European news sites are among the worst offenders when it comes to third-party cookies and content

The forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation on May 25 is pushing publishers to take a hard look at just how dependent their outlets have become on cookies third-party trackers they load on their own sites in order to collect data from their visitors.

News sites actually load more third-party content and set more third-party cookies than other top websites, according to a new study of websites across seven European countries from the Reuters Institute. Continue reading “European news sites are among the worst offenders when it comes to third-party cookies and content”

‘A massive scramble’: Candid thoughts of marketers on GDPR fallout

Data privacy and getting compliant in time for the General Data Protection Regulation was a hotly debated topic for marketers attending the Digiday Programmatic Marketing Summit Europe in Estoril, Portugal, this week.

With less than a month to go until the deadline for GDPR enforcement, uncertainty around who in the supply chain will be held responsible should regulators decide to prosecute remains top of mind. We’ve collected some of the main concerns that attendees talked about throughout the week — under condition of anonymity — to give a flavor of what execs across the digital ad industry are truly thinking. Continue reading “‘A massive scramble’: Candid thoughts of marketers on GDPR fallout”

How GDPR could weaken, not strengthen, the duopoly

Consensus on whether Google and Facebook stand to win or lose as a result of Europe’s new data-privacy laws seems to be changing.

Popular opinion has been that the direct relationship Facebook and Google have with consumers will make it easy for them to obtain consent, and as such they will ultimately be at an advantage. But as the deadline for the General Data Protection Regulation‘s enforcement edges closer and the ePrivacy Regulation continues to loom, a different line of thinking is emerging: that Google and Facebook are also in for a thrashing, in the short term at least. Continue reading “How GDPR could weaken, not strengthen, the duopoly”

Spiegel Online CEO Jesper Doub on the pivot to consumer revenue, the duopoly and privacy regulations

Jesper Doub, CEO of publisher Spiegel Online, believes the time is right to create a subscriptions model. In a recent conversation, Doub discussed Spiegel’s reader-revenue strategy, the ePrivacy Regulation and the duopoly’s power. Our conversation has been edited and condensed. Continue reading “Spiegel Online CEO Jesper Doub on the pivot to consumer revenue, the duopoly and privacy regulations”

In 2018, GDPR will cause chaos for publishers, marketers

May 25 will be the day of reckoning for many businesses in the media and marketing industries. It’s the date Europe’s highly anticipated General Data Protection Regulation kicks in, from which point no business operating in Europe can use data without explicit permission from users to do so. The maximum penalty for noncompliance: fines to the tune of €20 million ($24 million) or 4 percent of annual sales.

The GDPR is a slow-moving wrecking ball, after a two-year incubation period that served mostly to heighten confusion over what the regulation means and how to get out of its way. In 2018, the hand-wringing and chatter will give way to action, with a period of intense pain, while companies come to grips with a post-GDPR world. For all the talk of revolution, the GDPR will end up a blip for most rather than a world made new. But that will be after the new regulation causes its share of confusion.

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Digiday Research: 18 percent of European publishers are ready for GDPR

At the Digiday Publishing Summit Europe in October, we sat down with 35 industry leaders from across the continent and drilled down into two hot topics, ePrivacy and the General Data Protection Regulation. We asked their feedback on and expectations for the coming changes. Check out our earlier research on the state of agencies here. You can also learn more about our upcoming events here.

This report does not seek to outline every upcoming policy and procedural change. It merely reflects the opinions of industry veterans — from publishers headquartered in and out of Europe — undergoing this profound change.

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Why German publishers aren’t worried about the GDPR

Germans are privacy fiends, but when it comes to the highly anticipated General Data Protection Regulation, they’re treating it as business as usual.

The reasons for this vary, including cultural differences and the country’s attitude toward different business threats like the ePrivacy Regulation. Germany’s stance on data privacy is singular in Europe due to its time under Stasi rule. Consequently, data transparency in media and advertising is highly valued and incorporated earlier into business practices than in other countries. Continue reading “Why German publishers aren’t worried about the GDPR”

Cheatsheet: How marketers are planning for ‘post-cookie’ digital media

Conversations around how best to create scaled, single user-ID propositions — also known as people-based marketing, audience planning, identity or ID management, to name a few — continue occurring. Whatever the name, the race is on to own the best-scaled consumer ID proposition.

The need for them persists: Mobile continues to eat the world, making cookie-based targeting increasingly obsolete. Plus, urgency around competing with the scaled persistent ID propositions of Google and Facebook is top of mind, particularly for the ad tech and publishing industries. Now, the General Data Protection Regulation is adding another layer of complexity.

“First-party ID management is evolving, as the need for consent will intensify over the next year and put pressure on the archaic streak of user data capture and storage,” said Amir Malik, digital marketing head for Accenture.

Here’s a cheatsheet on the state of scaled consumer ID propositions:

Key players

  • Agency holding groups have invested heavily in building scaled customer ID propositions over the last year. WPP’s mPlatform launched a year ago, with the aim of building an “mID” for its customers across devices — similar to a Google or Facebook ID.
  • Dentsu Aegis Network-owned performance agency Merkle rolled out its M1 platform, which stores the consumer IDs of around 280 million people in the U.S. based on personally identifiable information like names and email addresses, to Dentsu Aegis Network media agencies in the summer.
  • Omnicom has its own audience-based planning platform called Hearts & Science, which builds identity graphs for clients in collaboration with the agency group’s data and analytics arm Annalect.
  • It may seem like pie in the sky, but 2018 could be the year that ad tech vendors put their competitive agendas aside and work more closely in the name of building scaled, unified ID platforms. There are several consortiums, one of which is DigiTrust, a nonprofit cooperative of ad tech vendors and publishers designed to create a single ID for demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, data-management platforms and exchanges.
  • AppNexus is leading its own ID consortium with other ad tech vendors.
  • Even publishers are having a go at creating universal customer IDs, albeit of a different kind and for separate reasons. In Germany, Axel Springer has pooled efforts with Deutsche Telekom, auto manufacturer Daimler and other brands to create a GDPR-compliant single customer login platform.

Why it matters 

  • Mobile continues to eat the world but can’t be tracked effectively using cookies.
  • The looming ePrivacy Regulation could throw an unwelcome curveball into the middle of any business reliant on cookie targeting, particularly third-party cookies.
  • Companies need to figure out ways to offer scaled single ID propositions to survive against the walled gardens.
  • The enforcement of the GDPR will be messy. Unified ID logins could help with simply gaining consent.
  • One goal of the ad tech co-ops is to reduce the number of ad calls and other strains on publisher pages that cause page-load latency. That would, in theory, help improve user experience.

The barriers
The GDPR is holding up pretty much any development in digital media and advertising. The uncertainty around how it will be enforced prevents businesses from moving forward with unified ID propositions.

“The industry is in a holding pattern currently,” said Paul Gubbins, independent ad tech consultant. “They can’t go full steam ahead into product research and development and ID deployment until they know the full facts around GDPR and the rules of engagement when it comes to the collection and passing of consent through the connected pipes of the programmatic ecosystem.”

That said, once the Information Commissioner’s Office clarifies the final details around how consent can be gained and how data can be collected and passed on, there will be a mad dash toward scaling ID propositions, according to Gubbins. “There’ll be a race by all vendors to own the scaled ID,” he said. “Building in silos isn’t great for the industry, as there will be that many more IDs to factor into planning and buying.”

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The state of the ad industry’s preparations for the GDPR, in 4 charts

Just over six months are left until the enforcement deadline for Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. Companies are making their final preparations for the far-reaching data privacy law after making wholesale changes to how they process and store data. Now, the onus is on marketers to figure out how to communicate a value exchange with their customers that makes sharing data feel natural and meaningful.

Here are four charts on the state of the ad industry’s readiness for the GDPR. Continue reading “The state of the ad industry’s preparations for the GDPR, in 4 charts”

Calm before the storm: Publishers are playing the GDPR waiting game

The scramble to get businesses ready for the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation in May has led to a whirlwind of internal committees and strategy meetings. Legal teams are being wheeled out to explain the finer nuts and bolts of the new law, while publishing execs crane their necks to see what peers are doing. Continue reading “Calm before the storm: Publishers are playing the GDPR waiting game”

On the minds of European publishers: Platform pushback, GDPR enforcement and ad fraud

More than 200 executives from top publishing companies across Europe gathered this week at the Digiday Publishing Summit Europe in Berlin to address the biggest challenges facing digital media. Talk focused around publishing on platforms, scaling video and preparing for the looming enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation.

During town hall-style meetings and working groups, attendees identified the biggest issues on their minds. Here’s a summary:

Pushing back on platforms
European publishers have a fractious relationship with U.S. tech giants. Axel Springer’s Bild asked 30 international media brands how well these platforms listen and react to publisher needs. When meeting with Google, Facebook and Snapchat, the German publisher now uses a traffic-light framework to assess how platforms meet its requirements like user engagement, access to tracking and targeting data, control over the advertising strategy and the ability to subscribe to its BildPlus membership product. “There’s progress over time,” said Stefan Betzold, managing director of Bild. Another view was that rather than compete with Facebook and Google on reach, they need to find other ways to differentiate.

How do social platforms listen and react to publishers?

Video monetization versus user experience
Publishers need to balance user experience and revenue, and different parts of the business favor one over the other. It’s tempting to load up sites with video ads, but audiences are already inundated with autoplay video, outstream ads that follow them as they read and 30-second pre-roll ads. But removing formats like autoplay can cause short-term declines in revenue. Attendees said everyone in the supply chain needs to promote the benefits of shorter, more effective and relevant ads rather than wait for platforms to set the standard.

Looming GDPR enforcement
Preparing for the coming enforcement of the GDPR in May was another major summit topic. One of the biggest fears voiced was around the shared liability that publishers will face if they work with third parties that aren’t GDPR-compliant and haven’t gotten explicit consent from users to use their data. On the flip side, publishers will have to demand that agencies and tech vendors are transparent about what data they’re using and from where; revise contracts to ensure vendors are compliant; and root out nontransparent practices. Publishers also discussed best ways to tell users why they need to give additional consent on a regular basis. The approach may be similar to techniques publishers have used to communicate with people who block ads, where publishers would explain that ads help pay for quality journalism.

Programmatic cleanup
The pursuit of large volumes of cheap inventory, justified by the “audience-planning” narrative, was scrutinized as a technique that has spawned the “art of buying crap,” in the words of attendees. Buyers’ love affair with buying inventory in secondary markets, like exchanges, has left advertisers and publishers vulnerable to ad fraud and other problems. Publishers need to present a united front in the same way that the likes of Procter & Gamble and Unilever have had on the advertiser side, according to publishers including Danny Spears, programmatic director at the Guardian; Axel Springer; and Schibsted.

The flight to loyalty
Driving direct connections is becoming more central to publisher strategies, whether that’s through premium membership models or subscriptions, opening up revenue streams outside of advertising. For The Washington Post, this has meant tightening its paywall spurred subscription growth. Meanwhile, The Times of London and the Sunday Times changed their publishing model from rolling news to three different digital editions daily, updated their products and introduced a registered-access option. But as Nick Petrie, deputy head of digital at the Times, said onstage, progress can be slow.

Jessica Davies contributed reporting.

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‘Facebook has been a disaster for us’: Candid thoughts of European publishers

The Digiday Publishing Summit Europe kicked off on Oct. 23 in overcast Berlin with the distinct feeling of gloom: unhappiness with Facebook, worry about the coming enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation and uncertainty over monetization of video on platforms.

On the positive side: Google appears invested in the success of publishers, and GDPR could spur a cleanup of the advertising supply chain.

Here are some highlights from publisher discussions in the summit’s town hall and in working groups.

Facebook woes
“I’m quite cynical toward Facebook. I value that our audience on our site is owned by us. If someone is on Facebook, they’re in a sea of stuff.”

“We did 100 percent Instant Articles. We worked closely with them, tried everything with monetization. We decided it makes no sense. We went to zero percent. We didn’t see we lost traffic overall.”

“I don’t say Facebook is worthwhile for experimentation. But the dependency we’ve seen in the past few years is scary.”

“Google is still a much more reliable source of quality traffic than Facebook.”

“We had 70 percent Facebook reliance a year ago. Last week, Google surpassed it. For us, Facebook has been a disaster for the past year. We see AMP is highly prioritized by Google. That will probably disappear, but this week, we are happy with Google.”

“Google seems a lot more invested. Google is more interested in building infrastructure for us than Facebook.”

GDPR looms
“The biggest issue for publishers is the shared liability. If a publisher has upstream [ad tech] partners that are using data without consent, the publisher will share liability and, therefore, the fines.”

“You can assume that the rates at which consumers hit the ‘no’ button [to giving consent] will be a lot higher than ad-blocking rates.”

“There are really good positives for publishers hidden within GDPR. Publishers that have been disintermediated from consumers by ad tech intermediaries will finally have a stick that they can beat their supply chain with.”

“Maybe we should take a similar approach to consumers who won’t give consent as we did ad blocking — give them a reduced experience if they refuse to give consent.”

“For me, the supply chain isn’t the biggest problem; it’s the interface with the user — how to communicate the value exchange with the end consumer.”

“To manage GDPR, we need to reduce the complexity in the supply chain.”

“It’s about taking back ownership of the contractural relationship.”

“Some media owners we’ve worked with have been forbidden by their lawyers to work with certain ad tech vendors as a result of this [GDPR].”

“There is still too much confusion between GDPR and ePrivacy — another really ugly monster in the room.”

“If ePrivacy regulation comes in as it is [laid out] right now, it will be the end of 20 to 50 percent of your programmatic business, as every cookie requires an explicit opt-in.”

Video uncertainty
“There’s the problem of the lazy buy. Many agency teams still repurpose TV creative for digital. So the struggle is internal. Our editorial teams don’t want to place a 30-second pre-roll on a 30-second piece of video content. The challenge is finding shorter ad formats. When we’ve tested them, they work, but there’s not enough. There needs to be more education on the buy side.”

“We stopped using autoplay video on our sites and did see a drop in video views, but it means we’re taking back control of the experience. Now, the challenge is in getting people to click to play.”

“Facebook has always struggled to effectively monetize. It’s an intrinsic publisher problem; they are a frenemy. We need to be on platforms, so do you put your tier B content there and keep your tier A content for your owned-and-operated platforms? Then, you are diluting your proposition.”

“The majority of our video views happen off-platform so we have to monetize video through branded content or sponsored series. But how do we scale that? Facebook and YouTube habits are different, so we have to create different formats for them.”

“Publishers are caught between a rock and a hard place. There’s a tipping point between user experience and revenue. It has to come through every stakeholder, the right creative that doesn’t load too heavily and annoy the user, and we have to have innovative formats.”

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