A newly proposed law would break up Google’s legacy ad business, but there are concerns from some corners of the ad tech world that the bill could unleash more chaos into the online ad trade by introducing more parties to online ad auctions in ways that could expose data.
On Thursday, U.S. lawmakers, including Sens. Mike Lee, Amy Klobuchar, Ted Cruz and Richard Blumenthal, co-sponsored the bill that would decouple Google from its ad tech business, which is a platform for buying and selling ads online. There are some core components of the proposed legislation that raised concerns about privacy in online ad marketplaces.
“This could hurt privacy in big ways,” said Zach Edwards, a privacy researcher and advocate at Victory Medium, an analytics agency.
The proposed law is just the latest legal and regulatory challenge to Google’s dominance in the online ad ecosystem. Google also is under an antitrust review, after lawmakers and regulators made a case against the company claiming it abused its market position as both the seller and buyer of online ads. Edwards is pro-regulation that protects privacy and publishers, including advocating for privacy bills for the U.S., like the one in Europe called the General Data Protection Regulation. But the latest bill breaking up Google’s ad business, which was once known as DoubleClick, may have unintended consequences, Edwards said, including possibly exposing more consumer data.
“Google could also potentially respond by breaking the bidstream even further,” Edwards, said in a message to Ad Age, “and I believe this type of legislation pushes them to do it.” (A bidstream is the trail of consumer data that accompanies internet ad impressions.)
The proposed law is called the Digital Advertising Act, and it would apply to online ad companies generating more than $20 billion in ad revenue, acting as intermediaries between advertisers and online publishers. The new law could affect Google, Meta, formerly Facebook, Amazon and other ad tech giants that play on both the buy and sell sides of the ad tech markets.