AG Expands Antitrust Suit Against Amazon; Apple Products Feature Heavily On Apple TV Plus

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The Party Line

The Washington DC Attorney General’s office expanded its antitrust suit against Amazon. The complaint initially targeted Amazon’s third-party seller policies and now also encompasses first-party seller deals. The crux of the AG’s case against Amazon’s first-party seller policies is the “Minimum Margin Agreement,” CNBC reports. Amazon has a guaranteed profit margin on first-party seller deals (when Amazon buys products directly from the manufacturer and controls pricing and promotions on the platform). So Amazon can meet any discount in the market, even at or below profitability for the brand, and make up the difference by charging its minimum margin. A toy company might temporarily drop its price with Target, say, because it wants to add customers in that specific market or has a promotional deal with the retailer. But Amazon meets the lowest price on the market. Amazon sells hundreds or thousands of those same toys at near-zero profit, and the brand loses when it must pay Amazon back to meet the minimum margin. The “practical effect” is that brands cannot make pricing decisions independent of Amazon, according to the district AG.

Place Of Business

If you watch Apple TV+ shows, you’re seeing a tsunami of Apple product placement. In 2,600 minutes of Apple TV+ programs, there are on average five Apple products featured every four minutes, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple has long been a major Hollywood product placement marketer, but now that it controls the media and the marketing, it can be more strategic. For one thing, a disproportionate rate of Apple products featured in Apple-produced shows are in the middle of the screen, not along the periphery as is common for outside brand placement deals. There are also audio placements. For instance, Apple TV show characters often reference FaceTiming rather than “chatting” or “taking a call.” There’s talk of iCloud accounts, and there can be heard iconic Apple sounds like the iMessage ping or FaceTime call waiting. Apple also doesn’t allow “bad guys” in shows or movies to have Apple products. Unlike practically every other piece of tech hardware in Apple productions, antagonists are conspicuous for their unbranded products. In “Defending Jacob,” another Apple series, the pedophile who’s accused of murder uses an Android. 

Cookieless Slowdown?

Advertisers and publishers breathed a collective sigh of relief in June when Google announced it would hit the pause button on third-party cookie deprecation for nearly two years. But the plan had already caused a stir and forced the industry to come up with alternative identifiers such as The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0. That sense of urgency, however, has largely abated since the delay was announced. Publishers tell Digiday there’s concern that advertisers have cooled when it comes to spending on ad tech that uses first-party data and contextual targeting as alternatives to third-party cookies. “There is a question as to whether or not advertisers are going to pull back,” said Rebeca Solórzano, SVP of programmatic operations and strategy at Forbes. And on the publisher side, concerns about privacy and data safety could slow widespread adoption of UID 2.0, Adweek reports. “We think that this is not a UID2 or Trade Desk decision; we think this is a common currency for the open internet decision. We want publishers to look at it that way, rather than as a replacement for cookies,” said Catherine Patterson, The Trade Desk’s senior director of marketplace strategy.

But Wait, There’s More!   

Facebook gives public figures special treatment, exemptions from policies. [WSJ]

Google Cloud is attracting ad tech companies, but must manage tricky relationships. [Ad Age

S4 Capital releases its quarterly earnings during a strong season for agencies. [The Drum]

President Biden plans to name privacy expert Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC. [MediaPost]

AnalogFolk launches With Robots to address low-quality creative in programmatic. [Campaign]

The Apple v. Epic decision. [Stratechery]

Publishers generated more than $100 million in digital ad revenue over the past year using repurposed ads that were originally built for social platforms. [blog]

You’re Hired

The Washington Post hires Kodi Foster as VP, Commercial. [Washington Post]

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