The Oban Blog

The global digital marketing weekly: Friday 19 December 2014

This week, Frank Fanteev presents us with another update full of digital marketing stories that would be beneficial for your business,: Alibaba group’s recently established offline shopping holiday “double 12” finds success; Skype offers new live translator preview; Google’s ongoing struggle with EU regulations; German teens trust the traditional media more than the internet; and Yandex release a new crowdsourced content evaluation tool, “Toloka”.

Alipay’s offline strategy worked on Double 12 Shopping Day

December 12 is a brand new shopping holiday organised by Alibaba, nicknamed “double 12”. Launched last year, it was designed to encourage retailers to provide greater diversity and higher quality for products and services. Shifting the focus from online customers, Alipay has achieved higher awareness in the offline market, and providing a counterpoint to“Singles Day”.

This year, the number of participating retailers offering discounted products has increased. The only condition for retailers wishing to take part was to exclusively offer Alipay for discounts. This campaign has attracted a high number of older customers, with workers outside the malls helping them to set up Alipay for a small fee. However, the logistics of the promotion were widely criticised, as shoppers were frustrated with limited access to the data network and slow Wi-Fi at shopping areas resulting in slow transactions.  According to Weibo, this campaign has produced tens of millions of mobile app activations on a single day, cultivating mobile shopping habits among older age groups.

Skype Translator preview

Skype has announced the preview release of the Skype Translator, which allows two people to communicate despite speaking separate languages. Potentially, this signifies a major step in cross-cultural communication, allowing people to interact with each other without being limited by language barriers.

Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that as more people start using it, it will produce more accurate translations taking into account multiple variations of pronunciations. Speech recognition compares a snippet of your voice to millions of others in order to identify your tonal implications. Simultaneously, it translates utterances into a target language and reads it back to the user on the other side of the world. Currently, the service is only available for Spanish and English, but Microsoft will be tackling as many languages as possible in the future. Sign up here to try it out.

Google’s ongoing struggle with EU regulations

EU concern for data usage has been rapidly increasing during the last year, questioning Google’s data policies and the “right to be forgotten” being implemented, among other legislative updates.

The new copyright law extension in Germany lobbied by the publishing industry has banned Google from showing snippets of the news, as it was allegedly benefiting Google more than the German publishers. Spain has recently taken similar action, trying to force Google to pay for displaying the news – and action which resulted in Google abandoning the news market completely, leading to decreased traffic to Spanish news sources overall.

On the data policy side, Google is now facing a $19million fine from the Netherlands for violating data protection laws. Google has until February 2015 in order to adjust its policies or they will be forced top ay the bill. Google has had data policy issues in Germany and France in the past, which have been solved. With increased concern for conditions and purposes of data processing, the general public are more aware which can only lead to heavier worldwide regulations in the future.

Germany’s digital teens trust traditional media more

According to a “JIM-Studie” 2014 report, teenagers in Germany trust  traditional media (TV, radio and newspaper) more than the internet. Overall German teenagers almost universally own a phone (99% of females and 96% of males), of which 90% are smartphones. About three-quarters own their own computer or laptop, and almost half have a portable gaming console. Nonetheless, traditional media also remains popular with the majority of the sample group having TV or Radio in their house.

Keeping in mind that internet penetration is over 87% in Germany, teens are using the internet on an everyday basis, but is the internet seen as a reliable source of information to them? The study asked teens how credible they found specific media platforms as a source of information and which they were most likely to believe if sources conflicted.

Newspapers appeared as the most trustworthy source, with 40% of respondents relying on it. Next popular media was TV and Radio, with 26% and 17% accordingly. The internet had the smallest level of trust among teens with only 17% giving credence to the internet. Daily newspapers were seen as media with high journalistic standards, even among digital natives. Over the years, the relative curiosity of newspapers, TV and internet haven’t changed much, with the perception of radio’s trustworthiness actually growing.

Yandex launching “Toloka” service

Yandex.Toloka is a beta-version of a crowdsourcing platform for content evaluation. Most of Yandex services are based on machine learning and they often require human evaluations in order to determine their algorithms. In order to gain human insights, Yandex have been using assessors, and now they have launched a new crowdsourcing platform in order to satisfy the higher demand for the assessors.

Currently Yandex.Toloka isn’t accepting new applications and the number of tasks available is limited, narrowed down to classifying adult content and content relevancy. In the future, it can be expected to have a wider variety of tasks as the number of services requiring human assessors grows.

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