Google’s investment into AI

Google’s investment into AI

Artificial intelligence is all around us, and it’s no surprise that Google is at the forefront of its innovation and advancement. Google Lens is the company’s major investment into the AI space and it merges perfectly with its core search function. 

Introduced to the world in 2017, Google Lens is image recognition technology developed by Google itself. It gives smartphone users the ability to find out more information about something they see by snapping a picture of it. Using visual based machine learning, it can identify and subsequently serve the user relevant information about the contents of the image. What’s more, the technology doesn’t only serve information on objects, but also barcodes, QR codes, labels and pieces of text.

Available on both Android and iOs, Google Lens has recently added features such as the ability to read handwriting, identify landmarks, plants and animals, and copy text. This year, Google has announced that even more features are to come, including the ability to recognize and recommend menu items, as well as split bills and figure out tips.

As Google Lens is essentially the newest edition to search engine marketing, how can companies optimise their online content for it? While Google Lens hasn’t receive full adoption by all consumers yet, it certainly won’t hurt to be prepared for this advancement in search marketing. Below are just a few ways to get your website prepared:

  • Ensure branding imagery is on point: From logos to signs, ensure your brand imagery is high quality and clearly visible. This makes your company easier to be picked up and your information served on Google Lens.
  • Fill in all alt tags: As imagery is your most important tool when it comes to Google Lens, all alt tags must be completed in detail.
  • Optimize photo data: Adding to the basics of your image information will help the platform to serve more relevant information to users. On top of image size, date, time and coordinates, use unique, high quality images, use the JPEG format, use appropriate image sizes for your website and add captions that are as descriptive as possible.

By 2018, Google Lens was officially available on both Pixel and non-Pixel phones via the Google Photos app on iOS, in Google Assistant and on the Google app. Languages it supports include; English, spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German and Korean. This makes it clear how heavily invested Google is in the AI industry, making access to information simpler by the day.

Google removed 2.3 billion ‘bad’ ads in 2018

Google removed 2.3 billion ‘bad’ ads in 2018

In order to continue its objective of providing a safe digital advertising environment for all involved, Google has stepped up it safety protocols in the last year. After a number of scams reared their nasty heads in 2018, the leading search platform had to make a move to eliminate the risk users were being exposed to on a daily basis. 

The move was two-fold; billions of ads (2.3 billion to be exact), and one million ad accounts found to be ‘bad’ were removed from the platform for violating existing policies, while new policies were created. In total, 31 new policies were formed in response to negative ads relating to third-party technical services, ticket resellers, cryptocurrencies, bail bond payments, and addiction rehabilitation facilities. Accounts may only be granted to organizations that have been certified. To deal specifically with fraudulent rehabilitation centres, Google has partnered up with LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service for online pharmacies.

According to the search giant, “Using improved machine learning technology, we were able to identify and terminate almost one million bad advertiser accounts, nearly double the amount we terminated in 2017. When we take action at the account level, it helps to address the root cause of bad ads and better protect our users.” So while ad removals dropped, ad account removals essentially double in the last year, in an effort to remove the thousands of bad ads that one fraudulent account could create.

In addition to removing negative ads and accounts, Google also removed about 1.2 million pages, 22,000 apps and 15,000 sites who were found to have violated their policies in place to prevent incorrect, hateful and poor quality content. This, as Search Engine Land reports, is a very good thing. While you might not think this type of content may will affect your website’s search marketing efforts, these bad ads, sites and apps can in fact bring down your own campaigns’ performance, and your safety and integrity if your industry or company is in anyway related.

In Google’s report, ‘Enabling a safe digital advertising ecosystem’, they outline a recent removal of what has been cited as one of the biggest fraudulent operations they had ever encountered. Known by its codename ‘3ve’, the operation used fake domains and websites to exploit data centres and infect computers with malware, ultimately extracting large amounts of sensitive data. An average of 10,000 fake domains and more than three million ad bid requests (daily) were found. After passing the case on to the FBI, eight people were charged with numerous crimes including money laundering.

As new scams and fraudulent operations arise, Google is committed to dealing with them to ensure the safety and integrity of all legitimate advertisers on its ad search network. In the end, everyone in the system can be affected, and removing all negative ads and accounts will work in everyone’s favour.


TMI’s Growth Fuels Exciting Rebrand

TMI’s Growth Fuels Exciting Rebrand

For over a decade TMI (The Media Image) has operated out of South Africa, running complex and ambitious campaigns for some of the most recognisable brands in the world. The concept right from the beginning was to establish a modern, skill and technology led company based in the cost effective environment of South Africa which could service the needs of global brands looking for high performance at a cost effective exchange rate. South Africa was an ideal culture and time zone location for this type of digital marketing work.

When TMI founder, Peter Brooke-Sumner, moved back from the UK to South Africa as one of the first hires of Google in the region, he developed a keen sense of exactly how such a service model would need to operate to produce client focused, performance results. The model took off and a UK based office was opened while the company established itself. After a few years of operation, however, the UK office was then sold. Since then TMI has expanded its client base to the USA, Australia and the UK as well, with Cape Town being the obvious choice to run operations from. From highly skilled workers, convenient time zones and operational proficiencies, there are numerous reasons why the Mother City is the prime location for operations.

Growth and Direction

TMI made a name for itself first as a Search/PPC agency representing large global accounts as well as leading market players in Africa. As the client base grew, the company’s service offering expanded along with it to include Programmatic Retargeting, Search Engine Optimisation, Bought Media, Display, Video, Content Marketing, Creative Design and Social Media. By 2015 TMI boasted the largest DoubleClick-certified team in Southern Africa (and possibly globally at that time for an independent agency), with more than 40 qualified individuals across the Google Marketing Platform (formally DoubleClick integrated stack) including its demand-side platform (DSP), ad server and search management platform.

Over the years TMI has won over a dozen awards in recognition of high performance, ingenuity and campaign optimization. These include Bookmark, New Generation, AMASA and the African Crystal International Media Awards. In 2016 TMI entered into a joint venture with Quinton Jones to form TMI Media and collaborate on data-driven media solutions combined with the analytics and insights that digital provides. This strategic alliance has led to a unique blend of above and below the line expertise, allowing the agency to capitalise on every significant marketing channel from programmatic display to television.

The Rebrand

As part of the ongoing evolution, the agency gave its corporate ID a facelift to better represent the brand and its personality. Having adopted a new logo and aesthetics in 2019, the company officially changed its name to TMI Collective, which better reflects the wide range of marketing and communications disciplines on offer, across a global client base.

Says Peter Brooke-Sumner, “Although we’ve reinvented ourselves over the years, we’re still the same team committed to quality and service excellence. Whether you’ve been working with us for some time now or are meeting us for the first time, we will continue to drive results across global campaigns.”


Unpacking The WordStream Online Advertising Landscape Report 2019 (Infographic)

Unpacking The WordStream Online Advertising Landscape Report 2019 (Infographic)

Each year, we look forward to events that have become a tradition in the digital marketing landscape. They are must-win award ceremonies like the Bookmark Awards, must-attend conventions such as Google Marketing Live, and must-read reports like WordStream’s Online Advertising Landscape 2019 Report.

As a data-focused agency, we love a piece of data, so we’re happy to present some fascinating trends from the WordStream report.. But we also love creating pretty things, and assembled these highlights into one helpful infographic.  

The report documents notable trends for this year and provides a good overview of how marketing professionals are spending their advertising budget, the strategies they are using, their biggest challenges, and much more. You can read the full report here, but for some bite-sized insights, scroll down to the infographic below. 

Needless to say, Wordstream’s report is a really useful document as it gives us a roadmap for navigating the year ahead and thriving in your own marketing efforts.

Google Maps Gets Personal, Lets Customers “Follow” Your Business

Google Maps Gets Personal, Lets Customers “Follow” Your Business

It seems that Google is not ready to leave the social media battleground yet. The company now wants you to think of Google Maps as more than just a business directory, but also a platform where you can engage and interact with customers. Google rolled out a feature last year that enables Android users to “Follow” businesses in the Google Maps app and receive updates from places they like (which, evidently, is a way to fill the void left by Google Plus’s departure and replace the need to follow your business on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter).

 Whether you’re currently running a sale, will be hosting an upcoming event, or launching a promotion, customers will see these updates in the “For You” tab – a section within Maps where Google shows personalised recommendations based on users’ preferences and favourite places.

 Customers previously had to search for or browse a business profile to read their Google My Business (GMB) posts in the Knowledge Panel or Google Maps listing, but can now view all updates from followed businesses as one consolidated feed. This is how Google announced the functionality to Maps users:

 “Ever wandered by your favorite store just to find out you missed a great sale? Or maybe you’re always the last of your friends to find out about the new hot spots opening in town. With more than 150 million places on Google Maps and millions of people looking for places to go, we made two updates so it’s even easier for you to keep up with the places you care about and find out about places coming soon.”

 If you’re a new business currently prepping for the launch, you can create a profile three months before the big day to help build awareness. The opening date will be highlighted in orange below the company name with the business profile featuring the address and websites, with this information also showing up in Google Search’s Knowledge Graph cards.

 To take advantage of this feature, organisers must create a Business Profile in GMB, and post updates regularly so followers can stay in the know about what’s happening.

 If you’ve used GMB posts in the past or intend to do so in the future, remember that just like your Facebook or Instagram posts, you’ll want your content to stand out from the rest. This means making sure that your posts include engaging images and copy that is relevant to your followers.


Instagram Organic Influencer Posts Can Now Be Converted Into Ads

Instagram Organic Influencer Posts Can Now Be Converted Into Ads

In March of this year, Instagram confirmed it was testing a new ad format with a small number of brands. As of 4 June, This new ad format was officially launched and is known as branded content ads. For the first time ever, brands can create ads based on organic posts influencer posts that they have existing partnerships with. The rollout has begun, while branded content ads for the Stories feature will be implemented over the next few months.

How do advertisers get access to the feature? Those who create the content can grant partner brands access to promote their posts via their advanced settings. Once this access has been granted, brands can login to their Ads Manager and choose the post to run as an ad via the ‘existing posts’ option. The ad can be run both in the newsfeed and in the upcoming months, in the Stories format.

This new ad format has been in the pipeline for sometime, as Instragram revealed recently that it has been one of the biggest requests from brands until now. A welcome and much needed addition to Instagram advertising, influencer advertising in the form of branded content ads is a new way to capitalize on the power that social influencer’s hold. Consumers are far more likely to trust the opinions of these influencer’s and this format opens up all sorts of marketing possibilities.

According to Instagram, “With branded content ads, businesses have an opportunity to tell their brand stories through creators’ voices, reach new audiences and measure impact. Using the tools available on the Facebook ads platform, businesses can reach targeted audiences beyond the people who follow the brand and creator accounts. And by running ads, they’ll have access to measurement and can optimise and test their campaigns against their set goals for more effective marketing campaigns.”

In an aim to provide more value to businesses and consumers alike, branded content ads are bringing organic posts to the forefront of social advertising. According to a survey by MediaKix, 2019 is the year influencer marketing reaches new heights. Results found that 80% of marketers find the strategy effective, while nearly two-thirds are increasing their influencer marketing budgets, and Instagram is set to be the channel focus for many. Already a popular form of advertising, with only more popularity to come, Instagram has stepped up influencer advertising a level to meet industry needs.