|Google and Facebook on Sen. Warren’s Naughty List|
|Sen. Elizabeth Warren is coming after Google and Facebook hard, writing a letter to Attorney General Garland and Acting U.S. Attorney Ganjei outlining “disturbing new reports that Google LLC (Google) and Facebook, Inc. (Facebook) executives struck a secret 2018 deal with deeply troubling antitrust implications.”
“This agreement, nicknamed ‘Jedi Blue,’ guaranteed that Facebook would win a fixed percentage of advertising bids on Google’s platform in exchange for Facebook’s bowing out of . . . technology that threatened Google’s ad display dominance.”
“According to the reports, Google, in the secret deal, sought to kill a new industry
innovation called ‘header bidding.’ Previously, publishers could only solicit bids for their advertising space via digital marketplaces for selling advertising space, such as Google’s ad exchange. Header bidding enables publishers to instead solicit real-time bids from multiple exchanges.”
|Although news of duopoly's secret partnership broke a while back, with these antitrust suits against big tech, no one seems to be digging into the fact that Google and Facebook colluded to try and shut down header bidding so that their duopoly superpowers would remain intact and they would continue to dominate the market.
Header bidding, if done right, should provide a fair market for all pubs, and would offer smaller pubs a more leveled playing field against the likes of Google and Facebook.
“This highly problematic Jedi Blue agreement was signed by Google’s Senior Vice
President and Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler and Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Even more troubling, it included ‘a provision governing the parties’ options to terminate the agreement in the event of certain government investigations of the agreement,’ suggesting that the executives were aware that they might be violating antitrust laws. This provision could be evidence of criminal intent.”
This could very well be a violation of the Sherman Act, “which provides that any contract ... or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce ... is declared to be illegal.”
Simply put, “header bidding is a way for publishers to solicit real-time bids from a multitude of programmatic partners on each and every piece of inventory by using the page header within a site’s source code. Basically, it’s a convoluted way to bypass the ad server waterfall and ensure inventory is valued fairly in real-time.”
Header bidding is important to small publishers because it “helps publishers more directly connect their ad inventory to the advertisers who are buying it. It makes a combination of smaller ad networks function more like one larger network and increases your exposure to advertisers. For small publishers, this results in instant and large revenue gains.”
Another day, another example of David vs. Goliath.
|Nielsen TV Accreditation Revoked by Media Rating Council|
|If your Labor Day long weekend found you far far away from everything ad tech you may have missed this one...
Following complaints from networks about undercounting viewers during the pandemic, Nielsen had its accreditation stripped by the Media Rating Council.
Earlier in the month, amid the hubbub, Nielsen requested an MRC accreditation pause, in hopes that they would have time to get things right.
One vocal entity was the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) which “ alleged that Nielsen allowed its national TV panel to degrade during the pandemic by not performing in-home maintenance on a number of homes in its national panel.” The end-result: underrepresented numbers in 2020 and early 2021.
|This is the time for Nielsen’s competitors, those that exist and those that are researching new standards of measurement, to pounce.
“The united buy/sell marketplace decision to suspend Nielsen’s national and local market accreditation must be seen by Nielsen as a loud change-or-die challenge,” said VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham.
“In fact, all measurement and currency providers with big future aspirations in the video advertising sector must take the 2021 mandate for real transparency, full and deep audience capture, urgent innovation and rigorous verification as mission-critical for them all. Advertisers should expect to see more innovation in the next three years in video measurement and currency than what was achieved in the last 30 years, time has officially expired on friction and frustration.”
Many broadcasters are reviewing new ways to measure ratings, among them is NBCUniversal. The company’s EVP, measurement and impact — Kelly Abcarian— is an ex-Nielsen employee who has stated recently that “NBCUniversal had collected dozens of proposals from measurement partners as a first step in constructing its own certified measurement program.”
To be honest, the reality is that there might not even be another game in town ready to step up to the plate.
Nielsen released a statement saying they are disappointed by the suspension but “it will not impact the usability of our data. We are committed to the audit process and during this pause in accreditation we will work with the MRC on resolving this suspension.”
|Is Apple Making Additional Concessions Amid Antitrust Case?|
|Apple users on iOS 15 are now being asked for permission to enable personalized ads on their Apple ID; on prior iOS updates, this was allowed by default and users had to “navigate four levels deep in Settings to disable it, running somewhat counter to Apple’s privacy-first image.”
For those on iOS 14 and older, personalized ads will remain enabled by default.
“The fact Apple is asking for permission to enable its own targeted ads is a tacit acknowledgment of sorts that it wasn’t complying with GDPR in the past.”
“Another related issue is that third-party developers with users in Europe still need to display two different consent pop-ups – an ATT pop-up to appease Apple and whatever pop-up they’d already devised to comply with GDPR – in case it turns out the authorities in Europe decide ATT isn't enough to fully comply with GDPR.”
|A Twitter thread from Mobile Dev Memo’s Eric Seufert noted that ATT does not provide real customer choice: the verbiage Apple uses vs app developers is completely different when in essence it should be similar. Whereas Apple-delivered advertising “does not track you and does not follow you,” Apple ad targeting falls under the guise of “personalized ads” and notes that turning off personalized ads “will limit Apple’s ability to deliver relevant ads to you but will not reduce the number of ads you receive.”
So users can agree to receive personalized ads from Apple or opt-out and receive completely non-relevant ads for who knows what. It still looks like Apple is providing itself with an unfair advantage over all other app publishers/developers.
John Koetsier, Senior Contributor, Consumer Tech at Forbes “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.”