Google’s ‘Duplex on the web’ enables the Assistant to buy movie tickets for you

Google’s ‘Duplex on the web’ enables the Assistant to buy movie tickets for you

Google is making it possible to use the Assistant (via Duplex) to buy movie tickets online. Back in May at Google I/O, the company announced that it was expanding the AI-powered Duplex beyond restaurant reservations to booking rental cars and buying movie tickets. Duplex on the web. Called “Duplex on the web,” users will be able to use the Google Assistant for new reservations and purchase categories. Movies is the latest example. As shown below, Android users in the U.S. or U.K. can ask the Assistant for movie showtimes or search movies in the Google app. The Assistant will then lead searchers through a “buy tickets” process that involves theater […]

Google brings audio news aggregation to smart speakers, phones

Google brings audio news aggregation to smart speakers, phones

Google has launched what it calls “Your News Update,” an audio news feed that you access through the Google Assistant. Sources, which Google paid to license, include ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN, AP, Politico, USAToday and many others — though apparently not NPR. Users need to set up the audio feed as a news playlist, through the Google Assistant app. This was not intuitive on the iPhone. The .gif below shows how to do it. Algorithmic curation. Users don’t pick desired news sources, they let the Google news gods determine which sources to play. It’s very much like the Apple News or Google News mobile apps in that respect. The inputs […]

Google Maps becomes more ‘social’ with Local Guides follow feature

Google Maps becomes more ‘social’ with Local Guides follow feature

Google’s Local Guides program has more than 120 million members in 24,000 locations globally. They are a largely invisible but indispensable part of the Google Maps experience, providing reviews, images and other content as well as answering questions (Q&A) about local businesses and places. Local recommendations. Now the Guides are about to become more visible. Maps users in a number of cities will soon be able to follow Local Guides and see local recommendations of places and things to do. The test cities are London, Mexico City, New York, Bangkok, Delhi, Osaka, Tokyo, San Francisco and São Paulo. Top Local Guides – determined by points and levels based on contribution […]

WSJ report about Google search manipulation gets a lot wrong

WSJ report about Google search manipulation gets a lot wrong

No one would argue that Google is a pure, shining force for good in the world. But neither do we agree that it’s the corrupt entity portrayed in a highly charged Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article that appeared Friday. Search Engine Land will offer more perspective on the WSJ article in separate pieces next week. However, upon initial review of the assertions, and discussion with members of the SEO community including several people interviewed for the story, we believe that many of the claims are inaccurate or misunderstand what’s going on behind the scenes. The WSJ accuses Google of manipulating search results to appease advertisers and favor big business in […]

Local business study finds 0% of site traffic coming from email, paid media

Local business study finds 0% of site traffic coming from email, paid media

BrightLocal has just released a “Google Analytics for Local Businesses Study.” It looked at “anonymous data of 11,016 local businesses in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK” in an effort to establish benchmarks across a number of categories such as traffic sources, monthly users, page views, session duration, bounce rates and others. The data were collected between September 2017 and December 2018. The local businesses in the study were “BrightLocal users that opted in with active connections to Google Analytics.” It’s not clear if all of these are small businesses (SMB) or whether this dataset includes franchises and enterprises with multiple locations. It likely skews SMB. Just under 500 […]

Reviews platform GatherUp acquired by martech holding company ASG

Reviews platform GatherUp acquired by martech holding company ASG

In a transaction announced Thursday morning, reputation and reviews platform GatherUp has been acquired by Alpine SG Partners (ASG), a SaaS holding company. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Founded as GetFiveStars. GatherUp began as GetFiveStars in 2013 and rebranded in September 2018 to reflect a broader focus on the customer experience in addition to review monitoring and management. It was co-founded by Mike Blumenthal; Aaron Weiche became CEO in early 2018. In a telephone interview, Weiche said the company had been approached before but had declined to pursue acquisition talks in the past. He told me that ASG’s commitment to fuel GatherUp’s next phase of growth with “better […]

CallJoy, Google’s virtual phone agent for SMBs, gets an upgrade

CallJoy, Google’s virtual phone agent for SMBs, gets an upgrade

Six months ago, Google’s Area 120 group launched CallJoy, a “virtual phone agent” for small businesses (SMBs) built on the same technology that’s behind Duplex and the Google Assistant. Now, based on customer feedback, it’s offering an upgraded version with new capabilities and customization options. New customization options. SMBs can provision the agent to handle certain types of inquiries (e.g., hours, location, service area), determine when the phone is answered and customize its “personality” beyond male or female. The agent will also provide responses to certain specific questions and can route calls it cannot answer to a human being. The example Google provides in its post is someone calling a […]

European antitrust chief says Google’s auction-based shopping remedy not working

European antitrust chief says Google’s auction-based shopping remedy not working

European antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said yesterday at a conference that Google’s efforts to drive more traffic to European comparison shopping rivals have essentially failed. This is a reversal of her previous, qualified support for the changes Google made in response to a European Commission finding in 2017 that the company had “abused its market position” in shopping search. The $2.7 billion story. That 2017 determination, which Google has appealed, came with a penalty of nearly €2.4 billion ($2.7 billion). In addition, Google was required to provide “equal treatment” to European shopping comparison competitors on the SERP. That turned out to be a remedy involving bidding for placement in Product Listing […]

Uber Eats readies ad sales for restaurants

Uber Eats readies ad sales for restaurants

Ads are coming to Uber Eats. TechCrunch reported that Uber is seeking an executive to help develop and run a new ads business. Under pressure. This makes sense for several reasons. Restaurants have been conditioned by other ad platforms, including Google and Yelp, to pay for placement and exposure. And Uber is under significant pressure from investors to generate more revenue from more sources amid growing skepticism about the company’s capacity to turn a profit. Uber Eats competes primarily with GrubHub, DoorDash and Postmates – although Google My Business also offers food ordering, as does Yelp. According to one estimate, Uber Eats has 20% share of all restaurant delivery sales […]

Google ramps up investment in wearable technology, enters deal to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion

Google ramps up investment in wearable technology, enters deal to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion

Google parent Alphabet is buying fitness tracker and smartwatch maker Fitbit in a deal that values the company at $2.1 billion. Android Wear devices have not kept up with the Apple Watch, which dominates the wearables market (along with AirPods). Catching Apple Watch. In its recent earnings release, Apple announced that its “Wearables, Home and Accessories” revenues grew to $6.5 billion from $4.2 billion a year ago. And according to third party analyst estimates, the Apple Watch represents roughly 50% of the global wearables/smart watch market. Alphabet’s acquisition of Fitbit is not unlike Google’s purchase of other hardware companies (e.g., Motorola, HTC) in order to speed innovation and build “reference […]