Fix/Friday — December 18

TLDR — With GAFA, Netflix, Disney and more focused on newTV, the Advertising, Media and Entertainment Industries are in flux.

To shed some light on this we have programmed two events in January on Streaming and it’s effect on the Cinema business. Supported by FTI Consulting, we have two great panels — with more people to be added.

Tickets are free and we have people from Google, Snap, Warner Bros, BBC and more signed up.

Regulators

Last week the lead story was about regulators and this week it’s the same. Politicians in Texas have launched an antitrust complaint against Google, saying

Google overcharged publishers for the ads it showed across the web and edged out rivals who tried to challenge the company’s dominance. They also said that Google had reached an agreement with Facebook to limit the social network’s own efforts to compete with Google for ad dollars

Bizarrely, the people behind this are largely the same ones who tried to get the US Supreme Court to act against other states in support of Trump’s claim over the election he lost. And it seems they may have jumped the gun before a DOJ complaint.

The full 130 page complaint is here and it’s a pretty thorough look at the plumbing of adtech — although the redacted bits are getting people speculating about Whats App, AMP and more. The Facebook collusion is a new part of this story, but Facebook is not named as a defendant in the complaint — and has yet to comment.

For more background it could be worth reading Why Google Dominates Advertising Markets by Dina Srinivasan from Yale — who helped draft the complaint.

Switching from Texas to Brussels the EU have published detailed plans for their regulation. The Digital Services Act is designed to impose more responsibility for taking down illegal content and the Digital Markets Act is aimed at curbing the growing power of the big platforms. The FT has great analysis of this, with insight into the fevered debate these plans have sparked.

The EU Digital Markets Act in 10 points — Good insight from some of the best informed lawyers

These legal moves are going to make the weather for our business over the next few years. There is an additional wrinkle for UK readers — how does it all affect us? The news that Facebook are to copy Google and shift all UK users to the US company — moving the domicile from Dublin to Menlo Park — shows how we are moving out of the EU orbit.

Facebook vs Apple

It’s not just regulators picking fights with GAFA. The usual bickering has escalated to Facebook running ads everywhere accusing Apple of changes that will be devastating to small businesses. Clearly there is a whiff of self interest here, but we have argued before that Apple do risk damaging their core constituents — app developers who use ads to acquire users and many also monetize their apps through ads. The Facebook campaign is designed to keep the pressure on Apple, but we can’t see Apple backing down.

One of their execs was dismissive of the Faceboook stance when he spoke about their plans for App Tracking Transparency — adding the warning that apps could be taken down from the App Store;

“When invasive tracking is your business model, you tend not to welcome transparency and customer choice”

“Its aim is to empower our users to decide when or if they want to allow an app to track them in a way that could be shared across other companies’ apps or websites. To do that, early next year, we’ll begin requiring all apps that want to do that to obtain their users’ explicit permission. And developers who fail to meet that standard can have their apps taken down from the App Store,”

Facebook this week shared new proposals designed to prepare partners for the imminent changes but it’s not that clear what these mean and how they work. Well worth reading the thoughts of Fix friend Eric Suefert and his interpretation of these proposals.

This is a detailed look at how people are getting ready for the Apple changes — even though it is still unclear what will work and what won’t

I still believe there as another act to this saga — Apple will find away to use the extensive data they have on users to offer privacy protected form of advertising — think about this quote from that Apple exec;

But we expect the industry will adapt as it did before, providing effective advertising, but this time without invasive tracking

Steve Jobs was keen to sort ads out. Does Tim Cook feel the same?

(A long Buzzfeed article is damming of Facebook Facebook Profits As Users Are Ripped Off By Scam Ads)

Adtech

All the points above are adtech issues — this industry is making headlines, which is fitting when the most powerful and lucrative firms in the worlds are essentially adtech businesses

There are some key players outside GAFA, like premium publishers and a new deal shows how focused everyone is on identity — a way to replace the cookie and minimise the downsides of its demise

The Washington Post is one of the most innovative firms in adtech ( helped no doubt by being owned by Jeff Bezos ) and its Zeus project around 1st party data looks really promising. But they are backing multiple horses and have announced they will use the Trade Desk Unified ID. Jarrod Dicker, head of commercial technology at the Post said;

“No one really knows what will happen in 2022,” “We want to be prepared, and have a say in what [the landscape] looks like.” The media company is also considering other identity systems and is likely to use more than one,…

The Trade Desk initiative is getting wide support and the scale of TTD gives it an advantage — more on it here. And this is a good argument for a neutral solution, meaning designed to benefit the entire ecosystem, not any one gatekeeper or monopolist.

Ronan Shields at Adweek gets this space better than most and he has gone deep on the Google Chrome privacy sandbox

We now have 265 members in our Guild group focused on adtech — if you haven’t joined yet, this should work. Join the debate and share your thoughts.

NewTV

We went deep on newTV this Wednesday. So much going on — catch up here. And check out our January events on Streaming and its effect on the Cinema business. Tickets are free and we have people from Google, Snap, Warners, BBC and more already signed up.

I mentioned Fraud as one factor holding newTV back and we now see a new fraud affecting Oracle. With the number of credible sources of quality inventory probably in the low thousands, can we not build more robust systems. Do we need to import adtech plumbing designed for the long tail of millions of websites?

With WonderWoman streaming in little more than a week it’s not that surprising to see the long running dispute between Warner and Roku get resolved. It’s likely Roku got the 30–40% of ad inventory they usually demand.

USB have published an interesting looking report on the future of TV — but none of my usual sources can get me a copy. Anyone have one to share?

Social Apps

With 430m users Reddit is starting to be seen as a good ad opportunity and their new deal with Moat shows they are taking it seriously. So too is their acquisition of TikTok rival Dubsmash.

Dubsmash’s communities are driven by young, diverse creators — about 25 percent of all Black teens in the U.S. are on Dubsmash, and females represent 70 percent of users.

The Facebook music video app Collab has officially launched and they also announced a tool to rival Cameo and Patreon;

Super, will let creators, entrepreneurs or celebrities host live, interactive video events. Viewers can tip creators by buying them digital gifts, or pay to “appear” alongside a creator during the livestream to ask a question or take a selfie,

Our latest GoodTikTOKCreative featured L’Oreal and you should also check out The Year on TikTok: Top 100

Merchant

Still more momentum for Live streaming. Walmart is bringing live streaming to TikTok. The new A16Z report on this space is a must read. Shopatainment: Video Shopping as Entertainment. And Modern Retail look Inside Walmart’s army of employee TikTok influencers

Smart DTC brands know the right retail partnerships can boost their growth — Function of Beauty have a one year distribution deal with Target and are translating their customised range to work on the shelves.

Good thinking from 2pm on how the DoorDash model can grow to be a local powerhouse

Amazon

Good insight into the power of the Amazon third party seller ecosystem

There are many European competitors to Amazon in ecommerce and they seem to be doing well. But if / when Amazon decide to expand beyond the UK, Germany and France how will they fare then? This is a company that has hired over 400k people in the last year — increasing their workforce by 50%

Amazon are to host an event looking at fairness in AI

Plus+

Great interview with the Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke

QR codes are back — because they work

What comes after smartphones? Good new Benedict Evans essay

The pseudoscience of a 12 month payback on CAC — smart thinking on ecommerce metrics from VC Balderton

Walmart will test driverless delivery trucks in Arkansas next year

eConsultancy & Guild founder Ashley Friedlein with his 2021 trends

Finally…this is the last Fix of the year. Celebrate seeing the back of 2020 and enjoy the Addictive Soulful Christmas playlist as the soundtrack. Best enjoyed with a large glass of Red.

Pattern Recognition / Strategy / Consulting / Creative Thinking from Simon Andrews — Sharing knowledge through our email newsletter Mobile Fix every Friday