Clearcode’s AdTech Month In Review: July 2019


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At the end of every month, we present you a curated list of the top AdTech stories in a condensed, easily digestible format.

The goal is simple: maximum knowledge at minimum reading. All you need is five minutes of spare time and a cup of good coffee.

Here’s a list of three interesting AdTech news stories for June 2019:

Exposed: The Users Behind the Ad Blockers [ExchangeWire]

The article provides insights into the profile of the average user of ad blocking software, outlines the impact it has on AdTech, main motivations behind using adblockers, as well as discusses the future of adblocking.

Key points:

  • The number of American users of blocking ads is still growing, and likely to exceed 27% next year
  • The demographic most likely to use ad blockers is tech savvy young males – which hasn’t changed much over the years
  • Motivations for using ad blocking include frustration with intrusive ad formats that interrupt and slow down the browsing experience or block access to content, as well as concerns over privacy
  • The rise of adblocking cannot be countered easily, but the industry needs to push towards non-intrusive ad formats and targeting techniques with limited use of personal information, and to promote the use of data only when users’ consent is given.

Amazon’s Deals With The Trade Desk And Dataxu Bring RTB To CTV [AdExchanger]

Amazon has established new partnerships to allow media buyers on The Trade Desk, dataxu and Amazon’s own DSP to access Fire TV impressions through a private marketplace (PMP) developed by Amazon Publisher Services (APS).

Key points:

  • Although some broadcasters have addressable TV capabilities – AT&T’s Xandr or Comcast’s FreeWheel, impressions are not sold programmatically in real time
  • Because major broadcasters are reluctant to expose inventory to exchanges, Pogrammatic integrations are rare.
  • Amazon’s CTV product is closer to real programmatic because it serves ads in real time based on deal IDs
  • Publishing an anonymized ID outside DSPs is a breakthrough move which can help Amazon revolutionize CTV.

Here’s Why Facebook’s FTC Settlement Is a Joke [Gizmodo]

Facebook has finally made public the details of its deal with the Federal Trade Commission to end a probe into its handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

Key points:

  • Facebook paid $5 billion fine, which is basically its monthly revenue
  • On top of the fine, the government will vastly increase oversight into Facebook’s day-to-day activities
  • Facebook’s board will be buffered by “an independent privacy committee of Facebook’s board of directors”, whose members are still unknown
  • This settlement seems too little, but nothing less than the complete dissolution of Facebook would suffice to undo the level of distrust Zuckerberg has sown.

Soft enforcement’: DSPs are beginning to enforce app-ads.txt [Digiday]

Better late than never: the industry is embracing app-ads.txt the mobile in-app and OTT version of ads.txt. The anti-fraud measure has received enough momentum among app developers that major demand-side platforms are now prepared to enforce it.

Key points:

  • The platforms implementing app-ads.txt involve Centro and The Trade Desk
  • For now, app-ads.txt enforcement applies to mobile in-app ads. Connected TV ads are waiting for the support from app stores like Roku or for a third party that would provide match the CTV app store data with app-ads.txt files posted online.  
  • The introduction of ap-ads.txt is expected to clean up the mobile in-app programmatic ad market, limit fraud and give advertisers more confidence when buying inventory programmatically.

New York City to Consider Banning Sale of Cellphone Location Data [The New York Times]

Mobile apps are known collect detailed geolocation data of their users. This then sold to other parties, e.g. digital marketers, roadside emergency assistance services, retail advertisers, hedge funds or even bounty hunters. New York City is considering a bill that would make it illegal without explicit consent of the user.

Key points:

  • Telecommunications firms and mobile-based apps make billions of dollars per year by selling customer location data to marketers and other businesses, offering a vast window into the whereabouts of cellphone and app users, often without their knowledge.
  • If the legislation is approved, it is believed that the city would become the first to forbid the sale of geolocation data to third parties.
  • The bill, which was introduced on Tuesday, would make it illegal for cellphone companies and mobile app developers to share location data gathered while a customer’s mobile device is within the five boroughs.
  • In the absence of a federal law specifically protecting consumers’ location data, cities and states have stepped up to enforce privacy regulations and location data rules (e.g. in San Francisco and LA).
  • The bill would restrict cellphone companies and mobile apps from sharing location data to situations where they were “providing a service explicitly requested” by the customer. 
  • The language is designed to challenge the vague agreements customers click on when signing up for an app or a cellular service. 
  • The legislation would also exclude the collection of location data in “exchange for products or services.”
  • The bill provides for steep fines, ranging from $1,000 per violation to $10,000 per day per user for multiple violations, while giving customers who have had their location data shared without their explicit permission the right to sue.
  • It is not yet clear whether the bill will pass

Firefox Is Running A Test To Ensure That Killing Third-Party Cookies Doesn’t Also Kill Its Own Revenue [AdExchanger]

Firefox is switching to blocking third-party tracking cookies by default. The change could undermine the business models companies that rely on cookies.

Key points:

  • Firefox has been testing a small subset of users – fewer than 5% of its base – to determine how disabling cookies through Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), Firefox’s version of Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention, will impact Firefox’s main revenue stream.
  • Mozilla receives a percentage of ad revenue anytime someone uses the built-in search engine provided by Firefox. In 2017, the Mozilla Corp. generated $542 million from a mix of royalties, subscriptions and advertising revenue
  • It seems clear that killing third-party cookie tracking won’t endanger Firefox’s search or advertising revenue all that much.
  • The same can’t be said for independent AdTech companies. ETP makes it harder to track users across sites and to build a third-party targeting profile based on browsing activity.
  • Advertisers and AdTech vendors will just have to start using targeting options that don’t involve collecting user data, like contextual.

Index Exchange’s Mike O’Sullivan Discusses Identity Solutions in the Post-ITP Landscape – [ExchangeWire trader talk TV]

ExchangeWire’s Ciaran O’Kane talks to Mike O’Sullivan, VP, Product, Index Exchange, to discuss identity solutions emerging as a result of the limitations associated with the use of third-party cookies.

Key points:

  • In a world where the third-party cookies no longer exist, one way for publishers to run addressable advertising (i.e. knowing who their audience is) is by creating a “free wall” — i.e. asking users to sign in using an email address in order to view the content (sites like have already started doing this).
  • The email address can then be hashed and passed on to LiveRamp (one of the main ID providers).
  • LiveRamp then uses it’s Identity Graph to identify that user on the publisher’s site.
  • If the user uses the same email address to log in to different sites, then advertisers (via DSPs) will be able to identify them and run frequency capping etc.

On a side note, LiveRamp’s ID solution is the only one (as far as I know) that uses email addresses as a way to identify people. Most of the other popular ID solutions (e.g. the Trade Desk’s ID solution) relies on third-party cookies, which, as we all know, are essentially dead.

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