Is Visual Mapping the Next Google-Apple Battleground?

As Google and Apple lead the way, we are getting closer to ubiquitous visual mapping. If that happens, there will be significant implications for entities that currently use search and mapping for marketing or online presence. They’ll need to make sure they are optimized in this new format.

This could lead to an extension of SEO to cultivate presence in visual experiences. Just like in search, correct business location and details will need to be optimized to show up in the right places. You don’t want the AR overlay for your restaurant floating above the salon next door.

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.

Letter From the Editor: Mapping the Future of Local Commerce

Of all of the technologies and consumer touchpoints to local commerce, mapping is perhaps the most relevant. This centuries-old technology has gone into hyperdrive over the past 15 years since the launch of Google Maps, and it continues to be a primary tool for local search and discovery.

But what’s the state of the art and how is it evolving? This will be Street Fight’s focus in the month of September. This follows last month’s connected car theme and past months’ reporting and commnetary on privacy, retail transformation and the “beyond the screen” evolution of voice and visual search.

August Focus: Local’s Next Battleground is Your Car

Why are connected cars important to Street Fight (and to you)? As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. That is usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

Could an increasingly digital and connected car influence those purchases when consumers are out and about? This is one extension of the local search that consumers used to do at home but now do on their mobile devices while on the move. The car could become a third point of connection and influence.

Phone-as-a-Service?

It’s becoming clear that we’re headed toward a new vision for our devices: the Phone as a Service (PaaS). Yes, sounds crazy, but look at the parallels between your phone and how/why other “X”s have become services:

X-as-a-service (XaaS) is delivery of X directly via the internet, eliminating the need to use and manage multiple and independent solutions on locally hosted devices, right? So, PaaS is the delivery of personalized media via the phone, eliminating the need to use and manage multiple and independent, locally hosted apps. We’re already seeing that happen.

12 Years After the iPhone, Marketers Need to Lean Into Digital Wellness

Once upon a time, “getting a Starbucks coupon as you walk by a Starbucks” was the Holy Grail example of the potential power of mobile marketing. With the iPhone turning 12 years old this week, it’s a great time to observe how drastically more sophisticated digital relationships between consumers and brands have gotten thanks to the supercomputers in our pockets.

Mobile is now about building a customer journey and taking patrons to the next level rather than a single, location-based transaction. You hear it a lot: the customer journey reigns supreme, but there’s a good reason for “customer journey” becoming like the Greek chorus in marketing. Consumers are inundated with messages from brands, so marketers need to be judicious about how, when, where, and why they reach out to customers.

Studying the Relationship Between Phone Price and Income

The results of our study show that the more expensive your phone is, the more likely you are to come from a higher income bracket. Our model predicts that, for every dollar that the average price for a cell phone in a given zip code increases, the median income for that zip code will also increase by $122.70 — in other words, by a fairly significant amount.

Alexa, Podcasts, and the Role of Voice in Today’s Marketing

The increasing popularity of smart speakers, digital assistants, and podcasts means we need to begin thinking differently about voice and marketing. That includes tailoring online content to users and how they engage with it, making voice functionality a part of the sales funnel, and creating podcasts or partnering with influencers to reach audiences in a new way. With the right approach, a creative brand could get a considerable head start in this new but quickly developing marketing landscape.

Brand Safety is a Brand Authenticity Problem

Marketers know that in a world of globalized competition, consumers are one click away from choosing a different product or service. Taking a stand can help brands appear righteous and earn consumer loyalty, which is why brand safety scandals necessitate a massive and speedy PR response. However, responding to or apologizing for such scandals can only be perceived as authentic the first time around—not the second time, and definitely not the third. The endless cycle of brand safety scandals reveals one of two things about today’s brands—they’re either lemmings, or they don’t really care about brand values.

Tim Cook Demands New Commitment to Responsibility from Big Tech

With the moral and commercial high ground in clear sight, Tim Cook used the spotlight at Stanford University’s commencement ceremony Saturday to slam Big Tech peers Google, Facebook, and Twitter for failing to take responsibility for the hateful content and disinformation on their platforms.

Chrome Cookie Changes to Affect All—Not Just the Top Line

Google’s latest Chrome changes may sound abstract to those of us who are on the ground doing digital ad work, but they will soon come to dominate our industry. If you work in display advertising at a brand and read the announcement, I’m sure you know at some point the dynamics of the ecosystem will change. But this is going to be big — your entire set of knowledge will soon be different. You’ll need to learn how first-party data looks, is captured, and how to connect first-party data that represents intent to first-party stable identifiers like email.

San Francisco Partially Bans Facial Recognition, Putting Technology’s Future in Doubt

Civil rights and privacy activists asked, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors delivered.

The city banned the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other municipal agencies on Tuesday, becoming the first in the country to do so. Other bills in the works in Massachusetts and even on Capitol Hill suggest that additional restrictions on the technology may be forthcoming. 

Walmart Tests Out the “Future of Retail” in Long Island Store

There’s no time for the future of retail like the present. That is the motto at Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, a live experiment in AI-driven shopping experiences that is now open to the public at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Levittown, NY. 

LBMA Vidcast: Octopus Ads in Ubers and Lyfts, Walmart and Google Team Up on Voice

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.

Apple Strikes a Foreboding Tone with Big Ad on Privacy

Apple’s privacy-first policies should prove beneficial for the company and for the hundreds of millions of people who use its products. Still, the iPhone maker’s ad, light in tone as its soundtrack may be, strikes a decisively dark note representative of broader national anxiety about Silicon Valley and the danger of its increasingly unavoidable products. Beneath the ad’s veneer of levity, thinly constructed in the form of a small guard dog and man wary of using a urinal too close to his neighbor, the video sends a clear warning to smartphone users entrusting their private information to rival phone makers: The intimate details of your lives may already be compromised. Lean into your worries about your data’s theft and monetization, and fork over 10 Benjamins at the nearest Apple store for the sake of your own security.

AR in Local Commerce: Google Shows the Way

Mike Boland: A recent and relatively understated development from Google could portend the future of augmented reality. Its previously teased “VPS” was released into the wild for a small set of users. For those unfamiliar, VPS (visual positioning service) guides users with 3D overlays on upheld smartphone screens. Sort of a cousin of AR, this type of experience could represent the sector’s eventual killer apps. Though we’ve seen the most AR success so far in gaming (Pokemon Go) and social (Snapchat AR lenses), it could be more mundane utilities like navigation that engender high-frequency use cases.

Alexa Has the Confidence of SMB Marketers. Should It?

Forty-eight percent of marketers surveyed by Uberall said they trust the e-commerce giant over its competition when it comes to marketing applications of voice technology in these early days of the medium. Google Assistant had the vote of 29% of the market, with Apple’s Siri scoring a surprisingly high 17% given the widespread consensus that voice is really a two-way race at the moment.

In Test of On-Demand Economy’s Durability, Postmates Files to Go Public

There’s nothing more hyperlocal than the on-demand class of startups, which feed off the everyday use cases spurred by a mobile-first world: whipping one’s phone out to order food from a local restaurant (Postmates, GrubHub, DoorDash), hail a ride (Uber and Lyft), or cut out a trip to the grocery store (Instacart, Shipt). Postmates’ founding ingenuity was to apply the convenience of ride-sharing to product delivery. Eight years later, it’s a food-delivery powerhouse, and its value may strike nearly $2 billion.

Superbowl Ad Roundup: The Local Edition

Several Superbowl ads touched on key themes in local such as multi-location brand advertisers (Burger King) and locally relevant technology like voice search (Amazon Alexa). And of course, there were lots of car commercials—an inherently local product category given the offline shopping component. 

online privacy

Apple Takes Advantage of Facebook’s Foul Play to Make a Privacy Statement

Not only did Facebook’s “Research” app, which paid 13- to 35-year-old users $20/month to access their search history, emails, and private messages, set off every imaginable alarm on the this-will-look-bad-when-the-exposé-comes-out PR radar (one of the world’s most powerful corporations must be lacking one of those), but the app also blatantly violated the terms of Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program, which proscribes distributing apps to consumers. It probably didn’t help that Facebook was searching tweens’ data for dirt on its competitors.