Sen. Hawley Proposes Trust-Busting Bill; Verizon Media Rolls Out FLoC Alternative

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Trustbusting

The antitrust bills just keep piling up for Big Tech. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) unveiled one of his own this week, and he means business. Its even got a tough-sounding name that would make Chuck Norris proud: the “Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act.” Hawley’s bill includes severe measures to rein in the power of large tech companies, such as Amazon and Google, including blocking mergers and acquisitions outright. Per TechCrunch, the bill would ban any acquisitions by companies with a market cap of more than $100 billion, including vertical mergers. It would also dramatically heighten the financial pain for companies caught engaging in anticompetitive behavior, forcing any company that loses an antitrust suit to forfeit profits made through those business practices. Although the bill isn’t likely to get too far in a Democratic Senate, it bears some resemblance to Democratic proposals. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has proposed legislation that would create barriers for Big Tech companies with a penchant scooping up their competitors.

Alt.FLoC

Cohort-based targeting got you down? Verizon Media says they have an alternative way to target people when no user ID, be it third-party cookie or device identifier, is present. Verizon is positioning its new offering, dubbed Next-Gen Solutions, as an alternative to Google’s FLoC. It works like this: Next-Gen taps into content and other real-time data signals such as weather, location and device type gathered from Verizon Media-owned sites, including Yahoo, to feed machine learning algorithms that infer audience characteristics. No data is stored, no user profiles are created, and the solution works across browsers – not just on Chrome. It’s like “contextual advertising on steroids,” Andrew Blustein writes for Adweek. There are three distinct components of Next-Gen Solutions: audience creation, buying functionality (Next-Gen is natively integrated into the Verizon Media DSP) and measurement, which relies on aggregated first-party data combined with third-party browser and OS data. The new suite is a complement  to ConnectID, a unified identity solution built on top of Verizon Media’s consent-based identity graph. “As the industry continues to shift, the divide is now sharper between those that have first-party data and those that do not, creating new challenges and opportunities to sustain and accelerate business growth,” said Iván Markman, chief business officer at Verizon Media.

Now Kid Friendly

Disney, Viacom and 10 ad tech firms, including MoPub, have agreed to remove certain SDKs from kid-focused apps in an effort to address accusations that they violated the privacy of millions of children. The companies settled three class action lawsuits over the placement of tracking software in popular children’s gaming apps, including Subway Surfers. This was without parental knowledge or consent and in violation of state privacy and fair business practice laws, The New York Times reports. The companies have agreed to remove or disable the software, which could be used to target children with ads. Developers will still be able to show contextual ads based on an app’s content. The companies did not admit any wrongdoing, but the settlements were hailed as a win as the Federal Trade Commission continues to pursue children’s privacy cases against individual developers and ad tech firms. Child advocates said that the class action cases, which involved a much larger swath of the app and ad tech marketplace, could prompt industrywide changes for apps and ads aimed at young people.

But Wait, There’s More!

HUMAN (formerly White Ops) has launched a new collective with founding partners Omnicom Media Group, The Trade Desk, Magnite and Amica Mutual Insurance, to help protect the digital ad ecosystem against bot fraud. [release]

TrillerNet, the parent company of short video social app Triller has acquired combat sports game streaming service Fite TV and marketing platform Amplify.ai, whose co-founder, Mahi De Silva, will now become the new CEO of TrillerNet. [Reuters]

Univision has acquired Grupo Televisa for $4.8 billion to create a new global Spanish language media giant. [Deadline]

Ride-hailing app Grab is going public by merging with a SPAC (who ain’t?), securing a nearly $40 billion valuation. [WSJ]

Conversation analytics platform Spiketrap has rolled out a brand safety suite for user-generated content. [release]

Online marketing firm Scorpion has raised $100 million from Bregal Sagemount to expand its technology and customer offerings. [release]

You’re Hired!

Kubient has hired former MediaMath and DoubleVerify exec Leon Zemel as chief product officer. [release]

CPB has hired GSD&M president Marianne Malina as global CEO. [Adweek]

Social automation platform Smartly.io has added Ryanne Laredo as chief customer officer. [release]

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