ExchangeWire on EU Targeting Restrictions, UKSAFC, and the Future of News

On this week's MadTech Podcast, ExchangeWire CSO Ciaran O'Kane and head of content John Still join Grace Dillon to discuss the EU's crackdown on Meta's personalised advertising model, the foundation of the UKSAFC, and the future of news.

The EU moves to restrict Meta’s targeted ad model

Could we see a similar ruling against other Big Tech firms and walled gardens with a personalised ad model? What could this ruling mean for the open web?

Privacy regulators from the EU have concluded that users should not have to allow Meta to serve them personalised ads based on their online activity. The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) ruled that burying the acceptance of personalised advertising into the terms of service of Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms is not permitted under EU privacy law.

The decisions, which can be appealed, could unravel Meta’s targeted advertising model (which reportedly accounts for a significant amount of the firm’s revenue) by limiting the company’s supply of information surrounding what their users interact with on the platforms. According to a report, the EDPB have instructed the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), to convey their decision and issue “significant fines”.

Meta have allowed users to opt out of personalised advertising based on information taken from third-party domains for several years, but assert that utilising their users’ information to sell targeted ads is essential to their personalised service, adding that they have provided users with ways to control their data. If upheld, the ruling could force Meta to ask users for permission to serve them targeted ads, or to allow them to opt out of receiving them altogether.

UKSAFC established to crackdown on ad-supported fraud

Is UKSAFC what the industry needs to tackle advertising fraud? How effective could it prove?

A coalition of UK advertising professionals, agencies, policymakers, and technology providers have set up UK Stop Ad Funded Crime (UKSAFC) to put an end to online fraud. According to an official press release, the group’s aims are to raise awareness of the extent of and damage caused by online fraud in the UK, and to collaborate to develop new ways to tackle it. The body reportedly also hopes to provide a “template” for addressing ad-funded crime that other nations can follow.

According to the release, £1.3bn of UK advertising spend was lost to fraud in 2020, and an estimate from Juniper Research expects global ad fraud to rise from USD $59bn (~£48.12bn) in 2021 to USD $68bn (~£55.46bn) in 2022. Elaborating on their ambitions to tackle this trend, policy, regulation, and government affairs specialist Ian Moss, who is a member of the body’s advisory team, said that the UKSAFC want “to get the whole value chain together” and “are also ruthlessly following the money – looking at who is committing the ad fraud”. 

The coalition will meet monthly to discuss current challenges and their approaches to them, with the meetings open to all members of the industry.

Sky News chief to depart as the channel looks beyond TV

Does this news reflect a broader move by broadcasters away from linear TV? What could this reported shift mean for the future of news broadcasting and consumption?

The head of Sky News, John Ryley, will step down from his position next spring. Ryley’s departure was believed to have been announced alongside new hires in the media outlet’s data, podcast, and original journalism teams.

Whilst Sky News saw its online audience grow under Ryley’s leadership, the firm continued to invest heavily in traditional television broadcasting. Now, reports suggest that the boss’ exit reflects the channel’s desire to move away from TV and develop a stronger presence elsewhere, such as on popular social platform TikTok.

The purported pivot may be in part due to the competition Sky News has increasingly seen from rightwing channel GB News in recent months, which reportedly often accrues higher ratings for its evening show. However, it is also believed to be part of a broader shift by the wider Sky business, with the media giant said to be exploring OTT as a way to deliver its subscription TV content.