The Consumer Privacy Rights Act: Advertiser Q&A

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act: Advertiser Q&A

Advertising

The state of California has passed the Consumer Privacy Rights Act. This legislation allows consumers to prevent businesses from sharing personal information and limits businesses’ use of personal information including precise geolocation, race, ethnicity, and health information.

It’s important to understand the Consumer Privacy Rights Act. California is a bellwether state. What happens in California may influence how other states enact consumer privacy laws. With that in mind, I have provided answers to some commonly asked questions.

What is the Consumer Privacy Rights Act?

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), also known as Proposition 24, is an update to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CPRA provides more safeguards and protections to consumer privacy.

What was the original California Consumer Privacy Act supposed to do?

The CCPA, which became law on January 2020, granted new rights to California consumers. The CCPA imposed requirements on how businesses collect, use, and disclose information about California residents. For instance, businesses subject to the CCPA must provide notice to consumers at or before data collection. Read more about the CCPA on our blog.

What does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act do?

The CPRA makes the CCPA stronger. Here are some specific features:

  • Greater protection of California residents’ personal information, ranging from their location to their ethnicity.
  • Tougher safeguards to protect minors’ information. For instance, the law requires businesses to include an opt-in requirement to sell the data of consumers under age 16.
  • The establishment of a California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the above requirements, which will be funded by up to $10 million per year.

Having an agency dedicated to CCPA will likely lead to more businesses in compliance and enforcement of penalties.

Does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act apply only to businesses in California?

The CPRA may apply to you no matter where you are located. If a California resident can access your website, compliance is required. This was true with the original CCPA as we blogged. Those requirements remain very much in force.

When does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act go into effect?

Most of its provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023. Meanwhile, the CCPA remains in effect.

What should I do about this?

Do your homework now. Remember, the CCPA is the law – so it’s important to ensure compliance on an ongoing basis. At the same time, make sure you understand the additional provisions of the CPRA.

Understand the tightened requirements. For starters, double check the strength of your opt-ins and opt-outs. Do you have a process in place to quickly address privacy requests? Err on the side of being more conservative in consent for data capture.

Take a closer look at how the law defines personally identifiable information (PII). The definition is becoming more complex as privacy law evolves. Now is a good time to examine how you are using PII.

Make sure you have a clear snapshot of how you are doing business with California residents.

Consult with your advertising partners, including any ad tech firms you work with, to ensure they are compliant with the privacy law.

How do I ensure I am compliant?

A number of security firms provide compliance services. Unless you have a strong in-house security team, your best bet is to look for compliance help from a specialist. Also, here is a resource for additional insight:

The CPRA Will Bring New Rights, Responsibilities and Regulators to California Data Privacy Law,” the National Law Review.

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Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV

Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV

Advertising

As we blogged in 2019, we are living in a connected TV (CTV) era, one in which audiences are fragmented, consuming content across multiple devices and channels. CTV provides brands with tremendous opportunity, but some confusion persists about what it is exactly. Read on to learn more about CTV, how it differs from over-the-top (OTT) TV, and how it might benefit your brand:

What exactly is connected TV?

Connected TV refers specifically to the device used to access content (e.g., devices such as Amazon Fire, Roku, and Apple TV, not to mention gaming consoles like Xbox). Andison Flores at LiftIntent explains, “CTV is anything that allows your TV to access video content through the public Internet, as opposed to traditional cable.”

Is connected TV the same as OTT?

Though CTV and OTT are often used interchangeably by marketers, brands, and even reporters, there is a distinction. As Tal Chalozin, Co-founder and CTO at Innovid, says, “OTT means you are accessing content ‘over the top’ of infrastructure providers.” For example, users might be purchasing bandwidth from a provider like Comcast. But they can go “over the top” of Comcast by buying additional content—subscribing to Hulu, say, or Netflix. Chalozin explains, “You’re using the bandwidth provider as an access layer but not as the main way you’re accessing content.” In short, OTT refers to the new breed of content providers.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) makes a handy comparison:

  1. “Use CTV when you are specifically talking about Smart TVs and streaming devices that are attached to TVs. Mobile and desktop devices are not included under the term CTV.
  1. Use OTT when it doesn’t matter which devices are included. For example, if you want to talk about ‘OTT services’ (like Hulu or TubiTV), and delivery to a particular device doesn’t matter. OTT is still a valid term that distinguishes premium television content from the vast world of online video where user-generated content is commonplace.”

Why is connected TV getting popular with viewers?

As Anna Kuzmenko, COO at BidMind by Fiksu, notes, CTV offers users the freedom to “watch whatever they want, whenever they want.” Millennials and Gen Zers in particular have “cut the cord,” eschewing the limits of linear TV viewing in favor of streaming.

Why is connected TV popular with advertisers?

Advertisers are following their audience. According to Forbes, a recent study from the Leichtman Research Group estimates that 80 percent of TV homes in the U.S. have at least one connected TV device. That number represents a steady increase from the 57 percent logged in 2015, and 24 percent in 2010.

Predictably, CTV use soared during the pandemic: Forbes also cites a Nielson report, which notes that CTV viewing exploded from 2.7 billion hours during the pre-pandemic week of March 2, to 3.9 billion hours during the weeks of March 23, March 30, and April 6. Even during the week of May 4, when stay-at-home laws eased in some states, CTV viewing remained above pre-pandemic levels at 3.5 billion hours.

These stats are good news for advertisers embracing CTV. So is the fact that CTV allows brands to reach out to specific audiences. As Forbes notes, “CTV’s targeting capabilities are the ‘holy grail’ for advertisers.” Many CTV companies use ACR, or Automated Content Recognition, which collects data that can inform programming recommendations for users and better target ads to niche groups. Although audiences in the era of connected TV may not be as huge as the linear TV days, CTV helps brands better understand and reach their niche market effectively.

And the future of CTV looks bright. Kuzmenko says, “In 2021, CTV ad spend is estimated to hit the significant sum of $10.81 billion.”

How do you set up a connected TV campaign?

The approach for now is very passive: you give a connected TV provider such as Verizon Media/Yahoo the desired demographic you want to reach, and Verizon Media/Yahoo tells you what the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) will be. Verizon Media/Yahoo manages the rest.

Note: different providers have different requirements. With Verizon Media/Yahoo, for example, you can dive in with any budget, but a $20 CPM is minimum if you want to get a reasonable amount of impressions. And as might be expected, the more targeting that you do—narrowing your demographic by city, say—the more expensive advertising is going to be.

What metrics can connected TV providers give you?

It varies. iHeart Media gives you impressions, cost, CPM and completion rates as well as some demographic results with similar KPIs. Verizon Media/Yahoo gives you impressions.

Additionally Verizon Media/Yahoo can include conversions as well based on users’ IP address, Yahoo mail receipts, and other proprietary data/tools.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to capitalize on the opportunities CTV can offer your brand? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Li Lin on Unsplash

New Report Underscores Importance of Google My Business

New Report Underscores Importance of Google My Business

Google

Software provider Moz has released its 2020 State of Local SEO industry report, and the insights are revealing. The report, which surveys the priorities of website owners across several industries, focuses on organic content, but it’s still a useful tool for advertisers. That’s because a brand’s priorities for organic content are usually a good indication of its advertising priorities; in short, the Moz report provides insights into digital marketing that can influence online advertising. Two headliners, according to Moz? Google My Business (GMB) and Maps. Read on for more details about these tools, and how they might support your business.

The Growing Importance of Google My Business

One of the big take-aways of the report is the growing influence of businesses’ GMB listings. In fact, according to Moz, businesses are increasingly viewing GMB listings as critical to their local search result rankings: “75% of marketers believe that the use of Google My Business profile features impacts rankings in the local pack.” The report recommends keeping abreast of GMB features and management, making sure details such as categories, and descriptions, are up-to-date. In short, more businesses are investing time in their GMB page, and you should, too.

Google Maps: More Than a Wayfinding Tool

Another recommendation: mind your presence on Google Maps. The report casts a spotlight on Google Maps’ rise, describing it as “a go-to tool for how consumers navigate their community.” And as consumers find their way around an area, it behooves brands to position themselves front and center. The benefits of learning the nuances of Maps, and keeping one’s map intelligence accurate, cannot be overstated.

These findings underscore how significant GMB listings and Google Maps are to businesses. Google continues to dominate the online landscape even if it is having a down year in the advertising sector.

What You Should Do

  • We recommend that you maintain a strong strategy for maximizing GMB as a platform for paid and organic content. As we have blogged here, more than half of search queries on Google result in no ensuing clicks to brand sites. That’s because users frequently find what they need on GMB pages—when businesses have taken the time to make them rich and informative, that is. Make sure your GMB page has substance, from compelling images to accurate location data. As we recommended earlier on our blog, it’s important that you link your GMB account to your Google Ads account. As Google discusses in this tutorial, linking your GMB account to your Google Ads account makes it possible for your ads to appear with location extensions, which encourage customers to visit your storefront. Through location extensions, customers can see your ads with location information such as your address. And then they can get more information about your location by clicking on location extensions.
  • We also suggest that you have a plan for maximizing Google Maps as a platform for paid and organic content. As we blog here, Google has managed to effectively accommodate advertising without corroding user experience on Maps. That’s good news for brands and users alike. A satisfied user will continue to use Google Maps—and subsequently see content, such as promotions, posted by savvy advertisers.

Note the mention of organic and paid content in both suggestions above. The rationale is this: if you are going to spend more time building up your Maps and GMB organic content, why stop there? Google makes a plethora of advertising tools available, tools that can increase your visibility even more—and attract more customers. Get to know those tools.

Contact True Interactive

Through offerings like Google My Business and Maps, Google can help your brand achieve the visibility you desire. Not sure how to make the most of these platforms? Contact us. We can help.

Amazon, Facebook, and Google Earnings: Takeaways for Advertisers

Amazon, Facebook, and Google Earnings: Takeaways for Advertisers

Advertising

The week of April 27 was especially important for the online advertising world. The three companies that account for nearly 70 percent of online ad spend – Amazon, Facebook, and Google – all announced quarterly earnings. Here was the first time advertisers would see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ad spend. And the news was better than expected.

Amazon Advertising Surges

Amazon announced a rise in quarterly revenue as people sheltering in place increasingly relied on digital to manage their lives, including purchasing products. Amazon’s Advertising service saw a 44-percent increase in revenue (advertising is included in the “other” category in Amazon’s earnings). Why did Amazon’s advertising business do so well?

  • For one thing, consumers on Amazon are searching with intent to buy. And a lot of people are searching on Amazon. According to CivicScience, 49 percent of product searches start on Amazon, versus 22 percent on Google.
  • Amazon without question became a more attractive place to find things to buy as shelter-in-place mandates took hold. According to Learnbonds.com, Amazon’s monthly unique visitors for March, 4.6 billion, easily exceeded competitors such as eBay and Walmart.
  • Amazon was prepared to help advertisers build their visibility during the surge. As we have reported on our blog, over the years, Amazon’s advertising service has developed a number of products that have served Amazon and advertisers well. Those products include Sponsored Ads, Video Ads, and Display Ads, among others.

Amazon said it will plow its profits into COVID-19-related relief activities. As CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement, “If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small. Under normal circumstances, in this coming Q2, we’d expect to make some $4 billion or more in operating profit. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Instead, we expect to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID-related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.”

Amazon’s steady development of an advertising service helped put the company in the position to be able to accommodate this expenditure.

Facebook and Google: Signs of a Turnaround

To no one’s surprise, both Facebook and Google saw a slowdown in revenue earned from online advertising, especially in March. But stock shares for both companies rose after they announced earnings. Why? Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook: More Users and Engagement

Facebook announced that even though ad revenue had dropped during the quarter, it was showing signs of turning around in April. Overall, quarterly revenue rose by $17.74 billion. As Facebook said in a statement, “After the initial steep decrease in advertising revenue in March, we have seen signs of stability reflected in the first three weeks of April.”

In addition, Facebook said that monthly active users had increased 10 percent year over year to number 2.6 billion, and engagement was up as people sheltering in place increased their use of social media.

The advertisers who maintained their spending levels during the dip in March benefitted by being present during the surge in user engagement, as we discussed on our blog.

Google: YouTube Is the Star

Meanwhile, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported quarterly revenue of $41.16 billion, a 13-percent year-over-year increase. Revenue from advertising rose 11.6 percent, with advertising from YouTube surging by 33.5 percent.

Alphabet acknowledged that online ad revenue had taken a hit because of COVID-19. But in an investor earnings call, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Ruth Porat, said that “We have seen some very early signs of recovery in commercial search behavior by users.”

Because Google is very active in the travel and retail – industries that have been rocked by the pandemic – its performance actually exceeded expectations.

As with Facebook, advertisers who maintained their levels of spending benefitted as the general population shifted its behaviors online during the first quarter. As we noted on our blog, many businesses adapted their tone and content to demonstrate empathy with ads running on Google sites such as YouTube. Those businesses positioned themselves well.

What You Should Do 

Amazon, Facebook, and Google will continue to dominate the world of online advertising for the foreseeable future. Here is what we suggest:

  • Don’t go dark. Businesses that maintained their visibility online during the March advertising downturn benefitted from the increase in online engagement. Even as states ease up their shelter-in-place orders, social distancing is not going away anytime soon. We’re living in a digital-first world now amid longer-term behavioral changes. Being present with paid media means taking a digital-first approach.
  • Mind your tone. As I blogged in March, businesses need to do a gut check on the tone of their content. Many businesses have successfully incorporated empathy into their advertising while others have changed their messaging to focus on health and safety. Taylor Hart shared some examples of successful social media advertising in this blog post.
  • Be open to different forms of engagement. It’s important that businesses be ready to adapt different forms of engagement to reflect changing user behavior. For instance, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed out during Facebook’s earnings call, livestreaming on Facebook is a more attractive alternative to live events. Moreover, Facebook had already been seeing a marked increase in use of its Messenger app before the pandemic. Héctor Ariza recently shared examples of ad products that capitalize on the popularity of Messenger. Given the increase in Facebook’s monthly average users, now is a good time to try those products.
  • Capitalize on new ad products. Google is fighting hard to protect its turf amid the rise of Amazon Advertising. The company continues to roll out new products to make the Google universe more appealing to advertisers. For instance, I recently blogged about how Google has adapted the YouTube masthead ad format for the era of connected TV. As Mark Smith discussed in December 2019, Google has been developing some impressive location-based advertising tools.

Contact True Interactive

We know how to create and manage online advertising that is appropriate for the times we are living in — don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help.

 

How Brands Can Be Meaningful during Unprecedented Times

How Brands Can Be Meaningful during Unprecedented Times

Advertising

When a disruption hits, businesses face the challenge of how to stay engaged with people in a meaningful and appropriate way. The question isn’t simply, what should they say? It’s also, how should they say it? Brands need to walk a fine line. They don’t want to launch advertising and organic content that comes across as tone deaf. At the same time, offering words of comfort, if done clumsily, might sound insincere. The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time businesses have faced this challenge, nor will it be the last. And businesses are successfully rising to the occasion.

You might already be familiar with the Ford Motor Company’s response to coronavirus, in which the brand scotched suddenly irrelevant March Madness ads and focused on the simple message that payment relief is available to customers affected by COVID-19.

Here are some additional examples of brands striking the right tone when they reach out:

Hanes: Keeping It Simple

Hanes has kept things short and sweet in social media announcements that lay out the facts: namely that the company is retrofitting some of its production facilities to make medical masks. The global apparel manufacturer, which has dedicated factories normally devoted to the production of tee shirts and sweatpants to that of masks, expects, at peak output, to manufacture approximately 1.5 million masks a week. The production switchover is certainly laudable. At the same time, it can be awkward for a brand to share this kind of news without falling prey to being sentimental or committing a or humblebrag. Hanes manages to avoid both pitfalls by sticking to the facts, even as the business demonstrates its grasp of what it means to be human: the post ends with an appeal to practice not only social distancing, but also kindness.

Budweiser: Walking the Walk

A crisis demands that we dig deep for our noblest responses, and Budweiser respects that impulse in a recently released ad. Over a piano score, the brand honors those who are stepping up in this age of COVID-19, from healthcare workers to musicians providing joy via shelter-in-place balcony serenades. But Budweiser doesn’t stop at a shout-out. In an acknowledgement that sports are currently on pause, the ad uses sports team names (e.g., Warriors and Angels) to  describe the heroes of COVID-19. Then Budweiser goes on to announce the company’s shift of sports investments to “help our heroes on the front lines/By using stadiums to host American Red Cross blood drives during the COVID-19 crisis.” Budweiser understands the power of not only naming the heroes, but being one.

Little Caesar’s: Still Open, Still Safe

Restaurants everywhere have been rocked especially hard as shelter-in-place mandates have taken hold. Unfortunately for them, confusion has often arisen as to what shelter-in-place restrictions actually mean. Is restaurant food available? And if it is, is it even safe to eat? Little Caesar’s speaks to these questions and fears in a tightly edited 15-second spot that provides reassurance on several levels. First, as opening shots of happy eaters over the years attest, Little Caesar’s encourages viewers that the pizza has always been, and continues to be, delicious and available. From there, the ad moves quickly to the promise that the pies are “never touched after [cooking]” and “available by non-contact carryout and free delivery.” Little Caesar’s knows that familiar pleasures like pizza bring solace in times of uncertainty; their ad provides comfort and practical intel in equal measure.

Jack Daniel’s: Reflecting Our Current Reality

Jack Daniel’s encourages social distancing in a recently released spot that depicts loved ones continuing to connect from afar in innovative, goofy, and moving ways (sometimes, but not always, over happy hour). In a series of vignettes set against the backdrop of Cyndi Lauper’s song “True Colors,” Jack Daniel’s manages to celebrate the resourcefulness of social humans being asked to temporarily be the exact opposite. The ad wraps up with a simple written coda: “Dear Humanity, Cheers to Making Social Distancing, Social. With Love, Jack.” Jack Daniel’s understands what we’re missing, and in reminding us of the ways we can still connect, instills hope.

Contact True Interactive

These demonstrations of support and sympathy matter. And when the crisis does eventually subside, people will carry within them a feeling of how they were treated. As you work to connect with and support your customers, during the age of coronavirus and beyond, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help.

Advertisers, Watch Your Referrals

Advertisers, Watch Your Referrals

Google

At True Interactive, we use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor and measure everything we do. And doing so includes keeping close tabs on referral traffic. Referral traffic consists of visits that come to your site from sources outside of Google’s search engine. When someone clicks on a hyperlink to go to a new page on a different website, Google Analytics tracks the click as a referral visit to the second site. Referral traffic is a recommendation from one site to visit another — like an assist from one basketball or hockey player to another leading to a score.

Referral traffic helps you understand how people find your website. With good referral data, you can understand, for instance, whether your Facebook or Instagram pages are sending traffic to your site (and how much traffic).

But you need to keep a close watch on how Google Analytics measures referral traffic in order to get a true measure. Recently, for one of our clients, we noticed that Google Analytics was reporting a sharp increase in referral traffic from payment sites such as Affirm and Paypal. When we looked under the hood, we noticed that Google Analytics was giving those payment sites credit as the referring sites for customer transactions.

Now, payment sites are essential for a transaction to occur. They make the web more seamless by making online checkout happen faster. Customers making purchases on ecommerce sites probably don’t even notice when they’re referred to a third-party payment site to complete a purchase. But that doesn’t mean Affirm or Paypal should get credit as the referring site. Affirm ensures the purchase happens easily. But Affirm becomes part of the picture after a customer has decided to make a purchase, not before.

Fortunately, we monitor Google Analytics data closely. We acted quickly by adding the third-party payment sites in question to the referral exclusion list, or a list of domains whose incoming traffic is treated as direct traffic (instead of referral traffic) by Google Analytics. We were able to course-correct quickly enough to ensure that we continue to provide our clients accurate data.

The lessons here:

  • Watch your referral traffic closely.
  • If you find a spike in referrals for third-party payment sites, take a closer look at your referral exclusion list. The payment system might be getting an inordinate amount of credit that another site should be getting credit for.

How closely do you monitor your Google Analytics data?

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising in 2020, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

How Video Ad Standards on Google Chrome Are Changing in 2020

How Video Ad Standards on Google Chrome Are Changing in 2020

Google

Get ready for a world with fewer intrusive video ads.

On February 5, Google announced that video ads deemed to be intrusive will stop appearing on Chrome beginning August 2020. Chrome will stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly show the following kinds of video ads:

  • Long, non-skippable pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that appear before a video and that cannot be skipped within the first 5 seconds.
  • Mid-roll ads of any duration that appear in the middle of a video, interrupting the user’s experience.
  • Image or text ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle 1/3 of the video player window or cover more than 20 percent of the video content.

These restrictions apply to short-form video content defined as eight minutes or less in length.

Why Google Announced a Change

You might be wondering why Google identified those specific ad formats. Google is following recommendations from the Coalition for Better Ads, the organization responsible for the Better Ads Standards that inform companies such as Google on user feedback about ads that work and ads that do not. On February 5, the Coalition for Better Ads announced the recommended changes to video ad formats based on research from 45,000 consumers globally. According to the Coalition for Better Ads:

The research found strong alignment of consumer preferences across countries and regions for the most- and least-preferred online ad experiences, supporting the adoption of a single Better Ads Standard for these environments globally. The Coalition’s Better Ads Standards identify the ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability and are most likely to drive consumers to install ad blockers. More than 100,000 consumers have participated to date in the Coalition’s research to develop its set of Better Ads Standards.

As a result, Google said that starting August 5, 2020, Chrome will stop showing such ads on sites. Google also said that it will review YouTube video content for compliance with the standards. In addition, “Similar to the previous Better Ads Standards, we’ll update our product plans across our ad platforms, including YouTube, as a result of this standard, and leverage the research as a tool to help guide product development in the future.”

Note that the standards for short-form video do not apply to other environments like feeds or over-the-top (OTT).

What You Should Do

Change is coming. It’s time to prepare:

  • Per Google, if you operate a website that shows ads, consider reviewing your site status in the Ad Experience Report. This is a tool that helps publishers understand if Chrome has identified any violating ad experiences on your site.
  • Review your YouTube game plan. YouTube will be affected by the blocking of midroll ads but not the other two types identified above.
  • Ask your ad agency how they will ensure that ads they create are compliant.

At True Interactive, we are monitoring this development closely and are well prepared to help our clients thrive in this new environment. We manage video ads all the time and understand how to ensure compliance.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising in 2020, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.