A few days ago, I attended a Facebook event in Paris. Besides their amazing offices, the foosball tables, and the snacks, the speakers intervened on a very relevant topic: the challenges of measuring efficiency on the web. It is challenging for both marketers and data analysts and researchers. Customers and Internet users in general have a very short attention span: But this is completely normal. They use multiple devices, while multitasking. Just think about yourself every evening, watching TV, with your Laptop on your lap, and your phone in on hand (and probably a tablet charging in the other room). Do you imagine how difficult it can get to captivate users’ attention?
The online environment seems super easy and fun, but behind the scenes, it is a very complex world. As Richard Moore, author of Writing the Silences, would say “Simplicities are enormously complex”. This is why it is important to always measure, analyse in order to understand this environment. During this seminar at Facebook, Anne Bioulac, partner at Roland Berger consultancy gave us an overview of the environment: how mobile is growing and how it is impacting consumer behaviour. Then, Georges Augué, Facebook’s regional measurement lead talked about the different approaches and methodologies used to measuring effectiveness. Following that, Anais Abbou who works at Kantar worldpanel made a speech about consumer panels, and the impact of a given campaign. The last part of the seminar presented by Kathy Dykeman, Monetization and Analytics Manager, and Manohar Paluri the applied machine learning manager at Facebook, was extremely interesting and impressive to my taste. I think that it is impossible to explain everything in one article, but I will summarise the key points.
Ever evolving environment
Growth that is taking place today in terms of data sharing and content is exponential. In the past it took a year to sell 1 million iPods Paris today it takes half a day to sell 1 million iPhone 6.
All this change is obviously impacting consumer Behavior in all the industries and all the sectors. If in the past it was easy to forecast and come up with predictions in terms of evolution technology and change today it’s possible to do so. The company that survives today is a company that is agile and always ready to adapt.
The five key trends of 2014-2019
As you might have guessed, mobile is growing at an incredible pace. On the street everyone is looking at their smartphone. 60% of the population in 2020 would be using a smartphone. But people are not using smartphones only, the use multiple devices anywhere and anytime: This cross-device trend is spreading across the different generations. E-commerce is the third key trend of of 2014-2019: It is becoming a natural act to order different categories of items online.
Today’s consumers seek information: they browse and search for products on the Internet, before going in-store, or ordering them directly online. And social media is a main source of information for them. They get reviews and opinions from people with the same interests and taste. And last but not least, the new star of digital: video. As you might have seen, everybody is going crazy over videos. They are a fun and creative way to captivate a user’s attention.
The test and learn approach
People today are connected 24/7 using different devices. This uninterrupted connection makes them exposed two huge amount of content. Today it is not content that is rare, but it is time. People do not have time to focus on all the content they come across on the Internet. The golden rule is to target the user with the right message at the right time. Indeed, one has to be very efficient in the digital world. The first golden rule is to know your customers and their use of mobile for example. This will allow you to understand what kind of messages can have an impact on them. The second Golden Rule is to develop a test and learn approach: As we said before, not predict trends anymore. Instead we can launch campaigns and monitor their impact afterwards.
Artificial intelligence means a lot to us and to Facebook
Artificial intelligence is nothing to be scared about: it bridges the gap between machine and human knowledge. A lot of people are curious to understand the magic behind artificial intelligence and computer vision. Manohar Paluri explained to us during the seminar how Facebook develops their Artificial Intelligence unit. The magic trick: teaching the machine how to analyse information. Yes, there’s a thing called machine learning, and it is very impressive. For example, to teach a computer how to identify a picture of a pizza, one must use a lot of different pizza pictures. The computer crunches all the different information and annotations from these pizza pictures. By doing so, it learns how to that alone.
Artificial intelligence is not developed for entertainment purposes, nor simply to develop computer knowledge. But, it helps millions of users across the globe. You might ask yourself how recognising images can help people?
To answer this question, I will talk about Facebook reader. Some people are skeptical when it comes to computer intelligence. Personally, I think Facebook reader is a fantastic tool. Manohar played a very touching video that was more of a testimonial of blind people who could see through Facebook description. Thanks to Alternative Text, Facebook reader reads everything that is on Facebook such as photo descriptions or statuses.
I want to thank the Facebook team again for that amazing seminar. It was very impressive, fascinating and interesting.