A collection of marketing and marketing communications articles covering various marketing topics.

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The Psychological Perspective: Can Video Size Affect Campaign Success?

It’s Saturday night. You’re on your couch under the blankets watching that new romantic drama that came out. The man and woman fall in love, but then something happens and everything gets messed up. At a certain point, you find yourself sobbing until they finally make-up and she runs into his arms and they kiss and live happily ever after.

Have you ever experienced a similar feeling, be it with a romantic film, a horror film, action or even a sponsored ad? That feeling of watching something and becoming so engrossed in a scene that you actually have an emotional reaction to it: you start crying or your heart starts beating fast or you jump in horror when the bad guy appears out of nowhere?

If you take a minute to think about it, this behavior is totally irrational. You know that you’re not in danger. You know that the bad guy isn’t real and cannot harm you. So why is your body reacting like it’s in trouble? Does your body think, even just for a moment, that it is present in the scene?

The physical sense of ‘being there’ while watching a video is actually called ‘presence’ in psychological literature and it’s been identified as an important concept in the video viewing experience.

Advertisers want to increase the ‘presence’ of their viewers. Why? For a few reasons:

  • Because when users were present they were highly involved, viewers became emotionally involved as well
  • Users who are present report higher enjoyment levels
  • Present people have positive attitudes towards the characters in the film
  • Are easily persuaded, presence can enhance the persuasiveness of media content
  • People who are present can remember more about the video

So what affects presence when watching a video? One of the things is the video size, or, to be more exact, the proportion of the participant’s visual field that’s occupied by the video.

Have you ever wondered why we pay money to go to the cinema instead of just watching the film at home? It’s because in some way, watching the film on a big screen increases our sense of being present in the scene.

Studies that measured skin reactivity, which is indicative of anxiety and nervousness have actually tested the difference between big and small screens. They found that when participants watched a video on a big screen, their skin reactivity levels were found to be significantly higher than when participants were watching the same exact video on a small screen.

So next time you plan to distribute your video – keep ‘presence’ in mind and make sure you’re choosing platforms that will ensure your video display in the largest format possible, as this will ensure the highest engagement rates from your viewers.

CMOs And CFOs Are Working in Harmony – But More Can Still Be Done To Close The Gap

CMOs and CFOs need to get along harmoniously to achieve digital transformation – that much we already know. Yet according to a new research report from Wipro Digital, the two C suites are seeing eye to eye on digital marketing budgets.

The study, which was based on responses from 50 CMOs and 50 CFOs at US companies, says the two are seeing eye to eye much more than ever before. Yet it’s not all peaches and cream; 36% in the financial side said marketers’ use of click-through rates and impressions would be considered ‘vanity metrics’, while a further 22% said marketing teams did not measure in terms of concrete outcomes.

So what needs to be done to close this remaining gap? CMOs ‘must create a shared understanding by proving the value of their work’, according to the report. The report concedes that marketers are struggling to find the right tools to enable them to prove that value because they aren’t able to paint a picture rather because they don’t want to.

47% of CMOs polled said they cannot use these metrics as the vendors they work with don’t have the available functionality, with 47% more saying it was difficult to find common metrics because not all vendors are able to measure in the same way.

“CMOs and marketing departments are aware that martech is key to creating and delivering relevant and personalized experiences to customers. However, too many marketers are struggling with implementation and changing how they work,” said Andy Coghlan, global head of martech at Wipro Digital.

“Equipping marketing teams with the right martech talent and expertise is only half of the battle – the real challenge lies in determining how martech fits into the larger digital transformation and enterprise renovation program, and how to reinvigorate operating models, culture, and leadership, accordingly,” added Coghlan.

Writing for this publication last year, David Schwarzbach, COO, and CFO at Optimizely argued that CMOs and CFOs need to create a shared understanding through experimentation and learning.

“With a shared set of numbers and accurate spend attribution, CMOs and CFOs can embark upon a far better conversation,” said Schwarzbach. “This is not the holy grail of marketing spend attribution. The number of permutations can be infinite, and a balance on investment in resource vs returns is needed. But who drives these numbers?

“This has to be a collaboration – CFOs cannot just sit back and wait but must become increasingly involved in the marketing analytics and own a portion of the analytics function.

“Marketing simply cannot be a budgetary black hole when spend is so high – and accurate spend attribution is the key to creating ever closer alignment between CMOs and CFOs.”

Ultimately, the report advocates four ways CMOs can build trust with CFOs: agree on the metrics that matter and be transparent about processes; prepare for digital transformation; meet with innovative partners and be open to probing questions.

You can find out more about the report here (email required).

LinkedIn Rolls Out Carousel Ads to ‘Humanize’ B2B Marketing

In similar fashion to its consumer-facing counterparts, B2B social network LinkedIn has launched Carousel Ads, allowing advertisers to display up to 10 customized, swipeable cards within one ad.

According to a blog post by product manager, Rohin Rajiv, the company hopes the update will “humanize” B2B marketing efforts and add a little color to an otherwise non-too-descript news feed, encouraging users to engage with brands on both desktop and mobile.

The approach seems to be working; of the 300 advertisers that have conducted beta trials so far including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, RBC, and Volvo Canada, some 75% have noted increased engagement and click-through rates.

Wrapping the format up in its broader place among the company’s existing ad units, Rajiv says Carousel will make every stage of the buyer’s journey count, allowing brands to raise awareness and consideration, send traffic to multiple landing pages, and seamlessly generate leads using its Lead Gen Forms product.

For the ROI-driven marketer, meanwhile, metrics of ad performance can be accessed including click-through rates, the number of leads generated, and impressions for each individual card, all of which will be integrated to its Campaign Manager tool in the coming months.

Slow and steady

While LinkedIn’s innovation on the ad tech front has been comparatively slow and steady – at least compared to the hotly-competitive arena of consumer-based networks, it has carved out a valuable, if slightly underappreciated, dominance in B2B marketing.

Amid the various ad formats that have been pushed out quietly over the last few years including a programmatic display and targeted sponsored content, some 26% of B2B marketers claimed plans to shell out over £300K on its video ad placements alone in 2018.

LinkedIn also ranks highest among social networks for lead generation thanks to its high-intent user base of over 500m professionals and is considered the safest platform for digital advertisers’ brands, according to a poll by GumGum and Digiday.

How to Facilitate the Return of Storytelling in Advertising

Storytelling in advertising is nothing new. From the eighties’ Nescafe Gold Blend commercials featuring the romance of Tony and Sharon to the noughties’ BT family ads that followed the domestic trials of Adam and Jane, the most memorable TV campaigns took years to build characters that audiences could relate to and care about.

But the art of storytelling is disappearing. Creators of TV ads such as the John Lewis Always a Woman, and more recently the Subaru Forrester ad, understand its importance but feel the need to tell the entire story in one episode, without taking viewers on the journey with them. And, in digital advertising, where storytelling has been largely absent from the start, the situation is far worse – with users bombarded across multiple devices with repetitive, intrusive messaging that lacks authentic narrative.

Consumers crave content that entertains them, educates them, or inspires them. They want to feel emotions, to smile, laugh, cry, or dream. Rather than being something they need to ‘sit through’ to access quality content, can advertising itself be original content consumers seek out, care about, and engage with?

It could be argued technological developments have had an adverse impact on advertising, particularly with digital where execution has often taken precedence over creativity. But technology can also be an enabler of engaging storytelling across multiple platforms. Here are three trends that are facilitating a return to creative brand storytelling:

The rise of programmatic creative

Early automation of advertising may have temporarily side-lined creativity, but advances in programmatic creative encourage data and creative to work together in a way that promotes brand storytelling. Programmatic creative allows messaging to be sequenced so it takes the viewer on a journey, rather than serving the same ad over and over, and enables brands to update messaging in real time to keep it fresh and relevant.

What’s more, programmatic creative facilitates the instant production of thousands of creative iterations, so the version most appropriate for each specific consumer can be served; taking into account their location, preferences, device, and position on the path to purchase, as well as numerous other data points. A continuous optimization loop uses real-time measurement to ensure personalized creative is as impactful and engaging as possible, boosting ad performance, increasing ROI, and making brand stories more relevant and contextual.

The return of storytelling

Today’s consumer uses an average of 3 connected devices, and multiple platforms – so brands need to ensure they are able to tell their story seamlessly across all channels. At a basic level, the creative must automatically optimize to the screen or device on which it is served – simply scaling down a TV commercial or desktop ad and delivering it to a smartphone is detrimental to the user experience.

But more than this, brands must understand that the storytelling format is perfect for the digital age, where each device, platform, and ad format can make its own unique contribution to the total narrative. The highly engaged and interactive nature of mobile devices makes them ideal for involving consumers in the story and allowing them to influence its progression. As far back as 2005, BT received over 1.6 million Facebook votes to determine the next development in the Adam and Jane storyline – so just imagine what is possible in today’s real-time, continually connected world. When brands build a story gradually across multiple complementary channels, consumers engage with the characters and the worlds they inhabit, increasing brand awareness and affinity.

The growing demand for industry standards

Digital advertising is evolving rapidly, and highly immersive and engaging ad formats are continually emerging to support brand storytelling. But standards and measurement techniques have failed to keep pace with this evolution, particularly regarding viewability and effectiveness, which has restricted adoption of new and innovative formats. After all, brands can’t be expected to invest in advertising if they don’t truly understand its ROI.

But industry standards are catching up with innovation; for example, the IAB’s latest standard ad portfolio includes multi-screen sizing and provides guidelines for newer experiences such as augmented and virtual reality, as well as 360-degree video. Other industry guidelines, such as LEAN and the Coalition for Better Ads, are designed to improve the user experience across all devices, making it easier for brands to deliver engaging storytelling through user-friendly formats.

Storytelling may be nothing new, but it’s something all brands must revisit. With programmatic creative delivering personalised hyper-relevant messaging, multi-device advertising providing opportunities for added depth and interactivity. And, with improving industry standards encouraging the adoption of innovative formats, there’s really no reason today’s advertisers can’t return to engaging brand storytelling. The end.

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Eight Reasons Why Every Small Business Needs to Have a Blog

 

A blog is technically a base for customers to read all about their favorite companies and their news, while also grasping a better understanding of what they do and what they’re all about. The majority of the time, a business blog creates great content and therefore brings in more traffic. Here are eight reasons why a business blog is a great idea.

It will earn you backlinks

A company blog fuels SEO and if you want to rank well in Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines, then it is vital to have some trustworthy backlinks to your blog.

Backlinks work as a seal of approval, so the more relevant and authoritative links that you have directing to your blog, the higher your business will rank on a search engine. By writing informative and interesting content that speaks to your demographic, many other sites will start linking to your blog/website as a source of information, therefore making your site more authoritative in the eyes of a search engine.

To share the good news

Customers love knowing about what awards your company has won or what you’re doing for the community. A blog is a base of exciting information for the company and its customers – the more good work you’re doing and the more exciting news you are sharing, the more positive your company will look!

You won’t need big budgets for campaigns

This is a great one for smaller businesses as it levels the playing field against companies with bigger budgets. Blogging offers a free, valid way to compete against larger clients who happen to have a bigger budget and are able to pay for their content to be placed on different websites.

Gather the ideas, research carefully, and add a little panache when writing and you can bring a lot more traffic to your site.

It may get your company free PR

With that being said, publications are always looking for great quotes and content to share on their own site, and, depending on how easy your blog is to find and how much you’re sharing on social media, they may just pick up on a campaign of yours and run it on their site free of charge as a source of news. There is no better PR than free PR!

It will boost your social media presence

If you are churning out fabulous content and sharing it on all your company’s social media platforms, then users will start to notice your brand and start joining in with conversations and sharing the content across their own platforms, therefore recommending your company to their own connections.

Social media is one of the best ways to boost traffic to your site and get your company noticed, and an informative blog post is a great way to aid this.

It’ll let the company show off their personality

Having a blog will allow your company’s personality to shine through and give you a chance to show your customers what you’re all about. It is the perfect opportunity to talk about everything you want to talk about in your own way using the right tone of voice suited to your ethos and target audience.

It will answer everything your customers care about

It is sometimes hard for small businesses, who have a lower budget to carry out market research, which is why a blog would be great for this. Do some research into what people are asking Google and what topics spark conversation on social networks, and spend some time writing content around these topics.

For example, if your longtail keyword research shows people want to know why the UK obesity crisis is increasing, answer that question in a blog post.

It allows you to solve customers’ problems

A lot of customers are often skeptical about new businesses and have a number of questions they want to be answered without having to call up the customer services team. A blog can help answer these questions (perhaps how to take care of products to give them a longer lifespan) meaning the customer doesn’t have to call up.

Once your blog has shared the information the potential customers are looking for, they are more likely to buy from your site. It’ll give you a great reputation for being helpful!

The Rise of the Machines in Digital Marketing: Building Relationships Between Brands and Consumers

Today, we rely heavily on information technology to increase our brand image and reach consumers. In 2018, the rise of the machines (minus the I, Robot plot twist) is evident in the popularity of augmented reality (AR). The AR industry is experiencing serious growth compared to that of virtual reality, due to the likes of Ikea Place, Snapchat and Pokémon Go. Flow Digital, a digital marketing agency based in Newcastle, are looking into the increasing impact of augmented reality in the world of digital marketing.

To begin with, analyzing the effects, we need to understand the concept. Augmented reality refers to modern technology that superimposes computer-generated images on a user’s view of the world, thus presenting an augmented reality. While there are significant benefits for all industries, e-commerce stores, in particular, must take note of the uses. The ability to showcase your products in such a unique format – far superior to that of your competitors – is an opportunity that cannot be missed. Today, AR is still a relatively untouched tech by many brands, yet Pokémon Go was the most profitable app in 2016, with more than 750 million downloads.

Statistics

The statistics for AR speak for themselves, but we’ll go into a little more detail. For starters, the augmented reality industry is booming, with massive investment. In 2020, the number of AR users is expected to reach a staggering one billion, demonstrating enormous growth for a trend that many brands are yet to utilize. The AR market is also likely to be worth four times than it’s brother, virtual reality. With those stats in mind, you must already consider how to incorporate the trend into your marketing strategy. Many brands are still finding their feet with the industry, but there is great potential – as showcased by Ikea Place. The app provides consumers with the opportunity to ‘place’ their products in a user’s home, gently encouraging those prospects to buy into their products. Of course, AR may be a little too costly for specific brands, so it’s worth analyzing the relevance to your market before investing. E-commerce stores will certainly benefit from the tech, but will local solicitors? Probably not.

AR doesn’t have to involve the development of a high profile app, such as Ikea. Take, for example, Estée Lauder and their subtle nod to the trend. Using their Facebook Messenger Chatbot, customers could virtually try their makeup products before buying.

However, as we discuss the advantages of AR, it’s worth noting that the lack of adverts could have an effect on the world of digital marketing. Advertisements are the foundation for brands, with the ad spend alone reaching £22.1 billion in 2017. Yet, AR doesn’t have a place for advertisements, such as marketing ads and header bidding, so agencies and brands alike must become savvy when appealing to consumers.

AR advantages

While there is a lack of adverts in AR, and agencies must produce ‘creative’ methods to communicate with audiences, there are significant advantages to adopting the trends. Of all the benefits, the most notable is the ability to bring your products to life. For example, your static advert for your products could become a catalog, for consumers to flick through.

When providing all necessary information for your products – even going so far as to show users how the product would look in their home – you enhance engagement. Prospects will enjoy interacting with your brand, subsequently boosting your profile as they share their thoughts.

How can I use AR?

Video content is one of the most common uses for AR, and will serve to improve your marketing strategy vastly. Video is already one of the biggest trends within the marketing world, with over 22 million daily video views across YouTube, Snapchat, and Facebook, with the figure continually growing. While regular video content offers brands several seconds to catch their consumer’s attention, AR offers upwards of 50 seconds. Similarly, your social media platforms will only improve with association.

AR also allows you to ‘catch’ impulse shoppers. Those consumers who may not intend to buy but only need a little persuasion can be significantly encouraged through the use of AR. Augmented reality is that persuasion, demonstrating how their life (or living room) would drastically improve with your services.

As many brands know, behind-the-scenes content always does well. We’re a nosy nation, and the opportunity to witness our products in the development stage, and even in the delivery process, is excellent. This transparency could help replace the lack of adverts, building the relationships between brand and consumer. For example, venues in the food industry could, quite literally, demonstrate what it is like to dine in their restaurant.

The world of digital marketing is constantly changing and adapting to new trends. AR is one trend that shows longevity, so you must begin considering its uses.

The New Retail Frontier: Next Level Personalization

The best retailers will embrace new digital tools that make it easier to personalize every encounter from that first moment of inspiration to finally taking action. In spite of this, it’s surprising to see that almost two-thirds (62%) of UK marketers say they do not incorporate personalization into their campaigns, according to a recent State of Digital Commerce report from Episerver.

Whether you work for an eCommerce brand, mass retailer, or the next great direct-to-consumer business, we can all agree that today’s consumers have more options than ever before. And as a result, brand loyalty is waning, consumer tolerance is low, and expectations are high. Today’s consumer is conditioned to expect tailored, visual, shopping experiences — online, in-store, and at their doorstep.

While data integration, dedicated resources, and technical obstacles have been real barriers to personalization, the potential hit to your bottom line for not personalizing the modern shopping experience will be far worse. According to Accenture, consumer dissatisfaction led to an astounding $2.5 trillion this past year in lost retail and brand sales globally.

The revenue loss is usually a lagging indicator of the problems happening further upstream for your shopper. As an experiment, become a new consumer of your product or service. Experience firsthand all the ways your brand (and others) show up. Notice where your experience feels easy versus disjointed; identify the business metrics tied to those experiences and what teams are responsible. For example, when you start researching a new product, are your signals of early intent (e.g., searches for “couch ideas,” “winter boots,” “healthy breakfasts”) being met with helpful information or a lower funnel hard sell? Which brands show up and how? Do the recommended products match your style or taste preferences?

As you continue evaluating your purchase, do any of the retailers make it easy to continue where you left off, or are you starting from the beginning each time you re-engage with them?

How do you feel about the series of new emails showing up in your inbox? And for those products or services that offer a physical store presence, do you make an in-person visit? If so, does a visit to the store build on the digital experience?

With this exercise, you can begin to understand how tailored and visual customer experiences lead to strong conversions. And this has been proven by the experts. According to a Boston Consulting Group survey, brands that use technology and data to offer customers personalized experiences are seeing revenue increase by 6 percent to 10 percent, two to three times faster than those that don’t.

Technology gets personal

Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon have raised customers’ expectations for personalized experiences. Soon, personalization is going to be an expectation of every consumer on the internet. And that expectation will extend to every aspect of their lives — especially on mobile, where the limited real estate requires you to offer the most relevant items in a visually compelling way. Technology can help create more relevant shopping experiences and shorten the distance between inspiration and purchase.

This is a problem that Pinterest is working to solve. At its core, Pinterest is a visual discovery platform that 200 million people around the world use to discover ideas relevant to them. As people search and save, we refine our understanding of what they’re interested in. This is what we call the Pinterest Taste Graph—a map that connects people not to individual products but to their taste preferences—and the data asset we use to power personalization.

Because we understand our audience in a totally different way than a standard search engine or social platform, we’re able to surface the perfect ideas for each Pinner as they move through the various stages of planning their lives. And often, those ideas inspire them to buy something.

Personalization gets modern

While the majority of UK marketers have not yet embarked on some form of personalization strategy, more than 42% of UK marketers identified “personalization” as one of their top priorities last year, according to The Chartered Institute of Marketing. Today, it is not enough to just consider website customization, email marketing or digital in-store pop-up experiences. In today’s market, it is necessary to move from random acts of personalization to holistic, relevant consumer shopping experiences. This requires engaging on an individual basis across all consumer touchpoints, all the time.

As you rethink how your business puts the consumer front and center in the era of the modern shopping experience, here are three things to keep in mind:

  • Early matters: In the past, it was sufficient to know who a customer was (think demographics) and provide content tailored to that. Today we know that it’s more impactful to understand what moment they’re in and match it with the right message and channel. Historically, personalization has been focused near the end of a customer’s journey because that behavior has been the easiest to identify and target. If someone has visited a specific product detail page or searched for the product name, we assume that consumer is nearing a buying decision. However, personalization earlier in the decision process can be more effective. If you can reach the consumer before they’ve decided on a brand or product, you have more influence to affect their decision and commitment to it.
  • Visual at the forefront: Thanks to machine learning and the proliferation of cameras in everyone’s pocket, we can create digital consumer shopping experiences that mirror what it’s like to shop in the physical world — using visual cues to steer to the right products. According to Bazaarvoice, visual content in the shopping experience produces a 111% conversion lift and 180% revenue per visitor (RPV) lift for brands and retailers — probably because the brain processes visual information 60,000x faster than text. People want to search for and discover new ideas, even if they don’t have the right words. The future of consumer marketing is visual, and marketers need to use new ways to reach people that don’t rely on keywords.
  • Consistent experience throughout: The big opportunity in personalization is the ability to use all the data about your consumer and your product catalog across all of their different experiences with your brand. That leaves many other consumer shopping experiences impersonal and random. This includes the in-store experience, mail received at home, searches conducted across digital platforms, or videos watched anywhere. Personalising the full consumer shopping experience is critical to securing loyal customers, but few retailers are doing this right now.

Retail has always been a people business. Today’s consumers are now challenging retailers to put the individual customer at the heart of everything they do. With more choices than ever before, consumers will align themselves with the brands that truly put them first, giving them the most relevant experiences at every touchpoint.

Podcasts Reeled in $314m in Ad Spend Last Year, Finds IAB

Popularised by titles such as Serial, Stuff You Should Know and Ted Radio Hour, the humble podcast raked in $314m (£235m) in ad spend throughout 2017 in the US, according to new research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC US.

That’s an 86% hike on 2016, while the study forecasts revenues on the channel to hit $659 million by 2020.

Of the self-reported data provided by top podcast companies in the study – including Audioboom, How Stuff Works and ESPN Radio – revenue for 2017 sat at $257m (£192), representing a 117% increase from $119m (£89m) in 2016.

Host-read and ‘baked-in’

For two-thirds of ads in 2017, it was host-read ads that were the preferred format for advertisers, the majority bought on a direct response, cost-per-thousand basis (64%), followed by brand awareness ads, among 29%.

In addition, ads integrated or ‘baked-in’ to podcasts were the most popular type of ad delivered in 2017, rising from 44% to 58% year on year.

Of the 14 podcasts measured in the study, just four accounted for more than half of all advertising revenue in 2017, shared across Arts/Entertainment (17%), Technology (15%), News/Politics/Current Events (13%) and Business (11%).

Who’s buying?

When it comes to the types of advertisers buying placements within podcasts, the IAB found that financial services spend the biggest, taking an 18% share, while direct-to-consumer retailers and arts & entertainment brands represented 16% and 13%.

Commenting, the IAB’s executive vice president of industry initiatives, Anna Bager, said that advertisers are increasingly recognising podcasts as a “powerful platform” to reach and engage with a captive audience.

Meanwhile, PwC US partner, David Silverman, added; “The growing trend toward ‘anywhere and everywhere’ media engagement has created a tremendous opportunity for digital media, of which podcasting is a significant component.

“Whether at home on a smart speaker, at work on a PC, or somewhere in between on a mobile device, more and more Americans are listening while they live, providing a robust podcast platform where advertisers can connect with today’s consumers.”

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Google Announces Shopping Tweaks to Drive ‘Brick and Mortar’ Sales for Retailers

Google has announced a string of new updates to its Google Shopping platform, aimed at attracting online customers to retailer’s offline ‘brick and mortar’ stalls.

Announced at Search Marketing Expo Advanced (SMX Advanced) yesterday (June 12), the search giant claims despite the massive growth of e-commerce driven by the likes of Amazon, when customers want an item right away, 80% will head to the high street.

Google added that the new updates are designed to “remove friction” between retailers’ online and physical stores, while its motivation will lie in brands increasingly taking to the search engine’s ad products to funnel foot traffic offline.

First of those tweaks includes expanding its affiliate location extensions to its video-sharing platform YouTube. Already available to advertisers using search and display campaigns, retailers will now be able to list nearby outlets under TrueView in-stream and bumper ads which, according to YouTube’s internal data, can increase click-through rates by over 15%.

A new display ad format comes with local catalog ads; these let retailers list a range of products in one “easy-to-scroll” ad, featuring additional information on in-store availability and detailed pricing. A “See What’s In Store” feature, meanwhile, allows retailers to showcase local inventory on their existing search knowledge panel.

Google says that both of these functions will be made possible via integration with point-of-sale or inventory providers such as Cayan, Pointy, Link and receipts.

It wasn’t all offline focused, however, as Google announced some updates to its online Shopping platform including a price benchmarks update that allows retailers to up-bid their most competitively-priced products against the same products sold by other retailers.

Meanwhile, on its Shopping Actions programme launched in March, allowing consumers to order from retailers direct via search, Assistant and voice, Google said it had more than 70 retailers live, reporting an increase in total clicks and conversions at a lower overall cost per click and conversion compared to running Shopping ads alone.

A Last-Minute GDPR Checklist: Data Mapping, Privacy Notices, and More

GDPR goes into effect in just a few days, and while your company has probably been working for months (or more) to be compliant with this groundbreaking new regulation, here are five items that should be at the top of your last-minute GDPR checklist.

Map your data

Article 30 of the GDPR requires data controllers and processors to have a record of processing containing certain high-level attributes (e.g., the purpose of processing, a description of categories of data subjects and categories of personal data, etc.). However, a more detailed data map, consisting of information about specific data elements and how they flow between different entities, IT applications, vendors, etc. throughout the course of a processing activity, will be essential to meeting many other GDPR requirements, such as breach notification and fulfilling data subject rights. Thus, not having a data map in place will make life more difficult when having to respond to a personal data breach or a data subject request.

Additionally, having a data map will help you to solidify your understanding of the scope of GDPR as it applies to your organization. In other words, knowing which of your organization’s processing activities are subject to the GDPR, and which that are not, can help you prioritize your compliance efforts—in particular, if you are behind the eight-ball as we approach 25 May.

Document your legal bases

Article 6 of the GDPR allows for lawful processing of personal data under one of six different legal bases. Therefore, at a minimum, data controllers need to identify and document their legal bases for all processing activities that are subject to the GDPR; and doing so will also help in other areas as well.

For example, where a data controller is relying on consent to process personal data, they will need a way to request and obtain consent, manage records of those consents, and provide a withdrawal mechanism. Similarly, where a data controller chooses to rely on legitimate interests as their legal basis, they will need to document their analysis of the organization’s interests weighed against the interests of data subjects. Lastly, relying on consent or legitimate interests as legal bases can open the door to the exercise of certain data subject rights, such as the right to erasure and right to object.

Update your privacy notice

Articles 13 and 14 of the GDPR require certain information to be provided to data subjects about the processing of their personal data (e.g., the contact details of the data protection officer, the purposes of processing and legal basis, recipients of personal data, etc.). The information provided needs to be concise, easily accessible and easy to understand, using clear and plain language. In other words, avoid legal and technical jargon, and think about what the average data subject in your audience would understand. Layered and/or just-in-time notices can also be implemented to assist in informing data subjects.

Moreover, data controllers will need to bring their updated privacy notice to the attention of data subjects (e.g., via email, letter, pop-up, etc.).

Facilitate data subject access requests

Article 12 of the GDPR requires data controllers to “facilitate the exercise of data subject rights” (e.g., the right of access, right to erasure, right to data portability, etc.). Specific requirements exist with respect to each of these rights; however, general overall obligations exist as well, including fulfilling requests within one month of receipt, providing information by electronic means where possible, and notifying data subjects of reasons for delay or denial of requests.

Moreover, Recital 63 of the GDPR suggests that “[w]here possible, the controller should be able to provide remote access to a secure system which would provide the data subject with direct access to his or her personal data.” Therefore, you should think about not only your process for handling data subject requests behind the scenes, but also about how you will communicate with data subjects, and transmit their data to them, in a secure manner.

Update your cookie practices

Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive requires that any “storing or retrieving” of information from an end user’s device should be subject to consent unless it is technically necessary to enable the intended communication to take place. Currently, implied consent is enough; however, the GDPR will require consent to be “unambiguous,” which means that simply loading a website’s landing page or scrolling through the page will not be sufficient to establish consent. Instead, consent will need to be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous, with a withdrawal of consent being as easy as giving it.

Remember, May 25 is not the last day we talk about privacy – it should be an ongoing piece of your business operations. DPOs and business leaders will need to continue to work together when GDPR goes into effect, and beyond.

Editor’s note: For more information about these topics and what you can do to prepare for the GDPR, visit https://onetrust.com/resources/