Attribution Players Risk Apple’s Wrath During ATT ‘Grace Period’; MDC-Stagwell Merger Hits Snag

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Grace (Period) Under Fire

Everyone knows that fingerprinting on iOS 14 is about as kosher as a strip of bacon on a piece of gefilte fish … right? Although Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework explicitly prohibits the use of fingerprinting, some of the largest mobile measurement providers (MMPs) can’t seem to agree on what is and isn’t allowed, Digiday reports. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Apple hasn’t started enforcing against fingerprinting yet in any meaningful way, and so MMPs are falling back on the practice for attribution when a user’s IDFA isn’t available. Risky behavior, considering Apple’s stance and, yet, the other shoe hasn’t dropped, so why not live dangerously? As Seb Joseph writes, “Welcome to the unofficial grace period for Apple’s crackdown on in-app tracking, where every risk is one worth taking until it’s not.” With its next Worldwide Developers Conference scheduled for June 7, though, it’s distinctly possible that Apple is on the verge of taking action. Apple first announced its ATT framework at last year’s WWDC.

Raw Deal?

A proposed merger between agency holding company MDC Partners and private equity firm Stagwell Media has hit a snag after one of MDC”s largest shareholders claimed that Stagwell investors would unfairly reap the benefits. Indaba Capital Management LP plans to vote against the deal next month and said in a letter to the Special Committee of the Board of Directors – created by independent board members at MDC to evaluate the merger proposal – that the proposed deal is “conflict-riddled and poorly-structured.” Per the Wall Street Journal, Indaba claims the proposed deal undervalues MDC and low-balls its shareholders who would receive 26% of the combined company. Indaba said MDC shareholders should own 37.5% to 40% of the new entity and accused the committee of rubber-stamping the deal. Both MDC and Stagwell are led by Mark Penn. The committee, of course, isn’t happy with Indaba’s very public criticism and said that Stagwell’s digital assets –  which include digital shop Code and Theory – and its revenue growth will help lift MDC. 

Epic Lessons

The Verge has compiled a list of nine takeaways from the courtroom drama between Apple and Epic Games, which concluded on Monday. Among them: Apple execs insisted that they had no idea how profitable the App Store is, even though it reportedly took in $60 billion last year. Former marketing chief Phil Schiller – who received one of the toughest grillings on the stand – said he had no idea if the App Store had brought in more money than it spent since 2009. CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, was a little more reserved, saying he believed it was profitable but didn’t know by how much. And Apple apparently did everything it could to keep Netflix in the App Store because the 30% cut was costing the streaming giant serious dough. In the coming months, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will reach a decision on whether Apple ran an illegal monopoly by removing Epic’s hit game Fortnite. 

But Wait, There’s More! 

Mozilla is going to resume advertising on Facebook for the first time in three years in order to educate users about data-driven targeting. In order to promote the need for transparency, Mozilla plans to disclose its total ad spend – just $10,000 in this case – along with the targeting parameters it’s using. [Forbes]

CTV partnership alert: Flashtalking is partnering with CTV advertising company BrightLine [release], and TripleLift hooks up with Publica to enhance monetization opportunities for CTV publishers. [release]

Facebook has ended its ban on posts asserting COVID-19 was man-made or manufactured, a policy shift that reflects a deepening debate over the origins of the pandemic that was first identified in Wuhan, China, almost 18 months ago. [WSJ]

Here’s how agencies are helping clients navigate Apple’s iOS 14.5 privacy changes. [The Drum]

The ANA is urging New York lawmakers to wait until next year before taking up a broad privacy bill that would require companies to get a consumer’s opt-in consent before processing data for ad targeting. [MediaPost]

Inside the data companies rewarding shoppers for personal data: Web companies ask consumers for their data, but it's unclear if brands and publishers will play along. [Ad Age]

You’re Hired

Denstu International has appointed Fiona Lloyd as global president of Carat and Sanjay Nazerali as global president of Dentsu X. [Campaign US]

Aaron Noffsinger has joined digital agency Aisle Rocket as chief creative officer. [release]

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