The Location Data Powder Keg; The Tricky Business Of Ecommerce Subscriptions

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The dispersal of location data across the digital ad ecosystem exposes the industry to legal liability and backlash should it ever face a breach, Christopher Mims writes for The Wall Street Journal. Most consumers aren’t aware that even if they opt out of location tracking, companies can still monitor where they are. Telcos, for example, know where consumers are at based on the cell tower they’re connected to, and can sell that data anywhere under US law. Open Wi-Fi hotspots, in-store beacons and code baked into apps also track consumer location. And while the data is anonymized, it’s often sold to companies like LiveRamp, who can match it to personally identifiable information from Acxiom. “Imagine the Equifax breach, except instead of your Social Security number, it’s everywhere you’ve been, including your home, your workplace and your children’s schools,” Mims writes. More.

In The Box

The ecommerce subscription market has exploded – with billions in venture capital, acquisitions and IPOs. It’s an appealing business, but a treacherous one as well. “Only 55 percent of those who consider a service ultimately subscribe,” according to a recent McKinsey report on consumer subscriptions. And 40% of sign-ups churn early on, often before the company earns back the costs of delivery, free samples and an expensive customer acquisition funnel. For now, at least, the ecommerce subscription market is limited to mostly white urbanites in coastal cities. Retailers are taking a targeted approach. Gap launched a baby box (a category where regular clothes kits makes a lot of sense), and its subsidiary Old Navy followed up with quarterly boxes for kids aged 5-12. More on the brick-and-mortar set at CNBC.

The Room Where It Happens

President Trump’s decision last week to name Brad Parscale, digital media director from his 2016 campaign, as manager for his 2020 re-election effort created a stir among restless Democratic digital operatives. “If you’re a digital staffer, the highest you can get is digital director,” says Democratic digital media consultant Tim Lim to Politico. Republican campaigns in 2016 spent on average 25-30% of their ad budgets online, while digital media was about 5% of Democratic ad spend. And Republicans spent much, much more on Facebook and gave the social platform more control over targeting and audience construction. More (for subscribers). Related in Politics: Fake news sites are evading detection by frequently switching domain names, a practice known as “domain hopping.” More in BuzzFeed.

But Wait, There’s More!

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