Google’s (Sort Of) Subtle Control Mechanisms; Record Low Ratings For The Beijing Winter Olympics

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Google’s Privacy Shield … And Sword

Google businesses have become more and more tightly tied together. The common thread is often privacy, but sometimes Google Cloud is the tie that binds. 

You can see the trend surfacing on the bottom line. During earnings this month, for example, Google cited retailer cloud account wins bolstering its advertising business. But mostly the evidence comes to light in seemingly mundane news announcements.

Case in point: A Google tag manager beta is now allowing publishers to augment tags with user-provided data, like when someone sends an email, Search Engine Land reports. That data in turn impacts what advertisers bid, except – and herein lies the rub – only for Google demand. Oh, and conversions are only tracked by Google Analytics.

On the brand side, linking first-party data with Google’s publisher-provided identifiers (PPIDs) is a simple toggle-and-save in the settings. But to sync data with non-Google PPIDs (such as ID5’s ID, the Unified ID 2.0 identifier or LiveRamp’s RampID) requires additional contractual terms in the form of yet another checkbox alerting users to how encrypted signal sharing works plus contact info for the brand’s account admin, primary EU representative and data protection officer. (H/t Lukasz Wlodarczyk of RTB House.)

You don’t have to work with Google products up and down the supply chain, and you don’t have to have a Google Cloud account seat.

But … it’s a real hassle not to.

That Sponsorship Has Sailed

The Winter Olympics have begun – but who’s watching

Friday’s opening ceremony attracted just under 16 million viewers, down by almost half from the 28 million who tuned into the 2018 Pyeongchang games in South Korea, Ad Age reports.

The low turnout was within NBC’s forecast for brand sponsors. But even though post-lockdown Games have seen better days (viewership for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was low, too), NBC can’t use the pandemic as its scapegoat.

The real elephant in the room is China’s human rights violations and the related fallout. Sponsors, even NBC itself, aren’t loudly promoting the event.

This year, some brands abstained from calling attention to sponsorships that cost tens or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars to reserve. Many that did advertise waited until the last minute or promoted endorsements with individual US athletes as opposed to more general messaging about the Olympic Games. 

According to last week’s Morning Consult poll, about two-thirds of American adults support brands pulling out of the Games altogether, with only 10% disapproving.

All in all, 3 in 10 Americans are against advertising this year’s games because of China’s human rights record, according to the survey.

Linear Rethinking

The TV ad measurement category was static for years – decades, frankly – while advertisers and broadcasters traded on the Nielsen currency.

But Nielsen’s MRC accreditation loss last year and its feuds with broadcasters over poor ratings (partially sour grapes but also, as Nielsen has acknowledged, straight-up measurement failures) has cracked the market wide open. Now, whole other categories are trespassing on Nielsen’s turf, from digital video ad servers, programmatic viewability services like Moat, Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify and panel-based attribution startups to first-party data offerings from the broadcasters themselves.

Nielsen can hit back, of course. In November, it filed suits against two TV panel measurement startups, TVision and HyphaMetrics. But there’s plenty for others to capitalize on. 

Last month, NBCU announced iSpot.TV as the big winner of its RFP for Nielsen currency alternatives. And now iSpot has hired a banker to value the company and potentially raise new financing or sell, Business Insider reports.

And yesterday, Innovid, the CTV and digital video server that IPO’d in December, announced its acquisition of linear TV measurement firm TVSquared for $160 million.

But Wait, There’s More!

Meta says it may shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe over a data-sharing dispute. [CNBC]

How Omnicom’s data platform helps Clorox clean up. [Adweek]

Disney, Netflix, Apple: Is anyone winning the streaming wars? [The Economist]

The New York Times highlights subscribers in a new campaign. [Campaign]

You’re Hired!

Krishan Bhatia, president and chief business officer of NBCUniversal, was named chair of the IAB’s board of directors. [release]

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