Home The Big Story The Big Story: The DOJ And FTC Are Watching Big Tech And Ad Tech

The Big Story: The DOJ And FTC Are Watching Big Tech And Ad Tech

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Government intervention in the world of ad tech is taking place on two sides: antitrust action and “commercial surveillance.”

At the National Advertising Division conference in Washington, DC, the FTC indicated it’s not so much a “fan of self-regulation” as it was in the past, reports AdExchanger Managing Editor Allison Schiff, who was on the ground at the event.

“On the privacy front, there’s this sense that the rules that exist aren’t adequate to the challenge, and the ad industry hasn’t done the most excellent job at self-regulation,” Schiff says.

Plus, the FTC briefly commented on its recently filed lawsuit against Kochava. A sticking point of the lawsuit isn’t just the data sold and shared by Kochava – namely, location data – but how it shared the data. “Making data available in a raw form or semi-raw form is a big potential consumer harm,” Schiff says.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice no longer thinks a wait-and-see, laissez-fair approach to antitrust action works in today’s tech climate. Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter told people in New York City that vertical mergers aren’t going to fly anymore, or at least won’t receive the same relatively easy approvals, as part of a speech that Senior Editor James Hercher saw as a “warning shot to Big Tech companies.”

The premium stamp

Then, we discuss the definition of “premium.” Is it just a sales term that gets slapped on pitches by DSPs, SSPs and data brokers? Can there actually be a common industry definition of premium?

Premium inventory should drive performance, most people agreed, according to Associate Editor Anthony Vargas.

But here’s one nuance. “There also seems to be agreement that we shouldn’t think of publishers in terms of whether they’re premium or not,” Vargas says. “Because publishers are selling a wide variety of inventory, not all placements or audiences will get you the same results.”

For example, think of an Outbrain unit on CNN vs. a video player vs. rich media placements. They all take place on a reputable news publisher, sometimes even the same page, though they fall under very different definitions of “premium.”

But that doesn’t mean buyers won’t go for a “non-premium” ad unit. Because they’re often cheaper or optimized for common buyer KPIs like click-through rate or viewability, they perform better on some KPIs – even if the KPIs don’t lead to true incremental ROI. “It really does feel like premium is in the eye of the beholder,” Vargas says.

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