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Instagram Now Allowing All Users To Tag Products As Ads In Posts

Instagram is now allowing all users to tag products in the posts they upload to their feeds, enabling any photo to act as an advertisement for whatever product is tagged.

Instagram initially announced their plans to give everyone the ability to tag products in their photos last month. The feature is now currently available for all users. Originally this feature was only available for content creators who make their income by selling products through their Instagram posts.

Users can now tag products in their images as long as the business is registered and set up with Instagram Shopping. The company made a statement regarding the update to the app and their hopes for the future.

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“From supporting brands you love to helping your friends and family discover new products they may like, sharing products on Instagram just got easier.”

Full instructions on how users can tag a brand and specific product are posted on the company’s blog, but it essentially works the same way as when you would tag a person in your picture.

Like when another individual is tagged in a post, users will be able to see when an image has product tags, and can easily click the image to have the link appear. Users can then purchase the tagged product directly in the app or through the brand’s product page.

With this new feature any Instagram post can be an advertisement, something that is likely very exciting for brands, however, it’s not clear what the benefits are to the average user, who’s essentially providing free advertising through their posts. Instagram, however, believes that this is a feature many users will utilize.

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Business owners will receive a notification whenever someone tags a product of theirs in a photo and they can manage and view all tagged content on their profile. Businesses can also manage who can tag their products in their preference settings.

Instagram claims that this is just the beginning for product tagging for the average user, and they’re currently working on more ways to bring this feature to other aspects of the app as well. For the past couple of years Instagram has pivoted to become more of a platform for shopping, and the company has been transparent about the ways in which they’re trying to monetize every aspect of the app.

The company even said they no longer want to be viewed as just a photo-sharing app, unless it’s referring to their goals of expanding shopping and video features on the app.

In December, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri said that it” is prioritizing Reels as well as shopping in 2022,” so time will tell what other features will be implemented to further support the app’s goals.

Corporate Google Building

Alphabet, Google’s Parent Company, Earns $65 Billion In Revenue Thanks To Online Ads

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, posted that they earned $65 billion in revenue during the third-quarter, exceeding Wall Street’s initial predictions and doubling their expected profits thanks to online advertisements. 

Over the last three months Alphabet’s revenue rose by 41% to $65.2 billion, marking its largest revenue figure in 14 years. Before the pandemic the corporation posted a profit of $21 billion.

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Alphabet saw its share price increase by 57% as well for the year. This makes it the best performer of all the “FAANG” companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). Its advertising revenue alone rose to $53 billion, up from $37.1 billion last year. 

Revenue from Alphabet’s cloud division rose by 45% to $4.99 billion, trailing behind Amazon Web Service and Microsoft Azure. Operation losses for the sector decreased by nearly 50%, from $1.2 billion to $644 million. 

Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet and Google, said “search is the heart of what we do. This quarter’s results show how our investments there are enabling us to build more helpful products for people and our partners.”

“Google campuses and cloud services will be run on carbon-free energy by 2030, and Google’s maps function will offer drivers an eco-option to find more fuel efficient routes to destinations and a wildfire system, so that consumers can make quick and informed decisions during emergencies.”

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Chief business officer Philipp Schindler said “it’s clear that uncertainty is the new normal for the global economic outlook, as uneven access to Covid vaccines affect different countries and regions experienced rates of economic recovery. The world is in flux. When it comes to anticipating change, predicting demand and investing in innovation, businesses need as much support now as they did a year and a half ago.”

In shopping, Schindler said, “some regions were experiencing a fourfold increase in search activity. Often those searches preceded in-person visits to stores. Bricks-and-mortar isn’t dead. Instead omni-channel [shopping] is in full force.”

Alphabet also emphasized their commitment to high-quality and accurate journalism, as well as open-access to information for all. Schindler explained that within the last quarter the company has added 120 news providers to it’s 1,000 information sources on Google’s News Showcase. 

Google intends to also purchase a New York City office building for $2.1 billion in the near future, as well as another campus in Silicon Valley, as a means of motivating employees to come back to the office.

Apple Software

New iOS Update From Apple Includes App Tracking ‘Transparency’ Feature 

iPhone users will now be able to prevent advertisers from tracking them and their search activity across all the apps on their phone thanks to a new software update from Apple. Despite protests from advertisers and Facebook, the company introduces the new feature as a part of its iOS 14.5 update. 

The setting is listed in your phone as “app tracking transparency,” which will require all applications to ask for a user’s consent before they’re able to track their activity across all other apps and websites on their device. 

If a user decides to decline, the applications won’t be able to access the digital footprint that they normally can automatically, which allows them to track you from app to app. The prompt reads: “Allow [insert app name here] to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites?” The prompt will appear with any app that requests access to that digital footprint. 

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Apple initially announced that app tracking transparency would be implemented in all iPhones last summer, and was originally projected to be implemented in fall 2020, however, the company decided to delay the release of the update six months to give advertisers and other industry leaders time to prepare. 

Dan Levy, Facebook’s head of advertisements and business products, spoke out greatly with Facebook this past winter about Apple’s new policy. “The app transparency setting is about control of the entire internet. This is about a long-term view that is anti-personalized advertising and we think is trying to take the world back 10 to 20 years.” 

Facebook even went as far as to launch an advertising campaign arguing that “the real victim of the changes are your neighborhood coffee brewery, your friend who owns their own retail business, your cousin who started an event planning service and the game developers who build the apps you use for free. Those small businesses would lose out if they were no longer able to target customers with personalized adverts.”

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Facebook’s not alone either, digital publishing house Axel Springer has filed a complaint on behalf of Germany’s biggest tech, media, and advertising companies, to the German competition regulator in which they argue that the new rules could lead to a 60% fall in advertising revenues for app developers. 

In France, consumer group Noyb argued the complete opposite, claiming that Apple should not only roll out the privacy tools as soon as possible, but also remove the ability for advertisers to see what you’re doing on your phone all together. “With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal, unless a user freely consents,” said Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at Noyb.

Apple’s director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, wrote a letter to a slew of privacy and advertising groups to address these criticisms.

“We developed [app tracking transparency] for a single reason: because we share your concerns about users being tracked without their consent and the bundling and reselling of data by advertising networks and data brokers. Facebook and others have a very different approach to targeting. Not only do they allow the grouping of users into smaller segments, they use detailed data about online browsing activity to target ads.”

Nike

Nike Commercial Featuring Colin Kaepernick Wins Emmy in Creative Arts

Ever since he decided to kneel instead of stand for the National Anthem before football games in order to protest police brutality against minorities, Colin Kaepernick has been the subject of controversy. The 31-year-old football player and activist has made no secret of his political opinions, devoting much of his public image to exposing racial injustice and mistreatment of minorities in America. While many commentators across the political spectrum have decried Kaepernick for politicizing a sports event and disrespecting American traditions, others have praised him for using his platform to draw attention to an important issue at great risk to his career and safety. Hoping to capitalize on this sentiment among American consumers, Nike has partnered with Kaepernick for a series of advertisements featuring the football player, many including the tagline “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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Although the television event formally announcing the winners of the Emmys has not yet been broadcast, winners in a few categories have been revealed ahead of time. This includes the Outstanding Commercial category, which Nike won for a two-minute advertisement entitled “Dream Crazy,” in which various professional athletes, including paraplegic athletes, are depicted practicing their sport while Kaepernick provides voice-over commentary. The ad was met with tremendous controversy owing to extreme differences in opinion surrounding Kaepernick, with some threatening to boycott Nike over their endorsement of the football players and others uploading videos of themselves destroying or disfiguring their Nike equipment in response. Nevertheless, the ad campaign has proven to be a successful one for Nike, which has continued to use Kaepernick’s image in their marketing materials and has sold out of Kaepernick-branded items.

Many of the nominees this year were companies who leveraged the medium of advertising to send an overtly political message, a sign of the times in a year when the worlds of entertainment and politics seemed to blend to an extent not witnessed before.

The success of the politically divisive advertising campaign represents Nike’s proficiency in taking advantage of the current zeitgeist for marketing purposes. The campaign was successful because it resonated with people’s attitudes regarding the intersection of politics and sports, and even the negative attention brought about because of the ad benefitted Nike, as it gave the campaign significantly greater exposure. The stock market reacted positively to the ad’s debut, as Nike’s stocks rose by 5% in the weeks following the premier. Though Kaepernick, being arguably the most galvanizing political figure in sports, was the focus of the advertisement, other socially conscious athletes such as LeBron James and Serena Williams made appearances, and their inclusions undoubtedly contributed to the ad’s impact.

Nike had fierce competition in the category from other nominees whose advertisements were similarly impactful. Apple was another nominee for their advertisement, “Shot on iPhone XS – Don’t Mess with Mother” which features breathtaking imagery depicting the natural world with an environmentalist message, as was Netflix, whose commercial, “Great Day in Hollywood,” focused on black writers, directors, actors, and other creative figures in the entertainment industry. Many of the nominees this year were companies who leveraged the medium of advertising to send an overtly political message, a sign of the times in a year when the worlds of entertainment and politics seemed to blend to an extent not witnessed before.