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Weekly Roundup: Seasonal Ad Spends, First-party Data, Complaints Against IAB, and More.

Adtech Weekly Roundup
Seasonal ad spends helped publishers to increase their revenues, especially in gaming vertical, Amazon and Google are fined for cookie-ing users without permission, and complaints are piling up against Google and IAB.


  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday brought a 575% increase in BuzzFeed’s commercial revenue. Many other publishers followed the lead. WIRED used the same occasion to sell its subscriptions.
  • The new consoles from Sony and Microsoft brought a ripple effect in the video game niche. Ad spend surges 80%.
  • Advertisers are seeking first-party data in direct programmatic deals. The publishers with their first-party data are enjoying more revenue and high sales.
  • Amazon and Google have been fined for not following privacy laws in France. Both companies failed to clarify the use of the collected data.
  • Google and IAB face more complaints in Europe regarding the use of personal data in the RTB process.

Seasonality and Publishers

People wait for months for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and once they arrive, everyone is ready with a shopping list. This is the time when publishers yield the highest revenue from affiliate sales. Here’s how some publishers performed during the shopping season:

BuzzFeed: The publisher runs a gift guide section on its site to help the readers buy the right product. This year, BuzzFeed produced 200% more content for the section and saw its revenue grow by an incredible 575%. But the publisher started publishing the content 6 weeks earlier than it did last year. 

Vox Media: Vox saw 120% YoY growth in this season but the major part of its revenue came from its evergreen articles.

Verizon Media Group: After heavy investments in its commercial content, Verizon Media reaped its benefits with a 105% increase in revenue and a 200% increase in gross merchandise volume.

Wired: Condé Nast’s Wired saw the festive season from a different perspective. It saw people’s willingness to spend money as an opportunity to sell subscriptions. As a result, Black Friday and Cyber Monday became the year’s second and the third best days for its subscription business. It used display ads and contextual marketing to push its $5 a year subscription plan.

Ad Spend Surges 80% in the Gaming Industry

November also saw the launch of the next-gen gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft. These launches were followed by Sony’s $15 million ad spend to promote the PS5 and Microsoft’s expenditure of around $5 million for the Xbox. Nintendo increased its ad spend by 138% in the same month.

When there are new consoles in the hands of gamers, all they want to do is try new games. So, the game publishers are also advertising heavily to sell their games. Even the mobile app market witnessed a 23% increase in ad spend due to the gaming fever induced by the console launch. All this commotion helped the video game industry to reach an 80% surge in ad spend.


Q4 brings you many opportunities to increase your revenue. It is up to you how you leverage the situation. We have created the seasonality guide for publishers, you can download it so that you are better prepared for the next holiday season. You can also read about the four opportunities to drive more revenue during Black Friday

Changing Landscape of Programmatic Deals

Whenever you read an article about the demise of the third-party cookie, you’ll always get this advice: “Start using your first-party data.” So far, people have considered first-party data as a necessity for the future, but now, it is becoming a USP for advertisers. More and more advertisers are asking for it and the publishers who can offer it are selling their inventory faster than the publishers with no first-party data.

Ryan Pauley, Chief revenue officer at Vox Media says, “We will go from a very small minority of impressions in 2019 that used first-party data compared to third-party data to meaningful growth on that this year, and next year we expect much more than a majority of our impressions across the platform will use first-party data compared to third-party data.” Vox Media plans to use its first-party data as the pillar of its programmatic advertising sales.

A Media Network used to include first-party data options only when the advertisers asked for it. But now, the company will offer it more proactively as the first-party data appears more lucrative to the advertisers. Advertisers in the PMP auctions are spending more than twice the money when first-party data is offered to them. Not only PMPs but the direct deals with first-party data are attracting 20% bigger insertion orders.


The future belongs to the first-party data. Every publisher with a robust first-party data strategy will have an edge over a publisher with no such plans. Better late than never, start preparing for the future, here’s a helpful guide for you.

Want to receive the latest adtech updates every week, just sign up for our adtech weekly roundup.

Privacy Laws hit Google and Amazon

French regulator SINIL has fined Google and Amazon for placing cookies in users’ devices without taking their consent. Google has been fined 100 million euros whereas Amazon has to pay 35 million euros. Both the companies run French versions of their websites for the country’s users. Both of them failed to clarify how they’ll be using the user data. At the same time, they couldn’t provide the user with any means to refuse the use of cookies. 

The companies argued that SINIL has no right to impose the sanction as their European headquarters were located in Ireland and Luxembourg. But the regulatory body has rejected the argument. The companies have three months to change the information banners on their sites. If they fail to comply, they’ll have to pay 100,000 euros per day until the rectifications are not made.


The governments around the world are becoming more and more strict regarding their privacy laws. The big tech companies like Google and Amazon are paying fines now, but they also have the majority of their users signed-in to their platforms. It is easier for them to tackle the laws because they have a highly loyal user base. But, publishers should see these events as warning signs for themselves. Make sure you are complying with the privacy laws to avoid legal complications. 

More Privacy Complaints Filed Against Google and IAB

After the implementation of GDPR, data protection authorities in Europe started receiving complaints against the adtech industry’s way of utilizing the users’ information. There were complaints against the RTB process that it’s a breach of privacy as it makes the user data available to many bidders for targeted ads. Google and IAB represent ad tech as their methods, tech, and frameworks are used by most of the industry. That’s why these complaints were filed against them.

Now, another batch of fresh complaints is being filed against Google and IAB. They argue that behavioral ads are harmful and unlawful. The consortium that is coordinating these complaints is requesting a joint investigation against IAB and Google, all across Europe. The main purpose of the complaints is to maintain pressure on the authorities from various countries in Europe because the complainers are unhappy with the slow speed of the GDPR authorities working against the ad tech. 

Moments that Matter

Google is now blocking the ads publishers sell if they don’t meet Google’s standards – NiemanLab

Federal Trade Commission calls for breakup of Facebook – NBC NEWS

Digital Buoys Global Ad Spend Big Time During The Pandemic – Adexchanger

With first-party data, Allrecipes is able to bake reader comments into advertisings tools – Digiday

Amazon is now Earth’s Biggest Advertiser – AdAge.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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