Testing Revs Up In The Chrome Privacy Sandbox; Facebook’s ‘Massive Ranking Failure’

Comic: The Field Guide to the Privacy Sandbox

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Get In The Sandbox

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here. (No, not the release of the latest season of whatever show you stream.) On Thursday, Google kicked off developer origin trials in Chrome for three Privacy Sandbox proposals: Topics, FLEDGE and attribution reporting.

As a refresher, Topics aims to enable privacy-safe interest-based advertising, FLEDGE looks to do the same but for retargeting, while the attribution reporting API is a way to measure when clicks or ad views lead to a conversion without using cross-site identifiers.

Origin trials, as Google explains in a blog post, are Chrome’s method to test experimental technologies for a limited time and with a limited group of developers (followed by a limited group of beta Chrome users) to make sure the tech is properly baked. 

Eventually, once everything is working smoothly, Google will make the origin trials available to a slightly larger group of beta testers on the stable version of Chrome.

It’s a slow process, with no telling if or when Google will return to the drawing board on any proposal.

Google killed the FLoC API and replaced it with Topics earlier this year because, rather ironically, it became clear during those trials that the FLoC proposal was not as privacy-preserving as advertised.

Feed The Beast

A “massive ranking failure” uncovered by Facebook engineers elevated harmful content in the news feed. Here we go again.

As many as half of all Facebook users were exposed to “integrity risks” (i.e., misinformation) in their feeds for the past six months, The Verge reports. 

Engineers tracked the up-and-down swings of certain misinformation distribution schemes, which, at times, spiked by 30%.

The problem was a software bug, not a maneuver orchestrated to slip by Meta’s content moderation, and it didn’t affect advertiser or publisher metrics in the feed, according to spokesperson Joe Osborne.

“In a large complex system like this, bugs are inevitable and understandable,” says Sahar Massachi, a former member of Facebook’s Civic Integrity team. “But what happens when a powerful social platform has one of these accidental faults? How would we even know? We need real transparency to build a sustainable system of accountability.”

After all, the issue was tracked for six months and only came to light once an engineer leaked it. Facebook users might have appreciated knowing that flagrant misinformation, violent images, nudity or other problematic content they saw in their feed may have been distributed as the result of a mistake and not, shall we say, as part of a personalized experience.

Can’t Spell ‘MOAR!’ Without AR

Expect to see a wave of in-store augmented reality setups. 

In a study of how shoppers sampled tubes of lipstick compared to lipstick AR displays, researchers from Hong Kong and Singapore found that AR users sampled, on average, 7.5 times more products. 

The researchers also found that physical product testers clustered to one or two brands they knew. By contrast, shoppers using AR are likelier to sample new brands, according to the Harvard Business Review.

The retailer featured in the study went on to incorporate the AR tech into its app, giving the researcher clear data connecting transactions to mobile app shoppers who did or did not use the AR function. App users who tried the AR sampling were 19% more likely to make a purchase. 

But AR isn’t the magical key to engaging young consumers, as one might expect for members of the SnapTik (TokSnap?) generation, familiar as they are with AR overlays. The data shows that AR pays off best for new online shoppers who haven’t purchased online before. It makes them more comfortable buying something they might not have held or seen before.

But Wait, There’s More!

The IAB Tech Lab has released new ad format guidelines for digital video and CTV. [blog]

Apple and Meta divulged user data to hackers who used forged legal requests. [Bloomberg]

Twitter has started pilot tests for three new ad formats. [Adweek]

Facebook’s iPhone ad pain is Google’s gain. [The Information]

Apple faces a 5.5 billion euro class action lawsuit in the Netherlands over its App Store policies. [engadget]

The Senate advances Democrat Alvaro Bedoya’s nomination, which would break a 2-2 deadlock in the FTC. [Deadline]

You’re Hired!

Extreme Reach hires Patrick O’Donoghue as VP of business affairs. [B&C]

The news startup Semafor hires New York Times vet Rachel Goldstein as CRO. [Insider]

Performance agency WITHIN taps Hillary Read as its new VP of marketing. [release]

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