FTC Fines Facebook $5B; LinkedIn Expands Ad Features

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Facebook Is Fine

Looks like Facebook was prescient in setting aside billions in anticipation of a $3 billion to $5 billion FTC fine. The FTC reportedly approved a $5 billion fine against the social networking giant on Friday. If the fine is approved by the Justice Department, it’ll be the biggest the federal government has ever levied against a tech company, according to The New York Times. And yet … meh. Financially, $5 billion is just a slap on the wrist, and the settlement doesn’t do anything to restrict Facebook. But Facebook’s headache might be just beginning: “Regulators and lawmakers in Washington, Europe and in countries including Canada have already begun multiple investigations and proposing new restrictions against Facebook that will probably embroil it in policy debates and legal wrangling for years to come,” writes Adam Satariano for the Times. “And in some of these places, the authorities are increasingly coordinating to form a more united front against the company.” More.

Outcomes First 

LinkedIn launched three new features in its self-serve ad platform, Campaign Manager, that allow buyers to optimize toward brand awareness, website conversions and job applicants. Marketers optimizing toward specific conversions will only have to pay for clicks that lead to those outcomes, while brands optimizing toward social engagement will pay for likes, shares and comments. While LinkedIn isn’t always thought of as a branding platform, it wants to be able to provide advertisers with “a full-funnel experience,” Sudeep Cherian, head of global product marketing at LinkedIn, told MediaPost. That includes optimizing toward concrete business objectives. Prior to the changes, which are being rolled out in beta, Campaign Manager was reported with standard media metrics like reach. More.

Tax Talk

Taxes on big tech are becoming a reality in the EU, as American companies like Facebook and Google assert a growing role in the lives of Europeans and pay little taxes to their governments in return. For years, countries cut corporate taxes to woo businesses overseas. Now, that trend is reversing for the first time, with France’s decision last week to place a 3% digital tax on large tech firms that make money off its citizens, The New York Times reports. Britain revealed plans for a similar tax, as has the European Union at large. The Trump administration is investigating whether a digital tax would amount to an unfair trade practice, as it would disproportionately impact American companies, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation is working toward a global solution. More.

The Big Tech Test-And-Learn

Google released a new app called Shoelace, a kind of social network meant to connect nearby users with complementary interests. On its own, the app has little bearing for marketers. Google has tried on social networking before. But it’s part of an important trend of huge tech companies trying out new, relatively freewheeling mobile consumer apps. Google’s in-house incubator team Area 120 is behind the Shoelace app. And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has expanded Microsoft Garage, an internal group for developer projects not related to the business, like the travel app Outings. Facebook also just announced plans for a new team, called the NPE Team, that will develop new consumer-focused apps. “This is a way for Facebook to develop new types of experiences for people and to try different ideas by creating small, focused apps in order to see whether people find certain features useful or engaging,” according to a Facebook blog post. “We may use what we learn to help inform our thinking and product strategy moving forward.”

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