversion rates.

How Using The Search Terms Report Can Help ROI

All three examples above are ways that the search terms report can improve campaign ROI.

How so?

Let’s take a look at each example further.

How Refining Keywords Helps ROI

Part of refining existing keywords is negating any irrelevant search terms that trigger an ad.

Having a solid negative keyword strategy gets rid of “unwanted” spending on keywords that don’t make sense.

That previously “wasted” spend then gets redirected to campaigns that regularly drive higher ROI.

Additionally, adding top-performing search terms gives you better control from a bid strategy perspective.

Being able to pull the appropriate levers and setting proper bid strategies by search theme ultimately leads to better ROI.

How Understanding Audience Intent Helps ROI

By understanding the exact language and search terms that potential customers use, marketers can update ad copy and landing pages to better match those searches.

This can increase ad relevance and Ad Rank within Google Ads.

These items help with keyword Quality Score, which can help reduce CPCs as your Quality Score increases.

More relevant ads likely lead to higher click-through rates, which leads to a higher likelihood of converting those users!

How Updating Ad Copy And Landing Pages Helps ROI

This example goes hand-in-hand with the above recommendation.

As you start to better understand the audience’s search intent, updating ad copy and landing pages to reflect their search indicates better ad relevance.

Once a user clicks on that relevant ad, they find the content of the landing page matches better to what they’re looking for.

This enhanced relevance can significantly increase the likelihood of conversion, which ultimately boosts ROI.

Use This Report To Make Data-Driven Decisions

Google Ads is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy, often accounting for a large portion of your marketing budget.

By regularly reviewing the search terms report, you can refine your marketing budget to make your Google Ads campaigns more effective.

Using this report to make data-driven decisions that fine-tune multiple facets of campaign management leads to more effective ad spending, higher conversions, and ultimately higher ROI.

More resources: 


Featured Image: FGC/Shutterstock

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