Big Tech Makes (and breaks) the Rules; 2021 is the Year of Adoption

Everyone in the media industry is carrying on incessantly about the upcoming death of third-party cookies for ad tracking as Google plans to pull the plug by 2022. If you work in digital media or AdTech, chances are, the thought of cookies will forever be ruined. Companies still relying on 3rd party audience data to drive ad revenue are running out of time to work out an alternative solution, but it’s not exactly a simple task.

Resources for Google Ad Manager Users

Most media companies use Google Ad Manager as their dedicated ad server and, luckily, GAM offers various tools and resources for publishers to get started on this topic. There are plenty of articles in the GAM help section explaining how organizations can remain compliant with various privacy laws such as GDPR, CCPA and LGPD

Regarding consent management, publishers can choose their own consent journey and decide if they want to build their own consent solution, use Google’s Funding Choices consent management platform, or integrate directly with the IAB TCF v2.0 framework.

AdTech Surprises – Never the Fun Kind 

Ad Manager adopted IAB’s TCF v2.0 in August as another way to support publishers who may choose that consent path.  Along with their help articles, Ad Manager alerts users if errors are detected and provides a detailed report of the errors and suggested fixes. (example error message pubs see when they log into GAM below)

Despite Google’s efforts, it was recently announced that IAB’s transparency and consent framework isn’t actually fully compliant with GDPR. The DPA reported that it falls short of the GDPR principles of fairness and transparency, and doesn’t meet legal requirements for processing data, among other faults. 

As if that weren’t enough to keep up with, another new law just passed in California on November 3rd – the CPRA, or California Privacy Rights and Enforcement Act. Also known as Proposition 24, it’s an extension to CCPA which closes certain loopholes, grants consumers additional privacy rights and gives regulators more power. It also adopts many GDPR principles and will likely become the standard for the rest of the United States.

Cue the Shifty Workarounds

Another “trend” popping up in the face of data regulation, especially given the amount of revenue at risk for so many, is questionable workarounds regarding the monetization of 3rd party data. Apple and Adobe have already been found in a supposed workaround and I’m sure it won’t be the last we hear about in industry news.

A recent AdExchanger article stated that Apple enabled user-level tracking for Adobe, in direct violation of its WebKit policies for its Safari browser. They’ve allegedly allowed Adobe to act as a first-party through a separate subdomain and, in turn, Adobe has actively encouraged users of their Experience Cloud platform to implement workarounds on their own sites to classify it’s 3rd party tracking cookies as 1st party. Seems like a pretty simple, yet entirely dishonest, way to minimize a loss in revenue. I wonder what next-level ideas will surface from other tech giants.

Moving On – The Year of Adoption & Adaption

Not that I disagree with the saying, but “adapt or die” is used now more than ever. Sometimes people willingly drive innovation and, other times, disruption forces them to. Whether it’s a global pandemic, Big Tech changing the rules for an entire industry or one new data privacy law after another, 2021 will be a landmark year for change and adoption. Until then, how many more “fun” surprises do you think 2020 has in store?

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