Byron Allen Wins Publicity In TV Ad Discrimination Suit; Microsoft Sharpens Its Edge

Legal Beef

Byron Allen’s $10 billion discrimination suit against McDonald’s was dismissed by a federal judge on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Allen owns Allen Media Group, whose brands include The Weather Channel and Bally Sports Regional Networks, among others. He alleged that McDonald’s discriminates against Black-owned media companies in its TV ad investments.

The suit “fails to allege sufficient facts that would support an inference that defendants intentionally and purposefully discriminated against them,” wrote US District Judge Fernando Olguin in his decision.

McDonald’s was defended in the suit by former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 

Allen’s case was that McDonald’s spent approximately $1.6 billion on TV ads in the US in 2019, and that less than $5 million, or 0.31%, was spent on Black-owned media.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s announced a plan to more than double its advertising on minority-owned media companies in the next four years, and to increase its national ad spend with Black-owned media groups from 2% to 5% by 2024.

Allen plans to amend and refile the complaint. Though he’s also playing a longer game, where attention on this issue is a win regardless of how this suit is decided. 

Anything For An Edge

Microsoft is getting more aggressive – trollish, even, you might say – when it comes to Windows PC and Edge users trying to download Google Chrome. 

So far, three notifications have been spotted in the wild when Windows PC customers go to download Chrome, Neowin reports: “Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.”; “That browser is so 2008! Do you know what’s new? Microsoft Edge.”; “‘I hate saving money,’ said no one ever. Microsoft Edge is the best browser for online shopping.” 

All’s fair in the no-holds-barred world of platform empires. When Edge users sign into a Google service (Search, Gmail, Maps, etc.), Google notifies them that Chrome would work better, thank you very much. 

Microsoft got called out last year for defaulting Windows 11 users to Edge when they downloaded the new OS, even if Chrome was their default browser. 

These platforms aren’t shy about using (or abusing) their control over browsers and devices. Google’s try-Chrome-instead pop-ups resurface constantly, while the browser permanently stores other consent choices or settings. Microsoft’s use-Edge-instead notifications are rendered natively by the browser, a special capability for its services that’s unavailable to other sites or apps, The Verge reports. 

The Public Eye-Phone

The fallout from Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, the iPhone privacy consent requests that rolled out over the course of the year, is still rippling outward in quarterly earnings reports, Insider reports. 

For app-install advertisers, the cost-per-install rate is worsening. The cost per impression has increased, since there are fewer people who allow data for advertising.

Without tracking and targetability, mobile marketers must buy more impressions to find and convert the same number of users. 

Brands are wrong more often than they’re right at reaching the correct person at an opportune time. The cost to buy an impression might stay the same or even decrease while the CPI increases, because what’s going up is the number of overall ad impressions per conversion. 

The optimistic take is that the damage is felt by platforms like Facebook, while marketers find other channels that scale. 

“We have at least three to five new channels that ... we've started to see significant traction on in the last quarter,” said Justin Schreiber, CEO of telehealth provider LifeMD. But alternate channels (TiKTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, The Trade Desk, AppLovin, Roku … ) are typically still in testing or aren’t scaled by Facebook standards, nor do they achieve the performance mobile marketers had on Facebook. 

But Wait, There’s More!   

Instagram hopes a pop-up asking users to test a second account will reinspire engagement. [WSJ]

Mediahub, Univision partner on third-party performance data as TV ad “currency.” [MediaPost]

Chinese ad rates, already pricier than the US, soared this year. [The Information]

Alphabet, Meta, Block … What’s behind tech’s rebranding spree? [Protocol]

Multi-touch attribution won’t die alongside third-party cookies; it will adapt. [Ad Age]

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