Algorithms Formulated for Success

An algorithm is a set of guidelines that describe how to perform a task. A recipe is an algorithm. Directions to a party are also an algorithm. But in the computer science realm, where we most often hear the term, the definition is a little more complex. Essentially, it’s a sequence of instructions telling a computer what to do. Why should you care? Because an algorithm can affect the success of your business.

Formulas That Work for Us

First comes the algorithm, then comes the code. An algorithm is a list of rules a computer program follows in order to solve a problem. The raw material used to solve problems is data. The process is also used to manipulate data, performing acts like searching and sorting. There can be more than one algorithm used to solve the same problem, so knowing the abilities of the set of rules means you can choose the best one for the job.

Algorithms Formulated for Success
Our searches change the rules

Why do we hear so often about algorithms being changed? Well, that’s technology adapting to our behavior. New websites and new technologies affect our habits when it comes to how we interact with the internet. Ultimately, these changes are implemented to give us a better user experience.

Machine Learning

Typically, part of an algorithm is machine learning. Let’s talk about three kinds of machine learning: supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement.

With supervised learning, input and desired output data are provided and labelled. This gives the machine a learning basis. For example, data that identifies different flower images as roses, daisies, and carnations could be provided. Based on these examples, the machine is shown a new image and asked to classify it. The algorithm powering this model is evaluated by how accurately it classifies the new flower pictures.

Algorithms Formulated for Success
Data is food for algorithms

Unsupervised learning does away with the labeled data and asks the machine to learn from raw data only. By looking for structure through useful features in a collection of examples, certain patterns and similarities emerge. An algorithm using unsupervised learning is searching for that commonality in data sets. Let’s say a marketer wants to know more about who is buying their products. By using raw customer data, an algorithm can define what those customers have in common and identify a target market.

Reinforcement learning works by giving a machine general reward signals about its performance. When an AI agent performs the best action in a scenario, it gets feedback. In this way, it learns. That’s how a video game or computer chess improves its ability to perform.

Practical Applications

So, again, what does this have to do with you as a business owner? The programmers working for Google and Facebook (for example), write a lot of algorithms. And they’re always changing. Plus, they change themselves as they learn from users. The goal of a business is to optimize their sites and pages, according to the algorithms. It’s a moving target and if you’re invested in getting the most out of your internet presence, you’ll pay attention to the changes. Using metrics, you can adjust to an algorithm and boost your ranking.

Algorithms Formulated for Success
Google’s algorithms improve UX

Google’s goal is to find the most relevant web pages for a particular search term or set of keywords. The reason Google is the number one search engine in the world is that it consistently performs good, relevant searches. When you google a dry cleaner, powerful algorithms get to work ranking pages for you. Relevant information can include business location, links, and keywords. Playing by Google’s rules will boost your rankings. Try to cheat the system, and Google will ding you, adversely affecting your organic search ranking.

Google would see a site called BestBurgerToronto.ca as a ploy to get a higher ranking through an exact search term, earning the site an algorithm penalty. Instead, a list of articles taste-testing burger places in Toronto would rank higher. It’s the internet version of when a company would name itself AAA Auto Mechanics to show up first in the Yellow Pages.

Obey the Rules

An algorithm is meant to be helpful. Once you understand how you benefit from them in everyday life, they seem less intimidating. You can even take advantage of their power if you play by the rules.

Podcasts Well-Loved

podcasts

Do you have a favourite podcast? A 2017 study conducted by Ulster Media and the Globe and Mail found that between seven and ten million Canadians are listeners. With more than 550,000 active shows to choose from, there aren’t many stones left unturned. From popular genres like true crime to niche shows about pens, there’s something for everyone.

Learning and Laughing

Podcasts Well-Loved
Most listeners use a smartphone

Depending on who you talk to, a podcast is the best way to expedite a commute, a good distraction while you clean or an excellent learning tool. Really, they do all that and so much more! There are series that have run for years and shows that are finished after four episodes. A podcast can be anything from a monologue to a piece of investigative journalism. Some refer to the format as on-demand internet radio, which is pretty accurate. Whatever you’re listening to, it’s most likely reaching you through your smartphone.

Historically Speaking

Although the idea of audio blogging actually started in the 1980s, true podcasting wasn’t around until the early 2000s. That’s when programmer and former MTV VJ Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer collaborated to open our collective ears. Curry wrote the iPodder program that enabled the automatic download of internet radio broadcasts to his iPod. Daily Source Code, which is still going strong, began in August 2004. Only a month later, there were reports that podcasting was catching on across the globe. iTunes started supporting the format in 2005, and Apple hit one billion subscribers in 2014.

One of the things listeners like about podcasts is the free nature of the shows. That is to say, no topic is off limits and there’s a lot of swearing. Why? Well, the format isn’t beholden to the government regulations that keep radio stations in check. Because the internet isn’t broadcasting.

By the Numbers

Here are a few stats on the podcasting community:

  • The biggest group of listeners is in the 25-34 age range
  • Male and female listenership is almost evenly split at 52% and 48% respectively
  • From 2017 to 2018, podcast listening growth jumped 14% among women
  • Listeners subscribe to an average of six shows

Monetizing the Format

Podcasts Well-Loved
Podcasts make targeting easy

We would argue that most podcasts are born out of passion. A person or group has an interest in a topic that is so strong, they just have to talk about it. Or a host’s  drive to talk about anything at all is overwhelming. But we would also argue that the monetization of the genre has enabled many shows to keep going. It can be a lot of work to regularly produce episodes, and a full-time job should really pay the bills.

What a successful podcast has is listeners. And listeners mean an audience for advertisers. From 2015 to 2018, podcast revenue grew from $69 million to $402 million. The 2020 prediction is for ad dollars worth $659 million. Because podcasts have both targeted and engaged audiences, advertisers can hone in on the exact segment of the population most likely to buy their products. Sponsorships and ads are sometimes woven into podcasts, but the hosts often just read the copy in a way that is far from professional but somehow still works.

Popular podcasts have taken their earning potential further with branding. Listeners can purchase merchandise from a related website or buy tickets to a live show. While most podcasts are free, some charge for content with a subscription fee.

Video-Related Podcasts

Videophiles like us are keen to hear what’s being said about our industry in the podcasting world. Here are some of our picks.

  • That Post Show. Industry experts talk about video, film, and post-production.
  • The RC Podcast. This is one our shooters like with discussions about high-end camera technology.
  • SpotCast. Wanna learn about commercial production from the POV of a production manager and director? Get ready to go behind-the-scenes and delve into what it takes to make a commercial.
  • Super Secret Filmcast is a podcast and blog “educating modern filmmakers”.
  • Filmmakers Drinking Bourbon. The hosts talk about filmmaking and video production, all while discovering new bourbons. Talk about doing what you love!
  • Go Creative Show. Hear from pros in film, tv, and music. Creatives of all walks talk about their craft.

Canadians Love Podcasting

If you’re a podcast listener, you’re in good company. Canadians who listen tend to be wealthier and better-educated than the average citizen. These audio gems can teach us a lot about, well, everything! But they’re also just a great form of entertainment. If you’re looking for some recommendations beyond the list above, have a look here and here. You’re sure to find something that piques your interest. Before long, you’ll be part of the podcast community, too.

Super Bowl Commercials

Super Bowl Commercials

It’s been just over a week since the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. It’s generally agreed that the game was a defensive battle, which is to say not very exciting. Even the half-time show was panned, although we do have to give a shout out to the generosity of Maroon 5. But even if you found the game boring or aren’t a football fan at all, you probably still took an interest in the Super Bowl commercials. With 98 million viewers, this was considered a bad year in ratings but the big game is still the place for companies to drop a lot of money on air time and go big or go home. Here’s a look at some of the ads that caught our attention and why we loved them.

Celebrities, Celebrities, Celebrities

Super Bowl commercials are always a contest to see which company can pull in the biggest names to promote their products. Pepsi consistently recruits top stars—remember the Cindy Crawford Pepsi ad in 1992? Or when she reprised her role in 2018, along with her son? Britney Spears took centre stage in 2002, traveling through time on a wave of cola. The soft drink maker has a way of capitalizing on what’s current and this year was no exception. Steve Carrell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon said okay to drinking Pepsi.

The commercial that packed the most stars into one spot really spoke to their target market by advertising during the Super Bowl. We’re talking about the NFL ad celebrating the league’s upcoming centennial season. The two-minute commercial featured a bevy of past and current stars related to professional football—you probably need this list to name everyone. Wondering about the lone woman in this spot? That’s Sarah Thomas, an official who broke barriers in the NFL this year. This spot was big fun, had a big impact, and was a big image piece for the league.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJjiIuH1VnY

Super Bowl Commercials Make an Emotional Connection

We’ve talked before about how video is able to make emotional connections. Most Super Bowl ads tend to go for the funny, but there are always a few that target the heart and the head. Serena Williams narrated and starred the Bumble spot “The Ball is in Her Court”. The company’s MO is putting women in control. What Whitney Wolfe Herd started as a very successful dating site has grown to include business and friendship networking. This ad is all about the power in women.

The Microsoft commercial “We All Win” had a different kind of empowerment message. This spot features kids with special needs playing Xbox with the help of an Adaptive Controller. The device levels the playing field and touts accessible technology. We dare you not to be inspired.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM2QJO2IDFo

The Nostalgia Angle

Nostalgia is a common theme in Super Bowl commercials. We got a big hit of déjà vu when the Backstreet Boys teamed up with Chance the Rapper on behalf of Doritos. Singing the 1999 hit “I Want it That Way”, the boy band’s song is given a modern twist by the rapper. Ultimately, the spot is promoting new Flaming Hot Nachos Doritos—“The original. Now it’s hot.” With a thirty-second ad costing a reported $5 million, this was one expensive snack food promotion.

If the NFL 100 commercial had the most human stars, then the “Famous Cars” spot from Walmart had the most automobile stars. The discount retail giant promoted its grocery pickup service with the help of some well-known vehicles. There are so many recognizable cars in this spot, from Knight Rider’s KITT (“He calls everyone Michael”) to an animated Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, it’s like seeing a bunch of old friends. There’s even one unassuming truck at the end that’s a special tip of the hat to Walmart founder Sam Walton.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGrSw7wK4no

Personal Assistants

Super Bowl commercials tend to reflect the zeitgeist of North America each year. In 2019, that meant there were a lot of voice-controlled personal assistants. Things got a little too real in the Pringles spot “Sad Device”. Mercedes Benz promoted the user-friendly tech built into it’s A Class series with “Say the Word”. And Amazon got the most out of a cross-over audience with “Not Everything Makes the Cut”. The Alexa commercial features actors, podcasts, astronauts, and one very hungry Boston Terrier. Not only was it an entertaining commercial, but people were talking about the smallest details on social media, extending the spot’s reach.

Canadian Contingency

Super Bowl commercials are a big part of the game for many viewers, but Canadian audiences have often missed out on seeing the ads shown in the US. Broadcasting rights and simultaneous substitution mean we don’t always get the same show as viewers south of the border. The battle for our attention rages on, but rest assured that the True North still has a presence in the big game. This year, Canadian crooner Michael Bublé was hawking fizzy water with a familiar-sounding name.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRfsJi_0HHA

 

The most controversial ad played north of the border involved a car company. A reported $200,000 was spent by Unifor to run a GM-bashing spot during the game. Before the football players ever stepped on the field, the car manufacturer tried to silence the union representing GM workers at the Oshawa plant. In a reaction to the announcement that the plant will be shuttered, Unifor pointed the finger at its employer with “GM Leaves Canadians Out in the Cold”. GM has said the ad contains misleading statements and wants to take the matter to court, while Unifor wants to return to the bargaining table.

The Power of Video

One thing is for sure: a lot of money was spent producing and airing the ads that ran during Super Bowl LIII. Marketing executives are counting on the power of their spots to generate buzz far beyond one event and one day. A simple Google search is enough to find the commercials that aired, and social media posts abound. That’s the power of video. Whether your ad is airing in the Super Bowl or on your website, video brings attention to your business. Call us today for a free quote and let’s get people talking.

Collaboration Technologies

collaboration technology

Jobs and workspaces have taken on a more communal air in the last few years. From open offices to agile methods, people work less as individuals and more as team members. Especially if you’re a small business or a startup, it’s likely that everyone is doing all that they can to contribute to projects and meet deadlines. In the spirit of cooperation, and in an effort to work more efficiently, many businesses have turned to collaboration technologies. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the pain points addressed by collaboration software and how your company can benefit from a communal workplace.

Instant Messaging

In a modern workplace, it’s possible to seldom see your co-workers. With a workforce that includes remote workers, freelancers, and those using flex time, it can be hard to connect. The ability to quickly contact a resource can head-off work delays and speed up deliveries. Using collaboration technologies such as Slack, Chatter, and HipChat can save time and money by employing synchronous communication.

Collaboration Technologies
Stay in touch with instant messaging

There’s no replacement for a real-time exchange with a colleague. If you’re not waiting for a response, then neither is the client. Whether you’re talking to one person or a group, the ability to connect on demand is something we’ve come to rely on. To evaluate the usefulness of a collaboration hub, look at its abilities. Will chats be saved for reference? Is the format searchable? Can you create silos? And is it accessible by mobile?

Project Management

Whether you call it a workback schedule or a project plan, every business is involved with some form of project management. Since at the heart of the matter, this business practice is about bringing together all resources and elements of a project under one umbrella, it’s the perfect fit for collaboration technology. There are many, many platforms that address the organization of work with the top goals of efficiency and accountability. Personally, we applaud any system that results in fewer meetings and less email by providing a reference document.

Regardless of who the project manager happens to be—in video production they’re our producers—collaboration technology means everyone involved can check in on the project. Programs such as Active Collaboration, Asana, and LeanKit provide organized data on timelines, actions, and details that keep everything on track. Trello is an example of a collaboration technology tool that relies on visuals. Anyone familiar with the agile practice of filling a whiteboard with sticky notes will feel right at home with the layout. But unlike physical sticky notes, this electronic PM system can accommodate attachments such as photos, documents, and comments. Even from your phone, you know exactly where the project stands, what your colleagues have done, and what you’re expected to do.

File Sharing

You know these services by names such as Google Docs and Dropbox. File sharing is a collaboration technology that makes the sharing of files easy and convenient. The onus is no longer on a single person to own, update and share a file. Instead, everyone is given access so they can get the information they need on demand. It’s a fine alternative to digging through an email chain to find an attachment or accidentally working off the old version of a document. Release your hard drive and embrace the cloud for a workplace that’s uniformly informed.

Email

Collaboration Technologies
A shared inbox can improve collaboration

A shared inbox is a good reminder that you should never use work email for personal reasons. But it’s also a good collaboration technology that helps you stay on top of projects in the office. When everyone has access to client emails, projects are an open book. At a small business, most employees are performing multiple duties. Being able to work as a unit means addressing client issues in a timely manner and finding necessary information even when the main contact is unavailable.

Clients expect personal attention, and a shared inbox can be set-up to reflect that. Individual addresses can be assigned to workers for outward appearances and so each person can take responsibility for their work. With a shared inbox, emails can be tagged for the proper person, while others can still have access to the information they need. In the right situation, a communal inbox can be a good thing.

Video

Does your company use video for internal communication? If so, an enterprise video platform is a good idea. Adopting one internal system can protect your town hall from becoming publicly viewed. It’s also a great resource for employees who can search for training videos, SME talks, and other work-related resources. This kind of “Internal YouTube” is an opportunity to share ideas and communicate in an engaging way. When it comes to collaboration technology, video is one of the best ways to get everyone on the same page.

All-in-One

Collaboration Technologies
Some systems are true multitaskers

If your office is ready to go all in with collaboration technology and co-workers, there are systems that truly cater to a group dynamic. Bitrix and Podio offer collaboration software that’s wide-ranging and scalable. We’re talking about scheduling, data, files, workflows, chats, and more all handled by one integrated system. XWiki is an open-source example of this kind of software. If you want to cobble together your own collaboration technology, you can use an API to get all your separate systems to talk to each other.

Collaboration Technologies Foster Teamwork

Collaboration technologies promote teamwork and productivity. They instill a feeling of ownership shared by a business and its employees. Because of the “we’re all in this together” mentality of a collaborative office, people are willing to step up in the absence of a colleague. And the open and shared formats mean everyone can appreciate the progress of a project. Maybe it’s time for your office to invest in each other? It certainly works for us at Key West Video.

Video Hosting Platforms

There’s no denying it—video is increasingly part of running a business. It’s an engaging way to capture the attention of both employees and customers and a preferred form of communication for many. By 2020, it’s projected that online videos will comprise over 80% of all consumer internet traffic.  Whether you’re creating videos that are consumer-facing or enterprise videos, or both, it may be time to consider a video hosting platform.

Public vs. Private

The first, and biggest, question you’ll need to answer is public or private? Where will you keep your videos? Options include dedicated streaming services, video sharing sites, video-specific hosting platforms, and traditional web hosts that offer support for video. If you’re looking for something free, YouTube and Vimeo are available. YouTube has massive potential reach with over a billion users and sometimes it feels like the platform has just as many ads. Vimeo doesn’t do ads, but it represents a much smaller community. If you’re choosing between these two platforms, there’s a lot more to compare.

If you’re going to pay for a video hosting platform, you have a lot of choice. Here are just a few of the things you want to consider when weighing options:

  • Security
  • Searchability
  • Storage
  • Ability to update and replace videos
  • Analytics
  • Video player features
  • Interactive and customizable components

Here’s a comparison of Wistia, Vimeo and YouTube to give you a better idea of what could best suit your needs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JedidmPzjmM

Security

Your business-related videos can be housed on your servers or they can live in the cloud online. Security is an important consideration when you’re evaluating video hosting platforms. Using a free service can increase your security risk. Public platforms have settings to protect against breaches, but how secure are they? Be wary of posting any videos that have sensitive or proprietary information on a public platform. Some would even argue that you should NEVER host your own videos. For sensitive material, you can limit where and how videos can be viewed with secure online video platforms.

Analytics

When you’re sourcing a video hosting platform, analytics is probably something you’ll want to evaluate. Keeping an eye on who’s watching your videos and how they’re watching them is valuable feedback. Data such as how many people are watching, how long they watched and whether they shared a video can help guide your future video projects. Different analytics will reveal different things, based on your goals. Check out the blog we wrote on analyzing video analytics.

Video Hosting Platforms
How many people are following your CTA?

Software Integration and Video Hosting Platforms

You already have systems in place that help your office run smoothly. Introducing a video platform that doesn’t integrate with these systems can cost time and money, not to mention cause a lot of frustration. Here are some of the things you may want your video platform to place nice with:

Video Hosting Platforms
System integration means smooth sailing
  • CMS: SharePoint, WordPress, Jive, Sitecore, Drupal
  • CRM:  Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce
  • Social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
  • LMS: Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn

Ease of Use

To make a video platform truly useful, it needs to be easy for everyone. If you need to be part of the IT department to upload or play a video, things are too complicated. How easy is it to categorize, organize and search? If you expect employees to use the system for more than just click and play capability, you need to be sure the learning curve isn’t too steep.

Organized Video Library

Keeping all your videos together in one safe, secure, searchable place is a good idea. You’ll get the most out of your resources with a good set-up. Whether you’re looking to make your first video or add to your library, Key West Video can help. Call us today for a free quote and we’ll work with you to make a product worthy of a platform.