Google changes Topics of conversation
The big Google news this week was their announcement of their FLoC replacement: Topics API. Rather than grouping users together, Topics enables the Chrome browser to learn about the individual’s browsing behaviours, recording information about the sites they have visited for the previous 3 weeks and storing it. Topics will then assign a user specific interests; 5 of a possible 300 from a hybrid of IAB’s Content Taxonomy V2 and Google’s own taxonomy.
Publishers that use the Topics API will then be able to pull a random selection of 3 of a user’s assigned topics – one topic from each of the past 3 weeks – to share with advertisers/partners to deliver ads. Shared topics are persistent to a website and only remain active for three weeks, then they’re deleted, and fresh topics are added in their place. The API supplies multiple topics so they can be combined (for example, targeting a book lover who is also into fitness).
TheDrum provides some clarity into both the new API itself as well as FLoC’s shortcomings including the potential abuse through fingerprinting techniques, potential discrimination and the lack of consent mechanism. With the latter of those issues, Google is to introduce user controls to view & delete topics, as well as disable the API altogether. Meanwhile; AdExchanger alludes to “Topics vs Contextual” making the point that whilst having contextual undertones, the Topics API can be used to target interests away from contextually relevant content e.g. fitness ads on a news site.
The Topics API will be available for original trial testing towards the end of Q1, including in Europe.
Off topic: Backdrop of antitrust & regulatory scrutiny
The Topics API announcement comes off the back of some serious pressure on Google. After last week’s further revelations of Google manipulating ad auctions; this week saw a lawsuit filed against them relating to deceptive location tracking; whilst a group of German publishers & advertisers filed a complaint against Google relating to third party cookie deprecation. The publishers – including industry heavyweight Axel Springer – argue that Google’s plan to eliminate third-party cookies not only unfairly impedes their abilities to target ads effectively but also violates EU law; all the while allowing Google to collect vast amounts of user data in ways that leave its own ads-based search business unaffected.
Continued adspend growth powered by Olympics, World Cup and more
Dentsu’s latest forecast estimates global adspend to grow 9.2% to reach $745bn this year off the back of big sporting events such as the Winter Olympics and Fifa World Cup. The recovery growth rate is 3x faster than the previous previous major global ad decline of the 2008 financial crisis, driven by digital (including CTV) which by 2024 will represent 60% of global adspend.
Similarly strong recovery has been seen in the UK with Advertising Association/Warc suggesting 2021 was the strongest year ever for the UK ad market as it grew 26.4% to £29.7bn. Further growth is expected in 2022, which will see the UK market having expanded by more than one-third since 2020.
Media moves: Resolutions, addressability, subscriber-only events, and retail media
New year’s resolutions
How are everyone’s new year’s resolutions going? In our latest insights piece, Carbon took a look at content commonly associated with new year’s resolutions combined with associated ad revenue from that content & pages to find the highest average CPMs across categories and brands within the Carbon network.
PXI and industry leaders vow to bring clarity to addressability in Europe
Further details on the European Addressable Media Initiative came in TheDrum, as The Project X Institute with founding members Amobee, Carbon, Comscore, Finecast, LiveRamp, Lotame, Neustar and PubMatic prepare to help industry players navigate the new landscape of identity resolution and addressability in Europe.
Subscriber-only events aid subscription pitches
There’s an interesting article in Digiday detailing how some publishers are using events to sweeten subscription pitches. The piece goes into detail about how The Washington Post, The Information and others are leveraging subscriber-only events as a way to attract new subscribers as well as reduce churn. Some of the thoughts behind it include access to interactive and engaging content to create deeper connections with audiences, as well as special offers.
Retail Media: Carrefour<>LiveRamp, and Instacart ads
It seems not a week goes by that we don’t have more retail media news, and this week we saw a piece with LiveRamp’s Head of Strategic Growth – Hugh Stevens – detailing LiveRamp’s partnership with Carrefour. Combining its network of offline stores, 80m households and 50m loyalty card accounts globally with its digital footprint has provided powerful data which they share with brands for campaign activation. Meanwhile, Instacart introduced display ads to its programmatic supply whilst also launching branded pages for CPG & food brands.
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