GOOGL - Alphabet Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real Time Price. Currency in USD
1,300.14
-1.72 (-0.13%)
At close: 4:00PM EST
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Previous Close1,301.86
Open1,299.25
Bid0.00 x 900
Ask0.00 x 1000
Day's Range1,290.75 - 1,311.04
52 Week Range977.66 - 1,333.92
Volume1,058,179
Avg. Volume1,296,875
Market Cap897.098B
Beta (3Y Monthly)1.01
PE Ratio (TTM)27.90
EPS (TTM)46.60
Earnings DateFeb. 3, 2020 - Feb. 7, 2020
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est1,459.33
  • Google Puts New Limits on Political Advertising
    Bloomberg

    Google Puts New Limits on Political Advertising

    Nov.21 -- Google is severely limiting how political advertisers can target people online. The Alphabet unit says it will no longer allow election ads to be targeted based on political affiliation on Google Search, YouTube and across the web. Bloomberg's Eric Newcomer and Kurt Wagner report on "Bloomberg Technology."

  • Why Sonos paid almost $40 million for an AI startup
    Yahoo Finance

    Why Sonos paid almost $40 million for an AI startup

    Sonos CEO Patrick Spence speaks with Yahoo Finance fresh off the company's first-ever acquisition as a public company.

  • Apple AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million in 2019
    Bloomberg

    Apple AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million in 2019

    (Bloomberg) -- Shipments of Apple Inc.’s popular AirPods wireless earphones are expected to double to 60 million units in 2019, according to people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s production plans. This has been driven in part by “much higher” than expected demand for the pricier AirPods Pro model unveiled in October.The $249 AirPods Pro -- which offer noise cancellation and water resistance -- have surpassed expectations and demand for them is pushing Apple’s assembly partners against capacity and technical constraints, a person familiar with the matter said. Multiple suppliers are competing for the business of manufacturing the Pro earphones, though some are still building up the technical proficiency. There’s currently a wait time of two to three weeks for the AirPods Pro on Apple’s U.S. website.The most advanced form of wireless headphones is called “true wireless,” defined by the absence of a wire not just between the headphones and the music source but also between the two earbuds -- and the AirPods are the category-leading example. Taiwan-based Inventec Corp. and China’s Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and Goertek Inc. manufacture the AirPods for Apple.Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on the product’s shipments.The pickup in AirPods sales this year has been helped by the launch of two new iterations: the Pro model in October and a $199 upgraded version of the original in March. The first AirPods were released in 2016. The runway is also mostly clear for Apple to have a successful holiday season, with Microsoft Corp. delaying its rival true wireless buds until spring and Google also not launching its new model until 2020.At the end of August, Apple was the clear leader in the global true wireless earphones market, according to Counterpoint Research. AirPods shipments have dwarfed every alternative and the Beats Powerbeats Pro, another Apple product, also feature in the top 10 sellers. While Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Buds have emerged as a recognizable competitor, Apple moreover ranked as the most preferred brand for future purchases of true wireless headphones in the U.S., the researchers said.“Apple also edged rivals because true wireless as a category is the preferred choice over wireless earphones, due to factors like better sound quality, portability, and ease of use,” Counterpoint analyst Pavel Naiya wrote on Sept. 26.Wearables like the AirPods and Apple Watch have become a crucial growth driver for the Cupertino company, which is adapting to plateauing iPhone demand in a mature smartphone market. In the past quarter, Apple’s iPhone sales shrunk to $33.4 billion from the prior year’s $36.8 billion, whereas the Wearables, Home, and Accessories segment -- composed of the Apple Watch, AirPods, Beats, HomePod and Apple TV groups -- generated $6.5 billion in revenue, growing by 54%.Total shipments of the AirPods Pro for the year will be determined by how well and how quickly the assemblers overcome the production challenges they currently face. If the overall AirPods range hits 60 million units in 2019 as is now expected, Apple should retain its 50% share of the true wireless market, which Counterpoint expects to surpass 120 million shipments for the year.\--With assistance from Mark Gurman.To contact the reporter on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • The Intel-AMD Showdown
    Zacks

    The Intel-AMD Showdown

    It's beginning to look like a really interesting market.

  • Microsoft granted licence to export 'mass-market' software to Huawei
    Reuters

    Microsoft granted licence to export 'mass-market' software to Huawei

    The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump said this week it would allow some suppliers to restart sales to the Chinese telecoms giant, which was placed on a trade blacklist over national security concerns six months ago. The Commerce Department confirmed it had begun issuing licenses for some companies to sell goods to Huawei, expanding the company's supplier base and providing long-awaited clarity to the industry that once sold it billions of dollars worth of goods.

  • 3 Dividend-Paying Tech Stocks to Buy Right Now on Growth Opportunities
    Zacks

    3 Dividend-Paying Tech Stocks to Buy Right Now on Growth Opportunities

    Despite the U.S.-China trade setback, stocks could still climb in 2019 and beyond, and the tech industry remains a key growth driver. Therefore, we searched for tech companies with our Zacks Stock Screener that also pay a dividend...

  • Obama Warns Technology Has Created a More Splintered World
    Bloomberg

    Obama Warns Technology Has Created a More Splintered World

    (Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. President Barack Obama warned that technology is creating a more splintered world, fueling the disparities among wealthy and poorer nations, and people within countries.“The rise of extreme inequality both within nations and between nations that is being turbocharged by globalization and technology” is one of the biggest risks for young people, Obama said Thursday at Salesforce.com Inc.’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. “New technologies have allowed us reach. We have a global market. I can project my voice and you can take your technology to new markets. It has also amplified inequalities.”Though his successor Donald Trump has taken presidential use of Twitter to new heights, Obama has long been associated with the tech industry. His 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns were known for their use of the internet and social media to galvanize supporters. Some of Obama’s staffers came from Silicon Valley companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and there’s a diaspora of former Obama administration officials who have worked in the tech industry since leaving the White House, including David Plouffe, formerly with Uber Technologies Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s top spokesman Jay Carney.Still, the 44th president talked about how the internet has helped divide American politics and society.“People remark on the polarization of our politics and rightfully so,” Obama said. “People rightfully see challenges like climate change and mass refugees and feel like things are spinning out of control. Behind that, what I see is a sense of anxiety, rootlessness and uncertainty in so many people. Some of that is fed by technology and there’s an anger formed by those technologies.”Social-media services including Facebook Inc. and Google‘s YouTube have been accused of fueling polarization with algorithms that show people news and other content that match their preconceived thinking and viewpoints.“If you watch Fox News, you live in a different reality than if you read the New York Times. If you follow one rabbit hole on YouTube or the internet, then suddenly things look completely different,” Obama said during his conversation with Salesforce co-Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff. “We are siloing ourselves off in ways that are dangerous. I believed, and I still believe the internet can be a powerful tool for us to finally see each other and unify us, but right now it’s disappointing.”Since leaving the White House in January 2017, Obama has become a fixture on the paid-speaker circuit. Thursday’s appearance at Dreamforce is at least Obama’s second appearance at a tech event in San Francisco in the last two months. He also spoke at a Splunk Inc. conference in September.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Microsoft Delays Its AirPods Rival Until After the Key Holiday Season

    (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. delayed the launch of its Surface Earbuds, missing the 2019 holiday shopping season. The software giant is the latest company to stumble in a race to catch up with Apple Inc.’s popular AirPods.The Surface Earbuds will come out in spring 2020, not this year as previously planned. The announcement was made by Panos Panay, the company’s chief product officer, on Twitter.The wireless earbuds were announced earlier this year, and like AirPods, are cord free. The Microsoft version has a circular shape, integrates with a voice assistant and can be used to control Microsoft software like PowerPoint.At $249, the Surface Earbuds are priced the same as Apple’s new AirPods Pro, but the delay means Microsoft will be missing out on a key category this holiday season.Google has also been working to upgrade its wireless earbuds. That product will also be missing this holiday season. The company is aiming for a release in the spring at a price of $179.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Warren and group of senators demand Google answer how it will use medical data
    The Guardian

    Warren and group of senators demand Google answer how it will use medical data

    Warren and group of senators demand Google answer how it will use medical data. 2020 candidate, Richard Blumenthal and Bill Cassidy express concerns over Project Nightingale in bipartisan letter

  • Bloomberg

    Google’s Micro-Targeting Ban Won’t Improve Political Ads

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Google says it will limit the targeting of political ads to make it harder to sneak misinformation to impressionable voters. That puts the company ahead of the pack when it comes to making the political business of big internet platforms look less threatening. But the efficiency of political micro-targeting is questionable, and Google is responding to a moral panic rather than any real danger to democracy.Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the public has become aware of techniques that allow advertisers to aim their messages at narrow groups of people, sliced not just by place of residence, age and sex, but also by consumer and political preferences, browsing histories, voting records and other kinds of personal data. This culminated in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, when news reports showed that the U.K.-based micro-targeting firm had improperly harvested lots of private user data from Facebook. The platforms were on the spot to do something. Twitter has banned political ads entirely, but then it didn’t sell many, anyway, serving instead as a free platform for political messages. In an op-ed in the Washington Post following Twitter’s announcement, Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Election Commission, called for an end to political micro-targeting instead of an ad ban. “It is easy to single out susceptible groups and direct political misinformation to them with little accountability, because the public at large never sees the ad,” she argued.That was a controversial proposal. Writing in the same newspaper, Chris Wilson, who had been responsible for digital strategy in Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign (which was the first in that election to hire Cambridge Analytica), countered that micro-targeting has helped increase voter turnout and drive down advertising costs for campaigns. His suggestion was to make the targeting more transparent.Google, however, found it more expedient to go along with Weintraub’s proposal than to fight an uphill battle using Wilson’s arguments. In a blog post on Wednesday, the company said it would no longer let advertisers target messages “based on public voter records and general political affiliations (left-leaning, right-leaning, and independent).” Only basic targeting by age, gender and postal code would be allowed.This, is course, is no more than Russian trolls would have required in 2016 — as Wilson pointed out in his Washington Post op-ed. Their propaganda campaign was largely geographically targeted. There’s still no proof that micro-targeting is more effective than other forms of advertising. Academic work on the subject has tended to be rather theoretical, while experimental evidence is scarce. In a paper published this year, German researcher Lennart Krotzek concluded after an experiment matching ads to personality profiles that “candidate messages are more effective in improving a voter’s feeling toward a candidate when the messages are congruent with the voter’s personality profile, but they do not result in a higher propensity to vote for the advertised candidate.”Internet platforms have done little to further the study of political targeting.Google offers a transparency report on political ads placed on its various properties — search pages, YouTube, the sites of media partners. It says that the biggest U.S. advertiser in the last 12 months is the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which has spent $8.5 million. The report discloses that the pro-Trump group has targeted its most recent ads at all people older than 18 throughout the U.S., but offers no clues as to whether any more precise targeting was used. That’s the case with the rest of the advertisers, too.Facebook’s transparency report is just as opaque when it comes to the precise targeting of ads by voters’ interests and political leanings.  It’s easier for Google than for Facebook to abandon precise targeting, because one of its key strengths is being able to link ads to search words. That’s a form of rather precise targeting not affected by Google’s policy change. Slicing and dicing the audience is at the heart of Facebook’s offering to advertisers, so it’s understandably hesitant to disable the feature, thought it, too, has been mulling some targeting curbs.But Facebook doesn’t have to make the sacrifice. It would make more sense to reveal exactly how each political ad is targeted — and to cooperate with researchers interested in evaluating the ads’ efficiency. Facebook has the means to deliver messages from such researchers to the target audiences, which would help them recruit subjects for experiments. Google should have done the same instead of introducing drastic curbs that probably won’t do much to raise the level of political discourse, anyway. Policymakers need data, not hype, to make informed decisions on how to regulate modern advertising.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • PayPal Acquires Honey Science, Boosts E-commerce Presence
    Zacks

    PayPal Acquires Honey Science, Boosts E-commerce Presence

    PayPal Holdings (PYPL) acquires a private e-commerce company, Honey Science, for approximately $4 billion.

  • Digital Health Gaining Momentum: 3 MedTech Stocks in Focus
    Zacks

    Digital Health Gaining Momentum: 3 MedTech Stocks in Focus

    Digital health is committed to changing the face of healthcare as evident from its innovative solutions for the betterment of patients' lives.

  • Sky News

    Google to ban politically targeted advertisements in UK ahead of general election

    Google is going to ban political advertisers from targeting audiences based upon their political preferences, the company announced. The company said its new policy would be implemented in the UK within a week, and in the rest of the world in January, as the company faces mounting criticism over its advertising policies during the general election. It will impact search ads - which appear on Google in response to searches - display advertisements served through Google Ads, one of the most ubiquitous advertising platforms across the web, as well as on YouTube.

  • Inside Apple’s iPhone Software Shakeup After Buggy iOS 13 Debut
    Bloomberg

    Inside Apple’s iPhone Software Shakeup After Buggy iOS 13 Debut

    (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is overhauling how it tests software after a swarm of bugs marred the latest iPhone and iPad operating systems, according to people familiar with the shift.Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for Apple's development teams to ensure that test versions, known as “daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of each individual addition on the system.When the company’s iOS 13 was released alongside the iPhone 11 in September, iPhone owners and app developers were confronted with a litany of software glitches. Apps crashed or launched slowly. Cellular signal was inconsistent. There were user interface errors in apps like Messages, system-wide search issues and problems loading emails. Some new features, such as sharing file folders over iCloud and streaming music to multiple sets of AirPods, were either delayed or are still missing. This amounted to one of the most troubled and unpolished operating system updates in Apple’s history.“iOS 13 continues to destroy my morale,” Marco Arment, a well known developer, wrote on Twitter. “Same,” replied Jason Marr, co-creator of grocery list app AnyList. “Apple's really shown a lack of respect for both its developers and its customers with iOS 13.” The issues show how complex iPhones have become and how easily users can be disappointed by a company known for the smooth integration of hardware and software. Annual software updates timed for release with the latest iPhones are a critical way for Apple to add new capabilities and keep users from defecting to archrival Android. Refreshed operating systems also give developers more tools for app creation, catalyzing more revenue for Apple from its App Store. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.The new development process will help early internal iOS versions to be more usable, or “livable,” in Apple parlance. Prior to iOS 14’s development, some teams would add features every day that weren’t fully tested, while other teams would contribute changes weekly. “Daily builds were like a recipe with lots of cooks adding ingredients,” a person with knowledge of the process said. Test software got so crammed with changes at different stages of development that the devices often became difficult to use. Because of this, some “testers would go days without a livable build, so they wouldn’t really have a handle on what’s working and not working,” the person said. This defeated the main goal of the testing process as Apple engineers struggled to check how the operating system was reacting to many of the new features, leading to some of iOS 13’s problems.Apple measures and ranks the quality of its software using a scale of 1 to 100 that’s based on what’s known internally as a “white glove” test. Buggy releases might get a score in the low 60s whereas more stable software would be above 80. iOS 13 scored lower on that scale than the more polished iOS 12 that preceded it. Apple teams also assign green, yellow and red color codes to features to indicate their quality during development. A priority scale of 0 through 5, with 0 being a critical issue and 5 being minor, is used to determine the gravity of individual bugs.The new strategy is already being applied to the development of  iOS 14, codenamed “Azul” internally, ahead of its debut next year. Apple has also considered delaying some iOS 14 features until 2021 — in an update called “Azul +1” internally that will likely become known as iOS 15 externally — to give the company more time to focus on performance. Still, iOS 14 is expected to rival iOS 13 in the breadth of its new capabilities, the people familiar with Apple’s plans said.The testing shift will apply to all of Apple’s operating systems, including iPadOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS. The latest Mac computer operating system, macOS Catalina, has also manifested bugs such as incompatibility with many apps and missing messages in Mail. Some HomePod speakers, which run an iOS-based operating system, stopped working after a recent iOS 13 update, leading Apple to temporarily pull the upgrade. The latest Apple Watch and Apple TV updates, on the other hand, have gone more smoothly. Apple executives hope that the overhauled testing approach will improve the quality of the company’s software over the long term. But this isn’t the first time that Apple engineers have heard this from management.Last year, Apple delayed several iOS 12 features — including redesigns for CarPlay and the iPad home screen — specifically so it could focus on reliability and performance. At an all-hands meeting in January 2018, Federighi said the company had prioritized new features too much and should return to giving consumers the quality and stability that they wanted first.Apple then established so-called Tiger Teams to address performance issues in specific parts of iOS. The company reassigned engineers from across the software division to focus on tasks such as speeding up app launch times, improving network connectivity and boosting battery life. When iOS 12 came out in the fall of 2018, it was a stable release that required just two updates in the first two months.That success didn’t carry over to this year. The initial version of iOS 13 was so buggy that Apple has had to rush out several patches. In the first two months of iOS 13, there have been eight updates, the most since 2012 when Federighi took over Apple’s iOS software engineering group. The company is currently testing another new version, iOS 13.3, and there’s already a follow-up in the works for the spring.About a month before Apple’s 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company’s software engineers started to realize that iOS 13, then known internally as “Yukon,” wasn’t performing as well as previous versions. Some people who worked on the project said development was a “mess.”By August, realizing that the initial iOS 13.0 set to ship with new iPhones a few weeks later wouldn’t hit quality standards, Apple engineers decided to mostly abandon that work and focus on improving iOS 13.1, the first update. Apple privately considered iOS 13.1 the “actual public release” with a quality level matching iOS 12. The company expected only die-hard Apple fans to load iOS 13.0 onto their phones.The timing of the iOS 13.1 update was moved up by a week to Sept. 24, compressing the time that iOS 13.0 was Apple’s flagship OS release. New iPhones are so tightly integrated with Apple software that it would have been technically impossible to launch the iPhone 11 with iOS 12, and since 13.1 wasn’t ready in time, Apple’s only choice was to ship with 13.0 and update everyone to 13.1 as quickly as it could.While the iOS 13 issues did upset iPhone owners, they still updated fairly quickly. As of mid-October, half of all Apple device users were running a version of iOS 13, according to Apple. That upgrade pace is still far ahead of Google’s Android.Once iOS 13.1 was released, Apple’s software engineering division pivoted to iOS 13.2 with a quality goal of being better than iOS 12. This update has had fewer complaints than its predecessors in the iOS 13 family but did introduce a short-lived bug around apps closing in the background when they shouldn’t.“iOS 13 has felt like a super-messy release, something we haven't seen this bad since iOS 8 or so,” Steve Troughton-Smith, a veteran developer of Apple apps, wrote on Twitter.To contact the author of this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at mgurman1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Alistair Barr at abarr18@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Sony in Talks to Buy Stake in Ambani’s TV Network
    Bloomberg

    Sony in Talks to Buy Stake in Ambani’s TV Network

    (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp. is in talks to acquire a stake in the Indian television network controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, as the Japanese giant seeks to tap booming demand for content in the South Asian nation, according to people familiar with the matter.The Tokyo-based company is currently conducting due diligence on Ambani’s Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. before any possible offer, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is not public. Sony is considering several potential deal structures, including a bid for the company or a merger of its own Indian business with Network18’s entertainment channels, one of the people said.Talks are at a preliminary stage and may not result in a transaction, the people said. Shares of Network18 surged as much as 19% in Mumbai on Thursday, while unit TV18 Broadcast Ltd. jumped 9.7%.While a successful deal may help Sony bolster its local offerings and take on upstart rivals such as Netflix Inc., it will give Ambani access to international content. The Indian tycoon’s wireless carrier, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., has spent almost $50 billion in the past few years on its network to disrupt India’s telecommunications industry and has been luring users by offering local and overseas programming.“Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis,” a spokesman for Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., said in an email, declining to comment further. Representatives for Sony in India and Japan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.The talks come at a time when competition is heating up for paying viewers in a potentially lucrative market with more than half a billion smartphone users. Streaming companies such as Netflix to Amazon.com Inc. Prime are increasingly offering programs created locally to lure subscribers. Ambani’s Jio, while having the technology platform, is limited by the paucity of content it can stream, making such a deal with Sony crucial.“India is a massive OTT market, and any international OTT play will need to bolster its local strategy,” said Utkarsh Sinha, managing director at Bexley Advisors, a boutique firm in Mumbai, referring to over-the-top or streaming media services. “More partnerships or strategic alliances like this are likely in the next year or so.”Inside the Most Watched YouTube Channel in the WorldReliance Industries, the oil-to-petrochemicals conglomerate, unveiled plans last month to set up a digital-services holding company to fulfill the mogul’s ambitions for an e-commerce platform aimed at taking on the likes of Amazon.com and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart Online Services Pvt.Sony operates in the South Asian country through Sony Pictures Networks India, which has a bouquet of channels including Sony Entertainment Television, reaching over 700 million viewers in India.TV18 Broadcast owns and operates 56 channels in India spanning news and entertainment. It also caters to the global Indian diaspora through 16 international channels.(Updates with analyst’s comment in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Baiju Kalesh in Mumbai at bkalesh@bloomberg.net;Anto Antony in Mumbai at aantony1@bloomberg.net;P R Sanjai in Mumbai at psanjai@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, ;Sam Nagarajan at samnagarajan@bloomberg.net, Arijit GhoshFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google latest tech giant to crack down on political ads as pressure on Facebook grows
    The Guardian

    Google latest tech giant to crack down on political ads as pressure on Facebook grows

    Google latest tech giant to crack down on political ads as pressure on Facebook grows. Google to bar political advertisers from targeting voters based on affiliation and tighten ban on ‘demonstrably false claims’

  • Google, Facebook at Center of Rising Political-Ad Tensions
    Bloomberg

    Google, Facebook at Center of Rising Political-Ad Tensions

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and Google were drawn into an escalating battle of wills Wednesday over the use of political advertising on social media.Trump campaign officials pressured Facebook to maintain its permissive political advertising rules, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google announced an overhaul of how campaigns may target their messages across the world’s largest search engine.The ability of candidates to show different messages to people based on their physical location, age, or other characteristic, referred to as micro-targeting, has become an increasing focus of the broader debate about political advertising online. Last month, Twitter Inc. said it will ban political ads on its platform altogether, and is restricting targeting for other ads related to some politically charged issues, like climate change.Google on Wednesday said it will ban candidates from targeting election ads based on people’s political affiliation, though the messages can be tailored based on gender, age and geography. The company also is eliminating a feature called Customer Match for political advertisers. The tool lets marketers upload their own lists of email addresses or phone numbers, and target ads specifically at those people.Facebook, the largest platform for online political advertising, has been under pressure to follow suit. Several prominent Democrats have attacked the company for refusing to fact-check political ads. Facebook has rebuffed those calls, saying it doesn’t want to police political speech. In October, hundreds of Facebook employees sent a letter to the company’s executives calling for new limits on ad targeting for political campaigns. The letter became public after it was obtained by the New York Times.Carolyn Everson, a Facebook vice president, said Monday at a Recode conference that the social-media company wasn’t considering changes to its targeted advertising options for political ads. Later that day, however, she told Axios, the news website, that Facebook hadn’t ruled out any specific changes, raising the prospect the company may change course and limit targeting in some way.The Trump campaign reacted directly to Everson’s comments. It sees Facebook as an essential tool for speaking directly to voters, instead of relying on critical media outlets that the president says treat him unfairly.Gary Coby, the Trump campaign’s digital director, argued on Twitter Wednesday that stopping campaigns from pairing in-house data with Facebook’s advertising tools would suppress voter engagement. “This would unevenly hurt the little guy, smaller voices, & issues the public is not aware of OR news is NOT covering,” Coby tweeted, saying it was very “dangerous” and a “huge blow to speech.”Tim Cameron, chief executive officer at FlexPoint Media, a Republican media strategy firm, said the Trump campaign is likely concerned that new restrictions could result in Facebook deciding to begin fact-checking political ads. “I think the Trump campaign is looking down the road beyond this decision and are actually more afraid of subsequent decisions that Facebook may make,” he said.Facebook hasn’t announced any changes to its policies. “For over a year, we’ve provided unprecedented transparency into all U.S. federal and state campaigns -- and we prohibit voter suppression in all ads,” a company spokesman said. “As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”During the 2016 election, the Trump campaign ran 5.9 million different versions of ads, constantly testing them against different groups to increase engagement, according to internal Facebook documents reviewed by Bloomberg in 2018. It spent $44 million on Facebook in the six months before the 2016 election. So far in 2019, the Trump campaign has spent more than $15 million in ads, and is the largest political spender on the platform, according to Facebook’s political ad library.Before Google announced its changes, the company touted its ability to target voters based on political affiliations, like “right-leaning,” as a major selling point. “They were all heartily selling us this for years as the coolest thing since sliced bread,” said Will Ritter, the founder of Poolhouse, a political advertising firm.Google’s new restrictions mean campaigns may have to spend more after losing the ability to hit key voters, Ritter added. For instance, a candidate could identify frequent Republican voters in Democratic-heavy areas of the country, and reach them with ads on search and YouTube. Now they can’t.“It’s just going to increase costs because there’s going to be so much waste,” Ritter said.Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who now works for Tech Inquiry, a political advocacy group focused on ethical issues related to technology, said the ability to target makes online advertising particularly susceptible to abuse. Campaigns can test messages on certain audiences, find which ones resonate, then use tools provided by Facebook or Google to target those people with new ads while also reaching people with similar characteristics. Misleading messaging can be directed at specific audiences without drawing widespread attention.“You can be seeing one message that seems fine, and your next-door neighbor can be seeing some misinformation that is cleverly targeted to produce a very different response or action,” Knapp said.Knapp said Google’s Customer Match tool could be used to target racial groups, or engage in other behavior that violates the policies of the platforms. The equivalent tool on Facebook, “Custom Audiences,” still exists.(Updates with details on Google rules in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Alistair Barr.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at enewcomer@bloomberg.net;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.net;Mark Bergen in San Francisco at mbergen10@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google bars elections ads from using political leanings, voter data
    Reuters

    Google bars elections ads from using political leanings, voter data

    The move coincides with pressure on social media platforms over their handling of political advertising ahead of the U.S. presidential election in 2020. Google said it would limit audience targeting for election ads to age, gender and general location at a postal code level. Google will enforce the new approach in the United Kingdom within a week, ahead of the Dec. 12 general election.

  • Microsoft to Drive Digital Overhaul of Oil & Gas Enterprises
    Zacks

    Microsoft to Drive Digital Overhaul of Oil & Gas Enterprises

    Microsoft (MSFT) teams up with Baker Hughes (BKR) and C3.ai, to enable oil and gas enterprises with digital transformation.

  • U.S. lawmakers question Google about collection of health records
    Reuters

    U.S. lawmakers question Google about collection of health records

    U.S. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren along with fellow Senators Richard Blumenthal and Bill Cassidy wrote a letter to Alphabet's Google on Wednesday to raise questions about its access to the health records of tens of millions of Americans. Warren and Blumenthal, who are Democrats, along with Cassidy, a Republican, were focussed on a business partnership that Google formed with Ascension Health.

  • Everything Investors Need to Know About Disney+
    Zacks

    Everything Investors Need to Know About Disney+

    Here is everything investors need to know about Disney+ in under 60 seconds...

  • Google’s Coming for Your Checking Account
    The Motley Fool

    Google’s Coming for Your Checking Account

    Alphabet's moneymaking, data-mining search engine is planning to get into financial services with the help of a couple of banks.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Sirius XM and Spotify
    Zacks

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Sirius XM and Spotify

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Sirius XM and Spotify

  • Amazon Expands Deal With Salesforce, Gains Competitive Edge
    Zacks

    Amazon Expands Deal With Salesforce, Gains Competitive Edge

    AWS, Amazon's (AMZN) robust cloud platform, extends global partnership with Salesforce.com in a bid to further bolster its cloud offerings.

  • Google Launches Stadia, Bolsters Initiatives in Gaming Space
    Zacks

    Google Launches Stadia, Bolsters Initiatives in Gaming Space

    Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google is likely to intensify competition in the game space with the launch of Stadia.