Google Partners With Walmart; Brand Safety Side Effects

Googling For Shoppers

By the end of September, Google will have integrated Walmart into its Google Express shopping service for voice-activated home speakers and Google Assistant-enabled devices. Google Express offers free, one- to three-day delivery for retail partners – including Target, Costco, Stop & Shop and Walgreens – for orders over a store-set minimum (typically $25 to $35). Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior VP of ads and commerce, wrote a blog post citing Express’ focus on “(making) it faster and easier for you to shop your stores.” And retailers certainly appreciate a chance to reach voice-search shoppers without going through archrival Amazon. “When it comes to voice shopping, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers,” Walmart ecommerce chief Marc Lore wrote at the retailer’s blog. “That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google.” They sure aren’t teaming up with Alexa.

Safe And Sorry

YouTube’s brand safety filters caught and removed an unspecified number of videos from the war in Syria that could have been used to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes, The New York Times reports. While YouTube videos are usually screened by humans for brand safety violations before being removed from the site, its machine-learning algorithm can automatically remove videos with a notice to the content creator, according to a YouTube spokesperson. Independent Syrian media have used YouTube to document human rights violations throughout the war, and removing their videos endangers “the richest source of information about human rights violations in closed societies,” said Keith Hyatt, VP of human rights organization Benetech. “Things just got a lot harder now the videos that were on YouTube are no longer around.” More.

Two Thousand And Late

Brands risk moving too slowly on some “next-gen” consumer technology that in some cases is already here. Voice search topped a recent survey of digital marketers in terms of future growth potential. But two-thirds of that group don’t have plans to even address the new search category. And it isn’t just about brands leading on R&D or innovation budgets there’s also a quiet, risky undertow of consumer backlash. “There’s considerable evidence that consumers are growing more impatient and less tolerant of poor or frustrating online experiences,” writes Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land. More.

The Sweet Hereafter

As supermarkets and convenience stores adopt self-checkout machines and mobile pre-ordering, impulse buys are losing a key piece of real estate: cash register lines. And CPGs like Hershey’s are experimenting as fast as they can in pursuit of new impulse buying hubs. One potential strategy involves bringing the store experience to online shopping through VR headsets, Brian Kavanagh, Hershey’s senior director of retail evolution, tells Digiday. Outside of VR, Hershey’s is also working with retailers to create seasonal “aisles” on its sites where people pre-ordering groceries could come across candy alongside fresh food. More.

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