Part 1 Video Starts 0:13 - Vendasta buys MatchCraft, Business required vax shows path, TLDR bill requires TOS simplification
Part 2 Video- Starts 6:09 - Despite Supreme Court decision the Covid path forward for business is clear: requiring vaccinations
Part 3 Video- Starts 15:37 - TLDR bill attempts to make TOS clear, will it matter?
- Vendasta Buys MatchCraft to Accelerate Ad Offering
- 3,000 United Airlines Employees Have Coronavirus, But Zero Are Hospitalized
- 'TLDR' Bill: Making Terms Accessible
Transcript:Greg: Ep 47
Welcome back everybody to the Near Memo. As Mike said, just a few moments ago before we began, this is season two, episode two or Episode 47 of our now venerable podcast where we talk about search social and commerce and the interaction and intersection of those. And I'm here with Mike and David as always.
And we're going to start today with a a significant deal in the local space. Vendasta acquired very long lived PPC platform, advertising platform Matchcraft. And so, David, what were your thoughts on that?
David: Yeah. Interesting announcement. For those of you who aren't familiar Vendasta is essentially, I would describe them as an app store for agencies.
Greg: that's a good description. That's not how they started out, but that's a good description.
David: So they essentially operate a marketplace where agencies can kind of roll their own bundles of services. And, they work with a lot of, not just agencies, but traditional media companies, I think make up a decent chunk of their, their customer base.
So those companies who are trying to sort of transition from like a legacy of print or other advertising types in. Digital marketing. And so they've got everything from, you know, website builders to email marketing, social ads, and they made their bones in the local listing space way back when, in the late, late aughts.
And so now they've added Matchcraft, which is a, as we are talking about before in the greenroom, as it were, before the show, Matchcraft has been around forever paid search box. That Greg said was founded in 1998, same year as Google. So they essentially are one of the, I wouldn't say there's a ton of vendors left actually that, that enable agencies and media companies to push geo-targeted ad campaigns at scale.
I think it's a pretty natural fit for Vendasta in terms of a product that their agency customers need and will use quite a bit. I do wonder, I haven't been in the Vendasta marketplace in a couple of years at this point, probably. I do wonder if there's going to be any sort of competition issues, in terms of do they already have tools in their marketplace that provide a similar offering to MatchCraft?
So that's the one sort of outstanding question that I would have, but I think from, from Vendasta, even just access to the, the existing Matchcraft customer base and the opportunity to upsell them, beyond just this, you know, paid search platform, I think is pretty interesting. I'm not particularly bullish on the future of non Google smart campaigns or not non LSAs, as an ad product.
But I think that the, the customer base alone is an interesting play for Vendasta to me. I think all of us have, you know, relatively, I don't know if they're industry friends, but certainly long time acquaintances who, who we admire and respect on both sides of the deal. And I'm really happy for both companies in that regard.
Mike: How do you think that Vendasta will handle the enterprise client base that Matchcraft brings to the mix? I mean, as opposed to it's a very different client base than what Vendasta is historically.
Greg: I don't know.
David: That's true. I agree. I don't think that's necessarily true. I think that.
Greg: It's I think that, I think that it's a very compatible acquisition because what Matchcraft has done for the last, you know, many years has, has been to sell to media companies that are trying to sell small business customers, advertising products, digital advertising products, and Modesta is doing a very similar thing with its, with its partners as David described.
So I think that. There's a, it's not Reese's peanut butter cup. Exactly. But some, some compatible you know, mix of services there and what Brendan king said. And, you know, I did a short Q and a interview with him. That's up on the site. And our analysis section, what Brendan king said is that, you know, they, they, they're trying to be the solution for small businesses, for their customers to enable small businesses to do kind of a complete version of digital marketing.
And they were really only offering organic. I mean, they did have some paid products. But not natively. And so they were really only offering an organic sweet. And so this gives them a very complimentary set of tools, which extend beyond Google, into, you know, social channels and, and others. And so I, I think it's it's, you know, execution is always the key, but I think it just in theory, it's a really good incompatible, you know, pairing.
David: Yeah. And I'll say one thing, you know, in my experience talking to. Some of these traditional media companies. I mean, they have, their entire existence has been selling advertising to small businesses, not marketing. And I think that there's a, you know, there is that hurdle to get over of, Hey, there's, there's a, there's a set of deliverables that you can do over here that are equity building and not a one-time transaction that actually have, you know, considerable value and a lot of appeal to small businesses based on some of the surveys we've seen, like, you know, the call real survey and others.
And so I think that this as a, you know, sort of getting, getting in with these customers on a product that they already know how to sell. I think is a really smart move. I think it's a, it's like a, an easier entree. when you're, when you have a good solution around advertising, which these companies know how to sell versus the other way around, starting them out with a listings product and a website product, and then trying to layer on ads is actually, I think.
Sell for some of these media companies. So,
Greg: all right, well, so, let's, let's move on to another important topic, which is the kind of state of COVID, which we still are dealing with, you know, two, two years out. and this week, I believe it was yesterday, Mike, the, the Supreme court as expected, struck down the mandatory vaccine mandate for large employers.
Uh, but maintained it for healthcare workers. And you had some thoughts on, on what the goal , moves should be for businesses.
Mike: So I have two stories. I want to give a little bit in context, I live in a very rural area with a very low vaccination rate. We're just past 50% high, heavy Trump country. 65% voted for Trump.
So it's a very Republican area and New York state passed an indoor mask mandate last month with fines, supposedly enforced by the local health authority. A book to a thousand dollars, if businesses did not enforce it. And our local county the chairman proclaimed loudly and in public and the press that the county was not going to be enforcing on these, these unfunded mandates.
I'm not sure what's unfunded about it all, you know? Whatever they weren't going to be enforcing it. So I do business with a local grocery store or was, and told them I wasn't going to be able to come back in until he required masking of his employees, which was happening at the other grocery stores, which he did do once this mandate came into play, he has seen it and has written letters to the editor, tremendous conflict around this.
I was there the other night, not tremendous conflict, but conflict. I was there the other night. He is actively engaged in. There's a masking mandate. And with the way they do it, which I thought was interesting is the, yeah. When you go in the store, you have to walk by the service desk at the service desk, see somebody that's not masked.
They then call a management team who comes with masks in hand and they meet up with the people and they offer them free masks of which 98% of the people. 99%, whatever big number. And these guys were inevitably polite, gentle, and kind. I thought it was amazing watching them do this in practice. And then though I could hear on the other side of the store and an argument, the argument got closer and closer and it was a working class guy who was arguing vociferously that his Liberty and freedoms did not require that he wear a mask.
And he was shouting at these two young managers and shouting at the cashier and storming out of the store. And it was stressful, you know, for me, for the employees, but it was interesting. I mean, the business had done what they needed to do to make the employees safe. And me safe as a customer to the point where I'm shopping and it costs them at least one customer that I saw and I was there and it was stressful, their employees and their customers.
So there's that. And then there's a story about United airlines this week, where 3000 of their employees are currently sick with COVID of their 47,000 employees. So that's a pretty big number, a percent or something. And yet they have a vaccination requirement and before they had the vaccination requirement, they were losing one employee losing in the sense of death.
One employee a week, their deaths have dropped to zero and over the last several weeks, they've had no hospitalizations. And so when I take a look at these. The Supreme court decision, which I think is largely irrelevant to most rational businesses. It's like, and I look at what United has done. And I look at the situation I ran into last night.
To me, the path for business forward has to be, has always been rigorous sanitary standards, enforced. Requirements of vaccines for them to play. I don't, you know, and, and so the companies that went to the Supreme court, the national Federation of independent businesses, you know, all they're looking to do is exploit low cost labor and minimize costs.
But ultimately the costs are too high. The fact that United had so few employees in the hospital, and yes, there was some temporary disruption of flights, but the real cost is, is, is death. And I think that businesses ultimately have no alternative. And they're going to have to face this reality that they're going to have to require vaccinations of their employees, where the government does or doesn't, and it's the only rational way forward.
And I think United's experience demonstrates that.
David: We talked about this early on, but to my mind, you know, the, you talked about, okay, the cost of losing, you know, this one customer in the grocery store, there's a huge silent majority of customers that these businesses are missing out on myself included, by not requiring vaccines and masks in order to enter.
and I think the airlines are number one. I can't tell you the number of times that we would have , this year, including on our Christmas vacation via plane, if the airlines did require a vaccine in order to fly. so I'm not sure why United I do credit them for this, you know, employee decision.
I'm not sure why they don't take it one step further. Vaccine mandates are broadly popular or something like 65%. Approval ratings. And so I actually think that they're missing out on a huge chunk of customers by catering to a vocal minority.
Greg: I think it's, I think it's politics. And I think it's fear that, you know, people will flee to other airlines that aren't requiring these, that aren't, that, that don't have these rules.
I mean, I agree with you, the, the right thing to do the moral position is to, is to have a vaccine requirement. I mean, it, it exists in virtually every business, every restaurant that I, you know, I was recently in Berlin for. every restaurant we went into had a vaccine requirement. We had to show the cards.
It was no big deal. you know, and, in, in France, I mean sort of famously they're, they're trying to socially ostracize anti-vaxxers, which is kind of a controversial shame and ostracize people who had refused to get vaccinated. But I think the. Th this region is larger philosophical questions about what do we owe to each other in a society?
You know, I mean, the right has a completely misguided view of what Liberty and freedom are. you know, the idea that that I don't owe anything to anybody else around me and everything is my decision. Is it completely ignorant, and, and destructive,
Mike: he shouted that the guy in Mike has ration shouted something to them.
Greg: Probably, you know, that's some, some right-wing talking point that, that everybody seems to pair it. Know. Interestingly,
Mike: I, when this first occurred in our county, I looked up the light, the history of life, Liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And Thomas Jefferson originally wrote a P a C property preservation of life.
Uh, not just life, but protection of life and protection of property where we're part of that. But protection of life was comes before Liberty and you know, in a situation where the government and society wants to do that, it's hard to think that Liberty can supercede life, right? The no harm principle is pretty clear in all of religion and philosophy and love thy neighbor sort of stuff.
Even Christian theology, it's integrated really baked in. And yet, somehow, like you say, this idea of Liberty at an individual levels. Well, I mean, this
Greg: is, this is, this is a college course on what is it? What is freedom? And what is Liberty? I took her, I took a class in college called you know, politics and freedom, and it was a really comforting.
Class with a lot of heavy duty stuff in it. And,
Mike: you know, we can take the Federalist papers to try to understand what they really were thinking. So I don't know. I'll see you
Greg: back next week. I think, I think, yeah, we can have a special session on the federal today.
David: We have to start a spinoff podcast at this point on the Federalist papers or intersect intersecting with local search.
But yeah, that's right.
Greg: Okay. All right, moving on. So, so, speaking of speaking of well, I'm not
Mike: going to, yeah. Search is not independent of all these bigger questions in our society, in her life. And it's where the rubber meets the road now too many cases. Right. Right. And that's my point is that businesses need to do what you say, David, if the government isn't going to do it, then businesses will be forced to.
And it's the only, the only ethical and moral. Reasonable business course
Greg: forward. Well, I mean, it's absolutely crazy that these sort of battles have to play out on an individual basis. You know, that store managers and employees have to contend with people who could very easily become violent. I mean, you know, there have been violent incidents of people coming back with weapons or, or physically.
Uh, people who, who try to enforce these mandates and, and, you know, this guy was verbally violent that's for sure. Yeah. But I mean, these days you just have no idea who you're dealing with. And so that guy could come back 15 minutes later with a gun and shoot, shoot the place up. I mean, that's, that's entirely possible in the world today and it's really.
Now that's a pretty horrific kind of scenario, but aren't you glad
Mike: we didn't end on COVID.
Greg: Yes. Yes. So, so I wanna talk about the new, I wanna talk about the new TLDR terms of service, a bill. I don't know what the formal name of it is working its way through Congress. It's not yet in a position to be signed into law, but there's apparently a high degree of bipartisan support.
The idea is to simplify terms of service, these sort of clinics. Contracts boilerplate contracts that go on for pages and pages with fine print that everybody just clicks right through. Next next agree, agree, agree. And nobody reads because it's sort of pointless and you have no bargaining power with it, et cetera.
And so the proposal is to sort of, create a version of Apple's privacy nutrition label with essential terms in a kind of easy to understand very prominent place. And I think that that's very, very good. Yeah. there are a couple of kind of caveats. One would be, D is it going to matter?
Meaning will people make different choices if they see that stuff? And, this is a point I think, made by Tector an article on this topic that appears in tech dirt, the real issues are our competition and alternatives, right? So we do want to surface important terms so that people can understand them, but if people have no alternatives in the market or, or effectively.
What does it, what does it matter?
Mike: Yeah. And even with apples labels, they're not highly visible when you go to download an app, they're below the fold. And so it's not just having information there. It's having it there readily visible right before you're ready to make that click where you can get that information in a summarized way.
And then a choice. But, I mean, if somebody, without without a privacy context for any of it, it's all kind of, it's all kind of, but
David: even beyond that, I feel like a lot of these terms are on sites that we really don't have a choice, but to use like our insurance carrier in our bank and our, you know, whatever things yeah, exactly.
Things that we need in our everyday lives. And, you know, I don't know that clearer terms. Get us to say, well, I'm not gonna not going to deposit my check today because you're going to be, you know, sending that information to Equifax or whatever. So, right. I know that I was going to do it. I think,
Greg: I think sort of on balance, it's better for people to have simple access to this information, sort of all other things aside.
So this is a good impulse and a good, a good However, I think it will have limited, very limited impact in the, in the real world, because I think people just are compelled. You know, this goes back to this whole issue of trust that we talked about a couple of weeks ago, you know, more and more people distrust the services that they use every single day, but they continue to use them because they're effectively locked in, in one form or another.
Mike: Well, if you take a look at. Which is an example of a private, you know, people's medical, privacy is supposed to be guaranteed where you effectively have to sign away privacy. Every time you go to the doctor, otherwise you can't get the services at some level. It just shows you that even a framework for privacy often doesn't work because of the pressures against, right.
So it's like, you know, I don't, I don't know how many HIPAA giving away, you know, Greta to share information forms. I had to sign just to get basic health. So even if there were a more stringent privacy environment, David's point may still be a problem in that you have to get the service. You may still have to give them up, given the amount of power, the various players in this context to have at the
Greg: You know, I mean, there was a, there was I think PR this week that, duct taco had crossed I forget the precision searches. Yeah. Which
Mike: is in a day
Greg: or a week. Yeah. Nothing, nothing really compared to Google, but it indicates that there is now some momentum and people are, are starting to consciously make alternative choices, for, for rational reasons like, like privacy.
So, you know, for some percentage of the population, this might be meaningful, but for the mainstream, it probably, it probably isn't, but it's still good to have this information. More information is. In a digestible format. So David, would you change your behavior based on this this kind of idea if you had, if you were confronted by some really objectionable terms on this,
If it was something that I was trying for the first time, just to see what it was like, then, you know, I might decline to try that out, but, in most cases, these are just. Sir. And most of the worst cases. Anyway, these are essential services. I mean, Mortgages being probably the worst offender. I mean, they share your information with absolutely everybody, but what are you going to do when you're, you know, you, you need to sign the papers and, and you just have to agree to the terms.
You're not going to shop your mortgage around to somebody else at the last minute, so well, and nobody,
Greg: and nobody really has any different terms, you know, substantially different. I mean, that's, that's the Mo that's the ultimate example of, of not reading a contract. Right? I mean, I was a little. For you know, practicing for almost 10 years.
And we, we refinanced recently, not that long ago, and you know, the guy shows up at your house or the woman, the notary, and they've got some stack of like, you know, 300 pages or whatever it is. It's very thick and it's like, sign here, sign here, sign here. And you just want to get the thing done as quickly as possible.
And there's really no conversation. Maybe there's one or two questions about something, but for the most part, it's just like, you're, you're moving through the sheets and then they take the papers away and you don't ever look at it again. Nope. You know, that's the world we're living in. It got
Mike: worse after 2008.
Right. I mean, it's just the,
Greg: yeah. I mean, that used to, that used to be called. I, if I remember correctly in law school, the contract where you have no ability to negotiate term. You just have to take it or leave it. I think it's called a contract of adhesion and that is the world we live in today. You know, originally the concept, you know, back to the Federalist papers, originally the concept of contracts, then another podcast.
Yeah. Originally the contract concept of contracts is that you have two parties of roughly equal negotiating or bargaining power and they come to some quote unquote meeting of the minds about. And that is not what's happening in our world. You know, maybe it happens on a very small scale with people where there is kind of roughly equal bargaining power, but all these giant companies that we deal with every single day, they just say, here are terms, take it or leave it.
And there's absolutely no negotiation that can happen.
David: Alright. I, I will say the one, the, the one thing that struck me on reading that the TLDR article, if there is a. Sort of universal set of standards, standard terms that can be used. And you can advertise that we are you know, green rated terms of service, as opposed to a red rate in terms of service, you know, putting that upfront on your website at the, in the footer where you link to your terms, you know, maybe something that, that, that can gain some momentum.
I mean, we're, we at near media are using the word, essentially the WordPress. In terms of service, which they licensed under creative commons. Right? So if you could get a sort of mass movement of standard terms for standard types of online engagements that might move the needle on this somewhat,
Greg: I can imagine it with, with something like credit card, right?
Where your, where you're applying for a credit card, they're competing offers, and you've got a choice of five or six, you know, it really matters in an environment where there's. And you can see very clearly what the differences are. We won't sell your data, or we have this beneficial term versus these other guys.
You're going to put you into binding arbitration and, you know, come, come in the night and take your family away, you know, whatever it is. And so in that kind of scenario, it would, it would matter. But in situations where you've got a monopoly provider or a quasi monopoly provider, or you just don't have the ability to make alternative choices, it doesn't really make a difference.
So we've come to the end of another exciting and uplifting podcast. there's of course, lots more to talk about as always. And we didn't get to everything that you know, is happening this week. So subscribed in your media where we try and capture as much of that as we can. And we'll be back next week with more exciting adventures.