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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.