The IAB Ball Keeps Bouncing; Alt IDs Must Find The Mainstream

The Trade Winds

The balls keep bouncing for advertising lobbyists. 

Yesterday’s newsletter cited the IAB’s transition from publisher-focused group to a representative for all internet advertising stakeholders. The decision could open a lane for Digital Content Next, a publisher lobbying group that advocates against the IAB in many instances. 

On the flip side, the IAB is now the biggest show in town. The Internet Association, which promoted tech interests in Washington, DC, disbanded last week. Microsoft and Uber recently left the group, and its hands-off approach to antitrust issues frustrated members like Google and Facebook. The group’s longtime CEO left in early 2020 for a job at TikTok as head of public policy in America.

Heading a trade group is a poachable role: The three prior IAB public policy VPs were poached by Google, Google and Facebook, respectively. Dave Grimaldi, former IAB public policy EVP, left last month for a cryptocurrency trade group. 

But the IAB pried someone back from Big Tech. Its new public policy VP, Lartease Tiffith, hails from Amazon’s public policy team. His credentials include being a former aide to VP Kamala Harris.

“With fewer organizations advocating for a free and open ad-supported Internet, IAB’s role on Capitol Hill is even more critical,” IAB CEO David Cohen said.

Pub Crawl

Alternative IDs must scale up significantly to have any value for publishers, according to a Digiday survey. 

Even for publishers that have already begun testing identifiers, fewer than half of ad impressions, sometimes near zero, can be tied to the ID.

This year saw a seemingly endless string of product announcements and press releases marketing new cookieless solutions, often claiming these solutions can nearly equal the ROI of third-party cookies. 

Those claims aren’t exactly bald-faced lies. But they’re misleading, because those beta tests only apply to media where the alternate ID is already known to exist. Alternative ID XYZ may prove a near-par replacement for third-party cookies if both the publisher and ad tech carry that ID – usually they don’t.  

The whole point of cookies is that they exist everywhere and could be used by anyone. If third-party cookies went away tomorrow, alternative IDs wouldn’t be 95% as effective. They would be irrelevant if they only work in narrow slivers of the web. 

A Little Bit Older, A Lot Less Bolder

Digital media companies were considered hot commodities by investors as recently as five years ago. But now that these companies have matured and are ready to go public, the rose seems to have lost a bit of bloom.

The “pivot to accountability” is the next phase for these companies, according to Brian Morrissey, former president and editor-in-chief of Digiday whose Substack The Rebooting focuses on the media business. After growing through mergers and acquisitions, they must do the hard work of trimming the fat they’ve accumulated.

Rather than positioning themselves as trendsetters, the BuzzFeeds and Vox Medias of the digital publishing world are now prioritizing financial stability and operational efficiency above all else.

But they have a lot of ground to make up in that regard, because these companies historically have not been profitable, at least not sustainably. 

Industry watchers and analysts who are looking for the next phase of innovation in digital media are placing their bets on smaller, niche publishers. Sports podcaster Pat McAfee’s $120 million deal with sports betting platform FanDuel shows the appeal of cultivating a dedicated audience for brands to market to. And Food52 upped its valuation to $300 million by leaning hard into digital media’s renewed emphasis on commerce.

But Wait, There’s More!

Disney and Google reach a deal to restore Disney networks to YouTube TV. [Variety]

Data brokers depend on “anonymized” consumer IDs. But anonymous IDs are easily reidentified. [Wired]

Will advertising exist in the metaverse? [Mobile Dev Memo]

TikTok to launch its own delivery service with food from viral videos. [9to5Mac]

The Opera web browser and Google renew multiyear search licensing agreement. [MediaPost]

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