​The Britton Digital Update—Week of May 14, 2018

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

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It appears we have become a people divided … again. We see strong opinions generated, online hatred spewed, and, quite possibly, friends parting ways. This time, however, it is not Trump versus Hillary, U.S. versus Russia, or even Cubs versus White Sox. Nope, it’s Yanny versus Laurel. This is a viral debate the likes of which have not been seen online since the ”The Dress.“ While that picture had us second-guessing our eyes, this post has us second-guessing our ears.

The “Yanny versus Laurel” post first appeared on Reddit before spreading like wildfire across the internet. When playing the clip, some people clearly hear a word that sounds like “yanny” and some of us clearly hear “laurel.” Why? How can we hear two entirely different things? Scientists, professors, and audio engineers are all chiming in, and the consensus comes down to a few reasons.

First, what we hear is likely related to overlapping audio frequencies and how much of the audio spectrum we can hear. “Laurel” has sounds with lower frequencies while “yanny” has sounds with higher frequencies. Also, our brains can affect what we hear. The brain fills in missing sounds or frequencies when there is noise or lack of information. It adds in audio information to help us process what we expect to hear.

Which sound we hear can also change based on the device used to listen to it. For example, I clearly heard “laurel” on my iPhone, but on my television I heard “yanny.” It can also change based on our hearing ability. As we age, we lose some of the ability to hear higher frequencies, which explains why some of us hear the lower-frequency leaning “laurel.”

The Reddit user who posted the clip—and who surely didn’t intend to break up relationships over it—shared with Wired where the divisive soundbite came from: an audio recording for the pronunciation of the word “laurel” from Vocabulary.com.

We may not be able to agree on which word we hear, but if there is one thing that we can agree on, it’s that we need one convenient place to find all of our digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news. That’s why the bi-weekly Britton Digital Update exists. So you can get up to date in just minutes with everything you need to know. This allows you more time to argue with your friends (who apparently may have better hearing than you do).


These days, it‘s not just fake news causing real problems for Facebook. It’s fake people—583 million fake people. This past week, Facebook released its first-ever Community Standards Enforcement Report. The report outlined what action was taken to remove those fake accounts, as well as inappropriate and spam content (a staggering 837 million pieces) removed since the beginning of the year.

What should brands and marketers take away from this? Does all this talk of fake accounts and spam mean you should drop Facebook from your marketing plan? Before you make any hasty decisions, remember that Facebook is only releasing these numbers in an effort to become more transparent. There is still a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction.

There are many signals to look for when trying to determine it your traffic is a result of bots and fake sources. When you run an ad campaign, you should be looking for more than just awareness indicators. Look for signals that show your ad campaign is leading to action, such as quality web traffic, leads, and better yet, purchases. When the traffic is fraudulent, you tend to see virtually no time spent on your website, no second pages viewed, and many visitors over a short period of time.

At BMDG, we pride ourselves in digging deeper into the data to ensure our clients get the most out of their spend. Every campaign is susceptible to digital fraud—banner ads, especially. But in our experience, Facebook tends to see a much smaller share of fraud than other channels you might use in your campaign. Despite the flurry of negative news reports, Facebook is still an incredibly effective and efficient way to reach targeted users.

Of course, not every employee at Facebook is focused on correcting its recent public relations blunders. There are plenty of new features being tested and added to Facebook’s suite of products. Here are a few other headlines of note:

I/O & P

The annual Google I/O developer conference was held earlier this month. At the event, Google revealed some of the technology it has planned for the coming year and beyond, with much of the focus on showcasing infrastructure and advances it has made in machine learning and artificial intelligence. One of those AI systems, Google Duplex, was demonstrated for all of the conference attendees.

When asked to make an appointment for a haircut, Google Assistant made a phone call and had a conversational interaction with the person who answered. It was pretty impressive, considering the actual human had no idea the voice on the other end of the line belonged to artificial intelligence. The AI answered questions in a conversational manner and was able to deal with misunderstandings from the human. This demo sent the internet into a frenzy, with users wondering whether or not people might already be having conversations with fake people (not quite like the fake-people issue Facebook is addressing). The Verge reports that Google later clarified that the conversation exchanges must be “functional, with strict limits on what is going to be said” for the AI to converse as convincingly as demonstrated. Google says that Duplex is just an experiment at this point and not a finished product, but it was an eye-opening glimpse at the digital assistants of the future.

In addition, Google announced its beta test for Android P, the latest version of its mobile operating system. Improvements over previous versions include an updated system navigation, adaptive battery and brightness settings, smarter notifications, and predictive actions (predicting what app or action you would like to execute next).

Other interesting announcements from the Google I/O conference include:

Amazon Aims to (Re)Target on Ad Revenue

In 2017, digital ad revenue in 2017 grew 21 percent to more than $88 billion globally, according to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report. And with 90 percent of that growth going to Google and Facebook, it’s no wonder that other tech giants are taking notice. While Google’s ad revenue registered $95 billion and Facebook brought in $40 billion from ads in 2017, Amazon only brought in a measly $1.7 billion.

Perhaps that is why Amazon has been beefing up its ad capabilities. Bloomberg Media reports that Amazon announced a test of a new retargeting ad tool that “lets merchants selling on Amazon’s online marketplace purchase spots that will follow shoppers around the web to lure the consumers back to Amazon to buy.” What makes this unique to Amazon is that it resides on other websites, much the same way the Google Display Network works. While ads on Amazon’s own website have included search-related ads and product-listing ads, this is the first time that Amazon has allowed sellers to bid on ads through other websites on its platform.

Bloomberg Media also reports that, according to EMarketer Inc. estimates, by 2021, “advertising on websites and mobile devices will account for half of all ad spending in the U.S., capturing greater share than television, radio, newspapers, and billboards combined.” It seems clear to me that the data and targeting that comes with the Amazon ecosystem can have an immediate impact on the dollars that will be up for grabs. And that’s just advertising dollars. That doesn’t include the e-commerce dollars through its platform.

This is a test worth monitoring. Watch how the brands involved use this advertising option and jump on the opportunity when it becomes publicly available. How am I so confident? Ask anyone that has ever bet against Amazon if you aren’t sure.

For the rest of the latest news, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode