GDPR adtech complaints keep stacking up in Europe

It’s a year since Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force and leaky adtech is now facing privacy complaints in four more European Union markets. This ups the tally to seven markets where data protection authorities have been urged to investigate a core function of behavioral advertising.

The latest clutch of GDPR complaints aimed at the real-time bidding (RTB) system have been filed in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain.

All the complaints argue that RTB entails “wide-scale and systemic” breaches of Europe’s data protection regime, as personal date harvested to profile Internet users for ad-targeting purposes is broadcast widely to bidders in the adtech chain. The complaints have implications for key adtech players, Google and the Internet Advertising Bureau, which set RTB standards used by other in the online adverting pipeline.

We’ve reached out to Google and IAB Europe for comment on the latest complaints. (The latter’s original response statement to the complaint can be found here, behind its cookie wall.)

The first RTB complaints were filed in the UK and Ireland, last fall, by Dr Johnny Ryan of private browser Brave; Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group; and Michael Veale, a data and policy researcher at University College London.

A third complaint went in to Poland’s DPA in January, filed by anti-surveillance NGO, the Panoptykon Foundation.

The latest four complaints have been lodged in Spain by Gemma Galdon Clavell (Eticas Foundation) and Diego Fanjul (Finch); David Korteweg (Bits of Freedom) in the Netherlands; Jef Ausloos (University of Amsterdam) and Pierre Dewitte (University of Leuven) in Belgium; and Jose Belo (Exigo Luxembourg).

Earlier this year a lawyer working with the complainants said they’re expecting “a cascade of complaints” across Europe — and “fully expect an EU-wide regulatory … Read the rest

How startups can use Amazon’s SEO best practices to dominate new shopping verticals

Amazon dominates the top ranking positions of Google for tens of thousands of ecommerce queries, but there are plenty of products in newer shopping categories where Amazon has not yet achieved SEO supremacy. Retailers in nascent verticals have an opportunity to follow Amazon’s SEO playbook and become the default ranking ecommerce website.

Achieving this success can be done purely by focusing on on-page SEO without the need to build a brand and a backlink portfolio that rivals Amazon.

For those unfamiliar with mechanisms of SEO, there are essentially two streams of SEO tactics

  1. On-page SEO – This is anything to do with optimizing an actual page or website for maximum SEO visibility. Within this bucket will fall efforts such as the content of a page, metadata, internal links, URL/folder names,  and even things like images.
  2. Off-page SEO – A key component of Google’s algorithm is the quality and sometimes quantity of the links from external sites that point to a page or website. At a high level the better backlinks a page or website has the more authority the page has to rank in search.

On-page SEO teardown

Delving into just their on-page SEO, their tactics can be divided into four distinct areas which we will go through in detail.

  1. Content
  2. SEO site architecture
  3. Cross-linking
  4. Page layout

If you are following along with this process, make sure to log out of your Amazon account or open up an incognito window. Google only views the logged out version of the site, … Read the rest

Measured promises a smarter approach to ad attribution

Measured is giving advertisers a new way to determine whether their ads are actually working.

Many of those advertisers currently rely on multi-touch attribution, an approach designed to measure how each channel and each ad contributed to a purchase decision. In fact, that’s what Measured CEO Trevor Testwuide offered at his last startup, Conversion Logic.

But Testwuide (who co-founded Measured with CTO Madan Bharadwaj) said this approach has serious limitations, particularly when it comes to measuring channels like Facebook, as well as offline channels like direct mail.

“I would say that multi-touch attribution, for nine out of the 10 brands that we see, is a fool’s errand because it measures such a small percentage of media,” he said.

Instead, Measured employs what it calls “steady-state test-and-control experimentation.” Testwuide described it as a sophisticated form of A/B testing that measures whether an ad will actually provide an incremental improvement in consumer behavior. He said this kind of testing is relatively straightforward when it comes to analyzing existing customers, but is “really, really hard” for finding new customers.

“How we deploy and manage a clean control for prospecting experiments without any bias — that’s where a lot of our breakthrough technology has been,” he said.

And while Measured is only coming out of stealth now, Testwuide said the company was founded back in February 2017 and is already working with 15 brands, including FabFitFun, Johnny Was, Hint, AB InBev, J.Jill, AARP and Soft Surroundings. In a statement, Johnny Was CEO Rob Trauber said the technology allows his team to “have a laser focus on the incremental contribution of paid media, providing us the data to make smarter investment decisions.”

Testwuide added that he and Bharadwaj initially funded the company with their own money, and that it’s now profitable.

“We … Read the rest

Looking back at Zoom’s IPO with CEO Eric Yuan

Since the launch of its IPO in mid-April, Zoom stock has skyrocketed, up nearly 30% as of Monday’s open. However, as the company’s valuation continues to tick up, analysts and industry pundits are now diving deeper to try to unravel what the company’s future growth might look like.

TechCrunch’s venture capital ax Kate Clark has been following the story with a close eye and will be sitting down for an exclusive conversation with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan on Wednesday at 10:00 am PT. Eric, Kate and Extra Crunch members will be taking a look back at the company’s listing process and Zoom’s road to IPO.

Tune in to join the conversation and for the opportunity to ask Eric and Kate any and all things Zoom.

To listen to this and all future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.

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Mailchimp’s Ben Chestnut on bootstrapping a startup to $700M in revenue

The well-known tech startup routine of coming up with an idea, raising money from VCs in increasing rounds as valuations continue to rise and then eventually going public or getting acquired has been around for as long as the myth of Silicon Valley itself. But the evolution of Mailchimp — a notable, bootstrapped outlier out of Atlanta, Ga. that provides email and other marketing services to small businesses — tells a very different story of tech startup success.

As the company closes in on $700 million in annual revenues for 2019, it has no intention of letting up, or selling out: No outside funding, no plans for an IPO and no to all the companies that have tried to acquire it. As it has grown, it has been profitable from day one.

This week, the company is unveiling what is probably its biggest product update since first starting to sell email marketing services 20 years ago: It’s launching a new marketing platform that features social media management, ad retargeting, AI-based business intelligence, domain sales, web development templates and more.

I took the opportunity to speak with its co-founder and CEO, Ben Chestnut — who started Mailchimp as a side project with two friends, Mark Armstrong and Dan Kurzius, in the trough of the first dot-com bust — on Mailchimp’s origins and plans for what comes next. The startup’s story is a firm example of how there is definitely more than one route to success in tech.


Ingrid Lunden: You’re launching a new marketing platform today, but I want to walk back a little first. This isn’t your first move away from email. We discovered back in March that you quietly acquired a Canadian e-commerce startup, LemonStand, just as you were parting ways with Shopify.

Ben Chestnut: We wanted to … Read the rest