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The Morning After: Google is changing its targeted ads

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Mat Smith
March 5th, 2021
In this article: themorningafter, gear, newsletter
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Google’s making a big change to its hugely lucrative advertising setup. Its ad business model has long relied on the extensive information it gleaned from users of its services (Gmail, Google Maps, etc.), not to mention its own web browser, Chrome. Google sold that information to anyone that wanted to reach the people that are most likely to click, buy, subscribe or the rest. Yesterday, Google announced it will no longer build identifiers to track individuals across the internet — and won’t even use any new identifiers made by third parties.

It’s not throwing away its money-printing machine, though. Individualized ad tracking may be phased out, but it’ll be replaced by anonymized ad tracking that’d group users with similar interests and behaviors and show those folks ads.

And it’s not perfect. As we wrote here, “first-party” data, or information you collect on visitors to your own sites, is still fair game for specific ad targeting, while mobile apps (a huge thing for online ad spending) also sidestep these changes.

So why is Google even doing this? It’s not out of the kindness of its heart. The company is facing increased scrutiny from countries across the world as governments try to strengthen data privacy regulation. It also doesn't come entirely out of the blue: Google announced early last year it wanted to make third-party cookies obsolete over the course of two years. But it’s still a surprise that the company is making changes before it’s forced to.

— Mat Smith

Square is buying a majority stake in Tidal

Jay-Z will sit on the Square board.

The Morning After

Square, the payments company, has bought a majority stake in Tidal for the equivalent of $297 million in cash and stock. Jack Dorsey, Square's CEO (and Twitter's, in case you forgot), says the deal was an effort to find "new ways" for artists to get paid.

Majority stake owner Jay-Z (who's already collaborating with Dorsey on a Bitcoin fund) will join Square's board of directors with influence over other products. Unfortunately, at least according to Jack Dorsey’s tweets, the company still wants to be known as TIDAL, not Tidal. It might be a bit late to make that happen. Continue reading.

Senators ask the FCC to change the definition of high-speed broadband

They want base speeds of 100 Mbps for uploads and downloads.

A group of four senators is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to change its definition of high-speed broadband to significantly increase base speeds. Under the current FCC policy, created in 2015, 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up is the minimum standard for broadband, which might be enough for Netflix, but not if you want to do more with your internet connection in 2021. In their letter, Senators Joe Manchin, Rob Portman, Michael Bennet and Angus King say that more capable speeds, especially for uploads, are needed in the connected future, touching on telemedicine and live-streamed classes and lessons. Continue reading.

Razer made their own smart glasses

They'll double as headphones, too.

The Morning After

Smart glasses sound cool, but the products we’ve seen so far have been unremarkable. And kind of chunky. Now Razer, which tries making everything, has announced its own spin on the wearable that looks a lot like Amazon’s Echo Frames, but with blue light blocking features. We’re still talking about renders at this point, but the Razer Anzu frames will feature touch controls to manage music playback, accept or reject calls, activate your phone's assistant or turn on "gaming mode." They use a customized Bluetooth 5.1 connection that brings 60ms latency that should prevent your audio from stuttering. Also, Razer promises "more than 5 hours of battery life" on a single charge.

If you’re already sold, they’re available now for $200, with a carrying case, a USB-A charging cable and polarized UVA/UVB sunglass replacement lenses, at Razer's website and Best Buy. Continue reading.

Of course 'Fortnite’ has a sea shanty emote

'One day, when the squaddin' is done, we'll take our dub and go.'

The Morning After

Fortnite tries to fold anything and everything into its battle royale fights. Now, there’s a new emote that uses a version of “Soon May the Wellerman Come,” the traditional folk song at the heart of the sea shanty craze, but with Fortnite-themed lyrics. If you’re part of a squad, and you all use the emote at the same time, your characters will sing in harmony. Even if they’re Ryu and Ripley. Continue reading.

Sonos' new $169 portable speaker leaks

Think of the Roam as a smaller, more affordable Sonos Move.

The Verge

It’s called the Sonos Roam, and like the Move before it, it will have the ability to play audio over both WiFi and Bluetooth connections. According to the leak at The Verge, it will reportedly cost $169 when it goes on sale on April 20th. That’s probably more than most people want to spend on a Bluetooth speaker, but it is a significant discount on the Move’s current $399 price tag. It’s also smaller. There’s no shortage of wireless portable Bluetooth speakers out there, but we’ll have to wait until March 9th to figure out if Sonos can stand out. Continue reading.

The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer will have Amazon Fire TV built-in

And a privacy screen will stop the driver from sneaking a peek at ‘Mrs. Maisel’.


The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will have plenty to keep passengers entertained during long trips — they’ll be the first vehicles to have Amazon Fire TV built-in to the infotainment system.

Passengers will be able to watch movies and shows, play games, use apps and access Alexa on the road through Fire TV for Auto. They can watch shows and movies together or separately, through multiple screens. There's also a privacy filter in place on the front passenger seat’s display to stop the driver from watching along when their eyes should be on the road. Continue reading.

But wait, there’s more...

'Coming 2 America' gets an early release on Amazon Prime

HBO Max's 'Made for Love' stars a woman with a surveillance chip in her head

Facebook taught a computer vision system how to supervise its own learning process

Valve halts development on 'Artifact,' makes it free for everyone

Google Chrome update cycles are about to get even shorter

Samsung and Mastercard are collaborating on a fingerprint payment card

Samsung's ISOCELL 2.0 could boost the quality of your next phone camera

Porsche's $91,000 Taycan Cross Turismo EV will arrive in the US this summer

Nubia's new Red Magic phone packs a 165Hz screen and up to 18GB of RAM

NFL hopefuls are turning to AI video analysis to up their game

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