Online retail was hot in 2019 and likely to be even more so in 2020. That’s good news for retailers, of course. Unfortunately, it comes along with some potentially bad news: These high traffic numbers motivate retail scammers to take advantage of the situation, and retailers may potentially be caught unawares.
In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers Incognia solving QR code fraud with location verification, the Ontario Regiment Museum using an AI virtual assistant, L’Oréal launching virtual make-up for your online work calls, and Covid-19 leading to greater public willingness to share location data.
To date, the app industry has said little about the effects of coronavirus on fraud. With self-isolation enforced globally, and workers now adapting to the new world of working from home, we investigated whether the rate of ad fraud (and by proxy, the output of fraudsters) had been disrupted. Or are fraudsters themselves in the line of fire as they continue to operate both above the law and in close proximity with each other?
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.
Location Sciences analyzed 500 million digital location-targeted impressions in the US and UK in the first half of 2019. It concluded that for every $100,000 spent on location targeting, $29,000 fuels targeting outside the desired geographic range, and $36,000 in targeting does not produce strong enough signals to ensure accuracy.
Location data firm Factual commissioned a study conducted by the University of Southern California applied psychology master’s program to take the pulse of consumers on data privacy. Unsurprisingly, not all consumers demographic groups share the same levels and types of concern. Here are four major takeaways from the survey of 1,002 smartphone users aged 18 to 65.
Local businesses are struggling to adapt to a world where online reputation drives offline sales, and fake reviews are making the transition harder. What’s more, the fake review problem is getting worse. A Harvard study found that fake reviews on Yelp grew from 5% to 20% over several years.
There are lots of reasons for this trend, but this is an area where big data can be used to the benefit of consumers and businesses to increase trust. This means it’s on the tech community—not small businesses—to fix fake reviews. Just as media platforms have a moral obligation to avoid the spread of fake news, review sites have a responsibility to their users and businesses to ensure their content is as accurate as possible.
Google’s calculated risk in creating a low bar for verification works out fine in a world where most business owners simply want to gain legitimate access to their own listings, and most businesses do operate within those ethical boundaries. But as we’ve seen elsewhere at this stage in the evolution of social networks, fraud and deceptive manipulation have become a kind of ghost in the machine, dominating darker sectors of the local marketplace and creating an atmosphere of distrust that may eventually prove more broadly contagious.
All of this is only possible when lots of activity is consolidated on a few platforms. Just as fake accounts attempting to engineer the 2016 election thrived in the vast and complex Facebook ecosystem, so too has Google’s dominance in local attracted its own horde of opportunists, drawn like moths to its flame. Indeed, fraud in local listings is just the latest in a long history of attempts, from link farms to keyword spam, to manipulate loopholes in Google’s regulations and algorithms.
Blumenthal to Mihm: It seems to me that Google could take the fake listings issue off the table by seriously investing in cleaning up the fake listing and fake review issue. I just don’t think that they think that way.
At a minimum, as the company that has the monopoly in the local space, Google faces the expectation and responsibility to provide a service that truly serves the public and businesses. And they seem to forget that.
“Chronic” local listings fraud on Google Maps, where con artists pose as handymen and other local service providers, sometimes stealing the names of legitimate operations, is endangering consumers and sucking business away from viable local businesses, the Wall Street Journal reported.
As Google seeks to prop up its lucrative but “cresting” search business and consolidate its lead in local, the tech giant is struggling to address the fraud issue and perhaps even to care about it.
Advertisers are unknowingly wasting 30 to 50%, and as much as 80%, of their location-based targeting spend on inaccurate, poor-quality data, some of which is fraudulent. They are being told by their partners that “everything is fine,” but the answers to a few questions could reveal a very different story.
Here are five questions brand managers should be asking their agency partners about location data. The answers will help vet the quality of the data you are purchasing.
Location intelligence, sourced securely and used in the right way, is an extremely powerful tool to craft precise targeting, predictive modeling, and creative media that drive meaningful marketing moments, massive ROI, and brand growth. Unfortunately, the location intelligence sector has also become a jungle of data fraught with fraudulence and insecurity.
Location intelligence is powerful, but in today’s highly scrutinized world, you have to challenge every resource you engage to ensure confidence in its quality. There are three critical questions you should ask data partners before you engage them.
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.