Pubs Take Washington; Meta Vs Canadian Publishers

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This Week
August 14, 2023
Publishers Discuss National Privacy Law in Washington
Meta Versus Canadian News
Around the Water Cooler
Publishers Visit Washington to Lobby for National Privacy Law
The News: Recently, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Beeler.Tech organized a group of 16 publishers to meet with the offices of three Senators and three Members of Congress.

"The message we sought to deliver was that as a whole, publishers want federal legislation, but it has to be informed legislation. A federal law that doesn't preempt state laws will only add to the confusion and cost of remaining compliant. Instead of one piece of legislation to follow, we'd have 51. Additionally, heavy-handed rules around targets would actually hurt these states. Tourism would suffer if you can't effectively advertise to people," explained Rob Beeler, Founder and CEO of Beeler.Tech.

A Brief History: Last year, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) introduced the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) to "foundational data privacy rights, create strong oversight mechanisms, and establish meaningful enforcement." The bill had three main principles: data minimization, individual ownership, and private right of action. The bill was approved by the committee but stalled in Congress, despite the strong support for a national privacy law.

The publishers who went to Washington sought to educate Congress and to offer insights on how to improve the legislation, addressing such issues as the private right to action (i.e., the ability for citizens to sue a company for privacy violations), the failure to supersede state laws and ways it may limit cross-company behavioral targeting.

"What was hopeful in our conversations in DC is we spoke to people who had good questions, listened, and understood that this type of legislation will have a real impact – not just on digital advertising but on democracy. We hope they will see us as a resource to continue to help guide legislative efforts. We certainly intend to keep talking with them," said Beeler.

Some, including Scott Messer who attended the trip, would like to see fundamental changes in the way we address privacy, focusing more on acceptable use cases for data rather than relying solely on consumer consent.

"Even with all the choices consumers are given, there's still a lot of nuances, which means consumers don't know what they're opting into or out of," Messer told AdMonsters. "Data isn't good or bad on its own. There are good use cases, and then there's data misuse, only the latter of which drives privacy concerns. Ads for the sneakers you put in your cart that follow you in a retargeting campaign isn't a privacy concern." Other data and certain combinations or augmentations, such as data related to a consumer's healthcare, creditworthiness, or an individual's precise location coordinates, are different.
Why This Matters
Privacy regulations were supposed to help consumers understand the value of their data and provide them with the tools to protect their data. These laws aimed to encourage consumers to ask questions and make thoughtful decisions as to whether or not to grant permission to the websites they visit to collect, store and use their data. But was this goal actually accomplished?

Let's put aside that many sites still won't allow consumers to access their content without readers agreeing to consent beforehand, even though the EU is cracking down on that. One of the biggest issues is that when consumers opt to exercise their rights, the privacy policies that explain how their data is used can be dense and confusing.

Are we asking consumers to understand more about the internet than is reasonable? A recent survey of Americans found that only 28% of Americans understand how cookies work, and yet we ask them to make decisions to accept or reject them.

About 40% of people aged 35 and younger say they accept all cookies as a matter of habit, although older ones are less likely to do so. Fewer actually read the cookie banners and the policy explanations offered.

Many wonder if it is helpful to present users with cookie banners. "Rather than helping people protect their future choices, cookie consent requirements are extremely annoying and often run counter to accessibility guidelines on mobile devices, making life harder for people with all sorts of disabilities," Sergio Maldonado, Co-founder and CEO at software development firm PrivacyCloud told Wired UK.

This sentiment is prompting many privacy leaders in the industry to rethink how to address privacy in the digital universe. "I think there needs to be a different approach to how internet privacy is handled and more regulation of the collected information rather than giving the user the option to opt in or out in certain ways. There are things we should and shouldn't be allowed to do with data," Messer said.

In other words, users who don't understand how cookies work or who aren't inclined to read cookie banners or click through to the policies describing how their data is used are at risk. They may sign away their right to privacy and unwittingly permit unknown players to sell and use their data. At least some privacy advocates believe it is the wrong approach for the government to put the burden on consumers to ensure their privacy and data protection.
Meta Battles Canadian News Orgs 
The News: Last week, Meta platforms began blocking news for Canadian users in response to the Online News Act, which requires social media platforms to pay news outlets for their content. In a blog post, Meta announced that any news posted by a Canadian publisher or any other news outlet won't be visible to Canadian Facebook or Instagram users.

Publishers Fight Back: One week later, Canadian news industry groups requested Canada's Competition Bureau to investigate Meta Platforms' decision and accused Meta of abusing its market position (Facebook and Instagram account for 70% of the social media market in Canada). In a press release announcing the complaint, the Canadian news organizations said:

"Meta's practices are clearly designed to discipline Canadian news companies, prevent them from participating in and accessing the advertising market, and significantly reduce their visibility to Canadians on social media channels. Meta's anticompetitive conduct, which has attracted the attention of regulators worldwide, will strengthen its already dominant position in advertising and social media distribution and harm Canadian journalism."
Why This Matters
For years researchers have acknowledged that certain generations of users get their news from social media, so losing its audience on these platforms puts Canadian news organizations in peril.

This comes from disturbing findings in the 2023 Digital News Report survey by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, which found that Canadians consume less news and are even less inclined to pay for online news.

According to the survey, 80% of respondents say they're interested in news in 2023 -- down from 86% in 2021. The good news is that fewer (63%) say they actively avoid the news, compared to 71% in 2022.

"If Meta is allowed to proceed unchecked, it could inflict significant damage to Canadian news organization's ability to offer quality news services to Canadians, which is critical to the functioning of a free and democratic society," the Canadian news organizations said.
Around the Water Cooler
Unintentional Yandex Data Leak Sheds Light on Advertising’s Vulnerabilities Yandex, informally known as “Russia’s Google,” took a massive hit as an anonymous hacker shared a 45-gigabyte cache of the site’s source code. The leak raised concerns about online privacy and personal data security. (Wired)

The Resurgence of Ad Spend Following the Unmaterialized Recession Despite the absence of the anticipated recession, advertising activities are making a solid comeback, reflecting the dynamic and adaptable nature of the market. Brands are ramping up their ad spend to seize opportunities in the recovering economic landscape. (Yahoo)

Are Ad Tech’s Blocklist Standards Too Rigid? We might need to reconsider the traditional use of blocklists in advertising and advocate for a more refined approach that addresses brand safety and ad quality concerns. (Beeler Tech)
Sweet Tweet
AI and Ad Tech
AI and Ad Tech were made for each other. Look for game-changing step function improvements in both efficacy and efficiency as the latest tools are applied to the largest data sets in the world: programmatic advertising. Giddy up!
Worth a Listen
Sweeping Away The Crumbs And Diving Into What’s Truly Important In Privacy
The ad industry tends to get lost in its own weeds. (Endless consternation about the end of third-party cookies, anyone?) But the concept of privacy encompasses much more, from dealing with misinformation to promoting competition, says Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum.
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