Why Adobe's Ad Business Never Took Flight; Why Data Ethicists Hope FLoC Never Will

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What Happened, Adobe? 

Adobe once avidly pursued digital advertising, but its passion has cooled. Insider’s Lauren Johnson spoke with five former employees to understand what happened. A big part of the reason was an unwillingness to do anything that isn’t self-serve, culminating in the 2020 shutdown of TubeMogul’s managed services business. "Selling something on a percentage of media is completely foreign to a company that transacts everything on a software subscription model," said one source. "Adobe was never able to wrap its head around how we made money and was constantly forcing Ad Cloud as a round peg into a square hole of financial accounting and credit." Johnson notes that advertising contributed only 4% of Adobe’s non-subscription revenue last year, a notable decline from 7% in 2018. Read on. [Related in AdExchanger: “Adobe Exits The Managed Service Business – What Does It All Mean?

Nefarious FLoCs? 

Google is positioning Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, as a privacy-safe alternative to third-party cookies. But a growing number of academics, data ethicists and US lawmakers are calling fowl. Sorry, foul. Critics claim that FLoC, which went into testing mode last week, could be used to deliberately harm or discriminate against particular groups of people. Per Digiday, the fear – in a nutshell – is that FLoC data could be combined with PII to expose sensitive information about people’s online behavior to nefarious actors or unscrupulous advertisers. They worry that rather than creating an ethically sound way to anonymously target ads, FLoC will only exacerbate biases related to algorithmic categorizations of people. “One of the concerns is that it is not clear how people will be able to opt out from FLoC targeting – unless they simply do not use the Chrome browser. We can’t un-FLoC ourselves from those categories,” said Pam Dixon, executive director of nonprofit research group World Privacy Forum. According to Google, Chrome will introduce a control within the browser so that people can opt out of being included in FLoC and other Privacy Sandbox proposals. [Related in AdExchanger:FLoC Origin Trials Kick Off In The United States And Other Regions”]

The Irony

If Alanis Morissette ever updated the lyrics to her iconic hit “Ironic,” maybe she could work this in: Apparently even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s data was compromised after a hack exposed the personal information of 533 million Facebook users. The data was leaked on a hacking forum. Zuck’s name, location, marriage details, birth date and Facebook user ID were all revealed. Facebook co-founders Chris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz were also not immune. Facebook claims that the leaked data is old and that the issue has already been fixed. Still, the fact that such an enormous dataset was shared in full, and for free, in a hacking forum, means that it was widely available to anyone with rudimentary data skills. Facebook has vowed to clamp down on data breaches ever since the much-publicized Cambridge Analytica scandal. Hope springs eternal. Read on

But Wait, There’s More!

Citing national security concerns, a group of US senators have sent a letter to companies, including Google and AT&T, requesting information about how user data is shared in auctions and to provide the names of all foreign clients that had access to user data through auctions over the past three years. [WSJ]

Facebook is exploring different ways to rank key content categories, such as news, politics and health, to make it easier to find posts it deems valuable and informative.[MediaPost]

Major brands are now speaking out against Georgia’s new legislation that restricts voting after facing pressure and boycott calls from local activists, who still say that criticism is not enough. [Digiday]

Brazil became the first Latin American country to gain access to Pinterest’s advertising platform. [The Rio Times]

The Supreme Court has handed Google a win in a decade-old case, holding that the tech giant did not commit copyright infringement against Oracle when it copied snippets of programming language to build its Android operating system. [CNN]

LG is shutting down its smartphone business worldwide. [TechCrunch

Global CTV impressions have increased 60% YoY, according to Innovid. [release]

Facebook has introduced dynamic ads for streaming so that people see ads for the titles they’re most likely to watch based on their interests.[Adweek]

You’re Hired!

Former Burger King CMO Fernando Machado will join Activision Blizzard as its CMO. [Ad Age]

John Shea has been named CEO of Octagon Sports and Entertainment Network, IPG’s marketing, creative, talent and influencer management and communications group. [CampaignUS]

The Ad Council has brought on Elise James-DeCruise as chief equity officer. [release]

Aaron Mahimainathan has joined B2B marketing and data platform Integrate as chief product officer. [release]

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