4 Key Takeaways We Learned in Ad Tech Last Week

On Google, Amazon, Twitter and Adobe

On Google's role as the arbiter of trust, Amazon's infringement on the duopoly, Twitter's monetization efforts and Adobe's increasing rivalry with Salesforce. iStock
Headshot of Ronan Shields

In the latest installment of Adweek’s brand new programmatic advertising vertical, we rounded up the latest news in the ad-tech world so that you don’t have to wade through all the jargon. Here’s what happened last week that you should know.

1. It looks like Google is now the ultimate arbiter of trust in online advertising.

The E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) have been in force since May 25, and with many companies still unsure as to their compliance, complaints are starting to pile up. A recent high-profile complaint from Brave particularly singled out Google.

One key bone of contention is the lack of clarity from data protection authorities (DPA) across the region’s 28 member states. This has caused a stand-off between the biggest company in the industry (Google) and fellow members of the IAB, with the former yet to sign up to the trade body’s Transparency Consent Framework. Many have claimed that Google’s caution stems from its fear of painting a target on its back.

The Irish Republic is the seat of Google’s European HQ, the home of the data protection authority. And with GDPR now in force, it makes sense that Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google svp of ads and commerce, was at the Data Summit in Dublin, Ireland.

Ramaswamy took to the conference stage to explain how more than 95 percent of news websites have now adopted “interest-based advertising,” which helped Google earn “close to $12.6 billion in 2017” for such partners.

He then went on to give an indication to the company’s reasons for adhering to its principles of GDPR compliance. “Yes, Google is a very successful company in advertising, but we recognize fundamentally that we succeed as a company only when the ecosystem around us succeeds as well,” he added.

This echoed the sentiments expressed by Google svp and chief business officer Philipp Schindler the previous week at Dmexco in Cologne, Germany, where he said “certain specificities” were prolonging the deadlock between the outfit and its IAB cohorts.

“Frankly speaking, we’ve seen challenges for them [the wider sector] in order to get ready for GDPR,” he said. “We have to be very, very careful; the devil is in the detail. You have to be careful that whatever you do, you don’t create collateral damages, especially for the smaller players with less resources.”

2. Amazon’s rise means we’ll have to stop using ‘the duopoly’ soon.

‘The duopoly’ is a term (along with ‘walled gardens’) that will need little-to-no explanation to the average Adweek reader, given that that both Facebook and Google appear on just about every online media plan generating to a combined 50-plus percent market share.

However, last week, news broke that Amazon has leapfrogged Oath and Microsoft in terms of media spend to become the third largest advertising platform with U.S. marketers, who will collectively drop $4.61 billion on Amazon’s platform this year.

Estimates from eMarketer forecast this will equate to more than 50 percent per year through at least 2020, when Amazon will claim 7 percent of U.S. digital ad spend.

EMarketer said the jump in market share is partially attributable to consumers increasingly starting product searches on Amazon instead of Google, as well as its handling of ecommerce habits. Despite Google gaining on Amazon and its command of the voiced-based home assistant market, does its rise in terms of ad spend represent a true threat to one of the ad industry’s most used phrases?

3. Twitter is trying to do more with less.

Twitter is seemingly under pressure from public investors about its user count, either for not increasing them quarter after quarter or for counting bots and spam accounts.

Simply put, the fewer real users to which the platform can serve ads, the less likely advertisers will want to pay for placement on the social network—but the fact remains Twitter has loyal office of high-profile, influential users, and surely, money can be made somewhere.

That’s why it was interesting last week to see how it’s testing Timeline Ads as part of its ongoing bid to capitalize on the programmatic gold rush, in addition to its earlier purchase of MoPub for $250 million five years ago.

Business Insider first reported last week that Twitter has now started actively testing ads served on third-party websites, similar to Google Display Network or Facebook Audience Network.

This essentially means advertisers can target Twitter users on third-party sites using targeting parameters the social network offers through a partnership with online ad exchange OpenX.

4. Adobe’s rivalry with Salesforce is getting hotter.

Adobe made its second big-ticket purchase of the year last week with the confirmation of its $4.75 billion acquisition of business-to-business Marketo, a purchase bringing it toe-to-toe with Salesforce.

The purchase comes hot on the heels of buying ecommerce specialist Magento earlier in the year for $1.7 billion and is the largest in its history with both entities soon to be integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud.

Jeff Rather, CMO at iCrossing, said the purchases could be read as a defensive move against a host of rival marketing cloud providers including Google, Oracle and Salesforce.

“The purchasing of Marketo by Adobe is adding a practical data set and CRM to Adobe’s ad stack and will add both data ownership as well as distribution,” he added. “Offensively, it furthers Adobe as an end-to-end solution.”

Mike Ni, CMO at RichRelevance, added: “This acquisition demonstrates Adobe is firmly on the march. Adobe has picked up Marketo’s business-to-business marketing automation skills, but the ‘experience gap’ will exist as long as it treats personalization as a feature, rather than a full-scale cloud category that is strategic to the mar-tech stack.”

Speaking earlier with Adweek, Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, said the pairing of Adobe’s creative tools suite along with the Marketo platform will let the b-to-b specialist extend its buyer engagement mission by better integrating into online buyer behavior via Adobe experience manager.

@ronan_shields ronan.shields@adweek.com Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.