Street Fight Spotlight
Mihm to Blumenthal: Answer Optimization and Zero-Click SERPs seem to be gaining traction as concepts in the SEO industry, but as you pointed out in our previous conversation on this topic, Google’s moving well beyond simple answers and into journeys. Cindy Krum highlighted several examples of these new search journeys, which as I saw her presenting struck me as “rabbit-holes.”
In a pure-play model, vendors focus exclusively on a certain number of core competencies. Not only does this help those companies to differentiate themselves from firms with broader offerings, but it also gives brands confidence that the vendor is an expert in the market. As online-to-offline attribution takes off, pure-play vendors are taking the lead in innovation, finding new ways to connect digital campaigns to foot traffic and in-store sales. Here are six vendors making a difference in the space right now.
With politicians and everyday political partisans on both the Left and Right peeved at Big Tech (the Left for tech’s role in economic inequality and election hacking, the Right for perceived anti-conservative bias, and thinkers across the spectrum for privacy concerns), it is time for Zuckerberg and his peers to get smarter about the arguments for and against data-driven ad targeting and the business models that rely on it. Facile paeans to relevance are not going to cut it—not with the scrutiny Facebook and the rest of the tech industry are now receiving. Tech executives should be as clear-eyed as their fiercest critics about the ethical underpinnings of their businesses. Only then can innovative, far-reaching conversations about the future of advertising, data collection, privacy, and Big Tech begin.
Let’s face it—we are a long way from being able to show that digital campaigns, and most other advertising formats, resulted in specific in-store sales. There are simply too many unconnected data silos to stitch together meaningful and statistically relevant results. The ad seen on TV can’t inform your phone or laptop that it’s also seen the ad, while the point-of-sale system or online checkout can’t notify those previous touch points to confirm the sale occurred. So if the scale of accurate location data prevents it from being a true stand-alone solution for proving attribution, what role will it play?
Blumenthal to Mihm, on lead gen spam: The real issue for me is that Google Maps is really like a public utility, and Google is not doing enough to protect the consumers of that product. There is significant harm in the deception of the consumer, the blocking out of legitimate businesses, and the possibility that the consumer public will lose trust in the whole, creaky house of cards.
A whopping 60% of consumers surveyed by mobile ad tech firm AdColony say they still see content on Facebook that is damaging to brands, and 49% say seeing appropriate advertisements in proximity to harmful content negatively affects their perception of proper advertisers. That’s the most provocative finding from a survey that indicates the brand safety issue is far from resolved in the digital advertising ecosystem.
Insofar as Facebook’s pivot to privacy fails to reward its users for the data that has made it one of the world’s most powerful and profitable companies, I see it as a modest change that is more reactive than proactive, more inevitable than forward-thinking. It is likely that Facebook is only beginning to lay out its moves on privacy, and more ambitious changes may lie ahead. But for now, when it comes to the most pressing, fundamental ethical challenges that are inciting political fervor and increasing the likelihood that serious regulation of Big Tech is on the way, Zuckerberg is dragging his feet. With visionaries like Lanier and Zuboff raising public awareness about Facebook’s business model, the truth may just catch up with him.
Google’s Knowledge Graph ambitions are expanding to include obviating heavy reliance on secondary sources like Wikipedia and being able instead to classify and cross-reference information as a native, self-sustaining activity on web pages themselves. That’s what makes a recent patent filing different from the evidence of the Knowledge Graph we’ve already seen in the wild.
While this more ambitious way of surfacing information about entities is not yet standard, in researching Google’s new interface for hotels, I think I’m seeing evidence of a real-world example.
On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: Neiman Marcus + SalesFloor, Octopus ads in Uber & Lyft, Cleveland Cavaliers + Aramark use Apple business chat for food orders, CVS + Shipt, Snapchat testing “Status” feature, Walmart + Google voice ordering.
While SMB digital marketing spend has seen a steady rise, SMBs are being more conservative about the agencies and vendors with which they partner. In the transparency era, consolidating spend with a select group of trusted agency partners that offer multiple core services is now the norm.
For agencies that cater to SMB brands, these trends have created opportunities and challenges. There is money to be had, but only organizations that differentiate themselves from the competition and can deliver clear ROI will benefit. So how can SMB agencies show their value to brands and ensure revenue growth? There are three opportunity areas, in particular, that can help.
With the right personalization and automation technology in place, McDonald’s is said to have plans to learn about customers through their ordering behaviors. More specifically, McDonald’s is planning to use Dynamic Yield’s technology to create a drive-thru menu that can be tailored based on factors like weather, restaurant traffic, and trending menu items. For example, when the temperature tops 100 degrees, milkshakes and ice cream sundaes might move into a prominent spot on the drive-thru menu board. When it starts raining outside, coffee and hot chocolate might take top billing.
What do Google’s AI-fueled search results, 5G, and marketing champagne all have in common? They’re the central topics of a roundtable discussion on the latest episode of Street Fight’s podcast, Heard on the Street.
As we do quarterly, this is a bonus episode that puts aside our typical interview format and instead invites the leading thinkers from the Street Fight newsroom and executive ranks to discuss news and insights that are top of mind.