Big New Role for Big Tech Nemesis

President Biden spent much of last week in the UK at the G7 summit, where Western leaders had tough words for both Russia and China.

Did Biden bring up how brands like Procter & Gamble are reportedly working with a Chinese trade group on an IDFA workaround? Probably not. But there are more signals that his administration is getting serious about tackling an assortment of issues surrounding Big Tech, competition in multiple digital industries and of course, consumer privacy. Just a few weeks after a group of legislators introduced a proposed anti-algorithm piece of legislation, we have a new FTC chair. Based on early speculation, the tech titans should be nervous. As for advertisers? We’ll see. Anyway, it’s been a busy week. Let’s dig into what happened this week, in the Future of Advertising.

National unity — at least on one issue

One of the many interesting things about the appointment of Lina Khan is that Republican and Democratic leaders are happy. This doesn’t mean that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ted Cruz are going to join the same bowling league, but for a Congress that can barely agree to make Juneteenth a holiday, anything bipartisan stands out. Khan has been a big critic of companies like Amazon, and back in April, the 32-year-old (yes, that number is right) told the Senate that she was worried about Silicon Valley having too much power when entering new markets. The New York Times called Khan “the most progressive chair of the FTC in at least a generation.”

It remains to be seen how much Khan focuses on consumer data, but her immediate predecessor, interim chair Rebecca Slaughter, has already said that existing rules aimed at giving consumers more control over personal data on the web aren’t working, reported Digiday.

Early fireworks?

While not aimed at tamping down walled-garden-identity-dominance per se, the recently introduced Platform Competition and Opportunity Act could have an impact on some of the M&A activity we’ve seen lately driven by the coming end of cookies and, more immediately, Apple’s changing ad rules. Big Technology’s Alex Kantrowitz called the proposed law a “dumb rocket,” which would effectively put an end to the tech giants’ ability to make acquisitions. While it’s unlikely that we’d see a Facebook $19 billion deal for WhatsApp today, even without this law, it’s going to be interesting if this bill’s prospects stifle the type of adtech exuberance we’ve seen lately.

FLoC Block

As much of the ad world ponders whether to join in with The Trade Desk–led UID initiative or be happy with Google’s cohort-centric FLoC, Amazon is going its own way. More specifically, Amazon is not going to support FLoC. While it’s not entirely shocking that a Google-led program won’t be the go-to way to target consumers on, it does dent the notion that FLoC could end up being just as ubiquitous as cookies once were. In the meantime, some of the early testing of FLoC has been eye-opening (per AdThrive, there are 34,000 cohorts at the moment!) and encouraging for brands (though we doubt that will sway Amazon).

Successful Diet

Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard delivered a speech last week at the Association of National Advertisers Media Conference, during which he was hopeful about ad targeting in a post-cookie world — if not a bit impatient. Pritchard wants testing of UID and FLoC to move faster, reported Ad Age.

“The deprecation of cookies and elimination of app-to-app data transfer is a monumental disruption — to consumer advertising and content experience and to the media industry.”

Pritchard was even less patient regarding the industry’s need to get cross-platform measurement right — and he pointed some of the blame at big broadcasters. “The digital platforms are ready to go.”

Interestingly, P&G gave a pretty strong endorsement of the universal ID introduced by OpenAP, a consortium of TV companies including ViacomCBS and Fox — but not all the big players.

Group 99

Speaking of consortiums, Group 9 Media — owners of PopSugar, Thrillist and other digital content hubs, is launching its own identity solution, In-GeNuity,” reported AdExchanger. This is a bold move for a company representing a collection of publishers that don’t necessarily have the login data or scale of a giant subscription property. But it’s the kind of take-things-into-your-own-hands gumption many have been calling for in a post-cookie world, where many have urged publishers to just “get more first-party data,” as if it were just that simple.

That’s it for now. See you next week!