21 Years Later & Google Still Has A Discoverability Problem

Can Google Become The Anti-Amazon? Facebook Analytics is sunset. What is next? And are millennials finally catching a financial break?

First, a very Happy Easter to those who observe!! 🌅

Friday included an emergency surgery for my 4yo daughter (she is fine), so no preamble with today’s newsletter. There are still several important news items to catch up on though. So let’s get to it…

🖱 Search Engine Marketing

Google Aims to Be the Anti-Amazon of E-Commerce. It Has a Long Way to Go. - The New York Times

Google is trying to present itself as a cheaper and less restrictive option for independent sellers. And it is focused on driving traffic to sellers’ sites, not selling its own version of products, as Amazon does.

In the last year, Google eliminated fees for merchants and allowed sellers to list their wares in its search results for free. It is also trying to make it easier for small, independent shops to upload their inventory of products to appear in search results and buy ads on Google by teaming up with Shopify, which powers online stores for 1.7 million merchants who sell directly to consumers.

But like Google’s many attempts during its two-decade quest to compete with Amazon, this one shows little sign of working. Google has nothing as alluring as the $295 billion that passed through Amazon’s third-party marketplace in 2020. The amount of goods people buy on Google is “very small” by comparison — probably around $1 billion, said Juozas Kaziukenas, the founder of Marketplace Pulse, a research company.

I have said it before, and I will say it again - Google Shopping should look more like Pinterest and less like Amazon. Discoverability is the problem Google has not solved for advertisers. And I believe Shopping is the key.

🗣 Social Advertising

Facebook Analytics is Going Away | Facebook Business Help Center

Facebook Analytics will no longer be available after June 30, 2021. Until then, you will still be able to access reports, export charts and tables, and explore insights.

Another iOS 14.5 casualty.

But that isn’t the end of the story. It seems Facebook has more reporting innovation waiting in the wings.

Facebook Adds New 'Most Recent' Timeline to Switch to Chronological Posts - MacRumors

Facebook's now building on that functionality with a new Most Recent mode that will show posts in chronological order instead of based on an algorithm.
The Feed Filter Bar offers easier access to Most Recent too, making it simpler to switch between an algorithmically-ranked News Feed and a feed sorted chronologically with the newest posts first. Android app users can access the Feed Filter Bar when they scroll up on News Feed. The same functionality will be available in the iOS app in the coming weeks. Regardless of how often you use them, you can find Most Recent and Favorites in the Shortcuts menu.
The new mode, or timeline, will be available on iOS in the coming weeks, but is already available on Android. Additionally, Facebook offers tools to turn off political ads, and the ability to "Snooze" a specific page or person to stop seeing their posts.

This feels like a ‘too little, too late’ addition for the declining social giant.

Share and manage access to your ad accounts | Pinterest Business help

Business Access lets advertisers and agencies easily manage the employees and partners who work on their Pinterest account. Advertisers and agencies can use Business Access to:
  • Add employees and partners to their ad accounts
  • View who has access to their account and what permissions they have
  • Request access to an ad account
  • Create ad groups
Business Access uses a two-tiered permission system so you can control and view what access each of your employees and partners have. The first level is where you add employees or partners to your business account and assign them roles. The second level is where you assign permissions to give employees and partners specific levels of access to your ad accounts.

Business/Agency accounts have come to Pinterest. Another, “Finally!”

📈 Reporting

Google Chrome FLoC: how it replaces cookies and what it means for privacy - The Verge

No other browser vendor has signaled its intention to support FLoC. The rest are simply blocking third-party cookies and letting the chips fall where they may. And those chips are messy.

Whatever motivations you want to imbue on the Chrome team, it is already apparent that simply blocking third-party cookies will lead to very problematic new solutions from the ad tech industry. So Google is creating both FLoC and a suite of other technologies to replace the third-party cookie, in order to hopefully forestall even worse replacements.

One of the very bad things Google is trying to forestall is fingerprinting. That’s the generalized term for ways that websites can identify you through little data signals that leak out of your browser when you visit a site. Sites can look at your IP address, the OS you’re browsing from, the size of your window, whether your browser supports Bluetooth controllers, and much more.

Battling fingerprinting is a huge arms race for browser engineers and new, nefarious methods pop up seemingly weekly. Here’s a new method of fingerprinting I just came across: playing a very tiny bit of audio and then analyzing how your particular browser and device handle it, and then using that data to individually identify you in milliseconds. (The website that proposed it sells fingerprint services to legitimate companies so they can ostensibly use it to better identify potential fraudsters on their sites.)

Apple has very publicly and vociferously advocated for cutting off all methods of individualized tracking, including fingerprinting, and has committed itself to that arms race indefinitely. The Chrome team’s concern is that essentially such a hard line creates an incentive for legitimate ad tech companies to start engaging in fingerprinting, which will then be all but impossible to stop or regulate.

I had not considered the need for other browsers to adopt this technology. It seems like a huge hurdle, but one that could cement Google as the backbone of ad tech for the next generation. That said, I don’t see Microsoft (or certainly not Apple) adopting the technology.

I wonder if this is an opportunity for Google plugins to backdoor the technology into Bing and Safari. 🤔

As a reminder:

🖼 Creative

Unsplash is being acquired by Getty Images

The reason I’m excited about this acquisition is because it’s not goodbye, it’s about acceleration.

This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down. Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images. The entire Unsplash team will be staying and building Unsplash in the direction we have been. The main difference now is we have access to the resources and experience of Getty Images to help accelerate our plans to create the world’s most useful visual asset library.

Call me suspicious, but I recall Instagram saying something similar. And we all know how that turned out.

🛍 Marketplace

CMO Survey

Marketers’ overall economic optimism has rebounded beyond mid-pandemic and even pre-pandemic levels. Optimism hit 66.3 (out of 100), up dramatically from the 50.9 value reported in June 2020 in which optimism plummeted nearly to Great Recession levels (47.7). Current optimism levels appear to continue the upward pre-pandemic trend from February 2020 at 62.7. This upward trajectory also aligns with widespread vaccination efforts, the anticipated reopening of education activities and retail sectors, and the certainty that follows presidential elections.

The annual CMO Survey is always full of data nuggets. But the most hopeful nugget from this year’s findings was the shared optimism.

A little bit of branding goes a long way.

The 'Lost' Generation of 1980s Millennials Is Finally Getting Richer

The economic environment and aftermath of the Great Recession made it difficult for the 1980s cohort to initially build wealth. They graduated into a dismal job market with little prospects and stagnated wages for the jobs that did exist, coupled with rising living costs and heavy student-loan debt.

The 2018 St. Louis Fed report predicted that their higher education levels and time left to earn and save could put them on a steeper income and wealth trajectory, allowing them to eventually achieve their wealth goals.

The follow-up study shows these millennials are well on their way to fully catching up, although they now have fewer wealth-building avenues and less time to close the 11% wealth deficit now that the oldest members are turning 40. They also have the highest debt burden of any birth group in 2019, which could set them back economically.

However, the strides the 1980s millennials have made paints a promising picture for younger millennials. Those born in the 1990s currently have wealth levels 50% below where they should be, per the report, although they are still relatively young, at an average age of 25 in 2019.

But the report states it's likely that this cohort, also highly educated, will also have a steeper wealth life cycle and make up the difference. The share of millennials owning homes is now also similar to that of previous generations when they were the same age, per the report, an investment that can help them compensate for such shortfalls.

📦 Distribution

Developers Turn Old Golf Courses Into Amazon (AMZN), E-Commerce Warehouses - Bloomberg

As investors hunt for industrial properties tethered to e-commerce, developers are buying golf courses and converting them into space for warehouses. A languishing course is often the largest tract of unbuilt land for miles around, and there are plenty of them. As the jump in golf’s popularity driven by Tiger Woods in the early 2000s fades, scores of courses are closing each year. “When Tiger came on the scene, everybody started building golf courses,” says Chris Gary, executive vice president at real estate firm NAI Hiffman, who built a golf facility in the Chicago area earlier in his career. “There was a surge in interest, and they basically overbuilt.”

That doesn’t mean conversion is always easy. Golf courses are often zoned as commercial, recreational, or open space—designations that can present challenges for industrial developers. Local opposition can also be an issue, with community leaders and nearby residents objecting to the increased noise and vehicle traffic that come with a new warehouse.

💉 Coronavirus

(I’m changing the emoji for this portion of the newsletter from 🦠 to 💉 as a sign of optimism.)

Facebook Ad Prices Signal Digital Ad Rebound Is Far From Over — The Information

The price of ads on Facebook and Instagram underscores the overall boom. Measured by cost per thousand impressions, these fell to a monthly average of around $1 last spring before surging to a monthly average of almost $5 in November, said Boston-based digital marketing agency Gupta Media, which analyzes spending by its customers worldwide. On Nov. 30, prices on the Facebook app hit a daily average of $8.16. Prices have come back down to earth since then but are still higher than they were before the pandemic.

I’m surprised there was no mention of the election and its role in driving November prices so high. Perhaps the rebound is not so far from over after all.

🛠 Tips & Tools

EXOD.ai - Copy Scanner

Scan your Ad Copy for Guideline restricted Keywords.

Avoid getting your Facebook ads disapproved for silly copy policy reasons. This is a great tool to share with the copywriters on your team.