Monday October 14, 2019
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Political Ads Under Scrutiny By Google Before The EU Elections

Google News Lab will collaborate with news organisations across all 27 countries to support online fact checking

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

In the run-up to European Union (EU) elections in May 2019, Google will introduce a EU-specific Election Ads Transparency Report and searchable ad library to provide more information about who is purchasing election ads, whom they’re targeted to and how much money is being spent.

In May 2019, up to 350 million voters across the EU will take to the Parliamentary polls to elect 705 Members of European Parliament (MEPs).

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

“To support this democratic process, we’re rolling out products and programmes to help people get the information they need to cast their votes,” Lie Junius, Director, EU Public Policy and Government Relations, said in a blog post on Thursday.

Google will require ads that mention a political party, candidate or current officeholder, to make it clear to voters who are paying for the advertising.

“We’ll also introduce a new process to verify EU election advertisers to make sure they are who they say they are,” Junius added.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

The company will also work with campaigns, elections officials, journalists, human rights organisations and others across the EU to ensure the security of the online platforms that they depend on.

“For the EU 2019 Parliamentary elections, we’re offering in-person security training to the most vulnerable groups, who face increased risks of phishing attacks,” said Google.

Also Read: How Political Ads Work, A Guide By Facebook And Google

The company will be walking them through Google’s Advanced Protection Programme and Project Shield, a free service that uses Google technology to protect news sites and free expression from DDoS attacks on the web.

“Google News Lab will collaborate with news organisations across all 27 countries to support online fact checking,” said the company. (IANS)

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Confirming Pixel Rumours not Enough for Google to Woo Users

"To keep up with competition with Amazon, I'd expect Google to launch several new smart home speakers and devices and to pivot all of them under the Nest brand umbrella," Husson noted

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New leaked images of a pre-release Pixel 4 XL provided by Vietnamese phone shop D Store Mobile. Pixabay

While Pixel smartphones demonstrate Google’s willingness to more tightly integrate hardware and software like Apple, they have not been a massive sales success story for now owing to the lack of a solid strategy to beat the rivals, industry analysts said on Monday.

Google is set to announce two new Pixel smartphones — Pixel 4 and 4 XL along with a 5G version — a rumoured Pixel Watch and a slew of updated home products like Nest series of devices.

Google Pixel currently has a minuscule global market share despite arriving on the scene in 2016. In the second quarter of 2019, it had less than 0.1 market share in the Indian premium smartphone segment.

According to Frank Gillett, Vice President and Principal Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, Google needs to do more than just confirm rumours of the Pixel 4 and its list of flagship phone innovations at its launch event on October 15.

“Keeping the Pixel as a lighthouse Android smartphone to challenge and inspire Android OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners won’t be enough. Google needs to update their Nest line of devices. We expect to see updates to the Mini smart speaker, at a minimum, plus new Google Wi-Fi units with a smart speaker included,” Gillett told IANS.

They should also update on the Google Buds, the Pixelbook laptop and the Nest Hello digital doorbell, he added.

“Google’s devices team needs to keep up with competition from Amazon, whose Echo and Ring products lines now cover a wide swath of the smart home.

“And Microsoft’s new Surface line of products has put Google on notice that Microsoft is back in the smartphone race (using Android!) and doubling down on thought leadership for laptops and tablets,” Gillett added.

Launched with much fanfare, the first edition of Pixel and Pixel XL were announced during a press event on October 4, 2016, succeeding the Nexus line of smartphones.

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A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

Pixels suffered from several issues after the release, including excessive optical lens flare in pictures captured through rear camera, connectivity issues with some mobile data bands, unstable Bluetooth connections, unexpected battery shutdowns, and failing microphones.

Google acknowledged those issues and released fixes for most of them but to no avail.

The tech giant has also admitted that it has sold fewer Pixel phones owing to industry-wide pressure on high-end smartphones.

“For the new Pixel 4 smartphones to be successful, Google will have to do two things — to accelerate retail execution and partnerships with telcos and to demonstrate that tighter integration with Android 10 delivers a better experience than the new iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10 devices,” said Thomas Husson, Vice President and Principal Analyst.

The analysts expect Google to also try to differentiate by embedding the latest version of the Google Assistant, enabling new use cases and interfaces with apps.

Also Read: iPhone 11 Takes Apple Ahead of Microsoft in $1-tn Market cap: Report

“It remains to be seen if Google manages to launch the new Google Assistant in multiple languages beyond English. Beyond tighter voice integration, Google may also support touchless hand gestures and advanced face unlock,” Husson added.

Given the slow 5G start and the limited consumer benefits, Google may wait till 2020 for a 5G edition, the analysts suggested.

“To keep up with competition with Amazon, I’d expect Google to launch several new smart home speakers and devices and to pivot all of them under the Nest brand umbrella,” Husson noted. (IANS)