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Google and Facebook colluded to undermine competition in advertising, according to documents uncovered by the New York Times. Obtained during an antitrust lawsuit in Texas, the documents lift the lid on ‘Jedi Blue’ – a cloak and dagger sweetheart deal between two tech giants that monopolize online advertising.

So what’s the deal?

  • Google and Facebook are accused of abusing their market position to strike a backroom deal to further their business interests.
  • The agreement is said to have seen Facebook win more favorable terms when bidding for advertising in return for its support for Google’s Open Bidding platform for selling adverts over header bidding – where advertising space is auctioned across multiple ad exchanges.
  • Google has long agitated against this method of buying advertising, maintaining that it slows down web pages and causes batteries to drain faster, as well as elevating the risk for fraud and billing errors.
  • As a result, Facebook gained more time to bid for adverts and was able to strike direct billing deals with sites hosting the ads. The underhand arrangement is also said to have seen Google furnish its rival with its data to enable Facebook to better target audiences.
  • In a quid pro quo, Facebook consented to bid on a minimum of 90% of ad auctions when it could identify users, with a pledge to spend at least $500m a year.
  • Such terms handed Facebook an unfair advantage over Google’s other advertising partners according to the New York Times, which spoke with six of these to help build its case. This meant Facebook was almost guaranteed to win a consistent number of adverts.
  • Evidence of collusion was first obtained from documents filed as part of an antitrust complaint lodged by the Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, amid suspicion the tech pair were getting too cozy.
  • This relationship even included a clause that committed both companies to ’cooperate and assist’ in the event of any investigation into their business practices.

Why it matters

  • Should apparent collusion be corroborated it would further undermine confidence in digital advertising – particularly if a guaranteed win rate is confirmed.
  • In response to the allegations, Google contends that its agreement has been misrepresented, while Facebook maintains that such deals serve to enhance competition.
  • Irrespective of the truth of the matter, the lack of transparency shown by both parties will do little to instill confidence in competitors or legislators.
  • Addressing the claims directly, Google director of economic policy Adam Cohen wrote: “Our agreement with Facebook Audience Network (FAN) simply enables them (and the advertisers they represent) to participate in Open Bidding.
  • “Of course we want FAN to participate because the whole goal of Open Bidding is to work with a range of ad networks and exchanges to increase demand for publishers’ ad space, which helps those publishers earn more revenue.
  • “AG Paxton inaccurately claims that we manipulate the Open Bidding auction in FAN’s favor. We absolutely don’t. FAN must make the highest bid to win a given impression. If another eligible network or exchange bids higher, they win the auction.
  • “FAN’s participation in Open Bidding doesn’t prevent Facebook from participating in header bidding or any other similar system. In fact, FAN participates in several similar auctions on rival platforms.”
  • Both Google and Facebook have been in the eye of an antitrust storm, with Google fending off multiple lawsuits from the Department of Justice and three dozen states centered on its near-monopoly of search and search advertising, as well non-search advertising.
  • Facebook, meanwhile, has been embroiled in lawsuits filed by the Federal Trade Commission as well as attorney generals from dozens of states that accuse the company of abusing its command of the digital marketplace and engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

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Sourced from The Drum

By Tom Maxwell

During a Senate hearing today Senator Josh Hawley asked Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook’s mysterious “Centra” internal dashboard. His answers should worry us all.

Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg faced another grilling from the U.S. Senate today, mostly over spurious claims that their social networks are silencing conservative voices in the fallout of the presidential election. One more interesting tidbit from the hearing was when Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri asked Zuckerberg about “Centra,” the name for what he claims is an internal tool Facebook uses to track its users across the internet.

Hawley shared a picture of the purported tool on Twitter, which he says he obtained from a Facebook whistle-blower.

The dashboard, if authentic, shows a litany of data points Facebook has on individual users. And importantly, it highlights how users cannot easily escape the company’s tracking even if they want to.

Break them up — One such label visible in the dashboard, “3 Device Linked IG Accounts,” shows that Facebook can log the same user’s activity on a device even if they switch accounts by using the device’s unique hardware identifiers, like a smartphone’s fixed IMEI number. Basically, you don’t need to be logged into a particular account for the company to know it’s you — create a new Instagram account and device-level identifiers will be used to recognize you’re the same person. When you log in to Facebook on the web, the company drops a “DATR” cookie that will keep track of your activity even after you log out… and for up to two years thereafter.

It’s been previously reported that Facebook uses browser cookies to track people who’ve never created a Facebook account at all, creating “shadow profiles” for those it hopes might create an account later.

The state of ad-tech — None of this is surprising, and Facebook is far from alone in performing this type of tracking — the entire online advertising industry is built upon it. In order to generate a detailed profile on individuals for the purpose of precise targeting, Facebook needs as much visibility as possible into your browsing activity across devices and platforms.

If you switch accounts — or use a smartphone and laptop interchangeably and your browsing activity doesn’t sync across them — advertisers get much less information on you with which to target ads. Fixed identifiers allow Facebook to log user activity even if they’ve logged out, or deleted the Facebook app, or are using a different web browser.

The scope of this tracking may still be surprising to some people, despite awareness that Facebook collects heaps of data. Critics have said that users might be willing to exchange their data for free services, but the vast tracking apparatus used by Facebook and others is so complex as to make it difficult for the average person to know the extent of the tracking.

Apple responded to these privacy concerns with its release of iOS 14, which now requires apps to request permission before they can use a device identifier. Some apps monetize via advertisements from Facebook, which requires the company be able to identify who the user is. Without being able to link an app user to the information Facebook knows about them, the ads lose all the precise targeting secret sauce that makes them valuable. Zuckerberg has said that the change could wipe out billions in revenue. Apple has temporarily paused the change in order to give Facebook time to change its model. Meanwhile, all we hear are tiny violins playing a somber tune.

Abuse potential — The Cambridge Analytica scandal and revelations from Edward Snowden about NSA wiretapping showed how this data can get into the wrong hands even if Facebook doesn’t intend for it to happen. That’s the fundamental concern of privacy advocates — that Facebook is collecting unprecedented data in the interest of advertising, but is a poor steward of data privacy. Laws in the United States regarding privacy aren’t exactly stringent, either, with the Patriot Act effectively giving the government free rein to conduct secret searches of Facebook’s data under the guise of national security. That risks stifling free speech.

During the hearing, Zuckerberg said he wasn’t familiar with Centra. But a rose by any other name would smell as invasive.

By Tom Maxwell

Sourced from INPUT

Sourced from Mashable India

Facebook recently announced that it’s widening the access to Rights Manager to give more creators an ability to better control their content on Facebook and Instagram. As a part of the new expansion, page admins would now be able to submit images and videos for rights protection. Creators would also be able to issue takedown requests for videos and images that are owned by them but are reuploaded on these platforms.

In case you aren’t aware, ‘Rights Manager’ is a powerful, highly customizable tool, which is built for people who want to control when, how, and where their content is shared across Facebook and Instagram. As posted on its blog, the ‘Collect Ad Earnings tool’ and expanding availability has also been improved which means more creators will be able to collect ad earnings from matching videos that also include in-stream ads.

A new filter view for spotting monetizable matches has been added along with a guide on how creators can get more monetization opportunities and exportable revenue reports. Page admins can submit an application for the content created by them that they want to protect.

There’s also a new in-stream ads toggle in the Creator Studio app that will let users easily manage their content and ads directly from their mobile phones. “We’ve expanded In-stream ads to Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Turkey, adding to the 45 countries where the in-steam program is already available,” states the blog.

It was back in September 2020 when Facebook had announced an update to its ‘Rights Manager’ tool that allowed photographers to claim ownership over their most popular images and track when these images had been used without their permission. Rights Manager for Images used image matching technology to help creators and publishers protect and manage their image content at scale.

Sourced from Mashable India

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Summary
  • Facebook’s growth rate is ultimately tied to growth in digital ad expenditures.
  • Digital ads have grown at more than 15 percent annually in recent years, and there’s reason to believe growth will continue.
  • Given Facebook’s huge share of digital ads, there exists a strong case for sustainable returns over the long term.

Of all the FAANG stocks, I’ve always thought that Facebook (FB) offered the best prospects for sustainable returns over the long term. At this stage, the company bears no resemblance to the riskier bet of eight years ago. Today’s Facebook is a cash machine with a huge moat around its business.

To estimate Facebook’s future growth, it’s necessary to look at the digital advertising space as a whole. Here, I review the projected growth of the global advertising industry and run a few thought experiments based on Facebook’s expected share of ad expenditures. The results show that Facebook stock is actually a lot cheaper than its earnings multiple would suggest.

Digital Advertising Growth

With social media usage surging during the pandemic, it doesn’t appear that Facebook’s engagement is going away anytime soon. The core Facebook site grew its monthly active user base to 2.7 billion people last quarter, representing 19 percent in less than two years. While FactSet expected daily active users on the site to fall to 1.7 billion, DAUs actually increased to 1.79 billion. The company estimates that 2.5 billion people use at least one of its services every day.

At the end of the day, Facebook’s revenue growth is tied to the growth of the advertising industry, specifically digital advertising. Although global advertising will decrease 7.2 percent worldwide in 2020 due to the pandemic recession, digital advertising is expected to grow modestly in the low single digits to approximately $333 billion, according to eMarketer. Internet advertising is continuing to gobble up market share as traditional non-digital advertising declines. This year, digital will surpass 60 percent of the total advertising market.

With ad revenue of $75 billion, Facebook holds around 22 percent of the global digital ad market, a duopoly it shares with Google (GOOG). Analysts often point out that Facebook cannot keep growing sales at a 23 percent CAGR, as the company has managed to do over the last three years. If that happened, Facebook would soon eclipse the size of the entire advertising market, which is obviously impossible.

Yet, the latest reports estimate the digital advertising will grow to $640 billion by 2027, a CAGR of 10.3 percent. And as Ark Invest analyst James Wang observed two years ago, projections have consistently underestimated digital ad growth. In 2014, eMarketer forecasted a $188 billion market for digital ads in 2017, but actual digital ad spent exceeded $232 billion.

As Wang argues, there’s no hard ceiling for the ad industry as a whole. U.S. advertising expenditures amounted to about 1.1 percent of GDP in 2020, which is at the lower end of the 1-1.5 percent historical range. Conceivably, the U.S. ad industry could grow another 36 percent.

Valuation

As a thought experiment, let’s say Facebook grew earnings at 10 percent annually through 2027. Even at that very low rate, Facebook would grow net income to approximately $45 billion by 2027, up from $23.5 billion today. If earnings grew by 20 percent, they would reach over $81 billion by that time. At a 10 percent growth rate, it would take about 15 years to break even in terms of Facebook’s earnings, and just 11 years at a 20 percent growth rate.

A growth rate of 20 percent over the next decade seems feasible. Digital advertising spend as a whole grew at about a 15.6 percent CAGR since 2012, from $104 billion in 2012 to $333 billion in 2020. Much of that growth came at the expense of traditional print media. As social media services like Instagram (owned by Facebook), YouTube (owned by Google), and Snap (SNAP) perfect their video offerings, traditional television advertising could be the next industry to go the way of the dinosaur.

That said, it would probably be wiser to assume a growth rate somewhere between 10 and 20 percent to account for weaker years. In that case, the valuation looks a little bit less enticing, but it certainly isn’t insane (unlike some other companies that I could name).

Right now, Facebook’s P/E of 35 is only slightly above the market average of 34. Relatively speaking, it’s an above-average business selling for an average price. I made a similar point in December 2018 when the stock was under pressure from negative publicity. Since then, it has doubled in value. If you have to own a FAANG stock or even a tech stock, in general, Facebook is certainly a better bet than most.

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Sourced from Seeking Alpha

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  • With over 2.5 Bn monthly active users, Facebook still is a giant on the social media scene
  • Facebook enjoys over 2.26 Bn active mobile users, accounts for 45% of monthly social media visits
  • Instagram has over 500 thousand active influencers ranging from technology, food, humour, fashion, lifestyle and many more industries

Facebook and Instagram have become inevitable tools for the modern marketer. These platforms have especially gained immense importance for start-ups and small businesses. As most companies can’t be everywhere at once, especially the cash-strapped start-ups, that’s why it’s crucial for businesses to be strategic in gauging which social media platforms will be beneficial for them to build a presence on.

With over 2.5 Bn monthly active users, Facebook still is a giant on the social media scene. It has redefined the way social networks are perceived and has effectively widened the possibilities that social media has for businesses. Facebook enjoys over 2.26 Bn active mobile users, accounts for 45% of monthly social media visits, and is available in over 100 languages. On average, a user spends 38 minutes on Facebook.

Instagram is a relatively new arrival on the block. In a short span of time, Instagram has achieved impressive statistics. It has scaled a base of whopping 1 billion monthly active users and 500 million daily active users, positioning itself as one of the fastest growing social media channels globally. It has over 100 million photos uploaded daily with an average user spending 28 minutes per day.

But that’s not all. Instagram has emerged as the 6th most popular social network in the world and is home to over 500 thousand active influencers ranging from technology, food, humour, fashion, lifestyle and many more industries.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought major changes in consumer behaviour with online shopping and purchases gaining ground. In the grand scheme of things, these two social networking sites will particularly prove to be powerful as they will present more opportunities for brands to engage with their consumers. However, its not just big brands who stand to gain from this development. Even start-ups can leverage the power of these social media sites to increase their visibility and connect with their target audience.

Here’s a roundup of the reasons why Facebook and Instagram have become popular advertising platforms for new and upcoming start-ups.

Facebook 

On Facebook, content appears in the users’ feed based on algorithms. Hence, multiple strategies such as paid ads can be used to effectively get more views on a brand’s posts. Facebook has the most diverse audience and thus, it is counted as one of the best social media platforms for small businesses to reach their target market – whoever that audience might be.

Along with providing the ability to connect with a large number of people from diverse walks of life, there are some unique features that Facebook offers to a start-up. Its targeted digital advertising platform is amongst the best tools for marketing. Facebook ads are apt for niche targeting as well as broad targeting. These ads help identify those people who are most likely willing and ready to buy the company’s products or services. This feature ensures that a start-up can get their ad content in front of the right audience at the right moment of time.

Another reason that makes Facebook an attractive option for start-ups is its e-commerce integrations. Users can purchase through the social media platform itself. Making a purchase is just about clicking one button. Now Facebook has even allowed brands to communicate with their customers through Facebook messenger. Through this feature, start-ups can easily provide shipping updates and other order related details via the Facebook channel as well.

Instagram 

Instagram’s one-of-a-kind interface has some powerful benefits for a start-up business. One of the most striking features is that it enables companies to tell their brand’s story with unique, versatile and engaging visual content. Unlike other social media networking sites, Instagram works through visuals and is focused on both images and videos. No matter which industry, Instagram caters to every niche area and can be utilised to showcase all kinds of products. Even its targeted sponsored ads are immensely helpful in increasing a brand’s visibility.

The Instagram stories make marketing even more catchy and take the advertising game a notch higher. With Instagram stories, start-ups can live-stream videos and share them with their followers. These stories are the best way to provide behind-the-scenes footage and share important news and updates with the followers. Even Instagram allows companies to message their users directly, which can be a great tool for customer service.

A commonality among both the social media platforms is their analytics, which provides insights into how the campaigns and ads are performing so that if required, improvements can be made in the future for better results. The ads, ranging from video ads and single image ads to carousel ads and lead forms (only on Facebook), help brands generate loyal following among different audiences.

Summing It Up

Facebook and Instagram have both equally garnered immense popularity since the time of their inception. And both are equally beneficial for business. It’s up to the companies to decide which platform will prove to be the best for them looking at their target audience and the kind of content that they are looking to publish to build their social media presence.

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Sourced from Inc42

Postoplan allows you to automate posting across multiple platforms from one central hub.

There are unlimited ways for business owners to reach out: Keeping customers updated on Instagram, appealing to new users on Facebook, or recruiting potential talent via LinkedIn. However, all those tasks require a huge amount of time investment that could be better spent elsewhere.

It’s essential for companies to have a multi-faceted marketing plan uniquely suited to the strengths of each platform and the speed at which things can change on the internet. No one manager can do it effectively, and it’s difficult even for dedicated marketing professionals. That’s where Postoplan comes in.

The social media automation tool can have a profound impact on local brands while also easily meeting the scale of any large corporation. In fact, it already has: Reps from companies and entrepreneurs in 140 countries have given Postoplan top reviews on sites like G2 and Capterra. The key is in the functionality. With Postoplan, you can control daily posts from a central hub that lets you see what’s going out and when. Schedule posts on social media sites, messaging apps, even WhatsApp, and automate replies, redirects, and a whole range of interactions with your followers.

Having trouble with content? Postoplan provides daily idea hooks to make sure there’s constant variety. Users can get suggestions on hashtags and other relevant tagging, edit photos quickly directly in the tool, and even add multiple photos on a single post. Best of all, you can do all these tasks ad-free, an unlimited number of times on an unlimited number of accounts. It’s a hub that brings your messaging together under one umbrella.

PCMag readers can try out the service now with a special discount: Take half off the retail price of a lifetime subscription to Postoplan Social Media Automation, now available for $99.99.

By StackCommerce Team

Sourced from PC

By Eric J. Savitz

Social-media stocks are getting a boost from Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley, who raised his rating on Twitter and lifted his price targets on Facebook, Alphabet, Snap, and Pinterest.

For Twitter (ticker: TWTR), he went to Buy from Hold, with a price target of $56, up from $36. The call is part of a broader bullish report on the social-media stocks, which he thinks are positioned to benefit from a coming rebound in online advertising demand.

The analyst lifted his price targets on Facebook (FB), to $325 from $305; Alphabet, Google’s parent (GOOGL), to $2,020 from $1,975; Pinterest (PINS), to $55 from $43; and Snap (SNAP), to $32 from $28. He repeated Buy ratings on all of them.

“We are bullish on the ad names into Q3 results given a continued ad recovery through Q3 and a strong outlook for Q4 based on our industry conversations,” he said. “We are bullish on the space into 2021, where a continued cyclical recovery and easy comps will drive accelerating growth and margin recovery, with potential for more share gains across online advertising.”

He cited the large-cap companies in the group—Google and Facebook—as having a better balance of risks and potential rewards, given that investors are less enthusiastic about their prospects than they are for the midcap firms in the group: Snap and Pinterest. Walmsley said he is positive about Snap and Pinterest’s fundamentals, but noted “positive sentiment” about those stocks.

Twitter, he said, can continue to rally, driven by improving growth in the second half. and “a compelling bull case for 2021.”

“In our view, Twitter is well positioned to benefit from a big event landscape in 2021, expansion into more performance advertising on the back of its ad server rebuild and new MAP [mobile app promotion] product, and an eventual high-margin subscription product,” he wrote.

“We have been excited about the medium-term prospects for Twitter but unable to get more bullish given weak advertising channel feedback. We are now starting to hear more positive feedback in the ad channel and would take advantage of the opportunity to build a position now before a stronger ad recovery takes hold and we get into the period of 2021 excitement.”

Monday morning, Twitter was up 4.5% to $47.99, Facebook rose 3.1% to $272.67, and Alphabet gained 2.7%, to $1,550.94. Snap rose 0.7% to $27.18, while Pinterest rallied 2.9% to $44.65.

By Eric J. Savitz

Write to Eric J. Savitz at eric.savitz@barrons.com

Sourced from BARRON’S

Sourced from CNA

REUTERS: A long list of companies have pulled advertising from Facebook Inc in support of a campaign that called out the social media giant for not doing enough to stop hate speech on its platforms.

The Stop Hate for Profit campaign was started by several US civil rights groups after the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody triggered widespread protests against racial discrimination in the United States.

Following are some of the companies that have decided to support the campaign:

Starbucks Corp

The US coffee chain said it would pause advertising on all social media platforms while it continues discussions internally, with media partners and civil rights organisations.

Unilever Plc

The consumer goods company said it will stop advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the United States for the rest of the year, citing “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarised election period in the US.”

Adidas AG

The German sportswear giant said it and subsidiary Reebok will pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram globally throughout July.

Walt Disney Co

The media company will slash its advertising spending on Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the time frame for the pullback was not clear as some brands paused their ad spending for longer stretches.

Coca-Cola Co

The beverage maker will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days, Chief Executive Officer James Quincey said in a statement.

Merck & Co

The drug maker said it was stopping ads on Facebook and Instagram and was monitoring the actions Facebook takes.

Target Corp

The retailer said it was pausing all ads on Facebook and Instagram throughout July and was re-evaluating its plans for the rest of the year.

Ford Motor Co

The No 2 US automaker said it would pause advertising on all social media platforms in the United States for 30 days, adding that it would evaluate such spending in other regions as well.

HP Inc

The computer maker said it was stopping US advertising on Facebook until the platform puts more robust safeguards in place against objectionable content. It added that it was reviewing its social media strategy across all markets and platforms.

Lululemon Athletica Inc

The yogawear maker said it would pause paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Levi Strauss & Co

The denim maker said it and subsidiary Dockers would pause all ads on Facebook and Instagram, calling on the social media company to take actions to stop misinformation and hate speech.

Beiersdorf AG

The Nivea cream maker said it was pausing ads for all its brands on Facebook and Instagram throughout July.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc

Chipotle said it was temporarily pausing paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram starting Jul 1.

Diageo Plc

The world’s largest spirits maker will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms from Jul 1.

Clorox Co

The bleach maker said it will stop advertising spending with Facebook through December.

Verizon Communications Inc

he telecom operator said it was pausing advertising until Facebook creates “an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable”.

The North Face

The outdoor brand, a unit of VF Corp, said it would pull out of all Facebook-owned platforms.

Ben & Jerry’s

The ice-cream maker said it would pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the United States as of Jul 1

Magnolia Pictures

The film distributor and studio became the first Hollywood company to join the movement. The company said in a tweet it would stop advertising on Facebook and Instagram, starting immediately, through at least the end of July.

Patagonia

The outdoor apparel brand said it would pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram through at least the end of July.

Source: Reuters/ec

Feature Image Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Sourced from CNA

By John Koetsier.

Facebook is one of the two most dominant companies in an $80 billion industry that impacts hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, in consumer spend. But a huge percentage of that revenue is now at risk, thanks to an obscure privacy move by Apple at the company’s World Wide Developer Conference in June.

The move?

Deprecating a mobile device identifier called the IDFA.

It’s a super-geeky term in a super-geeky industry: mobile advertising. But it represents a sea change in how advertisers and ad networks target ads to consumers. Good targeting leads to relevant advertising and high returns for both the advertiser and the ad network.

Poor targeting? It’s literally worth 50% less by Facebook’s own numbers.

The IDFA is the Identifier for Advertisers, and in every existing version of Apple mobile operating system for iPhones and iPads, it’s visible to ad networks and mobile advertisers. Unless consumers opt out in a little-seen out-of-the-way setting, which only about 30% of iPhone users have bothered to turn off.

Facebook uses the IDFA — and the Android equivalent from Google, GAID — to accumulate data on what billions of people do in apps. Facebook then uses that data to target app install ads (ads that are aimed at getting you to install a new app or game). Because they have so much data via the IDFA, Facebook is likely to be able to find the people who are most likely to install the app and do specific things inside it.

Like register. Or buy something. Or complete a level in a game.

Here’s how Facebook describes the technology, called App Event Optimization:

“Using AEO, you could optimize your ads for an app event such as Achieve Level, so your ads would be shown to people who were likely to download your app and also achieve a new level within the game. You could also optimize for in-app purchases using the Purchase app event in AEO.”

At World Wide Developer Conference in June, Apple changed how the IDFA is set.

Rather than a global setting for all apps, buried somewhere in an iPhone’s settings, the IDFA will now be set for each app individually.

It will be set by active, required choice by consumers for each app they install, much like GDPR permissions on websites today, and people will choose whether to allow or deny permission to “track you across apps and websites owned by other companies.” Most mobile experts think this will get a 0-20% adoption rate. The high end of that range is probably generous.

The immediate result: tracking what people do in apps will become a lot harder. Probably, in fact, illegal, and likely impossible.

That’s what puts the first few billions of Facebook ad revenue at risk.

Mobile app installs is close to an $80 billion business in 2020, and estimated to hit almost $120 billion within two years. Facebook and Google own about half of the global digital ad industry in general, and are also the two most dominant players in mobile app installs, perennially featuring in the first or second place in industry charts for best performance.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

As mobile expert Eric Seufert noted today, Facebook published a white paper just a month ago — shortly before Apple’s conference — that says personalized ads are twice as effective as non-personalized:

“We ran a test that constrained delivery to just mobile app install ads for a small portion of Audience Network Traffic, then compared personalized ranking to non-personalized ranking,” the white paper says. “We observed more than a 50% drop in publisher revenue between these two treatments, with no changes made to targeting.”

A 50% drop in return on ad spend might just mean a 50% drop in ad prices you’d be willing to pay.

Facebook generated almost $71 billion in ad revenue last year, and almost all of it was on mobile, where the IDFA and GAID can aid in ad targeting.

Less sophisticated targeting could easily mean less valuable advertising.

And the IDFA was just the first shoe to drop.

Seufert says that Google is likely to follow suit “within six months,” which would follow a trend. Apple created the IDFA to increase privacy and decrease use of hard-coded unchangeable device identifiers; Google followed suit. Apple killed the third-party cookie on the web with Intelligent Tracking Prevention; Google is following suit with Chrome.

If Google continues the trend and makes GAID opt-in in a similar way (basically designed to guide consumers to opting-out), that’s when the other shoe drops. Then Facebook’s not just out of luck on Apple mobile platforms; it also loses sophisticated tracking capability on Android as well.

That’s additional billions at risk.

Facebook has its software development kit in hundreds of thousands of apps, as I’ve mentioned before. The company could try to use that data source to aid in ad targeting. But it would be tough, because it’s not a given, standard, always-available option. And because based on what I’ve heard via those who have talked to Apple, that would violate a users’ don’t-track-me choice.

Interestingly, killing the GAID would harm Google’s advertising capabilities as well. But as the Android platform owner, Google is more likely to be able to come up with a solution that enables its own ad tracking while harming Facebook’s. Or, at minimum, harms itself less.

(At least, if it’s willing to take the antitrust heat on both sides of the Atlantic.)

This isn’t the first challenge ad networks have faced in targeting. The vast majority of ads used to be delivered with contextual targeting: getting a Wall Street Journal audience in the WSJ, for example. Only with tracking technologies like third-party cookies on the web and IDFA/GAID on mobile were ad networks able to assemble WSJ audiences off-platform, in Candy Crush or on The Enquirer, for instance.

That saved advertisers a lot of money, because ads on the WSJ are more expensive than ads in Candy Crush. But it also cost premium publishers a lot of money. And it cost consumer privacy by requiring tracking technologies.

GDPR, California’s Consumer Privacy Act, a general consumer feeling that tracking has gone too far, and now Apple’s disabling of the IDFA are likely returning us from tracking to more of a contextual model of advertising

And that threatens Facebook revenue, at least in the short term:

“Over the long term, I believe that Facebook will find a path to its current level of ad serving efficiency without needing advertising identifiers,” says Seufert. “But the content of its own white paper underscores very clearly how important personalization is for ad targeting, and IDFA deprecation damages Facebook’s ability to deliver that kind of personalization.”

About $10 billion in Facebook revenue might be at risk in the short term. If its ads lose relevance and therefore return poorly on advertisers’ investments, that $10 billion could turn into $5 billion pretty quickly.

Unless there’s no better game in town, or Facebook finds a way to make contextual targeting as powerful as tracking.

Feature Image Credit: BAREFOOT COMMUNICATIONS ON UNSPLASH

By John Koetsier

I  forecast and analyze trends affecting the mobile ecosystem. I’ve been a journalist, analyst, and corporate executive, and have chronicled the rise of the mobile economy. I built the VB Insight research team at VentureBeat and managed teams creating software for partners like Intel and Disney. In addition, I’ve led technical teams, built social sites and mobile apps, and consulted on mobile, social, and IoT. In 2014, I was named to Folio’s top 100 of the media industry’s “most innovative entrepreneurs and market shaker-uppers.” I live in Vancouver, Canada with my family, where I coach baseball and hockey, though not at the same time.

Sourced from Forbes

By MAX WILLENS.

Ad buyers are getting nervous about how crowded Facebook’s in-stream video program has grown lately.

Over the past month, the number of pages eligible to monetize their videos through Facebook’s in-stream ads program has leapt by more than 30%, with more than 24,000 pages joining the program in the past 30 days, according to a spreadsheet Facebook regularly updates for advertisers.

The pages include everything from prank video and meme accounts to mukbang pages, which offer videos of people eating gluttonous quantities of food, and they are part of a longer-term push by Facebook to home in on YouTube’s ad business.

All pages in the program are subject to an approval process and must adhere to the platform’s brand safety guidelines. But buyers say that the brand safety guard measures Facebook has added to its in-stream program lag behind YouTube’s, and many see the changes Facebook has made as more focused on maximizing inventory than providing a safe place for their clients’ spots.

“They’re prioritizing maximizing inventory at the expense of making it brand safe,” said Erica Patrick, vp of paid social at MediaHub. “You shouldn’t have to make a giant investment to get into brand-safe content.”

Two buyers pointed to the proliferation of viral videos in the in-stream program as examples of content that their clients would not want to appear beside.

Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson wrote that the growth of the in-stream program has been organic and said all pages are subject to approval and brand safety guidelines.

In the early days of Facebook’s video ad business, the only in-stream inventory available was on Facebook Watch, which Facebook tried to position as a source of high-end, original programming created by entertainment studios and media companies. Inventory from that programming is still available as part of Facebook Reserve, a separate stock of spots that carries a minimum investment of $100,000, one buyer said.

But that’s too expensive for most buyers, so Facebook has been expanding its supply of cheaper in-stream ads, which can be bought via auction. In the summer of 2018, Facebook expanded Watch by giving creators the opportunity to apply for Watch pages, before reversing course ten months later by phasing out Watch pages altogether.

Since then, the number of pages eligible for those in-stream ads has exploded. Over that same stretch, Facebook has made moves to shore up brand safety across its platform, including announcing the launch of video-level whitelists on Watch in May, along with the addition of a third brand safety partner, Zefr.

But content-level whitelisting is cumbersome and time-consuming, two buyers contacted for this said, adding that Facebook’s blacklisting capability, which are capped at 5,000 pages, is insufficient. “It’s always been an untenable proposition,” said one ad buyer who asked not to be identified.

Those issues were on buyers’ minds before the sharp surge in pages this past month. “The more pages you throw into the mix, [it] can be concerning,” said Callan Lynch, senior manager of paid social at media agency Assembly.

That surge is challenging, buyers say, because context matters more for in-stream ads than it does for other video ads shown in Stories, or in Facebook’s feed, said Lindsey Boan, director of media at the full-service agency Madwell.

“In-feed, in stories, you know the ads are not connected to the person or publisher,” Boan said. “But in-stream, that’s not inherent.

“If you’re a client who’s concerned with those things, you just don’t run on the platform,” Boan added. “It’s not typically included in our base buys, and we honestly stay away from it unless we need it.”

Ultimately, Facebook still delivers efficiencies in price and targeting that buyers are hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

“A view of the ad by the intended audience for the best price is our ultimate goal,” the first buyer said. “But there’s been an evolving conversation” about how suitable the program is, the buyer added.

By MAX WILLENS

Sourced from DIGIDAY