Home Daily News Roundup Xandr Can’t Find Who It Doesn’t Know; The New Teenage Wasteland

Xandr Can’t Find Who It Doesn’t Know; The New Teenage Wasteland

Comic: Schrems III

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None Of Whose Business?

Ad tech faces a GDPR compliance paradox. Vendors are expected to pull and/or erase data tied to an individual. For a bank or retailer, that’s relatively straightforward. But programmatic ad companies don’t have deterministic data on individuals.

Take Xandr. On Tuesday, Noyb – the Max Schrems-led advocacy group with a track record for successfully challenging big US tech companies in Europe – leveled a complaint against Xandr, Microsoft’s ad tech group, for not complying with data access requests.

In its complaint, Noyb represents an anonymous Italian citizen who requested data from Xandr (both access and erasure) to no apparent avail. Noyb also cites a broker called emetriq (owned by a German telecom) that licenses Xandr’s data.

But putting aside the alleged lack of GDPR compliance, Xandr profiles are “wildly inaccurate and contradictory,” according to the complaint. Xandr tags users as both male and female, falling within many income brackets and as simultaneously a student, a job seeker and a full-time business employee.

This highlights the irony of calling for the removal of third-party cookies on privacy grounds. Ad tech vendors don’t surveil individuals, and the sad truth is that ad tech is only marginally better at reaching a specific demographic than running an ad on TV or in a magazine.

Meanwhile, Xandr – and other programmatic vendors – cannot adequately respond to individual GDPR data erasure requests because they don’t know who they’re targeting in the first place.

Think Of The Children!

TikTok will make it harder to target teenagers, and it plans to give users more control over how advertisers can target them based on their interests, Search Engine Land reports. 

On the one hand, this is part of a general increase of awareness and scrutiny when it comes to younger web denizens. The FTC just established new precedent by outright banning the messaging app NGL, which was popular among teens, from serving users under the age of 18. 

But TikTok in particular must rein in the targetability of young users. For example, three years ago, Facebook and Instagram removed all emotion-based targeting – and not just cynical, negative emotions. Even a campaign targeting “Feel good Friday” on Meta, say, might be flagged. Neither app ever allowed targeting by hashtag, despite that being a persistent request from advertisers looking for retargeting opportunities.

TikTok, however, allows targeting by hashtag – and sometimes dubiously. Two years ago, a TikTok ad buyer cited one ad campaign targeting #JournalingfForDepression and #TherapyJournal.

Which is all to say, it’s for the best that young people have a little more air cover online.

Made In China

Social media marketers know how difficult it is to translate viral success into real-world sales. But one unusual influencer category has seen proven success: Chinese goods manufacturers.

As reported by Rest of World, factories in China don’t have very many outlets to attract new business outside of in-person events (like trade fairs) and third-party intermediaries (like sourcing agents).

Now, many exporters are turning to TikTok, WeChat and Instagram (using VPNs to bypass China’s ban on international social networks) to market everything from electronic components to industrial chemicals.

Even more surprising, it’s working. Just ask Tony Zhu, the sales lead for a light box manufacturer, who’s attracted over a hundred thousand followers on TikTok and at least one business inquiry for every 1,000 views – a single-digit fraction of which actually do convert to sales. 

Of course, not every B2B salesperson can don a goofy wig, hit record and convert – it takes striking the right balance between commercialism and creativity. But the trend still goes to show that potential customers can come from anywhere.

But Wait, There’s More!

Retail media’s top three growing pains. [Ad Age]

Skydance CEO David Ellison says the new Paramount will become a tech-media hybrid. [Reuters]

Can authentic creator partnerships keep brands from getting canceled? [Adweek

Chinese self-driving cars have quietly traveled 1.8 million miles on US roads – collecting detailed data, of course. [Fortune]

You’re Hired! Jared Grusd joins Nielsen as CEO of Gracenote. [release]

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