COVID-19 Slows UK Privacy Investigation; TikTok Embraces AR

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Privacy On Pause

COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in the United Kingdom’s investigation of ad tech privacy practices. The country’s data protection agency paused its probe into the sector’s use of personal data due to business disruptions, TechCrunch reports. The investigation stems from a 2018 complaint about alleged data trading inherent in the real-time bidding process. Privacy advocates, who believe the government has been slow to act thus far, are peeved. “[The UK Information Commissioner’s Office] failed to use any of their statutory powers, including statutory powers of investigation,” said Brave chief policy officer Johnny Ryan. “We’re not even talking about enforcement. The lack of action is quite astounding.”

AR You On TikTok?

TikTok is taking a page from Snap’s playbook and launching an augmented reality ad format. Users will be able to apply AR filters that automatically adapt to the physical environment shown in a video, Digiday reports. For example, an augmented reality car could zoom across the length of someone’s kitchen table, or a user could interact with a brand’s mascot. Ads will be clickable and include music. Pricing is not yet known, but TikTok offers a 2D lens feature that costs about $100,000. TikTok is following in the footsteps of Facebook and Snap, but at a faster pace, said Paul Kasamias, Starcom’s managing partner of performance. “If they get it right they’re going to be a huge player in the next six months to a year,” he said.

Fanning The Flames

The German Bundesliga, the country’s pro soccer league, returns this week, though without fans in attendance. One team, Borussia Mönchengladbach (gesundheit), has found a way to turn lemons into lemonade. For about $20, supporters can have plastic cutouts of themselves placed in the stands. The company plans to sell 16,500, and the proceeds will be split between a fund for spinal muscular atrophy treatment and another for club workers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, writes Sports Illustrated. When fans are allowed to return to the stadium, purchasers will get to keep their cutouts as a souvenir. It’s small potatoes for pro sports, but every league is working on ways to keep supporters engaged and provide a cover of normalcy for games without fans.


You may not guess that Dish Network would be majorly at-risk to coronavirus-related business losses. It’s a pay-TV service, and people are watching a ton of TV right now, after all. But as we’ve seen with verticals such as retail and food and dining, the near evaporation of the travel and hospitality industry has far-reaching effects on other categories. Dish Network was down 413,000 pay-TV subscribers year over year in Q1, and it attributed 250,000 of those account losses to airline, hotel and other business subscriptions, The Wall Street Journal reports. Its profit in Q1 dropped from $340 million last year to only $73 million now, a dangerous indicator that Dish could slip into the red in Q2, when the economic fallout is expected to be worse.

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