In big win, Apple hires Google AI chief John Giannandrea away from Google

Earlier this week, we reported on personnel changes within Google’s search organization: Ben Gomes will now be in charge of all search, and Jeff Dean is taking on leadership of Google Brain and AI. The changes come as Google SVP of Engineering John Giannandrea moves to Apple to run AI efforts there.
Giannandrea “will run Apple’s machine learning and AI strategy,” according to reports. He will also report directly to the company’s CEO, Tim Cook.
While Google has a “deep bench” in AI, the move is still a loss for Google and a win for Apple. Giannandrea was instrumental in infusing AI into all of Google’s main products, including search. He came originally from Metaweb when Google acquired the company in 2010.
Google’s focus and emphasis on AI is such that at an event last year in San Francisco, CEO Sundar Pichai said, “We’re moving from a mobile-first world to an AI-first world.”
It’s not clear from statements and published reports

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Conductor will help WeWork offer ‘holistic’ proposition to enterprise customers

WeWork announced today that it is buying Conductor. Conductor CEO Seth Besmertnik believes this is a “huge win for the entire industry.”
I spoke to him to get a better sense of how the companies fit together and how WeWork might deploy Conductor’s services and capabilities for its customers, which it calls “members.”
Besmertnik spoke expansively about the overlap and common values of the two companies. “WeWork thinks holistically about its members. It started out helping businesses of all sizes manage their presence and culture,” he explained. “We’re different but similar; we think marketing can be used as a force to do good. We want to educate our customers to make better decisions.”
Besmertnik sees the deal as “huge validation” for the SEO community. The deal comes at a time of declining organic reach, though high-quality, trustworthy content is probably more valuable than ever.
In the blog post announcing the deal, WeWork said that enterprise customers were the fastest-growing part of

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Side by side: Comparing two performance marketing tools/agencies

As performance marketers, we’re conditioned to want to test everything. From the impact of feed titles to the incrementality of each channel, we want to be sure that we’re making the right choice before we commit all our resources to something.
That goes for deciding which tools/agency to use as well. Moving your performance marketing activities from one tool/agency to another (or picking one to start with) is a big commitment and not one you should take lightly.
Most (probably all) tools/ agencies claim to do the same basic thing: improve your campaign performance. The way they do this or the methods they use will differ, but with so much choice out there, how are you to know which one will actually deliver?
To help them make the right decision, many companies will ask for a side-by-side comparison test between two tools/agencies. We were recently asked to participate in a split comparison test against a Philadelphia-based product ad technology for

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Locadium: a new ‘point solution’ to monitor GMB listings changes

LocalSEOGuide is releasing a new Google My Business monitoring tool called “Locadium.” It’s conceptually similar to other local listings monitoring services; however it’s exclusively focused on Google My Business (GMB).
Yext, Moz, Brandify, Vendasta, BrightLocal, SIMPartners, Chatmeter, among others, also provide local listings scans and monitoring. However, according to LocalSEOGuide founder Andrew Shotland, Locadium is the only tool that will monitor both the “front end” (consumer fields) and “back end” (API) of GMB. It sends alerts when there’s any change on to a company’s listing in any of the data fields.
It will be marketed to agencies, multi-location brands and SMBs. Pricing is variable for agencies and brands but for SMBs it costs $5 per month.

Similar tools on the market monitor local listings across the internet. However Shotland doesn’t see Locadium evolving into a broad-based listings monitoring service outside GMB. “We have no desire to compete with Yext,” he says. The appeal of Locadium is its focus and simplicity.

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YouTube using Redirect Method technology to fight terrorist video content in search results

In its continued fight against terrorist video content, YouTube announced it has rolled out a new search feature based on the Redirect Method technology designed by the Google tech incubator Jigsaw.
According to the announcement, YouTube will now display a playlist of videos aimed at debunking “violent extremist recruiting” content when people search for certain keywords.
The announcement did not include specifics on what the “certain keywords” are, but Jigsaw’s site covering its Redirect Method project listed the following statement explaining how it worked with Moonshot CVE (an initiative that uses data to counter violent extremism messaging) to determine relevant keywords:
For the English campaign, Moonshot CVE created 30 ad campaigns comprising 95 unique ads and over 1,000 keywords. The keyword generation was focused on terms suggesting positive sentiment towards ISIS.
YouTube says the goal is to offer more resources and content that may be able to “change the minds” of people at risk of being radicalized by terrorist organizations —

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An update on executive changes on the editorial team

This month, Third Door Media’s Michelle Robbins takes over as SVP of content and marketing technology, overseeing editorial direction as Editor in Chief of the three industry publications and aligning the content strategy with programming at Third Door Media’s event series, Search Marketing Expo and The MarTech Conference.
Robbins succeeds Search Engine Land founder Danny Sullivan, who shifts to an advisor role at the company.
Robbins, who has a background in publishing and has been with Third Door Media since its inception, working across all divisions — editorial, marketing, events and sales — while managing the corporation’s technology, will bring a fresh perspective to all three editorial properties.
Her significant technical expertise, 360-degree view of the company’s business objectives and depth of knowledge in both the search marketing and marketing technology fields align in this new role.
As an integral part of Third Door Media’s conference operations behind the scenes and as a member of the program development team, Robbins

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Report: 43% of millennials have made a voice-device purchase in past year

Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock.com
According to a new “Future of Retail” report from Walker Sands, 19 percent of consumers have made a purchase using a voice-controlled device in the past 12 months. The numbers go way up, however, for millennials, with 37 percent reporting “they ‘always’ or ‘often’ shop online via voice-controlled devices.” Among this group, 43 percent made a purchase using voice in the past year.
The data are based on a recent US consumer survey of just over 1,600 adults and can be interpreted in bullish or bearish ways for voice. More than 80 percent of the overall survey population said they had not made a voice-driven purchase and nearly half (48 percent) said they were “not at all likely” to do so.

Source: Walker Sands Future of Retail report (July 2017)
Security, privacy, “lack of visuals” and uncertainty about price/payment were the top four reasons that people were hesitant to buy on voice-first devices or devices without a screen. Of

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Bing launches bots for local businesses

Bots are coming to Bing in a big way. Through its Bot Framework, Microsoft is starting to integrate chatbots into search results — to make search more interactive and transactional.
In April, Matt McGee spotted the appearance of chat functionality for selected Seattle-area restaurants. That is now rolling out officially (still only to restaurants) through Bing Places and the newly launched Business Bot program. Microsoft will automatically create a bot from the data in Bing Places.
The business doesn’t need to do anything technical. It just answers a few structured questions and accepts the bot agreement terms. Thereafter, when users search for the business, a screen like the following will appear:

Users can then get basic questions about the business answered through the bot (e.g., “do you have outdoor seating?”). If there’s a question it can’t answer, the bot will refer the user to a phone number.
The bot can also ask business owners additional questions, depending on what information users are seeking. The new

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Twiggle offers plug-and-play semantic search to online retailers

Twiggle is a company founded by two former Google employees. It promises to bring “semantic search” to e-commerce sites with minimal technical integration. Udi Manber, formerly head of search at Google and Amazon’s A9, is a board member.
Last week, the company released a “Semantic API,” which “gives retailers the ability to add a semantic layer to their existing search engines and interact with their online customers in a more personal and natural way.” The idea is that Twiggle will bring state-of-the-art search sophistication to companies that can’t develop the technology on their own.
I spoke with Amir Konigsberg, CEO of Twiggle. He told me that his company spent three years building out an ontology that allows Twiggle to process and deeply understand billions of products and associated attributes. Twiggle also does data structuring and normalization and enhances products with additional metadata.

Konigsberg critiques current e-commerce search capabilities as being very basic and not delivering an optimal user experience. Clicks

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Google makes it easier to see and share publishers’ real URLs from AMP pages

As promised, Google is making a change to how it displays Accelerated Mobile Pages, so that users can easily view and share links that lead directly to publishers’ sites rather than to Google’s copy of the content.
Google has been displaying AMP content by effectively making a copy of it and rendering it from its own servers, something that Google says makes AMP both faster and more secure for users. However, this has raised concerns with publishers and some users, who have found the system difficult for reaching content directly on a publisher’s site.
AMP & Google URLs
For example, consider the situation below that existed before today’s announced change:

The example shows an article from our Marketing Land sibling site, published and displayed by Google in AMP format. Despite it being from Marketing Land, the URL area of the browser shows it being part of Google.com. That means those who copied and pasted the URL to share via a tweet, through Facebook or

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