Google’s Antitrust Woes; Bye, Bye, Bye Price Floors; Tracking Protection Meets Chrome

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This Week
December 18, 2023
Google Antitrust Violations
Trade Desk Eliminates Price Floors
Chrome Starts Tracking Protection
Is the Privacy Sandbox Self-Serving?
Jury Finds Google Guilty of Antitrust Violations

In a unanimous decision, a San Francisco jury sided with Epic Games, ruling that Google violated antitrust laws by unfairly stifling competition within Google Play. The suit alleged that Google exploited its control of the Android software to protect its highly profitable payment system within Google Play. The dispute began in 2020 when Epic Games released a hotfix for Fortnite on Android, enabling users to purchase discounted Fortnite items directly through Epic rather than through Google Play.

Google responded by removing the game from its app store. Epic sued immediately (literally the same day). Google has vowed to appeal, but if the ruling holds, it will significantly affect the $6.3 trillion app economy. The verdict will compel Google to allow app stores other than Google Play on Android devices. Google said it plans to appeal the decision.

The verdict may come as a surprise to many, as Apple won a similar case against Epic two years ago. But industry insiders argue that, “Apple’s more closed-off app ecosystem actually made it less susceptible to antitrust enforcement.” Since Google does open to other manufacturers and strikes partnerships with some developers, the tech giant is more apt to being scrutinized. Looks like Apple takes the W for really being a walled-garden, yet Epic might have stronger legs to stand on in future battles.
Bu-Buy Price Floors?
The Trade Desk's decision to eliminate price floors continues to spark debate. According to TTD, the move will promote transparency by allowing publishers to see all the bids for their inventory, even those with no chance of winning due to their low price. TTD also claims it will standardize how SSPs and resellers set floor prices, which is fairly opaque. While many in the industry see a lot of benefits from the new policy, others worry that it will devalue publisher inventory.

Writing for AdExchanger, Eric Picard of BARK warns, "Publishers should never accept bids below the floor price from their primary SSP. If publishers relinquish their control over pricing, they will ultimately be at the mercy of demand-side platforms. It's time for publishers to regain control of their inventory and pricing and restore the balance in the ecosystem."
Next Steps for Cookie Deprecation Includes Testing Tracking Protection

The cookiepocalypse is nearly here, and we hope everyone has their survival gear ready. Chrome is taking steps toward eliminating third-party cookies by introducing Tracking Protection, a feature that limits cross-site tracking. This initiative will begin testing on January 4 with 1% of global users. The goal is to phase out third-party cookies for all users by the second half of 2024, pending resolution of any competition concerns from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority.

With Tracking Protection, a select group of users will experience restricted third-party cookies as Chrome ensures developers' readiness for a cookie-free web. Chrome will notify selected participants when using Chrome on desktop or Android. During browsing, third-party cookies will be limited by default. Still, users experiencing issues with certain sites due to cookie restrictions can temporarily re-enable them through the eye icon in the address bar.

There is some skepticism going into the cookieless era. At our 2023 Recap LinkedIn Live, Chris Kane, Founder of Jounce Media, said, "We're going to have a big frigging emergency whenever it is that cookies are fully deprecated. And I think many companies are going to get caught flat-footed." But it’s not all doom and gloom. Publishers and advertisers are testing cookie solutions.
Opinion Piece Slams Google's Privacy Sandbox As a "Failure of Vision"
Bill Simmons, VP of Product at The Trade Desk, believes that the Privacy Sandbox is a monumental project that may fail to achieve its intended impact. According to Simmons, the tech hampers audience targeting, obscures user data, and may lead to slower ad delivery, ultimately decreasing ad value.

"The complexity of the Privacy Sandbox and its reliance on Google's control might limit its success beyond benefiting Google itself. It appears more geared towards enhancing Chrome's privacy while avoiding antitrust issues than revolutionizing the open internet," wrote Simmons.

Critics' main issue with the Privacy Sandbox is that it is self-serving. Is this just another tool in the arsenal to bolster Google's tech empire? If this is true, the industry is testing other solutions, and many are not tossing their eggs into Google's supposedly pristine basket. But if Simmon's predictions ring true, the cookiepocalypse might wreak a bit of havoc on the industry.
One X Post
That’s Zero Party Data, Baby
*That's* zero party data.

It's data being used for marketing that is most definitely NOT 1PD. It is in fact ZERO steps removed from the data subject (whereas 1PD is one step removed from the data subject).

Tagging @lynneluvah just because 🙂
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