Facebook outages & whistleblowing could mean opportunities for publishers

Whilst Facebook may be left counting the costs of a pretty tough week (e.g. $79m ad revenue loss, billions wiped from its value and huge brand damage), publishers should see the opportunity in Facebook’s woes.  Firstly, Facebook was down for 6 hours on Monday 4th October, sending many brands & businesses that rely on the social giant into panic and now seeking alternatives for the future.  For publishers though, Outbrain reported a 40% increase in web traffic as a result of the outage with consumers turning to the open web to fill the gap.

The results demonstrate the volatility of the walled gardens as well as the risk posed to brands that exclusively advertise there. It’s an important moment in our industry to realise there are options outside the walled gardens. The open web for example provides extensive reach and offers sophisticated contextual targeting across the world’s leading publishers.

James Milne, Managing Director, Northern Europe told PerformanceIN

Both Digiday and TheDrum shared some industry thoughts with similar sentiment based around the importance of diversification – something many have already considered given iOS changes impacting performance and targeting.

There may be some apprehension at moving away from Facebook just because of this one outage, but coming just one day after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen whistleblew on Facebook, there’s clearly some growing concerns.  You can read more details as Haugen testified before the Senate, whilst TheDrum summarised the key takeaways from Haugen’s allegations including Facebook’s algorithm favouring engagement – regardless of truth or harm caused – to fuel ad revenue.  The sense that Facebook would put “profits above user safety” could see more users choose to spend time elsewhere, like the open web and more premium publishers.

FLoC testing delayed

Google pushed back elements of its Privacy Sandbox timeline this week including FLoC and FLEDGE testing – both of which will be pushed to Q1 2022.  With the “discussion” period for FLoC now running until the end of Q4 2021, there’s a knock on effect that will see testing end in Q3 2022.  It’s uncertain as yet whether Google will push the third party deprecation deadline back as well given these pushbacks.

Criteo’s FLoC test results from the first set of public origin trials back up these pushbacks from Google.  Although based on a low volume of FLoC IDs, Criteo questioned the strength of performance, the predictive accuracy of cohorts based on recently visited domains, and whether FLoC is more privacy safe than the current models.  Furthermore, Criteo also observed an imbalance of value given that visiting a niche content site says more about a user than visiting a generic platform domain such as YouTube.com or Facebook.com, yet the larger platforms would still benefit.

the experiments did not yield proof of performance anywhere near that of third-party cookie-based solutions – and definitely nothing near Google’s claim that “advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.

Allison Schiff, AdExchanger

Identity: IPG holds the Kii, and contextual spending to rise

IPG launched Kinesso Intelligent Identity, or Kii, with the aim of connecting identity across open web and walled gardens.  The solution is already live with a number of market players including The Trade Desk in the US, with plans to expand to Canada and Europe in 2022.  “Kii integrates with partners across the advertising ecosystem — including digital media, CTV, tech providers and platforms — to enable the activation of high-value audiences across any addressable channel.”

It’s not all about IDs though! According to Winterberry Group, 52% of marketers intend to increase their contextual spending over the next 2 years, while 86% of media owners expect it to grow.  Some of the other highlights from the research include plans to combine contextual with other data signals, publishers providing comprehensive solutions for brand safety and contextual insights, and balancing both data driven and contextual targeting.  Carbon is well positioned to help publishers here given our ability to combine contextual, scored behavioural data and layering on revenue insights to identify & optimise the balance between data driven and contextual.

Contextual innovation is even going beyond our screens as ITV enable weather contextual ads to serve as based on our weather!

Other interesting reads

Zero party data

Zero party data is another growing area of interest and innovation.  For instance, US-based customer intelligence company CivicScience launched Rulo recently, which uses data collected voluntarily from millions of respondents to fuel ad targeting.

Next-gen, programmatic product placement

TripleLift and Amagi announced a partnership this week to bring programmatic product placement to life.  Its an innovation for programmatic as well as CTV as it enables to programmatic insertion of products into TV episodes across various ad-supported offerings such as Roku.

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