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Today: what are Video Chapters from YouTube? Plus: smart spectacles have a birthday and Amazon makes a killing while slashing affiliate commissions.
“Intelligence is 🔥.”
— the @BurgerKing Twitter handle announcing its latest marketing gimmick, which asks students to download the BK app and solve math, science, and literature questions to earn a free Whopper.
According to AdAge, BK plans to “run the new student-focused effort through April 20 or when it has awarded 150,000 coupons, whichever comes first.”
Through the Google Glass
The future arrived early and we didn’t like it yet
On this day seven years ago, the very first consumers got to try Google Glass.
The Google Glass hype train starting chugging with the announcement of “Project Glass” in April 2012, a full year before the first deliveries. In hindsight, it isn’t surprising that the public got stoked quickly—but it’s a little surprising to recount the big names who wanted a piece of the Glaction even when it didn’t seem to make total sense. As examples, two of Glass’s highest early honors:
Time named Glass a Best Invention of 2012, even though people weren’t entirely sure what need this invention served. (And nobody could figure it out because it didn’t yet publicly exist to be played with.)
Still, to be fair, there’s a sense in which “fashion” is an appropriate choice of word for the Google Glass fever: it seemed like the future in ways that few other inventions have, and everyone wants to be first to the future.
Google certainly did its own part to make things theatrical. At Google’s June 2012 I/O conference—two months after the Project Glass announcement—Sergey Brin ran onstage and interrupted some remarks on Google+ (which failed anyway) for an epic live demo of Google Glass. By “epic,” we mean that a bunch of Glass-equipped BASE jumpers threw themselves out of a blimp above San Fran and landed on the Moscone Center where the conference was being held—and everyone inside was seeing their POV in real time.
This was immediately followed by the announcement that pre-orders would only be open to conference attendees, and only during the conference, which sold about 2,000 Glass pre-orders. Those customers then had the exclusive privilege of being dubbed the world’s biggest nerds first “Glass Explorers,” Google’s title for the first public Glass users. Google later wound up quintupling the total pool of Explorers with their #ifihadglass contest in February 2013, but they did fulfill all of the conference pre-orders first.
And that’s how we arrive at today’s date seven years ago: it’s when the first Glass(es) hit the faces of the first Explorers who pre-ordered at the I/O conference. Everyone else started getting their Glass(es) about a month later, and then public playtime had officially begun.
So how’d it go? Well… not great. On the plus side, Glass survived the shower. On the minus side, the first units suffered from short battery life and stuttering software (both serious problems for a wearable computer). Making things worse, the public’s first encounters with Glass weren’t entirely friendly; the creepy suspicion that Glass users were recording everything caused some movie theaters and restaurants to ban them. Add to that the Explorers’ occasional haughtiness and/or obliviousness and, aha, someone coined a term for them: Glassholes.
How will history (probably) judge Google Glass? As a cool idea just a bit too far ahead of its time. In the seven years since, the public has taken some baby steps that might ease the discomfort they first felt about Glass—for example, smart watches (which help us believe in wearable tech) and wireless earbuds (which normalize behaviors like voluntary deafness and randomly talking to yourself in public). It also helps that scientists have put Google Glass to some new and helpful uses, like behavioral therapy for kids with autism.
Which brings us to the present day—where Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon (among others) are working on their own versions of essentially the same Glass idea. This next time, the public and the tech might actually be ready; Zuck certainly thinks so.
What’s happened with Google, you Glassk? Well, they saw public interest nose-diving and private-sector interest surging at the same time, so they took the hint and shifted; after all, there’s plenty of money selling to companies like Boeing and DHL, and the tech will evolve wherever people find it uniquely useful. Hard to blame Google for going where they’re wanted.
GOOGLE/OFFICE: Both Microsoft Office (principally Word, Excel, Powerpoint) and Google’s counterpart software (Docs, Sheets, Slides) are near-ubiquitous. As the diehards of either suite will stubbornly assert, they are NOT the same thing and have different strengths—but a lot of people use both, and sometimes the crossover can create frustration. A simple Chrome extension called Office Editing smooths the transition by allowing you to edit Office files (.docx, .xlsx, .ppt, etc.) natively within your Google Drive suite of applications… without the extension, you’ll have to convert any Office files in Drive to Google’s format before you can edit them.
HOW LOW CAN THE DOUGH GO? Amazon will begin drastically cutting affiliate commissions on April 21, with some categories seeing a 50% reduction in the revenue split and others dropping as low as 1%. Amazon processes nearly half of all e-commerce transactions in the U.S., and that was before all of the COVID-19 madness. Get the deets from The Verge here.
NEXT CHAPTER: YouTube is testing a new feature called Video Chapters which allows creators to easily chop a video into pieces. One of the weaknesses of video is that it’s not easily skimmable (like text is), so chapters seems like a dern good idea to us and should only increase video consumption if used. Here’s what Video Chapters look like:
Your Analytics Are Wrong (And That’s OK), Part III
As we said to start Part I: we love Google Analytics (GA), we continue to recommend it, and we hope a bunch of y’all are using it. But Google Analytics ain’t perfect (for natural reasons) and neither are its competitors, so its flaws are here to stay.
We explained those (blameless) fundamental flaws in Part I, then gave three examples of GA problems beyond your control in Part II. Today, we’re wrapping up the series with three GA problems that ARE fixable (if broken for you) and some pointers for addressing them.
Broadly speaking, GA’s imperfections are (yet) another situation where it’s sanest and most practical to focus on the details you CAN control. Even if that’s cliché these days, it does underscore the reason that all of these “fixable problems” have to do with GA installation: you can’t control other people’s behavior, only your own (no less true for being a truism).
We’ll phrase these problems as questions, in rough order of their complexity:
The likeliest cause of this issue is pretty normal: websites change. If you’ve added pages or made substantial edits since installing GA—and especially if you’ve overhauled your whole website—there’s a good chance the tag needs to be (re-)installed on certain pages. A quick acid test: if your traffic is struggling in a way that looks like this, then you might have just pinpointed your problem.
#2 — Is Google Analytics double-installed on any pages? Call this the opposite problem: traffic data won’t be accurate if there are multiple tags in the page code. In simple terms, web browsers (like all programs) follow the instructions given to them (by code) in order, and the GA tag’s code basically says to the browser “when you get to me, tell GA to tally another visitor.” But once the browser has done that, it moves to the next command—and if there’s another tag, the browser will continue following instructions and ping GA a second time for the same visitor.
As you might expect, this can only inflate traffic figures—but because it’s a page-by-page issue and not usually a sitewide issue, the artificial surge in traffic isn’t always substantial. In fact, if the issue is isolated to pages with minimal traffic, it’d probably be hard to notice.
#3 — Is Google Analytics installed properly? This last one is pretty broad, but to re-use what we said above, programs follow the instructions given—and those instructions presume (necessarily but often incorrectly) that the user has provided the program with complete and perfect information. Google Analytics, like any software, can’t give perfectly accurate results if you’re not giving it enough to work with (or if the information you’ve provided is just plain wrong).
As a gift in parting (and to offer broad answers to broad questions), we’ll share three useful resources for checking and fixing your GA issues. First: GA has its own Debugger Chrome extension. Second: if the OEM solution doesn’t interest you, a lot of places recommend a website called GA Checker. Third: for a deeper dive into GA issues, check out this guide from CrazyEgg.
> OR <
Which is the greater number?
Driving miles from Kennebunkport, Maine to L.A. and back
— OR —
# of McDonald’s locations in the United States
Answer at the bottom of this email.
OH, AND THIS…
Take the prom. Leave the calculus final.
And so the quaran-teens do. Their new option for (milder) mistakes: dress up and dance at the Zoom-hosted Virtual Prom with Teen Vogue on May 16th.
This Zoom prom—two words we never expected together—will feature “celebrity cohosts and cameos, DJ sets, customized playlists, interactive choreography, epic thematic backdrops, and more!”
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‘> or <‘ ANSWER: Number of McDonald’s locations in the United States.
According to Google Maps, the drive from Kennebunkport, Maine to Los Angeles is 3,058.3 miles—which means the full round trip would be 6,117 miles. That’s still not even close to the 14,428 U.S. locations McDonald’s claims (at this writing) on its website.