FTC Investigates Facebook; Meredith Reorgs Time Inc.’s Ad Sales

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Trade Secret

The Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau announced an “open non-public investigation” into Facebook’s privacy practices following the revelation that political data firm Cambridge Analytica used illicitly obtained Facebook data to target messages to US voters. Here’s the full statement. Bloomberg claims the FTC’s investigation is based on “whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handling of personal user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without users’ knowledge.” More.

Turn Back Time

Meredith is reorganizing Time Inc.’s ad ops, reports The Wall Street Journal. Meredith plans to sell based on titles instead of industry categories – reversing a sales structure that Time installed in 2016. Back then, Time wanted to give ad buyers a single point of contact and to consolidate its scale to compete with Facebook and Google. That plan did not work. In fact, Meredith Executive Chairman Steve Lacy cited the reorg as a reason for Time’s declining revenues. Now, Meredith wants to undo what it perceives as a past mistake. “The realignment is intended to strengthen ties with ad agencies and marketers and give specific magazines greater visibility,” writes the Journal’s Jeffrey Trachtenberg. More. It’s fair to wonder how Meredith’s plan to sell based on Time Inc.’s titles will work since it also wants to sell off those titles.

Rock, Meet Hard Place

With GDPR looming, WPP’s GroupM has sent a “non-negotiable” data protection contract to publisher partners – but some of those pubs see a Trojan horse, according to Digiday. Publishers would have to share control of their data, making GroupM a data controller. [Read AdExchanger’s GDPR guide for pubs.] That position would seriously empower GroupM, potentially granting the media-buying unit the ability to message consumers directly about the terms of their consent. But publishers fear they’d be ceding their customer relationships to GroupM. Of course, if they don’t sign the contract, then they risk losing GroupM’s business. More.

What’s The Dish?

The Justice Department’s challenge to AT&T’s merger with Time Warner resumed Monday with testimony by Warren Schlichting, group president of Dish’s Sling TV, key rival to AT&T’s DirecTV service. Schlichting substantiated the DOJ’s case that consumers can expect higher prices and increased channel blackouts due to the acquisition, Variety reports. AT&T will argue that the deal isn’t anticompetitive because AT&T is fighting the user growth of companies like Netflix, Amazon and Google. Schlichting emphasized that Dish and its Sling TV service represent the only true direct competitor to AT&T’s DirecTV as a satellite and live-streaming TV provider. More.

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