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.
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.
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.
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.
“For brick-and-mortar businesses, the focus on driving foot traffic through mobile couponing is even more important due to the convenience of online shopping. We see mobile coupon platforms becoming ubiquitous and affordable for even small businesses to create, design, and distribute their own coupons,” Katie Wilson, CEO of TapOnIt and a digital advertising veteran, tells our senior editor Stephanie Miles.
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.
Mike Boland: Any entity competing for local commerce—publishers, brands, ad-tech players—has a looming platform choice for voice. Like the platform wars between iOS and Android, it’s a matter of deciding where to apply finite resources and development muscle. Maybe the answer is “both” Google and Amazon. But for now, Google appears to have the lead.
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.
Partnerships between on-demand technology providers and global restaurant brands are generating big bucks and creating buzz about what’s possible for the ever-evolving on-demand delivery industry. Tech companies allow retailers and QSRs to keep up with the latest standards for convenience, and partnering with a brand name like Starbucks or McDonald’s can expand the audience of potential users for a growing on-demand startup.
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.
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.
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.
While the Gap says its decisions are being made based on traffic trends and profits—the brand saw a 7% decline in quarterly comparable sales—data scientists from top technology firms are working feverishly behind the scenes to use big data to predict which store closures could come next. Having a heads up on which retail locations have a high likelihood of closing could benefit those in the commercial real estate sector, as well as retail brands looking to decide on future store locations.
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.)
Twenty percent of mobile searches now are voice-initiated, with voice technology users most likely to ask about business addresses, directions, and hours, followed by whether stores carry specific items. Let’s look at how five of these brands are taking advantage of voice search, and what other industry players could be learning from their approaches.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.