The following column was originally published June 26, 2016 in The Gazette.
It’s been an interesting few weeks for digital marketing and the post privacy world. News stories that would have had privacy advocates up in arms a couple of years ago barely raised a murmur.
From Facebook tracking your store visits to the proposed marriage of Microsoft and LinkedIn, the normalization of connectedness, even unsolicited connectedness, seems complete.
Work Marketing by Microsoft
Microsoft’s announcement that it will purchase LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion grabbed plenty of headlines, of course. More than a few people scratched their heads over the enormous price tag and fretted about Microsoft’s poor acquisition track record, but few seemed to worry about potential encroachment issues. In fact, the only echo of privacy concerns I caught was a tweet extending ironic condolences to all those Microsoft employees actively seeking employment through LinkedIn. Oops.
Truly, my imagination runs amok when I think about LinkedIn’s core mission as a professional networking site being synced up with day-to-day tools of office productivity by Microsoft. Will “MinkedIn” recruiters be able to poach the competition’s talent with laser focused targeting, department by department? Or will they be able to verify if the title on your resume really matches your current role? Perhaps a performance review algorithm for premium customers? Resume inflators beware….
And Holy Captive Audience, Batman! Will the MinkedIn connection lead to corporate advertising in the workplace? Will Viagra sponsor your next GoToMeeting? Might Pepsi present Project Manager Pete’s next PowerPoint? Email pre-roll? Will there be a jingle? Now this is being written more than a bit sarcastic, and I’m not saying this is actually how things will actually shake out but still, this marketing mind does boggle a bit at the potential.
Facebook Foot Traffic Tracking
For the folks at Facebook, convincing clients that their paid ads really deliver ROI has always been a challenge. Particularly for brick-and-mortar businesses wondering if those social media ads are really influencing anyone, Facebook’s new Local Awareness ads will provide more information about how social media ads affect consumer behavior than ever before.
Using the location features on your phone, Facebook can now track how many consumers actually visited the store after seeing an ad for your business their social media feed. Marketers, under tremendous pressure to show their social media campaigns are actually working, will have one more data point in their arsenal. According to Facebook, businesses will not receive identifying information about the individual visitors so consumers can’t be bombarded with messages just because they visited a store.
As if to further emphasize the almost total immersion the internet has achieved in our daily lives, as a necessity of life even, a federal appeals court this month ruled that access to high-speed internet services should be treated as a utility. As such, internet service providers (ISPs) cannot charge one customer more for faster internet service just because they can afford to pay for a better connection. Expect the court battle to continue, but what’s interesting about this case is that it demonstrates that internet service – once a luxury -- is now considered as important as water, electricity and any other utility.
Will the shake-ups continue? Probably. Just last week Twitter invested in SoundCloud, a music sharing and streaming platform. As the online landscape matures, some predict a tech-buying spree. With each shake up, business will need to evaluate their marketing strategies and tactics. Stay tuned. Our connected society will continue to evolve.