November 2020 was packed with User Identity collaborations, antitrust investigations against tech giants, and a huge number of adtech deals.
Nielsen research company announced the creation of its own User Graph. This is a technology that brings multiple user IDs into a single account. The User Graph will help Nielsen build a measurement system for audiences across different channels without being tied solely to cookies or mobile IDs. The role of new digital channels, CTV and DOOH is growing — and measurement tools must also adapt to market realities. Nielsen also plans to add Smart TV and set-top box data to its TV ratings to expand its TV viewing rating base.
Along with the development of its own User Graph, Nielsen supported the Unified ID 2.0 initiative. The goal of the initiative is to create a single user ID that uses hashed emails as a replacement for the 3rd party cookies. The initiative was previously joined by TheTradeDesk, Liveramp, and Criteo. And in November, Pubmatic, Magnite, and Index Exchange joined the fray. TheTradeDesk is the main driver of the open-source initiative. It has announced another expansion to the list in December.
Privacy & Regulation
California has approved the next iteration of the CPRA, Consumer Privacy Rights Act, which will go into effect on July 1, 2023. The transition period for this starts on January 1, 2022. CPRA establishes new categories of sensitive data: precise geolocation, race, biometrics, and information about children under 16. The Act introduces an additional regulation of the processes of minimizing transmitted data, storage periods, assessment of leakage risks, and also regulates not only sales but also the free provision of data. The adoption of the CPRA confirms that over the next three years, the advertising industry will face major changes in the mechanisms of personalization and communications analytics.
In April 2021, the UK will launch a new regulatory body to oversee the activities of large technology companies — DMU (Digital Market Unit). The agency will regulate compliance to the rules for the collection and use of personal information of users on the part of large technology platforms and will have the right to block decisions that violate the rules, as well as fines for non-compliance. The main purpose of creating the body is to reduce the concentration of opportunities for large companies in the market, which hinder the development of competition and innovation.
Anti-trust initiatives are being strengthened in both the United States and Europe. In the US, Facebook and Google are preparing four new lawsuits, which will be ready for filing in January 2021. All cases are related to the actions of tech giants, which can restrict competition in the market. In Europe, similar investigations have been launched against Amazon. The case concerns the use of 3rd party data, which the platform receives from sellers and uses to gain a competitive advantage over them. The second investigation is open about Amazon promoting its own products on the marketplace, harassing the products of independent sellers.
Youtube began placing ads on the content of users who are not members of the affiliate program. This move will help the platform expand its available video inventory and not share revenue with content creators. The company has made changes to its rules that allow it to monetize the posted content. Now ads can appear on channels that are not included in the Youtube Partner Program. If content creators want to receive a portion of the revenue, they will have to join the program.
Youtube also announced the launch of audio ads in beta. This product will help monetize the music content on Youtube, which is mostly listened to without visual contact. The 15-second audio clips have been in limited testing since the end of last year and will soon be available for purchase through the DV360 and Google Ads ad platforms. Ads will be played on the main site and Youtube app, as well as YouTube Music.
Apple has cut commissions on in-app purchases for small developers. Companies whose annual revenue from iOS applications does not exceed $1 million will now pay a commission of 15%, instead of 30% which is set for all other companies. The initiative aims to retain small developers in the iOS ecosystem, who may lose some of their ad revenue after mandatory user tracking consent takes effect. However, this will not significantly affect Apple’s revenue, since the company receives the bulk of the volume from a small number of large publishers, which continue to demand a reduction in commission.
On the eve of the introduction of permission to use IDFA, Apple is also working on the development of the SKAdNetwork product — an API that allows you to receive information about installations from the Apple Store and attribute advertising campaigns. Until November, the API lacked two important parameters — the cost of the conversion and the application ID from which the ad was transferred. This significantly reduced the possibilities for attribution and installation value assessment. This month, parameters were added to the product, and ad networks and mobile trackers began to receive the missing information.
Snap has announced the launch of direct-response advertising products on its platform. Advertisers will now be able to optimize their campaigns for performance goals — installs and return on ad investments. In parallel, Snapchat continues to expand the Audience Network, a network of partner resources where you can place advertising campaigns. In the US market, the company introduced a beta version of Ads Manager, which will simplify the procurement of advertising on the platform.
- Spotify acquired the podcast publishing and monetization platform Megaphone for $235 million. The acquisition confirms Spotify’s commitment to developing programmatic sales across the podcast ecosystem. At the beginning of the year, the platform announced the launch of Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) technology and now plans to scale this approach to 20,000 publishers in the Megaphone network.
- The largest mobile tracker AppsFlyer has expanded the next round of funding by $210 million. SalesForce Ventures has joined the funding round, which sees certain challenges and opportunities in the direction of mobile analytics and attribution.
- Facebook acquired Kustomer in November, a company that specializes in providing social media commerce services. The deal is estimated at $1 billion. The acquisition will allow the social network to expand its online shopping functionality, which recently appeared on Facebook and Instagram.
- Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor has sold its cross-device user identification services company Tapad to its Experian data platform. The company is valued at $280 million. Experian plans to expand its services for advertisers, agencies, and publishers through this acquisition.
- Pubmatic is preparing to go public with a $75 million valuation. Documents were filed with the SEC in November. The company views this step as a way to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market and continue its development.
- Other deals in November include Near, which bought French geolocation start-up Teemo, BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost, ZeoTap data-onboarding service raised $18.5 million in funding, in addition to the $42 million received in July this year.