At this point on the calendar, communicators are trying to make predictions of what to expect in the coming year. Having an understanding of these developments facilitates better planning of 2018 communications measurement strategies.
Prepare yourself for what’s to come in the communications industry by reading this month’s posts on updates to social media features, refined big data and analytics capabilities, improved PR measurement tactics, and more.
Analytics, AI, and Tech News
- MIT’s Media Lab conducted a study to examine how automation will affect cities of various sizes. The Media Lab’s authors studied jobs and skills that are more common in smaller cities and how new automated technology could contribute to technological unemployment.
- Small businesses aren’t the only ones in trouble from the looming threat of enhanced automation and AI technology. Google, Uber, and Tesla are in a race to create viable self-driving trucks, which would save the trucking industry billions of dollars in truck driver salaries, but would also leave millions without jobs.
- AlphaGo, Google’s computer powered by 48 AI processors and designed to beat the best human Go player, was recently beat by a new version of itself. Tristan Greene of The Next Web explains how this new computer was designed and how it learned with less data than its previous model.
- AI Now, a group of researchers from New York University, Google Open Research, and Microsoft Research, wrote a report cautioning the US government to suspend use of so-called “black box” algorithms, used in criminal justice, education, and health care, until they can be understood better. The report’s authors explain some of the flaws in automated decision-making and the concerns associated with having public agencies rely on this technology.
- Add this to the growing list of how quickly AI is advancing. A team from Vicarious, an AI firm funded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, has developed software that processes similarly to a human brain. The technology can crack Captcha codes with a fairly high level of accuracy, at a rate ranging from 57 to 66 percent of the time.
- Analytics-based journalism is becoming a popular method of accommodating and enticing readers. One recent study examined how readers, especially Millennial readers, respond to online news that features visuals. Overwhelmingly, readers are more likely to continue reading and return to sites that use visuals in their online news articles.
- Researchers from City, University of London discovered 13,000 bots that are suspected of trying to influence the Brexit debate in advance of the EU referendum. Following the vote, the messages were removed or deleted, but the network of bots tweeted messages in favor of Brexit in the lead-up.
- If you’ve ever cringed when reporting vanity metrics such as Twitter impressions, keep this information close by. Twitter has admitted to overstating monthly active users for a few years by including numbers from third-party apps. Although advertisers are likely to be the most irritated at this revelation, it demonstrates just how much more important it is to gauge social platforms by engagement, and not the “opportunity to be seen.”
- Facebook is adding colorful new additions to its news feed. Typing specific words into comments and status updates will trigger graphics and animations.
- Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has announced a deal with NBCUniversal to create its first original scripted show. The companies will work with the Duplass Brothers for this initial step into producing and investing in original content on their platform.
- Arik Hanson writes about Gen Z’s viewing preferences, pointing out that many YouTube stars have enormous followings among this generation. If Gen Z sticks with online video, what does that mean for mainstream television news consumption? And, if these viewing habits persist into adulthood, what does this mean for public relations professionals, who rely on third-party validation through mainstream news outlets?
- Seemingly endless streams of fake accounts and false stories now circulate social media platforms. The New York Times investigates the psychology behind social networks, as well as a forthcoming paper that studies how users consume news on social media, to gain a better understanding of the behavior that encourages the spread of fake news.
- PR measurement expert John Gilfeather discusses the main obstacles prohibiting communicators from effectively measuring their work. He outlines the MOBSTER protocols as guidelines for enhancing PR measurement efforts.
- PR pros, particularly earned media experts, should closely watch an issue that will soon be before the FCC. For years, regulations have prohibited cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers in the same media market. The objective of the rule was to ensure that there was a diversity of opinion available to the local public. The internet has, for better or worse, opened the floodgates of access to media, so concerns about the diversity of content available have diminished. Media consolidation and the financial health of print journalism are clearly of interest to PR professionals, so watch for the FCC’s vote on this in November.
- Substack, created by Ben Thompson and led by co-founder of Kik Chris Best, will provide its users with everything they need to create a subscription-based newsletter. It won’t assist in building an audience or creating the content, but it comes with built-in publishing software, payment service, analytics, and more.