The Mobile Phone Anticompetitive Case; FTC’s New Regulator-In-Chief Is Lina Khan

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Deep Dive

Big Tech is really under the microscope these days, in the US and across the pond in the EU and UK, over alleged anticompetitive practices. So, what’s the latest beef? The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) watchdog group said it will take a deep-dive look into Apple and Google’s dominance of the mobile ecosystem. TechCrunch reports that the CMA is launching a wide-ranging market study to examine the pair’s respective iOS and Android smartphone platforms, as well as the App Store and Play Store, and web browsers Safari and Chrome. Why? The CMA is concerned about the nested gateways that are created as a result of the pair’s dominance of the mobile ecosystem. As intermediaries, they are gatekeepers to consumers’ access to a variety of products, content and services such as music, TV and streaming, as well as fitness tracking, shopping and banking. The CMA has been busy: On Friday, Google agreed that it won’t drop third-party cookies from Chrome without getting the go-ahead from the organization first. 

Big Critic Confirmed 

Big Tech critic Lina Khan was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday to the Federal Trade Commission, at a time when the agency is looking to regulate companies such as Amazon Apple, and Facebook. Her appointment comes two months after she had raised strong concerns over competition in the tech industry during her confirmation hearing. The Senate voted 69-28 to confirm Khan, a 32-year-old law professor and a former staffer at the F.T.C. who was nominated to the agency by President Biden. Khan has warned of the cascading power of tech companies that has allowed them to easily expand their reach across markets, The New York Times reports. She will play a central role at the agency. The FTC is already investigating Amazon and filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook last year.

Ads Ban

YouTube is taking a hard line against ads that appear on its homepage, considered prime real estate for advertisers. CNN reports that the video streaming platform said Monday that it will ban ads related to gambling, alcohol and prescription drugs, as well as political and election ads, from its masthead — the banner displayed at the top of its website and apps. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have been criticized in recent years for allowing misinformation and hate speech to spread on their platforms, particularly during the COVID pandemic and last year’s Presidential election. Oh, and did we mention that attack on the US Capitol building in January? Google, which owns YouTube, said the update builds on policy changes implemented last year, when it banned advertisers in November from reserving the spot for a full day. Plus, the company put a moratorium on political ads ahead of last year's US Presidential election, which was expanded after the Capitol riots. Axios, which first reported the news, said Google has been modifying its ad policies for years as it's sought to minimize confusion, misinformation and manipulation, especially surrounding sensitive events. More.

But Wait, There’s More!

Amazon is blocking Google’s FLoC – and that could seriously weaken the fledgling tracking system. [Digiday]

Apple and Google are forcing a rethink in advertising, according to Publicis Chairman Maurice Levy. [CNBC]

Facebook and fellow Silicon Valley giants could face more scrutiny and potential sanctions in the European Union after the bloc's top court backed national privacy watchdogs to pursue them, even when they are not the lead regulators. [Reuters]

Is the appetite for ad-supported streaming services cooling? A new report by consulting firm Omdia indicates that it has, and found that the user base for AVOD services has slumped from 93% in November 2020 to just 83% today. [The Drum]

Publishers have done the leg work, and Adform urges U.S. CMOs to embrace first-party advertising IDs. [release]

Audience insights platform DISQO has acquired cross-device measurement company Verto Analytics. [release]

Walmart is moving into selling data and analytics in a way that means brand marketers will likely pay more for sales, promotion and other data and analytics they’ve long gotten for free. [Ad Age]

Mirriad, a company that uses AI to run dynamic product placements, is partnering with A+E Networks to add products and branding into existing programs. [release]

You’re Hired

Imre has hired Atul Sharma as senior vice president of intelligence. [release]

Ad agency Doner has hired Maria Cabo as SVP, strategist and Sky Downing as VP, strategy. [Shots]

tvScientific has tapped Shannon Jessp as chief revenue officer. [release]

Video advertising platform Pixability, has appointed Kyle Waxman as SVP of sales, East, and Oliver Smith as SVP of sales, West. [release]

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