News You Can Use: GDPR in full swing, IPO markets are bullish, big changes coming to Gmail

Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest installment of News You Can Use, CallRail’s roundup of important news in technology and marketing.

We’re big believers in staying abreast of the latest news, whether it’s political, economic, or anywhere in between. Keeping up with the news doesn’t just make you an engaged citizen — it’s great for business. By staying informed, you’ll be well-positioned to capitalize on the developments underway in our ever-changing industry.

As always, we’ll be summarizing the hottest stories while keeping the commentary to a minimum. If you’d like to read more, you can follow the link at the top of each news item to read the full story at its source publication.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in:

1) As GDPR set to launch in Europe, the EU eyes further regulations on tech (Reuters)

After years of deliberation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will finally go into effect in the European Union on May 25th of this year.  GDPR is a wide-ranging set of new laws that govern the collection of user data, which also give users additional controls over the privacy of their personal data. (Here’s our full writeup on the ins-and-outs of GDPR, and what it all means for your business.)

But Europe’s push to regulate the tech industry doesn’t begin and end with GDPR — the governing body of the EU has announced plans to pursue further regulations of app stores, search engines, and e-commerce sites. The newly proposed laws were spurred by the handful of high-profile lawsuits against Google and other tech giants that are currently underway in Europe.

Under these new rules, search engines and platforms will no longer be allowed to promote their own services at the expense of third-party competitors. To give a practical example, this means Google will can no longer promote only its paid ‘Shopping’ ads for purchase-intent searches (as it does now), and must give equal play to organic results.

Here’s what you need to know about call tracking and GDPR.

2) IPO market on the upswing, thanks to bullish investments in Chinese firms (Inc.)

Despite the ongoing turbulence in the stock market and fears of unsustainably high valuations, the IPO market is still bullish amidst a surge of interest in investment in Chinese firms.

Tencent Music — a division of the Chinese tech giant Tencent — sits at the head of the IPO pack, and is on track for one of the biggest public offerings in market history. The IPO, expected to come in the second half of 2018, could value the business at more than US $25 billion.

Following a space of successful and highly publicized IPOs from Dropbox, Spotify, Zscaler, Spotify, and others, venture capital outfits will see little reason to scale back their investments, which is great news for tech firms looking to launch or expand.

3) Comcast starts bidding war with Fox for Sky TV network acquisition (New York Times)

Following 21st Century Fox’s recent sale of its movie and entertainment divisions to Disney, the Rupert-Murdoch-owned company’s acquisition of UK-based broadcaster Sky seemed like a sure thing. But in a post-credits twist worthy of a Marvel superhero flick, a new challenger has taken center stage in the battle for media-consolidation dominance: The US telecom giant Comcast.

Last week, Comcast unveiled a takeover bid for Sky of nearly US $31 billion. The terms of Comcast’s deal were apparently appealing enough that Sky’s board of directors has withdrawn its approval of Fox’s initial bid of US $16 billion to acquire Sky, setting the stage for an intense bidding war.

Fox had been weighing the deal with Sky for years, but had struggled to finalize it due to regulatory hurdles in the UK. British media watchdogs contend that Fox owner Rupert Murdoch enjoys a near-monopoly status in the UK as the owner of the Times of London, the Sun, and various other British media outlets.

But no matter who wins this Affinity War, one outcome is certain: Businesses of every stripe will face increased advertising costs as this trend of media consolidation accelerates.

4) Facebook grilled by UK lawmakers over Cambridge Analytica as stock value continues to climb (CNBC)

Following up on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance before the US Congress over the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal, Facebook executives trekked across the pond to deliver similar testimony before the UK Parliament.

In contrast to the cordial and light-touch treatment Zuckerberg received from US lawmakers, British Members of Parliament (MPs) were decidedly more candid and critical in their assessments. “I think Facebook concealed the truth from us in February,” Ian Lucas, an MP representing Britain’s opposition Labour Party, said to Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer during the hearing.

But despite the deluge of negative publicity in recent weeks, the House that Zuck Built is still going strong where it matters: Their stock value and userbase have continued to grow amidst all the bad headlines, and the company continues to report stellar earnings.

Whether you’re an advertiser or investor, Facebook still seems to be a safe bet for now.

5) Google rolls out big changes to Gmail with re-design (Wired)

After years of speculation and anticipation, Google is beginning to implement a sweeping redesign to Gmail, its flagship email service.

As part of a phased rollout that began on April 25th, Google has unveiled a raft of new features like automated email sending, a ‘Snooze’ button to declutter your inbox by temporarily hiding messages, and a sidebar containing a new-and-improved task-management system. Google has also promised that additional features, including more robust security and privacy settings, will be coming over the next few weeks.

These features will not be available for all inboxes right away, but will be phased in for Gmail’s millions of users throughout the summer.

Marketers will no doubt be pleased by many of the new features and quality-of-life improvements Gmail is offering. Rather than pay monthly to use an expensive service platform, marketers may find that many of the features they previously paid for — like email automation — can now be used free-of-charge in Gmail.