Google agrees to change its ad practices after France’s antitrust watchdog fined the tech giant $267 million

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. The tech giant was fined €220 million as part of a settlement with France’s competition watchdog.

  • Google is making changes to its ad services after France’s antitrust watchdog fined it $267 million.
  • The watchdog found Google abused its market power, putting other companies at a disadvantage.
  • Google said it would improve its ad services with third-party ad server and ad space sales platform.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Alphabet’s Google has agreed to make changes to some of its widely-used online advertising services as part of an unprecedented settlement with France’s antitrust watchdog.

The California-based tech giant was also fined €220 million ($267.48 million) by the authority in the agreement that was revealed on Monday. The probe found Google had abused its market power in the intricate ad business online, where some of its tools have become almost essential for large publishers.

The watchdog’s decision is an attempt to rebalance the power struggle over online ads in favour of publishers, which held sway in the business in the pre-internet era, but lost considerable ground with the rise of Google and Facebook.

The French Competition Authority (FCA) said the decision opens the way for publishers who felt disadvantaged to seek damages from Google. Many publishers globally have expressed unhappiness over ad practices employed by the tech giants.

“The decision to sanction Google is of particular significance because it’s the first decision in the world focusing on the complex algorithmic auction processes on which the online ad business relies,” said France’s antitrust chief Isabelle de Silva.

De Silva said the fine was reduced because of the settlement, but she did not give specifics.

A Google spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to a request seeking comment. The watchdog said Google will not seek to appeal the authority’s decision in court.

The FCA’s investigation focused on the tools Google offers publishers online to sell and manage online ads.

The settlement with Google shows the firm is ready bend to antitrust pressure and make operational changes to some of its most popular ad business tools, whose success relies on the trove of data it has amassed over the years.

The watchdog found that Google Ad Manager, the firm’s ad management platform for large publishers favoured AdX, its own online ad marketplace, where publishers sell space to advertisers in real-time. It did so notably by providing AdX strategic data such as the winning bidding prices.

The watchdog also said Google AdX offered Google Ad Manager superior interoperability features than for rival so-called sell-side platforms (SSP), the crucial technology that allows publishers to manage advertising spaces available for purchase, fill them with ads and receive revenue.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google offered commitments to improve the interoperability of Google Ad Manager services with third-party ad server and ad space sales platform, the watchdog said.

The watchdog said it had accepted these commitments and that they were binding in its decision. The case follows a complaint by News Corp, French news publishing group Le Figaro, and Belgian press group Rossel.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Vamp Me Via Zoom’: How personal ads at The New York Review of Books embraced the language of the pandemic

New York Skyline with Purple Sunset
New York, New York.

  • At The New York Review of Books, COVID-19, Zoom, and vaccines made their way into the personal ads.
  • Sharmaine Ong, who manages the ads, gave Insider a look at her favorites from the last year.
  • One began: “Tony Fauci Seeks Deborah Birx.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A few days ago, Sharmaine Ong, who manages the personal ads at The New York Review of Books, said she’d be happy to choose a few of her favorite listings from the last year or so, since COVID-19 first brought New York City to a standstill.

Moments later, an email arrived listing her top four.

Tony Fauci Seeks Deborah Birx – public health wonk seeks earthy Jewish woman for sniggering about the boss after work with our masks off,” read one of Ong’s favorites, from July 2020, when the real Fauci and Birx were often seen standing behind President Donald Trump at the White House.

Ong, who was promoted to advertising associate in January 2020, told Insider that as the pandemic picked up, she noticed a few interesting changes in the literary publication’s personals. These have long had a reputation as a mating ground for educated, sometimes wealthy, playful-with-words types.

Mentions of COVID, Zoom, and other pandemic-related topics spiked last year, as might be expected. (One from last July began with “In the time of Corona …”) Some ad-buyers said they were lonely during lockdowns. Others were looking for pen pals, since face-to-face meetings were difficult.

Ong, who started at the NYRB as an intern about three years ago, also said more young people began buying print ads as the pandemic worsened.

“When I started, I noticed a lot of ads run by 40 to 80-year-olds, but now I’m seeing some ads from 20 to 30 year olds, which is quite different,” she said.

Insider reached out to the email address attached to the Fauci/Birx ad. The ad-buyer introduced himself via email as Dr. Gabriel Ethan Feldman, who in 2011 was awarded $14.7 million as a federal whistleblower.

Feldman said via email that he’d mostly given up on internet dating, turning instead to print ads. The NYRB ad brought in a few replies. He’d gotten one date from it. They both wore masks. Nothing came of it.

“I thought it was a clever take as I am actually a real-life public health physician,” he said via email.

After a few back-and-forth emails, Feldman added,:”You can use my name, I don’t mind. Everyone knows I can’t find someone in NYC despite being a multimillionaire, nice Jewish doctor, federal whistleblower.”

Another of Ong’s favorites was published last summer: “Vamp Me Via Zoom or FaceTime. Set my soul afire. Instagram my eager ego. Hashtag my desire. Though our lips may never meet. Tweet me, baby, tout de suite!”

The NYRB usually increases its classified-ad rates each year but the company decided not to raise them last year during the pandemic, Ong said. The uptick in personal ad sales last summer outpaced growth in other ad categories at the NYRB, she said.

Rates for print ads ranged from $4.40 to $5.85 per word, depending on the number of issues the listing ran in. Emails counted as two words, phone numbers as one.

By this spring, the Zoom references had started being phased out, replaced instead by vaccine references.

In March, the publication printed the most recent of Ong’s favorites: “Pair of Unrepentant Queers (one pansexual Asian punk femme & one curly-haired nonbinary flâneur) found love in these pages. Seeking COVID-negative company to complete the hat trick; be enlightening, generous, flexible, spirited.”

The final of Ong’s favorite ads from the last year wasn’t pandemic related. It was more in the spirit of the playful ads that have been running since 1968, when the NYRB published its first personal ad.

It read: “Ancient Bay Area live oak, still acorning, seeks fertile soil for sweet kindness. All species welcome.”

That one was written by Daniel Raskin, 77, a retired preschool teacher, widower, and grandfather living in San Francisco. He wrote it for the magazine’s personals contest, which it won. He said via email that he’d run a few other personal ads in the magazine in past. They had led to coffee dates. But he only got two replies this time.

“It was too quirky to expect responses,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Apple is eating our lunch’: Google employees admit in lawsuit that the company made it nearly impossible for users to keep their location private

Google New York Office
Google in Manhattan.

Newly unredacted documents in a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company’s own executives and engineers knew just how difficult the company had made it for smartphone users to keep their location data private.

Google continued collecting location data even when users turned off various location-sharing settings, made popular privacy settings harder to find, and even pressured LG and other phone makers into hiding settings precisely because users liked them, according to the documents.

Jack Menzel, a former vice president overseeing Google Maps, admitted during a deposition that the only way Google wouldn’t be able to figure out a user’s home and work locations is if that person intentionally threw Google off the trail by setting their home and work addresses as some other random locations.

Jen Chai, a Google senior product manager in charge of location services, didn’t know how the company’s complex web of privacy settings interacted with each other, according to the documents.

Google and LG did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

The documents are part of a lawsuit brought against Google by the Arizona attorney general’s office last year, which accused the company of illegally collecting location data from smartphone users even after they opted out.

A judge ordered new sections of the documents to be unredacted last week in response to a request by trade groups Digital Content Next and News Media Alliance, which argued that it was in the public’s interest to know and that Google was using its legal resources to suppress scrutiny of its data collection practices.

The unsealed versions of the documents paint an even more detailed picture of how Google obscured its data collection techniques, confusing not just its users but also its own employees.

Google uses a variety of avenues to collect user location data, according to the documents, including WiFi and even third-party apps not affiliated with Google, forcing users to share their data in order to use those apps or, in some cases, even connect their phones to WiFi.

“So there is no way to give a third party app your location and not Google?” one employee said, according to the documents, adding: “This doesn’t sound like something we would want on the front page of the [New York Times].”

When Google tested versions of its Android operating system that made privacy settings easier to find, users took advantage of them, which Google viewed as a “problem,” according to the documents. To solve that problem, Google then sought to bury those settings deeper within the settings menu.

Google also tried to convince smartphone makers to hide location settings “through active misrepresentations and/or concealment, suppression, or omission of facts” – that is, data Google had showing that users were using those settings – “in order to assuage [manufacturers’] privacy concerns.”

Google employees appeared to recognize that users were frustrated by the company’s aggressive data collection practices, potentially hurting its business.

“Fail #2: *I* should be able to get *my* location on *my* phone without sharing that information with Google,” one employee said.

“This may be how Apple is eating our lunch,” they added, saying Apple was “much more likely” to let users take advantage of location-based apps and services on their phones without sharing the data with Apple.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Snap stock jumps as much as 8% as the social media site sees delivering years of hefty revenue growth

Evan Spiegel, Snap
Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel

  • Snap stock jumped as much as 8% on Wednesday, hitting a 52-week high on the same day the social media site held its investors’ day. 
  • The company said work on its self-serve Ad Manager platform should drive years of revenue growth of more than 50%. 
  • Snap said Ad Manager supports diversification advertisements. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Snap stock bulked up as much 8% Tuesday as the social media company said it has set itself up to deliver years of revenue expansion. 

The shares hit an intraday high of $68.70 that also marked a 52-week high for the photos and messaging services app. Volume was heavy, with more than 57 million shares traded intraday compared with a daily average of 20.4 million. The gain was pared to 6.6% in afternoon trading. 

“Via the work on our self-serve ad platform, we’re in a position to drive multiple years of 50% plus revenue growth,” said Peter Sellis, Snap’s senior director of ad products, during the company’s investors day, according to CNBC

Snap has been expanding its Ads Manager tools since 2017, with the platform allowing users to create ads and campaigns and gauge goals. 

The work has resulted in a self-serve advertisement ecosystem that has driven cost per impression for Snap while driving return on investment for advertisers, Sellis said, according to the report.

“The more advertisers we have, the more diverse the set of ads that we can show,” said Sellis. 

Snap shares have risen about 34% over the past 12 months. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

4 Data-Driven Digital Marketing Tactics to Embrace in 2021

The new year is fast-approaching, so it’s high time that we evaluate our marketing strategy and come up with tactics to shake things up.

Digital marketing is one of the fastest-changing industries out there – is your marketing strategy agile enough to adapt?

There have been multiple marketing innovations introduced in 2020 (driven by both technology and the pandemic that has changed all the aspects of our lives), yet one trend is the most prominent one: Data

Never before have brands had access to so much marketing data that includes:

  • Internal / private data (customers’ emails, buying preferences, etc.)
  • Public data (like competitors’ identifiable marketing tactics, overall shopping trends, etc.)

You don’t need to be a data scientist or invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in data collection agencies to create a data-driven marketing strategy these days. Thanks to the Internet, big and small brands can access more data that they can process.

And it is a beautiful thing because it gives a competitive advantage to smaller brands that are eager to innovate.

Here are a few data-driven tactics anyone can implement, even without technical skills:

Improve Your Data Quality

Data: Brands lose up to 20% of revenue due to poor data quality practices (Source: zdnet/ Data Quality)

Sisense defines data quality as follows:

Data quality measures the condition of your data, using factors such as accuracy, consistency (in all fields across data sources), integrity (whether the fields are complete), and usability.

How to identify poor data quality? There can be a variety of factors including:

  • Is your data consistent? In other words, if it’s coming from different sources (which is usually the case), does it correlate?
  • Is your data relevant? In other words, are you using the data that helps your company’s bottom line? If you are using Facebook likes as the measure of your success, what exactly does this data do to help your revenue grow?
  • Do you collect the data you need? Does your company have the necessary data that would foster growth?

Improving your data quality is not just necessary, it’s also quite doable. There are multiple solutions that collect, organize and blend data to turn it into actionable insights delivered to each of your teams. The two easiest and the most affordable solutions include:

  • Cyfe (create dashboards to consolidate data and deliver most relevant data to each of your teams)
  • SE Ranking (pull lots of data from various sources to monitor your site health, positions, traffic, etc.)
  • Whatagraph (turn data into visualized email reports that are delivered to different teams within your organizations

Whatagraph

Embrace Inclusive Marketing

Data: Over 25% (i.e. one in 4) of US adults have a disability (Source: CDC / Disability & Health Infographics).

Are you including these people in your target audience? Do you create marketing personas that would include a disability?

Inclusive marketing refers to adapting technologies and messaging to enable underrepresented groups to fully connect with and experience brands online.

In web context, inclusive marketing often means making your website accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities and difficulties. These disabilities may prevent web users from being able to see page elements or navigate a site using a mouse or touchpad.

Including these people into your marketing strategy is not only a smart move (otherwise, every fourth user of your site may have hard time navigating it or making a purchase). It’s also a way to show that you care. This means making your marketing philanthropic.

The good news, it is also pretty easy to implement. You don’t have to re-design your site to make it accessible to users with disabilities. You can easily optimize your site for just about any sort of disability by using a solution called accessiBe.

accessiBe

There’s also a DIY way to make your site accessible but it is likely to take you some time.

Use Cross-Channel Marketing

Data: The number of channels consumers are using to make a buying decision is growing. Just over a decade ago the average consumer used two touch-points when buying an item. Four years ago consumers were already using an average of six touch-points with almost 50% regularly using more than four. (Marketing Week / Why marketers are failing to target consumers at key life events)

Many of those touch-points tend to happen on different devices and through different channels. Millennial shoppers shop from mobile devices,

For example, a contemporary consumer will search Google before buying an item after seeing a social media ad. And these two touch-points are very likely to happen on different devices.

What does it mean for businesses?

They need to be everywhere.

You should also be diversifying your content strategy with a wide array of types, in order to reach the highest potential audience, on more channels. This will also help your project build authority, which is critical in retention, churn reduction and overall brand loyalty.

Yes, have a blog. It is a great SEO tool and you should already know how to be targeting keywords by now. But in addition to this, make videos, create infographics, launch a podcast, guest on other podcasts and YouTube channels, embrace newer networks like TikTok and Instagram, and contribute to other blogs. You should be producing diverse content constantly to be able to market to different channels.

Luckily, content re-packaging tools make this process easy and affordable for brands:

  • Venngage: Turn any text into an infographic
  • Haiku Deck: Turn any text into a slideshow
  • InVideo: Turn any text into an engaging video

InVideo

[Invideo allows you to create videos for Instagram and Facebook ads, customize Youtube videos to brand them better, and more!]

Personalize Your Marketing

Data: 80% of people agree that they are much more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that provides personalized experiences (source: Epsilon Marketing / The impact of personalization)

Marketing personalization is one of the most powerful tactics out there, yet many brands don’t really understand it.

Marketing personalization is going far beyond using “the first name in the marketing email” or even “segmenting your email list by previous engagement”.

Marketing personalization is about creating on-site personalized experiences.

You are scrolling through a website and you see a handful of product suggestions on the bottom. It shows a strip of items that you can tell are based around people of your gender and your age, much of it not flattering. Mainly because it is a selection of products that you have never before purchased or needed to purchase, but that someone might assume a person of your target demographic would enjoy.

Or you are going through your email and catch sight of a message that is titled, “[Your Name], I need to speak to you right away!” Upon opening it, it is a generic, uninteresting automail from someone’s newsletter you forgot you had even signed up for. You roll your eyes and hit ‘delete’ without going any further.

The above examples show how you lazily customize to fit a potential customer. Is it any wonder the fish aren’t biting when the bait is so unappetizing?

Now imagine this:

You are on that same website and below is a collection of items you have been searching for price comparisons on all week. Others are items related to what you have purchased on the site in the past, or reviewed highly elsewhere. They are even within a decent price range of your usual budget.

Later, you are going through your email and there is a newsletter you forgot you signed up for. But rather than cheap clickbait, it has a subject line about something that interests you. You take the time to click and read the whole thing and even end up back on the website through a provided coupon for an item you had put in your cart a few days before but hadn’t pulled the trigger on because of the price. Now you are getting it for 15% off and you couldn’t be more thrilled!

Notice how each of the counterexamples totally changes the consumer experience and makes them more willing to engage with your brand. All because you showed them that you were actually paying attention to them as individuals, not a category or demographic. They are people, not walking dollar signs and stat sheets.

That is the true meaning of personalized ecommerce and when done correctly, it is a great way to generate leads that turn to profit and also build a relationship with your customer base.

Marketing personalization is becoming more and more available for smaller brands that lack huge budgets or technical teams. Finteza is a web analytics platform that comes with a powerful re-marketing solution allowing you to customize users’ experiences based on:

  • Source of traffic
  • On-site actions
  • Demographics (gender, age)
  • Location

Finteza

What’s more important, it is extremely easy to set up and very affordable.

What’s the real moral or takeaway here? Marketing innovation is a never-ending process. You can never consider this task done, but it is also what makes digital marketing such an exciting industry. Good luck innovating and reinventing!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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The post 4 Data-Driven Digital Marketing Tactics to Embrace in 2021 appeared first on Social Media Week.

Hospital officials apologize for UK ad showing Santa Claus with COVID-19, saying it wasn’t meant for children

Santa Claus with coronavirus NHS The Gift
Santa Claus being wheeled into a hospital in “The Gift,” an ad from the NHS.

  • UK government officials apologized for a Christmas charity ad showing Santa Claus nearly dying from COVID-19 in hospital, saying the spot wasn’t meant for children. 
  • The National Health Service scrubbed “The Gift” from its YouTube channel, as did those involved with the making of it. 
  • A top YouTube comment on the video read: “Absolutely disgusting. Total misstep. As if kids have not been through enough. Shame shame shame on you!”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Not even Santa Claus is immune from the coronavirus, according to a UK government ad showing him being rushed into a hospital at death’s door.

The advertisement, called “The Gift,” begins with an older man with a white beard being ushered into an National Health Service (NHS) emergency room. He’s on a hospital bed. NHS staff hovers over him, shining a light into his face. He’s being given oxygen. By the end of the 90-second spot, he’s recovered. After leaving the hospital, an NHS staffer figures out his true identity: Jolly Old St. Nicholas. 

After the ad appeared late last week, it was removed from the NHS YouTube account and others that had posted it. As of Sunday, “The Gift” had been scrubbed from almost everywhere.

Santa The Gift NHS
A screenshot of “The Gift” ad, showing Santa Claus recovering from COVID-19.

In a statement, NHS Charities Together apologized to kids who had seen the ad, but also said that it “isn’t aimed at children and hasn’t been shown on TV.” The charity said it had at first received positive feedback, but chatter on social media quickly turned sour. 

“We worked closely with the team behind the ad to make sure it was produced responsibly and it was cleared for use by the relevant regulatory authority. However, we are sorry to the parents of any young children who have been upset by watching the ad and to the young children themselves, they were not the intended audience for it,” the charity said in a statement on Saturday. 

By midday Sunday, the only version available on YouTube seemed to be from a children’s talent agency, which said it had been involved in making the spot. That version was also removed Sunday afternoon. 

Comments left on the video before it was removed ranged from confused to outraged.

The top comment read: “Absolutely disgusting. Total misstep. As if kids have not been through enough. Shame shame shame on you!”

Santa in hospital NHS "The Gift"
Santa Claus looking over lists of naughty and nice children in “The Gift” ad from the NHS.

The spot was produced by Iris, a digital media agency, according to a brief posted on Campaign Live, a site that collects information about advertisements. Ads of the World said “The Gift” was NHS Charities Together’s first Christmas campaign. 

Actual NHS staffers were invited to be in the film, according to The Drum

In a statement, NHS said: “We created our Christmas campaign to highlight the ongoing commitment and hard work of NHS staff and volunteers to keep us safe and well in what has been and continues to be a really challenging time for the NHS.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

YouTube Music Ads: What Your Brand Should Know

Music has always played a special role in culture but this year particularly people are tuning into more audio content via YouTube and YouTube Music. This is largely in an effort to combat Zoom fatigue and make it easier to absorb content whether tutorials, lectures, classes, meetings while juggling the obstacles of a remote work environment.

In response to this trend and in an effort to help brands efficiently expand reach and grow brand awareness with audio-based creative, the platform dropped several updates to help brands reach these users, with ads specifically designed for non-video consumption.

Elevating your brand’s message with audio

According to YouTube, more than 50 percent of logged-in viewers who consume music content in a day consume more than 10 minutes of music content.

The company also shared that in the early testing phase of the update, more than 75 percent of audio ads yield a significant lift in brand awareness. An ad from Shutterfly, for example, garnered a 14 percent lift in ad recall and a two percent increase in favorability in its target audience.

“Regardless of when and how people are tuning in, we have ways to help advertisers connect, even when they’re consuming music in the background. Now you can complement the moments your consumers are watching, by engaging them in moments when they’re listening, with newly announced audio ads,” YouTube’s Head of Music Lyor Cohen explained in a separate blog post.

Enhanced targeting via dynamic music lineups

Also part of its audio push, YouTube is announcing dynamic music lineups, allowing marketers to target their campaigns at collections of music channels on YouTube.

This will allow advertisers to more easily reach audiences based on specific music genres spanning ‘Latin music‘, ‘K-pop‘, ‘hip-hop‘ and ‘Top 100.’ In addition, brands can leverage these music lineups to focus on particular moods or interests, like ‘fitness.’

Audio ads best practices

To be clear, these new Youtube ads are designed for the viewer who is looking to “squeeze in a living room workout before dinner, catch up on a podcast or listen to a virtual concert on a Friday night.” These are not audio-only ads, rather they are relying on audio to do the majority of the communicating understanding that people may only be glancing at the visual image sporadically or not at all. The visual side of these new ads, therefore, will be limited to “a still image of animation.” Put differently, if the person was to close their eyes, they would still clearly understand the ad’s message.

The future of music marketing and audio conversations

More than 2 billion logged-in viewers are watching at least one music video each month. Over half (60%) of YouTube’s music viewing happens on mobile, where background viewing or listening is disabled.

Stats aside, innovations in social media and shifts in consumer behavior are fundamentally reshaping how music is made, consumed and shared. Brands will need a music strategy to ensure they keep pace with culture and have a powerful opportunity to lead in this intersection and create meaningful partnerships with consumers. With podcasts on the rise over the past few years, it makes sense audio content would be of interest on YouTube, despite being primarily a video service, as well as other platforms.

Over on Twitter, a test of an audio-only virtual meeting room option, which will be built on top of its new Fleets, Stories-like tool, is underway and set to launch by year’s end. Audio Spaces will enable users to start rooms where certain people can lead a discussion and others can then join, either to just listen in or to actively participate. The user who creates the space will have full moderation controls — an attempt by the platform to prioritize safety and prevent misuse and harassment.

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