Senate bill seeks to dismantle Google; Yahoo sues a data scientist hired by the Trade Desk
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Break the chain
A new antitrust bill on the Hill goes straight for Google’s jugular.
On Thursday, a group of mostly GOP senators led by Mike Lee (R-UT), with some Democratic support, introduced the Digital Advertising Competition and Transparency Act, which aims to prevent companies from owning more part of the digital advertising ecosystem. if they handle over $20 billion in digital ad transactions. If a company processes $20 billion or more through a DSP service, for example, it cannot also operate an SSP.
(The senators might as well have called it the “Google, we’re coming for you” law.)
Although Google has been playing both sides against the middle(s) for years, it reacted to the bill by claiming, as usual, to be the hero.
Google’s web tools “help protect users from privacy risks and misleading ads,” a spokeswoman said. The Wall Street Journal. Breaking these tools, Google says, could lead to security issues, embolden brokers with shoddy data and “handicap small businesses” in times of heightened inflation.
Google’s claim sounds a lot like Tim Cook’s rejection of the Open App Markets Act, which would require Apple to allow sideloading from third-party app stores. Cook says it will be a security nightmare, while proponents say it will give startups and small fries a fighting chance.
But the line has to be drawn somewhere. As much as Big Tech touts cooperation and “coopetition,” a lot of secret deals suggest otherwise.
Only you can prevent industrial espionage
It turns out that ad tech companies are pretty protective when it comes to their own data.
Yahoo Ad Tech (alongside its subsidiary Oath Holdings) filed a civil lawsuit against former Yahoo lead researcher Qian Sang, Drums reports. The lawsuit alleges that Sang stole proprietary information about Yahoo AdLearn, the AI backbone of Yahoo’s DSP, “within minutes of” being hired by The Trade Desk as a data scientist.
Yahoo says Sang uploaded 570,000 files containing “the source code, backend ad architecture, algorithms that control ad placement and associated revenue tracking…and the strategy behind Yahoo’s backend ad technology” on a personal device.
The files also reportedly contained information related to Yahoo’s competitive analysis on The Trade Desk.
Sang was the lead on the research team responsible for managing Yahoo’s DSP budget spend pacing system, which adjusts the price and frequency of bids based on an advertiser’s campaign parameters.
The lawsuit accuses Sang of violating the Virginia Uniform Trade Secrets Act, breaching fiduciary duty and stealing intellectual property. Yahoo is seeking a judgment of $5 million plus punitive damages.
No news is bad news
Is Meta Erasing Journalism? (Pun intended.)
Facebook’s parent company might consider distancing itself from business news (not that it’s able to stay out of the headlines itself).
News is expensive – Meta has paid millions of dollars to license news content for its platform – and it could be about to get more expensive. Governments around the world are introducing laws that would require Meta to pay to access information.
And Meta has sought to reduce costs in general.
Among Meta’s biggest news initiatives is Facebook News, which launched on the app in the United States in 2019. Almost all participating publishers have signed three-year contracts, Press newspaper reports, which will soon be completed.
It’s unclear what Meta’s next step will be, but publishers say Meta’s news offerings — in addition to its payment plans — might just be a PR move in the first place. Supporting legitimate news sites is a good look for Meta, whose apps have served as a petri dish for all kinds of misinformation.
It’s one of the reasons some publishers think Facebook won’t get rid of the news entirely. Rather than links and articles, he may choose to channel news into short videos instead, information reports.
But other editors are not so sure. A US news source told the Press Gazette that Meta has not communicated on contract renewals. Another source said Meta may signal that “the good times are over” for Facebook news.
But wait, there’s more!
Because EVERYTHING IS AN ADVERTISING NETWORK, Ulta Beauty is launching its own retail media network. [Beauty Packaging]
Video of the Buffalo shooting is still available on Facebook, sometimes accompanied by ads. [The New York Times]
TikTok is testing in-app games in Vietnam. [Reuters]
Lifecycle management and marketing platform CleverTap acquires customer engagement platform Leanplum. [release]
Microsoft’s Rob Wilk details the company’s plans to grow its advertising business through mergers and acquisitions, research, CTV, attribution and in-game ads. [Digiday]
Senate Democrats are asking SafeGraph and Placer.ai for information on how abortion-related location data is collected and used. [Bloomberg]
Claravine Data Integrity Platform Raises $16M in Series B Funding. [release]
You are engaged!
VidMob adds Sharmila Patel as CFO. [release]