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Local Memo: Meta Previews Generative AI Tools


In this week’s update, learn about Meta’s generative AI tools; Google’s new Asian-Owned and Latino-Owned attributes; Google’s most recent local interface experiments; asking quality raters to assess chatbot responses; the move toward integration of Bard in search; Bard’s incorporation of PaLM; and the growing popularity of retail apps. 


Meta Previews Generative AI Tools


Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth has suggested that the company will roll out generative AI for ads sometime this year, one among many projects the company is working on that represent a pivot away from the metaverse and towards AI development. Already, the company has an AI-based ad management tool called Advantage+ that has proven itself to be more effective than manual ad management. Among other things, Advantage+ can adjust aspects of campaign collateral, such as aspect ratios and text placement, in order to optimize campaigns. The future vision would have Meta create an entire ad campaign based on a few inputs, with variations designed to appeal to different audiences. 


Bosworth also hints that generative AI could be used in the future to generate metaverse environments based on text prompts, obviating the need for complex programming. 


The Meta AI research team has recently released a tool called Segment Anything that lets users cut objects out of pictures with a single click. 


Google Adds Asian-Owned and Latino-Owned to Identity Attributes


Tim Capper has noted the addition of Asian-Owned and Latino-Owned to the identity attributes in Google Business Profiles. These attributes allow business owners to specify their identities as search attributes and have been proven to function in a limited sense as ranking factors. For instance, when someone searches for “Asian-owned insurance agency,” listings where that attribute is specified should rank higher. Asian-Owned and Latino-Owned join other attributes Google has added in recent years, such as Black-Owned, LGBTQ+ Owned, Veteran-Owned, and Women-Owned.


Google Tests New Quote Button, Booked Reservations, Profile in 3-Pack, Auto-Expanding Map


Several new and experimental features have been spotted in the Google local search interface in recent days, including:


  • New design and placement for Request a Quote buttons, which may now appear at the top of mobile profiles and in abbreviated search results.


  • Notation in restaurant listings of a personal reservation you have previously created, with dates and other details. 


  • As noted a while back by our own Mike Snow, a business profile overlay that provides full information on 3-Pack listings, making it unnecessary to click through to the Local Finder (and providing less exposure to other Local Finder listings). 


  • A somewhat odd, presumably experimental feature whereby the map in a 3-Pack expands on mouseover to cover the full width of the screen, and hide the business listing info that the user is presumably looking for.


An image showcasing some of the experimental features now being tested in the Google 3-Pack for the search "Canadian tire"


Business profile view on page 1, courtesy Colan Nielsen / Search Engine Roundtable


Google Asking Quality Raters to Improve Chatbot, Will Integrate AI in Search


Google has asked at least some of its quality raters — contract employees who assess the quality of web page content in order to improve Google’s search algorithm — to redirect their energies toward improving its chatbot results. The contractors are given a chatbot prompt and two possible responses, and are asked to pick the best answer. Some contractors have reported that when questions are technical in nature, their protocol doesn’t allow time to research the answers, so they end up simply guessing. 


Regardless of such details, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a Wall Street Journal interview that Bard is definitely going to be integrated into the Google search platform, though he spoke with caution given the company’s recent focus on cost savings and efficiency, and the high processing cost of supporting AI chatbot functionality for billions of users. 


An image showing how many searches Google has had worldwide in March compared to OpenAI, Bing, and Duck Duck Go


Courtesy the Wall Street Journal


Bard Integrates PaLM Language Model


Google has announced that its Pathways Language Model (PaLM) has been integrated into the Bard chatbot, which previously made use of LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) only. LaMDA was recently acknowledged by Google CEO Sundar Pichai to be a less powerful model; he said comparing it with ChatGPT was like comparing a Honda Civic to a race car. PaLM, which Google first announced as an experimental model last year, is reported to be more capable with stronger abilities in math, logic, and other areas. Back on March 14, Google shared that it was making PaLM available as an API for developers.


Retail Apps Grow More Popular


Consumers are using retail apps more than ever before, according to a new survey from Airship. Some 78% of global consumers report using retail apps for shopping. High income households (82%) and younger demographics (81% for Gen Z) are even more likely to use them. Among the respondents, 33% reported that they are using retail apps more now than last year. Frequent app usage while shopping has given rise to various loyalty rewards, discounts, and personalized offers while customers are in store. 


Consumers in Asia have the strongest adoption of retail apps, where price comparisons, redemption of loyalty points, and self-checkout using apps has grown common. Some apps can also be used for in-store navigation, helping consumers find the items they’re looking for. 


Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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