Facebook to Integrate Technical Infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger

While the move indeed indicates that Facebook’s chief executives are looking to centralize acquired properties that once operated with relative autonomy, the integration also marks a response to growing concerns over user privacy. Under this new technical configuration, all the messaging platforms will be endowed with end-to-end encryption, warding off the possibility that people other than those taking part in conversations will ever read messages sent on the platforms.

Google Is Increasingly Taking the Reins in Managing Campaigns for Advertisers

Boosting its appeal beyond the reams of consumer data and stranglehold on search that make its digital advertising business the most expansive in the world, Google is increasingly executing campaigns for advertisers, deploying both automation and its own ad experts to get the job done.

Privacy-Forward Search Engine DuckDuckGo Partners with Apple Maps

Making a big splash in privacy, the ongoing story that has dominated location data-based marketing buzz in 2019, DuckDuckGo, the search engine that does not store user data in order to sell pricey ads, announced that it is using Apple’s MapKit JS to power searches. While the search engine’s results are sought out by far fewer users than search industry leader Google’s, the growth DuckDuckGo is experiencing further validates the impression the tech media has practically been screaming about this year: The winds on privacy are definitively changing, and data-driven companies that fail to heed those changes are in for quite a storm.

Foursquare Launches Self-Serve Audience Segments Accessible via The Trade Desk

Having pivoted from a location-centric social app of sorts to a location intelligence platform, Foursquare has positioned itself well to offer brands attributable marketing success and verified data points at a time when concerns about both data quality and privacy are as widespread as ever. Foursquare says it throws out about 80% of the third-party data it consumes, an act intended to preserve the quality of its largely first-party data store.

Loyalty Solution Narvar Acquires Kronos Care, Expands in Europe

Customer engagement and loyalty solution Narvar, which has tripled in size over the last year, announced on Tuesday its acquisition of Kronos Care, a fellow customer engagement startup founded in just 2017. The move will help Narvar conquer the European market, bolstered by the local expertise of the Paris-based Kronos.

Kroger CEO Offers Closer Look at Grocery Giant’s Tech Innovation at NRF 2019

Among Kroger’s latest innovation is a partnership with online grocer Ocado. Kroger is licensing Ocado’s technology—the only grocer in the United States to do so—in order to benefit from its digital-native mastery of automated warehouse operations and on-demand delivery. The company will be expanding its number of warehouses powered by Ocado’s technology in 2019.

Google Appears to Test Netflix-Like Personalization Score for Local Businesses

Just as Netflix displays match scores in the arena of entertainment, showing users a percentage indicating how likely they are to enjoy a new film or TV show, Google appears to be testing a feature that shows searchers how likely they are to enjoy a local business.

Urban Airship Acquires Accengage, Becomes World’s Largest Mobile Customer Engagement Company

Urban Airship, which serves Fortune 25 brands such as Adidas, BBC, and Vodafone, indicated that it would use the combined resources now at its disposal to expand the technical capabilities of its slate of mobile solutions. It will also take advantage of Accengage’s native expertise in the European market, particularly at a time when increased regulation on both sides of the Atlantic is underscoring the importance of strong policy and PR teams.

Doddle Launches in US, Pushing Click-and-Collect Forward for American Retail

Touting the fact that 70% of U.S. shoppers have leveraged click-and-collect options at their disposal in the last six months, Doddle, which has been active in the UK, will be helping major retail partners such as Amazon create smoother buying experiences for customers who want to take advantage of one-click online ordering while avoiding the process of delivery.

AT&T Says It Will Stop Selling Location Data as Practice Comes Under Greater Scrutiny

AT&T announced late last week that it will stop selling location data, following an investigation from multimedia publication Motherboard indicating that a bounty hunter (yes, bounty hunter) equipped with a few hundred bucks and a phone number can track down the phone’s owner within a couple blocks’ radius. Verizon and T-Mobile joined AT&T in saying they would soon wind down any remaining location-data sharing deals.

This Solution Showcases the Future of Collecting Customer Feedback at POS

Online reviews are one of the hot trends in local, reshaping how brick-and-mortar businesses stand out when trying to attract nearby customers. Tapping into the local Zeitgeist in a different use case, TruRating and GK Software are integrating their tech to allow businesses to garner feedback from their customers at the point of sale.

Forget the Alexa-Powered Toilet. The Big Local News at CES is the Amazon Echo Auto

While it may be the Alexa-powered toilet dominating water-cooler conversation this week, the real device to look out for is Amazon’s Echo Auto, an Alexa-powered, voice-activated product that will provide all the utility of Alexa, and connections to other voice-activated devices, from the dashboard of buyers’ cars. The device, which can be requested for just $25 and is available to a limited number of consumers now, has already been requested a whopping one million times—and counting.

After Amazon-Whole Foods, Microsoft-Kroger: The Grocery Revolution Is Happening

Microsoft and Kroger are teaming up, challenging Amazon’s dominance in grocery innovation and pushing back against its takeover of an increasing number of corporate verticals, including cloud infrastructure in the form of Amazon Web Services. (Street Fight’s Mike Boland has predicted that Amazon will sell its grocery tech just as it’s done with AWS, taking an in-house innovation and transforming it into a cash cow.)

Los Angeles Sues Over Weather Channel App’s Data-Collection Practices

The move is representative of changing winds on attitudes toward privacy in the location data ecosystem. Following a series of New York Times Facebook and location data exposés and explainers, and with America’s own GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, slated to go into effect on January 1, 2019, companies are waking up to a new reality in which selling and sharing user data to the tune of billions of dollars in revenue with little oversight is over.

What Does (Local) Innovation Look Like in 2019? An Open Question

More specifically, what will innovation look like going forward in local marketing and retail? How will it at once address the unignorable concerns about privacy and transparency that have reached a fever pitch of late and stay true to the best of the Silicon Valley spirit, namely, introduce something both new and necessary? How do local innovators move fast without breaking= things? Is that possible?

We at Street Fight want to hear from you, our readers, about the innovation you’re excited about in local in 2019 and your concerns about business practices in the industry in years to come. Drop me a line with your predictions, concerns, and hopes for Local in 2019 at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.

Voice’s Impact on Local: The Knowledge Graph, SEO, Paid Search

We know voice will play a major role in Local in 2019, as voice recognition software gets more sophisticated, “near me” searches skyrocket, and marketers wise up to where the voice-local opportunity really lies in the near future: smartphones. In this article, let’s get more specific. Voice will affect the fundamentals of local search: the Knowledge Graph, SEO, and paid search, for example. Drawing from Street Fight lead analyst Mike Boland’s 2018 white paper on voice, I break down those changes below.

Amazon Plans to Set New Standard for On-Demand by Expanding 2-Hour Delivery

Amazon is planning a substantial expansion of its Whole Foods grocery stores, a move that will aim to put much of the nation’s deep-pocketed customers in range of its two-hour delivery service, Prime Now. Under the proposed changes, reported in the Wall Street Journal, Prime Now would become available from all Whole Foods stores.

What’s Visual Search, and How Will It Play Out in 2019?

While visual search isn’t exactly catching on like fire yet, its evolution is buttressed by powerful developments of late in the tech industry. Among these: smartphones are increasingly ubiquitous, more efficient, and we’re all more accustomed to using them; investment in AI from both big companies and startups is widespread, making machine vision more effective; and augmented reality (AR), a similar modality in which tech overlays graphics onto images captured via camera lens, is taking off. Below are a few ways visual search will play out in local and retail in 2019.

Voice’s Local Impact in 2018 and 2019

Street Fight’s Mike Boland explained in a white paper on voice this year that there’s a number of misconceptions regarding how the medium will play out in local search and commerce, and there’s plenty of research out there to illuminate where voice is really headed. I outline some key insights about voice as brands and SMBs alike make plans to tackle it in the months to come.

Cutting Through the Analytical Clutter: 4 Major Trends this Holiday Season

As just about the final week of 2018 gets underway, it’s worth taking a look at what we now definitively know about this holiday season. Here are the facts about the role of technology in retail during 2018’s holidays.