Here is your February guide to the latest in recruitment trends, technology, and industry insights! Each month, we highlight the biggest news affecting the industry and explain what to expect as new trends continue to emerge.
ARE WE UNWITTING SUBJECTS IN GOOGLE’S MAZE?
Google has been facing increased scrutiny over whether its ad practices amount to monopolistic behavior. An assessment of where Google searchers clicked shows that the company was sending a huge portion of search clicks to their own properties — YouTube, Maps, Android, Google’s blog, etc. And with its evolution toward answering questions within search via images, knowledge panels, etc., the end result is an increased difficulty for companies to get digital “foot traffic” to nurture a prospect into an acquisition. For employers seeking “passive” talent in this competitive job market, this increases the difficulty of getting that first touch to educate, engage, or even sign up to a talent community to stay informed. So, much like social media, paid strategies become more important, and I’d wager it’s equally important for Google’s ad revenue.
While over the past three years searches with ad clicks have risen on mobile, the CTR for desktop ads has remained relatively flat. The data shows paid clicks tend to increase whenever Google makes changes to how those results are displayed, then slowly decline as searchers get more familiar with spotting and avoiding them.
Two weeks ago, Google updated its desktop search design, removing the color overlay and including an “Ad” favicon, similar to the brand favicons, with the expressed intention of improving design continuity and alignment with the mobile experience. The “unintended” result amounts to blurring the line between organic search results and the ads above them.
In a seeming backtrack based on feedback, the company announced last week that it will be testing removing brand favicons. There definitely seems to be a push to use desktop design to impact searcher behavior, with the end goal of increasing ad revenue. Zero click search signals that users are getting their questions answered, but the bottom line is the bottom line.
THE POWER OF UNCONVENTIONAL THINKERS
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DATA PRIVACY & AI REGULATIONS SHOW NO SIGNS OF STOPPING
Over the past year, there has been a lot of political attention in the tech space — from Google’s anti-competitive ad practices, to concerns about Facebook’s policies on political ads, to an increased focus on bias in AI technology (check out the June edition of The Scoop, Artificial Intelligence Regulation and Legislation).
The increased concerns about data privacy have led to policy proposals focused on regulating the scope and impact of algorithmic decision-making systems. Most recently, a federal bill, the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA), would require an annual impact assessment to mitigate bias and other potentially negative consequences, with a focus on eligibility for housing, education, employment, or credit. While this bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, the interest in this area is nonpartisan and may be an indication of the future of AI regulation.
While political systems globally and in the U.S. are taking up the charge on data privacy, everyday users have become increasingly interested in how their data is being consumed and used by tech companies and how to ensure their privacy.
Facebook has been under a microscope for its data collection practices, and as a good faith effort has recently launched new tools to give people more control over their data and privacy options. The ability to clear search histories and transparency around third-party data and tracking are just some of the aspects of this recent push. This isn’t the end of Facebook advertising — businesses can still deliver targeted ads based on other factors in a user’s profile.
YOUR TRUSTED VIRTUAL ASSISTANT WILL SEE YOU NOW
Most of us have given over basic tasks to our voice assistants. Research shows that 46% of Americans use conversational agents, mostly on their phones. As these tools get more sophisticated in the types of tasks they can handle, our desire to give up control (read: “trust” them) may correlate with their increased humanization.
A study found that giving human qualities — both emotional and visual — to virtual assistants could prompt people to reveal more personal information to brands than they otherwise would. It also could have an impact on some data privacy, either positively or by becoming the next area for review. The study also highlighted the impact of inherent biases as the participants attributed characteristics to the agents and engaged with them.
While not officially released, Samsung has been hinting at a realistic human avatar project called NEON. Motion capture uses an actor’s mannerisms, voice, etc. to bring a character in a video game or film to life. NEON goes a step further: the technology learns human behavior and generates emotions and dialogue, that were not originally produced by a human, into a photorealistic rendering.
It’s not hard to imagine walking into an office and feeling comfortable providing personal information to a receptionist who looks real but is in fact a computer generated being. And while this is not yet a reality, there are greater implications on the jobs of the future as we get closer to replicating the core of human-to-human connection and warmth — what some call humanity.
ROUNDING OUT THE SCOOP: PSYCH, SOCIAL, LABOR, AND TECH
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