Go Home, Chatbot. You're Drunk.

One brand gets sued over its chatbot handing out inaccurate info. What's in store for marketers when the bots start hallucinating?

Go Home, Chatbot. You’re Drunk.

One brand gets sued over its chatbot handing out inaccurate info. What's in store for marketers when the bots start hallucinating?

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Chatbots • The Dangers of “Digital Brand Reps”

Air Canada has been ordered by a tribunal to compensate a man because its chatbot went on a bit of a bender.

The man went to Air Canada’s web site to look for information about bereavement rates — those are reduced fares offered by some airlines to help someone travel due to the death of an immediate family member.

The site popped up a chatbot, this fellow asked the bot how the process worked, and the bot told him he could get a partial fare refund retroactively as long as he filed it within three months of the ticket being issued.

So, he did exactly that, along with a copy of the conversation he had with the chatbot and, for good measure, a copy of his grandmother’s death certificate.

And Air Canada (not exactly known in this country as having the best customer service) refused his request.

It dragged on for months, with Air Canada saying the chatbot had used “misleading words” but said it couldn’t possibly be held liable for what the bot said.

Quoting the tribunal:

In effect, Air Canada suggests the chatbot is a separate legal entity that is responsible for its own actions.

This is a remarkable submission.

While a chatbot has an interactive component, it is still just a part of Air Canada’s website.

It should be obvious to Air Canada that it is responsible for all the information on its website. It makes no difference whether the information comes from a static page or a chatbot.

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Air Canada was ordered to pay what its chatbot had promised, with interest and fees.

And here’s where it could start to get worse for our industry.

Chatbots have been around forever — the simple ones, anyway. You click from a set list of questions or prompts, and it spits out a programmed answer. The only issue of accuracy comes from perhaps that information becoming out of date.

But now, these chatbot providers are branching out into AI.

And why wouldn’t they? We’ve seen the industry trend move toward offering AI as a paid add-on, not just a free, simple upgrade to keep pace with the times.

AI, as I’m sure you know, is well-known for making things up — “hallucinating” is the actual term the industry uses.

Whose brand will be the first to answer with a completely fictionalized response? Not out of date, but perhaps even the literal opposite of what the answer should be?

Tread carefully.

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TikTok • How Much Longer Can It Play Hardball?

An interesting piece in Business Insider today talks about the heavy-handed and aggressive nature of TikTok’s growth strategy — from pushing its Shop maybe a little too hard, to picking a fight with a giant music label and (by all accounts) losing.

TikTok’s ability to survive the next phase of the social-media wars could be threatened if it destroys its goodwill with music partners, creators, and users. Short-video feeds from competitors can easily service users and advertisers. Taking its access to music for granted or force-feeding shopping content onto users at the expense of creator videos could spell the end of TikTok's winning streak.

But TikTok's greatest risk as it barrels forward on business strategies like e-commerce is pissing off its users. If TikTok no longer offers a stream of fun, serendipitous videos and instead becomes a social-media version of the Home Shopping Network, users may jump ship for Instagram reels, YouTube shorts, or Snapchat spotlight. 

As BI reporter Katie Notopoulos wrote, "The For You used to seem uncanny in how it would serve up content perfectly tailored to me. Now it feels like the algorithm is less a diagnostic tool of my soul and instead is assessing me as a potential consumer."

It’s a longread, but definitely worth it if you’re looking for something this weekend to get into. It’s on Business Insider, and called “TikTok's aggressive growth tactics are upsetting partners, creators, and everyday users

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Snapchat • New Measurement Partner

Snapchat has a new partnership with digital measurement platform Fospha, with the company providing third-party verification of your Snapchat campaign results.

[The partnership will] help marketers measure the impact and effectiveness of their Snapchat campaigns, with an emphasis on cross-marketing ROAS. Fospha leverages a combination of Multi Touch Attribution (MTA) and Media Mix Modelling (MMM), to model for the impact of clicks and impressions throughout the full marketing funnel.

Snap, Inc.

As Social Media Today noted in its coverage of this, this will help marketers transition from cookie tracking, and into more privacy-aligned data.

This brings Snap’s partner listing to more than 70 outside providers who have hooks into the platform, to help advertisers run more complicated or better tracked campaigns.

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Google • Embed Your Live Camera in Slides

We don’t usually report on changes to office software, but this one is a really nice touch if you do sales presentations using Google Meet.

Starting today, they’re adding a way for you to put a live video of your camera into your presentation Slides.

This is something that other smaller providers, like Loom, have done for a while. You’ve also been able to sort of hack something together using other tools to do this within Google Slides, but it’s always been a bit messy.

With this new update, which Google calls Speaker Spotlight, you can insert a variety of camera cutout shapes directly into their slides and then format them to your liking. Once in slideshow mode, your camera feed will appear in that shape. It also integrates with Meet and Slides Recordings.

To add the spotlight shape into Slides, go to Insert > speaker spotlight or click the new speaker spotlight button in the toolbar.

This has started to roll out today and could take up to two weeks to get to all accounts.

Cust Service • The App That Will Sit on Hold For You

Imagine not having to wait on hold ever again when you call customer service. Google is testing a feature that could make this dream a reality.

Named “Talk to a Live Representative,” it's designed to handle process of contacting businesses for you. It navigates through their phone menus, waits on hold, and connects you only when a real person is ready to talk.

This now being tested right now on both iOS and Android devices.

While Google Pixel phones have a similar feature called “Hold For Me,” users still need to dial and navigate through the company's phone system. This new system would do it all.

Right now, it's limited to certain businesses — major airlines like Delta and United, phone providers such as Sprint and Samsung, retail giants like Walmart and Best Buy, and some shipping services like FedEx and UPS.

If you are in the test group and want to try it out, just opt-in through Google’s Search Labs at labs.google.com/search 

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Design • These Are 2024’s Colors (Says Pinterest)

Gummy Pink, Desert Orange, Aqua Blue, Moss Green, and Mocha Brown — those are your marching orders, designers. At least Pinterest’s suggestion, anyway.

The platform released its annual “Pinterest Palette” color trends report, which is a collection of the most-used colours from Pins on its platform over the last year.

Our internal creative team… distilled the search terms specifically related to color (i.e. “blue jellyfish,” “blue chrome nails,” “aqua makeup looks.”) We then pulled out the most persistent hues from the trending keywords. 

The team also did a deep dive into the cultural zeitgeist, digging into the worlds of fashion, interior design, graphic design and the culture at large to compare Pinterest’s data to the macro industry color trends.


Their full report has a fairly detailed chart for each of these five colors, with different variations, Hex codes, CMYK codes, RGB codes, and so on.

NOTE: Monday is a stat holiday in Canada, so we’ll be back Tuesday. 🙂 

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