Sage + Archer’s Diederick Ubels on Musk’s Twitter Threat, VR Retail, and Fingerprinting

On this week's MadTech Podcast, Diederick Ubels, CEO and co-founder of Sage + Archer, joins Grace Dillon and Ciaran O'Kane to discuss the bot data stand-off between Elon Musk and Twitter, the role of virtual reality in retail, and mobile fingerprinting. Ubels also shares details of Sage + Archer's current work on bringing automation and dynamic creative to digital out-of-home.


Elon Musk threatens to back out of Twitter buy

How do you believe the Musk-Twitter deal will impact advertisers’ confidence in Twitter? Do you think Musk’s complaints regarding bots are valid?

Elon Musk has threatened to walk away from his planned purchase of Twitter, accusing the social media company of intentionally “thwarting” his attempts to uncover the number of fake profiles on the platform.

The billionaire has been critical about how Twitter measures bots on the platform, and has publicly suggested that fake profiles account for 20% of Twitter’s daily user base, significantly more than the 5% the San Francisco company publicly reports. A letter filed with regulators earlier this week revealed that the two parties have been in dispute over the SpaceX founder’s attempts to independently measure bots operating on the platform since May, with Musk accusing Twitter of “actively resisting” cooperation.

While Twitter has maintained that they intend to complete the sale for USD$44bn (£34bn), Musk’s threat to scrap the deal has led some analysts to believe that the Tesla boss is trying to renegotiate or back out of the deal entirely. Should Musk abandon the purchase, he would face a USD$1bn (£798m) break-up fee and run the risk of legal action. On Thursday (9th June), reports emerged that  Twitter have given Musk access to their “firehose data” relating to over 500 million tweets every day. However, an analyst notes that the sheer volume of information may be off-putting to Musk, and fail to satisfy his demand.


Consumers show lukewarm interest in virtual goods, but appear receptive to ‘blended’ shopping

Do you think that the retail opportunity of the metaverse is overstated?

There has been much talk about the metaverse’s potential to reinvent the way brands interact and transact with their audiences, yet whether this is realised depends — above all else — on consumer demand. The signs don’t look good, according to one study, which found that 60% of consumers have no interest in buying virtual goods

A study  found that 60% of consumers have no interest in buying virtual goods

The survey of almost 5,700 European and North American consumers aged 16 and above found that Gen Z are more receptive to purchasing virtual items, and show a greater interest in using digital tools, such as QR codes, to view information about products. However, the in-store experience is still valued by customers, with 55% of respondents saying that they would be more likely to buy a product in-person if there’s an exclusive in-store deal, 10% more than the number who said they would do the same if the deal was only offered online. 

However, incorporating virtual reality into shopping is already underway, and some consumers are showing an interest in a “blended” approach to shopping. 47% of respondents said they would buy an item in-store if they could access information about it via the retailer’s app at the point of purchase, whilst 41% and 42% said they could be encouraged to buy something in store and online respectively with the aid of AR advancements like mobile filters.


Mobile fingerprinting continues on mobile, despite privacy changes

Will Apple crackdown on fingerprinting? Do you believe that fingerprinting is prevalent in the wider industry, despite a more concerted movement towards privacy?  

Almost two years after Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy policy was introduced, the industry anticipated it would eventually prohibit device fingerprinting. Fingerprinting, however, remains a common practice in the mobile advertising ecosystem and, according to Mobile Dev Memo’s Eric Seufert, this is a serious problem.

Seufert argues that this common practice is in direct violation of Apple’s own privacy policy, which mandates that apps must ask for and receive explicit consent to track users. He insists that allowing fingerprinting to continue unchecked “disincentives the ad tech ecosystem from making investments into measurement and attribution solutions that embrace the new privacy landscape.”

Seufert had previously speculated that Apple might implement a second SDK runtime that would separate device permissions to apps from those to ad tech SDKs, with the added protection of their Private Relay feature, but admits that he believes this would have a limited impact on the SDK broker networks that benefit the most from fingerprinting. Seufert expressed confidence that Apple will introduce a tech feature to prevent IP addresses from being used for conversion matches, both because the company has Private Relay at their disposal, and because rival mobile operating system provider Google have announced SDK Runtime, which will obfuscate mobile user IP addresses.