Bringing Back the Wish Books

Catalogs are back, Google‘s post-cookie plans may be coming into focus, while Facebook tries to fight off IDFA pain and investors bet more on context.

Lots to discuss, so let‘s get into it.

Check‘s in the Mail

The ramifications of the ongoing identity wars continue to run far and wide. Direct marketers are now giving many kinds of media a second look, including good, old fashioned Direct Mail, reports Business Insider. Get ready for more catalogues this holiday season, as companies like the apparel brands Outerknown and Buck Mason as well as the high end bedding marketer Boll and Branch plan to ramp up their spending on postage. It‘s all rather ironic, considering that ad tech companies, under fire for disregarding consumer privacy, routinely point to the direct mail industry as playing even more fast and loose with consumer data.

Minding the FLoC

Given all the disruption in the data-driven marketing world of late — we‘re looking at you,   Google, Apple, regulators — keeping up with what it all means can be a full time job.

Here‘s guessing that you may not have had time to take in a presentation by Google‘s Josh Karlin at an Internet Engineering Task Force event over the summer. Not to worry, while you were catching some rays,  our Paul Bannister was dissecting every word and subtle hint from Karlin specifically about the next version of FLoC — which could have huge implications for how the open web makes money from ads.

It‘s complicated and highly nuanced (and none of it is set in stone) but we tried to put together a TLDR for you. Net-net, there are some surprisingly good aspects and some very ominous ones.

On the plus side, FLoC 2.0 does promise to be better for consumer privacy and potentially easier for brands to wrap their heads around. Yet, as AdExchanger put it, “there‘s a catch. Bake in more privacy protections and FLoC 2.0 will lose its edge in terms of targeting precision.

Last but not least, in its current work-in-progress state, there are some scary possibilities — such as the unintended (we think) consequence of favoring giant sites like Facebook and YouTube over the little guy.

This all warrants some close reading and even closer monitoring by all of us who care about a thriving web publishing industry. Stay tuned.

Different Permutation

Need another (hopefully hopeful) sign that the dynamics of web advertising are seriously changing, and how that could reaffirm the audience connections of publishers? Well, the ad tech firm Permutive has raised another $75 million, reports The Drum. This is the latest example of a steady round of VC bets on companies built to thrive in a post-cookie world (InfoSum, GumGum, Seedtag). Permuative‘s selling point is its ability to help publishers make more out of their increasingly golden asset — first-party data.

“As privacy shifts the economics of the internet toward this publisher-owned web, a privacy-first infrastructure will ensure this next iteration of digital advertising is immune to privacy chaos, and will scale and thrive,” said ”‹”‹Permuative CEO and co-founder Joe Root.

Don‘t Leave

We‘ve all been closely following just how much Apple‘s mobile tracking lockdown has dented digital platforms‘ ability to attribute the impact of ads on things that happen outside their walled gardens, particularly Facebook and Snap. Well, according to The Information, both companies have a new counter move — finding ways to get people to stay and convert on their properties, particularly shoppers.

“Facebook, for instance, can help advertisers personalize ads by using its own data on what people are doing — shopping or browsing — within the social network. And if the merchants set up stores within the Facebook app, the company can also measure whether the ads lead to people buying something.”

However, there‘s likely a reason that some merchants aren‘t setting up shop within Facebook — people haven‘t shown the same inclination to shop within the Facebook app the way they do in Instagram. So Facebook needs to get more people comfortable with the idea of shopping on Facebook, while also getting more retailers to dedicate resources to Facebook selling.

But in the meantime, Facebook and Snap‘s loss appears to be Google‘s gain, since tracking conversions via search ads remain solid. As The Information noted, it surely doesn‘t hurt that Google pays Apple a hefty price to serve as its core mobile search vehicle.

UID 2.0 Plays Chicken

Lastly, amidst all these shifting tactics for identity, it‘s worth asking — how are things with the much-hyped though recently quiet UID 2.0 initiative? So far, it‘s been a bit slow. As AdExchanger notes, ad tech companies and publishers have been far more enthusiastic about this cookie   alternative than brands. It‘s partly a chicken and egg problem:

“Marketers want scale before they invest, while publishers want to see budgets lined up if they‘re going to commit time and resources.”

The kitchenware company Made In is out there testing UID 2.0, and has found that targeting using this identifier helped drop its cost-per acquisition by 20 percent. Still, founder and CEO Chip Malt wants more. “UID2 is not as widespread as we would like it to be,” Malt said. “But bearing that in mind the fact that the campaign was successful against the control groups at this scale is encouraging.”

Hopefully encouraging enough for more brands to jump in.

That‘s it for now. Given that we‘re in November, we‘re apparently overdue in saying Happy Holidays to all!