Home Ad Exchange News Meta Fights Yet More Propaganda (From China This Time); A Reason For Hope In SKAdNetwork Documentation

Meta Fights Yet More Propaganda (From China This Time); A Reason For Hope In SKAdNetwork Documentation


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Meta claims to have taken down a Chinese political influence operation that used fake accounts to agitate and misinform Americans.

The China-backed ring of accounts focused on hot-button issues, such as gun control and abortion, from both sides. This was about China influencing already tense and overheated online discourse in general rather than trying to shape public opinion on issues related to China itself.

This same network also created fake accounts targeting the Czech Republic after the government there took a harsher stance on Chinese policy, Reuters reports. 

Not to be left out, Meta identified a Russian bot operation, too – the largest and most complex seen since the Ukrainian War began, according to Meta – that used fake user and news accounts to target people in Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine and the UK.

That propaganda network spent $100,000 to promote pro-Russian messages. 

A hundred thousand bucks wouldn’t typically be enough budget to shift voters (politicians spend tens of millions and make little difference) but these operations are useful reminders that for bad actors in control of governments, the key value prop of platforms like Meta and Twitter is the content creation and organic distribution they offer – not the ad platform. 

Fourth Time’s The Charm

One major issue with Apple’s SKAdNetwork, the attribution system for iOS app installs, is that Apple hardly consulted developers, advertisers or ad tech companies before launching it and also seemed not very interested in feedback. 

Google is following a similar policy road map with Android, the Play Store and Chrome. But Google is making a point of working with the industry within the W3C and multiple Privacy Sandboxes (both Chrome and Android). Google developers are contributing enough working hours to fill a human lifetime, not to mention its commitment to the UK Information Commissioner not to remove third-party cookies without permission first.


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By contrast, a team of Apple engineers developed SKAdNetwork (and other App Store and Safari WebKit policies) that massively affect the industry with essentially no feedback loop. In fact, Apple deliberately keeps those updates confidential because it prefers to release them as a surprise. Yay.

But that might be about to change with SKAdNetwork 4.0, which is in the documentation phase and not yet live. SKAD 4.0 gives hope to cynics that Apple is making concessions to, or at least is responding to, mobile advertisers and ad tech.

“If implemented in earnest by Apple in service of advertiser interests, version 4.0 could potentially solve the thorniest problems with SKAdNetwork,” writes Eric Seufert at Mobile Dev Memo

Doing Well, With A Side Of Doing Good

Ad networks are eating the world with a side of chips. Feels like practically any company that can claim access to a set of ears, eyes or some form of captive audience is launching one.

But ad networks are consumer kryptonite. People hate them. Which explains the simultaneous proliferation of do-gooder PR efforts associated with ad network businesses.

Earlier this year, GSTV (which operates a DOOH ad network spanning gas station TVs and screens) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children talked about their efforts to target people within the area of a recent kidnapping or report of a lost child. In some instances, this has led directly to the recovery of lost or runaway kids. 

This week, Nextdoor released a special section of its ad platform designed for public agencies to reach the people they serve. Nextdoor and Verizon also published a case study with the nonprofit Kindness.org on the “cost-effective” ways people use its platform to donate to or help neighbors.  

And, not to be left out, Instacart introduced Instacart Health, an initiative to improve food access, nutrition and affordability, mainly by accepting SNAP and other government subsidies. Instacart Health also has integrations with nonprofits and general donors to use the Instacart platform to provide groceries and supplies to those in need.

But Wait, There’s More!

Publishers test personalizing newsletters with varying degrees of success. [Digiday]

The Signals Network has published a new whistleblower resource for digital media and advertising insiders. [blog]

Epix will become MGM+, now that it’s fully owned by MGM. [THR] And in other plus-related news, Lionsgate plans to rebrand its Starz streaming service to Lionsgate+. [CNBC]

Brands blast Twitter for ads next to child pornography accounts. [Reuters]

IAB Tech Lab finalizes its Global Privacy Platform. [blog]

You’re Hired!

GlassView expands its C-suite with three executive appointments. [release]

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