New Bard Feature | Microsoft Messed Up

Hey folks. Microsoft pulled a pretty spectacular own goal a few days ago when it accidentally leaked gigabytes of documents that shed light on the way it makes several varieties of sausage. If you want to see outlines of the next Xbox console or communications between Microsoft executives who are plotting a hostile takeover of Nintendo, all you need to do is head to Google and start searching for that stuff. So many Microsoft documents got leaked that journalists haven’t combed through all of them yet. This VentureBeat article from a few hours ago covers a lot of the juicy revelations that are already known, but there are surely more headlines to come.

One reason why Microsoft’s unintentional data leak is so amusing (aside from the fact that it comes from a division that barely affects its top-line revenue: Xbox) is because Microsoft rarely needs to deal with them. It holds a patent called Watermark to identify leak source, a system that imprints imperceptible watermarks onto all of its files so a culprit can be identified if screenshots of its internal documents find their way to the public. This leak happened because PDF files with improper permissions settings were submitted as evidence for a lawsuit the FTC filed to stop Microsoft from acquiring Activision, the company behind the wildly popular Call of Duty video game series.

All of this goes to show that the enormous, powerful corporations we need to deal with as marketers are made up of humans who are every bit as capable of making mistakes as the rest of us. Next time you start beating yourself up because you forgot to optimize the EXIF data for an image in one of your clients’ Google Business Profile posts, find some comfort in the fact that you’re not jeopardizing thousands of careers and won’t be subject to media humiliation.

Google launched Bard Extensions (for English speakers) on Tuesday. It doesn’t yet interact with Google Business Profile, but it can be used to grab information from Google Maps (as well as Gmail, Docs, Drive, YouTube, Google Flights, and Hotels). The unfortunate thing is that the promotional video they made to show Bard Extensions in action doesn’t feature a Google Maps use case. The announcement page on Google’s blog only talks about using Bard to get driving directions to the Grand Canyon.

Bard didn’t seem reliable the last time we played around with it, but that was months ago. These large language models supposedly improve at a logarithmic rate, so there’s a good chance that it’s much better now than it was back in May. What we can’t wait for is the day you can just say “create a GBP event post that announces a 25% off sale from 4 PM on Friday through close of business on Sunday” to a voice assistant, especially if such a command would also trigger the creation of an appropriate, optimally-geotagged, AI-generated image to include with it. That would be sweet.

We came across a pretty fascinating study that looks into Gen X consumers. We had to join some mailing lists to get the 17-page PDF file with its findings, but now you don’t have to because you can click this direct link to download it yourselves.

The key finding of the study is that almost no one is marketing to Gen X, but everyone should be. Gen X (roughly people aged 45 to 60) is on the verge of becoming the richest generation ever. It’s in the midst of receiving $70 trillion in Baby Boomer wealth. Half the members of Gen X have TikTok accounts (more than Millennials) and 92% of Gen Xers use some form of social media every day (also more than Millennials). Here’s the thing. Only 13% of Gen X feels like they’re ever being marketed to.

We realize that some of our readers have age-independent marketing. It doesn’t seem logical for plumbers to post something like “Hey Guns N’ Roses fans: call us when your toilet’s clogged” on Google Maps. For many other people reading this newsletter (especially those of you who dabble in influencer marketing), it probably makes a world of sense to start targeting Gen X. It’s at least worth trying.

Anyway, the study is eye-opening. We barely scratched the surface of the statistics it throws at its readers. Here’s the link again if you didn’t click it the first time.

We have more work to get to today, so here are some links to close things out. It’s Stuff Your E-Reader Day. You can get a ton of ebooks for $0 in all the popular formats until midnight. It’s a marketing scheme because most of the free offerings are the first books of various romance series. In fact, Romance Bookworms has a long list of the available titles if anyone wants to browse through them.

Mel Gibson has a new show and it’s not an obscure, artistic offering from an indie studio. It premiers on Peacock today. The show is called The Continental and it takes place in the John Wick universe. This isn’t really a marketing-related link per se (or at all), but we’re so surprised by everything in this paragraph that we felt like passing the information along.

Finally, people are watching pirated movies, one short clip at a time on TikTok. We can’t imagine a viewing experience worse than clicking through 86 separate videos on a cell phone to get through Barbie, but hey– people are out there doing it. The Wall Street Journal shed some light on this phenomenon earlier this week.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy your last day of summer. We’ll see you again in autumn.

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