Roundtable: How Google’s Third-Party Cookie Announcement Will Disrupt Search, Ad Tech

Google indicated it is making the change to boost user privacy on the Web, and the company believes digital advertising can survive on the back of evolving, more privacy-aware data sources. Chief among those sources, at least in the case of Chrome, will be Google’s privacy sandbox, which will offer advertisers and ad tech companies personalization opportunities based on browser data without granting them direct access to user-level information.

To size up the impact of Google’s announcement on ad tech and hyperlocal marketing, we turned to a slate of industry professionals for their takes on the move.

What Consumers Believe About Ads: Effectiveness, Creepiness, Transparency

The good news for advertisers is that members of Gen-Z, while finding ads just about as threatening to privacy as respondents of every other age group, appear to see their benefits, too. Forty-six percent of Gen-Zers said personalization can be beneficial, compared to 30-36 percent of older age groups. About three quarters of respondents in all age ranges said personalizations imperils privacy.

Brave CEO Brendan Eich on a Privacy-by-Default Future for Digital Advertising

In light of last week’s enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act and our monthly theme, Pursuing Privacy, Street Fight posed questions on surveillance capitalism, privacy, Big Tech, and the future of digital advertising to Brendan Eich, CEO of Brave, one of the leading companies championing privacy-first solutions in the tech industry.

“The entire industry is in need of a fundamental shift from tracking to privacy by default and by design,” Eich said. “To truly preserve consumer privacy, Big Tech needs to switch to a privacy-by-default approach. Nothing will change otherwise. Until then, consumers will remain confused about where their data is being used, and tracking and data monetization will remain pervasive on the web.”

How Much Consumers Value Transparent Privacy Practices

Potential legal troubles and CCPA’s enforceability weaknesses aside, the Tealium study suggests a strong record on privacy will be a boon to brands as privacy increasingly takes center stage in the public consciousness. Ninety-seven percent of consumers said they are at least somewhat concerned about data privacy, and 85% said they won’t forgive a company’s misuse of their data.

The California Consumer Privacy Act’s Promise and Limitations

At first glance, the California Consumer Privacy Act marks a major achievement for privacy advocates, the first statewide bill in the US to offer consumers control over how companies handle their personal information. It’s all the more significant that CCPA happened in California, a frequent bellwether for federal legislation and the state where many of the world’s top tech companies are headquartered.

It’s not entirely clear, though, that CCPA will put significant fetters on Silicon Valley’s hitherto unrestrained collection and monetization of user data. Major weaknesses include the law’s enforcement protocol, continued lobbying efforts to defang it, and its opt-out structure.

Apps Dominate Mobile Holiday Shopping

App fatigue, the feeling that a consumer simply cannot add yet another corporate app to her phone at a time when all enterprises seem to be competing for a place on mobile displays, is a major roadblock to successful app-based mobile strategies for retailers. But data from this holiday shopping season suggests that consumers are willing to download apps for the right incentives.

Report: Reviews for Local Businesses Are Essential. Ratings Below 4 Stars Are Deadly

If it had not already been clear that building up a significant inventory of positive online reviews is key to attracting new customers to a business, let doubt linger no further. 

A whopping 52 percent of consumers ages 18-54 “always” read reviews when searching for local businesses, and only 53 percent will consider a businesses with fewer than four stars, according to survey of 1,005 US-based consumers by marketing platform BrightLocal. Eighty-two percent of consumers overall read online reviews.

Jeff Glueck Passes the Torch as David Shim Steps up to Foursquare CEO

Shim now faces the challenge of steering a fast-growing tech business through uncertain times for data-driven companies. While location tech is a lucrative business that provides crucial insights for brick-and-mortar companies and has yet to hit peak productivity, the industry is also facing concerns of an unprecedented scale about how much it knows about the people who power its insights.

TripAdvisor Buys Listings, Menu Management Company SinglePlatform

As SinglePlatform’s name suggests, the acquisition is a sign of changing and challenging times for search-related internet businesses. Facing pressure from a Google juggernaut that is increasingly mapping out any imaginable search experience on its own properties, digital services that connect consumers with restaurants or places to visit when traveling are consolidating, aiming to offer holistic information that keeps searchers coming back.

Retailers Hoping for Record Cyber Monday to Follow Friday Windfall

US retailers set all-time records on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, wracking up $11.6 billion in online sales. Adobe predicts that Cyber Monday will also set a fresh record of $9.4 billion, pushing the Thanksgiving weekend total to nearly $30 billion.

The increasing importance of online sales has forced traditional retailers to compete with e-commerce natives like Amazon not only by offering their own robust set of deals but also by investing in delivery infrastructure and reducing friction for consumers ordering online. 

The Risks and Outsize Rewards of Political Branding

In a time of unprecedented political partisanship, the risks and rewards of corporate political messaging are amplified. Viral marketing strategies including Nike’s partnership with racial justice activist and football star Colin Kaepernick, Gillette’s toxic masculinity ad, and Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBTQ stances rally political sympathizers to a brand’s side and alienate ideological foes.

Street Fight checked in with Jen Capstraw, director of strategic insights and evangelism at growth marketing company Iterable, to get a sense of how significant the benefits and drawbacks of political branding are, which ideological direction political ads are predominantly taking, and how strong the evidence is for the efficacy of partisan messaging.

95% of Consumers Plan on Buying Most Holiday Gifts Online

While brick-and-mortar sales remain a robust part of the holiday shopping experience, online shopping is asserting clearer dominance than ever before this year. A walloping 95% of consumers plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping this season online, according to multi-channel engagement platform Leanplum.

US Businesses Lead on Reputation Management

Loyalty to local businesses may never cease to be an important factor in brick-and-mortar commerce, but the boom of “near me” searches and the emphasis on convenience in the age of mobile search make a prime online presence for the quick-querying passerby more important than it has ever been. This latest Uberall data indicate that responding to reviews can provide the slight 5-star rating bump that guides an unfamiliar customer into a store she may otherwise pass up for a higher-ranked competitor.

Google’s Fitbit Purchase: Peek into Next-Level Local Dominance and Healthcare Hacking

Prescriptions by Google, then? The company indeed lacks Amazon’s delivery capabilities but has a stranglehold on search and therefore on consumers’ connections to local businesses. It is not hard to imagine a world in which Google appears to keep its privacy promise by refusing to sell ads directly based on Fitbit user data but still capitalizes on the data by using it to connect Fitbit users with local health care service providers, pharmacists, and even gyms. That would just constitute one more way Google is edging out the digital middlemen that once closed the loop from Google search to a local service provider.

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Fight Gig Economy Law in California

Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are teaming up with restaurant delivery service DoorDash to fight California’s AB 5, a law that would force gig-economy companies that survive on contractor labor to register their drivers (or dashers) as employees and offer them benefits, Vox reported.

The coalition, the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services campaign, is attempting to place a referendum on the 2020 California ballot that would give voters the choice to exempt ride-sharing services from the law. That would presumably include DoorDash, which is not a ride-hailing service but essentially iterated Uber’s business model, employing drivers to escort food instead of passengers from A to B on demand.

Facebook, Free Speech, and the Responsibility of Power

The many arguments adduced to spare Facebook the responsibility of monitoring its content, of removing content that leads to physical violence all the way down to false political advertising, fail because they are based on under-developed understandings of responsibility itself. To argue that Facebook should be spared almost all regulatory expectations because it is a technology like the telephone rather than a media site like the New York Times or that Facebook should not be entrusted with taking down false advertising or striking down violent speech because those are tasks best left to the government is a failure of imagination and a failure to imagine what (civic) responsibility entails. As the word suggests (respons-ibility), the responsibility of any company or person who provides the possibility of speech, who can take it away from any given user and makes billions in profits off it, is to answer for and consider the admittedly unpredictable and deeply complex ramifications of the speech spoken under the company’s or person’s auspices.

Jump of 0.1 in Five-Star Review Averages Can Make the Difference on Conversion

When customers are looking for a quick fix and do not intimately know the shops around them, star-rating averages are crucial. A new report by location-based marketing firm Uberall indicates they are so influential in consumer decision-making processes that a mere 0.1-point jump in a store’s average rating can increase its conversion rate by 25%.

Report: Text Messages, Online Chat Essential Channels for Businesses

More than 70% of US consumers polled in a survey commissioned by business messaging platform Quiq had engaged with businesses via text messaging or online chat two or more times in the previous month.

That should be a signal to businesses that email and phone are no longer sufficient; messaging will be key to survival for consumer-facing businesses of the future.

Amazon is Making Meaningful Gains in Search Ad Market

It will be key to see if the pace of Amazon’s overall and search ad revenue slows down in the next few years as it exhausts. For now, its ad success is just one more sign, like the news that it will likely sell its Go tech to retailers, that Amazon can find and dominate new businesses beyond its core identity as the Everything Store. 

Impending Brand Safety Woes: Nasty and Misleading Political Ads Hit Facebook

If brand safety in the 2020 election season does not immediately seem concerning, consider the following: You’re an advertiser hoping to run digital ads for your advertising tech solution. You pay a publisher with huge traffic big money to score impressions on its platform. But as soon as a Democratic voter navigates to the site and sees your ad, along with it pops up a big Trump ad making inflammatory claims about Biden. The web surfer navigates away from the site. Who wins?