Spark Foundry's Azad Ali on the Fall of Q Commerce, Apple’s DSP, and Publisher Topics Woes

In this week's episode of The MadTech Podcast, Azad Ali, head of performance insight at Spark Foundry, joins Grace Dillon and John Still to discuss the decline of rapid-delivery services, Apple's rumoured plans for a DSP, and publishers' concerns about Google's Topics API.


Q commerce companies on the decline

Is there anything rapid delivery companies can do to reverse this decline? Were they always doomed to fail?

Rapid-delivery services are on the decline, with several of the space’s top competitors pulling out of major cities. Companies including Jokr, Gorillas, Gopuff, and Getir have made significant cuts to their workforces and operations after haemorrhaging capital, whilst smaller firms have shut down completely.

According to McKinsey, demand for online grocery shopping has risen 50% over the last two years, and the demand for rapid-delivery has grown 41%, indicating that there is a market for such companies. Yet none of today’s leading quick-commerce companies have reached profitability, with the infrastructure required to deliver on the promise of fast, inexpensive groceries and staggering discounts designed to attract new customers gorging on investment.


Apple announce plans for a DSP

Does this move undermine Apple’s brand pillar of privacy? What implications will an Apple DSP have on the advertising ecosystem?

Apple are reportedly building a demand side platform, with the company said to be on the lookout for a senior DSP manager for their ads division. The move marks a “statement of intent” from the iPhone-maker to be more ingrained in mobile advertising – and is controversial, given that Apple have increasingly restricted their infrastructure to make it less accessible to competing ad tech firms.

It has yet to be established whether the rumoured DSP would operate only on Apple properties, such as the App Store, or on apps that run on iOS (or even beyond). What commentators are more sure of, however, is that this addition to Apple’s tech stack will bolster their walled garden and the reams of data that sit within it.


Publishers fear Topics will have negative impact

Could Topics hamper publisher monetisation if these issues are not resolved? What other options do publishers have if Topics fails them?

Some publishers have voiced their worry that Google’s proposed Topics API solution will fail to benefit them, or even have an adverse effect on their success after third-party cookies are phased out. Publishers have complained that the solution is uneven, with publishers currently only able to see the topics assigned to them. Some media owners are only able to see one topic of interest on the API, whilst others receive multiple, resulting in disproportionate abilities to provide their advertising partners with targeting information.

Some have also expressed concerns that third-party tech players will have greater access to the range of topics and be able to make more inferences about audience interests, which could see the “ad tech tax” increase by forcing CPMs to rely more heavily on Topics, consequently forcing publishers to use the solution despite the little benefit it offers.