Facebook Denies EU Wrongdoing; Brands & Agencies Differ On Programmatic

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Facebook Admits To EU Tracking ‘Bug’

Last week, Belgian academics updated a report that accused Facebook of illegally tracking Internet users in the EU. Facebook has denounced the allegations, but on Thursday, it conceded that a “bug” had been responsible for the debacle. Still, Facebook disputes the accusations. “The report gets it wrong multiple times in asserting how Facebook uses information to provide our service,” Facebook’s European policy chief, Richard Allan, wrote in a blog post. Though the debate seemingly dissolved into an argument about semantics, Facebook and other global ad platforms are finding European consumer tracking methods increasingly hard to ignore – especially when some in the US would call those methods standard practice. WSJ has more.

BrandAgency ‘Stalemate’

Speaking to The Drum, Deutsche Telekom’s global media chief says that brands and agencies are caught in a stalemate about how to handle programmatic hurdles. Gerhard Louw, who was on the World Federation of Advertisers’ Programmatic task force, says that transparency, media placement and data ownership continue to fuel industry-wide distrust. As a result, vendors are sidestepping agencies and approaching advertisers directly with programmatic offerings. What’s more, “The arbitrage issue worries clients,” said Louw. “We have always seen our agencies as agents that work and act on our behalf and have our best interests at heart, but the arbitrage model – being the buyer and seller of media – really muddles that up completely.” But is “arbitrage” by any other name still a dirty word?

Ad Blocking Fears

More users are blocking ads, and across more channels. Digiday reports that CBS Sports shows a 5% ad block rate, compared to upward of 30% on CBS gaming sites. Though the problem is still largely siloed, CBS Interactive CRO David Morris said, “These readers are our future, so once they get used to using ad blockers, it’s going to become a larger issue, not a smaller one.” Did someone say sponsored content? In a separate story, WSJ cites Adobe/PageFair research claiming a 5% rate of ad blocking globally. Read that.

Facebook Exchange Patent

Facebook filed a patent for an exchange that serves both ads and content (though much of that content is advertising in a different form: “paid-for news articles or videos from brands”). In this exchange, advertisers can bid against content such as videos, Facebook wall posts, news articles, photos or gaming apps. The patent would also let Facebook serve the ads or pieces of content on participating publishers’ sites, a move that could undercut content recommendation platforms. Though there are some strong content rec players in the space, Business Insider’s Lara O’Reilly points out, “None have the kind of verified data Facebook has in its war chest.” On the other hand, it could be years before the exchange detailed is put into practice, if a patent is granted at all. Read more.

Audio In The Mix

In a Thursday blog post, the IAB’s VP of industry initiatives, Carl Kalapesi, makes a five-point argument as to why marketers should welcome digital audio into their advertising mixes. Digital audio ads are typically delivered in a noncluttered environment and are often narrative, or “above the fold,” Kalapesi argues, and are increasingly mobile-first. The medium is growing, he adds, citing Edison Research and Triton Digital’s Infinite Dial 2015 study, which suggests 143 million Americans listened to online radio and streamed audio content in the past month. The IAB released its Digital Audio Buyer’s Guide in conjunction with the blog post.

Gravy Grabs $7.6M

On Thursday, location-based data analytics firm Gravy closed a $7.6 million round, and new investors included Gannett and MetTel. Gravy’s angle on mobile marketing is “verified” location data, which it offers by linking consumer interests and affinities to actual behaviors and activities. “The funds will be used to increase the scalability of Gravy's GOLD local analytics and context platform, which is the underpinning data-driven technology for all that we do to help major online publishers, hospitality and retail enterprises know their customers better and deliver personalized, relevant messaging and offers,” Gravy’s head of marketing, David Dague, told AdExchanger. Read the release.

Ad Tech Revenue Boom

Ad tech revenue will grow an eye-popping 300% by 2020, from $30 billion in 2015 to $100 billion, says Technology Business Research (TBR). The growth reflects advertisers’ continued migration to digital formats and the growing emergence of self-serve platforms. For its report, TBR split the industry into four segments – DSPs, DMPs, ad exchanges and hybrid platforms – and studied vendors such as Adobe, AppNexus, Criteo, Turn, Google and Rubicon Project. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest hurdles was putting each ad tech firm into a bucket. Seth Ulinski, senior analyst at TBR, tells MediaPost that they had to do “a lot of modeling to figure out who was doing what.” Read on.

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