Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Ali.
1. Is FLOC a flop?
Search Engine Journal reported that WordPress is considering blocking FLOC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), Google’s new and latest technology to replace cookie collection. The new tech went into trials on Chrome earlier this year and instead of advertising to individuals, advertisers will promote to cohorts – groups of internet users sharing similar browsing histories.
WordPress powers around 41% of the web so it’s not a move that Google will appreciate but many of the initial concerns were around security. Those worries were due to Google’s fairly aggressive rollout timeline and are now perceived as less of a threat but WordPress is still deciding whether or not to block FLOC.
Even some of those who are not FLOC fans are not wholly convinced of WordPress’ right to block the Google tech for all users. By banning the tech, it entirely removes the choice of the individual to see relevant advertising, whereas allowing FLOC puts the onus on the user to select settings that can disable the tech if they so choose.
Other internet players agree that an alternative to third-party cookies is required but many seem to be skeptical about Google’s latest play in this space.
2. Associated News sues Google over anti-competitive behaviour
The owners of the Daily Mail newspaper have filed for legal action against Google, believing it to be manipulating search results due to the media group diverting advertising revenue away from the search giant.
The newspaper specifically cites coverage of the Royal Family. It claims that despite writing multiple stories around the Duchess of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey interview, and in particular around the comments of its columnist, Piers Morgan, on the matter, Google SERPs contained more coverage from regional outlets and overlooked Daily Mail coverage.
A Google spokeswoman said: “The Daily Mail’s claims are completely inaccurate. The use of our ad tech tools has no bearing on how a publisher’s website ranks in Google search.”
Media outlets seem to be increasingly prepared to take on the search engine of late, with other antitrust cases brewing in the US and other controversies elsewhere including Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code.
3. Google UK’s European Super League Tweet
With fewer people following @GoogleUK’s twitter account than @Google, you may have missed the search engine’s tweet about how to undo emails – a clear swipe at the unbelievable mess that enveloped the beautiful game following the unveiling of the European Super League.
Although Google didn’t mention the ‘six football teams’ by name, the tweet gave advice to anyone (or any football team for that matter), who might want to change their mind having hit the ‘send’ button
Enabling this feature adds a 5, 10, 20, or 30 second delay after tapping so an email can be retracted to be edited or deleted. Clever!
4. MI5 on Instagram? Really?
MI5 joined Instagram on Thursday of this week to bust popular myths and promote career opportunities. The new Secret Service channel can be followed @mi5official and is an effort to ‘open up and reach out in new ways’.
Writing in the Telegraph, its new director-general Ken McCallum said, “We must get past whatever martini-drinking stereotypes may be lingering by conveying a bit more of what today’s MI5 is actually like, so that people don’t rule themselves out based on perceived barriers such as socio-economic background, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, disability, or which part of the country they happen to have been born in.”
It’ll be interesting to see after the initial flurry, how often they actually post anything of interest. To be a success, social media needs to have an element of immediacy and responsiveness but one would assume there’s going to rather a lot of bureaucracy and safety checks in place for this account which might rather hinder its success.
That said, its first post, an entry pod at its London-based HQ was a good start and its US equivalent has attracted over 3.2 million followers on Twitter.
5. Colin vs. Cuthbert
The M&S Colin the Caterpillar versus the Aldi Cuthbert the Caterpillar debacle reached new levels this week. For those not following the saga, M&S has lodged an intellectual property claim stating that Aldi’s version ‘rides on the coat-tails’ of M&S’s reputation and that it could lead customers to believe the two cakes were of equal quality.
Aldi then announced that sales of its Cuthbert would raise money for two charities (a tactic also employed by M&S) and commented on social media: “Hey Marks and Spencer we’re taking a stand against caterpillar cruelty. Can Colin and Cuthbert be besties?”.
Who will win the legal battle is still to be determined and although M&S has three trademarks relating to Colin, the high street retailer does not seem to be taking action against any other supermarkets at present, many of whom also sell similar caterpillar cakes.
Aldi, is certainly winning the social media battle at present with its string of amusing quips and cheeky responses to the legal shenanigans, including sharing a sketch of Cuthbert in the dock at legal proceedings and declaring him ‘Guilty of being delicious.’