Google Fined In France Over Search Ad Suspensions; Netflix Tries More Dynamic Product Placements

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This Is Fine

France’s competition regulator fined Google $167 million (150 million euros) for unfairly suspending advertisers for placing allegedly deceptive ads. It’s a drop in the bucket for Google, but the regulatory drumbeat is a bigger issue than the fines. Unlike previous fines, this wasn’t about Google disadvantaging direct search engine competitors or rivals in shopping search results. The issue in this case was about Google suspending businesses from serving ads in a “random and unpredictable fashion,” writes The Wall Street Journal. Platforms like Google and Apple have taken flak for arbitrarily suspending and re-admitting sites and apps. Evaluating complaints in such cases isn’t a priority for the platforms, but it’s an existential issue for those companies. “Google has the power of life or death for certain companies that live by these advertisements,” said Isabelle de Silva, chairman of France’s competition authority, at a press conference. “We don’t contest Google’s right to impose rules. But the rules must be clear and imposed equally to all advertisers.” More.

Programmatic Product Placement

As ad-free streaming services such as Netflix do more brand integration deals with advertisers, they’re starting to use the data they collect about their viewers to target audiences with product placements. Companies such as Mirriad and Ryff are working with brands on dynamic product placement, allowing streaming services to serve viewers different brand messages depending on the show they’re watching or time of day, The New York Times reports. These more contextual (rather than interruptive) ad units are part of a bigger evolution in the TV ad business to recapture the attention of increasingly ad-averse consumers. Hulu launched Pause Ads and Binge Ads this year, and on its AVOD channel, Roku lets viewers click on ads for more details or request an email. But buyers are skeptical that these placements are effective or if consumers are ready for them. “It’s hard to know if the juice is worth the squeeze,” said Mindshare exec Joe Maceda. More.

Privacy 2020

A bipartisan federal privacy proposal from the US House of Representatives would put major limitations on Google and Facebook’s ability to track users across the web. The legislation could require the platforms to request “express, affirmative consent” from users before sharing their data with third parties, Bloomberg reports. The measure would delegitimize platforms’ justification that they can collect and share data in exchange for free services. “Facebook knows every other site I go to, and Google knows every other app I use,” said Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports. “I think it’s appropriate to explicitly call that out.” But the proposal, if adopted, would also have serious implications for big brands, who would need to get consent to use even their first-party data for ad targeting, and for small businesses that rely on Google and Facebook data to reach consumers. More.

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