Where Big Tech Meets Diplomacy; Shopify Could Buy, Build Or Invest Its Way Into Ads

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Speak Softly, And Carry A Big Tech

Big Tech is on the defensive in the US, where it’s become politically popular to take shots at Alphabet, Meta and Amazon. But events that have transpired over the past year abroad demonstrate how powerful those companies, as well as behemoths like Microsoft and Apple, are to America’s global influence.

The Ukraine War is a primary example. The Ukrainian government awarded peace prizes to Google, Amazon and Microsoft for helping to secure its data and computer systems, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But there are also counter pressures. GDPR and anticompetition cases in Europe have been enforced in part to spur the development of homegrown (as in, non-American) technology.

That said, these are American companies, and when push comes to shove they answer to the mothership.

Russia may suffer from this dynamic the most, since US companies have dramatically pulled back from that market since the war began. But it’s also an issue that will resound in China. There are hundreds of millions of iPhone owners in China – and it’s a powerful blow to morale that an American company has the power to unilaterally remove functionality. (That said, China has some leverage here, too, considering that practically every iPhone sold in America is manufactured in China.)

Add To Cart

Shopify announced a new partnership with Klaviyo, a marketing automation company focused on email and SMS marketing. Klaviyo is now the “recommended” email solution provider for Shopify Plus, the service for higher-volume merchants, according to the release.

Oh, and Shopify is also investing $100 million in Klaviyo.

Shopify’s investment is part of a trend among companies worth tens of billions of dollars that have the capacity to dramatically increase a partner’s value. For example, last year, Amex’s venture investment group took a stake in Firework, a live video shopping platform, before expanding the tech to its own merchant account customers. Forecast Labs, Comcast’s VC business, takes advantageous investment stakes in startups because it’s able to promise inventory and media services.

But there’s a bit more to Shopify’s Klaviyo investment. The whole ecommerce industry is waiting on tenterhooks for Shopify to confirm the hoped-for launch of an ad platform. This Klaviyo deal is one way to profit from an ad business without necessarily taking over an ad tech company. Shopify could elevate preferred partners, profit by the gains they generate for the startup – and leave the door open for a full takeover later.

The Cost Of InfoWars

Lies can be lucrative thanks to advertising – and propaganda peddlers often swim in cash despite efforts to deplatform them.

Alex Jones, owner of popular (god help us) right-wing “outlet” InfoWars, is reaping the whirlwind after losing a defamation case for spreading the lie that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a government-engineered false flag operation and that the parents were paid crisis actors.

On Wednesday, attorneys representing Sandy Hook victims revealed that Jones’s lawyers had inadvertently given them a complete digital copy of his cellphone history, which details how much money InfoWars made during the time. This information was not public before.

During 2018, InfoWars raked in between $100,000 and $200,000 on a typical day and peaked at $800,000. The site continued to monetize near those levels even after its programming was banned by Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify that year. However, being banned from those platforms did diminish InfoWars’ reach.

In another bizarre moment during the trial, Jones’s lawyers asked him about the non-FDA-approved supplements he shills during InfoWars programming, prompting Jones to launch into, essentially, a host-read ad for those products while he was on the witness stand.

Chalk that one up as a new low for new media.

But Wait, There’s More!

Netflix is scrambling to learn the ad business it once disdained. [WSJ]

“The monetization trap”: When pressure to increase revenue degrades user retention, engendering a total dependency on paid marketing. [Mobile Dev Memo]

Customer data platform mParticle acquires Vidora, an AI personalization startup for customer data. [release]

The global economic crisis is sparking a reappraisal of online ad spending by brand marketers. [Digiday]

German performance marketing company Swaarm has raised a new “mid seven-figure funding round.” [release]

Why TikTok trails Instagram in influencer ad spend. [Ad Age]

Marketing services company Theorem expands automated ad ops and order-to-cash services. [NextTV]

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