Guess Who’s Making Bank on Mobile Ads?

Apple is making a quiet power play for advertising, a Pinteresting buyer emerges and Facebook keeps taking it on the chin.

Oh, and it was Advertising Week. Let’s get started.

It Turns Out Mobile Ads Have Some Upside

Remember when Apple was all about privacy and pretty much anti-digital advertising just a few short months ago? That’s when Apple decided to crack down on data sharing among apps while limiting the use of device identifiers, all in the name of customer experience.

Looks like all that noble posturing worked out pretty well for Apple. The company has tripled its search market share over the past six months and is trending toward bringing in $5 billion in ad revenue this year, the Financial Times reported.

“It’s like Apple Search Ads has gone from playing in the minor leagues to winning the World Series in the span of half a year,” Alex Bauer, head of product marketing at Branch, a company that measures the effectiveness of mobile marketing, told the FT.

The funny thing here is that Apple can still sort of keep the high ground because search ads in its App Store really aren’t driven by personal data or creepy targeting moves — as far as we can tell. Still, you’d have to think that the more Apple gets used to this somewhat easy money (it’s basically just taxing companies that want their apps discovered), they’re going to want more — which could push it into grayer areas of digital ad targeting — at least in terms of privacy.

Oh…Snap! 

We are starting to see a consistent string of reports on just how seriously Apple’s attribution crackdown is hurting Facebook’s business. Snap’s stock price took a tumble after it reported earnings, during which the company said it too was struggling with mobile attribution data.

But Apple’s moves are creating some winners, too. A collection of e-commerce data companies including Klaviyo, Yotpo and Rokt that help retailers close more deals are cleaning up, reports The Information. One merchant, Vanity Planet, has cut ad budgets for Facebook and Google by half since spring and is pumping money into Rokt to help drive business.

“A big component of what we do is to let [merchants] do more with their own data,” said Bruce Buchanan, CEO of Rokt, who expects revenue to surge 130 percent to $230 million this year.

If this is the year where first-party data rules, it seems likely we’ll see the emergence of a large ecosystem of companies that help brands make the most of it.

The Social Network Formerly Known as Facebook

How rough have things been for Facebook? The company is planning to change its name, likely tied to something related to the metaverse.

While that may sound somewhat extreme — it was only a few years ago that Facebook was shoving its name onto Instagram — given all the recent scandal, the name Facebook has become radioactive, limiting its ability to expand.

The New York Times’ Ben Smith put it best: “Another part of this, I think, is that it’s become near-impossible for fb to launch new products, even when they’re excellent….

Do You Want To Build a Clean Room?

Advertising Week returned to New York as an in-person event this past week, and one of the more notable companies presenting was the cloud technology firm Snowflake, which featured a college-football-like bear mascot walking around the floor. Snowflake is one of the firms leading the charge/promise of “clean rooms” for companies looking to match up first-party data in a safe and smart way. After gaining a hefty endorsement from NBCU earlier this year, the well-capitalized Snowflake is now partnering with Disney to aid in safe data passage for a number of Omnicom clients, Digiday reported. It makes us wonder, what happens to all the other data-sharing and data-lake-making firms in our ecosystem as Snowflake establishes serious traction?

PayPal-ing Up

According to The New York Times, PayPal may be looking to acquire Pinterest. We have to say we didn’t see that coming. But when you think about it, it makes some sense. We are entering — or we’re already well into — an era where commerce and content are melding. Former Hearst executive Troy Young wrote about this in his new newsletter, as everything becomes shoppable, “All of this positions media ever closer to commerce, rewriting the rules of how stuff is sold.” Young noted this was a big driver for Dotdash’s recent acquisition of Meredith — two companies that are all about people who are interested in or intend to buy stuff. If there is one thing we know about Pinterest, they are swimming in intent data.

That’s it for this week — see you next time!

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