Senate Bill Seeks To Break Up Google; Yahoo Sues Data Scientist Hired Away By The Trade Desk

Comic: What Else?

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Break The Chain

A new antitrust bill on the Hill is going straight for Google’s jugular.

On Thursday, a group of mainly GOP senators led by Mike Lee (R-UT), with some Democrat support, introduced the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act, which aims to prevent businesses from owning more than one part of the digital ad ecosystem if they process more than $20 billion in digital ad transactions. If a company processes $20 billion or more through a DSP service, for example, it can’t also operate an SSP.

(The senators may as well have called this the “Google, We’re Coming for You” Act.)

Although Google has been playing both sides against the middle(men) for years, it reacted to the bill by, as usual, claiming to be the hero.

Google’s tools across the internet “help protect users from privacy risks and misleading ads,” a spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. Breaking up those tools, Google argues, could cause security issues, embolden low-quality data brokers and “handicap small businesses” during a time of heightened inflation.

Google’s claim sounds a lot like Tim Cook’s pushback against the Open App Markets Act, which would force Apple to allow sideloading from third-party app stores. Cook claims that it’ll be a security nightmare, while advocates say it will give startups and small fries a fighting chance.

But the line needs to be drawn somewhere. As much as Big Tech touts cooperation and “co-opetition,” a slew of secret deals suggest otherwise.

Only You Can Prevent Corporate Espionage

It turns out ad tech companies are pretty protective when it comes to their own data.

Yahoo Ad Tech (alongside subsidiary Oath Holdings) filed a civil suit against former Yahoo senior research scientist Qian Sang, The Drum reports. The suit alleges that Sang stole proprietary information about Yahoo AdLearn, the AI backbone of Yahoo’s DSP, “minutes after” being hired by The Trade Desk as a data scientist.

Yahoo claims Sang downloaded 570,000 files containing “source code, backend advertising architecture, algorithms that control ad placement and associated earnings tracking … and strategy behind Yahoo’s backend advertising technology” to a personal device.

The files also allegedly contained information related to Yahoo’s competitive analysis of The Trade Desk.

Sang was the senior leader of the research team responsible for managing the Yahoo DSP’s budget spend pacing control system, which adjusts bid pricing and frequency in accordance with an advertiser’s campaign parameters. 

The suit charges Sang with violating the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act, breaching fiduciary duty and theft of intellectual property. Yahoo is seeking a judgment of $5 million, plus punitive damages.

No News Is Bad News

Is Meta writing off journalism? (Pun intended.)

Facebook’s parent company might be considering distancing itself from professional news (not that it’s able to stay out of the headlines itself).

News is expensive – Meta has paid millions of dollars to license news content for its platform – and it could be about to get pricier. Governments around the world are introducing laws that would force Meta to pay for access to news.

And Meta has been looking to cut costs in general.

Among Meta’s biggest news initiatives is Facebook News, launched on the app in the US in 2019. Nearly all participating publishers signed three-year deals, Press Gazette reports, which will soon come to an end.

It’s unclear what Meta’s next move will be, but publishers say Meta’s news offerings – in addition to its payment plans – might just be a PR move in the first place. Supporting legitimate news sites is a good look for Meta, whose apps have served as a petri dish for all manner of misinformation.

That’s one reason why some publishers think Facebook won’t get rid of news entirely. Rather than links and articles, it may opt to channel news into short videos instead, The Information reports.

But other publishers aren’t so sure. One US news source told Press Gazette that Meta hasn’t reached out about contract renewals. Another source said Meta might be signaling that “the good times are over” for news on Facebook.

But Wait, There’s More!

Because EVERYTHING IS AN AD NETWORK, Ulta Beauty launches its own retail media network. [Beauty Packaging]

Video of the Buffalo mass shooting is still available on Facebook, sometimes accompanied by ads. [The New York Times]

TikTok is testing in-app gaming in Vietnam. [Reuters]

Lifecycle management and marketing platform CleverTap acquires customer engagement platform Leanplum. [release]

Microsoft’s Rob Wilk details the company’s plans to grow its ad business through M&A, search, CTV, attribution and in-game ads. [Digiday]

Senate Democrats request info from SafeGraph and on how abortion-related location data is collected and used. [Bloomberg]

Data integrity platform Claravine raises $16 million in Series B funding. [release]

You’re Hired!

VidMob adds Sharmila Patel as CFO. [release]

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