Proving The Telco Ad Hypothesis; Can Facebook Simply Make Reels Happen?

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Tele-Come And Go

The telco ad tech hypothesis has lost its shine. 

Verizon ditched its ad tech assets, aka, AOL and Yahoo bundled as Oath and now back to Yahoo as a private equity-backed business. AT&T abandoned advertising as the third pillar of its business, focusing instead on wireless services. And don’t forget Telenor offloading Tapad. 

The latest example comes from the Singaporean telco Singtel, which acquired Amobee in 2012 and has been rumored to be considering offers for the past year. Now the company has hired bankers to formalize the process, Digiday reports.  

The telecom love affair with advertising cratered along with privacy rules and regulations. Verizon or AT&T’s potential ad tech value proposition was that they could track mobile users for attribution. That coveted data, however, proved too risky to use due to potential privacy violations, and the telcos lost their appetite. Why risk your core wireless subscription biz for an advertising model that could backfire?

But there is one outlier in this trend, and that’s T-Mobile, which recently acquired the rideshare advertising company Octopus Interactive and has “an ambition to be a multibillion-dollar player in the ad tech business,” T-Mobile VP of marketing solutions Mike Peralta told AdExchanger. Hope springs eternal.

In Your Face

TikTok was the most downloaded app last year, while Facebook’s core app recently experienced its first user decline. That’s gotta sting. 

But Facebook (ahem … Meta) can throw a punch or two. Aside from straight-up copying your signature style and turning it into a generic format (Snapchat Stories, anyone?), Meta is capable of taking the offensive on anyone that threatens its mobile attention fiefdom. To that end, Meta launched a full frontal assault yesterday with news that Reels (its TikTok clone) can now be posted by any user worldwide. And starting in the US, Canada and Mexico, Meta will test ads in Reels feeds, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

But TikTok faces tougher growing pains than Facebook is likely to feel its competitive sting. TikTok may have the hearts and eyeballs of the youngs, but the seconds-long posts and giddy pace of a TikTok feed doesn’t accommodate advertising. 

TikTok creators can make money on endorsements, of course, and there’s a fund for viral accounts. But as was said of the theater industry: maybe you can’t make a living, but you can make a killing. Meta is aiming to help with both.

“We want Facebook Reels to be the best place for creators to connect with their community and make a living,” Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post announcing the news.

Spyware Beware

Spyware sounds like something out of a thriller, but the threat is very real. Personal data from about 400,000 devices worldwide has been compromised over the past few months by spyware apps, TechCrunch reports. (“Stalkerware” is another term, often for apps for parents to track their kids.)

TechCrunch traced the malware back to nine apps operated by a Vietnamese software outsourcing business, 1Byte. Each app shared a user interface, display software and nearly identical websites.

IDOR, or insecure direct object reference, is the “bug” in the apps that enables it to collect and use data without authorization.

Platforms are under increasing scrutiny by regulators – but the legislative process takes time, and breaches happen in the meantime. TechCrunch also published a guide on how to safely remove malware from your device. Carnegie Mellon University released an explainer about the vulnerability on Tuesday.

But Wait, There’s More!

Anti-union stances aren’t very brand safe. [Morning Brew]

Let the NFT fraud begin. [Ad Age]

Follow this Chrome for Android feature as it spreads to desktop. [Android Police]

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