Huge Consumer Brands Are Plotting Against Apple - Can You Guess Who?

Google Search is favoring product reviews differently. An early study on the percentage of iOS 14.5 opt-outs we can expect. And we look at what DTC companies need "beyond a good product."

A quick housekeeping item: I’m testing some new formatting to make Cache a bit cleaner - and hopefully more readable. If you have strong feelings, I want to hear them.


🖱 Search Engine Marketing

What creators should know about Google’s product reviews update // developers.google.com

Google Search is always working to show the most useful and helpful information possible, through testing, experimenting, and review processes. From this, we know people appreciate product reviews that share in-depth research, rather than thin content that simply summarizes a bunch of products. That’s why we’re sharing an improvement to our ranking systems, which we call the product reviews update, that’s designed to better reward such content.

This update is going out today and only involves English language reviews for now. We believe this will further help those producing rich content in the product reviews area.

If you want to upgrade your reviews to capitalize on this update, Google provides a shortlist of questions to consider when asking for product reviews. 

🗣 Social Advertising

iOS 14.5’s Opt-In Update is Coming This Spring: Here's What That Means for You // morningbrew.com

Mobile attribution firm AppsFlyer did the math, and out of more than 13 million prompts shown in the past three weeks, users opted into ad targeting 41% of the time. For reference, experts expected that rate to be anywhere between 2% and 20%, AppsFlyer said.

~60% may be opting out. 😓

Announcing Twitter’s rebranded advertising product suite // twitter.com

After an extensive discovery and research process, we have recategorized and rebranded our entire ad suite. We have gone from 22+ individual ad format names to just 5 advertising categories with a corresponding suite of features that can be applied across them. 

The new categories are: 

Promoted Ads: These formats can feature images, videos, and various ad features. They can be used in multiple ways across each stage of the marketing funnel. 

Follower Ads: This format can be used to promote an account to a targeted audience to build awareness and attract new followers. 

Twitter Amplify: With Twitter Amplify advertisers can align their ads with premium video content from the most relevant publishers. 

Twitter Takeover: This category includes the most premium, mass-reach placements that drive results across the funnel by taking over the Timeline and Explore tab.

Twitter Live: With Twitter Live, advertisers can broadcast their biggest moments to the world, and allow an audience to join in real-time.

Social Media Use in 2021 // pewresearch.com

Majorities of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram or Snapchat and about half say they use TikTok, with those on the younger end of this cohort – ages 18 to 24 – being especially likely to report using Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%) or TikTok (55%).1 These shares stand in stark contrast to those in older age groups. For instance, while 65% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they use Snapchat, just 2% of those 65 and older report using the app – a difference of 63 percentage points.

Additionally, a vast majority of adults under the age of 65 say they use YouTube. Fully 95% of those 18 to 29 say they use the platform, along with 91% of those 30 to 49 and 83% of adults 50 to 64. However, this share drops substantially – to 49% – among those 65 and older.

By comparison, age gaps between the youngest and oldest Americans are narrower for Facebook. Fully 70% of those ages 18 to 29 say they use the platform, and those shares are statistically the same for those ages 30 to 49 (77%) or ages 50 to 64 (73%). Half of those 65 and older say they use the site – making Facebook and YouTube the two most used platforms among this older population.

Tim Cook Responds to Facebook Criticism of iOS App Tracking Transparency Changes, Says It's 'Hard To Argue Against' Privacy // macrumors.com

Swisher asked: "What is your response to Facebook's response — which is quite vehement — calling you essentially an existential crisis to their business?" Cook answered: " All we're doing, Kara, is giving the user the choice whether to be tracked or not. And I think it's hard to argue against that. I've been — I've been shocked that there's been pushback on this to this degree."

P&G Worked With China Trade Group on Tech to Sidestep Apple Privacy Rules // wsj.com

Procter & Gamble Co. helped develop a technique being tested in China to gather iPhone data for targeted ads, a step intended to give companies a way around Apple Inc.’s new privacy tools, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move is part of a broader effort by the consumer-goods giant to prepare for an era in which new rules and consumer preferences limit the amount of data available to marketers. P&G —among the world’s largest advertisers, with brands such as Gillette razors and Charmin toilet paper—is the biggest Western company involved in the effort, the people said.

The company has joined forces with dozens of Chinese trade groups and tech firms working with the state-backed China Advertising Association to develop the new technique, which would use technology called device fingerprinting, the people said. Dubbed CAID, the advertising method is being tested through apps and gathers iPhone user data. Through the use of an algorithm, it can track users for purposes of targeting ads in a way that Apple is seeking to prevent.

Apple is planning a software update in coming weeks that will require app users to choose whether they want their activity to be tracked across other companies’ apps and websites. Apple has touted the new software as an important step for putting privacy controls in users’ hands. Device fingerprinting runs afoul of Apple’s rules, and the tech company has said it would ban any app that violates its policies.

15ft wall. 16ft ladder. 

Apple won’t go for this. But the pressure from advertisers is mounting. 

🖼 Creative

🎙️ Audio

Spotify overtakes Apple in podcast downloads // discoverpods.com

In April 2018, Spotify acquired podcast network Gimlet Media and podcast host, Anchor, unofficially announcing their serious bid to become a major player in the larger podcast landscape which at the time was mostly dominated by Apple. Since then they’ve bolstered their podcast arm with more acquisitions (Parcast, The Ringer, and Megaphone) and exclusive partnerships (Joe Rogan, Michelle Obama, and others). Three years after the Gimlet acquisition, Spotify has now surpassed Apple as the most popular podcast app, according to Buzzsprout.

Buzzsprout, a leading podcast host, aggregates their podcast base to get a representative sample size to provide the data. So while this data is a sampling of the overall podcast streaming, it’s compiled of millions of streams and there’s no reason to believe the data would benefit Spotify more than any other player. Slowly creeping up, Buzzsprout’s data shows Spotify commanded 29.4% of downloads compared to 29.3% from Apple. 

💃 Influencers

Why West Elm Opened an Ambassador Program // morningbrew.com

Home goods and improvement brands are borrowing from the beauty and apparel influencer playbook to extend their quarantine sales streak. Take Lowe’s, which tapped Peloton instructor Ally Love to curate a spring “staycation” assortment for its website. 

⚖️ Legislation

Amazon Is the Target of Small-Business Antitrust Campaign // wsj.com

The effort is being launched Tuesday by trade groups that represent small hardware stores, office suppliers, booksellers, grocers and others, along with business groups from 12 cities, organizers say. Merchants plan to push their congressional representatives for stricter antitrust laws and tougher enforcement of existing ones.

The groups, which collectively represent thousands of businesses, want federal legislation that would prevent the owner of a dominant online marketplace from selling its own products in competition with other sellers, a policy that could effectively separate Amazon’s retail product business from its online marketplace.

How would this type of legislation impact big-box retailers who have been doing the same thing for decades? 

🛍 Marketplace

VC Susan Lyne: DTC companies need 'something beyond a good product' // glossy.co

There was also a period of time when we first started BBG Ventures where a DTC brand could get traction quickly using social platforms to drive organic growth, and the market wasn’t so crowded. That has changed. It’s a very crowded market, and it’s an expensive market. DTC companies have to have something beyond a good product. They have to have values that are aligned with new consumer preferences and, in some cases, very strong content marketing, as well as a distribution advantage.

Toms Rebrand: More Sneakers Styles, No More ‘One for One’ Donations // morningbrew.com

Toms did some sole searching and landed on a hard truth: shoppers are no longer sold on the “one for one” donation program it pioneered 15 years ago. 

As part of a larger rebrand, Toms will donate one-third of its profits to grassroots charities in the US, approximately the amount it used to give away in slip-ons. 

Toms’s new look is one point in a larger plan to win over—all together now—Gen Z. In customer interviews, the brand learned younger shoppers wanted to see it support local causes. 

🏬 Brick & Mortar

The Ghosts of Brooks Brothers // nytimes.com

There are legions of mannequins, empty circular tables that once displayed neckties, posters of horseback-riding gentlemen from a bygone era. There is a whole section of Christmas trees and countless gold-painted ornaments of sheep suspended by ribbon — a Brooks Brothers symbol since 1850 known as the Golden Fleece. Blank order forms for tailors are strewn about. A neon sign that apparently still works. There is no apparel, but there are rows of heavy sewing machines that most likely came from one of the brand’s recently shuttered factories. And in the bathroom, a welcome carpet with Brooks Brothers written in cursive sits next to a toilet.

The whole mass was abandoned here in the fallout of Brooks Brothers’ bankruptcy filing and sale last year, the scraps of a retailer that made nearly $1 billion in sales in 2019. Ever since, the couple that owns the warehouse, Chip and Rosanna LaBonte, has been scrambling to figure out how to get rid of it all. Junk removal companies have told them it will cost at least $240,000 to clear the space, which Brooks Brothers had rented through November. In order to pay the bill, the LaBontes are going to have to sell their home.

Store closures: UBS predicts 80,000 stores will go dark by 2026 // cnbc.com

UBS is estimating that about 80,000 retail stores, which is 9% of total stores, will shut across the country by 2026. That assumes e-commerce sales rise to represent 27% of total retail sales by then, up from 18% today.

Even though more Americans are increasingly ordering everything from milk and bread to desk chairs to sneakers on the internet, store openings are outpacing closures for the first time in years. Many businesses are seizing the moment to take advantage of cheaper rents and ample vacant space to pick from. The growth largely stems from retailers that sell in beauty, grocery and discount goods, including Ulta, Dollar General, TJX and Lidl, which are anticipating a strong post-pandemic rebound in visits to stores.

🔒 Security

Tool checks phone numbers from Facebook data breach // bbc.com

Details of more than 530 million people were leaked in a database online, largely consisting of mobile numbers.

People can use the Have I Been Pwned online tool to check if their numbers or emails were compromised.

Facebook says the data is from an “old” breach in 2019 but privacy watchdogs are now investigating.

Since this story broke, "privacy watchdogs" are now increasingly convinced the database is not tied to known breaches.

🛠 Tips & Tools

IndieBrands

Save yourself countless hours of brainstorming, researching, and domain lookup. Focus on building instead.

An interesting concept for those of us who don’t have a natural creative bent.