Back to Top

Fans Want to #FreeBritney Once and For All

Janis: Her Life & Music

The short, crazy and incredibly influential life of Janis Joplin finally gets its due in this new biography written by Holly George-Warren, one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history. Based on unprecedented access to Joplin’s family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis draws an intimate portrait of the one they called the Queen Of Rock n’ Roll.

Reblogged 10 hours ago from

Changes, challenges, and opportunities: Q&A with Adobe’s Kevin Lindsay

“Today, product marketers need to really understand and have empathy for what our customers are trying to accomplish,” says Adobe’s Kevin Lindsay. 

As consumer behavior changes, so does marketing. The last twenty years or so have seen a number of differing approaches and new buzz-concepts, from content to personalization to account-based marketing (ABM).

Amidst all these new things to focus on, marketers can sometimes lose track of what’s important. Because in the end, everyone’s marketing a product and all organizational problems can be solved with a product.

At least that’s what Kevin Lindsay, director of product marketing and strategy for Adobe Experience Manager, thinks.

ClickZ was fortunate enough to speak with him about the state of the industry currently, where it’s heading, and how to maintain human connection in an increasingly digital world. 

Product is everything

Technically speaking, every marketer is a product marketer. Sure, some products are tangible (like a piece of software) and some are intangible (like a service), but at the end of the day, they’re all products.

You can worry about your content strategy, your email outreach sequence, and other marketing-related activities, but they’re all extraneous matters when compared to how good your product is.

If your product doesn’t solve people’s problems, then it won’t be very successful — it’s as simple as that.

That being said, what should your product actually do? There’s no one right answer; we obviously need different products for different purposes. However, if your product effectively breaks down organizational silos, you’re on to a winner.

“Products can help create those ties between different kinds of workflows and roles in the organization, from the creative all the way through to the person that executes.”

Great products break down silos and can tie an organization together. However, we’ve become so used to operating in our own departmental bubbles that sometimes we aren’t even aware of how beneficial breaking down these silos could be.

In most organizations, this manifests itself in the following way:

“Okay we’ve got this pain over here, this other business challenge over there, and we have all these different technology solutions that we can apply here and there, but we don’t know how to put it all together.”

The key for marketers (and especially product marketers) is to:

  1. Create products that do away with silos
  2. Educate consumers on the potential opportunity that this brings

Think about it for a second just how much could your organization achieve if you removed internal silos?  

Content, personalization, and customer-first

The need for personalization has long been talked about in marketing circles, but that doesn’t mean that it’s been effectively achieved.

“So we’re a retailer, and we’ve been talking personalization for about a decade. If I were to give myself a grade, I’d say we’ve probably got about a C.”

Whilst Lindsay is adamant that personalization’s potential is far from being achieved, it’s still permeated many of the modern consumer’s most-used products.

For example, it’s unthinkable to imagine going on Amazon and seeing products that are unrelated to your interests, or to switch on Netflix and see a litany of completely random shows.

The advent of AI has seen personalization efforts skyrocket and for good reason. Gartner predicts that companies who use AI to understand customer intent (for personalization efforts) stand to increase profits by 15%. 

According to Lindsay, too many marketers get stuck at the first hurdle of personalization identifying and categorizing consumers into neatly defined segments. However, that’s only one part of the overall solution:

“Without the ability to fulfill on that promise, to be able to act on the data that might tell you that a certain segment or individual acts a certain way or wants a certain thing, you’re blocked.”

Identifying different consumer segments is one thing but you need to be able to cater to them individually. There’s little point in spending time and effort figuring out each client’s needs if that has no impact on how you market to them.

With this in mind, Lindsay notes that there’s been a wider change in product marketing circles. No longer do they just talking about what their products can do, but they focus on the customer first:

“A lot of what we do in product marketing today is really understanding use cases, understanding pains and challenges, and using storytelling and customer examples to bring that to light… I remember years ago…  it was all ‘here are the features, here are the benefits’.”

We all know the importance of adopting a customer-centric approach. It’s easy to get drawn into how great your product is after all, it’s the best thing since sliced bread, right? But there’s no point harking on about x, y, or z feature if they ultimately don’t solve the customer’s pain points.

Empathy in a digital world

Creating a great product requires empathy you have to understand your customers’ troubles and their needs. Likewise, personalizing and creating great content requires empathy to articulate your customers’ troubles, and to explain how your product can solve them.

For Lindsay, this empathetic approach is a far cry from his experiences twenty years ago:

“In our case, we’re B2B, we’re selling to companies who are then selling to consumers. We need to have empathy for their end consumer and what that end consumer is trying to do, and then be able to tell the story that will help the company connect with the consumer. It’s very different today to when I first started doing product marketing a couple of decades ago.”

This approach becomes especially problematic when looking to scale. It’s impossible (especially for a company as large as Adobe) to put a human being in front of every potential customer. Without that human contact, how can you possibly take an empathetic approach?

It seems like chatbots might be the answer for marketers. In fact, their rise is so prolific that according to Usabilla, a company which builds “future-proof customer experiences,” 70% of US consumers have already used a chatbot

And, Salesforce also predicts a 136% rise in the use of chatbots amongst service organizations over the next 18 months. 

“Is it possible to humanize the digital experience using very non-human things? Like data, like AI? My position on that is that it actually is. We don’t need to have a human-looking being. How do we leverage the data / AI as much as possible to do a lot of that heavy lifting?”

Creativity and analysis pave the way for the future

“A few years ago we were saying “marketers need to be more analytical.” Now, every single one of them is coming to us with those skills… That being said, marketers need to exercise their creative muscles as well.”

Without an analytical, data-driven approach, marketers will struggle to properly fine-tune their strategy, reach their clients, and prove their ROI all of which are absolutely crucial. But without creativity, marketers won’t be able to come up with innovative new products, grab their consumers’ attention, or solve new business problems that will inevitably crop up in the future.

It might seem cliche to say, but the future of marketing lies in harnessing both of these attributes. Just as personalization and content need to go together, so analytical and creative skills should complement each other.

According to Aditya Joshi, partner at Bain & Company and head of the firm’s Marketing Excellence division, marketing nowadays requires adopting a “both-brain” approach. If done correctly, “the payoff will be marketing that is both inspiring and effective” — which is the response that we’re all after, right?  

Many thanks to Kevin for his detailed and highly thought-provoking insights. Let us know what you thought of the points raised by leaving a comment below. 

The post Changes, challenges, and opportunities: Q&A with Adobe’s Kevin Lindsay appeared first on ClickZ.

Reblogged 10 hours ago from

False promises: How marketers can tell the difference between AI and automation

Artificial intelligence, according to pioneer of the field John McCarthy, is exactly what it sounds like — using a machine to do any task that requires human intelligence. 

So if the saying “So simple, a monkey could do it” applies, then having a machine do it is not AI

However, McCarthy’s definition is also a little too simple. As AI has progressed and technology has become more advanced, explaining exactly how AI works has become more complex as well. 

And because these technologies are so new and difficult to explain, unfortunately there are quite a few impostors out there making promises to marketers that technology can’t keep. 

Here’s how to spot the real from the fake when it comes to choosing AI solutions to solve marketing challenges.  

Content produced in collaboration with Phrasee.

Be wary of companies offering “simple” explanations 

One of the major hurdles many companies face when it comes to helping clients understand their AI solutions is explaining exactly how those solutions work. The design and processes behind AI and machine learning are incredibly complex. 

Plus, the more complex the problem is that an AI has been built to solve, the more complex that AI needs to be. 

AI solutions analyze and process information at speeds and scales that defy human comprehension, so it is also difficult to succinctly explain how and why AI makes the decisions it does, according to Phrasee Chief Scientist Dr. Neil Yager: 

“Simple AI techniques, such as ‘decision trees,’ are nice because they are easy to understand. However, they do not offer the cutting-edge performance more complex techniques do.

On the other hand, more powerful techniques (such as ‘deep learning’) perform very well, but are complex and not easy to understand. There is a trade-off and we’ve decided to optimize our AI towards performance. Anyone who can fully explain their results in simple and intuitive terms is not using state-of-the-art machine learning technology.”

So if an AI salesperson is telling you “It’s simple,” in reference to their solution, those words could be an indicator that the technology is not truly AI. 

What’s the difference between AI and automation?

Many companies sell simple automation as AI, and it can be difficult for a layperson to understand the differences between the two. So businesses might be paying cutting-edge technology prices for solutions that have actually been available for quite some time. 

Like AI, automation uses robotics and rules-based systems to predict outcomes — but those predictions aren’t smart.

For example, automation might allow machine technology to complete repetitive tasks it’s been programmed to complete, but the automation cannot learn from those tasks in order to complete new, related tasks. 

AI, on the other hand, uses the data it analyzes for prediction in order to make new recommendations based on what it’s learned. 

What AI can do

Here’s a list of a few things the best AI technology on the market can do.

  • Understand speech. Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo, can understand human voices and make recommendations based on commands. 
  • Write compelling copy. If you read the sports section of the newspaper, chances are you’ve read an article written by a robot. AI can quickly analyze relevant keywords and create sentences that approximate the way a human would write. 
  • Give recommendations. Companies like Netflix use AI to analyze massive amounts of data to create personalized recommendations that get even more accurate the more you interact with the platform. 

What AI can’t do

Now here are a few things that AI can’t quite handle yet.

  • Write a script. All those Tweets you may have seen that read something along the lines of “I made a computer watch 1,000 episodes of Law and Order” with hilarious-sounding scripts attached are fake. Actual tests using AI to write scripts have been complete gibberish. 
  • Run an appropriate social media account. When Microsoft used AI to create a Twitter account in the voice of a teenage girl, “Tay,” the account had to be shut down in less than 24 hours. Apparently, what unaided AI “learns” from analyzing thousands of Tweets is how to be racist. Yikes. 
  • Chitchat. Recently, a six-year-old girl got a fun surprise after telling her family’s Alexa Dot about her love of sugar cookies and dollhouses in the form of, you guessed it, nearly $200 worth of sugar cookies and dollhouses. AI can’t yet tell the difference between commands and conversation. 

The evolution of AI has unlocked a world of possibilities, but understanding what is and isn’t possible right now could mean the difference between finding a product that works wonders or falling for something that’s too good to be true. 

To learn more about what’s possible with AI for marketing, check out Phrasee’s report, “Optimizing marketing performance with artificial intelligence.”

The post False promises: How marketers can tell the difference between AI and automation appeared first on ClickZ.

Reblogged 10 hours ago from

Profoto launches a studio-grade light for smartphone cameras

With smartphone cameras getting better and better each day, there might be a time in the very near future where you won’t have to count on a traditional camera setup for professional photography and video. Profoto wants to meet the needs of professional users with a new light that is designed …

Continue reading

Reblogged 12 hours ago from

Deus Ex Machina Beastie Motorcycle

Australian-based Deus Ex Machina custom bikes is one of the best mod shops in the world. The Beastie showcases some of their best work to date, and it’s based on the already awesome Ducati Hyper…

Reblogged 12 hours ago from

How Felicity Huffman's Family Is Dealing with Her Prison Sentence

Fashion’s Future Stars Break the Rules at Supima Design Competition

Nick Carter Has Filed a Restraining Order Against Brother Aaron

This Is the Best Natural Lipstick I've Ever Used