Q2 in Ad Tech: Cookie Can Kicked, AI Deals, and Giant Politicians

In our latest quarterly wrap, head of content John Still takes a look at the events that have defined Q2 2024. What’s been making waves since April?

Q2 2024 started with a bang, albeit one that we’d all expected to arrive sooner or later. In April, Google confirmed that it was further postponing cookie deprecation until 2025. This is the third kicking of the cookieless can, and this time Google attributed the delay to the need for regulators to be given ‘sufficient time to review all evidence’ regarding Privacy Sandbox, the cookie’s mooted replacement.

The rise of AI continued, with publishers seemingly split on two courses of action: to license, or litigate? Q2 saw Time magazine, the FT, and Dotdash Meredith join the ranks of those making deals with OpenAI et al, while the New York Times and eight newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital went down the legal route.

Apple went big on AI. At WWDC, the company announced the integration of ChatGPT into iOS, macOS and iPadOS. Siri will be able to tap into ChatGPT’s intelligence (users will be asked before questions, documents or photos are sent), and Siri will present an answer directly.

Google launched AI Overview - an ML-based response to search queries, and the internet subsequently had a field day, as the service recommended using glue to stick cheese to pizza, eating one small rock everyday, and claiming the outgoing Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is 2716 feet tall (the same height as the Burj Khalifa).

In the streaming wars, Disney+ has shaken up the landscape by agreeing to reduce CPMs for advertisers by up to 15%. This move has put pressure on the other players in the arena to match Disney and follow suit in lowering rates. And according to the latest figures from Barb, Channel 4 is the country’s only major broadcaster to have grown its overall viewing figures across both streaming and linear in 2024.

Movers and shakers

Ad tech M&A really heated up in Q2, led by the announcement that French SSP Equativ has agreed a deal to purchase Sharethrough. On the merger, Arnaud Creput, CEO, Equativ said: "The exceptional complementarity and minimal overlap between our two platforms, combining advanced TV technology, exclusive video demand, high-impact formats driving superior user attention, and our leading positions globally, will propel us among the top three independent SSPs worldwide.”

Oracle announced it was shuttering its ad business. CEO Safra Catz said advertising revenue fell to around USD$300m (£234m), quite the decline from the reported £2bn of 2022.

Brighter news in APAC, with the ad market expected to see growth of 8.5% this year to reach USD$289bn (£223bn). 

For an in-depth rundown of the H1 financials, check out Mat Broughton’s incisive commentary.

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“There’s a real responsibility for those on the buy-side to distinguish between those gamified metrics and actual business outcomes and really understand where their money is going.”

Karen Eccles, The Telegraph

“It’s the short-termism of digital marketing that has led to this lack of longterm sustainability, in both a business and ecological sense.”

Mike Follett, Lumen

“If you’re a great marketer, of course you’re driving demand and sales. So this comes back to the point: sales of what? Is it a sustainable product in the first place? Is it a product that is actually benefiting the consumer, or are we just encouraging overconsumption?”

Hannah Mirza, The Responsible Marketing Agency