California’s Gig Economy Bill Becomes Law

The landmark California gig economy bill that may force companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash that employ thousands of drivers as independent contractors to hire those people as employees became law today. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill.

If the bill does ultimately affect Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other companies in the so-called gig economy thriving on venture capital for the last decade, it will severely disrupt their business models, which rely on cheap labor. 

Constant Contact Expands Beyond Email, Adds Website Builder for SMBs

Constant Contact, known for its email marketing platform, is expanding to offer an AI-driven website builder as well as tools for branding, productivity, and e-commerce. It’s the first major expansion for Constant Contact since its acquisition by Endurance International Group.

The company’s new website builder is specifically designed for SMB owners and operators without the time or expertise typically required to build an effective site from scratch. Constant Contact claims sites can be created in minutes.

Captivate and Hivestack Partner to Expand Programmatic DOOH Ads

Location-based digital video network Captivate and location-based mar tech company Hivestack are teaming up to expand access to programmatic digital out-of-home ads, the companies announced.

Hivestack’s marketplace and ad exchange will allow customers to buy video inventory on Captivate, which will bring engaging video ads to offices across North America. Captivate offers a professional audience of particularly high interest to marketers.

Google Hit With Another $500+ Million Fine

Google is in the news for the wrong reasons again. The search giant agreed to pay a 500 million euro fine (about $550 million) to settle a French fiscal fraud probe after investigators in the country accused it of dodging taxes, Reuters reported.

Google’s headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland, where it settles all sales contracts to avoid paying higher taxes in the rest of Europe. Alphabet isn’t the only company to take advantage of tax loopholes to avoid paying its fair share; Apple and Facebook also have large operations there.

Uber Pledges to Fight California Contractor Bill

Uber and Lyft are already losing billions of dollars, and long-term concerns about whether they will ever hit profitability have endured, making for relatively weak runs on the public market. If the companies cannot come close to profitability with cheap labor forces without benefits, having to treat drivers as employees could pose an existential threat. At the very least, it may require Uber and Lyft to slow down expansion and rein in their ambitions, suggesting that the heyday (or hallucinatory days) of Web 2.0 could be coming to a close.

Hyperlocal Social Firm Nextdoor Closes $170M Round, Adds Meeker to Board

The company seems well positioned to address the ills of social network and platforms plagued by negative user-generated content in general these days. That’s because it actually verifies the identities of its users and puts people in touch who live near each other in the physical world, definitely not eliminating all risk but limiting the chance that people use digital anonymity to harass each other without repercussions.

The Number-One Reason Consumers Will Delete Your App

It’s easy to get your app deleted from consumers’ phones at a time when every businesses has its own mobile property and social notifications are wearing consumers down. If you want to get deleted, just message your customers all the time, a new study by messaging platform Leanplum found.

The most common reason consumers deleted mobile apps is too many irrelevant notifications, Leanplum’s survey of 1,000 US mobile users found. This held true for all generations, from Gen-Z to Baby Boomers. More than 75% of the crucial millennial generation said they delete apps due to excessive notifications.

Mobile Far Superior to Desktop for DTC Advertising

DTCs are notoriously effective in courting young shoppers, including millennials and emerging Gen-Z consumers. This is likely because younger shoppers, growing up in the digital age and native to its conventions, gravitate toward convenience and are less tied to the longstanding preferences that legacy brands carefully crafted through decades of advertising. Mobile, which is tied to identity and location and offers quick digital purchasing options, is the platform where these trends are most exaggerated.

Apple’s Edge in the App Store, Big Tech, and Antitrust

Apple execs told the Times that the company’s apps show up so frequently in searches not because it tips the scales but because its apps are already very popular and are designed to please consumers. But that logic is in itself concerning: A company with nearly unparalleled power and insight into what consumers are looking for in terms of apps uses its understanding of consumer desire and vast resources to create apps that will defeat rivals (especially startups or young companies) in the App Store it owns. Even if there is no foul algorithmic play, the competitive advantage is clear. The question is whether it’s enough for antitrust action.

Google Being Investigated for Antitrust Violations by Slew of States

More than half of US state attorneys general are investigating Google for antitrust violations, the Washington Post reported. Officials anonymously told the Post that the probes are expected to be announced on Monday.

This marks a serious escalation in mostly recent government efforts to increase regulation of the giant tech firms that have become the most powerful private enterprises in the world, squashing competition in their home industries and disrupting adjacent ones. The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are already looking into the potentially anticompetitive power of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

Airship Acquires Apptimize to Sharpen Mobile Marketing Experiences

Airship rebranded to emphasize its shift from push notifications to a broader suite of messaging tools. Apptimize will help its clients iterate across channels and solutions as they attempt to find the best way to reach customers flooded with marketing and other kinds of media.

Report: Location Targeting Ecosystem Suffers from Inaccuracy

Location Sciences analyzed 500 million digital location-targeted impressions in the US and UK in the first half of 2019. It concluded that for every $100,000 spent on location targeting, $29,000 fuels targeting outside the desired geographic range, and $36,000 in targeting does not produce strong enough signals to ensure accuracy. 

Waymo Releases Data Set to Catalyze Autonomous Driving Research

Why should local search specialists care about autonomous vehicles? The same way mobile, with its natural on-the-go use cases, has become the hub of “near me” searches that lead consumers into local businesses, cars will become the next mobile device, catalyzing the next wave of “near me” queries. Self-driving cars are not tangential to the future of local; they are central to it.

4 Major Takeaways About Consumer Privacy Concerns

Location data firm Factual commissioned a study conducted by the University of Southern California applied psychology master’s program to take the pulse of consumers on data privacy. Unsurprisingly, not all consumers demographic groups share the same levels and types of concern. Here are four major takeaways from the survey of 1,002 smartphone users aged 18 to 65.

German Tech Provider Bosch Developing 3D Displays for Cars

In the long run, this technology could pave the way toward an even more connected car. That means local advertising that could collect more data on user habits and lead drivers toward local businesses when they are on the go. As autonomous vehicles grow more common and sophisticated, the 3D displays could also be used for entertainment or other yet unseen purposes to enhance the auto experience of the future.

Alexa, Draw a Line Between Convenience and Control

It’s that factor, consumer data and Amazon’s vast store of it, that stands out most in Jason Del Rey’s reporting on Recode’s new podcast series, Land of the Giants. Specifically striking is the episode on Alexa, in which Amazon employees openly speculate about a future in which smart microwaves will hook up with Amazon’s growing healthcare ambitions to tell you when it’s time to stop making popcorn and smart countertops will join the intelligent kitchen conversation. As Del Rey notes, Amazon execs talk about this future openly, dropping tidbits about customer obsession along the way and appearing truly unperturbed by the thought that such interventions into our domestic lives may go too far or generate unintended consequences. Optimism for the quality of Amazon products and a fervent belief in the company’s benefit to consumers—without due consideration for products’ risk and would-be limits—seem to pervade the corporate culture.

FedEx Stops Ground Deliveries for Amazon, Signaling Delivery War to Come

For FedEx as for the many other companies and industries Amazon has decimated over the past 20 years, the problem in confronting Amazon may turn out to be one of margins. While FedEx needs a profitable delivery business to survive, Amazon can afford to lose money on delivery and make it up with relatively free-flowing profits from Amazon Web Services and its booming ad business.

In fact, Amazon can afford, thanks to the faith and generosity of investors, to make no profits at all. No easy task, competing with that.

How Americans Shop Today

All industries—apparel, grocery, electronics—are affected differently by the move to e-commerce, and consumers are turning to new options, including social marketplaces, disrupting what we typically think of as digital shopping. Here are some insights on major market changes, including the key to Amazon’s dominance, the industries flouting the turn to e-commerce, and a curious preference among millennials, from a recent survey of 1,000 consumers by Signs.com.

The Deceptive Arguments Amazon Uses to Shirk Responsibility for AI

In a recent column, Recode founder and New York Times columnist Kara Swisher cut to the core of what would seem to be concessionary calls for regulation from Big Tech firms, summarizing their attitude like this: “We make, we break, you fix.” She’s right, and with Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook doubling their combined lobbying spending from 2016 to $55 million in 2018, it is worth taking a closer look at the kinds of arguments the companies are trotting out to avoid responsibility for the outcomes of the technology they produce and sell. We should be particularly concerned about the arguments tech firms are making about AI, which is already remaking our society, replacing steps in crucial human decision-making processes with machine-generated solutions.

For an example of how tech firms are attempting to get away with peddling potentially dangerous AI-based tech to powerful entities like law enforcement agencies while accepting minimal accountability, consider Amazon’s Rekognition.

With Shoelace, Its Latest Foray into (Local) Social, Google Aims to Do for Friends What Tinder Did for Dating

Perhaps Shoelace is less ambitious than Google+. But is finding friends, or others with whom to socialize, not the most central and yet unachieved aim of social networking? One that hinges on location and would be a gold mine for advertising, as it captures users far down the sales funnel, all the way at the point where they are ready to get together to spend some time at a local business? What if, in the same way online dating has gone from disreputable to de rigueur over the course of 10 years, finding friends online is something young people all do in 10 years, an engineering problem that Tinder rival Bumble is already trying to crack?

That would be a pretty big social network. The ambitions may not be so modest.