Home Ad Exchange News Fixing Product Returns To Fix Ecommerce Ads; Will The FTC Nix Fake Reviews?

Fixing Product Returns To Fix Ecommerce Ads; Will The FTC Nix Fake Reviews?

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The Point Of No Return

Amazon set the bar with its liberal refund policy – it’s quick to credit consumers for missing or unsatisfactory items – and one- or two-day shipping.

Matching Amazon’s standards is a brutally expensive challenge for retailers, who must pay to ship items to people’s doorsteps and for free returns to match its policies.

Shipping times play a direct role in ad campaign performance, so marketers are well aware of those fulfillment dynamics. Amazon in particular also factors things like reviews and return rates into its product-picking algorithm.

Amazon is now blazing the next trail for retailers and ecommerce product sellers to follow. To understand true performance, it’s factoring return costs into advertising and other parts of the business.

Ecommerce campaigns are built to generate sales, but that’s not the end of the story. Some sales are actually costs if the items are refunded and returned on the retailer’s dime.

To reduce the burden of return costs, Amazon is also pushing people to return items in stores (Kohl’s and Staples, for instance, as well as its own Whole Foods chain), The Information reports.

Shoot For The Stars

The FTC formalized its long-held stance that fake online product reviews are not just misleading but illegal, the Washington Post reports.

The penalty is up to $50,000 per fake or misleading review, for every instance the review was observable by a customer. In theory, that number could get very, very high for sellers that traffic in hundreds or thousands of product page visits.

It will be interesting to see whether the FTC expects those fangs to work as a deterrent on their own. Fake and misleading reviews are absolutely ubiquitous, after all, even though all the platform policies forbid the practice.

The FTC rules could also be used to target influencer marketing. Post-purchase reviews are commonplace, but social creators also tout products they haven’t used or product benefits they haven’t experienced.

It would be interesting (and awesome) if influencer marketing did become more authentic, with people giving forthright reviews and marketers becoming more judicious about how they dish out freebies.

Setting Up Shop

Microsoft said in March that it will launch an app store for iOS and Android devices in Europe next year, when the Digital Markets Act goes into effect. The DMA is an antitrust gatekeeper law in the EU that prohibits Apple or Google (looking at Apple, though) from banning other app stores.

Meta will let users click to install apps directly from an ad (a minor convenience for people, but a godsend for Meta’s targeting and attribution flywheel). That’s not the same as building a full-fledged independent app store – Meta’s proposed app-download ad unit is more like a sideloading app and works only on Android – but it is a first step.

Other large companies will follow suit, according to Eric Seufert at Stratechery. Epic’s Fortnite or even Spotify might be app store operators, too.

And legal cases must resolve key questions, like whether Apple and Google can take revenue commissions from third-party install apps or place dire security and privacy warning messages prior to install. How the EU fills in the legal gray zone will determine whether the strategy proliferates.

But Wait, There’s More!

Taco Bell promotes its chief brand officer to CEO. [Ad Age]

Snapchat creators are on posting blitzes with hundreds of stories as they race to cash in on its new revenue program. [Insider]

YouTube tests fighting ad blockers with a three-strike rule. [Mashable]

Twitter has begun blocking unregistered users. [The Verge]

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