UK Antitrust Probe Targets Chrome Privacy Sandbox; Comscore Nabs Strategic Investment

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Built On Sand?

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching an investigation into Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome, CNBC reports. The CMA says it’s received several complaints about how Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals will impact competition. One of the most vocal complainants has been an alliance of digital marketing companies called Marketers for an Open Web (MOW), which called the coming deprecation of 3P cookies a “ploy” to sweep digital ad dollars from the open web and into Google’s own platforms. In a statement on Friday, the CMA appeared to agree, noting that advertising spend could “become even more concentrated on Google’s ecosystem at the expense of its competitors.” James Rosewell, MOW’s director and CEO of 51Degrees, applauded the CMA for taking preemptive action. “For the first time in history, the UK regulator is taking action before irreparable harm is done to the digital market,” Rosewell told AdExchanger. “Most regulators merely work out fines many years after the damage has been done.” [Related in AdExchanger: “The Privacy Sandbox And A Pre-emptive Breakup Of Google?”]

Debt Free?

Comscore has locked in a deal with Charter Communications, Qurate Retail and private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management to bolster its finances and strengthen its commercial relationships, The Wall Street Journal reports. Each is making a cash investment in the troubled media measurement company in exchange for shares of convertible preferred stock. Comscore will use the cash to extinguish its debt and improve its liquidity position. Comscore, known for its media measurement tools, has faced a number of challenges in recent years, including executive departures, an accounting scandal and a subsequent SEC investigation, which resulted in a $5 million settlement in 2019. The company has also faced increasing demand from media and marketing clients for new measurement capabilities. The deal will free Comscore from its loan arrangement with activist investor Starboard Value LP, which imposed strict covenants requiring Comscore to have a minimum cash balance and steep interest payments, as well as terms for repayment of $204 million next year. Comscore will also extend an existing data agreement with Comcast as part of the deal.

Banned For Life!

A day after President Trump began tweeting again on Thursday following a paltry 12-hour lockout on the platform in the wake of Wednesday’s riot at the US Capitol, Twitter permanently suspended the lame duck president’s account on Friday, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” CNN reports that one of Trump’s tweets saying he would not attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration could be seen as a further statement that the election was not legitimate and interpreted as a target for violence because he would not be attending. Additionally, the social media platform said Trump’s tweet praising his supporters as American patriots implied that he continued to support those who believe he won the election. Amid pressure from critics who said that the president’s posts helped incite the mob, Twitter had locked Trump out of his account for posting tweets that it said violated its policies on Wednesday and threatened a permanent ban if Trump violated any more rules. Facebook, after first temporarily locking POTUS out of his account for 24 hours, subsequently blocked Trump's account indefinitely, and for at least the remainder of his term. The tech giants remain under fire for not doing more to prevent disinformation from spreading, which experts and activists say must be addressed beyond suspending the president's account for election falsehoods. Some activists have referred to Trump’s earlier social media suspensions as “a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,” according to Business Insider.

A Done Deal

Quibi’s content will live on as part of Roku’s library following the end of the short form streaming platform’s short life, The Wall Street Journal reports. Quibi ignominiously bit the dust a mere six months after its launch. The deal will make the defunct service’s shows available on the biggest streaming-media player in the U.S. – and Roku got them for a song. The price tag was less than $100 million. The plan is to display Quibi’s content on the ad-supported Roku Channel, which provides access to more than 40,000 movies and TV shows. Quibi, which has pledged to return $350 million to its early shareholders, is in the midst of winding down its operations. [Related in AdExchanger:What Quibi Has Gotten Right And Wrong So Far”] 

But Wait, There’s More!

Here are all of the actions big tech companies have taken against Trump’s social media accounts following the US Capitol siege. [Business Insider]

The attempted coup at the Capitol should be a wake-call to brands about funding disinformation online. [Fast Company]

WarnerMedia’s decision to extend its AWS deal helped end the standoff with Amazon over getting HBO Max onto Fire TV devices. [The Information]

Publicis Groupe has been holding sale talks with a private equity investor. [CampaignUS]

DoubleVerify made its brand suitability tiers generally available for advertisers and publishers. [release]

You’re Hired!

Warner Bros. hires Josh Goldstine as marketing chief. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Video software company Panopto has brought on former IBM AI marketing head Dave Neway as its new VP of marketing. [Martech Series]

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