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Amazon Ads Wants to Help Travel Outfits by Sharing Its Customers’ Buying Habits

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It’s not just all about Amazon Web Services anymore when Amazon reaches out to travel industry customers. It is still early days but Amazon Ads may one day crimp travel brands’ spending on Google and Facebook.

Online Travel This Week

Very quietly over the last year-and-a-half, Amazon has been scaling up its Amazon Ads business to target the travel and hospitality sector.

Brands including Avis and Disney, as well as destination management organizations, including TravelTexas.com, are among the travel and hospitality organizations that Amazon Ads touts in case studies or other marketing materials for its fledgling travel advertising business.

Amazon Ads had an exhibitor booth at the Phocuswright travel tech conference in Hollywood, Florida this week, although Amazon account representatives declined to go on the record about the program.

The idea behind the new ad program is to use Amazon first-party data about its customers’ buying habits to enable travel and hospitality companies to better target travelers through display and video ads, for example, mostly across Amazon platforms and devices.

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The promotional materials for Amazon Ads for travel and hospitality state that 78 percent of the U.S. population that Amazon reaches spent more than $500 on travel during the past six months. And travelers visit Amazon outlets 85 times on average in the month prior to a trip, the company says.

“By leveraging Amazon Ads’ audience-based marketing solutions, advertisers can focus on reaching the right travel audiences, with the right message, at the right time on and off Amazon,” goes the pitch.

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Although Amazon may in theory help advertisers reach travelers on other platforms, the emphasis appears to be on reaching target audiences in the U.S., Canada and Europe across Amazon’s own platforms and devices, whether it is on Amazon.com for shopping, the Alexa voice assistant at home, or Twitch video game live streaming.

Avis ran sponsored ads on Amazon targeted toward helping customers find road trip essentials, and offered car rental discounts and Amazon gift cards. “For a Camping Trip, we suggest a Ford Edge or a similar standard SUV,” read one Avis ad.

In September, Amazon and Disney announced a collaboration on a Hey Disney voice assistant feature on Echo devices in Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms that enable guests to interact with Disney characters.

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Destinations appear to be a sweet spot for Amazon Ads in these early days. For instance, TravelTexas.com produced a guide to Texas barbecue to target Amazon’s audience.

After all, Amazon Ads can help travel and hospitality companies target travel audiences because it has has so much data on whether people are shopping for luggage tags or buying certain books about dining or things to do maybe a month before an intended trip, for instance.

Amazon Ads are not a carbon copy of Google’s search engine marketing as the former may help target travelers earlier in their trip-planning activities. The pitch is for travel and hospitality companies to use Amazon Ads as a supplement to their Google or Facebook campaigns — for now, at least.

Asked about Amazon’s entry into the travel advertising business, Jeff Tolkin, co-CEO of cruise seller World Travel Holdings, who attended the Florida conference, said: “We will go wherever there is a cost-effective opportunity to source business. In any marketplace, having more vendors is preferential.”

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Amazon has tried and failed several times over the years to launch its own travel transaction businesses in the U.S. In addition to its travel ads program, Amazon has expanded beyond a Cleartrip flight partnership in India and agreed to start offering MakeMyTrip’s travel services on Amazon platforms in India.

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Snap Said to Shut Down Development of Pixy Flying Selfie Drone Camera: Report

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Snapchat parent Snap will stop future development of its Pixy flying selfie drone, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. Pixy, which costs $230 (roughly Rs. 18.300), will continue to be sold in its current iteration, according to the report.

The news comes nearly four months after the Santa Monica, California-based company launched the pocket-sized Pixy camera, which can fly a few feet above its user to take photos and videos.

Snap declined to comment on the report.

Rising costs and other economic woes have forced companies to curb their marketing spend, hurting ad-reliant online companies such as Snap, Facebook-parent Meta, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Last month, Snap had warned of “incredibly challenging conditions” due to the current economic turmoil and increasing competition after reporting disappointing results.

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The company, which is reeling from privacy changes made to Apple’s iPhone, had also said it would significantly slow hiring, invest in its advertising business and find new sources of revenue as part of its belt-tightening efforts.

On Monday, Snap said it had reached 1 million subscribers for its Snapchat premium subscription, after launching the service in June as a new source of revenue.

Social media companies including SnapTwitter, and Meta Platforms, which all earn the majority of revenue from selling digital advertising, are facing a weakening ad market due to record-high inflation causing brands to reign in their marketing spending.

Snap’s shares dropped 25 percent last month after disappointing second quarter earnings, as it suffered from weaker advertising demand than Wall Street had expected. Chief Executive Evan Spiegel said the company would work to speed up revenue growth, in part through new sources of revenue.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Vietnam Orders Technology Firms, Telecom Operators to Store User Data Locally, Set Up Local Offices

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Vietnam’s government has ordered technology firms to store their users’ data locally and set up local offices, its latest move to tighten cybersecurity rules.

The new rules, issued in a decree on Wednesday, will apply to social media companies like Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook, and telecommunications operators, and will take effect on October 1.

“Data of all Internet users ranging from financial records and biometric data to information on peoples’ ethnicity and political views, or any data created by users while surfing the internet must be to stored domestically,” the decree stated.

Authorities will have the right to issue data collection requests for purpose of investigation and to ask service providers to remove content if it is deemed to violate the government’s guidelines, the decree added.

Foreign firms will have 12 months to set up local data storage and representative offices after receiving instructions from the Minister of Public Security, and will have to store the data onshore for a minimum period of 24 months, according to the decree.

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Two tech firms contacted by Reuters, Google and Meta, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vietnam is run by the Communist Party, which maintains tight media censorship and tolerates little dissent. It has tightened Internet rules over the past few years, culminating in a cybersecurity law that came into effect in 2019 and national guidelines on social media behaviour introduced in June last year.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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Government Orders to Block 8 YouTube Channels for Alleged Disinformation

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The government on Thursday ordered blocking of eight YouTube channels, including one operating from Pakistan, for allegedly spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations and public order.

The blocked YouTube channels had over 114 crore views; and 85.73 lakh subscribers and the content was being monetised, an official statement said.

The channels that were blocked under the Information Technology Rules-2021 include seven Indian news channels. The blocked YouTube channels made false claims such as demolition of religious structures by the Government of India, ban on celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India, an official statement said.

“Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country,” it said.

It said the YouTube channels were also used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces and Jammu and Kashmir.

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“The content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India’s friendly relations with foreign States,” the statement said.

It has been revealed that fake anti-India content was being monetised by the blocked channels on YouTube.

Earlier on April 25, the government had blocked 16 YouTube news channels including 10 Indian and 6 Pakistan-based channels for spreading disinformation related to India’s national security, foreign relations, and public order.

According to information shared by minister of state for electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written reply to Rajya Sabha earlier this month, the government has issued 105 directions to social media platforms under the new IT rules that came into effect in February last year. The directions were issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the new rules.

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The data shared by the minister shows that 94 directions to block content was issued to YouTube between December 2021 and April 2022, five to Twitter, and three each to Facebook and Instagram.

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