China Ad Giants Test Apple Privacy Workaround; Political Data Startup Acquired

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Breaking The Rules

Some big tech companies in China are apparently taking that old adage “rules are meant to be broken” to heart. According to the Financial Times, ByteDance and Tencent are testing a tool to bypass Apple’s new privacy rules and continue tracking iPhone users, without their consent, in an effort to continue serving targeted mobile advertisements. According to the FT, the state-backed China Advertising Association has launched a new way to track and identify iPhone users called CAID. ByteDance, the owner of the social video app TikTok, referred to CAID in an 11-page guide to app developers, suggesting advertisers “can use the CAID as a substitute if the user’s IDFA is unavailable.” Several efforts are under way to get around Apple’s rules, but CAID is the biggest challenge yet. Apple declined to comment, but threw some generalized shade. “The App Store terms and guidelines apply equally to all developers around the world, including Apple,” it said. “We believe strongly that users should be asked for their permission before being tracked. Apps that are found to disregard the user’s choice will be rejected.” 

M&A Democracy

Civitech is giving data and technology firm Alloy a second lease on life – well, at least the defunct startup’s data and technology. Axios reports that Civitech, a public benefit corporation that builds data tools for progressive candidates and causes, has reached an agreement to acquire Alloy’s data and tech tools that were created to help modernize the Democratic Party's data operation by taking the unprecedented step of creating its own voter file. Democrats have been looking to build a data exchange that rivals the GOP's The Data Trust. The deal will give Civitech access to the data set that Alloy built, as well as the tools and technologies Alloy used to mine it. Civitech currently provides data and technology to more than 150 different groups, while Alloy worked with roughly 90 partners before folding last year, including Civitech. CEO Jeremy Smith says the data will help democratize more campaigns down-ballot across the country. "We think this is still an election year," he said. "There are over 105,000 elections on 109 unique days this year."

Pay Up, Zuck!

Well, that was short lived. Not long after Facebook huffed and puffed about paying for news content in Australia – and temporarily banning news content in the land down under – the company appears to be following Google’s lead (that must be a tough pill to swallow, Zuck) by reaching an agreement with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia, weeks after the country passed a groundbreaking law requiring tech companies to pay for news content. Per CNN, the three-year partnership will allow content from much of Murdoch's local media empire, including The Australian newspaper, to be featured on Facebook News. 

SPACkled 

The Information reports that Vice and BuzzFeed are likely to go public by merging with SPACs in the next few months, but the deals will likely be done at valuations below what the media firms have clinched in the past. Vice is in talks with at least two SPACs, one of which puts its valuation at $2.5 billion, less than half of Vice’s peak of $5.7 billion in 2017. BuzzFeed meanwhile is chatting with a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners at a valuation that would be just below BuzzFeed’s peak valuation of $1.7 billion. Read on. (subscription required)  

But Wait, There’s More!

The California Office of Administrative Law approved additional CCPA regulations, effective March 15, including a uniform icon that can be used to promote consumer awareness of the right to opt out of the sale of personal information. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can read the full text of the finalized CCPA regs. [PDF]

Vizio on Tuesday set the terms of its initial public offering – with the expected pricing valuing the smart TV maker at up to $4.23 billion – and the company is looking to raise up to $173.9 million. [MarketWatch]

The ANA submitted testimony to the Connecticut Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding in opposition to a proposed digital ad tax on any business in the state with annual world-wide gross revenues exceeding $10 billion. [release

Epsilon and Verizon Media partner to strengthen identity and build on activation capabilities. [release]

A Google-backed local journalism project – aimed at supporting smaller publishers sidelined by big tech and media conglomerates – has released its first set of resources, and the findings show an industry rebuilding itself. [Yahoo! Finance]

Google’s tracking changes could be painful for marketers forced to break their retargeting and lookalike addictions. [Digiday]

Flashtalking and Comcast Technology Solutions have launched a unified linear to digital infrastructure. [release]

You’re Hired!

Merkle appoints Eryck Dzotsi as head of SEO. [release]

Infutor has hired Drew Thomas as CFO, Rachel Calomeni as SVP of sales, Todd Schoenherr as VP of strategy, and promoted Zora Senat to SVP of marketing and partnerships. [release]

MeritB2B has appointed Jim Ogle chief financial officer. [release]

Network Advertising hires Manan Shah as vice president, digital. [Best Media Info]

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