This month, we are taking a look at the way businesses are having to diversify commercially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with Pret A Manager being a great example. We also consider Twitter’s use of AI technology to detect harmful tweets and whether cookies are a thing of the past.
Pret A Manager’s solution to working from home
One of the many consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic was working from home. This had a devasting effect on food outlets whose main target audience were workers at lunch time. Pret A Manger fell victim to this like many others. Despite being hugely popular amongst office workers in metropolitan areas the shop’s business model was turned on its head overnight when the public were ordered to work from home. As working from home began to become the new normal, Pret have had to look at other target markets and methods of trading in order to attempt to get back to pre-pandemic sales levels.
Pret this month, announced that it would be forming a commercial partnership with Tesco, signifying the start of a new business model for the sandwich shop. Pret’s first “store within a store” will open in June with more to arrive throughout the summer. This is one of a number of examples of diversification Pret have undergone to reverse the pandemics effect on the business. During the first UK lockdown, it launched its first retail range of coffee products which were sold online on websites such as Amazon. Pret also launched frozen croissants and granolas in Tesco stores in an effort to reach a new customer base. Further Pret innovatively launched an in-shop coffee subscription service, offering users up to five drinks a day for £20 per month.
The effect of the pandemic has been incredibly far reaching, Pret will not be alone in its need to diversify through commercial partnerships or altering their business model. Perhaps the “bring Pret to the people” approach will be something other businesses will look to replicate.
Twitter uses AI technology to detect potentially harmful tweets
Twitter has launched a new feature which uses AI technology to detect potentially harmful or offensive tweets containing strong or offensive language, hateful remarks or insults. The feature will provide users with information on why their tweet may be considered offensive or hateful and give them the opportunity to edit the tweet, delete it or send it as it is.
It’s algorithm has been developed to capture the nuance of conversations and to differentiate between potentially harmful or offensive language, sarcasm and friendly banter so as to ensure users aren’t prompted unnecessarily.
The feature has been developed and tested over the past year and the results have shown that, overall, the prompts do result in less potentially harmful tweets being sent. The move by Twitter is an attempt to encourage “healthier” interactions between users and with social media trolling becoming ever more prominent and the #bekind movement on everyone’s mind, it is certainly encouraging to see social media platforms taking the issue seriously.
That’s the way the cookie crumbles
Cookies are text files which contain small amounts of information about a user’s previous visits to a website.
Cookies can be either first party or third-party. A first-party cookie is stored directly by the website you visit and allows the website owners to collect analytics data which enables them to provide a good user experience. Third party cookies are not created by the website you are using and are used by website operators or online advertising networks to track a user’s preferences, personalise content and tailor advertising.
The main advantage of third-party cookies for advertisers is that they enable the tracking, within a specific browser, of what users are browsing across the entire web.
Users’ growing distrust of third-party cookies and the importance of data privacy having been highlighted by the GDPR has caused many online operators to re-evaluate their position.
Chrome has announced that it will stop supporting third-party cookies in 2022 and Apple’s latest iOS update limits the amount of user data that apps like Amazon and Facebook can collect by letting users opt out of what they track across different apps.
Adtech companies have already begun to release alternative solutions for advertisers and Google’s solution known as FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) combines users into cohorts which are defined by their interests. Targeting is therefore not based on individuals but on the cohorts to which those individuals belong.
These changes might mean that traditional digital advertising and monetisation methods become significantly less effective but could make users feel more protected when browsing the web.