|Day's range||161.50 - 161.50|
India should set up a data regulator to oversee how companies collect, process, store, monetize and even destroy nonpersonal data (or data that has been anonymized), a panel tasked by New Delhi has recommended in a draft report. The eight-person panel said that companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber have benefited from a combination of “first mover advantage,” “sizable network effect” and “enormous data” that they have collected over the years. This dominance has “left many new entrants and startups being squeezed and faced with significant entry barriers,” said the draft report, which has been made available to industry players for consultation before it is submitted to the nation's IT ministry next month.
Google said on Monday that it plans to invest $10 billion in India over next five to seven years as the search giant looks to help accelerate adoption of digital services in the key overseas market. Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, today unveiled Google for India Digitization Fund through which the company will be making investments in the country.
Alphabet Inc's Google has offered not to use health data of fitness tracker company Fitbit to help it target ads in an attempt to address EU antitrust concerns about its proposed $2.1 billion acquisition, the U.S. tech company said late on Monday. The bid, announced in November last year, would help Google take on market leader Apple and Samsung in the fitness-tracking and smart-watch market, alongside others including Huawei and Xiaomi.
PepsiCo giant kicked off the week with solid earnings, and a major gambling market is set to reopen this week. It wasn't enough to keep stocks from turning down sharply at the end of the day as we head into earnings season.
In this episode of Industry Focus: Tech, Dylan Lewis chats with Motley Fool contributor Brian Feroldi about the latest news from Wall Street. They discuss further consolidation happening in the meal-delivery space and how it will impact the companies, restaurants, and consumers.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. shares rallied on Monday, and the advance lifted the company’s market capitalization above Microsoft Corp. for the first time in more than a year.The stock rose as much as 4.5% in its fourth straight daily advance, giving the e-commerce and cloud-computing company a valuation of about $1.66 trillion, or about $30 billion more than Microsoft’s market capitalization. According to an analysis of Bloomberg data, Amazon last exceeded Microsoft in size in February 2019.Recent gains in Amazon have come amid a growing consensus that it will be a major winner from the pandemic, which has accelerated a shift to online retail and fueled demand for cloud-computing services. Earlier, Cowen raised its price target to the highest on the Street, citing the continued “demand surge” from the pandemic, “in particular as the U.S. faces staggered and sometimes halted re-openings.”Among U.S. stocks, Amazon’s rally means it is second only to Apple Inc. in size; the iPhone maker’s market cap leads at $1.73 trillion. A rally in mega-cap tech and internet stocks has also resulted in Google-parent Alphabet Inc. eclipsing $1 trillion in market cap recently.Globally, the list is topped by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, which currently has a market cap of about $1.78 trillion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) says its Google division is going to make a big bet on India's digital growth by investing $10 billion in that country over the next five to seven years. Speaking on the company's annual Google for India webcast, CEO Sundar Pichai said, "We'll do this through a mix of equity investments; partnerships; and operational, infrastructure, and ecosystem investments." Second only to China with 500 million internet users, India is attracting massive investments from the largest U.S. tech companies.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook and Google have for years operated like shop windows for news stories, plying their billions of visitors with free snippets and information from articles across the web. An antitrust tussle that’s coming to a head in Australia is set to change that.Australia’s competition regulator will this month publish draft rules forcing the two U.S. tech giants to share revenue generated from news with the original publishers, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. A final version of the code, the first of its kind in the world, is due to follow soon after.Between them, Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have a dominant position in the online advertising market and that has been under intensifying regulatory and political assault in the U.S. and Europe, with Australia now adding another front of attack.Investors are sitting up, too. Should watchdogs in other markets follow Australia, it would chip away at two of the most wildly successful business models of the 21st century, built largely on content free-for-alls. Facebook and Alphabet have combined market values in New York of about $1.7 trillion.Read more: Europe’s Failure to Tame Google’s Dominance Is a Lesson for U.S.“This would be a major shot across the bow from a regulatory perspective,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in New York. “It could open up a Pandora’s box around monetization and sharing of data.”‘This One Matters’In an interview, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims said he knows of several counterparts overseas who are considering taking similar steps. With traditional media hemorrhaging jobs and facing an assault from populist politicians alleging fake news, the 69-year-old is swinging the pendulum back in the publishers’ favor. To Sims, it’s about more than simply forcing businesses on his beat to play fair.“This one matters because journalism matters,” he said. “The fourth estate is such a fundamental part of what makes our societies work.”Traditional media companies have long complained their content is being exploited by digital platforms without due compensation. But that’s only part of the picture.While platforms and publishers all compete for web clicks and eyeballs that can be turned into advertising revenue, they’re also allies of sorts. News stories, or even just links to them, are part of the appeal of Facebook and Google, helping them keep visitors engaged and vacuum up more data. The tech giants, in turn, direct traffic back to the publishers’ websites.‘Fundamentally Incorrect’The nature of this relationship is central to the crackdown by Australia’s competition watchdog. “There’s no doubt the net value flow is to the platforms,” said Sims. Facebook has called such an assumption “fundamentally incorrect.”In a 58-page submission to the ACCC last month, Facebook described news as “highly substitutable” content. Even a complete purge of stories in Australia, Facebook said, would make little difference. “News does not drive significant long-term commercial value for our business,” it said.Australian news organizations, meanwhile, garnered 2.3 billion clicks from Facebook’s news feed between January and May 2020, Facebook said.At Google, only a “very small” direct and indirect economic value comes from news in Google Search, Australia Managing Director Mel Silva said in a May blog post. Meanwhile, Google Search accounted for 3.44 billion visits to Australian news publishers for free in 2018, she wrote.Amid the dispute, it’s not clear what the code will cost the tech giants in Australia. That’s partly because in between the baby pictures and community group posts on Facebook, it’s almost impossible to quantify the subjective appeal of news. “I would say goodluckregulators,” Rich Greenfield, an analyst at New York-based research firm LightShed Partners, said in an email. “I have no idea how they will determine the value.”Turning TideEven Sims warns it will be “extremely hard,” but says “there are always ways to put numbers around things.” And in recent months, publishers appear to have gained ground in the argument.In April, France’s antitrust regulator ordered Google to pay media companies to display snippets of articles. Then in June, Google said it would pay certain media outlets it will feature in a yet-to-be-released news service in Germany, Australia and Brazil. Terms weren’t disclosed.Perhaps most significantly, Facebook late last year introduced a separate news section, paying the publishers whose stories were featured. Some 200 publishers were involved in the Facebook News service, some of them receiving between $1 million and $3 million a year to put articles in the section.The ACCC’s mandatory code goes further: the watchdog’s concepts paper raised the possibility of collective media boycotts of Facebook and Google in the absence of “appropriate remuneration.”In a statement, Google said it has “worked closely and constructively with news media businesses, the ACCC and the government as part of this process and will continue to do so.”Facebook “will continue to work closely with news organisations, the ACCC and the Australian government to sustain a strong news ecosystem,” said Mia Garlick, the company’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand. But she said: “A regulatory approach that lumps two tech companies together and benefits only the most powerful publishers does not do that.”Sims says he’s skeptical of Facebook’s argument that news delivers little economic value, and expects his code to start balancing the equation.“I’m not contemplating failure,” Sims said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Tencent's (TCEHY) expansion strategy to take China-based gaming firm, Leyou Technologies Holdings Ltd. private is expected to stir up competition in the video gaming space.
Alphabet Inc's Google supports a multilateral solution for taxing digital services that is under discussion by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), its chief executive Sundar Pichai told Reuters in an interview. The OECD talks involve over 100 countries on a major rewrite of global tax rules to bring them up to date for the digital era, but they have so far not produced results as the negotiations have been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. The United States has already initiated investigations of digital services taxes adopted or being considered by countries such as France, India and Turkey, saying it discriminates against U.S. tech firms.
(Bloomberg) -- Google said it plans to spend $10 billion over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in India.Sundar Pichai, who was born in the country and is now chief executive officer of parent Alphabet Inc., made the announcement at the annual Google for India event via video conference. He said the outbreak of the coronavirus has made clear the importance of technology for conducting business and for connecting with friends and family.“This is a reflection of our confidence in the future of India and its digital economy,” he said of the India Digitization Fund.The $10 billion will be invested in partnerships, operations, infrastructure, the digital ecosystem and equity investments. Google said the effort will focus on several key areas:Enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, including Hindi, Tamil and PunjabiBuilding new products and services that are relevant to India’s unique needsEmpowering businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformationLeveraging technology and artificial intelligence for social good, in areas like health, education, and agricultureGoogle, founded in 1998 in Silicon Valley, entered India six years later with offices in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Its focus at the time was search services to help people find relevant information on everything from Bollywood news to cricket scores, Pichai said.The India business has since grown into one of the company’s most important. The country now has more than 500 million internet users, second only to China, with growth that has drawn all the American technology giants.The U.S. search giant has show signs of struggling in other markets in recent months. In April, Pichai told employees in an email that Alphabet would slow hiring for the remainder of the year as it battled an advertising slowdown from the coronavirus.“The entire global economy is hurting, and Google and Alphabet are not immune to the effects of this global pandemic,” he wrote.This month, Google abandoned plans to offer a new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part due to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the pandemic, Bloomberg News reported.Meanwhile, India has seen a surge of foreign interest in its digital economy. In the past few months, investors including Facebook Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. have put about $16 billion in the digital services unit of India’s largest conglomerate, the retail-to-telecom giant Reliance Industries Ltd.Google, Facebook, Amazon.com Inc. and others are plowing billions into the market to gain users and set the foundation for future revenue growth. The country is fertile ground as the companies vie to become the gateway for first-time internet users going online to buy products, stream content, find information and make payments.In the last decade, Google has successfully launched several products in India, including a Google internet Saathi service to bring women in rural areas online and its popular Google Pay service.“This mission is deeply personal to me,” Pichai said. “When I was young, every new piece of technology brought new opportunities to learn and grow. But I always had to wait for it to arrive from someplace else. Today, people in India no longer have to wait for technology.”(Updates with additional detail from the fourth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet Inc's Google on Monday said it would spend around $10 billion (8 billion pounds) in India over the next five to seven years through equity investments and tie-ups, marking its biggest commitment to a key growth market. The investments will be done through a so-called digitization fund, highlighting Google's focus on the rapid pace of growth of apps and software platforms in India, one of the world's biggest internet services markets. "We'll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments," Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, said on a webcast during an annual "Google for India" event.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The stock market has been on a tear for the past three months, and Big Tech gets much of the credit.But how can this possibly be when the coronavirus has inflicted so much damage on the U.S. economy, with the highest unemployment since the Great Depression and gross domestic product headed into a black hole? And anyway, it's not as if tech is untethered from the economy.Yet, maybe tech isn't all that dependent on growth in the U.S. Compared to the rest of the world, and for the first time in ages, many wealthy industrialized countries are doing better -- and in some cases, much better -- than the U.S. Nations such as Japan, South Korea and Germany not only have managed to contain the pandemic, but their economies are well ahead of the U.S.'s into their re-openings. For the past five years, a small group of tech stocks has had an outsized influence on U.S. markets. Two-thirds of the gains in the S&P500 have been driven by just six U.S. companies -- Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (Alphabet) -- the so-called FAANG stocks -- and Microsoft. An index of those six stocks is up more than 62% since the March lows, while the S&P 500 is up about 40%.Overseas markets may very well be a key reason shares of the biggest U.S. tech companies are powering higher. These tech companies derive a surprisingly large share of their revenue from foreign markets. According to Standard & Poor's, companies in the S&P 500 derived 42.9% of their sales from overseas markets in 2018 (2019 data is not yet available).But this share is much higher for the big tech companies: Apple generated more that 55% of its revenue outside the U.S. in the year ended in September; in some quarters, overseas accounted for as much as 60% of revenue. International accounted for 54.5% and 53.8% of Facebook and Alphabet revenues, respectively. For Microsoft and Netflix, the split is about half domestic and half overseas (49.0% and 49.4%, respectively). Amazon is the Big Tech exception, generating a sizable majority of its revenue within the U.S.What make overseas so important, though, is because that's where the growth is. Netflix had revenue growth of 21% in 2019, but the domestic side was a laggard at just 7%. Facebook, meanwhile, now has more users in India than in the U.S., with Indonesia and Brazil growing fast. For Alphabet, Asia and Latin America have produced faster revenue growth than the U.S.It isn't a coincidence that these companies that are so reliant on the rest of the globe have seen their stock prices do well. The Covid-19 numbers suggest that much of the world is way ahead of the U.S. not only in terms of managing the pandemics, and that their economies are recovering faster.As of July 9, globally, there were more than 12 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and almost 550,000 deaths. In the U.S. those figures were 3 million confirmed cases and 132,000 deaths. This data is a report card on how well the country is managing the pandemic: The U.S. has 4.2% of the world’s population, but 25% of the infections and 24% of the deaths.And yet, even this national incompetence has worked to the advantage of the Big Tech companies. All they require of their customers is a computing device and a network connection; users are not limited by geography -- either domestically or internationally. Nor do users need to have a physical presence at an office.Some companies are well positioned to survive the pandemic lockdown, thriving during an era of remote work and social distancing. Many of these same companies are well positioned to benefit from the rest of the world’s economic recovery. As it turns out, tech companies can profit both from the U.S.'s shutdown and a recovering Europe and Asia. It is a very effective one-two punch. It explains so much of the market’s gains.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Type a query into the Google search bar on a smartphone and there's a good chance the results will be dominated by advertising.That stems from a decision in 2015 to test a fourth ad, rather than three, at the top of search results. Some employees opposed the move at the time, saying it could reduce the quality of Google’s responses, according to people familiar with the deliberations. But the company brushed aside those concerns because it was under pressure to meet Wall Street growth expectations, one of the people said.By 2016, the extra marketing slot was a regular feature. It’s one of the many ways the search leader has altered how it presents results since its early days. Another example is the pre-packaged information Google often displays in a box at the top of a page, rather than sending users to other websites. Phased in gradually over years, changes like these have gone largely unnoticed by legions of consumers who regularly turn to Google to call up information and hunt for bargains. The company says these changes support its mission to organize the world’s information and make it useful and accessible to everyone.But to many web publishers and other businesses that have historically relied on the internet giant to send users to their sites, Google's subtle tweaks have siphoned off vital traffic and made it harder -- and costlier -- to reach customers online. Debate over Google's influence is gathering intensity as U.S. regulators prepare an antitrust case against the company in what will be one of the biggest legal clashes between the government and a corporation since the U.S. sued Microsoft Corp. in 1998. Google controls about 85% of the U.S. search market, and the changes it’s made have piled pressure on businesses to pay more to appear at the top of search results. That’s already a focus of regulators. Last year, David Cicilline, head of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, asked Google if a 2004 statement from co-founder Larry Page that the company wants to get users “out of Google and to the right place as fast as possible,” still described its approach. In a written response, Google simply skipped the question.The government is wading into a complex business with many competing interests that Google must balance. Users want the best answers. Web developers need eyeballs. Shareholders demand growth. From the beginning, websites have tried to trick Google’s algorithm into feeding them traffic, and they complain when the company cracks down. However, some web developers and advertisers say this balance has swung too far in Google’s favor. In the early 2000s, the company’s search engine offered a simple deal: Produce quality information and Google will send you traffic so you can make money showing ads. Reinvest some of that cash to make better experiences, and the web will grow, giving Google more territory to explore and organize.“Our search results are the best we know how to produce. They are unbiased and objective,” Page and co-founder Sergey Brin wrote when the company went public in 2004. Ads would be few, helpful and unobtrusive, they said. This deal has been slowly changing, though. A turning point came in June 2019. That was when more than half of searches kept users on Google for the first time, rather than sending people to other sites through a free web link or an ad, according to data from digital marketing company Jumpshot.“We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden,” said Rand Fishkin, who has advised businesses on how to work with Google’s search engine for nearly two decades. “They used to be the good guys.”On smartphones, the change has been more pronounced. From June 2016 to June 2019, the proportion of mobile searches that led to clicks on free web links dropped to 27% from 40%. No-click searches, which Fishkin says suggests the user found the information they needed on Google, rose to 62% from 56%. Meanwhile, clicks on ads more than tripled, Jumpshot data show. When the search engine can give straightforward answers and save users a click, it will do that, and some sites have embraced this as a new way to gain traffic, according to Danny Sullivan, public liaison for Google’s search team. The company knows “the best information is coming from the web” and it wants to support the ecosystem, he added. Google also argues that ads keep the search service free for users and are confined to the small percentage of queries that suggest someone is looking to buy something.In some cases, Google pays to summarize other companies’ content. Sports scores are one example, according to a May 20 blog post. The company is also planning to pay select media outlets in a news service later this year. But Google doesn’t think everyone’s content is worth paying for.Mike Moloney runs FilterGrade, a marketplace for custom filters photographers use to edit their work. He gets most of his traffic from articles on his website, such as lens reviews and camera-related top 10 lists. Recently, he noticed Google pulling photos and text straight off the site and showing it at the top of search results. There’s a link to Moloney’s company at the bottom of the section, but clicking on any of the photos brings the searcher to another Google page full of shopping ads for film stock. None of these ads are related to, or benefit, FilterGrade -- unless Moloney chooses to pay Google for placement.“They’re doing a good job of making it subtle, almost like it’s an accident half the time,” Moloney said.When Moloney tweeted his frustration in April, Google's Sullivan said the company would review the practice. Several months later, the situation remained the same.It's often unclear who owns content online, especially when it's relatively easy to scrape information from one site and re-purpose it quickly on a new web page. But even when ownership is not in dispute, Google's combination of direct answers and extra ads has pushed free links to sites further down the search results page. Fishkin’s former colleague, Pete Meyers, has been testing the same list of 10,000 search terms for years. On average, users now have to scroll down twice as far to find the first organic free link, compared with 2013. “This has been the slowest but most consistent march in tech,” venture capitalist Bill Gurley wrote on Twitter last year. “If you are still holding out hope for a SEO strategy you must be intentionally ignoring all of the data in front of you,” he added, referring to search engine optimization, a popular way of improving websites to rank higher in Google’s free results. While businesses struggle to adjust, Google’s revenue and profit have surged. In 2009, the company generated sales of $24 billion and profit of $6.5 billion. Last year, parent Alphabet Inc. reported $162 billion in revenue and $34 billion in net income. The Search business alone brought in almost $100 billion in sales.Much of that growth has come from adding more ads. On mobile phones, ads now take up the entire first screen for some searches. In 2015 and early 2016, when the company tested adding a fourth ad to the top of search results, there was push-back from some employees, according to people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified discussing internal debates. The main concern was that the fourth ad was often lower quality than the first free web link right below, one of the people said. Google dismissed those worries and went ahead with the fourth ad slot because it was under pressure to keep revenue and profit growing to meet analysts’ expectations, this person added.Google said it removed an ad slot on the side of the page when it added the fourth ad on top, leading to a lower number of overall ads for “highly commercial queries.” Fewer than 2% of all searches result in four or more text ads on the first page, according to the company.Kevin Hickey, chief executive officer of Online Stores Inc., said these changes have forced him to spend more on Google search ads to keep traffic flowing to his e-commerce businesses. More than a decade ago, about two-thirds of Hickey’s Google traffic came from free, or organic, listings. But as Google increased ad slots to the top of results, that mix flipped. Organic results account for about 20% of visitors to his sites now, and he spends about 10% to 15% of his revenue on Google ads. He has raised prices, but his profit margins have shriveled. “The prices that consumers are paying are now higher because of Google’s business model,” Hickey said.Google doesn’t have a responsibility to pad the bottom lines of for-profit businesses. But one of the internet’s most beloved not-for-profit services has been caught up in this, too.Wikipedia pages were some of the first that Google mined to answer search queries directly. The company would often fail to credit the digital encyclopedia clearly, leaving Wikipedia managers wondering if they were Google partners or simply bystanders, according to a person familiar with the situation. The concern inside Wikipedia is that its relevance will slip away the more its content is read in other places. The thousands of volunteers who write and edit the site’s articles may stop contributing if they see their hard work benefiting a trillion-dollar corporation instead of a non-profit, this person said. They asked not to be identified to preserve their relationship with Google. “We regularly consider the impact of third-party use of Wikipedia’s information, especially as the public increasingly consumes content outside our sites,” a Wikipedia spokeswoman said. “We’ve worked with Google over the years to improve the way they credit content from Wikipedia in the knowledge panel so that the public clearly knows when they’re reading information from Wikipedia.” For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump uses Facebook like a Swiss Army knife -- to raise money, amplify his message, and mobilize voters. His rival, Joe Biden, uses the increasingly controversial social platform primarily to stick his hand out for donations.As he did in 2016, Trump is taking advantage of the social media giant’s granular knowledge of its users’ interests to target specific ads to specific people, and is doing so much more often than Biden. This “micro-targeting” allows Trump to tap into Facebook’s unique ability to rally his base of voters, who he needs to motivate as he trails Biden in most election polls.Since entering the presidential contest in April 2019, Biden has spent $21 million on Facebook ads compared to $33 million for Trump over the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But the two campaigns are spending the money very differently.On Friday, people familiar with the company’s thinking said Facebook was considering banning political ads ahead of the U.S. election, but for now it still allows candidates to narrowly target voters using its data.Micro-targeting is using all the data social networks have on a user, from location to political leaning to what brands they buy, to generate the perfect ad.Twitter Ad BanGoogle has limited how political campaigns can target voters using its digital ad sales platform, and Twitter has banned campaign ads altogether. Twitter said it did so because of the potential for ads to spread misleading information, while Google said its policy means ads are more widely viewed and available for public discussion like ones airing on television and radio are.Facebook has also taken only limited steps to ban hate speech that infiltrates some users feeds, which has led some large companies like Unilever NV, Coca-Cola Co. and Starbucks Corp. to temporarily pull their ad dollars from the site.Users can be targeted based on all kinds of information, including search and travel history. And the ads can be tweaked over time to make them more effective. The Trump campaign does constant testing of its ads and makes small changes on a daily basis.Through the morning of July 8 Biden’s campaign had bought about 23,000 distinct ads on the platform compared to more than 489,000 for Trump, according to a Bloomberg analysis of data made available by Facebook. About 68% of the president’s ads are seen fewer than 1,000 times compared to 34% for Biden, suggesting much more specific micro-targeting by Trump’s campaign.Petition DrivesBiden’s campaign is focused on raising money and attacking Trump. So far he hasn’t used Facebook to hone his message or mobilize supporters, but he’s included appeals to sign petitions, which help him build up his list of email contacts, and to donate. Recent pitches asked for 2.5 million supporters to take a stand against Trump’s “hatred, division and calls for violence” by signing an online petition.Offering less variation in his Facebook ads could hurt Biden’s efforts to reach the voters he needs, said Damon McCoy, director of the Online Political Ads Transparency Project and a professor at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. “It’s probably causing them to be less effective,” he said, because the campaign isn’t getting the same level of audience feedback.Trump’s campaign used Facebook in February to motivate voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, even as he was virtually unopposed in those state’s Republican nominating contests. The campaign put out almost 1,200 ads, which included links to find caucus or polling locations, that were seen between 1.4 million and 2.8 million times.Voter TurnoutTrump ran away with both contests, getting support of 97% of caucus-goers in Iowa and turning out 2.6 times more voters in New Hampshire than Barack Obama, another incumbent without a serious primary challenger, did in 2012. Trump used the outcome as evidence of the strength of his support.According to Facebook, which provides data on impressions, cost and other metrics in broad ranges, the total cost of the messaging was between $18,800 and $139,406.The focus on targeted ads likely helped Trump gain a big lead in early fund-raising, according to Will Bunnett, a principal at the progressive digital ad agency Clarify. But Trump may have another advantage over Biden in using the platform, he said, because of the way Facebook’s algorithm puts ads in front of people who’ll interact with them, often by getting riled up.“The easiest way to get people to interact with your ads is to get them mad about something,” Bunnett said. “Facebook is a pretty natural fit for him in a way that it might not be for Joe Biden.”Trump’s PreoccupationsA senior Trump campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the campaign was constantly testing “thousands upon thousands” of ads so voters “are hearing the facts about this president.”The Biden campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.Some of Trump’s Facebook ads reflect his rhetoric and preoccupations.There are more than 50,000 ads mentioning “impeachment,” preceded by the word “bogus” more than 1,000 times, followed by “witch hunt” more than 4,000 times. About 40,000 ads refer to “fake news.”Old campaign themes like “build the wall” and “drain the swamp” mingle with concerns about Antifa, a loosely-defined left-wing movement Trump said was involved in the June street protests, and which appears in more than 2,000 ads. Attacks on calls to “defund the police” have been in 715 ads so far, since the term made its debut in a June 19 fund-raising pitch.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- India needs a new data regulator to oversee the sharing, monetization and privacy of information collected online, an expert committee appointed by the government has recommended.In a 72-page report seen by Bloomberg News, the eight-person panel said that “market forces on their own will not bring about the maximum social and economic benefits from data for the society” and identified key issues that a new regulator would have to tackle. It would have to ensure that all stakeholders follow rules, provide data when legitimate requests are made, evaluate risks of re-identification of anonymized personal data and also help level the playing field for businesses, the report advised.The document named U.S. giants Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google as the beneficiaries of first-mover advantages and network effects that have “left many new entrants and start-ups being squeezed and faced with significant entry barriers.” The regulator’s envisioned role in facilitating data sharing would be to lessen these effects and also spur innovation, economic growth and social wellbeing.As countries around the world from the U.K. to China tighten data protection within their borders, India is moving to draft and reinforce policies governing its burgeoning digital economy. It already has a bill for governing the use of personal data, and this latest report recommends adding the non-personal data regulator via legislation as well.Non-personal data refers to information that does not include any details such as name, age or address that could be used to identify an individual. It also comprises data that was initially personal but later aggregated and made anonymous.The rules proposed in the report would govern collection, analysis, sharing, distribution of gains, as well as the destruction of data. This is with the goal of providing certainty for existing businesses and incentives for the creation of new ones, so as to tap the “enormous” social and public value from data, the report said.The committee recommended creating a new “data business” classification for those firms that collect, process, store, or otherwise manage data. Those may include health, e-commerce, internet and technology services companies, many of whom were consulted by the committee prior to the drafting of the report. Data businesses are envisaged as encompassing various industry sectors. “The compliance process will be lightweight and fully digital,” the report said.“Just like the economic rights to natural resources arising from a community are considered to primarily belong to it, the value of social resources of Community Non-Personal Data should primarily accrue to it (instead of the default whereby data custodians take up the entire value of such data),” the report said.The committee’s head Kris Gopalakrishnan, who co-founded IT services company Infosys Ltd., as well as Debjani Ghosh, president of NASSCOM, the IT services industry trade group, declined to comment.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) relies heavily on advertising revenue, but has expanded its business into the growing cloud computing market, where IBM (NYSE: IBM) also plays. The cloud is an exciting segment, but that didn't help these tech titans avoid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. IBM was well on its way to repositioning its business around cloud computing services when the pandemic struck.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- What was a turbulent enough week for TikTok turned downright bizarre on Friday.Already, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned that the Trump administration was looking at banning the short-video platform owned by Beijing-based parent ByteDance Ltd. over data-privacy concerns, and President Donald Trump himself said he was considering banning TikTok as one way to retaliate against China over the coronavirus. Then things got worse when Amazon.com Inc. on Friday sent an email to employees telling them to delete the TikTok app from mobile devices they use to access company email, citing “security risks.”The bizarre part happened just hours after that, when Amazon issued a statement saying the it had sent the email to its employees “in error” and there was no change in their policies toward TikTok. All clear? Not quite. For soon after Amazon corrected the record on its TikTok policy, Wells Fargo & Co. confirmed a report from the Information that the bank had told employees to delete the app from work phones because of “concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices.”For sure, the company dodged a bullet when it comes to Amazon. But it is unknown whether the e-commerce giant intends to resend a similar email on TikTok policy in the future; clearly, someone drafted something. And the government threats remain. Not only that: The prospect of a potential ban has brought widespread anxiety to the TikTok community. In recent days, many creators posted tearful “goodbye” videos, with some asking their viewers to follow their accounts on other platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. What has been a slow boil of troublesome developments risks cascading into a full-blown public relations crisis. Whether or not the security concerns are justified or the motivations political, TikTok can and should do a lot more to address them and take more control of the narrative. TikTok’s responses, thus far, have been low-key. The company has said it keeps its user data in the U.S. with backups in Singapore and has never provided data to the Chinese government. On Friday, in response to the initial Amazon news, it said in a statement that “user security is of the utmost importance” to TikTok, adding it hadn’t heard from Amazon about its concerns and looks forward to a “dialogue so we can address any issues” the tech giant may have. A more proactive response is in order, and here are some things TikTok can do. First, statements aren’t enough. Where is TikTok’s CEO? Earlier this year, ByteDance hired former Walt Disney Co. executive Kevin Mayer to head up TikTok. You’d think the veteran media executive would be the perfect ambassador to help tamp down concerns. He needs to get out there and explain TikTok’s side of the story, whether in interviews to print press or on TV. He should know the basics of crisis management and PR strategy, following his long tenure in the upper ranks of a U.S. entertainment giant.Second, the Wall Street Journal on Thursday said ByteDance was considering making changes to its corporate structure, including the creation of a new management board for TikTok or designating a new headquarters for the company outside of China. While it won’t make a huge difference as TikTok will be still owned by the China-based ByteDance, both are easy, low-hanging-fruit-type moves that would at least give the appearance of more autonomy. They should go ahead and announce the changes as soon as possible. It also wouldn’t hurt to remind the public of TikTok’s growing U.S. workforce.And finally, TikTok needs to forcefully defend itself against the Trump administration’s conjecture and allegations. Yes, it’s a bit of a tricky situation as any pushback can backfire if not done tactfully, but the company can’t afford not to respond. Further, it should hire an external, independent consulting firm to do a full security audit. Anything to assuage the security and privacy concerns would help as the pressure isn’t going away. Late Friday, Fox Business’s Charlie Gasparino reported the White House is looking at using the Committee on Foreign Investment review as possible way to ban TikTok by saying its prior acquisition of Musical.ly was illegal. ByteDance has been under review by the interagency committee in the U.S. for its 2017 purchase of the lip-synching startup.In many ways, TikTok’s situation is similar to the public relations frenzy over Zoom Video Communications Inc. in early April. At the time, the video-conferencing company — whose service had seen an unprecedented surge from business customers and other entities looking to connect under lockdown — faced an avalanche of scrutiny over its security and privacy practices, including its use of Chinese servers. In response, CEO Eric Yuan proactively made himself available for numerous media interviews and helped restore his company’s reputation. He conducted weekly webinars, hired security experts and did whatever it took to educate the public that fears concerning his company’s products were overblown and that Zoom had taken concrete steps to address the issues. The strategy appears to have worked, as Zoom has managed to both retain customers and attract more to its platform.TikTok should take note and do the same. Hunkering down and doing the bare minimum is not a great strategy.(The third paragraph of this column was updated to include information about Wells Fargo’s ban of the TikTok app on its employees’ work phones.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google is changing its policies next month to restrict advertising for spyware and other unauthorized tracking technology.The change “will prohibit the promotion of products or services that are marketed or targeted with the express purpose of tracking or monitoring another person or their activities without their authorization,” according to the company.While ads for these products already violate Google’s Enabling Dishonest Behavior policy, the change will make the ban on tracking technology explicit and lead to increased enforcement, a company spokeswoman said.The policy will prohibit advertisements of spyware and malware “that can be used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history,” according to Google. It will also ban ads for “GPS trackers specifically marketed to spy or track someone without their consent” and of cameras or recorders “marketed with the express purpose of spying.”The new policy will be implemented globally on Aug. 11, and the accounts of advertisers that violate it will be suspended, according to Google.(Updates with comments from Google spokeswoman in the third paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. is considering imposing a ban on political ads on its social network in the days leading up to the U.S. election in November, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking.The potential ban is still only being discussed and hasn’t yet been finalized, said the people, who asked not to be named talking about internal policies. A halt on ads could defend against misleading election-related content spreading as people prepare to vote. Still, there are concerns that an ad blackout may hurt “get out the vote” campaigns, or limit a candidate’s ability to respond widely to breaking news or new information.This would be a big change for Facebook, which has so far stuck to a policy of not fact-checking ads from politicians or their campaigns. That’s prompted criticism from lawmakers and advocates, who say the policy means ads on the platform can be used to spread lies and misinformation. Civil rights groups also argue the company doesn’t do enough to remove efforts to limit voter participation, and a recent audit found Facebook failed to enforce its own voter-suppression policies when it comes to posts from U.S. President Donald Trump.Facebook shares briefly dipped after Bloomberg‘s report, before recovering to close Friday at a record $245.07. Hundreds of advertisers are currently boycotting Facebook’s marketing products as part of a protest against its policies.Ad blackouts before elections are common in other parts of the world, including the U.K., where Facebook’s global head of policy, Nick Clegg, was once deputy prime minister. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.Facebook is an important platform for politicians, especially at a time when many people are stuck at home and campaign rallies pose potential health risks due to the coronavirus. In 2016, Trump used Facebook ads and the company’s targeting capabilities to reach millions of voters with tailored messaging, a strategy that some believe helped win him the election.Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former top security executive, said Friday that any political ad ban could benefit Trump. “Eliminating online political ads only benefits those with money, incumbency or the ability to get media coverage,” he tweeted. “Who does that sound like?”Democratic political operatives were quick to criticize the idea of a temporary ad blackout. Rob Flaherty, digital director for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign, suggested the potential ad ban was not a sufficient solution to misinformation. “Under this proposal the President could use organic posts to suppress voting by mail (as he did today), but Democrats could not run ads encouraging people to return their mail ballots,” he tweeted.Nell Thomas, chief technology officer for the Democratic National Committee, was also skeptical. “We said it seven months ago to @Google and we will say it again to @Facebook,” she tweeted. “A blunt ads ban is not a real solution to disinformation on your platform.”Spokespeople for the Biden and Trump campaigns didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee.Political advertising is a very small part of Facebook’s business. In the past 90 days, Trump and Biden have spent a combined $29.2 million on ads, according to the company’s self-reported data. In contrast, Facebook generated more than $17 billion in its latest quarter.Political advertising has been a complicated issue for online platforms, and many of them have taken different approaches. Twitter Inc. has banned most political ads, but still sells some “cause-based” ads that touch on economic, environmental or social issues. Google’s YouTube has already sold ad space on its homepage to the Trump campaign for the days leading up to November’s election -- a deal that ensures Trump will be highly visible on the video service when people start to vote.In 2016, Russian operatives used Facebook to spread misleading and divisive ads and posts. The company has made a series of changes since then to tighten up its political ad process, including the implementation of stricter requirements for buying marketing spots and the addition of a searchable ad archive.(Updates with comments from Biden digital director in the eighth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Google announced its plans to acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion back in November. As of this writing, the deal has yet to go through, courtesy of all the usual regulatory scrutiny that occurs any time one large company buys another. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Reuters notes that Google may be facing down some scrutiny in the form of an EU antitrust investigation if it doesn’t make some concessions.