Can Netflix Rescue CTV?; The Apple-Google Mobilescape

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’Flix Flex

Netflix plans to add ads. The question is, should it? And how?

Whether Netflix’s plan is to woo shareholders or build back revenue (or both), company execs “didn’t have much conviction” when they announced the idea on Tuesday’s earnings call, Mike Shields writes in a blog

The news that Netflix is considering ad-supported options is the antithesis of its very “essence,” according to Shields. But if Netflix must give in to the forces of AVOD, it should consider the shoddy CTV ad viewership experience and be careful to lead in terms of quality.

One hint by CEO Reed Hastings from the Netflix earnings last week indicates the company is thinking about defaulting to tech providers in the market to do the platform ad tech work. 

“We can be a straight publisher and have other people do all the fancy ad matching,” Hastings said. 

No matter who threads ads into content, Netflix is still responsible to create a watchable ad experience – viewers won’t dismiss cruddy ads as “just the SSP’s fault,” Shields quips.

To get AVOD right, Netflix should take ownership of its ad business and build out operations from the ground up, then lean on outside help, he says. And it could work – just look at Amazon. After in-housing programmatic ad products, it has a $31 billion ad business.

All Goog Things Come To Those Who Wait

Apple iOS and Safari make sudden (even surprise) changes to privacy standards, so developers feel the jolt as they adapt to the change. 

Google Android and Chrome releases don’t drop like thunderbolts. But a steady drumbeat adds up. 

One recent update likely wasn’t on your radar: Chrome strengthened its Feature Policy, which allows or disallows third-party tech (like browser extensions or ad tech) from using certain features, and changed the name to Permissions Policy

The change to “Permissions” is pointed. Now developers must have explicit permission to collect data on geolocation, for instance, or turn on or affect an iframe. Previously, third-party tech could be proactively blocked by the publisher or user but didn’t need proactive approval. 

More data will also be returned null rather than “none” (whether there’s a camera, say, or widescreen mode). “None” is still data and could be one item in a “fingerprint” of many features about that device. 

It’s a small change. And for the big changes – like deprecating Chrome third-party cookies, dropping IP addresses and sunsetting OG Google Analytics – Google gives months or years of lead time (years and years, in some cases).

But someday we’ll look around and realize it’s an entirely different, much more Apple-y Google mobilescape.

What A Web We Weave

The universe of internet users is forecasted to reach 4.55 billion by the end of the year, according to the annual eMarketer benchmark. That’s a 2.7% jump from last year and 57.4% of the entire worldwide population of all ages. 

The growth rate is coming down after recording a big 7.7% jump in 2020, when everyone was stuck inside and kids did remote schooling.  

There are still wide global ranges for internet adoption. In North America, 89.2% of the population is online. Only 29.8% of the Middle East and Africa use the internet. 

There also is still a persistent gap in mobile phones that don’t connect to the internet. Smartphones reach 14.2% of people in the Middle East and Africa, whereas mobile phone coverage is at 36.6%. Worldwide smartphone penetration is 44.8%. But 64.8% of the global population have mobile phones (meaning a solid fifth of the world uses a dumbphone). 

But Wait, There’s More!

Amid losses, Netflix bets on a bold strategy around video games. [WaPo]

… And investor Bill Ackman says nevermind to his 0.68% stake in the streaming giant. [Variety]

The post-GDPR backlash against consent pop-ups is a misleading argument. [Adweek]

Fraudsters find loopholes in Apple Pay multifactor authentication. [Vice]

Ad tech leans into gaming – but it’s not easy to get right. [WSJ]

The Media Rating Council isn’t done scrutinizing Nielsen. [MediaPost]

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