Hello and welcome to yet another edition of 5 for Friday! This week, we’re diving into social media and AI machine learning.

Paid and Organic Search Seen as Big Contributors to Online Sales in September

According to data from Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), paid and organic search generated 20.3% and 19.6% respectively for retailers pushing back-to-school and Labor Day purchases.

Trailing behind direct traffic to retail websites (25.1%) and email (30.1%), sources like referral traffic (2.9%), social media (1.2%), and display advertising (0.8%) rounded out the mix.

Participants in Adobe's survey were found to prefer making purchases from their desktops. Nearly 40% described their smartphone’s screen as “too small” to facilitate such activities. 34% reported that mobile websites and apps were “difficult to navigate,” and 24% said both lack the full functions required to do rapid checkout.

Social Media Described as “Important” by Businesses Around the World

Based on feedback garnered from 9,000 enterprises across 19 countries, Hootsuite's annual Social Media Barometer report has found that businesses of every size value social media.

Overall, 87% of respondents were found to agree with the statement that social media is important to staying competitive. 80% labelled the platforms as “more important” to their business and customers than it was last year.

Of note, a majority (54%) now believe that social media transcends their marketing teams.

“With social increasingly becoming how customers consume media, conduct research, ask questions and seek recommendations, make purchase decisions, engage with brands for support and show our loyalty,” said Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson, “this is not a surprise.”

A full 90% of organizations now report using social to build brand awareness; 77% to manage their brand reputation; 71% for building and managing an engaged community; 61% to increase lead conversions and sales; 50% to gain market and customer insights; 47% for delivering customer service; 35% to attract job applicants; and 22% to identify crisis and manage communications.

New Machine Learning System Helps Facebook "Read" Text In Images

The engineers behind Facebook’s advanced image recognition technology announced a major breakthrough this week: they've developed a tool – Rosetta – that can detect text in images.

Designed to help the Network detect and categorize content, the Rosetta system is already extracting text from “more than a billion public Facebook and Instagram images and video frames (in a wide variety of languages), daily and in real time.”

For marketers, this is exciting news: a new stream of data capable of facilitating broader range of use cases is now available!

Microsoft Adds Lobe to Growing Stable of AI and Machine Learning Tools

Adding to their recent investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Microsoft has acquired Lobe, creators of a platform for building custom deep learning models.

Lobe uses a visual interface that requires no code or technical understanding of AI. It can understand hand gestures, read handwriting, hear music and more.

In a blog post announcing the deal, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said people are “only just beginning to tap into the full potential AI can provide. Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and deep learning,” he continued, “are helping scientists treat cancer more effectively, farmers figure out how to grow more food using fewer natural resources, and give people from different countries the ability to communicate across language barriers.”

With “Intelligent Images,” Startup Seeks to Reimagine Product Placement

An LA-based startup wants to disrupt the $23 billion product placement market.

Product placement, for those unaware, is the decades-old advertising tactic of placing a branded object (like an Alienware laptop for you “Big Bang Theory” fans) into a scene featured in a movie or TV show.

Using cloud-based technology provided by multiple partners (including Tech Mahindra), Ryff has figured out how to do this digitally, identifying the places in video content where virtual objects can be placed where they’ll seem like a natural part of the environment.

According to CEO Roy Taylor, Ryff’s platform doesn’t just use “AI and visual computing to change the way we experience entertainment;” it offers creators and advertisers a flexible platform to change, alter or replace any object, person or background with “intelligent images that can be changed at any time so different audience segments can experience different product placement packages in the same narrative story.”

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