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Good morning, Marketers, and how are your clients and stakeholders feeling about data and privacy these days?
It may seem like a non-sequitur in search marketing, but the two topics are pretty intertwined. I talked to our friend Zenia Johnson, a social media marketing expert, and the Director of Patient and Provider Marketing at BehaVR. She told us that even though consumers may not know about all the details behind FLoC, Apple’s IDFA, and now Facebook’s data leak, that she’s seeing the first hand effects of audiences feeling the privacy crunch.
This is important because “high public esteem has helped protect the tech industry from critics and regulators, but that shield is weakening,” write Ina Fried and Mike Allen for Axios. It seems like search marketers are along for the ride as the platforms we use every day (Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.) roller coaster up and down in consumer approval.
How do these privacy announcements and changes affect your day-to-day? Let me know [email protected].
Director of Search Content
Big tech can’t escape privacy missteps: Facebook leaks users’ personal data
It seems like every day there’s something new on the privacy front. This week the news is Facebook leaking names, phone numbers, email addresses, locations, and more of over 500 million users. The leaked data is a few years old, but “could prove valuable to cybercriminals who use people’s personal information to impersonate them or scam them into handing over login credentials,” wrote Aaron Holmes for Business Insider. Mark Zuckerburg’s own phone number was included in the leak data.
Why we care. It’s hard for Facebook to make the case that it’s standing up for small businesses and users against Apple’s IDFA update when oversights like the one that happened this weekend put privacy in the headlines again. Users who may not be aware of the minutiae of the privacy debate still know that the social media platform may not be serving their best interests. In fact, by its own 2020 data, Facebook is losing daily users and monthly active users, which means a slowly dwindling market for advertisers the company claims to protect.
Should you still advertise at the point of purchase? Data says yes
Showing a product image on your ad may have unintended, but positive, consequences, new research in the Journal of Consumer Research indicates. Five sessions studying eye tracking and consumer behavior “showed that online ads that contain an image of the advertised product reduce the subsequent time to search the product on cluttered websites by about 25 percent, and that these benefits persist for up to three consecutive searches in a web browsing session,” wrote authors Ralf van der Lans (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Rik Pieters (Tilburg University) and Michel Wedel (University of Maryland).
Why we care. These results show that advertising at the point of purchase (like on Google Shopping or Amazon) can help shoppers find the advertised product more quickly, in part by helping them eliminate products that didn’t have the features they were looking for. The researchers concluded that the ads, rather than convincing shoppers to buy a certain product, helped guide them to find and buy a product they’d already decided to purchase.
Based on these conclusions, advertisers should adopt the practices of using images that highlight visual differences between their product and others, and advertising early in a user’s session on a shopping site (since the benefits only persisted for three consecutive searches).
Barry vlogs with Fay Friedman, a property management SEO
Barry Schwartz met up with an SEO named Fay Friedman who spent much of her career working in e-commerce SEO only then to move into more of the local SEO space, working in-house at a property management company.
The two spoke about the differences between e-commerce SEO and local SEO. Specifically where e-commerce SEO is more involved with technical, on-page SEO, whereas local SEO for property management companies is more involved in less technical SEO but more creative and content generation SEO. Both are fun and she wouldn’t say she liked one over the other.
Fay also went through some of the more common things one would find when doing an SEO audit on a site. But no two sites are the same, as we quickly learned.
Supreme Court sides with Google over alleged patent infringement of Java in Android
The top court sided with Google 6-2 yesterday in an intellectual property dispute with Oracle that’s been ongoing for over a decade. Google created the Android operating system in 2007, writing millions of lines of new code–but including just over 11,000 lines that were also part of Oracle’s Java platform. Oracle argued that Google plagiarised their code and Google argued that it was fair use.
“When it implemented the Android OS, Google wrote its own version of Java. But in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google’s implementation used the same names, organization, and functionality as the Java APIs,” wrote the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The two dissenting justices were Thomas and Alito. In their dissent, Thomas and Alito asserted the code is protected by copyright: “Oracle’s code at issue here is copyrightable, and Google’s use of that copyrighted code was anything but fair.”
Why we care. This is a big deal for software and tech companies in the areas of fair use and open source. “The Court noted that fair use has ‘an important role to play for computer programs by providing a context-based check that keeps the copyright monopoly afforded to computer programs within its lawful bounds.’ I suspect this theme will unlock many future arguments and claims regarding the application of fair use to software related claims. We will see more copying, more cases, and more claims of fair use,” said J. Michael Keyes, intellectual property attorney and partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney.
LinkedIn levels up, understanding local shoppers, and recovering from algorithm updates
LinkedIn adds video cover stories. Not to be left out of the multimedia boom, LinkedIn has added new video cover stories to help personalize the professional platform. “For job seekers, a Cover Story is a great way to introduce yourself to hiring managers by sharing your career goals, providing a peek at your personality and showcasing your communication skills,” wrote Tomer Cohen in the announcement.
Local is now digital: Understanding the new local shopper. Shoppers don’t just turn to Google for things they want to buy on the web; they also use Google to find what they need nearby. Over the past year, Google has seen a significant increase in commercial intent including Search, Maps and YouTube.
How do you strategize algorithm update recovery? That’s one question we asked of many to our 2020 Search Engine Land Award SEO winners. “It’s really chipping away at that [low-quality content] and just making sure that whatever is being indexed by search engines is truly high-quality content,” Lily Ray of Path Interactive told us.
How Big Is Amazon, Really?
In the U.S., Amazon is the king of online shopping. This was made even more evident when the pandemic doubled the retailer’s profits last year. “Amazon often uses a version of the 5 percent sales figure to counter critics who say the company is too big and powerful. But government investigations into big technology companies are looking at the behavior of Big Tech, not just their size,” wrote Shira Ovide for NYTimes.
It’s something to consider as surveys show digital advertisers will continue to invest in Amazon in 2021 and 2022.
“Amazon’s ad business also appears, at least in buyers’ eyes, to be less exposed to the ongoing privacy debate and upcoming Apple privacy changes for ad tracking on the iPhone,” wrote Megan Graham for CNBC.
But in this newsletter from NYT, Ovide makes the case that Amazon’s “bigness” is not necessarily in its share of shopping or even online shopping–but in the company’s use of data to influence people’s behavior and to gain advantages (and quash) competition.