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Digital Marketing Stories (March 2021)

Digital Marketing Stories (March 2021)

News Cycle: Marketing News + Updates from March 2021

Google Phasing Out Cookies

What’s the deal:

A while back, Google announced that it would be phasing out cookies from their ever-popular Chrome browser. This is a pretty transformational move from the browsing experience we’ve all grown up with AND it’s yet another hit to how Facebook tracks users and makes money via their Ads platform. For those of you who don’t know, cookies are used to track users’ web activity AND Google’s not only planning to remove them by 2022 but they are saying they will NOT replace them with an alternative that tracks users’ web activity (something I suspected they might do).

So how does Google plan to fill the gaping hole left behind for digital advertising when cookies are removed? Their plan is to use FLoC, Federated Learning of Cohorts, and the way it works is by putting individuals into large groups of people with common interests and then using those groups to serve ads. 

 

What could happen:

I think it would be crazy to say that Facebook’s Ads platform would be completely destroyed but it’s been one blow after another the past couple of months – this announcement coming after last month’s fight with Apple:

The removal of cookies impacts both online tracking but also the ability to track conversion (whether or not someone buys something directly from the ad). Facebook’s been amending their tracking reporting since iOS 14, but it’s unclear what, if any, level of tracking and conversion can be determined via FLoC. But Google’s not stupid. I seriously doubt they would cut off their nose (cookies) to spite their face (Facebook).

But there are skeptics of FLoC. In a recent article on Electronic Frontier Foundation, Bennett Cyphers wrote:

Google’s pitch to privacy advocates is that a world with FLoC…will be better than the world we have today, where data brokers and ad-tech giants track and profile with impunity. But that framing is based on a false premise that we have to choose between “old tracking” and “new tracking.” It’s not either-or. Instead of re-inventing the tracking wheel, we should imagine a better world without the myriad problems of targeted ads. 

He goes on to instead propose a world with no tracking of any kind and instead a world where users get to decide what information they share with each website their visit. He continues to sites holes that could reveal someone’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), exposure of user’s sensitive information such as medical information, and the fact that Google seems to be holding the keys.

Personally, I don’t know if we can put the targeted ads Genie back in the bottle and, on the surface, grouping people into cohorts while they remain anonymous seems to be a step in the right direction. I do, however, have concerns about PII and the face that we may be trading in one corporate master (Facebook) for another (Google).

 

What you can do:

If you’re using Facebook Ads to increase your Reach, Engagement, and/or Clicks then this update doesn’t impact you too much. It really comes into play when you’re running sophisticated and high-dollar campaigns built around user tracking and conversion. And, if you are the curious type Google has announced that FLoC-based advertising will become available for beta testing in late March 2021 and they expect to roll it out in Q2 2021.

Podcast Monetization For Creators

What’s the deal:

Spotify’s making some waves in the podcast community announcing that they will be launching monetization opportunities for podcasters. Available through Spotify’s podcast creation platform, Anchor, creators will be able to create monthly subscription packages at $2.99, $4.99, and $7.99 price points (with Spotify taking a small cut of the fee). 

This announcement comes as Apple is also being rumored to be considering monetization for creators via Apple Podcasts.

 

What could happen:

I’m all for paths to monetization for online content creators but the opportunity to monetize could lead to podcasters prioritizing money sooner than they should and not focusing on audience building. This could lead to a rush of podcast creators who have been on the fence because there haven’t been any standardized paths to monetization via the major podcast platforms.

 

What you can do:

Well, for one, if you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast, why not do it? And to help you get started, we’ve put together our Podcast 101 Guide: Everything You Need To Plan, Produce, and Promote your podcast. Grab your copy today and if you need help with anything podcasting-related, contact us for a consultation.

A New Social Network

What’s the deal:

Donald Trump’s in the news teasing the possibility of launching his own social media platform. This comes in response to him being banned from pretty much all major social media platforms and the bumpy, unsatisfying road that Parler has provided.

 

What could happen:

Donald Trump could come up with his own social media network but there are big obstacles. 

What would it be? When Trump’s senior advisor Jason Miller touted that the platform would be “the hottest ticket in social media” he did not provide any details. Shannon McGregor, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who researches social media’s role in politics asked:

What would be new, other than just that Trump would be allowed to be on it?

She went on to point to the most recent platforms such as Clubhouse and TikTok that “offer something users can’t get anywhere else.” What is it that this platform would offer? A politics-only environment? But if it’s just Republican or Trump voices, isn’t that just an echo chamber and something that already kinda exists with Fox News?

Who would back this financially? Many banks, real estate companies, and other businesses cut ties with the Trump Organization. 

And, finally, who would sign-up? As the NPR article points out, it seems like there would be a limited audience that would sign up for a Trump-branded site. 

A lot of questions and not a lot of answers currently.

 

What you can do:

This isn’t a news story that has an impact or action for many creative small business owners. If you’re a Trump supporter, you wait and see. If you’re not, you ignore this.

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