The Framework Makes The Game Work; Paywall Pain Management

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TC Effed?

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, a privacy advocacy group, published a blog post last week arguing that IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF), the industry’s mechanism to convey consent data in online ad bids, cannot be reliably audited and thus is a GDPR violation.

For one thing, IAB Europe couldn’t stop or identify a rogue employee who simply collected data without consent. The data is there for all bidders to see, with an honor-based commitment to only collect and use it with consent for specific purposes.


And about that “all bidders” thing. Every programmatic bidder can see the identity and consent data. It determines what they’ll bid. 

IAB Europe recently increased the cost to sign up as a consent management platform for the TCF and has also ramped up auditing. But bidstream data visibility could be a serious vulnerability, since the IAB Europe can’t confirm the data is ignored and deleted everywhere. 

It’s not a rhetorical question. IAB Europe is waiting on a decision by the Belgian data regulator on this very issue. The trade org already warned members that it expects the decision to ding the TCF.

Tear Down This Wall?

It’s time to rethink the paywall.

The subscription model has been a revenue driver for big-name and independent publishers alike. But there’s growing concern that paywalls could increase information inequality, Insider reports.

Publishers can democratize their coverage by offering important news stories, such as those concerning election info or guidance on navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, to all users, regardless of subscription status.

But is that enough for news businesses? Many readers who bump up against a membership prompt will leave, sometimes even if an article is free to read. A rigorous subscription strategy can also cannibalize advertising revenue from those readers and deplete the prospecting funnel. If someone gets two or three free links per month, you’re likely not creating a subscriber – rather just someone who rarely reads your stuff.

Making matters worse, scummy clickbait ads and misinformation is rarely behind a paywall – and it’s boosted by SEO efforts targeting would-be readers of legit news when trending stories go viral behind a paywall.

News subscriptions boomed during the Trump era, but tailed off when he left office. Now, news companies are running crazy-high marketing margins, considering the holiday discounts on one-year subscriptions. (Another subscription danger is the risk of adding users at unsustainable CPAs.)

The Texas Rodeo

Google asked a federal judge to dismiss the antitrust lawsuit brought by state AGs and led by the Texas Attorney General regarding alleged manipulation of the online advertising market

“They criticize Google for not designing its products to better suit its rivals’ needs and for making improvements to those products that leave its competitors too far behind,” Google complained in its motion to dismiss on Friday. “They see the ‘solution’ to Google’s success as holding Google back, rather than letting market forces urge its competitors forward.”

The AGs allege that Google misrepresented its auction dynamics to both publishers and advertisers to Google’s benefit, and used its power in the market to coerce companies to remain locked into its ad system.

As the saga continues, AdExchanger polled programmatic and digital media practitioners on the states’ case and what they expect to change (or, spoiler alert, not change) about how companies work with Google following the latest news. Read it.

But Wait, There’s More!

NBCUniversal is slashing its TV ratings expectations for the Winter Olympics by as much as half. [Insider]

Sky Media launches addressable Smart Sponsors ad offering. [release]

Investors see new sparkle in Europe’s startup tech scene. [WSJ]

Adobe confronts rare skepticism in the hunt for sales growth. [Bloomberg]

Full-year ad spending surges 18% from 2020 and 9% from 2019. [MediaPost]

You’re Hired!

Artefact added a new partner, Wayne Campbell. [tweet]

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