Google's New, More Private Solution To Browser Tracking Cookies

Updates to Google Shopping. The Latest on forthcoming iOS 14 shakeup. And "Roaring Kitty" calls the GameStop debacle.

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🔎 Search

Google's marketplace is free for sellers. The results so far are mixed

The effort had the signs of a final hail mary for Google, which has struggled to create a third-party marketplace that can compete with Amazon. The way Google Shopping currently works, most brands link customers out to their own external websites in order to make a purchase. But Google has been trying to keep people on its own pages with a new option. Adoption has been much slower on this section of Google Shopping, called Buy on Google, where customers can buy directly on Google. Buy on Google boasted only 7,432 sellers by the end of 2020, according to data tallied by the marketplace tracking site Marketplace Pulse. That’s only a little less than 2,000 more than its alleged July 2020 total (5,644), and is far below Walmart’s nearly 70,000 sellers and Amazon’s 2+ million. And Buy on Google sellers told Modern Retail that the platform tends to account for a negligible portion of their overall sales.

And Google’s big selling point — the omnipresence of its search tool — doesn’t give much of a lift to Buy on Google sellers. Most of the Google Shopping products that get surfaced at the top of a Google search appear to be paid ads, said Kaziukėnas. Unless sellers are willing to pay, customers are unlikely to find their products organically on Google. “There’s a functioning marketplace, but it’s virtually invisible to most shoppers because it doesn’t get surfaced to practically anyone,” he said. “It’s a very obscure part of Google.”

Google’s John Mueller on Cleaning Up Hacked Pages

“The URL removal tools will hide them in the search results, which is a good first step. They’ll be recrawled over time and drop out of the index (404 or 410 doesn’t really matter), and usually the search results for the rest of the site go back to normal fairly quickly (though it certainly can take a few months for things to really settle back down, depending on how & how long the site was hacked).”

Mueller adds that if any existing pages were hacked then they should be dealt with first. These can get refreshed quickly by manually submitting the URLs.

Flagging Reviews In Google My Business Is Different

Now when you login to Google My Business and access the reviews for your business, when you select to flag a review, you are given these seven options:

Google Introduces Price Drop Rich Result

Google has a new rich result that is related to the Product Structured Data. This rich result is called the Price Drop Appearance.

Google will track the price that is used for the “Offer” Schema.org structured data type within the Product structured data that is used on a product page.

When the product price changes, Google will add a rich result called a “price drop appearance” that reflects that there’s been a price drop.

🗣 Social

Apple says App Tracking Transparency feature will launch in ‘early spring’ with iOS 14 update - 9to5Mac

And starting soon, with Apple’s next beta update, App Tracking Transparency will require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies. Under Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track, and make changes as they see fit. This requirement will roll out broadly in early spring with an upcoming release of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, and has already garnered support from privacy advocates around the world.

A few more details from Apple:

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature will be enabled by default and arrive in ‘early spring’ on iOS | TechCrunch

You can now toggle IDFA sharing on a by-app basis at any time, where previously it was a single toggle. If you turn off the “Allow apps to request to track” setting altogether no apps can even ask you to use tracking.

One important note here is that the Personalized Ads toggle is a separate setting that specifically allows or does not allow Apple itself to use its own first party data to serve you ads. So that is an additional layer of opt-out that affects Apple data only.

Apple is also increasing the capabilities of its Ad attribution API, allowing for better click measurement, measurement of video conversions and also — and this is a big one for some cases, app-to-web conversions.

I suspect granular controls will help Apple and Facebook find some common ground. 

📧 Email

This week Twitter announced their acquisition of Substack competitor, Revue. The integration into Twitter.com has already begun. 

📈 Reporting & Revenue

Google eyes privacy-friendly substitute to cookies - Axios

Google has been testing a new API (a software interface) called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) that acts as an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. The API exists as a browser extension within Google Chrome.

The company said Monday that tests of FLoC to reach audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent on ads when compared to cookie-based advertising.

FLoC uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and then create a group of thousands of people based off of the sites that an individual visits. The data gathered locally from the browser is never shared. Instead, the data from the much wider cohort of thousands of people is shared, and that is then used to target ads.

Preparing our partners for Apple’s iOS 14 policy updates

When Apple’s policy goes into effect, we will no longer use information (such as IDFA) that falls under ATT for the handful of our iOS apps that currently use it for advertising purposes. As such, we will not show the ATT prompt on those apps, in line with Apple’s guidance. We are working hard to understand and comply with Apple’s guidelines for all of our apps in the App Store. As our iOS apps are updated with new features or bug fixes, you’ll see updates to our app page listings that include the new App Privacy Details.

Perhaps this is the exact situation Apple is trying to solve. If these Google apps can just as easily not track user data, then why were they?

🛍 Marketplace

Baby Boomers are shopping online for groceries - The Washington Post

Consumers 65 and older, on average, spent a total of $1,615 online from January through October, a 49 percent increase from a year earlier, making them the fastest-growing cohort of online shoppers, according to NPD Group’s Checkout Tracking, which captures data from consumer receipts both online and in stores. Frequency of purchases, meanwhile, climbed more than 40 percent.

🏬 Brick & Mortar

Americans not ready to return to stores after Covid-19 vaccine: survey

Forty percent of consumers say they plan to shop for apparel in stores either the same amount or less after being vaccinated, according to a study released Wednesday by First Insight. The predictive consumer analytics firm polled more than 1,000 people online on Jan. 13 about their purchasing plans.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they’ll visit stores the same or less to buy footwear post-vaccination, while 45% said they would visit stores the same or less for beauty products, 41% said this about luxury items, and 43% for electronics.

Top-tier mall values have dropped 45% from 2016 levels: Green Street

But the values of even some of the best shopping malls in the U.S. have declined at a staggering rate in recent years, according to a report published this week by the real estate analytics firm Green Street. Green Street now estimates the values of A-rated malls have tumbled about 45% from 2016 levels, which peaked following a runup after the Great Recession.

A-rated malls are an important bellwether to monitor in the retail real estate industry because they account for the majority of mall value in the U.S. There are about 250 of them, representing a quarter of America’s roughly 1,000 shopping malls, by Green Street’s count. They bring in $750 in sales per square foot, on average, compared with an A++ mall, at $1,100; a B mall, at $425, and a C mall, at $250.

How DTC brands will approach physical retail in 2021 | Retail Dive

The cost to acquire customers online eventually becomes prohibitively high. Among the few DTC brands that have gone public in recent years, high marketing costs are a commonality. Casper's sales and marketing expenses reached $154.6 million in 2019, a 22.5% increase from the prior year. Chewy spent $426.9 million on advertising and marketing in 2019, up 8.6% from the previous year. And Wayfair's advertising expenses hit $1.1 billion in 2019, up 41.5% year over year.

Although media costs came down during the pandemic, it only offered a temporary solution. Brands create an additional marketing channel and opportunity to acquire customers by opening a physical store.

Brick-and-mortar stores are "brand-building locations," Michael Brown, a partner in the consumer practice at Kearney, told Retail Dive. "They need to be in high-traffic, high-density markets of the target consumer to be able to build that brand affinity and that brand experience. They're billboards."

If you are one of these DTC brands, now seems like a stellar time to get premium space at a huge discount. 

📦 Distribution

The Postal Service Survived the Election. But It Was Crushed by Holiday Packages. - The New York Times

In December, amid a crush of packages and record numbers of coronavirus cases, service performance across the U.S. Postal Service network plummeted to the lowest levels in years, with only about 64 percent of first-class mail delivered on time around Christmas.

As a reminder, the USPS can't turn away packages, like UPS and Fedex did during the holiday season. To it became the nation's logistics release valve. 

🛠 Tips & Tools

Really Good Podcast Ads

The world's largest database of podcasts and advertisers.

Social Media Engagement | Buffer

See all of your comments, stay on top of important interactions, and turn followers into fans using Buffer.

After killing off Buffer Reply, its feature set is arriving in Buffer's core 'Publish' product at no additional cost. 

Vimeo Adds New Integrations with HubSpot, Mailchimp, Constant Contact

Today, Vimeo announced new and enhanced integrations with HubSpot, Mailchimp, and Constant Contact. 

Additionally, it announced tools that allow users to add customizable contact forms to their videos, sync form submissions directly to their preferred email marketing platform, and engage prospects with in-email video GIFs.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

"Roaring Kitty" call this week's GameStop stock market mess back in August. 

Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year | PNAS

Past research has found that experienced well-being does not increase above incomes of $75,000/y. This finding has been the focus of substantial attention from researchers and the general public, yet is based on a dataset with a measure of experienced well-being that may or may not be indicative of actual emotional experience (retrospective, dichotomous reports). Here, over one million real-time reports of experienced well-being from a large US sample show evidence that experienced well-being rises linearly with log income, with an equally steep slope above $80,000 as below it. This suggests that higher incomes may still have potential to improve people’s day-to-day well-being, rather than having already reached a plateau for many people in wealthy countries.

👋 Holla!

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