If you’re a Mastercard holder in the US, Google has reportedly been tracking whether your buying habits are influenced by online ads in your offline purchases for the past year. The secret deal between the two companies was brokered after four years of negotiation, according to a Bloomberg report published today.
Neither Google nor Mastercard have publicly announced the partnership, and neither company let its customers know that their offline purchases made in stores are being tracked through Mastercard purchase histories and correlated with online ad interactions. Both Google and Mastercard say that the data is anonymized in order to protect personally identifiable information.
Google reportedly paid Mastercard millions of dollars for data on what people have been buying. It used that data to build a tool for advertisers that would break down whether people who had clicked online ads later went on to purchase a product at a physical retail store.
Bloomberg reported in detail how the process works. It starts with a customer who’s logged into a Google account on the web clicking a Google ad. That person browses a certain item, but doesn’t purchase it. Later on, if they use their MasterCard to buy that item in a physical store within 30 days, Google will send the advertiser a report about that product and the effectiveness of its ads, with a section for “offline revenue” listing the retail sales.
The debut of Amazon’s checkout-less convenience store Amazon Go is one of the biggest evolutions in transactional commerce since Ohio saloonkeeper James Ritty patented the cash register in 1879. That’s because Amazon’s so-called “just walk out” technology uses computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning that allows shoppers to enter with an app, grab items off the shelves and leave without waiting in line to pay a cashier manning Ritty’s 140-year-old invention.
Business travelers have become an increasingly important part of the Airbnb business, according to a new blog post. The company says that Airbnb for Work, which launched in 2014, has seen bookings triple from 2015 to 2016, and triple again from 2016 to 2017. In fact, Airbnb says that almost 700,000 companies have signed up for and booked with Airbnb for Work.
Interestingly, the breakdown of companies working with Airbnb for traveler lodging are pretty diverse — employees from large enterprise companies (5,000+ employees) and employees from startups and SMBs (one to 250 employees) take a 40-40 split, with the final 20 percent of Airbnb for Work bookings going to mid-sized companies.
In July of 2017, Airbnb started making its listings available via SAP Concur, a tool used by a large number of business travelers. Airbnb says that this integration has been a huge help to growing Airbnb for Work, with Concur seeing a 42 percent increase in employees expensing Airbnb stays from 2016 to 2017. Moreover, 63 percent of Concur’s Fortune 500 clients have booked a business trip on Airbnb.
One interesting trend that Airbnb has noticed is that nearly 60 percent of Airbnb for Work trips had more than one guest.
“We can offer big open areas for collaborations, while still giving employees their own private space,” said David Holyoke, global head of business travel at Airbnb. “We think this offers a more meaningful business trip and it saves the company a lot of money.”
Given the tremendous growth of the business segment, as well as the opportunity it represents, Airbnb is working on new features for business travelers. In fact, in the next week, Airbnb will be launching a new feature that lets employees search for Airbnb listings on a company-specific landing page.
So, for example, a Google employee might search for their lodging on Google.Airbnb.com, and the site would be refined to cater to Google’s preferences, including locations close to the office, budget, and other factors.
While the growth has picked up, Holyoke still sees Airbnb for Work as an opportunity to grow. He said that Airbnb for Work listings only represent 15 percent of all Airbnb trips.
But, the introduction of boutique hotels and other amenity-driven listings such as those on Airbnb Plus are paving the way for business travelers to lean toward Airbnb instead of a business hotel.
Plus, as mobility and relocation become even more important to how a business operates, Airbnb believes it can be a useful tool to help employees get started in a new town before they purchase a home.
The media landscape used to be straightforward: Content companies — studios — made stuff — TV shows and movies — and sold it to pay TV distributors, who sold it to consumers.
Now things are up for grabs: Netflix buys stuff from the studios, but it’s making its own stuff, too, and it’s selling it directly to consumers. That’s one of the reasons older media companies are trying to compete by consolidating. And new distributors like Verizon and AT&T are getting in on the action. AT&T, for instance, just merged with Time Warner.
Meanwhile, giant tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple that used to be on the sidelines are getting closer and closer to the action.
To help sort this all out, we’ve created a diagram that organizes distributors, content companies and internet video companies by market cap and their main lines of business.
Here’s what the Big Media universe currently looks like.
United States District Court Judge Richard J. Leon has ruled in favor of AT&T in the government’s antitrust suit to block AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner .
That decision matches word on the street over the past few weeks, and delivers a stern rebuke to the Trump administration, which had opposed the deal from its earliest days. The decision was made following the close of markets in New York, and after-hours trading was muted to the decision.
In light of today’s decision, Comcast, which has been eyeing its own content creator takeover of 21st Century Fox, will likely move forward with a bid as early as tomorrow.
In October 2016, AT&T announced its plan to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and a total of $108 billion with debt. The DOJ moved to block the merger in March, arguing that the merger would reduce competition and hurt consumer choice.
The nuances of this case are important, as the implications of this decision reach far beyond the individual businesses of AT&T and Time Warner to the vast media landscape as a whole.
First off, it’s worth noting that the overall goal of antitrust regulations is to protect the consumer from unfair business practices that may arise from a consolidation of power within a single company. But size isn’t necessarily what’s most important in these types of cases. In fact, sometimes a merger can help competition and consumer choice, as is more often the case with vertical mergers.
A vertical merger is when two companies who provide different or complementary offerings join forces, giving consumers access to a more comprehensive set of services, at a lower price, while still generating profits. That’s not to say that vertical mergers get through regulatory approval free and clear — the FTC has fought 22 vertical mergers since 2000 — but they receive less scrutiny than horizontal mergers.
AT&T-Time Warner is considered a vertical merger, as AT&T is a content distributor and Time Warner is a content creator. But the overall landscape complicates the decision a great deal.
There are only a handful of companies in this space, and they are some of the most powerful companies in the world. AT&T itself is the largest telecom provider in the world, and via DirecTV, it is also the largest multichannel video programming distributor in the U.S. Time Warner, meanwhile, owns channels like TBS and TNT, HBO and Warner Bros., not to mention the assets to live sports and news orgs such as the NBA, MLB, NCAA March Madness and PGA.
The DOJ has argued that this type of consolidation would give the merged AT&T-Time Warner the ability to raise prices, thwarting the competition’s ability to compete by forcing them to raise prices to maintain carriage rights. The government has also argued that the newly rolled back net neutrality rules would no longer protect AT&T from, say, throttling Netflix if it didn’t purchase and distribute Time Warner content.
On the other side, AT&T and Time Warner (big as they may be) face steep competition from the FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google), all of whom have made video a top priority. In fact, CNNMoney reported that AT&T-Time Warner’s counsel Daniel Petrocelli made the argument that traditional media orgs have already been left behind in the digital revolution.
From the report:
Petrocelli told Judge Leon that their estimates show FAANG is worth $3 trillion collectively, while an AT&T-Time Warner entity post-merger would be worth $300 billion. ‘We’re chasing their tail lights,’ Petrocelli said.
It’s also worth noting that President Trump has been publicly opposed to the deal since he was on the campaign trail. Remember, Time Warner owns CNN, which is the object of some of Trump’s most focused hatred. At a campaign rally in 2016, Trump said his administration would not approve the deal, raising concerns over political interference. The government has argued that Trump did not communicate with antitrust officials over the deal and that their choice to fight the merger was not influenced by the White House.