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Media Review #10: Privacy Sandbox, FLEDGE & Header-bidding, Google Analytics

User reading news

Last Updated on: 26th May 2024, 07:15 pm

In this Media Review, we describe Google’s announcement on the Single Origin Trial, Google’s Header Bidding, considerations about FLEDGE, and Tim Cook’s call for a federal data privacy law.

Table of Contents:

Test the Privacy Sandbox ads relevance and measurement APIs – Google Chrome

= Google has announced that a Single Origin Trial has gone live with the latest Chrome Beta 101 release. It will allow the running of unified experiments across the ad lifecycle across multiple sites for the Topics, FLEDGE, and Attribution Reporting APIs. 

= For the Topics API, it will be possible to see and extract browser’s topics via a specific query. FLEDGE will include managing a browser’s interest groups, ad bidding, and selection (desktop only, only selected subset of proposed functionalities apply). Attribution reporting API is going to measure and report performance over the ad lifecycle (additional tools and guides for local and origin trials will apply).

= You can sign up for the trial here and apply trial tokens on desired pages. APIs must be manually enabled with flags for testing as it is not set up by default. Correctness of the configuartion can be verified using the troubleshooting page

= Google claims that in most cases, origin trial usage is limited to 0.5% of all page loads in Chrome. In order to be able to track users, they have to have Chrome 101 Beta browser, Privacy Sandbox trials and third-party cookies enabled and must be browsing during the active origin trial period as an active experiment group (not in Incognito mode).

When It Comes To Header Bidding, Will Google Play Fair With FLEDGE? – AdExchanger

= According to the author, Google has a history of not being in favor of header-bidding auctions, which were  direct competition for Google’s own solution – EBDA (Exchange Bidding in Dynamic Allocation). The author quotes the Jedi Blue agreement with Facebook (currently known as Meta) as an example of such an attitude.

= Current header-bidding solutions are perceived as transparent and easily verifiable. The author’s main concern is that when the header-bidding auction winner is concluded, Google Ad Manager puts it against its own demand and selects an ultimate winner in an obscure manner. It leads to fears (or even accusations) that through lack of transparency of the final selection, Google applies preferential treatment for its own demand. 

= A hypothesis is put forward that FLEDGE introduces an opportunity for a transparent and fair 2-level bidding process while bringing auctions to the browser. For that purpose, there is a need, suggested by the author, for an independent top-level auction handler, as Google Ad Manager might not be sufficiently indifferent in auctions where Google’s demand takes part. Such an objective handler might be Prebid which will provide transparent open-source code of its model and community to look after the process. 

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Will Google Ad Manager’s Link-up With Prebid Reinvent the Wheel? – AdMonsters

= On April 27th Google announced the introduction of new features in GAM (Google Ad Manager) to improve header-bidding support such as an easier setup process through “yield groups” and improved reporting. Google underlines that, although they find header-bidding poor with latency and user experience, they are committed to making publishers’ freedom of choice as wide as possible through their portfolio interoperability.

= According to the AdMonsters journalist, GAM’s update is a good sign of Google’s acknowledgment of the fact that most publishers do use header-bidding and the tech giant decided to make an effort to support it. However, the author also suggests that it seems to be an attempt to “reinvent the wheel” as many industry experts out there claim that the existingt solutions provided by Prebid have proven time and again their efficiency, and the proposed GAM modification might not perform that well in practice.

= This AdExchanger article additionally suggests that Google has not provided this update because of its kindness, but because of its legal obligation towards the French Competition Authority (FCA). The author also emphasizes that Google takes from the Prebid community more than it gives back – it doesn’t share “minimum bid to win” with Prebid, but only directly with publishers which can pass this information forward to SSPs or not at all.

EU-focused data and privacy – Google Analytics

= Google has launched new privacy features for Google Analytics 4 which include: not logging or storing IP addresses of EU users, control over the collection of Google-signals data (enable/disable per region), control over the collection of granular location and device data (enable/disable per region), receiving and processing of all EU-based devices’ data on EU-based servers and domains.

= Rick Dronkers pointed out in his Twitter thread that even though IP addresses from EU users are going to be dropped, determining whether or not a user’s device is based in the EU requires a geo-location lookup of one’s IP address first. This activity is going to be performed on a server located in the EU, however, will still be governed by the US-based company. According to Rick Donkers it raises the question of if it is sufficient to protect EU users.

Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls For A Federal Data Privacy Law And Warns Against Open App Markets Act – AdExchanger

= Tim Cook claimed that the Open App Market Act (OAMA), which has been recently gaining momentum in the legislation process, is likely to compromise user privacy by making their data less secure. He emphasized that Apple encourages competition as it is essential for driving innovation and appreciated the best intentions of OAMA’s sponsors to promote consumer choice and give startup apps a fighting chance. However, he stressed that OAMA would introduce an opportunity for intentional misuse such as malware and ransomware.

= Apple CEO calls for introducing a unified US federal privacy law, similar to EU’s GDPR or Brazil’s LGPD. He claimed that without it, complexity built around data will trigger an increasing amount of data privacy breaches committed in the name of providing a service as the line between what can and  cannot be rightfully and morally done with the data becomes blurred. 

= Interestingly, Google took a stand similar to Apple, in their blog post as they urged Congress to take action towards enforcing a federal privacy law. Both Apple and Google see a big challenge in undertaking and creating a unified nationwide privacy law but emphasize that it is an absolute necessity expected by both the industry and users.

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