The group has hundreds of testimonials from small businesses across the U.S., which rely on cheap internet tools on Facebook to reach consumers and grow. Facebook and other social media apps have been playing up their connection to millions of businesses as they push back against government regulations and Apple, which cut down data sharing in the name of privacy.
The IAB hosted several of the businesses from Internet for Growth, including Black Bee Honey Company, Youme Healthcare and Schneps Media, which all credited part of their success to Facebook and Instagram marketing. “I couldn’t have scripted it better,” said David Cohen, IAB’s CEO, interviewing the businesses, after assuring ad industry leaders in the audience that the group was not paid to be there.
Small businesses have been disrupted by data restrictions taking hold online. And last week, Meta had its biggest shock with its fourth-quarter earnings report, during which the company forecasted ad revenue growth of between 3% and 11% in the first quarter, a vast slowdown that was partly blamed on Apple’s data policies. Meanwhile, Facebook ad prices were rising and ads were less efficient, and it’s a trend that more apps are seeing as Apple makes tracking consumers more difficult. Google is still trying to figure out how it will eliminate third-party cookies in 2023 without shutting down targeted internet advertising.
IAB is working on fixes, too, to keep data flowing in the broader programmatic ad ecosystem. On Tuesday, the IAB released its state of data report for 2022, using it to highlight how the industry needs to collaborate on new measurement programs and first-party data products. This week, IAB is discussing “privacy-enhanced technology,” adopting a term coined by Facebook last year to characterize how it would use aggregated and encrypted forms of data, but still report information about ad performance back to marketers.
The IAB’s state of data reports said that “the industry was still unprepared for historical measurement practices to disappear.” Cohen said the industry needed to get its “collective act together” to confront “potential existential threats.”
'Ban me now'
Not all the speakers at the IAB summit were on the side of Meta, however. The first panel of the day featured media specialists John Battelle and John Heilemann from The Recount, the online publication. Battellle characterized Meta’s earnings report as an “apocalypse.” Heilemann called Facebook’s rebrand to Meta last year a “distraction,” and poked fun at CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a video about what the metaverse would be like. “I don’t want to fucking live in the metaverse,” Heilemann said. “If that’s what it’s like, ban me now.”
The political expert Heilemann also had tough words for Spotify, which also had executives in attendance at the IAB event. On Monday, Spotify was in hot water over its support of podcaster Joe Rogan, who was tossed back into a storm over past racist language he had used. Spotify was already in trouble for giving Rogan $100 million in 2020, only to see Rogan use the platform to spread untrustworthy information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s a huge crisis,” Heilemann said. “If you pay the guy $100 million for an exclusive show, you’re the publisher,” Heilemann said, suggesting Spotify bears responsibility for the content.
In another panel, a CMO roundtable, David Spector, president of ThirdLove, a women’s apparel brand that relies on internet advertising, was asked what he would change about the industry if he could “wave a magic wand.” “I would eliminate Facebook and Google,” Spector said.
The tension over Facebook’s role in the industry was evident with its defenders pushing for cooperation to figure out the new internet ad landscape and its detractors still as vocal as ever.
Vishal Shah, Meta’s VP of metaverse, streamed into the IAB stage remotely for a speech. Shah focused on the metaverse and Meta’s plans to build the multiplatform internet of the future. This year, Meta has been on an educational mission to teach brands and potential business partners about what’s realistic to expect now in virtual and augmented reality, while also explaining the futuristic vision of the metaverse a decade from now.
That future includes personalized ads, Shah said, the same concept that is under attack under today’s privacy climate. Shah talked about virtual shops that display only products that the consumer is into. People will discover these experiences through ads, Shah said.
“The experience can get more personal,” Shah said.
The IAB will continue to talk about these topics all week as it advocates for new technological tools that replace cookies and measurement. The IAB is promoting its open measurement platform and Unified ID 2.0, which is one of the new identity products being developed as an alternate to cookies, but still needs broad industry adoption.
IAB also announced a new chair member of its board, Krishan Bhatia, president and chief business officer at NBCUniversal.
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