Roku And YouTube Settle Long-Running Dispute; Facebook Searches For iOS Workarounds

Play Nice

Will they? Won’t they? 

They will. 

Roku is bringing YouTube TV back onto its devices after a monthslong clash with Google that spilled over into Congress. Roku and Google finally agreed on a multiyear extension for Roku distribution of the YouTube and YouTube TV apps, Axios reported.

In April, Roku warned customers that YouTube TV might not be available on its devices much longer if the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Google actually did remove the app – and it threatened to withhold its general YouTube app from new Roku users, too, if no agreement was reached this month.

 The smoking gun was Google’s demand for preferential treatment of YouTube inventory, which Roku called anticompetitive. And it’s still unclear whether the new distribution deal does give Roku ad sales rights into YouTube (as it has with other ad-supported apps). Previously (and maybe currently), Google kept all the ad revenue on Roku for itself, a special status that meant Roku missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Some Democratic Congress members, including Senator Amy Klobuchar, have publicly supported Roku. She warned that competitors can’t always trust Big Tech to “act fairly in the marketplace.”

Star-Crossed Haters

Facebook has found a new way to bypass app store commissions with a site where users can purchase “Stars” in their web browsers rather than through the Facebook app, TechCrunch reports.

Stars are a form of currency on the platform, in the sense that users share them as tips during live video streams. Until now, Stars were only available via the Facebook app where Apple or Google get a cut of every dollar. But the new site uses Facebook Pay rather than Apple or Google’s payment systems, so Facebook receives the full purchase.

Facebook normally avoids channeling users to external sites. (Even its in-app browser functionality is a mess.) But in this case, it’s offering bonus Stars on top of the extra 30% if users jump to the web. 

Facebook is actively pursuing new payment methods as workarounds to in-app purchase fees. Last month, Facebook introduced custom subscription or affiliate-style links so iOS content creators can avoid Apple’s triple tithe.

The inclusion of Facebook Pay is notable, too. Facebook needs transaction data from its owned-and-operated properties to return the conversion attribution data it lost because Apple doesn’t allow cross-site pixel tracking.

The company recently introduced an incentive program that discounts ads for brands that direct customers to Facebook Shops for purchases – which brands aren’t so into because most people don’t use Facebook Pay.

A Worm In The Apple?

Apple has apparently compromised on a strict interpretation of its new privacy rules. 

Starting this year, Apple started requiring that developers request consent from each user before collecting data for ad targeting and other purposes. But apps, including platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, are finding ways to capitalize on their opted-out user base by anonymizing the data and bundling people into cohorts. Cohorts are the new programmatic hotness, because they (in theory) enable targeting and attribution without user-level tracking. 

Apple, being Apple, hasn’t blessed this tactic or knocked it as a violation, the Financial Times reports.

But Apple will probably take some action, IP addresses and location data can still be attached to those users, despite requests not to be tracked. The IP address, device type and location can be critical to performance. (Ever had an app get stuck in the wrong language?) 

Facebook and other data-slurping apps pledge only to use anonymized, aggregated user data, and they operate under Apple’s constant scrutiny like the Eye of Sauron. But still, what do those pledges count for?

“If historical precedent in ad tech holds, those black boxes hide a lot of sins,” said BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach. “It’s not unreasonable to assume it leaves a lot to be desired.”

But Wait, There’s More!   

Bumble gets into retail with Bumble Shop, selling apparel and games for dating. [Adweek]

Verizon overrides users’ opt-out preferences in its push to collect browsing history. [Ars Technica]

FuboTV completes its acquisition of French sports-streaming service Molotov. [release]

Just how much did 2021’s tech IPOs outperform last year’s? A lot. [The Information]

Scott Galloway: “Super apps” are the future. [Medium]

Apple is granted a reprieve by an appeals court to delay plans for payments outside iOS apps. [The Verge]

You’re Hired!

MadHive hires Jeff Fagel as CMO. [Broadcasting & Cable]

Out-of-home trade association OAAA adds industry vets Laura Colona, Rick Robinson. [release]

Stagwell Media Network names Jon Schaaf, Shannon Pruitt and Rick Acampora to its C-suite. [release]

IAB hires Jessalin Lam to lead learning, development and DEI programs. [release]

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