Google Nears Antitrust Settlement In France; Opera Ads Sees 130% Uptick In Revenue

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French Connection

Google is close to settling an antitrust case in France. The company stands accused of, wait for it, abusing its power in online advertising. The settlement will likely include a fine and require Google to make some operational changes, The Wall Street Journal reports. The case, brought by France’s Competition Authority, treds familiar ground. The difference is that we could see some real action as a result. Specifically, Google stands accused of allowing its DoubleClick for Publishers ad server to preference AdX and give Google an advantage against other auction operators. In 2018, DFP and AdX were merged to create Google Ad Manager. Google will not admit (or deny) any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The remedy, rather, would be for Google to improve the interoperability of AdX with independent ad servers. Sounds great – although it should be noted that the proposed changes would be binding only in France. Even so, it’s possible that Google could implement them more broadly in order to preempt other antitrust actions. Google is facing antitrust lawsuits in the US, the UK and the EU.

Operatic Growth

Opera Ads, the online ad platform launched by Norwegian browser maker Opera in 2019, has seen a 130% jump in revenue in the past two years. Read the release. Opera says it’s on track to take in more than $80 million in revenue this year and that its daily revenue run rate is up 50% year-to-date, which translates to more than $240,000 per day across its mobile products. Opera’s ad platform is integrated directly into its product portfolio, which reaches 350 million users worldwide. Next up, Opera is planning to roll out a bunch of new ad products, including a self-service ad manager to run campaigns, AI-driven targeting tools and expanded DSP and publisher solutions. 

Maxing Out

HBO Max is set to launch its free ad-supported offering this week at $9.99 a month – five bucks less than its ad-free version. But what is HBO Max’s future in light of the industry-shaking news that WarnerMedia is set to spin off into the sunset with Discovery next year? HBO Max product exec Sarah Lyons spoke with Business Insider about domestic and international plans for the streaming service. But even she doesn’t have many answers about the post-merger future. “I don’t know what to expect,” she said. There’s one thing you can bank on, though: a relentless and ongoing focus on streaming. HBO Max’s AVOD service is set to kick off with a “brand block” ad format that will stream fewer ads and display a brought-to-you-by card before a piece of content begins. Lyons says that HBO Max is attempting to set itself apart from Netflix and other services, where discovery is dominated by algorithms, though delivering more curated experiences for viewers, including serving recommendations based on viewing history and other data. [Related in AdExchanger: “WarnerMedia and Discovery Tout Landmark Merger Deal During Upfronts”]

But Wait, There’s More!

Twitter’s new products may seem “chaotic” – but brands will soon see the strategy behind the moves it’s making. [The Drum]

OpenX is exploring a possible sale, according to sources. [BI]

Tech industry groups are suing to stop Florida’s new social media law … yes, the one with the theme park exception. [The Verge]

Two-thirds of advertisers use CTV to build a stronger link between TV and digital, according to a joint study conducted by Innovid and Digiday. [MarTech Series]

Amazon’s takeover of MGM is sparking fresh criticism about the spreading tentacles of America’s technology giants. But the deal underscores how competition watchdogs have their hands tied when it comes to curbing the growth of the Big Tech platforms. [Ad Age]

Google is expanding access to shoppable content in YouTube product feeds through a feature that streamlines ad campaigns directly to purchases. [Campaign US]

Israeli ad startup BrandTotal will be able to operate while Facebook pursues a lawsuit over alleged scraping. [Politico]

You’re Hired

Former US technology chief Michael Kratsios has joined data management startup Scale AI as managing director and head of strategy. [WSJ]

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