Local Social Network Nextdoor Raises $123 Million

The digital advertising proposition for Nextdoor is obvious—what better way to drive customers into nearby brick-and-mortar stores than to generate buzz on a social platform centered on users’ physical location? Venture capitalists see the value proposition, as Chris Varelas, co-founder and managing partner at Riverwood, proclaimed Nextdoor as the “future of local community and commerce.”

Retailers Use Visual Channels to Attract Last-Minute Mother’s Day Shoppers

Spending on Mother’s Day is expected to reach $25 billion this year, with consumers flocking to department stores and florists in search of the perfect gifts for Mom. The bulk of that spending will happen in the next few days, as foot traffic data from the location platform GroundTruth reveals that Americans tend to wait until the very last minute to shop for Mother’s Day gifts.

What are retailers around the country doing to prepare for the onslaught of last-minute shoppers? More than ever before, retailers are leaning on visual marketing opportunities to drive last-minute sales.

Facebook Expects Record-Setting FTC Fine for Privacy Violations

Five billion would be a record for FTC punishment of a tech company and would signal harsher scrutiny to come for an industry that has accrued unparalleled wealth and power with little regulatory oversight. Facebook’s fine comes after a saga of instances in which it failed to protect user data. Most damningly, the company vowed to shore up its data protection practices in 2011 and can now be accused of failing to uphold that promise.

Report: Upon Unlocking Phones, People Flock to Social, Messaging

Anyone with a smartphone unimmune to our pervasive cultural addiction with digital communication will be unsurprised: It’s WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook that currently capture most of the attention when we mindlessly unlock our mobile devices.

That’s according to media measurement company Verto Analytics, which released a report just this morning on the earliest part of the mobile journey: what happens right when we unlock our phones some 50 times per day.

How Rising Public Concern Around Facebook Privacy Impacts Everyone’s Bottom Line

How do Facebook’s problems affect the rest of us? Good question. At Clever Real Estate, our effectiveness as a real estate technology company depends on our ability to connect with customers online, so we surveyed 1,139 Americans about their feelings regarding online advertising and the internet at large. Some of our findings might surprise you.

AI Is No Magic Bullet for Policing Hateful Content

The task Facebook must take up as it attempts to police hateful content is one inseparable from political values, human judgment, and the interpretation of statements that need to be parsed by well-trained eyes and bright minds with a stomach for horror to boot. While machines will play an indispensable role in content moderation on a platform of Facebook’s scale, they will be far from sufficient. That’s because monitoring hate speech touches on nothing less than some of humanistic inquiry’s age-old questions: the debatable violence, status of truth, and foundations of meaning in language.

Years After YouTube-Driven Brand Safety Crisis, Consumer Concerns Remain

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.

The Blind Spot in Facebook’s Vision of Privacy

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.

SMB Marketers: Small Budget? Small Team? Search and Social Are Key

With the barrier to entry lower than ever, third-party platforms have made inroads to make it easier for marketers to leverage search and social more effectively. These platforms have made it attainable for marketers—regardless of their team size or level of experience—to launch and optimize sophisticated, targeted campaigns, providing an ideal foundation to build upon as their capabilities and budgets expand. With that, here are five reasons SMB marketers should consider digging deeper into search and social right now.

Another Day, Another Story About Exposed Facebook User Data

While we don’t yet know if any nefarious activity took place as a result of this latest news of Facebook user information’s exposure to third parties, the bottom line, as per the pithy genie line above, is that Facebook handled user data so recklessly for so long that there’s no guarantee the company can prevent exposure going forward. That means, potential regulations for which Mark Zuckerberg is now calling notwithstanding, the end of the Facebook privacy-breach saga is likely not in sight.

online privacy

Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe Catches Heat from Privacy Advocates

Johnny Ryan, chief policy and industry officer at Brave, a privacy-first web browser, filed a complaint with the Irish Data Commission against Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe on Tuesday evening based on the latter’s alleged violation of GDPR. A statement circulated by Brave on Tuesday identified IAB Europe as a leading lobbyist for the digital tracking industry and accused the company of violating GDPR guidelines with its “cookie wall,” a message encountered by those navigating to its website that requires visitors to consent to tracking from both IAB Europe and third parties.

Within 24 Hours, Further Signs That HUD’s Facebook Probe Could Upend Digital Ad Industry

What’s at stake in the Facebook housing discrimination probe and related investigations into Google and Twitter is whether the dissemination of online content—the news, product recommendations, advertising campaigns of all kinds, and entertainment—can and should be permitted on the basis of data collected on users’ personal characteristics and past behaviors. Should organizations, in industries as varied as entertainment, apparel, tech, and education, be permitted to use evolving technology to predict whom ads should target and thus who should see the content promoting Berkeley’s MBA program, the new housing development in Long Island City, or the hip sunglasses Warby Parker will never get me to buy? How does past human behavior and long-term inequality in various groups’ access to privileged resources shape ad targeting and the technology that automates it, and can the tech industry reach beyond those limitations to open up new futures instead of capitalizing on and reinforcing historical distinctions?

The news this week of the Trump administration’s first charges filed against a major tech company is the first step on our path to finding out.

Automated Ad Targeting Ensnares Facebook in a Discrimination Lawsuit

The lawsuit is big news not just for Facebook or for housing-related ads but for the digital advertising industry as a whole. That’s because it marks the first major federal attempt to use the resources of the law to curb ad targeting on the basis of racial discrimination. As interest in regulating broad tech spreads across the country and political spectrum, the lawsuit could prove a harbinger of harsher laws to come.

The Ethical Stakes of Data Collection and Ad Targeting

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.

Amazon Pursuing Mobile Video Ads, Strengthening Its Viability as Duopoly Alternative

Video advertising has been the hot thing for long enough that it’s now passé to refer to the pivot to video. It’s about time, then, that the Big Tech company hoping to break into the digital ad market dominated by Google and Facebook added video to its inventory. 

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.

Increasingly, Your Brand Is Its Reviews

Mihm to Blumenthal: The famous Jeff Bezos quote comes to mind: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Increasingly, the room is not a physical place but a virtual one—and it’s not a place you own. Reviews really bring the need to run a decent business at your core into stark relief.

Human Judgment, Automation, and the Future of Ad Tech

For now, I propose two major concerns—two challenges, even, for further thought—surrounding AI for the ad tech industry. The first is that the datafication of human experience that has allowed for precise ad targeting needs to be radically reconsidered, not just in terms of what can be done to obtain the consent of consumers for data collection, as the rising privacy movement has called tech companies to consider, but also in terms of what is lost and what is truly gained when the attributes of real people are transformed into consumer data. The second is that the human-machine hybrid decision-making model, while surely the best available in a hypothetical set that also includes human-only and machine-only models, will have to grapple with the bias and poor decisions of the humans who program the machines that will take on the task of regulating large platforms at scale. 

Walmart Mulls a Run at the Digital Ad Business

With reports percolating about Amazon’s increasingly clear emergence as a third party to Google and Facebook’s dominance of the digital ad market, the e-commerce behemoth’s old-school counterpart is reportedly taking a look at the action itself.

Marin Q4 Advertising Report Shows eCommerce Ads Skyrocketing, Instagram and Search Growth Strong

Digital marketing software firm Marin Software has released its Q4 advertising report, which points to major trends in social, search, and e-commerce. Instagram is taking on an increasingly central role in Facebook’s main business, e-commerce ads are booming YOY, and search remains fundamental to digital advertising, the report shows.