Safari iOS 15 Update Could Hamper Ad Performance; Streaming Subscribers Plateau

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Behind Bars

The beta version of Safari available for iOS 15 users could seriously hamper online ad performance. Typically, iOS updates undercut online advertising when Apple makes it difficult (or impossible) to track users around the web or attribute campaign conversions. This Safari change steps all over online ads in a literal way. A new Tab Bar with browser controls floats at the bottom of the page, instead of the familiar setup with the URL bar and controls atop the screen. The new Tab Bar disappears while scrolling, but reappears when users scroll up a page. Sometimes, it will block important messages by the publisher’s consent management software, like pop-up requests to log in or accept first-party cookies. It also blocks video players and display ad units. Ad viewability will be affected, and it could mess with publisher metrics, since users will try to close the Tab Bar and accidentally click on ad units or other links on the page – which isn’t trivial, since that’s a metric Google uses to judge whether publishers use click-spam tactics. CafeMedia strategy chief Paul Bannister has a useful Twitter thread on the topic. 

Feel The Churn

A procession of streaming entertainment packages hit the market in the past two years: Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, HBO Max and Paramount Plus, to name a few. Many of them gained traction with free or steeply discounted pricing. And now those same services are seeing immense churn and struggling for growth at full subscription rates. Peacock has 42 million accounts, but only 14 million are monthly active users, and only one in five of those active users pays to subscribe. NBC has considered bundling Peacock with Sam’s Club memberships and students who subscribe to Spotify to expand its paid subscriber base, Bloomberg reports. But the problem remains that even heavily invested companies with mountains of content struggle to build major streaming apps and DTC subscription revenue lines. Disney Plus has likewise seen its U.S. subscriber numbers plateau after a busy first year. And, to be fair, Netflix is also dealing with sluggish subscriber growth. 

Executive Order

President Biden leaned hard on Big Tech Friday when he signed an executive order to curb alleged anticompetitive practices by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, Business Insider reports. In particular, the directive puts a microscope on M&A deals in which large tech companies sweep up smaller, would-be competitors (such as Facebook buying Instagram and WhatsApp). The measure also calls on the FTC to create rules around the collection and use of user data – along with new broadband internet mandates – and Biden wants the FCC to “readopt” net neutrality regulations. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are already facing intense pressure from House lawmakers who are pushing sweeping antitrust bills, and on Thursday, Google was slapped with an antitrust lawsuit by three dozen state attorneys general.

But Wait, There’s More!  

Google will keep FLoC feedback close to the vest as it iterates on the original design. [The Register]

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a privacy law that allows consumers to opt out of targeted ads. [MediaPost]

 Paris-based Didomi raised $40 million. [release]

App Annie explores strategic options, including a potential sale or IPO. [WSJ]

Problems versus Dilemmas: the complex trade-offs produced by social settings. [Medium]

Prosecutors cast Amazon as an unlikely victim in their antitrust case against Google. [Bloomberg]

Omnicom Media Group is the latest to join the industry’s Unified ID 2.0 initiative. [Digiday]

You’re Hired

Instacart hired Facebook exec Fidji Simo as CEO. [CNBC]

OMG’s Annalect hired Liesa Newland as head of data infrastructure and integration. [Mumbrella]

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