At Sortable, when we come across news articles that impact our industry and other publishers, we share them with each other and chat about the implications. In order to expand the discussion, we want to share these articles with you and give our opinions on what we think it means for Ad Tech. Our hope is to create a dialogue around these articles and really dig into what each of them mean for our industry.
We have Mark Dixon, a Product Manager at Sortable, offering his take on the following industry articles:
- EU’s Margrethe Vestager Confirms That Google’s Planned Removal Of Third-Party Cookies Is An Antitrust Concern
- Google Postpones Page Experience Algorithm Update to Mid-June
- What Pubs And Ad Tech Really Think Of Google’s ‘Project Bernanke’
- What Pandemic? Internet Ad Spending Increased by 12.2% In 2020
EU’s Margrethe Vestager Confirms That Google’s Planned Removal Of Third-Party Cookies Is An Antitrust Concern
The European Commission is currently investigating the way data concerning users is gathered, processed, and monetised by Google. It has now been publicly stated by the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Vestager, that Google’s proposals to deprecate third-party cookies are within the scope of this ongoing investigation. You can read the official statement here.
What’s clear is that a user’s informed consent is key to the discussion, no matter what technical solution is devised for third-party cookie replacements. Whether that be browser-managed cohorts, user-provided email addresses and other PII, or any other signal that could be used to try and identify or categorize users — consumers have a right to understand and control how information about them is used for advertising purposes.
Since these privacy rights and regulations apply regardless of technical implementation, the advertising industry in general has reason to be concerned and should ensure that Google and other powerful platforms aren’t able to use privacy requirements as an excuse for increasing their stranglehold on competition.
Google’s FLoC initiative isn’t just facing headwinds from regulators that are closely monitoring the privacy and antitrust implications. WordPress, GitHub, Brave, and DuckDuckGo have made headlines with their plans to block cohort tracking.
Originally scheduled to launch in May, Google has pushed back the launch of its Page Experience algorithm update, which sees the Core Web Vitals become ranking signals, to mid-June. This updated timeframe for the Page Experience update gives site owners at least another month to prepare.
Google’s blog post indicates that mid-June is the starting point, but page experience will be fully integrated with their ranking systems by the end of August, 2021. The extension and gradual rollout may give publishers more time to prepare, but the clock is still ticking. Sortable’s new Core Web Vitals report joins revenue data with CWV scores to help prioritize where changes may be the most impactful.
Google’s “Project Bernanke” uses learnings from auctions to benefit itself — feeding publisher ad server data into its buying systems to gain market share and keep prices low. For years, publishers may have suspected Google was using it to their advantage, but without knowing how or how much. Evidence is piling up that Project Bernanke is being used in Google’s open bidding, and that poses a concern for publishers, and the ad tech industry in general.
Does it surprise anyone that a large, successful business would take actions to further increase their profitability? Corporations that tend to centralize power and control over an industry, such as Google’s position in ad tech, need to be kept in check and held accountable. Fair competition and a transparent marketplace for publishers and advertisers alike is crucial to a healthy ecosystem, and those principles drive Sortable’s commitment to empowering publishers on the open web.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, internet ad spending soared 12.2% during 2020 to $139.8 US billion, according to an annual report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
While ad spend did (understandably) dip with the onset of the pandemic in Q2 2020, the industry rebounded with significant year-over-year growth in Q3 and Q4. While some of that could be attributed to the US election and the opening up of campaigns that had been paused earlier in the year, changes in consumer behaviour also accelerated growth in video and social media. Growth trends are expected to continue for digital advertising, albeit with some uncertainty due to the removal of third-party tracking mechanisms across mobile and web.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this blog are Sortable employee’s or other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Sortable or Sortable’s product/product roadmap.