The Advertising-Tech War Continues

The advertising world is already throwing a tizzy based on the decisions that Apple and Google have made around cookies; so much so that the big boys are rolling their own add solutions (“What’s a monopoly?” newsletter #61). Recently, both sides upped the ante. Google announced that they would stop selling ads based on tracked website views, and Disney announced their own ad platform. Actually, both announcements are deeper than that.

Of course, Google isn’t going to do something that harms its business — and its business is advertising. Targeted advertising. The removal of third-party cookies could easily be seen as a monopolistic move largely motivated by increased regulatory scrutiny. They’re doing a good job of positioning this latest move in the same way: it’s part of their “privacy first future”. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that they wouldn’t be going down this path if they didn’t have a solution that would meet advertisers needs, and it appears they do in “Federated Lerning of Cohorts”. In tests they’ve been running, they show that this type of advertising is at least 95% as effective at conversion as cookie-based advertising. And of course, they’re the ones with this technology. So, they’ve shut down the ability for third-parties to track with cookies, and they’re launching their own replacement that is just as effective. Moreover, don’t be confused: this is just as much an invasion of your privacy as the old methodologies. By definition, any technology that provides the same degree of psychological mapping to get you to buy what the advertisers want you to buy is problematic. In fact, it may be much worse, because it’s so much more subtle.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation, we have Disney. Just like the New York Times in that newsletter #61 article, they’re big enough to roll their own advertising tech — and they are. And big. Some of the headlines around this, for example, “Disney Advertising unveils realtime ad exchange”, while technically true, really miss the point. This is the point: “Construction and implementation of a unified advertising infrastructure where every conceivable campaign approach can be purchased and carried across all of Disney’s ad-supported services is well underway.” Disney wants at least half of their ad sales to be automated in the next 5 years, and that means cross-channel: linear (traditional broadcast TV), connected TV, and online; and it includes all of their platforms — not just Disney+, but ESPN and Hulu. This is a big deal. And it plays to both sides. Traditional advertisers on linear don’t like the digital products (“Advertiser Perceptions research on video,” newsletter #64); programmatic buyers don’t currently have access to linear content. This is a big win for both sets of advertisers.

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Chris Richardson has strong opinions on just about everything. Just ask.