Ep 22: FB Bulletin = newsletter + social, Shopify creating Ad Network?, Supreme Court ruling re-opens scraping question

Facebook releases Bulletin, a subscription newsletter that integrates FB comments; Is Shopify creating a cross website Ad network to assist their SMB’s ad efforts?; The Supreme Court orders a review of the HiQ-LinkedIn dispute that could endanger scraping & Martech stacks

Ep 22: FB Bulletin = newsletter + social, Shopify creating Ad Network?, Supreme Court ruling re-opens scraping question
FB Bulletin = newsletter + social, Shopify creates Ad Network, Supreme Court Ruling re-opens scraping question

Part 1 Video Starts 00:13: Facebook releases Bulletin, a subscription newsletter that integrates FB comments

Part 2 Video- Starts 7:32:
Is Shopify creating a cross website Ad network to assist their SMB’s ad efforts?

Part 3 Video- Starts 10:31: The Supreme Court orders a review of the HiQ-LinkedIn dispute that could endanger scraping & Martech

Reference Articles

1 Facebook's Substack clone Bulletin launches

2 Is Shopify Building a Stealth Ad Business?

3 Supreme Court Vacates LinkedIn-HiQ Scraping Decision

Transcript:EP 22

David: Hey, and welcome to episode 22 of the near memo. Uh, you are hearing from David. Mihm not the typical host of this podcast. All right. Leader, fearless steamed leader, Greg Sterling decided take a vacation of all things on 4th of July weekend. So Mike and I are stuck, uh, Manning this, um, Usually three legged stool with only two legs.

Um, but fear not. I have two stories that I'm going to talk about this week and Mike's story is fairly detailed. So I think we'll be able to fill a reasonable amount of time with our discussion here. So it sounds good before we get started, how how's your week been

Mike: a week has been good. I'm recovering from a back strain.

I got a little aggressive in my mountain bike riding with my new mountain bike and I sort of pulled my lower backs. Okay. I am. I'm recovering from that. I'm still mountain bike riding found a great route by my house. Nice. Like, you know, up high along a rage, get to watch the sun rise. See two valleys it's

David: really quite expected.

Yeah. That seems like an injury that was worth the worth, the effort of accumulating. And it

Mike: wasn't even like a serious, it wasn't like a fall off injury. It's just like, turn around, look at my sister behind me, like convinced to come. Right. And then when it, that rapid movement did it sound right? As long as I keep looking straight ahead, I'm fine

David: to not keep riding.

Yeah. Happy to hear that. And we're, we're very happy that the heat dome has passed here in Portland. It was a really awful weekend last weekend and into Monday. Um, so hope we don't have to go through that again. Anytime soon. It was apparently a once in a thousand years. Uh, and, uh, I hope it's not a once in a decade event, so

Mike: I hope it's not once in a more often than that event.

David: Yeah. Terrible. All right. Well with that, we will we'll move on to the story. So there were a couple of items this week. Uh, I'll start with the big one, at least to me, which was Facebook's release of bulletin, um, bulletin.com. Ironically enough, one of the, know, one of the names that I was considering.

Tidings, uh, back before I started at four or five years ago, uh, I didn't have quite the cash that I'm sure. Facebook shelled out for such a, such a prominent, a word, a single word, um, domain, but they've done a nice job, I think with the execution just based on, on what's out there right now. So it's essentially a newsletter product that runs on Facebook's sort of infrastructure and, uh, at least based on what I was able to see on, on the public.

Uh, it somehow weaves in Facebook comments, uh, into the, into the newsletter product. So it lets you publish, uh, grow an audience and engage your audience kind of all on the Facebook ecosystem. And this has been rumored to be, you know, coming, coming out for quite a while. Um, even back shortly after I think that the Twitter announcement of, of acquiring review our EVU E uh, Facebook was rumored to be already working on this.

Comes on the heels of a lot of go ahead, Mike. Oh, I was just

Mike: curious, obviously it's Facebook's ecosystem. So the big question for me is who owns the customer relationship. Right?

David: Right, exactly. Uh, which is always the question with any of these platform products. Uh, for sure. I was going to say, um, just really quickly though, that that comes on the heels of a lot of, um, uh, anx.

There's a, probably a German word, better German word for it, but around substance. Uh, sort of conflict of interest around promoting certain authors and paying authors advances and all that. But it strikes me that, uh, you know, that both Facebook with bulletin and Twitter, uh, with review are actually provide.

And, and actually, I should also mention link LinkedIn's newsletter product, uh, operates in a very similar manner, um, that running your newsletter on a major media platform where commentary is driven. From that social platform and the outcome of that commentary can help your newsletter perform better in organic feeds on each platform.

Right? So if you think about how Facebook's algorithm, newsfeed algorithm works, right, the more engagement, the more comments a given thing gets, uh, even if it's from a business or a brand, the more likely that is to show up in the feeds of people who are following that business or brand, how does that work with a paid product?

What do you mean with the paid products?

Mike: If you're getting a lot of comment on your newsletter and your newsletters subscription based right.

David: Ma remains to be seen, but I have to imagine that active newsletters are going to get additional visibility on Facebook in the same way that an active newsletter will get additional visibility on Twitter, through review and LinkedIn offer op operates much the same way with its newsletter.

Although it's not a paper. Where I am now seeing newsletters popping up more and more frequently, um, you know, in my feet. And, and certainly my inbox is full of them these days. So maybe they've identified me as a heavy newsletter user. Uh, and that's why they're showing, showing all these things to me, but it strikes me that there's a, there's a built in advantage.

Um, despite the audience question that you just brought up of, okay, well, who actually owns that audience? Um, it strikes me that there is a built in advantage to operating a newsletter now on a social platform. Yeah. Uh, provides a pretty significant reason to at least consider it as an alternative to sub stack or what we're using for our own website at near media, which is ghosts.

So I just thought that's an interesting seems to be pretty well executed product, uh, and definitely something to pay attention to. I don't think it's going to be a sort of flash in the pan for Facebook. Like so many of their offerings are so

Mike: certainly it would seem that newsletter authors then become primary candidates too.

Targeted advertising on Facebook, for sure. Yeah. I can see how Facebook leads

David: from that and how the office, at least at least rolled it out. It's for individual newsletter publishers. So like Malcolm Gladwell or Erin Andrews, who's a sports personality. And they had a, um, a scientist on there as well. So they're sort of individual figures as opposed to a media company running, uh, a newsletter that might be used to buying ads or whatever to get, to get subscribers.


Mike: And what's the cut if you charge,

David: uh, I didn't get that far into the details, but, um, I was, I was looking at it primarily as a, um, just a, well, I just think a, a well-executed newsletter consumer experience that has the potential to get additional visibility for it's it's a newsletter,

Mike: which would be a really nice flywheel, right?

If you get engagement and engagement, that gets more engagement. That's certainly very nice. I'm curious. I can't quite get through my head how that would work now with a paid newsletter other than advertising. Um, but to me is where the rubber is going to meet the road in this,

David: which we'll see. And I'm sure Zuck and others have an idea of exactly how that's going to work.

But, uh, non-obvious to me at the moment, so, well, uh, my second, my second item, if I can just squeeze it in

Mike: let me ask you this. If you were going to start a newsletter today, would you do it there?

David: Uh, I would probably run a newsletter on multiple platforms and it would, and LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook would all be three platforms.

I would run it on and it's probably something we should consider for near media. Okay. Yep. Uh, all right, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna move on to our second step, which is also mine this week covering for Greg, uh, Mike Boland from, uh, LSA. Now locality, uh, had a really interesting piece, uh, which was, uh, a detailed look on a business insider.

That Shopify is at least considering running, um, a, uh, an ad network, essentially, uh, as, as one of his latest offerings. And I, if I'm, if I read it properly, seems like Shopify is going to be, um, any Shopify store essentially is going to be collecting data about a given user that Shopify will make available to other Shopify stores to run, uh, targeted campaigns on Google and Facebook.

So they may not be, um, it's unlikely that Shopify is going to be giving out the email address of a particular user to, uh, another store to run ads to. But they're probably either, like, I think they're exactly they're able to gather yeah. Their own lookalike data and set and put ads on Google and Facebook that matched those characteristics, which I think is a really smart play.

And, and as Mike Bullen pointed. Um, you know, it's something that gives them a, uh, another sort of pro SMB pro individual merchant, uh, marketing feather versus Amazon, uh, which, which seems like a strong, you know, one of, a number of product roll-outs that they've, um, been, been going with that, that are trying to position them selves more directly against Amazon in the sort of SMB.

Seller marketplace. So I thought it was an interesting, interesting concept. And, um, I haven't seen any visuals of it actually being executed, but certainly has potential given the number of merchants that are now on Shopify and probably the aggregate number of, of, uh, consumers who are checking out on Shopify stores.


Mike: essentially the idea is to leverage the knowledge about the aggregate consumer base to help individuals do better ad campaigns on Facebook and Google. Correct. Hopefully will benefit the individual as opposed to Amazon where there's some Trinsic conflict of interest, because they're wanting you to that small businesses spend money on Amazon's platform to advertise, to even be seen.

Right. So exactly. Interesting. It'd be interesting to see. I mean, basically this, is it something they're going to charge for something that's going to be?

David: I didn't see that mentioned in this. I don't know if it's gonna, I mean, clearly I don't think Shopify is going to front the cost of the Google and Facebook ads, but I don't know if the, if the product itself is going to be included as part of Shopify as native features or not.

Right. I believe their email product is free, or at least at what there was a, a long free initial offer. Um, the native Shopify email product. So it wouldn't surprise me if there's sort of a native Shopify ad product where you're only paying the cost of the, uh, of the ads themselves.

Mike: Cool. All right.

David: Onto you.

That's it now are into a much more detailed discussion. It may not be.

Mike: Well, I think it's of interest to everybody in the marketing for sure, but it takes a long time to get to the punch line for which I apologize, but I'm known for that style. So, uh, bear with me obscure Supreme court case early June, uh, on that looked at, uh, called van Buren in which a cop was charged.

With accessing licensing data inappropriately and they use the computer fraud and abuse act. Now the problem with the computer fraud and abuse act is terms like unauthorized access or exceeds on Arthur's access or exceeds authorized access never been defined. So this is really the first case for the Supreme court and they threw out his, he basically the FBI set up a sting to get this.

Through a gangster to look up license plate information, or licensing information for a prostitute, whatever. And that he had access to this information. He just was using it improperly and they declared that. That case would be thrown out or any charges based on the computer fraud, abuse act gets thrown out.

So as a result of that, though, LinkedIn via and Microsoft requested that the Supreme court throw out the ninth court's decision that allowed high Q to scrape LinkedIn's data because they want to retry that. So essentially, yeah. In 2019, the ninth court determined that, that it was okay to scrape public data because it was, are you already authorized to see it?

So there was nothing, no unauthorized access. There wasn't any, right. No

David: distinction between a human being in a computer accessing public information. Correct.

Mike: But the question that this raised is whether LinkedIn telling IQ, sending them a cease and desist order and attempting to. Barriers to the bots and having a terms of service is enough to, uh, Create unauthorized access.

So it's a slightly different area of the computer fraud and abuse act that was looked at now, the reason this is important, at least in the marketing world, is that virtually every, at least in the review space, particularly there isn't a review company in the world. That's helping businesses understand reviews that isn't doing scraping.

Yeah themselves or buying scrape data from one of the data providers like ESG, my previous employer or somebody else. Yeah. Um, and so, and virtually every report that we looked at, you know, that you look at ranking and all these other things are all based on scraped data. And LinkedIn is Microsoft, and they're looking to put a stake in the ground that says that it's inappropriate to scrape data when it's against terms of service.

And they've attempted. Technical barriers in place and they've sent it to cease and desist order now requires all three things. It means that scraping might still happen, but at a lower level, but it puts at risk, many aspects of marketing ecosystem. And I think that the IQ LinkedIn case is one that is worth following that I've been following for two years, because there's never been a decision whether it's legal to scrape public data or not.

Um, and so everybody does it. Basically doesn't discourage it. If your volume gets too high with Google, they'll put in place some IP blocks and they're pretty good at it, from what I understand. Um, if you get too much volume, but they tolerate it. I don't know. You know, who else uses scraping, who else gets scraped?

Obviously all the review sites, but what other marketing platforms need scraping besides ranking and, and reviews?

David: Um, I mean, uh, uh, uh, ads get scraped all the time, right? SEMrush has an entire ecosystem, um, uh, product built, built around scraping Google ads and estimating costs and all of that stuff. So, I mean, it feels like I agree that like there's a, um, it has the potential central for major implications for a lot of MarTech and adtech too.

Um, I think my question, not that I expect you to answer it, but, uh, a question I have for the universe is the extent to which some of these ongoing, uh, antitrust cases will impact, um, How much data, these big tech companies are required to share with competitors in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Yeah. It would be

Mike: ironic if Yelp were required to share public review data.

David: Right. Exactly. Um, and at what level, you know, is it, is revenue the sort of threshold that, um, that kicks in when companies are required to share or not, uh, is every company required to. Um, uh, sir, uh, any publicly accessible data with any other company?

Um, I think, I do think that it's a, it's a viable way for the DOJ to ensure a more healthy, uh, eco product ecosystem, uh, is to force some of these larger tech companies to, uh, share more of the data or. Allow allow users essentially, to, to share that data across multiple,

Mike: although you run this risk much like that happened in Europe, where all the big companies are thus favorite, for example, let's take you out, which currently requires a, an agreement that costs at least $25,000 a month to get access to copyright information I air that they don't own.

And as part of that agreement, you have to agree not to solicit reviews at Google or fake. Or Yelp for 25, you have to pay them $25,000. Agree

David: to that. I forgot the police, the policemen of the internet mindset.

Mike: Well, let's say that that becomes the only way that they're made to make this publicly available, but they can charge for it.

Then all of a sudden smaller and startup companies can't access that, that obligate information that they don't own, that Yelp doesn't own the copyright to. And it would, it could have agregious outcomes if implemented, right. In terms of limiting the ability of, for creative uses of data, that should be part and parcel of what the Internet's all about, but

David: we'll see.

Great. So we'll have to see how that case turns out. And, um, do you, who do you subscribe to for these legal updates? It feels like you're, this is a regular recurring topic here on the near memo.

Mike: You know, I, I J I T O one is that Eric Goldman, but he didn't talk about this one yet. Um, And then I subscribed to the FTC feed, which is very interesting.

And they just laid down yesterday, a whole new set of, uh, sort of put stakes in the ground around enforcement and antitrust that been a long time in coming that will again, allow them to look at issues of competitive harm that they haven't been able to look at before. Um, and I can't remember where this one popped up.


David: well, I I'm sure Goldman will cover this at some point when it gets retried.

Mike: So yeah, if you're looking for just general internet lie air, Goldman's the place to go. And then the FTC is very good because clearly they're much more activists this term, and it will be very interesting to watch them over the next couple of years because the Democrats have a three-two majority.

All three Democrats are very progressive and assertive, uh, consumer competitive Antech. Antitrust in favor of broader antitrust reputation. So Lee, Larry is going to heat up and it's going to affect us all. So I think it's worth paying attention to

David: absolutely. And not that, that was a particularly negative story, but we do like to end on a positive note, uh,


Mike: is fine inclinations to just sort of not, but I'll go with

David: it.

So we do want to wish Greg, a really, uh, happy 4th of July weekend and wish all of you guys a happy 4th of July, we can happy Canada day. I think too. Canadian listeners, uh, which is a little bit, uh, more of a last week story, but just seems like there's a lot more to celebrate, uh, this year. And we hope that you guys all have a really happy weekend, uh, spent with friends, family, uh, maybe even get outdoors if the weather is okay in your neck of the woods.

So that's what

Mike: friends, family, and bike riding. So we're looking and it looks like good weather. So yeah.

David: Great. Well, we hope it's nice where wherever you are and have a terrific weekend. And Greg, Greg will be back with the we'll have the full three Amigos squad back next Friday. Thanks for joining us.