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Weekly Roundup: Digital Alliance, Uber’s Lawsuit, Browser Wars, and More.

Adtech Weekly Roundup
"Because we don't know what the regulation is going to look like, we want to get out front and figure out how to solve the problem."

Meet the next big alliance of digital media industry

Digital media industry has captured (billions of) people’s attention with its content. Naturally, brands, marketers, and agencies followed their consumers online to deliver targeted content (ads, sponsored posts, etc.) across the open internet and the walled gardens.

Though publishers like you, platforms, and walled gardens are different from one another, there are some common glitches that need to be rid of – to build a sustainable ecosystem. Especially, in the era of privacy laws and regulations, both buy-side and sell-side want to make progressions so that the industry can,  

– Avoid further scrutiny.

– Create/curate and provide legitimate content for the users.

– Break-free from the existing concerns and complaints.

– Thrive and deliver what has been promised to the advertisers.

As obvious as it sounds, it takes everyone to better the industry. From buyers to marketers and agencies to sellers, we all have to find common ground and set rules for moderating content online. So, a handful of marketers, advertisers, platforms, agencies, and publishers have come together to form a new alliance. Dubbed as “Global Alliance for Responsible Media”, the consortium will create a set of actions, processes, and protocols to protect brands and people from harmful content online.

“Responsibility is critical to sustaining a healthy ecosystem and remains our number one priority.”

–  Kirk Perry, a former P&G executive and president-brand solutions at Google (AdAge).

The focus is biased towards implementing a common set of practices and actions to wipe out the illegitimate content from the internet – thus preventing online users, brands, and publishers.

The group includes major advertisers including Adidas, Mastercard, Nestlé, and Procter & Gamble, and publishers like NBCUniversal and Verizon. Apparently, Facebook, Google, Youtube, and Twitter are also in the consortium.

Takeaway:

Interestingly, several industry bodies including, Association of National Advertisers, 4A’s,ISBA, Mobile Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau, Coalition for Better Ads, and World Federation of Advertisers are on-board. Though the consortium is prioritizing ‘media’ initially, we believe specific issues around privacy laws and open internet would be addressed in the upcoming months. As always, we’ll keep you updated.

Browser wars

In our last week roundup, we saw how Mozilla is capitalizing on the “privacy first” scene created by the recent scandals and laws. Similarly, Microsoft Edge is trying to take advantage of Google’s Manifest V3 update for enterprise users.

In case you don’t know, Manifest V3 is a proposed update that will prevent ad blockers from utilizing Web Request API to block ads.

In a Reddit AMA, Microsoft Edge development team answered several questions related to extensions and particularly, ad blocking. Here are a few noteworthy points. 

Microsoft Edge, as a member of the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) will block ads that aren’t compliant with the CBA guidelines by default.

They said that the browser won’t hamper any ad blocking extensions to facilitate its advertising business. And, one of the team members acknowledged that there have been requests to release an in-built ad blocker for Edge.  

“We occasionally hear requests for a built in ad blocking experiences in Edge. For most users, we find that extensions (combined with strong defaults around tracking prevention) are the best option here because you can choose from a variety of experiences and defaults, but we absolutely want to hear from you if you think this should be built in.”

Next up is Vivaldi

Vivaldi, which is estimated to have around 1.5 million MAUs will block ads deemed as “abusive” automatically with the release of its latest version. Enabled by default, the “Block Ads on Abusive Sites” feature will block ads with pop-up dialogues, unexpected click areas, consentless redirection, etc. It also follows Google’s definition to deem an ad as “abusive”.

There’ll be a blacklist of domains constantly updated and used to block ads on abusive sites.

Takeaway:

Browsers are actively pursuing the privacy story to expand their user base and eventually, every browsers are compelled to enable some sort of ad blocking experience. It can be either done voluntarily or to take a stand against competitors (for instance, Google’s expected Chrome update). As a publisher, you should ensure that you’re delivering a clean and accepted ad experience to the users (by constantly evaluating/vetting the vendors and optimizing the page for maximum speed).  

Uber’s ad fraud lawsuit

We constantly grapple with ad fraudsters here. Brands usually don’t take their ad fraud concerns to court, but Uber seems to be different.

Uber, the recently IPO’d ride-hailing company sued five mobile advertising companies along with 100s of unknown third-parties for faking clicks, installs, or both on ad campaigns – ran on behalf of Uber.

Uber, like any other advertiser, hired an ad agency (Dentsu’s Fetch) in 2017 to run campaigns targeting app installs. And, later found that they paid $70 million to  “nonexistent, non-viewable, or fraudulent” clicks and installs.

At first, Uber sued Fetch last year and then withdrew the lawsuit. Now, again On Jun 5th 2019, Uber sued five adtech vendors – Hydrane SAS, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi and AdAction, claiming that the ad agency passed the duties of running ad campaigns to them.

“These ad networks even placed Uber ads on porn sites and Breitbart in direct violation of our paid advertising requirements. To make matters worse, they actively falsified reports to claim they were running our ads on legitimate sites.”

– Uber spokesperson to AdWeek.

Wondering how they defrauded Uber?

According to AdExchanger’s story, BidMotion and Hydrane claimed that they’ve purchased the majority of Ads from ad exchanges like MoPub. When Uber asked MoPub, Twitter-owned exchange said it was “unaware of any such purchases.”

The number of daily clicks on Uber ads from the apps reported by YouAppi exceeded the daily active users (DAUs) of the apps. For instance, a flashlight app with 54,735 DAUs got 55,430 clicks for Uber. Why would a user click an add to install the same app again and again?

When Uber winded down its ad campaigns, the number of app installs remained the same. To put in other way, vendors were using last-click attribution model and getting paid for fake clicks.

Takeaway:

A brand suing the vendors is a rare occurrence in adtech. Though we can’t say the verdict, the company will find it hard to track and get the names of 100s of unknown third-parties. Don’t believe us? Read this story then.

For a publisher or an advertiser, it all comes down to vendors they partner with. If you partner with the right ones, they’ll ensure you’re free from fraud by constantly tracking the supply chain.

ICO warns the adtech – GDPR wake-up call

For the last few weeks, we were successively talking about new privacy bills and regulations in our roundup. This week, we’ll see an interesting update on an existing law that you need to be aware of.

GDPR

Recently, the UK data protection authority ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) released a report to help adtech become fully compliant with GDPR. If you have time, here’s the complete pdf. We’ll cite the important highlight for you here.

TCF and Google Authorized Buyers

The report clearly states that both the TCF and Authorized Buyers by Google aren’t complaint because of several reasons and the one being the framework allows unregistered/unknown third-parties to take part in the facilitated auction.

“The TCF and Authorized Buyers frameworks are insufficient to ensure transparency and fair processing of the personal data in question and therefore also insufficient to provide for free and informed consent”

We know that there has been complaints against IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework and IABs’ answer is almost here. So, IAB’s TCF update has become necessary and publishers should ensure that they’re using the CMP which relies on the updated version.

No contractual agreements

Many publishers, agencies, vendors, and advertisers sign manual contracts to offload the responsibilities of data protection/privacy to data processors. ICO said that those contracts aren’t valid.

Publisher version of the report

ICO also declared that it will publish a report, tailored for publishers, to help them become compliant.

Moments that matter

The Conscious Advertising Network is here, but do we need it? – MobileMarketing.

Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic Slide – Variety.

How Facebook’s Libra Will Turbo-Charge Its Ad Empire – Fortune.

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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