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They're up to plenty of shenanigans in 2022.
Another week, another round of Google complaints. The thing is, we as an industry need to keep the pressure up, we can’t just accept whatever Google wants us to accept if it doesn’t make sense, particularly when it’s something which goes above the law.
I hope you enjoy this week’s Programmatic Two Cents.
Google story 1 – German media companies push back
Hundreds of publishers have submitted an anti-competition complaint to the EU for Google removing the third-party cookie and replacing it with their own browser-based controls.
First question a Google apologist might ask is why is this complaint not aimed at Apple, who have removed third party cookies and damaged media revenues already? Well, Chrome has largest share in Europe, so probably taking the biggest head on first is the right thing to do (plus they haven’t just pulled the rug from under the carpet near enough overnight like Apple did, so delay tactics might actually work).
Second question is whether this case has merit or not? My opinion is that it absolutely does. GDPR in Europe is largely about giving users choice and transparency over how their data is controlled and processed. This should happen at a publisher level where the consumer has the most obvious relationship, not be superseded by a browser – I imagine this will be where the baulk of the decisioning will be focused.
Whilst the complaint is against the removal of the third-party cookie, that’s just fodder, everyone knows the third-party cookie will be replaced, but the alternatives currently give too much power to Google, who likely won’t have their search or ads business as heavily impacted by a privacy sandbox proposal that eventually gains scale compared to typical publishers.
Google story 2 – Topics
Speaking of the privacy sandbox, Google announced a new proposal called Topics which will go into origin testing at some point in the future (timeline here - Privacy Sandbox Timeline).
I won’t go into detail on how it works as The Washington Post did a good job here - Google scraps FLOC tracking system and replaces it - The Washington Post - but my first thoughts are that this is slightly better than nothing. I appreciate these things need testing, but this doesn’t feel great from an advertiser’s perspective as it doesn’t solve any real meaningful use cases.
I’ve also come to realise that there won’t be a ‘meeting in the middle’ between the ad industry and privacy folks so whatever happens in this balancing act one party is going to feel worse off, so time to prepare for that inevitable fall out.
Google story 3 – Location data
Google are facing a new lawsuit which accuses them of deceiving users into giving up their location data by misleading descriptions of location-based settings and then monetising it for ads. Seems surprising given Google don’t have any location-based products they need the data for in the first place… oh wait (Maps and Waze).
It’s covered here by the NY Post - Google 'deceived' users into giving up location data: lawsuit (nypost.com)
Our company updated from The Programmatic Advisory to TPA Digital and the reception was amazing from trade press, clients and peers. If you want to read why we did it check out a Q&A I did with the good folks at NewDigitalAge.
Anyway, that’s it for another Programmatic Two Cents newsletter. I’m recording some exciting podcasts in the coming weeks and look forward to sharing them soon.
Have a good weekend,