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. 

Google Finds Itself Beneath EU Regulatory Hammer Once More

Google has been fined $1.7 billion for violating Europe’s antitrust policies. Specifically, the company stands accused of compelling companies that deploy its search capabilities on their own platforms to display a disproportionately high humber of text ads that will line Google’s pockets.

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.

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. 

mobile data

Why Conversion Mapping and SEO Go Hand in Hand

Terry Cane: Search engine optimization isn’t just about on-page technical elements. Not anymore. These days, it’s as much about user experience as it is how well you can appeal to search engine robots. And a big part of that is conversion mapping—understanding the route your leads take from their first click to their purchase.

At Retail Conference, Google Dangles Shiny New Visual Ad Format

The visual-first ads are here. Google announced at the retail conference Shoptalk on Wednesday that it is launching shoppable ads in image search, propelling the search giant into the center of the visual zeitgeist that has made Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat hot targets for advertisers.

What’s the Relative Impact of Google My Business vs. Websites on Conversion?

Blumenthal to Mihm: The consumer is on a journey and is close to making a decision when they are seeing you on Google. Whether they make it at the Business Profile on Google or at the website, it is imperative that your profile at Google has enough information to confer trust. Otherwise, the end user will just move on to the next profile and never make it to your site.

The Inside Story on the GMB App Rebuild

Damian Rollison: Google’s Curtis Galloway, software engineering manager from the Google My Business app team, offered a fascinating peek into that team’s development process this week in a presentation at LSA19 in Dana Point, California. Galloway’s presentation revealed aspects of Google’s user-oriented focus when revising the app as well as its customer-centric orientation.

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.

Communicating on GMB Poses Some Challenges, but the Local Ecosystem Has Answers

Google has been hard at work on local in 2018 and 2019, taking strides toward making its Google My Business app the one-stop-shop for local businesses hoping to connect with customers through digital means. Nevertheless, local is a tricky, 24-7 business, and when it comes to connecting brick-and-mortars with customers nearby, Alphabet’s core business has some room for improvement.

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.

Google Posts: Less Visible but Still Valuable

Mihm to Blumenthal: Google has been making a serious effort to get more business owners more engaged with Google My Business over the past 12-18 months. The irony is, though, that deprecating the success business owners can see from easy, compelling offerings like Posts makes them less likely to remain engaged. It’s a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. That said, and despite my initial skepticism about Posts, I have become a long-term believer.

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.

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. 

Alphabet Plays the Long Game, Expanding and Investing in R&D, with Focus on Video

Alphabet is investing in its future, spending record funds on R&D and pouring money into non-core businesses such as self-driving cars (Waymo) and its video platform (YouTube). While the company exceeded analyst expectations on the back of ever-strong growth from its core search business, it was actually trading down on Monday, reflecting investor anxiety over the cost and ultimately profitability of its many secondary businesses. 

Google’s Soft-Power Approach to Super Bowl Ads

When it came to the Super Bowl, Google opted not to put the spotlight on flashy new products but rather to emphasize the good it can do for the world at a time when it’s “don’t be evil” slogan of yore has become prime material for parody. During the big game, ads for products as seemingly disparate as Pringles, tax software, and beer pointed to a present haunted by tech’s infiltration of domestic life and machines’ superiority to humans.

Brandify, PlaceIQ, Simpli.fi Among 2019 LSA Ad-to-Action Award Finalists

The Local Search Association announced this week a slate of 20 finalists for its annual awards celebrating the best in local and online-to-offline marketing. Among more than 80 submissions, the finalists have been recognized for their outstanding work in such categories as reputation management, SMB software, and local search.

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.

Privacy, Poor Management, and Sex Scandals Can’t Touch the Duopoly’s Ad Growth—Yet

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.

Building the Location Layer: A Conversation with Foursquare

Last week, location technology company Foursquare announced its new Pinpoint audience segments product. Building from its large corpus of data on places, spatial movements and behavioral patterns, Pinpoint represents the latest in Foursquare’s evolution as the “location layer,” for the internet. We got the chance to sit down with Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck in San Francisco to find out more. Here is the full interview.