Verizon Is Selling AOL, Yahoo and Its Media Brands to Apollo

Telecom giant Verizon announced today that it is selling AOL, Yahoo and its Verizon Media assets, including its advertising technology business to New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. LionTree LLC, a global investment firm focused on media and tech, was lead advisor on the deal and will join Apollo as an investor. The new company will keep the Yahoo name and will be led by Guru Gowrappan, the current CEO of Verizon Media Group. Verizon plans to keep a 10 percent stake in the overall business. Continue reading Verizon Is Selling AOL, Yahoo and Its Media Brands to Apollo

Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

The pandemic-driven stay-at-home year supercharged Alphabet’s digital ad sales in Q1 to $55.31 billion, 34 percent up from a year earlier. Advertising sales via signature products such as Search, Google Maps and Gmail rose 30 percent to $31.88 billion as brands transitioned ad spending from print, TV and in-store promotions to Google services. Profit also more than doubled and per-share earnings were higher than expected. YouTube earned $6 billion, a 49 percent increase from last year, and total profit soared 162 percent from the previous year to almost $18 billion. Continue reading Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

Apple Debuts App Tracking Transparency with Its iOS Update

Apple released an iPhone software update, iOS 14.5, that includes the privacy tool App Tracking Transparency, intended to give users more control over how their data is shared. Now, when an app wants to share information about a user’s activities, a window will pop up asking for permission to do so. Privacy advocates are rejoicing, but many digital advertisers are declaring the tool harmful to small businesses. Facebook is chief among them, although the privacy setting is also likely to hurt its business as well. Continue reading Apple Debuts App Tracking Transparency with Its iOS Update

Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

The Apple App Store is full of scams, according to Kosta Eleftheriou, who has hunted down scam apps for iPhones and iPads that lure consumers into a “free trial” and then charge them insanely high monthly subscription rates without an obvious way to cancel. Eleftheriou, who said these scam apps advertise themselves with thousands of fake 5-star reviews, has come to the conclusion that Apple doesn’t care or is incompetent. Apple isn’t the only target for fraudsters, who have a lucrative business scamming digital advertisers. Continue reading Scams Are a Problem for Apple App Store, Digital Advertising

Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

A coalition of 30+ privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups launched this week with one purpose in mind: to stop targeted and behavioral advertising, a practice the coalition describes as “surveillance advertising.” In a letter, the coalition said that, “social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model.” Further, it said, Big Tech acts “to stoke discrimination, division, and delusion.” Facebook and Google are the dominant digital advertising behemoths. Continue reading Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Amazon inked a deal to make its Prime Video service home to the National Football League’s “Thursday Night Football” by 2023. Amazon paid an “average annual fee” of about $1 billion, making it the company’s biggest such deal to date. Currently, Amazon ranks third in digital advertising, after Google and Facebook, but the exclusive NFL games will likely supercharge viewing and advertising. Recently, Amazon also signed deals to put its free ad-supported IMDb TV into more homes and ordered a spin-off of popular show “Bosch.” Continue reading New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Google Roils Digital Advertising Ecosystem with New Policies

Google revealed plans to stop individualized tracking to serve digital ads. Since it is the largest global purveyor of digital advertising, Google’s move will doubtless have an impact, possibly moving the entire industry away from the practice, which has been criticized by privacy advocates. Rather than build alternative tracking systems, Google is developing new technologies to target ads without collecting individuals’ information. One analyzes browsing habits and allows targeting of “cohorts” rather than individuals. Continue reading Google Roils Digital Advertising Ecosystem with New Policies

States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Rather than wait for federal Internet privacy laws, a growing number of states are pursuing their own proposals. Virginia, Washington, New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida are moving ahead with data protection legislation, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive more users online for work, education and other daily activities. California passed its Consumer Privacy Act in 2018. But Internet privacy experts warn that companies will find it difficult to do business across state lines should this state-by-state model take hold. Continue reading States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

The state of Maryland has taken a groundbreaking step, with its State Senate voting to approve the first U.S. tax on revenue from digital ads sold by Amazon, Facebook, Google and other major technology companies. The Senate had to override the governor’s veto to pass the measure, after its House of Delegates gave the law the greenlight. The new law is expected to generate an estimated $250 million in the first year, with money going to that state’s schools. Connecticut and Indiana have introduced similar bills to tax Big Tech companies. Continue reading Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Due largely to robust online holiday shopping, Google’s parent company Alphabet reached a record-breaking $56.9 billion in revenue for Q4, up from $43.2 billion in the same quarter last year. The numbers represent an ongoing recovery in ad spending, which was hard hit in early 2020. FactSet reports that analysts predicted the company would post $52.7 billion in revenue, including $42.3 billion from advertising. Chief financial officer Ruth Porat said Google Search and YouTube led the positive performance numbers. Continue reading Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

Australia is introducing a law that would make Google, Facebook and possibly other tech companies pay news publishers for their content. In response, Google threatened to remove its search engine from the country, fearing the law would set a dangerous precedent. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said the country’s lawmakers will not respond to threats. News makes up 12.5 percent of Google searches there. In France, meanwhile, Google inked a deal with that country’s media publishers to negotiate individual license agreements. Continue reading Australia Proposes Google, Facebook Pay for News Content

Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

In its antitrust investigation of Google, the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general are looking at whether the Big Tech company engages in “tying,” a practice of bundling products together with the aim of blocking competition. According to sources, the government officials have questioned executives at competing companies about Google’s Network, the division that sells end-to-end digital advertising services, and whether it offers advertisers enticing terms to buy into its complete ecosystem. Continue reading Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

Brands Experiment With Placing Ads in Console Video Games

As an experiment, some advertisers are placing TV ads in video games with the aim of reaching a younger demographic less likely to watch traditional television. Ad tech firm Simulmedia is running the tests, such as enabling the Turner division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia to run ads promoting Turner properties — the animated “Rick and Morty,” sci-fi series “Snowpiercer” and celebrity golf show “The Match” — within Electronic Arts’ “UFC 3” fighting game. That was followed by Experian testing an ad for Experian Boost within the same game. Continue reading Brands Experiment With Placing Ads in Console Video Games

Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

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