Beginning of the End? Facebook & Google Antitrust, Apple Privacy Labels

AdMonsters Wrapper: The weekly ad tech news wrap up
This Week
December 16, 2020
Business as Usual at Facebook?
What If Google Had No Doubleclick?
Apple's Privacy Labels Are Super Scary
For Facebook, It’s Just Business as Usual
By now you’ve likely caught the latest episode in the saga that is Facebook: The Telenovela. Each week gets just a little bit juicier and we’re here for it, popcorn in hand.

In a much-expected move, the FTC has gone all one-eighty on Facebook, after approving the acquisitions of both Instagram and Whatsapp nearly a decade ago, to only now demand that the social networking giant sell off both companies. (We told you Instagram would be at the heart of this antitrust litigation, didn't we?) But first, the FTC has to prove that Instagram and Whatsapp would’ve been just as successful sans Facebook. Of course, this type of “merger retrospective” could be a lot harder than it seems on the surface.

The FTC’s recent attacks on big tech signal a changing tide within the once free-market favoring organization that now shows signs of swaying toward protecting consumer’s interests. For proof, look no further than the agency’s recent move requiring FB, Amazon and Google to hand over information about how they use consumers’ data for the purpose of personalized advertising.

In the same vein, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is also levying a fine against big Blue for collecting data without user permission.

If ever a tech company was made an example of...
Why This Matters
At first glance, Mark Zuckerberg isn’t even breaking a sweat. In audio obtained by Reuters from the company’s recent end-of-year meeting, he told employees: "The way out is through. I believe the only way forward is to keep working."

Even we can admit, it's been a headache of a year for Facebook, and it only makes sense that the main dude in charge would take a business-as-usual stance in order to boost employee morale.

Still, it's unclear whether President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will be gung-ho about the FTC’s brand new attitude towards big tech. Critics argue that it really doesn’t matter whether the lawmakers get their way because either way, it’ll have minimal bearing on Facebook’s business.

But we can expect that the new FTC will be more scrutinizing of tech acquisitions in the future and antitrust law will be more responsibly upheld.
Without Doubleclick, Where Would Google Be?
Image sourced from SparrowAdvisers
As analyses about the big-tech antitrust suits start pouring in, a refreshing take caught our eye. In the recent edition of SparrowAdviser’s Sparrow One Newsletter, the authors wondered, “What if Google never acquired DoubleClick?

It features five well-thought-out scenarios about how the ad tech universe might look today if Google never acquitted Doubleclick, including whether DoubleClick could have survived against on its own, what Google’s ad business would look like without DoubleClick, if large pubs would’ve embraced a homegrown Google ad stack, what the impact on the NYC tech ecosystem would’ve been, and if Google would’ve survived regulatory scrutiny without DoubleClick.
Why This Matters
This is not mere speculation or conjecture, in fact, it’s quite a fascinating read, with plausibility built into each alternative proposition. We especially like the final open-ended query pondering the overall impact of the acquisition on ad tech. Is it possible that it actually delayed greater creativity and focus on the consumer as a part of the advertising experience? Inquiring minds want to know.
Apple’s Privacy Labels Just as Frightening as We All Feared
Image sourced from Apple
Were you as terrified as we were when you saw Apple’s new privacy labels in the app store? Oh wait, you didn't update to iOS 14.3 yet, did you? Maybe you don't want to.

With the rollout of updates to iOS, iPadOs and MacOs this week, Apple released a new Privacy Policy, along with new privacy labels on App pages in the app store.

While developers were required to submit their new privacy information to the App Store on December 8, throughout the course of the impending privacy changes to IDFA, developers have criticized Apple for its lack of guidance and clear communication (and even at times lambasting the tech giant for being downright deceptive).
Why This Matters
As most everyone in ad tech feared, these privacy labels leave very little room for publishers to present the value exchange they provide to customers. While it's quite possible consumers will ignore the labels altogether, pubs still expect that it will make monetizing their apps a lot more difficult.

We're all for providing consumers with more transparency into the underworkings of ad tech, but just looking at all of the data being collected, without context, can be terribly horrifying. Sure, app makers get to include a link to their privacy policies, but that's another step for people to make, and privacy policies suffer from good ol' TLDR; syndrome.

With hashed emails and phone numbers now out of the question as alternatives for tracking users on iOS, a lot of pubs are scrambling to figure out what’s next. Apple, of course, is pushing everyone to rely on its own SKAdNetwork. This is an idea that’s worried developers given the learning curve involved, as well as SKAdNetwork’s initial bugs.

Will app makers have to rely on subscription models as an alternative path to revenue? With Apple's 30% cut that sounds like a win for, wait, you guessed it—Apple.

It’s also not lost on anyone else in the mobile app ecosystem that Apple is still out here using customer data to personalize ads themselves.
Sweet Tweet
New from me: Now's a good time to be an adtech company offering privacy compliance tools. @sourcepointinc has raised a further $17 million, bringing its total funding to $47.8 million

Worth a Listen
Beeler Talks About People in Programmatic Roles
This isn't an interview but instead, the audio recording of a presentation AdMonsters Advisory Board Chairman, Rob Beeler, gave at adPushup's Programmatic Meetup 2020 back in October.

The session was labeled "the programmatic publisher" and was described as a glance at how publishing is changing. Working in not a just programmatic-only, but a programmatic-driven environment. Forecasting the evolution of responsibilities for programmatic pros going forward.

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