News Update: Week of September 28, 2020

Jane O'Hara

Last week, I noted our collective news fatigue and shared positive stories from across the industry. This week, the fatigue lingers — with an added sense of unease. The chaos and instability of this year — not to mention US election politics — is hard to shake.

The need for reassurance is the inspiration for this week’s theme: ensuring safety and stability.

We’ll explore how publishers are building user and advertiser trust with enhanced safety measures, new studies that indicate why focusing on safe, reliable user experiences is so critical, and more.

What we’re reading

  • Brand Safety Risks and Rewards
    Many are still haunted by the 2016 election, including Facebook. On Monday, a UK news team accused the 2016 Trump campaign of targeting negative ads about Hillary Clinton to African American voters on Facebook. And, while Facebook has tightened up its targeting tactics, many are still frustrated by advertisers’ ability to manipulate its algorithms and serve ads that distort or disregard the facts.

    Programmatic publishers face similar brand safety challenges this election cycle in what Digiday describes as a game of whack-a-mole — with ad ops struggling to curtail misclassified and mislabeled ads from campaigns and Political Action Committees (PACs) — but unable to decline the millions of campaign ad dollars.

    On a brighter note, the era of “fake news” isn’t hurting news publishers’ appeal to advertisers. A new “news halo” study from the IAB and Magid Research shows advertising in news content boosts brand trust by up to 6%.
  • Safe Bet: Ensuring Data Privacy
    Brands seeking safe targeting options will continue to lean into contextual advertising to reach high-intent customers. A new study from Integral Ad Science (IAS) indicates 85% of US consumers plan to shop online, with 31% expressing increased interest in relevant ads during the holiday shopping season.

    Concerns about brand safety are warranted. A new study shows 87% of Australian users want more control of their personal data, and 62% feel “uncomfortable” with businesses collecting information on their online activities. Americans are also uneasy with such data collection, according to a new study by Consumer Reports, in which 85% of respondents expressed concerns about data collected by Amazon, Google, and other platforms — and 84% expressed a desire for platforms to respect data privacy laws.

    California users are seeing stronger enforcement of its landmark privacy law, the CCPA, particularly for businesses that haven’t complied with the “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link or that haven’t responded to consumer rights requests as required. AdExchanger reinforces that ad tech companies should confirm their compliance to avoid class action lawsuits — and start preparing for what could be even stronger enforcement under ‘CCPA 2.0,’ the California Privacy Rights Act. (Related: Our CPRA guide)

    In the latest avian iteration of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, Dovekey combines the gatekeeper aspect of the recent SPARROW proposal with simplified auction capabilities that would make the earlie TURTLEDOVE proposal more realistic. AdExchanger notes that Dovekey was submitted by Google Ads team members, who have not yet played a role in regular Privacy Sandbox discussions, and Digiday breaks down the new proposal in a ‘WTF’ guide that outlines how we got to Dovekey and what will likely come next. (Related: Our expert roundup on the SPARROW proposal)
  • New Safety Measures
    The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) has launched a new brand safety certification program to boost trust in digital advertising. More than 100 companies have been certified to date, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Walmart; many in the TAG Brand Safety Certification Program were participants in the former JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Program, and will comply with expanded TAG requirements.

    Microsoft Advertising and Google have announced new partnerships with IAS. Microsoft hopes to balance scale and brand safety across its Microsoft Audience Network ad inventory by using IAS integrations to deem the risk of page content in the pre-bid stage. Google will use IAS for third-party verification of advertisers’ creative elements. Advertisers will see a new ‘Vendor Blocked Ads’ metric in Google Campaign Manager and pre-bid ad filtering for Display & Video 360 (DV360) units.
  • Social Safety Nets
    Several social media platforms have rolled out new brand safety measures in recent weeks. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snap will adopt new standards from the World Federation of Advertisers to curb hate speech and harmful content, and new Facebook tools allow advertisers to control video content suitability and visibility, and receive audits from TAG and other independent industry groups.

    Reddit is leveraging its partnership with Oracle Data Cloud to offer new ad inventory options with brand safety in mind, including a ‘Standard Inventory’ default option, ‘Expanded Inventory’ option with access to 20% more subreddits of user-generated content, and a ‘Limited Inventory’ option for more risk-averse advertisers using Reddit’s managed service.

    Also, while TikTok talks and concerns about its platform safety continue, Snapchat is touting its competitive advantage with advertisers: privacy by design with ‘delete by default’ for a new generation of security-conscious consumers.

What we’re writing

What we’re discussing

  • How to become a product leader. Member and AT&T Lead Product Manager Nishanth Kadiyala will share how during our October 21 webinar: Register now

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Jane O'Hara

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