Apple Makes the Web Take a Detour

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This Week
August 11, 2020
Apple Redirects Traffic From Browser to News+ App
Is Apple Playing Dirty Games With IDFA?
TCF 2.0 One-Week Countdown: Are You Ready?
Google’s GDPR TCF 2.0 Consent Policy Could Hurt Pubs
Apple Redirects Traffic From Browser to News+ App
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Scroll CEO Tony Haile gave many publishers a rude awakening on Monday when he posted a gif of a link to an Atlantic article on redirecting into Apple News+. Yes, the browser (Safari) actually sent him into the Apple News+ app on his Mac.

It’s not clear when this feature was introduced in Apple News+, but it seems to be on by default now. It’s also unclear which browsers the redirect works with, but for sure Apple’s Safari. If you have an Apple News+ account and you click on a web link for a publisher included in your subscription, you will be redirected to that app—unless you change your preferences.

Requests to Apple for comment were not answered, which is a shame because they’re letting confusion and paranoia run rampant. It’s not clear whether this is a beta program being reviewed, and whether publishers in Apple News+ were given advance notice of the feature.
Why This Matters
For a long time Apple News has been a frustrating prospect. Certainly the ability to be featured in iOS without building a native app is appealing, especially as the lack of third-party cookies in default browser Safari make mobile web monetization extra tough. But publishers grimace over the rigidity of Apple News’ monetization and proprietary ad formats. Many have told us the revenue from the platform is less than inspiring.

Still, a fair deal of premium publishers signed up for Apple News+, which offered publishers alternative subscription arrangements, a revenue stream nearly all publishers are eying these days.

So this must come as a surprise at best, and possibly a betrayal. It may not be a significant amount of traffic being taken away from these premium publishers, but those are still high-value users being taken to a platform with a different revenue share model that is notorious for not driving as much revenue as owned and operated sites. It brings into question whether pubs can trust Apple.

The redirects being opt-in by default seem to belie Apple’s consumer-first marketing, almost relegating where users view their content. Is this a heavy-handed attempt to encourage users to stay within the closed ecosystem of Apple News+?

It’s the latest aspect of a worrying trend. Between this odd redirect flex, Apple’s new rules around IDFA (read more below), and a new Apple-run ad network, the hardware and software giant appears to be trying to create an alternate, closed content ecosystem outside of the web—completely controlled by Apple.
Is Apple Bending Their Own IDFA Rules?
When we listened to John Koetsier, Senior Contributor, Consumer Tech at Forbes Tech First Podcast about Apple giving preferential treatment to its own ad network over all others, including Facebook and Google we weren’t all that surprised. It’s the way that they’re handling it though, that had us listening in disbelief with our mouths slightly agape.

According to Koetsier, in iOS14 Apple Advertising has a separate opt-out settings panel for people to turn off personalized ads. Other advertisers and ad networks, on the other hand, will have to ask for permission for each instance.

With the upcoming updates to IDFA, other advertisers and networks have to present users with a popup asking their permission to track them across apps and devices—every time they install an app. Not to mention, the language that users encounter in these scenarios is scary enough to turn them away from allowing any tracking at all.
Why This Matters

Hiding these separate Apple Advertising permissions, with much friendlier language, that are also set to default-on gives Apple a really unfair advantage, especially given that they have access to data of around 100 million iPhone users in the US which accounts for about half of the population of total smartphone users. Even if a user miraculously finds the secret settings panel and opts out, Apple can still retain the data from before the setting was turned off.

What’s worse, Koetsier predicts that 0% of users will be likely to opt-in to tracking, which although great for user privacy, is a really bad thing for legit advertisers. This places Apple in a really strong position, maybe even hefty enough to knock Google and Facebook off of their advertising thrones.

This dirty little act may actually not be a strategic move at all. We'd all like to believe that Apple's privacy-forward initiative is in fact meant to benefit users. Perhaps it's somewhat temporary, as some have speculated—until Apple updates its own outdated ad network to become compatible with SKAdNetwork (as everyone else has to). But still, Apple would get a headstart as all other advertisers and ad networks must comply with the new IDFA rules by September.

It’s also quite unclear if Apple will actually ever play ball in the stadium with all of the other players. Isn’t this exactly what those big tech antitrust hearings were all about? Is there a leveled playing field inside of this story? Come to think of it, where have you ever seen a team (industry) player inside of a walled garden? If you spot one, please, let us know.

TCF 2.0 One-Week Countdown: Are You Ready?
The IAB Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) version 1 will be replaced by TCF 2.0 on Saturday, August 15, 2020. IAB Europe in partnership with IAB Tech Lab launched the revised framework in August 2019, and now over 500 vendors have registered to implement TCF 2.0. The confirmed scale and support of this effort highlights the industry’s commitment to work together to enable targeted advertising that complies with regulations.
Why This Matters
The IAB Tech Lab and IAB Europe released the collaborative industry solution for conducting targeted advertising in compliance with GDPR. The TCF 2.0 does not provide any backward compatibility, and changes in 2.0 are substantial enough that a completely new implementation is required.

With the list of features, purposes, stacks, new structure for the TC String, and several other changes, none of the updates map to anything in previous versions. After an initial transition phase in TCF 2.0 adoption, older versions will be deprecated. The TCF consists of Policies and Technical Specifications that assist all companies in the digital advertising supply chain to meet transparency and user choice requirements related to data processing.

Similar to TCF version 1, TCF 2.0 is designed to standardize the collection and transmission of user choice and transparency on digital properties so that the digital advertising supply chain can align with GDPR and ePrivacy requirements. However, TCF 2.0 takes better account of consumer’s choice, publisher’s control, and communication with ad tech vendors.

To support vendors, publishers and CMPs implementing TCF 2.0, we have prepared several resources that provide a clear overview of the framework, its mechanism, and what it entails for all stakeholders involved:

What Publishers Need to Know to Navigate IAB TCF 2.0 Webinar:Learn from IAB Europe and OneTrustPreferenceChoice how to navigate this change and successfully work with TCF 2.0.I

IAB TCF 2.0 Masterclass Webinar Series Recording: Each hour-long webinar recording dives into the cornerstone pieces of a technology-driven TCF 2.0 compliance program.

IAB TCF 2.0 Fast-Track Program:Sign up for the IAB TCF 2.0 fast-track program to create, customize, and publish an IAB-approved consent management platform ahead of the August 15 deadline.
Google’s GDPR TCF 2.0 Consent Policy Could Hurt Pubs
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Last week, CafeMedia’s Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Bannister, notified #adtech Twitter that with Google’s new GDPR TCF 2.0 Policy around “Purpose 1” consent that if a user opts out, publishers will have to tell GAM to serve non-personalized ads (npa=1). But if the user doesn’t give their consent to Purpose 1, then GAM won’t sever any ads at all (including direct).

He then posted that he assumes if a user opts out of any purpose, they’d likely opt out of all purposes and go from non-personalized ads to none at all. Sounds like a whole new type of ad blocking, doesn’t it?
Why This Matters
This could very well have a severe impact on pubs with major European traffic. We’ve been hearing reports that major pubs are pulling out of GAM. This “new-ish” Google guidance could cause others to follow suit.

What Alex Cone, IAB Tech Lab’s Senior Director, Product, pointed out though is that Google’s ePrivacy Consent Policy isn’t changing with TCF adoption, and instead, TCF is providing a real-time standard to understand whether the publisher established ePD consent. “The policy that says no ads (& no requests) sans consent “where legally required” under ePD isn’t new,” he tweeted.

New or not, it’s still going to hit pubs with European audiences pretty hard. And it sounds like this will be the case until the day that Google rolls out their Limited Ads product. In the meantime, ad tech insider @Alicia, says there is a Prebid workaround: “With Prebid, you can quite easily test if Google gets the Purpose 1 and bypass GAM to make the competition on the page. A few publishers are testing that at the moment. You can even traffic your direct campaigns in other techs like Xandr, even with a Prebid integration.”

We certainly advise that all publishers surface all of their ad tech partners in their CMPs and review their partner's registration settings to make sure that it matches your own preferences. And we promise to keep an eye on all future developments for you.
Sweet Tweet
69% of brands have in-housed programmatic? Uh huh. And if I had a Tinder profile I'd be 6' 0", too.
Worth a Listen
Apple IDFA Deep Dive
Adore Beauty joins a panel of adtech, martech and 'demand-gen' industry experts to discuss how privacy-aggressive Apple is again pressuring its big tech peers like Google and Facebook to play cleaner on gaining “informed consent” from users for tracking purposes.
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