IAB Europe in Breach of GDPR; AI Runs Globe and Mail Paywall

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This Week
November 12, 2021
IAB Europe Breached GDPR
AI Powers Globe and Mail Paywall
IAB Europe in Breach of GDPR
Google and countless other advertisers rely on IAB Europe’s consent management system, which has now been deemed in violation of GDPR.

“IAB Europe designed the misleading ‘consent’ pop-ups that feature on almost all (80%+) European websites and apps. That system is known as IAB Europe’s “Transparency & Consent Framework” (TCF). These popups purport to give people control over how their data is used by the online advertising industry.”
Why This Matters
The IAB was aware that its tracking system violated GDPR before they launched it and they did so anyway, per a group of complainants coordinated by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).

“Google and the entire tracking industry relies on IAB Europe’s consent system, which will now be found to be illegal”, said Dr. Johnny Ryan of ICCL. “IAB Europe created a fake consent system that spammed everyone, every day, and served no purpose other than to give a thin legal cover to the massive data breach at the heart of online advertising. We hope the decision of the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) will finally force the online advertising industry to reform”.

IAB Europe “looks to be seeking to get ahead of a nuclear finding of non-compliance, writing that the DPA ‘will apparently identify infringements of the GDPR by IAB Europe,’ and trying to further spin the finding as ‘fixable’ within six months.

“The preemptive statement looks very much like the IAB Europe trying to both fuzz and bury bad news and thereby calm the nerves of the tracking industry ahead of looming headlines that a flagship tool is unlawful—something EU privacy campaigners have of course been saying for literally years.”

AdMonsters covered this topic last year when it was first announced that IAB Europe was not properly complying with GDPR.

“The investigation concluded that the IAB Framework allows companies to swap sensitive information about people even when this has not been authorized and provides inadequate controls for the processing of intimate personal data that occurs in the RTB system. The implications are huge for RTB here.”
AI Runs Globe and Mail Paywall
And it’s doing a stellar job. So much so that the company is offering it as a SaaS product.

Named Sophi, it controls home page placement of stories and the metering of stories—how many free articles a consumer gets before being prompted to subscribe.
Why This Matters
Sophi can “analyze user behavior and determine the exact moment that a reader is most likely to subscribe.” Why this matters: As a company’s paywall grows, it becomes more of a challenge for human eyes to rank and assign ratings for each story.

As Sophi was being built out by the data team at Globe and Mail, “the product team developed a system in which Sophi alerted editors when a particular story was overperforming or underperforming on the homepage. It figures out whether a story is living up to expectations or not based on the total amount of promotion it's getting. Almost as soon as this program rolled out, engagement and conversions skyrocketed, enough to convince senior editors that Sophi was providing real value.”

Rather than a newsroom controlling homepage content, AI does. Sophi’s sophistication continues to increase that it’s now scheduling social media posts.

“When we first started this, advertising was around 70% of our revenue and reader payments were about 30% of our revenue,” said Gordon Edall at Globe and Mail. Today, reader payments at the Globe and Mail make up 70% of our revenue. Though the proportions have switched, the outlet has continued to grow its advertising revenue at a faster rate than most of its competitors.”

For publishers that purchase Sophi as SaaS, it takes on average three months for Sophi to learn and optimize content.
Sweet Tweet
Forget Web3, What About Web4?
web1: relentless spam
web2: epic adfraud
web3: “One minute you get scammed, another minute you’re having the best time of your life, making billions of dollars.” - @profcarroll


web1: public sector decentralized protocols
web2: privatized into platform oligopoly
web3: crypto-libertarian-punk accelerationist re-decentralization into inevitable platform oligopoly
web4: solar-punk decelerationist co-ops for a post-capital new babylon? - @profcarroll
Worth a Listen
A Brand Safety Wake-Up Call For Advertisers With Q.Digital CEO Scott Gatz
Publishers in the LGBTQ community are often penalized because their content commonly includes words such as “lesbian” or “transgender” that advertisers reflexively add to their blocklists. “Health companies see ‘drugs’ on the list,” Gatz says. “African American-owned publishers are seeing words that basically block all their content.”

It’s the concept of brand safety run amok.
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