Klobuchar Unveils Antitrust Reform Bill; Walmart Buys Ad Tech From PaperG

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Antitrust Dust

Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced a sweeping new antitrust bill on Thursday that could spell trouble for Big Tech. CNBC reports that the proposed "Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act" would make sweeping changes to antitrust law, granting enforcement agencies more power to impose bigger fines and shifting the burden of proof for companies over mergers. Facebook, Google and others have come under increasing antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Google is currently the subject of a major antitrust investigation by the DOJ, and Klobuchar said in November she believed breaking the company up should be an option available to regulators. Facebook, meanwhile, is also being investigated by the FTC and 46 attorneys general over its acquisitions. Klobuchar, who was recently appointed chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, last week singled out companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, as a primary focus. "While we've seen this enormous change in our economy, we really are not as sophisticated as the companies that we should be regulating," Klobuchar said. "We need to start by working to strengthen antitrust enforcement and making it more effective."

Hot On Ad Tech 

Walmart is set to acquire technology from Thunder Industries, a company that uses automation to create digital ads, as it continues to invest in its ad business and seeks a greater slice of marketing budgets from small businesses. The Wall Street Journal reports that the retail giant is purchasing the technology and assets of PaperG Inc., which does business as Thunder Industries, and will bring over most of the company’s employees. It isn’t purchasing Thunder’s existing customer contracts, which will be wound down. Walmart instead will use Thunder’s technology to launch a self-service tool that helps advertisers make and buy numerous versions of display ads targeting different kinds of consumers on its properties. The new self-serve display ad tool will launch later this year, the company said. “As we continue to grow our media business, we need to find ways that we can easily serve all suppliers—be it companies who have been Walmart suppliers for years or brand new marketplace suppliers,” said Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer at Walmart. “The new display self-serve platform and the integration of Thunder’s technology does just that.”

Critical Time For Criteo

Digital advertising company Criteo is preparing a major restructure that will affect around 10% of its roughly 2,600 employees, Business Insider reports. The company is trying to shift its business away from services that rely on third-party cookies, and there’s speculation that the publicly traded company could be a prime target for an acquisition.The Paris-based Criteo has sought to turn around its business to focus less on technologies that rely on cookies, as browsers have begun to clamp down on the tracking technologies adtech companies use to serve such ads and Google phases out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022.

Ready Or … Not

Everyone knows they’ve gotta get ready for the end of third-party cookies before 2022 … but that doesn’t mean they’re actually doing it. In Q4 2020, IAB Europe asked 100 brands, agencies, publishers and ad tech companies whether finding alternatives to third-party cookies is a priority, to which 75% answered, “Heck yeah.” (Apparently 13% of respondents said it “wasn’t very important” … okay.) But it’s a different story when it comes to preparedness. Forty-percent say they don’t feel that their company is fully prepared for the coming changes. “The big challenge has been the complexity of the technology and making sense of the massive amounts of contradictory information out there,” said Alex Berger, senior marketing director for buy-side products at Adform, an IAB Europe member. On Tuesday, IAB Europe released an update to its third-party cookie guide to help companies prep as the clock ticks down. Read the release.

But Wait, There’s More!

TikTok is teaming up with the NFL for a Super Bowl LV pregame celebration [blog]

Comscore brings cookie-free CTV audience targeting to Europe with predictive audiences. [release]

Kantar bolsters ad measurement offerings with Google data integration as the industry grapples with a shift to user privacy and data protection. [Ad Age]

Media companies are falling short on following through with diversity, equity and inclusion pledges they made last summer. [Digiday]

YouTube expands its CTV and sports offerings as advertisers start spending again. [MediaPost]

WideOrbit selects Tru Optik Data Marketplace to power streaming audio and podcast audience targeting. [release]

Parler CEO John Matze says he was fired from the conservative platform over differences of opinion after it was booted by AWS. [The New York Times]

Ad tech company Hudson MX nets a $63.5M series D, led by Cannes Lions owner Ascential plc. [release]

CTV/OTT ad platform Fiksu hires Pixalate to weed out fraud. [release]

You’re Hired!

Tubular Labs hires market-research vet Scott Ernst as CEO. [Variety]

Incubeta hires Zoe Hall as managing director of adtech solutions and Lauren Stearley as director of programmatic. [PerformanceIN]

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