Core Web Vitals Delayed; Browsers Say No to FLoC

AdMonsters Wrapper: The weekly ad tech news wrap up
This Week
April 22, 2021
Core Web Vitals Rankings Get Pushed Back a Bit
Hey FLoC, Get Off My Block
Around the Water Cooler
Core Web Vitals Gets Pushed Back (and Most Sites Don’t Rank Well Yet Anyway)
If Google’s new Core Web Vitals benchmarks for the “page experience” became the standard for how sites get ranked in search today — most sites wouldn’t rank highly at all. At least that’s according to analysis from SearchMetrics (reg wall), which parsed over 2 million webpages and found that only 4% of them got “good” scores across all three of the Core Web Vitals. (Interestingly enough, Google’s own YouTube didn’t score well at all).

So it’s good news perhaps, that the Core Web Vitals metrics won’t be fully factored into a site’s search ranking until the end of August. Previously, webmasters were preparing to deal with the new standards as of May, but Google announced that it would be “slowly adding” Core Web Vitals to the mix of signals it uses to rank sites starting in mid-June. Breathe easy, SEO pros.
Why This Matters
Search rankings are not the “be-all end-all” for publishers (and that’s especially true for media companies with rabid audiences that already know and love their brands). But in a world where people discover new publications through search snippets, making sure that you rank well for the topics that matter can help drive audience growth. It can also impact campaign performance, which ultimately impacts ad revenue.

Mediapost’s Laurie Sullivan does a nice, quick dive into some of the most common factors that can drag down a Core Web Vitals score. And while it’s no surprise that slow-loading ads and content blocks that shift around too much can make a ranking suffer, the observation that sites could be penalized because they’re built on WordPress or Wix templates that contain “unnecessary code,” was interesting to note.

So having more time to tend to the three Core Web Vitals metrics — loading time, interactivity, and visual stability — is a good thing. And it’s just one more reminder that keeping the user experience front-and-center — whether in terms of how fast your content loads, the ads that populate (or don’t), and of course, figuring out an easy way to get the “opt-in” for data collection — is just common sense.
Google: We're Replacing Cookies With FLoC
Everybody Else: Not On My Block
While FLoC testing has commenced on Chrome, other browsers—Edge, Safari, and Firefox—are pushing back on Google's cookie replacement. The triad of browsers joins the Brave Browser, which knocked the Big G's cookie alternative for not really being a privacy solution last week. Vivaldi also won't be participating in the FLoC trials, and DuckDuck Go has released an extension to block FLoC.

Mozilla and Firefox aren't buying that non-consented user data is the best path forward for a privacy-safe advertising future. Who's to say that these guys won't join the Alpha browser at a later date, but as of now, Chrome is flying solo. Lonely bird.

And while rumors circulated that WordPress will treat FLoC as a security risk and block it, the software company's founder Matt Mullenweg announced that there are currently only discussions amongst the WP community about blocking FLoC and no final decision has yet been made. WordPress developers are already publishing plugins that can be used to block FLoC on sites made using WP.
Why This Matters
We're not surprised at all by this rough start for FLoC testing. As the current proposal for FLoC stands, it continues in the tradition of bad tracking moves, since it requires collecting data about web users without their consent or understanding. Back in July, there was dissension within the W3C related to Chrome vehemently pushing FLoC forward without the full support of the membership.

Also, questions remain about whether users will be given transparency into which cohorts they are segmented into or if they will have control over their data, with the ability to delete information or remove themselves from cohorts as recent privacy legislation like GDPR and CCPA allow.

Other critics still believe that FLoC will give unfair advantages to Google, which would help the tech giant maintain its dominant share of advertising dollars.
Around the Water Cooler
Here's what else we're reading and talking about...

Are You Ready For ATT?
iOS 14.5 is coming next week, are you ready for ATT? Don't worry, we have a handy guide for implementing ATT and managing consent in apps.

TIME Accepts Cryptocurrency
Now that Coinbase has IPO'd and publishers are testing experiments with NFTs, TIME decided it was high time they add cryptocurrency as a form of payment for digital subscriptions. Those subscribers will receive virtually the same benefits as traditional subscribers. Good on the publisher for keeping up with the trends, but we're placing a hefty bet that the experiment will only result in a blip on the revenue radar.

Ad Spend Coming Back Strong
Digital subscriptions may be all the rage right now, but digital ad spend is making a robust return. TV ad spend also saw a significant jump in the past month, up 13% over the same time last year at the start of the Pandemic. With the economy opening back up though, a slowdown in Netflix subscribers could be an indicator that the digital subscription joryide may soon be over.

Ad Tech CTV Alliance
There's been lots of talk about publisher alliances as the cookie's death nears, but what about ad tech alliances? TTD, Magnite and Innovid have formed a CTV pact to offer buyers interactive TV ads at scale. Let's just hope for their sake that CTV viewership doesn't go the way of Netflix subscriptions now that people are venturing out-of-doors again.

Cookie Death Will Compound Ad Tech Issues
"What does ad tech look like in a world without client-side third-party cookie matching?" asks Lila Hunt, Head of Digital Ad Strategy, System 1, in a post titled: The Hidden Ad Tech Challenges Posed By the Deprecation of Third Party Cookies. It's a fascinating read about how we're compounding the issues we’ve addressed overtime in the buy side/sell side relationship.

Contextual Raises Another Round
Another week, another cash infusion for contextual. Last week, it was $75 million invested in GumGum. This week, Hive's AI-based contextual and measurement technology raised $85 million. Hive's solution also includes a visual component, which places it in a unique position. These recent investments are strong signs that contextual advertising is steadily growing as a cookie replacement, but until brand safety tools get a major upgrade and some standardization comes into play the waters may still be murky.

Penske Media Group Buys SXSW
Live events took a major hit due to the Pandemic. For instance, one of the largest IRL events, SXSW made powerful attempts to keep the brand alive through virtual events and community-building efforts. But that didn't stop the small company from suffering considerable losses. Here comes Penske Media Corp. — which publishes Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Variety amongst other major entertainment media brands — to save the day with a 50% stake in the tech, music, and film festival. Who said there wasn't life after COVID? 

Sweet Tweet

Brand safety tech is garbage

Worth a Listen
T minus Six Days. (Tick... Tick... Tick...)
Six days and counting. Apple's change to app tracking is on its way. Are you ready? Also, does Google reduce your rank in search if you don't buy ads? That's what one court case is claiming. Microsoft fires a huge shot across the bow of Facebook Ads. And the love affair between Pinterest and Shopify keeps smoldering.
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