“Estimating” IDFA Fallout for Advertisers

Facebook fires an early warning (and maybe an early warning shot), the FTC gears up to go after some Goliaths and reporters try to make sense of it all.

Let‘s get into the week that was in ID developments.

Facing Up

We‘ve been waiting for some real, substantive fallout from Apple‘s crackdown on data sharing amongst apps, and here‘s a big signal that things are getting real. Facebook is looking to get out in front of its next earnings call by putting out word that Apple‘s changes are causing the social networking giant to undercount attributions by 15 percent, reported Ad Age.

This sounds — pretty bad. But the details will be important here. Facebook has upward of 10 million advertisers. Is this hurting everyone? Just brands that used Facebook to track app installs? Mostly just games and app-centric companies? Does this matter to big CPGs or auto companies, for instance? Or the local plumber?

Well, one performance marketing company, Carousel, says Apple‘s moves are hitting all its clients — hard, reported Big Technology. As a result, Carousel has “moved from spending millions of dollars each day on Facebook to a few hundred thousand dollars. Before the iOS changes, Facebook generated 80% of the traffic Carousel sent to its product pages. Now it accounts for 20%.”

A lot more will likely be revealed when Facebook talks about its financials. The company says it is trying to get a better handle on this change before the holiday shopping season.Beyond that short-term crunch, here‘s the part (from Ad Age) that might make Zuckerberg and company nervous down the road:

“…as all these changes take hold marketers have been concerned about the lack of hard data that they can rely on from Facebook. There have been worries about how Facebook could rely more on estimates rather than exact data.”

If Facebook, whose ad targeting system is unsurpassed because it‘s so exacting (due to the company‘s direct relationship with 2 billion people), becomes associated with “projected” and “extrapolated” data, it‘s likely to dent its reputation — and ultimately hurt business.

Zero Data 30

The FTC must lead a market shift toward data minimalism,” said FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter during a recent open meeting, reports Digiday‘s Kate Kaye.

Um, we‘re all for eliminating clutter with the changing of the season, but data minimalism doesn‘t necessarily jive with “let‘s just find a cookie replacement and keep targeting that way.”

Does this sentiment mean that the FTC is looking to come down a lot harder than we even realize? Obviously, Google and Facebook have been changing the way they operate very publicly for a reason. But data is how the web works!

Kaye details a new push from legislators, who want the FTC to establish new rules to define and prevent businesses, including Big Tech platforms, from violating laws against deceptive or unfair data practices. And, if nothing else, the FTC could have $1 billion more to play with its pursuit of a more private web.

“…a   proposal…which got initial passage on September 15 by a House committee…would…allocate $1 billion to the FTC to…staff a new bureau addressing unfair or deceptive practices related to privacy, data security, identity theft and other data abuses.”  

Said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who heads the House Consumer Protection Subcommittee:

Large tech companies like Facebook have gotten away for years with nothing more than a slap on the wrist for their deceptive practices. With these resources, the FTC will invest and hold companies accountable for failing consumers.”  

OK then.

Living in Sin

If you‘ve ever wondered how reporters who cover digital advertising view this industry once they‘ve moved out of the trade press, the latest issue of Galaxy Brain on Substack — dubbed “The Internet‘s Original Sin” should be quite illuminating. It‘s a Q&A between ex-Adweek and ex-New York Times reporter Charlie Warzel and ex-Adweek reporter-turned-Gizmodo staffer Shoshana Wodinsky.

Here‘s Warzel: “Ultimately, you show how wildly boring tech stuff like ‘header bidding‘ leads to this race to the bottom that hurts competitors first, then advertisers, then anyone who publishes things online. And the internet turns to this kind of garbage-y, pop-up-y, clickbait-y surveillance hellscape.”

Here‘s Wodinsky on tech giants like Facebook and Google: “…these companies…don‘t see us as being sophisticated. It‘s a problem of scale. These companies are so big, with so many users, they legitimately can‘t think in terms of a single user. They ultimately don‘t care about your personal sense of right and wrong or what feels okay to you and what doesn‘t feel okay. They‘re not thinking about your agency. They want to be profitable because they‘re a company and that‘s their job. And, at the end of the day, you might feel upset over what they‘ve done but hey, you‘re just one user. You‘re not really part of that calculus.”

Sounds like the FTC might want to give these folks a call.

Anyhow, that‘s it for this week! See you next time.


September 14, 2021

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