Birds of a Feather FLoC Together

Google has a privacy-minded alternative to personal data collection, kind of. Is steaming TV the next placement gold rush? Is your social media culturally relevant or cultural appropriation?

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🔎 Search

Updates to iOS 14 campaign measurement - Google Ads Help

When Apple’s ATT policies take effect, we will no longer send the Google click identifier (GCLID) for iOS 14 traffic coming from ads on a handful of Google apps. Traffic from other Google sources will not be affected and will continue to include GCLIDs.

Starting in March 2021, we will introduce a new URL parameter to help comply with Apple’s policies and help you measure the results of your ads on iOS. 

This new parameter will help you attribute conversions back to your ad campaigns and work with conversion modeling to give you more accurate measurement on iOS.

To support this new parameter, the global site tag (gtag.js), Google Tag Manager (gtm.js) and Google Analytics (analytics.js) with a linked Google Ads account, will set a new first-party cookie on your domains by default. That will attribute conversions back to ads subject to ATT policies. 

As always, you can opt-out of first party cookie tracking at any time by disabling conversion linking in your respective configuration.

But that’s not all...

Google promises it won’t just keep tracking you after replacing cookies - The Verge

For all the talk of privacy, Google makes it clear it’s not trying to get rid of targeted advertising in general; it just wants to replace the more invasive methods of old with a new one of its own design, which it calls Privacy Sandbox. Part of Privacy Sandbox’s job is to hide the individual inside a large crowd of “cohorts” with similar interests it will then target ads toward.

A teardown of the Chrome 89 beta APK by Android Police gives us a first look at Privacy Sandbox controls and the use of “Web Crowd” cohorts for more relevant advertising:

As we all know, regulation solidifies the dominance of the incumbent. So this is a smart move from Google. 

This week, responding to a client email about this topic, I wrote:

In short, I think it’s a false flag.

Search and YouTube are Google’s bread and butter - and they aren’t going anywhere. So for most SMB’s, not much will change.

I think this is really Google saying:

“You want us to be privacy-minded? Sure. Have the third-party cookies. We’ll keep the world’s most popular browser (Chrome), Analytics code on most of the world’s websites, and the world’s most popular email service. We’ll be just fine.”

As far as tracking, Google has created FLoC’s. These are cohorts of people with similar interests. So instead of an advertiser targeting Rob, because he visited REI’s website, Google will make a cohort of people who are searching for outdoor gear and sell ads to them. Perhaps just semantics. But it’s selling the group instead of the individual (which was probably how the individual data was being used behind the scenes anyway).

Some additional commentary from around the web:

Brave is launching its own search engine with the help of ex-Cliqz devs and tech | TechCrunch

“Under the hood, nearly all of today’s search engines are either built by, or rely on, results from Big Tech companies. In contrast, the Tailcat search engine is built on top of a completely independent index, capable of delivering the quality people expect but without compromising their privacy,” Brave writes in a press release announcing the acquisition.

“Tailcat does not collect IP addresses or use personally identifiable information to improve search results.”

Whether average users know it or not, relevant ads will be as important as personal privacy. It only takes an hour of cable television to remind us of that fact. 

The goal isn’t only a private internet, but one that is also relevant. 

Perhaps we will first see the pendulum swing too far in the privacy direction as an overcorrection to its history of invasive data collection. But the solution is somewhere in the middle. 

Google Ads Developer Blog: Combining Similar Bid Strategies

For Search campaigns, TargetCpa and TargetRoas will no longer be separate from the MaximizeConversions and MaximizeConversionValue bid strategies. Instead, they will be represented as MaximizeConversions and MaximizeConversionValue bid strategies with their respective target_cpa and target_roas fields set. Use of TargetCpa and TargetRoas as separate strategies will be deprecated.

RIP “Target CPA” and “Target ROAS” bid strategies. At least we’ll have fewer recommendations in Google Ads to dismiss now. 

🗣 Social

Cultural Appropriation In Marketing & Social Media | Sprout Social

Native American headdresses at Fashion Week, box braids on white women and whitewashed Mahjong tiles are more glaring examples of cultural appropriation. More nuanced examples have come from marketers misusing and misunderstanding memes, GIFs, slang and other language choices. For instance, words like “periodt,” “sis,” and “woke” come from African American English Vernacular (AAVE). “Throwing shade” is rooted in drag and ball culture. “Spirit animals” and “tribes” are uniquely tied to Native American culture and spiritualism. And yet we often see these terms slapped on marketing content and branded products, with no recognition of or sensitivity to their origins.

If a brand is actually Black, LGBTQIA+ or Native-owned, or very closely connected to these diverse audiences, these terms could be a relevant and authentic part of their brand voice. But it becomes an issue when brands or marketers that are not considered part of the community try to benefit, with zero credibility and zero value added.

Over the last several years, cultural appropriation in marketing has become magnified by (and often called out through) social media.

Sprout Social goes on to provide “5 tips for creating culturally relevant content, while avoiding appropriation”

Twitter Looks to Get in on the eCommerce Boom with New Shopping Experiments | Social Media Today

Last week, during its Analyst Day presentation, Twitter pointed to various new commerce options in development. And this could be the first one, with a new Twitter card type for eCommerce that adds a large 'Shop' CTA button, linking through to a transaction page

Back in 2015, Twitter tested 'Product and Place Collections' on selected profiles, which enabled some users to promote products in a dedicated profile section.

TikTok launches ‘TikTok Q&A,’ a new feature for creators to engage with viewers’ questions | TechCrunch

With the release of TikTok Q&A, as the feature is officially called, creators will be able to designate their comments as Q&A questions, respond to questions with either text comments or video replies and add a Q&A profile link to their bios, among other things. The feature also works with live videos.

Samsung TikTok app for smart TVs coming soon to the US - CNET

Samsung says most of its 2021 smart TVs will get a TikTok app in the US later this year, as part of the company's global partnership with TikTok announced in its Unbox and Discover event. The app launched on Samsung TVs in the UK last year and the company says it will come to other markets later in 2021.

📈 Reporting

📱 SMS

AT&T, T-Mobile Ban Shared Short Codes: What That Means for SMS Marketers

Soon, your favorite DTC candle brand will no longer text you 10x a day about the $72 candle you left in your cart—well, at least not from the same number. A change meant to reduce text spam is coming, but it’s a bit of a headache for SMS marketers. 

An AT&T and T-Mobile ban on using shared short codes to message consumers was initially supposed to go into effect 3/1, but eMarketer principal analyst Jeremy Goldman told us the telcos have since pushed it back to 6/1.

As a reminder, short codes are those 5 or 6 digit numbers that send your marketing texts (mexts?!?).

In an era when digital marketers are acquiring first-party customer data, this is yet another hurdle. 

🎙️ Audio

Spotify podcast listeners to top Apple’s for the first time in 2021, forecast claims | TechCrunch

Investors have been waiting for Spotify’s multimillion-dollar bet on podcasting to pay off, in terms of increased paid subscriptions or improved revenues. But before that can occur, Spotify has to get more people listening to podcasts through its app. On that front, the streaming service has momentum. According to a new market forecast, Spotify’s U.S. podcast listenership will surpass Apple Podcasts for the first time this year when 28.2 million U.S. users will listen to podcasts on Spotify at least monthly, compared with 28.0 million via Apple Podcasts.

This shift will come on the heels of expected 41.3% in 2021, the analysts at eMarketer are predicting.

⚖️ Legislation

We have previously covered state-level efforts to tax digital advertising. Google is giving us a glimpse into their response to such taxes by their actions in Europe. 

🛍 Marketplace

57% of consumers remained loyal to a brand during chaotic 2020, study finds | Marketing Dive

Eighty-one percent of consumers said they want to form a relationship with brands, a sign of their willingness to participate in loyalty programs, marketing firm Merkle found in a new survey shared with Marketing Dive. Discounts are the most popular loyalty reward, with 70% of consumers preferring these offers over free products (65%), free samples (51%), free services (48%) and a chance to win prizes (28%), the survey found.

Just a reminder to not overcomplicate your loyalty program. 

Retailers Continue to Realize Media Potential

Last week, Macy’s said the media network it launched in August had already hauled in more than $35 million. Home Depot, Kroger, CVS and Walgreens each has its own media platform too, but they haven’t disclosed revenue. Neither has Walmart, although Morgan Stanley estimates it brings in ~$500 million.

That’s...cute. Amazon racked in $13.18 billion in e-commerce search ad revenues in 2020, per an eMarketer report from Insider Intelligence.

First-party shopping data is the name of the game.

It’s also worth noting the macro trend. Google and Facebook have too much data. Fine. Now nearly every big box retailer is going to start collecting their own. 

I’m not sure which is a bigger user-privacy concern. (Something tells me CVS will store all of their user privacy on super long receipts.) But I do know which path is harder and more expensive for small businesses to manage. 

🛠 Tips & Tools

Icons - Material Design

Google has open-sourced a ton of its Material Design icons, which can be downloaded or leveraged similarly to a Google Font

Semrush Files Registration Statement for Proposed Initial Public Offering | Business Wire

Semrush Holdings, Inc. (“Semrush”), a leading online visibility management SaaS platform, today announced that it has publicly filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) relating to a proposed initial public offering of its Class A common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. Semrush intends to list its Class A common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SEMR”.

👋 Holla!

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