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This Week
December 4, 2023
Are Carbon Emissions MFA Indicators?
United Airlines Selling Data
Google Publishers Council on the Outs
Meet Us at the Water Cooler
Carbon Emissions as a Reliable Indicator of True MFA Sites
Image sourced from Shutterstock
Ever since the ANA's report that MFA websites represent 21% of impressions and 15% of ad spend, the industry has debated a key question: are MFA sites inherently bad, or are they an okay place to engage consumers who like advertising?

To Patrick Gut, VP of Global Sales at Adlook, a site's carbon footprint is a critical signal that can help advertisers assess if a site offers an environment to help them achieve their brand goals.

Carbon as an Indicator

According to Ebiquity and Scope 3 research, MFA sites generate around 26% more carbon waste than non-MFA sites due to all of the connections to myriad SSPs and resellers. With thousands of requests for every impression, ads placed on MFA sites have the biggest carbon footprint in the industry. MFA sites tend to refresh their content much more frequently than non-MFA sites, adding to the carbon emissions generated.

That high carbon footprint can be an important signal for advertisers who want to avoid MFA sites, but not necessarily ones that are merely ad-heavy. For some advertisers, that's an important distinction.

"One of the biggest issues with MFA is that no one actually agrees on what an MFA is. There is no global list of MFA sites that advertisers can reference. The definition is intentionally vague," Gut explained.

"But since MFAs are designed to maximize profits through advertising and are incentivized to refresh their content continuously, they have high carbon emissions. Advertisers who want to avoid those environments can use carbon as a proxy." DSPs can partner with a company like Scope3 to check an impression's supply path against its database. If an impression does satisfy a brand's carbon KPI, they can pass on bidding.
Why This Matters
As Gut explained, the industry does a good job of bringing focus to the problem, but that focus isn't always, well, focused.

For some brands, an MFA site with a lot of cooking or crafting content is an ideal environment for a meaningful consumer experience. "Rather than eliminate sites based on an arbitrary definition, the goal should be to remove sites that don't provide the best brand experience. Some brands want to avoid sites with a lot of revolving content and ads, and carbon is a reliable way to identify them," said Gut.

Additionally, and no less importantly, the carbon footprint of MFA sites is a growing concern among brands, especially those keen to lower their scope 3 emissions.

Lower-carbon campaigns also deliver better campaign metrics. "When we look at carbon emissions pre-bid, CPMs are 20% lower, while brand lift and attention is considerably higher," Gut said. Those stats come from Adlook's research with MAGNA Media Trials, which studied 24 million impressions and surveyed 2,590 consumers.
United Airlines May Sell Your Data to Advertisers
Image sourced from Shutterstock
In 2022, some 148 million people flew United Airlines, enabling the company to collect information on travelers, including where they booked their tickets, traveled to, and any incidentals they may have splurged on, pre- and in-flight.

Now, United Airlines is considering selling that data to advertisers to tap into a new revenue stream, the Wall Street Journal reports. If the airline moves forward with its plan, those ads can appear in any number of places, including United Airlines' in-flight entertainment system and the app people use to book tickets and check in at the airport.

All data will comply with privacy laws, including the consumer's right to opt out of sales.
"Airlines have long taken advantage of the captive nature of their customer base to show them plenty of ads, including commercials on seatback screens, glossy spreads inside in-flight shopping catalogs or, for some, advertisements adorning cabin walls. Offering personalized advertising would greatly expand United's advertising business," Patience Haggin writes.

United Airlines isn't the first travel brand to sell consumer data to advertisers. Last year, Marriott rolled out a media network so that advertisers can reach its guests on its websites and TV screens. Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines offer extensive advertising services on their websites.
Why This Matters

On the one hand, airlines selling anonymized data is a smart way to ensure consumers see relevant ads when interacting with an airline brand. Consumers will need many ancillary services when booking a flight, including a hotel room and car rental. Beyond the obvious, airports offer plenty of amenities, including indoor pools and meditation suits for travelers facing layovers or unexpected delays. And consumers may appreciate seeing ads for restaurants and sites in their destinations.

On the other hand, every consumer data privacy protection that has emerged results from consumer rebellion against invasive advertising. It's anyone's guess how people may respond to seeing ads for the shoes or handbags they viewed on a fashion site appear on the airline app's in-flight entertainment screen or check-in screen. To United Airlines, selling traveler data may seem like an excellent way to generate additional revenue. Still, to the traveler, it may be another reason to call their elected officials to demand stronger privacy laws.
Is Google’s News Publishers Council on the Outs?
Image sourced from Shutterstock
Google established the Publisher Council to facilitate publisher adaptation to new ad tech tools. In preparation for cookie deprecation, the council has worked as a direct funnel between Google and publishers to help them understand the business implications of the Privacy Sandbox.

“The way I view it, it was a place for Google to get direct access to a large group of publishers, to gather feedback about Privacy Sandbox, to share information about Privacy Sandbox, and ultimately, to try to encourage publishers to adopt it, to get it into their business planning and engineering roadmaps,” said Paul Bannister, the chief strategy officer Raptive.

The working group included powerhouse publishers — the Washington Post, the New York Times, Fox News, Disney, Paramount, and Hearst, amongst others. Still, things got shaky when a few publishers got the cold shoulder. It appears their differences were irreconcilable.

Last month, Rob Beeler, who heads the council, gave representatives from USA Today, the Daily Mail, and News Corp an ultimatum to leave the council under the consequences that it would dissolve. Rumor has it that Beeler asked them to drop out because they have legal cases open against Google.

Google spokesperson Allie Bodack said, “Google did speak with Rob about our reservations in participating in optional industry events with companies participating in litigation against us,” but disputed the claim that they would leave the group if the three companies stayed.

*sips tea*
Why This Matters

The impending cookie armageddon is closer than it’s ever been. As Chrome strips cookies away from its platform, the industry cannot deny the importance of keeping dialogue open with Google to ensure they are prepared.

Of course, some are preparing for a cookieless world by testing the Privacy Sandbox and Google Topics API. Other companies are trying a host of post-cookie solutions and tailoring them to their business needs. These include PMPs and Deal IDs with first-party data, contextual advertising, seller-defined audiences, data clean rooms, and cohort solutions like the Privacy Sandbox.

Overall, the industry is confident about its chances in the new cookieless world order, but we have to put our money where our mouth is when the new year comes.
Around the Water Cooler
Here's what else you need to know...

Instagram is in "full crisis mode." Mark Zuckerberg enjoyed positive news stories over the summer, reports Business Insider, but that moment of glory has ended. Instagram is now in hot water after the Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram Reels serves sexualized content to adults. The content includes Instagram influencers, gymnasts and cheerleaders, and "risque" content. Moreover, ads featuring sexualized content appeared near ads for big brands like Walmart. Adding to Meta's troubles, BI reports that earlier this fall, 33 states filed a lawsuit against Meta, accusing it of ignoring warnings about potential harm to young girls. Advertisers are already avoiding X and may decide to add Instagram to their block list if Meta can't get this issue under control.

Does Meta's "Pay or Okay" Format Contradict EU Privacy Laws? The data privacy advocacy organization NOYB (None Of Your Business) lodged a data protection grievance against Meta concerning their "Pay or Okay" subscription model. They argue that this model, now reportedly under consideration by several of Meta's competitors, infringes on the fundamental right to privacy by imposing charges of up to $251.88 ($275) annually. According to Felix Mikolasch, a data protection lawyer at NOYB, Meta's imposition of a 'privacy fee' for users who wish to exercise their fundamental right to data protection contradicts EU law, which mandates genuine and free consent from users.

Google to Pay Canadian News Publishers $100 Million Annually. After a lot of back-and-forth and Google's big threat to stop distributing Canadian news, the tech giant and the Canadian government finally reached an agreement in their dispute over the Online News Act just three weeks before the Act's rules are enforced. The agreement will see Google continuing to share Canadian news and making annual payments to news companies in the range of $100 million. Google will also negotiate with a single group that would represent all media as part of the agreement, instead of individual news outlets. Now, will Meta follow suit and commit to distributing real news vs disinformation and misinformation? Only time will tell.
One X Post
Where Do Adtech Marketing Budgets Go?
Most adtech marketing budgets skew toward events.

That makes sense; this is all about relationships.

But it’s easier to go from intro to deal when every convo doesn’t start with “Who are you?”

That’s where the other parts of marketing come in.
Worth a Listen
Knowledge Asymmetry
Wayne is joined by Myles Younger who is head of innovation and insights at U Of Digital. Myles' experience spans all sides of the industry and in this episode, Wayne & Myles chat about knowledge asymmetry, what the impact is, where it exists the most, and how to manage it.
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