Google First-Party, Review Trust Down, Will Food Delivery Run Out of Gas?

Google First-Party, Review Trust Down, Will Food Delivery Run Out of Gas?

Privacy First or Google First? No ID Draws Mixed Reactions

Once third party cookies disappear, Google won't replace them with an alternative identifier. Multiple companies have been working on cookie alternatives that deliver similar capabilities for profiling, tracking and attribution. In a blog post yesterday Google said, "We will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web." Google is replacing behavioral targeting with cohort-level targeting ("privacy sandbox"), which is more privacy friendly. But many industry insiders believe the company is advancing its own interests over the broader ad ecosystem – because it can. AdWeek called it a "privacy bomb" dropped on independent adtech.

Our take:

  • One of the unintended consequences of recent privacy moves and rules is enhancing the power of the big platforms.
  • Google's decision along with Apple's forthcoming IDFA opt-in rule is causing a kind of whiplash for marketers, who are scrambling to adapt.
  • As always, Google is partly speaking truth – trust has eroded because of privacy issues – but it also has mountains of first party data.

In Reviews We No Longer Trust

Public awareness of fake reviews is growing. In 2017, nearly 85% of Americans trusted online reviews. Based on a new survey of just over 1,000 US adults, about 40% of respondents say they trust online reviews less today and 60% believe review quality is declining. Only 10% expressed greater trust in online reviews now than in the past. The platforms are on the defensive. Recently, Google and Trustpilot touted review integrity programs. Google said that in 2019 it "removed more than 75 million policy-violating reviews and 4 million fake business profiles." That's a lot but far from all of it.

Our take:

  • Google helped create the fake reviews problem by emphasizing their importance for local SEO. Now the company must do more to address it.
  • The public is only partly aware of the scope of the problem, due in large part to growing but mostly anecdotal news coverage.
  • We anticipate fake reviews will rise to the level of regulatory and even Congressional scrutiny in 2021.

Will the Food Delivery Ride End After COVID?

One of the big COVID success stories is the rise of food and grocery delivery services. Most of them were struggling pre-COVID. But in 2020, DoorDash rode the pandemic wave to a massive IPO and UberEats became a kind of lifeline for Uber. Instacart, for its part, grew to incorporate 15,000 store locations. It also just announced a massive $265 million funding round to fuel new growth. But that's the question: will vaccinations and a lifting of lockdowns disrupt growth and bring these companies back to earth? Another variable: there are major concerns about the way some delivery services exploit local restaurants.

Our take:

  • Delivery services have established themselves in many consumers' daily and weekly routines. The new question becomes usage frequency.
  • Growth will clearly slow as more people go out. That will force business model adaptations and potential, additional consolidation.
  • Expect more legislation to further restrain restaurant exploitation.

Short Takes

  • More than 2 million people returned Amazon stuff to Kohls in 2020.
  • SMBs believe vaccinations of their workers will help sales.
  • 10 million jobs still missing from economy due to COVID.
  • Some hotels offering monthly "subscriptions" to remote workers.  
  • Concerns raised in DC about new Amazon worker surveillance.
  • Election 2020: YouTube remains a "powerful library of hoaxes."
  • Twitter likes Apple IDFA changes: "it will level the playing field."
  • Twitter testing new e-commerce links to product landing pages.
  • COVID baby bust holds long-term implications for society.

Please let us know what you think. Email with suggestions and recommendations.