There is a fundamental plaint to bring forward about ad targeting, data collection, and the future of media in the digital age. To put it simply, when corporations turn users’ identities into commodities, sharing our deeply personal preferences and movements in the world with advertisers, they presume to transform our humanity into ones and zeros and to make billions off our experience and attributes without sending so much as a dollar our way in return. The relevance-centric discourse invoked by Zuckerberg and many others in defense of data collection and ad targeting ignores this essential truth about the digital ad business. That’s not an ideological jeremiad. It’s a description, to reprise Zuckerberg’s pithy op-ed title, of “the facts about Facebook.”
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’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.
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.
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.
While Sales Growth Rate Slows, Amazon Marketplace, Cloud, and Ad Businesses Point to Long-Term Prosperity
For brands hoping to compete with Amazon (and potentially looking on with relief at a sign of fallibility from their digital rival), the company’s earnings report brings the news that Amazon Marketplace, where third-party sellers can reach customers, is doing more than twice as much in sales as Amazon’s first-party retail platform. Marketplace is troubled by bad practices and fake reviews, and its prosperity suggests the growing challenge for brands to get customers to even go to their sites at a time when Amazon is essentially the homepage of the commerce-oriented Internet.
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.
It will likely take a significant downturn in spending or overall economic well-being for Big Tech to feel some major financial pain. And while great for Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, that’s got to be concerning for industry watchdogs wondering whether these businesses are too entrenched in digital search, advertising, and commerce to be challenged—because the past year was not hot for Silicon Valley, and yet the presses keep printing dollars.
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.
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.
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.
Brian Bowman: There’s an emerging trend in the advertising industry—for the first time, brands are shifting significant mobile advertising budgets from Facebook ads to Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC). While Facebook advertising has largely dominated mobile marketing budgets, this migration of budgets to Google’s platform has been a helpful shift to diversify risk tied to any single platform. Why is this shift happening now, and what does it mean for brands?
SPONSORED, by Neil Sweeney, CEO of Freckle IoT / Killi: The takeaway for 2019 will be consent management. Why is this going to be the trend? Two reasons — the first is because consent management is nonexistent in today’s technology stacks (and, no, the catch-all ‘do you accept’ button will not be sufficient moving forward for consent management). And, second: a compliance/privacy tsunami will bear down on the entire world (not just advertising) in 2019. Every trend in 2019 will tie back to a company’s ability, or inability, to check the box on consent management.
Mihm to Blumenthal: Absent a messaging competitor, even a handful of conversations with real customers make businesses *think* Facebook is where the party is. In reality, as you and plenty of others have found, 90% of actual leads are coming from Google. And a serious chunk of that 90% comes directly from Google My Business. Per my prediction, Google is *just* starting to push the “Message” CTA to consumers. And I think the floodgates are about to open.
On this week’s LBMA podcast: Facebook files new patents, JoAnn taps Teemo, Favendo at Frankfurt airport, Google Map’s “For You,” Domino’s hotspots, Mariott + PepsiCo go virtual reality art. Special guest: Gabriel Bedoya – The Insights Company.
In this Q&A, Civil co-founder and CEO Matthew Iles, Vivian Schiller, CEO of the Civil Foundation, and Matt Coolidge, co-founder and head of marketing at Civil, detail how their decentralized and community-owned journalism network can be a realistic answer to the “duopoly” of the giant Google and Facebook search and social platforms.
What exactly did Facebook do wrong, and what do its supposed wrongs portend for the future of data-driven, and especially location data-driven, marketing? Here are some major takeaways pertaining to future legislation, likely consumer reactions, and the distinction between data selling and sharing.
Though their terms are not identical, in essence both GDPR and CCPA are designed to give consumers the power to stop companies from collecting personal data, to review all personal data a company may have collected, and to request deletion of any stored data. Both regulations strike a major blow in favor of the concept that ownership of personal data ultimately resides with the individual and not with companies who may profit from it.