Tag: personalization

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NBA, Microsoft May Alter Global Sports Consumption

AI, Machine Learning, Personalization and Design

Marketing games for international venues, celebrating the Lunar New Year with Chinese characters on jerseys, or recruiting a global class of players, the National Basketball Association is no stranger to localizing its content. But deepening AI and machine learning technologies promise an approach to its global fan base like never before.

Spalding basketball in courtThe NBA announced in April that it has made plans to enter a multi-year partnership with Microsoft to create a more personalized, localized experience for its international fan base. But while fans around the world already enjoy watching NBA broadcasts in 47 languages broadcast in 215 countries, the partnership promises fundamental innovations to modernize fan interaction using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.

One of the ways the alliance will change NBA content is by creating a direct-to-consumer platform on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service, which will provide data analytics, computing, storage, and networking that they anticipate will allow them to personalize fan experience “through state-of-the-art machine learning, cognitive search and advanced data analytics solutions,” according to the report.

Analyzing metrics around fan behavior is nothing new for the NBA, but with such data at its fingertips, the NBA-fan relationship may flourish like never before. NBA senior vice-president of direct to consumer Chris Benyarko said about the benefits of machine learning AI curating fan experience, “Instead of the fan having to pick and choose and turn them on or off one by one, the platform is now starting to behave like a game producer, automatically selecting and presenting the game in a different way.”

Deb Cupp, Corporate Vice President of Enterprise and Commercial Industries at Microsoft, said, “The AI eventually learns that I like to learn about stats, so it’s going to start presenting me more information about stats as I go into the game… It’s this experience where instead of just watching a game, it actually has the opportunity to interact in a way that matters to me as that fan.”

With fans in all different time zones who experience the game and consume content in a variety of ways, the NBA will be able to gather a global array of data to bring in new fans and retain old ones. What that will mean for sports remains to be seen, but the machine learning will likely provide invaluable information on fan behavior worldwide and grant the NBA a chance to solidify its place as a premier global sport.

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Journalist at MultiLingual Magazine | + posts

Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.

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How To Scale Your Personalization Strategy & Go Global

Personalization and Design

Businesses of all shapes and sizes make major personalization blunders on a regular basis.

Although the spread and advancement of the internet has made large-scale personalization easier from a technical standpoint, it hasn’t made it that much simpler. It still takes a lot of thought, research and careful execution.

Whether you’re looking to sell products or services, or just move your content into fresh markets, here’s how you can expand your personalization methods across the world.

Anticipate potential legal concerns

With GDPR having recently come into effect, a lot of people are concerned about the dangers of dealing with segmented data at all, let alone on a widely-international basis. They don’t consider that personalization strategies don’t inherently need to involve specific real-world customer data. It’s entirely possible to stick to generalized buyer personas and forgo the granular analytics.

Even so, every new country or region with its own national and local laws could present a new challenge to your operation, requiring your designs and materials to adhere to a slightly different set of regulations. The moment you start eyeing a market, do some research to learn about its restrictions, and be sure that you can straightforwardly navigate them before you approach it.

Research trends

Keyword research is invaluable for getting an idea of what things are popular in different places and discovering what kinds of terms get used by searchers in those areas. Add in tools like Google Trends and you have free access to an enormous amount of information you can use to better personalize your content for specific regions.

In addition, try utilities such as Answer the Public or KeywordTools.io to glean some of the most popular questions people ask about your particular industry niche. If users in a specific country are highly curious about an element of your business that isn’t as popular elsewhere, you can think about producing some detailed content on that element for that market.

Make use of local experience

The farther afield you go, the more likely you are to run up against regional differences that are quite difficult to break down. Differences in media consumption, pop culture, slang terms and even relatively mundane habits vary from place to place.

While you can certainly nail the basics of addressing particular demographics regarding things like income, age and occupation, it’s a lot harder to address more complex differences, and rarely a good idea to ignore them entirely.

Because of this, you should make good use of local experience by consulting area experts, such as localization service providers. Essentially, you’re looking for people who know the culture in detail and can both explain its nuances to you and review the materials you provide to see if they are satisfactory.

When local experience gets ignored, you see wild PR blunders, often involving phrases that are very tricky to translate accurately or terms that refer to entirely pedestrian things in some places but shockingly taboo things in others (think “fanny” in America and in the UK).

Differences in media consumption, pop culture, slang terms and even relatively mundane habits vary from place to place. Click To Tweet

Regional sites versus language selection

Your website is the cornerstone of your online operation, and thus your entire global operation, as you can’t have a genuinely worldwide office — but you can certainly have a worldwide website.

You have two options for catering to a global audience with your website: you can make it multilingual and provide a language selection option, or you can separate it into regional sites or subdomains.

For the sake of parsimony, having a single multilingual site is preferable in most cases, at least for smaller businesses — it also avoids the content cannibalization and language identification problems that can result from having a similar page for each of a variety of languages and/or locations.

Anyone running a store on an extendable CMS will at the very least be able to find an add-on, plugin or extension to assist with basic product translation. For instance, Shopify’s quick-setup ecommerce builder doesn’t offer native multilingual support, but Langify is a viable add-on. Magento, meanwhile, can handle multilingual store views out of the box (though the languages still must be installed as extensions).

The advantage of using a plugin of some kind of do this is that you can avoid the complications of trying to implement hreflang tags manually. When stressed developers set them up incorrectly, it causes lasting damage in rankings across various regional search engine variants.

Remember that people only vary so much

The global market isn’t all that scary, despite how much it varies, because people only differ to a certain extent. We all go online, use services and buy products to solve our problems and make us happier and more content. That applies whether you’re selling in Europe, North America, China or Australia.

Think of global personalization as a process of making minor tweaks, adding to what works in a certain locale and taking from what doesn’t. It isn’t something you need to overthink, and there’s no need to obsess over minor details — your localization vendor can help you do that, if that’s the route you’re going.

Keep your eye on the big picture, get the basics right, avoid any major errors, and focus on your fundamental business model. If you can do that, you’ll set yourself up for a successful global expansion.

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Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.

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Adobe announces a new, potentially horrifying level of personalization

Personalization and Design

“I was horrified.” That was reporter Eric Wood’s reaction to “unified profile” — the idea of collecting every online data point about a person into a single system. Modern consumers, says Adobe executive vice-president of marketing Brad Rencher, are “everywhere — they’re on mobile, social and they’re in your store. And they have multiple touchpoints including your loyalty programs, commerce systems, your support pages.” With that data spread out, it’s hard to personalize marketing across platforms. That’s why Rencher’s keynote at today’s Adobe Summit in Las Vegas focused on consolidating it into one profile tracking every data point about you.

Personalization began innocuously enough. Ideally, the approach helps both consumer and company. People get annoyed when they’re constantly presented with ads for stuff they’d never buy — no man, for example, wants a barrage of tampon ads. Audience precision clears out the junk. It also makes company operations more efficient: If businesses can get the right message to the right person and the right time, they’ll waste less time and make more money. In personalization, localization found an easy home: after all, what’s more personal than connecting in someone’s native language?

Adobe announces new personalization

But as I sit in the dark convention center listening to Rencher’s keynote, I have to ask: how personal is too personal? He starts talking about a woman who goes online to book a hotel, then hears the phone ring. Just as I would, she gets distracted, forgetting all about her en medias reservation. As someone who’s actually had this happen, and wound up paying double for the hotel as a result, I think, so far so good. Then Rencher begins to brag about how an ad for the hotel could follow her around — not just Google AdSense, the program that drops cookies in order to display bounceback ads on subsequent sites you visit, but Facebook display ads, texts — basically everything I use to communicate. Here, buy me, look at this, don’t you forget about me! Rencher sees a world with full integration of all your data everywhere — a single, unified profile where every data point about your life inevitably interacts. “How do we create a unified profile that enables you [the Adobe customer] to deliver a unified experience?” he asks.

It’s creepy.

And in Germany, it’s essentially illegal. The General Data Protection Regulation (EU/2016/679), more commonly known as GDPR, is a European regulation that shifts the definitions of personally identifiable information (PII) and what companies are allowed to do with it. Rencher calls GDPR the “four letters that will impact all of us.”

On July 5, 2017, Germany became first to adopt this standard. And just as your unified profile would follow you around, this European guidance is moving into other countries. US adoption begins May 25, 2018. Because translation companies are the ones personalizing websites, apps, and other data collection points, GDPR might come for localization next. The web, as we often say, is international, after all. You could be a New Zealand company translating into Ewe for a client in Brazil, but it doesn’t matter. As long as anyone in a GDPR-enforceable country can click on that translated site, this affects you.

A single, unified profile where every data point about your life inevitably interacts... Creepy. Click To Tweet

“How many of you in your organizations are able to recognize an inbound web hit is coming from Germany and be able to treat that data differently?” Rencher asks, “These are not easy challenges to solve if you’re dealing with and using legacy systems. Stitching all that data together can take months if not years.”

In addition to regulatory difficulties, Adobe also has a hard time dealing with the ethical implications of unified profile. In a post-keynote presser, reporters from NewsCorp, CMO Australia, IT Business, TechCrunch and others railed Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, chief technical officer Abhay Parasnis and Rencher, asking the same question about user privacy again and again.

After stressing that the onus of privacy protection falls on the user, Narayen said, “I think the rich number of questions around data and privacy really show that it’s front and center on people’s minds — on the enterprise’s mind.”

The ethics around data collection, whether people should opt in or out, and how well users truly understand the decision, are a topic for another day. But in the meantime, the localization industry should be thinking about how to prepare for a swingback. As more users turn off cookies and turn on ad blockers to keep AdSense et al from following, “personalization” could become a dirty word. And personalization is how we sell. If a swingback comes — if the broader public tires of ads or data collectors tracking them across platforms — will localization need a new message?

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Terena Bell is an independent journalist who writes for The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fast Company and others. She is former CEO of In Every Language.

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