Home Daily News Roundup Google Is Getting Pushy With Ad Strength; RMNs Want In On TV Upfronts

Google Is Getting Pushy With Ad Strength; RMNs Want In On TV Upfronts

Comic: New Year, New You

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

Feed The Meter

Google introduced an “ad strength” meter in 2018 as an indicator of whether ad creative is expected to perform well.

But ad strength could quietly be a more important backend lever that helps Google shape campaigns and funnel budgets where it prefers – even if an advertiser does not.

Nate Louis, founder and CEO of ad agency Water Bear Marketing, tweeted last week that a new search campaign appeared to be throttled by its low ad strength rating. [And h/t Mike Ryan of Smarter Ecommerce, too.]

The thing is, some advertisers don’t care about the ad strength meter.

Yet Google added it as a parameter within Performance Max so as to discourage campaigns that don’t include a full complement of creative assets. PMax serves across all sorts of screens and surfaces – the algorithm decides. But some advertisers deliberately withhold creative for certain ad formats from PMax as a way to steer campaigns away from placements they want to avoid, such as YouTube Shorts or feed-based units.

If the ad strength meter becomes a determinative factor – not a best practice suggestion but a mechanism that amplifies or limits campaigns – it would be a powerful forcing function for advertisers to adopt Google’s campaign preferences.

​​Don’t Stand InFront Of Me

Retail media networks are copying the TV upfront playbook.

Last week, Home Depot hosted what it called an “InFront” to flaunt its RMN, Orange Apron Media, to the growing number of brands with retail media commitments, Digiday reports.

More importantly, the dog-and-pony show is Home Depot’s way of trying to stand out among the crowd of RMNs while marketers decide where to allocate their media spend for the year.

It’s also fitting for “retail media upfronts,” if you will, to include a TV ad strategy. Home Depot, for example, touted a new partnership with Univision to open up Orange Apron Media inventory to streaming placements.

TV is becoming more central to the media strategy of dominant retailers and ecommerce platforms – just look at Walmart and Amazon. RMNs without a streaming play risk falling behind their rivals. The heated competition explains why agency execs tell Digiday they expect more events like Home Depot’s next year.

In other news, Home Depot also used its InFront as an opportunity to rebrand its RMN from Retail Media+. The new name is a nod to the orange aprons worn by its store associates.

Can’t Uncrumble The Cookie

Here’s a tricky question: What if, as the digital ad industry speed-runs through its testing and implementation phase of the Privacy Sandbox – presumably sometime in Q2 this year – the results show huge losses in open web revenue and CPMs?

If the CMA, the UK’s competition authority, which has oversight over the rollout of the Privacy Sandbox APIs, doesn’t step in and pull the breaks, the online ad industry could be in serious trouble.

A mess like that could take a year or two to sort out – and that’s being optimistic.

“Once the damage is done, it will be hard for many smaller media companies to crawl back from this,” IAB Tech Lab CEO Anthony Katsur said at a Tech Lab event last week, Adweek reports.

That’s why the CMA wants the ad tech industry to share their honest feedback about the Privacy Sandbox, and pronto.

In another session, Microsoft Principal Engineer Isaac Foster observed that if programmatic budgets divert to walled gardens over the course of a year or two, that could mean curtains for most third-party ad tech regardless of any other outcome.

“I’m not sure there could be any coming back from that,” said Foster, who segued into Microsoft from Xandr (by way of AppNexus before that).

But Wait, There’s More!

Could Reddit AI help brands write ads tailored to its user base? [Ad Age]

Why the creator economy is much more than just influencer marketing. [Media War & Peace]

Inside Grindr’s plan to squeeze its users. [Platformer]

How US sellers are adopting a trade “loophole” that has boosted Shein and Temu. [The Information]

Tech CEOs turn to friendly (as in, non-journalist) podcast hosts to help get their talking points across. [Bloomberg]

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