ExchangeWire on Anti-Tracking, the CMA's Microsoft-Activision Ruling, and UK Ad Spend

On this week's episode of The MadTech Podcast, ExchangeWire's CSO Ciarán O'Kane and head of content John Still join staff writer Hannah Dillon to discuss Apple and Google's draft anti-tracking specification, the CMA blocking Microsoft's deal to buy Activision Blizzard, and the AA/WARC's downward forecast for UK ad spend.

Apple and Google united on anti-tracking specification

How significant is it that Google and Apple have partnered on this proposal? What impact (if any) could this specification have on geolocation-based ad targeting?

Apple and Google have joined forces to submit a proposed industry specification to tackle unwanted tracking. The specification introduces unauthorised tracking detection and alerts capabilities across iOS and Android platforms for Bluetooth-compatible devices, and will include instructions and best practice advice for manufacturers who choose to integrate them.

The tech giants reportedly used input from a range of safety and advocacy groups, as well as from device makers, to shape the specification. The draft has been submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force, and is open to comment for the next three months. 

CMA blocks Microsoft Activision deal

Are you surprised by the CMA’s decision? Do you believe it will help to protect competition in cloud gaming?

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has blocked Microsoft from acquiring games publisher Activision Blizzard. The watchdog, which estimates that Microsoft already controls 60-70% of worldwide cloud gaming services, ruled that the deal could potentially “alter the future of the fast-growing cloud gaming market, leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years to come.”

Microsoft attempted to assuage concerns by forming deals with Boosteroid, Ubitus, and Nvidia to make their games available on competing cloud services. However, the regulator was not convinced, and concluded that the deals do not sufficiently protect or promote competition. Microsoft and Activision have both said that they will appeal the ruling, which the latter criticised as “contradict[ing] the ambitions of the UK to become an attractive country to build technology businesses.”

UK ad spend forecast downgraded

How do these findings compare to those from other reports, such as the IAB’s Digital Adspend 2022 report? How are marketers managing with tighter budgets? How should the industry be responding to this forecast?

The Advertising Association (AA) and WARC have downgraded their forecast for UK ad spend in 2023, lowering it from 3.8% at the start of the year to just 0.5%. Despite ad spend growing a positive 26% in the first half of 2022, the AA/WARC’s latest Expenditure Report found that investment slowed in the latter six months, resulting in overall growth of 8.8% for the year.

Search and social media advertising both saw declines, and online advertising also saw spend fall 5.4% in the second half of 2022, despite an encouraging 30% growth in the first half. Broadcaster video on demand (BVOD), cinema, and out-of-home were the only channels who saw ad spend increase in Q4 last year. The findings suggest that the UK will see the slowest growth among the world’s top ten ad markets.