Home Ad Exchange News Google Admits To Search Auction Gouging; Instacart’s Growthery Story

Google Admits To Search Auction Gouging; Instacart’s Growthery Story

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Comic: Off-Platform Media

Here’s today’s AdExchanger.com news round-up… Want it by email? Sign up here.

The Price Of Admission

The discovery process for Google’s federal antitrust trial is already yielding some painful admissions when it comes to reinforcing the industry’s suspicions about Google.

Jerry Dischler, VP of Google’s ads business, testified Monday that Google tweaks its search ad auction prices to meet its own revenue goals, Bloomberg reports – even when doing so is completely arbitrary, beyond meeting Google’s projected forecasts to its investors.

In some cases, Google increases the cost of search ads by between 5% and 10%. Google also increases minimum spending requirements for these ads. 

“We tend not to tell advertisers about pricing changes,” Dischler told the DOJ.

Google’s reluctance to disappoint investors may be reason enough to pass the cost burden to advertisers, but Google’s greatest concern, according to Dischler, is that Amazon and TikTok are winning market share. The worry that advertisers could abandon Google for its competitors seems to be the only thing preventing it from raising its search ad prices even more, according to Dischler’s testimony.

Green Grocers

Instacart made its Nasdaq debut on Tuesday, with shares closing its first day on the market at almost $34, up from $30 pre-IPO pricing. 

Instacart is the first major VC-backed tech company to IPO since 2021. 

But is Instacart a tech company? Not exactly, writes Ben Thompson at Stratechery

Instacart’s delivery business isn’t tech, but its ads business ticks all the right boxes – and that’s where its true value lies.

Yet Instacart’s burgeoning ads biz is at odds with its delivery business. No other company must negotiate a more perilous give-and-take with its own customers.  

Instacart needs grocers, but also needs to establish itself as a vital sales channel for retailers to compete with Amazon. Instacart also attracts shopper marketing and ad revenue from CPG marketers and away from retailers.

It’s a delicate balance between competing value propositions.

Target, for example, announced in 2017 that it would ditch Instacart after spending $550 million to buy Shipt, a speedy home delivery service. Almost six years later, you can still find your local Target on Instacart.

Quitting is easier said than done. 

15th Time’s The Charm

TechCrunch reviews new iPhone models by taking them to Disneyland – literally. It’s a useful way to test the phone in real scenarios, after all.

And the iPhone 15 Max “has absolutely blown the top off the mercury when it comes to photographic performance,” writes Matthew Panzarino. That’s especially impressive considering Apple’s high standard for phone cameras.

But why are we talking about phone cameras? Because the latest innovations are important to digital advertising for two reasons.

One, iPhone camera features are deeply intertwined with the mobile economy. Snapchat’s early growth was tied directly to Apple’s camera and photo software.

Apple’s new camera reportedly “blows the doors off when shooting video,” as does its software for selfies and portraits.

The new camera standards, especially once they’re more democratized (the cheapest iPhone 15 Max costs a cool $1,200), could be a game changer for social media, creators and even legit TV and movie production. This is the first iPhone camera to match professional-grade video cameras. 

The other important takeaway is that Apple’s growing ads business likely won’t face antitrust or privacy repercussions as long as Apple churns out beloved hit products.

Compared to the likes of Google, Meta or Amazon, Apple’s shield is its popularity. 

But Wait, There’s More!

From CPM to CTV to LTV: How The Sporting News became an affiliate company. [The Rebooting]

Vizio TVs now have the ESPN app and the Disney bundle with ESPN+. [Cord Cutters]

The way marketers think about linear TV is changing. [Digiday]

Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital lowers its revenue forecast, citing a “challenging” macroeconomic backdrop. [WSJ]

You’re Hired!

Nancy Reyes becomes CEO of BBDO’s Americas business. [Ad Age]

Affinity Solutions names Kalyan Lanka as chief product officer. [release]

Index Exchange hires Jared Lansky as SVP of platform partnerships and Tammy Connelly as VP of talent acquisition. [release]

WorkReduce hires ad tech vet Jake Glaser as VP of sales. [release]

Tracer names Valerie Bartlett as the company’s first SVP and head of sales. [release]

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