Microsoft prez Brad Smith supports Australia’s plan to ask tech giants to pay for news

He also said that he has spoken to Australian ministers on Microsoft's search engine Bing replacing Google in the country

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Feb 22, 2021 7:56 PM  | 13 min read

Software giant Microsoft has come out in support of Australian government's proposed law to ask tech companies like Facebook and Google to pay for news content.

President Brad Smith, in a statement, said that the company completely supports Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code. He also said that he has spoken to Australian ministers on Microsoft's search engine Bing replacing Google in the country.


Here’s Smith’s full statement

As the dust slowly settles on a horrifying assault on the Capitol, it’s apparent that American democracy is in a fragile state.

As the Economist concluded last week in its annual review of democracy around the world, the United States is “polarized not only on policy issues but on core values, and the social cohesion needed to support a ‘full democracy’ has collapsed.” Well put.

Perhaps the most remarkable development in recent political history is not that Americans disagreed in 2020 about who to elect as president; it’s the fact that, after the election, so many disagreed about who had actually won.

 As in so many other instances, technology has been both a positive and negative force for democracy. It has created unprecedented opportunities for people to learn about events, share their views and even organize their efforts. It was only a decade ago that technology created optimism about democracy amid an Arab Spring.

And, in 2015, when two extremist brothers in France brutally killed a dozen journalists at Charlie Hebdo, almost two million people in Paris used social media to organize a peaceful Sunday march to support democracy and a free press everywhere.

But the last five years have also seen this tool become a weapon, and January 2021 unfortunately saw this come home to roost. Democracy’s cornerstone has always been the peaceful transition of power. It was far from unusual for a losing candidate to request a recount or take a dispute to court – both parts of the democratic process.

But, this year, even after losing more than 50 lawsuits in a row, President Trump waged a sustained campaign that successfully persuaded tens of millions of his supporters that the election was rigged. Without this sustained disinformation barrage, it’s hard to imagine that January 6 would have become such a tragic day.

This highlights the symptoms of a deeper, two-sided disease. On the one hand, the internet and social media have unfortunately become powerful engines of disinformation and misinformation.

First pioneered by the Russian government in the 2016 US election, the disinformation disease has now spread much more broadly. Without new and greater restraints, there is a growing risk that more politicians and advocates will exploit the algorithms and business models underlying social media and the internet to turn disinformation into a new political tactic of choice.

There is another side of this disease, and it’s the erosion of more traditional, independent and professional journalism. In 1787, the same year Americans were drafting the Constitution, a leading British statesman reportedly gave the press its label: “The Fourth Estate.”

Just as a chair needs four legs to remain sturdy, democracy has always relied on a free press to make it through difficult times. Never free of controversy, an independent press has often inflamed differing opinions. But it has helped ensure that the public considered a common set of events and had a generalized understanding of common facts. In short, independent journalism is vital to the social cohesion that is essential for democracy.

As the 21st century began, the internet eroded the news business as dotcoms like Craigslist disrupted advertising revenue, news aggregators lured away readers, and search engines and social media giants devoured both. Many other factors have been at work and there is a pressing need for innovation across the news sector. But one thing is clear – the internet and social media have not been kind to the free press.

While a few of the bigger papers have weathered the storm, most outlets have been hard hit. Since 2000, newsroom revenue in the United States has fallen by 70% and employment has been cut in half. More than 2,000 newspapers have closed entirely. In many places, local news has been decimated.

News deserts – communities with no local paper at all – have spread across the country, with terrible effects. As one citizen said poignantly about his Florida town that no longer had a newspaper: “After years without a strong local voice, our community does not know itself.”

Democracy has always started at the local level. Today, far too many local communities must nurture democracy without a Fourth Estate.

What has taken the place of local news? As Pew Research reported last month, “About half of US adults (53%) say they get news from social media ‘often’ or 'sometimes'.” Part of what feeds the interest in social media sites – and search engines as well – is the ability to scroll and see headlines generated by traditional news outlets.

As we know from our own experience with Microsoft’s Bing search service, access to fresh, broad and deep news coverage is critical to retaining strong user engagement. This means that news content generates significant indirect value for search and social media sites – as much as $4.7 billion annually for Google, according to one recent study – even though people often do not click through to the original story. This means that news organizations go uncompensated even while all this traffic fuels platforms that have become profitable tech gatekeepers on which businesses must advertise to reach consumers.

The cure will likely require multiple medicines. However, part of an innovative prescription has emerged from halfway around the world. In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward.

Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content.

Even more important, the legislation will redress the economic imbalance between technology and journalism by mandating negotiations between these tech gatekeepers and independent news organizations.

The goal is to provide the news organizations with compensation for the benefit derived by tech gatekeepers from the inclusion of news content on their platforms.

It’s an idea that some governments have pursued in parts of Europe, but with only limited success. The reason is that it’s hard to negotiate with a monopolist. With only one or two whales on one side of a nation’s table and dozens or hundreds of minnows on the other, the result is often a lengthy and expensive negotiation that leaves the minnows short on food.

But the Australians have thought about this, and they’ve developed a creative answer. First, they permit the news organizations to join for purposes of collective bargaining. And second, in the event of an impasse, they require the parties to appoint an arbitration panel that will engage in “baseball arbitration” – an approach in which an arbitrator chooses one of the final offers made by the two sides.

The reaction from Facebook and Google has been dramatic – and this is where we at Microsoft have entered the picture. Facebook said publicly that if the parliament passed the new law, it would stop Australian users from sharing news on its Facebook and Instagram platforms.

Google went even further, stating repeatedly that, if the bill became law, it would pull its search service out of the country entirely. For Australians used to going to Google’s clean-looking search page to type in a query, under the search bar they found a link to a video explaining that, if they wanted to continue to use the service, their government would have to back down.

At Microsoft, we started 2020 by listing our policy priorities and saying that “technology needs to give the news business a boost.”

In October, we launched a new initiative to invest in and support local news and, through Microsoft News, we have been sharing a large portion of revenue with news publishers. In the hunt for better ideas, Google’s threat to boycott an entire country got our attention.

Satya Nadella and I reached out to Prime Minister Morrison. It was an opportunity to combine good business with a good cause and, as we explained, even if Google wanted to leave Australia, we would stay.

Microsoft’s Bing search service has less than 5% market share in Australia, substantially smaller than the 15-20% market share that we have across PC and mobile searches in the United States and the 10-15% share we have in Canada and the United Kingdom. But, with a realistic prospect of gaining usage share, we are confident we can build the service Australians want and need. And, unlike Google, if we can grow, we are prepared to sign up for the new law’s obligations, including sharing revenue as proposed with news organizations.

The key would be to create a more competitive market, something the government can facilitate. But, as we made clear, we are comfortable running a high-quality search service at lower economic margins than Google and with more economic returns for the press.

Our endorsement of Australia’s approach has had immediate impact. Within 24 hours, Google was on the phone with the Prime Minister, saying they didn’t really want to leave the country after all. And the link on Google’s search page with its threat to leave? It disappeared overnight.

Apparently, competition does make a difference.

But yet not enough. Google continues to fight Australia’s proposal, and it’s using tough tactics with news publishers themselves. Immediately after its about-face with the Prime Minister, Google sent a new batch of private proposals to news publishers that conditioned an offer to pay more money on “explicit provisions allowing Google to terminate any deals it strikes if the government’s proposed digital media regulation is not revised.”

It’s an extraordinary maneuver.

Google is hoping the US government will continue to do some of the fighting for it, too. For two years, Google and Facebook have successfully been urging officials in Washington to protest the Australians on their behalf. And it’s worth looking at their arguments.

First, Facebook and Google object to the fact that they are singled out by name in the Australian legislation. It’s not an approach that would be used in the United States and, in fact, it’s easy enough to redress. For example, the obligations described above could easily be written to apply to any search business that has more than 20% market share in Australia.

At Microsoft, we are fully prepared to aim for this search share and become subject to the law’s obligations the day we do.

This points to part of the problem that more governments will need to address. Google and Facebook have shown they are prepared to tamp down their services or pull out of a country entirely if legislatures force them to share more of their revenue with the press on terms they don’t like. This creates a new vulnerability for the world’s democracies, and it underscores the need for new competition rules in regards to opening up digital markets, something more governments are now considering.

There’s a second issue that has also become important in Australia. Google objects strenuously to what it regards as the injustice of having to engage in baseball arbitration. It argues that this type of arbitration is appropriate only “when the parties are already close in price.”

In contrast, according to Google, there is a wide gap between what news organizations are seeking and what Google is prepared to pay. Ignoring the fact that an imbalanced bargaining position has created this disparity in the first place, Google in effect asserts that its own inflexibility at the negotiating table means that it should not have to participate in an arbitration that rewards reasonableness over intransigence.

More importantly, Google’s position ignores the fact that baseball arbitration was invented, and is now used, to encourage a reasonable outcome precisely when there is this type of unequal bargaining dynamic.

In baseball, an arbitrator’s selection of the most reasonable of two final offers is not used for every player. Instead, it’s used for players at an earlier stage in their career and are under team control, meaning they cannot negotiate joining another team as a free agent.

As one commentator has put it, “Undergoing the arbitration process is a risk for both the baseball player and for the team: the team may be required to pay more than they want or the player may get paid much less than they want. Because of this, most of the time players and teams find a deal without having to use the arbitration process.”

In other words, don’t save baseball arbitration for when two parties are close to an agreement. Use it instead to encourage faster and fairer negotiations that get them closer to an agreement in the first place.

This is why baseball arbitration has migrated to other similar unequal negotiating dynamics, such as between a commercial landlord and multiple small business tenants. The Australians deserve credit for studying this landscape and discerning the similarity to negotiations between tech gatekeepers and smaller news organizations that have no choice but to do business with them.

Finally, Google has implied that, if there is to be any arbitration, it should follow a more traditional process that involves multiple submissions by lawyers and focuses on the fair market value of the news content rather than the benefits the tech gatekeepers derive from the inclusion of that content on their services. But a slow and legalistic process clearly would benefit those with deep pockets rather than the smaller parties that need the help.

At the end of the day, what is wrong with compensating independent news organizations for the benefits the tech gatekeepers derive from this content? These are now pressing questions for the Biden administration. Facebook and Google persuaded the Trump administration to object to Australia’s proposal. However, as the United States takes stock of the events on January 6, it’s time to widen the aperture.

The ultimate question is what values we want the tech sector and independent journalism to serve. Yes, Australia’s proposal will reduce the bargaining imbalance that currently favors tech gatekeepers and will help increase opportunities for independent journalism. But this a defining issue of our time that goes to the heart of our democratic freedoms.

As we wrote in 2019, “The tech sector was born and has grown because it has benefited from these freedoms. We owe it to the future to help ensure that these values survive and even flourish long after we and our products have passed from the scene.”

The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead.

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World Startup Convention fiasco: A lesson for influencers?

Influencers who were quite strident in their association with the festival initially quietly disassociated with it when things went south, raising some questions in influencer ethics

By Tanzila Shaikh | Mar 29, 2023 5:32 PM   |   6 min read


“Disheartened and devastated. What a shame for the entire startup ecosystem. Ankur Warikoo I was your fan,” read a LinkedIn post by had invested Rs 50 lakhs as a sponsor for the World Startup Convention, however, with the turn of events, legal recourse may be in the offing.

On a usual day, Warikoo gets a lot of praise from giddy followers, but his recent association with World Startup Convention has turned things on the head. Comments like Anant's have become rife across social media.

For the initiated, World Startup Convention, originally touted to be a “unique opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders from around the world,” turned out to be a damp squib. 

With ticket prices as high as Rs 3,600, the fest initially promised attendance of global leaders like Sunder Pichai, Elon Musk, and Gautam Adani amongst others, but the attendees were disappointed to know that there were very few investors. In the end, it even earned unfavourable comparisons with the doomed Fyre Festival. Talks of police cases and legal interventions have been plaguing the fest. 

One of the biggest fallouts of this event is its impact on influencers like Warikoo, Chetan Bhagat and Raj Shamani who were vociferously promoting the event. 

However, when things went south, these big names explained that they had long disassociated with the festival even though they were aware that their promotional videos were still circulating on the internet. 

E4m reached out to Warikoo to understand his side of the story, he said, “I am not involved in the conceptualizing or organizing of the event. We had done an Instagram collab reel on 19th January where I spoke about the importance of funding for a startup and how this event could be a good opportunity to explore the same and meet other founders.  The terms of the collab were clear that my video will NOT be used for promoting the event. However, I realized that this was not respected. While they took down ads of the video when we asked them to, the video was and is still being used on their website and in all of their communication.  

“In January itself we distanced ourselves from the event. They repeatedly asked me to be present for the event, which we declined. As late as February we had to keep sending them emails asking them to take down ads they were running to promote the event using my video. It is really tragic to see how the event eventually ended up. It showed promise and could have genuinely helped founders if done the right way.” Warikoo also said that he is personally responding to the DMs he is receiving from people asking him for clarification.  

This raises a question in basic influencer ethics: Don’t influencers have a responsibility towards their audience to vociferously disassociate with something with the same fervour as promoting them? We asked our experts. 

Speaking on disassociation, the founders of One Hand Clap Media said that when influencers disassociate, sometimes they have contract clauses, wherein the termination has happened but they can’t talk about it publicly. 

“However, it is fair to let people know they have not associated with the brand anymore but yes legally there might be a clause that doesn’t allow them to talk about it. And this can be one possible reason for these influencers to not come out and talk about it,” said the founders. 

Iesh Dixit, Co-founder and CEO, Powerplay (Bengaluru-based SaaS startup), said: “While they may not be entirely responsible for the chaos that ensues, they should be held responsible for their promotion. An appropriate course of action by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) or another governing body is necessary to address this issue.”

Apoorv Bhatnagar, Co-Founder, The Plug Media, is not comfortable with judging the creators for the fate of the event, but does believe that due diligence should be a must. “With the government also regularizing the creator economy, both influencers and managers have become very conscious of their choices. This particular incident looks like a case of wrong portrayal by the organisers and hence it would be unfair to judge a particular creator for the consequences. However, all of us need to be more mindful and conduct thorough due diligence before associating with a particular brand.”

Ayush Shukla, the founder of Finnet Media, believes that while the influencers have a moral responsibility of informing their followers about their disassociation, it could be a case of an honest mistake. “They are not promoting scams; they were themselves scammed by the organisers. This campaign happened a few months ago and they just took an advantage of the video and started running ads. It was a mistake by the creators because they didn't do their due diligence but at the same time, they were also fooled by the organisers,” he adds.

Simple communication could have absolved the errant influencers and saved their followers from being misled, says Neel Gogia, Co-Founder, IPLIX Media: "If influencers have disassociated themselves from an event, we advise them to communicate this with their audience even if they are no longer affiliated with the company or event in question, especially if their content is still being used for the promotions of the event. This will ensure that others aren’t being misled or scammed."

The thought was also summed up by a comment on social media: “Influencers are not cops, and hence it is tough to accuse them of not doing adequate research. Everyone is a victim here (including the influencers) and everyone should come together against them. Nothing is going to come out of hating these influencers. I can say the same thing that the so-called investors didn't do their due diligence by doing a background check on WSC. Diligence is not a one-step process. It needs to be carried out at all levels.”

The CCPA has come out with guidelines for influencers. Flouting them can cost influencers a fine up to Rs 50 Lacs. E4m reached out to ASCI who said that this is a matter of CCPA and they should take some action. E4M also reached out to CCPA’s Anupam Mishra (Joint Secretary), who is yet to reply to our queries.

The incident will serve as a great case study in due diligence and the moral responsibility of influencers.

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Setback for Google as NCLAT upholds Rs 1,300 cr CCI fine

The tech giant has been asked to furnish 10% of the fine within a week

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 29, 2023 4:23 PM   |   2 min read


The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has upheld the Rs 1,337.76 crore fine imposed on Google by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for unfair trade practices.

Google has been given a week’s time to comply with the order and furnish 10% of the fine that CCI has imposed. 

A Google spokesperson, reacting on e4m's query on the NCLAT order, said, "We are grateful for the opportunity given by the NCLAT to make our case. We are reviewing the order and evaluating our legal options." 

The tribunal also noted that CCI’s investigation into Google’s conduct in the market did not violate the principles of natural justice.

In a first ever case, the competition watchdog on October 20, 2022 had slapped a penalty of Rs 1,337 crore and then on October 25 another penalty of Rs 936 crore on the tech major for abusing its dominant position with respect to its Android mobile system and Play Store policies respectively.

The penalties are roughly 9 per cent of the company’s ad revenue in India. The regulator had also directed Google to modify its conduct within a defined timeline. The Indian regulator’s stern action against one of the most powerful companies sparked a fresh debate over the tech giant's monopoly and its repercussions. 

However, the tech giant has also been relieved of the four key directions issued by the CCI. Here’s an upshot of the directions in para  617.3, 617.9, 617.10, and 617.7 of the CCI order.

Paragraph 617.3 -- Google shall not deny access to its play services Application Programming Interface (APIs) to disdvantage Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), app developers and its existing or potential competitors.

Paragraph 617.7 -- Google shall not restrict uninstalling of its pre-installed apps by the users.

Paragraph 617.9 -- Google shall allow the developers of app stores to distribute their app stores through Google Play Store.

Paragraph 617.10 -- Google shall not restrict the ability of app developers in any manner to distribute their apps through side-loading.

The tech giant can now challenge the order in the Supreme Court.




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Women, small towns, & senior citizens as influenced by digital as men: BCG & Meta report

The report unravels key consumer trends around how India is consuming content while busting myths and highlighting the growing digital influence driving people’s viewing preferences

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 29, 2023 3:46 PM   |   5 min read


Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Meta today announced the launch of a new report around the increasing influence of digital in driving media and entertainment consumption in India across over-the-top (OTT), linear TV (LTV), and Movie Studios.

With the meteoric growth in online content and on-demand streaming platforms in India, the media and entertainment landscape in the country has transformed dramatically over the last few years. The report unravels key consumer trends around how India is consuming content while busting prevailing myths and highlighting the growing digital influence that is increasingly driving people’s viewing preferences. Digital influence implies the role of digital in content discovery, sharing, and engagement both before and after viewing content.

‘Seeing the BIG Picture - Harnessing digital to drive M&E growth’ a Meta-commissioned report by BCG was done with over 2600 consumers across 15 towns and cities. The study also includes in-depth interviews with consumers and industry leaders from Linear TV (LTV), OTT platforms, and Movie Studios.

Said Shaveen Garg, Managing Director and Partner BCG, “Consumers increasing time spent on digital video is well-known. But what was counter intuitive is how much digital is influencing their discovery of content, decision to watch and the engagement post watching. It is not limited to digital native mediums but across all content as category. It is clearer than before that many media companies haven’t embraced this power to unlock potential.

Content is king, no doubt, but kings also need an army of soldiers to become and reign. This digital interventions by companies is the army behind the great content”

The report aims to bust some myths and mindsets in the market around digital influence being limited to metros, men and English content viewers.

Among the most significant findings of the report is that contrary to industry perception women, small-town residents, and people over 35 years of age have significant digital influence driving their content discovery and consumption choices. For instance, among OTT watchers, after consuming the content, 78% of the surveyed men said that they use digital to engage with the content. This number was equally high at 77% for women. 

Similarly, before watching something on OTT, more people from smaller towns (81%) use digital for content discovery than people from large towns (74%).  Moreover, contrary to popular belief, digital discovery is on the upswing, even for linear TV, with linear TV viewers increasingly seeking information and engagement online for the content they watch. 

Said Shweta Bajpai, Director and Vertical Head - Media, Finserv, Travel, Real Estate and Services for Meta in India, “The prevalent view presumes that consumer behaviour across small and large towns, across gender and age-groups is vastly distinct. While this may be true for some industries, when it comes to content consumption in India, there are more similarities than distinctions. The biggest similarity is that irrespective of where people consume content - OTT, TV or in movie theatres - they rely on digital to share, engage, and express themselves. 40%+ respondents discover content on digital via Word of mouth. This is a game changing insight for media companies and marketers in how they want to reach their customers.”

The study also showed that 60% consumers seek information about the content before deciding to watch. Up to 80% of this research occurs online across OTT, LTV, and Movies. The findings further revealed that higher digital engagement is correlated with higher watch time on both LTV and OTT.                                                               

Based on the insights, the study recommends that media and entertainment companies need to evolve. 

  • With boundaries blurring between different formats in the consumers’ minds, M&E companies should refrain from defining themselves as LTV/OTT/Movie Studios and reimagine themselves as content creators not chained to a delivery medium. 
  • Given the high digital influence, digital marketing could be effective across demographics, genres, and languages, and could be a crucial addition to the existing marketing efforts at every step of the consumption journey. 
  • The report also calls for diversifying digital activations including communities, influencers, personalized reach-outs and short videos to reach all kinds of consumers. 
  • Lastly, the report advises brands to develop in-house muscle, build a content factory, leverage the user engagement flywheel, develop a robust measurement strategy and impact attribution.

Key Highlights

  • 50%+ consumers are digitally influenced in consumption of any content - digital or offline 
  • Up to 50% of the discovery of content happens off platform/ network – both for TV and OTT 
  • Between content discovery and consumption, an average viewer experiences 3 digital touchpoints 
  • For LTV viewers, more women (34%) are digitally influenced than men (26%) in the pre-viewing stage 
  • 80% consumers stated that they not having good digital content for Linear TV content is a pain-point 
  • Digital engagement increases watch times for viewers by up to 40% 
  • For TV viewers, 22% more appointment viewing and for OTT, 20%+ reduced churn with higher off-platform digital engagement 
  • Best in class companies are nudging the Word of Mouth for content with structured interventions 
  • Media companies across TV, OTT and Movies must think of building this muscle with right talent, tech and data capabilities

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Google launches ads transparency center

Alejandro Borgia, Director, Product Management, Ads Safety, Google, says that the tech firm is relying on a combination of human reviews and automated systems

By Shantanu David | Mar 29, 2023 5:33 PM   |   4 min read


Google on Wednesday released its Ads Safety Report, an annual exercise in which it reviews the previous year’s numbers in terms of creating a safe ad ecosystem for all parties, whether advertisers, publishers or everyday users.

Alejandro Borgia, Director, Product Management, Ads Safety, Google, preceded the release of the report and 2022’s numbers, with a session on the company’s ads policies and enforcement. He also announced the launch of a new transparency tool, the Ads Transparency Center, a searchable repository of verified advertisers across all Google platforms, including Search, Display, and YouTube, which lets people search for a particular advertiser and view the advertiser page.

In 2022, Google added or updated 29 policies for advertisers and publishers. This included expanding financial services verification programs in 11 new countries (including India in August of last year), expanding protections for teens and strengthening elections ads policies.

The numbers themselves reveal why such policy updates are required.

In 2022, the world’s most visited website removed over 5.2 billion ads, restricted over 4.3 billion ads and suspended over 6.7 million advertiser accounts. This represents an increase of 2 billion more ads removed in 2022 from the previous year. Google also blocked or restricted ads from serving on over 1.5 billion publisher pages and took broader site-level enforcement action on over 143,000 publisher sites.

“To enforce our policies at this scale, we rely on a combination of human reviews and automated systems powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. This helps sort through content and better detect violations across the globe,” said Borgia.

In October of last year, Google launched My AdCenter which helps people control the kinds of ads they see across Google on Search, YouTube and Discover. It also allows them to limit ads from sensitive categories and learn more about the information used to personalize their ad experience.

“In the first three months after launch, we’ve seen more than 70 million visits to My AdCenter globally, with people adjusting their ad preferences on more than 20% of those visits. We’ve also invested significantly in giving helpful information to users about our advertisers,” mentioned Borgia.

Consumers now can specifically flag ads, using a feature that's within the ad. Borgia said it’s also worth noting their enforcement touches have played a pivotal role in the policy development process. “The enforcement trends that we've observed help us to see what are the new policies that we might need to launch or what policies might need to be updated.”

Then there is the issue of online financial scams and phishing, even as fraudulent activity continues to rise.

“While not unique to digital advertising, these scams can cause real financial harm and we are committed to combating them on our platforms. In 2022 we expanded our financial services certification program which requires advertisers to demonstrate that they are authorized by their local regulator to promote their products and services. This measure adds a new layer of security against fraudsters and further safeguards people from financial scams,” he said.

Speaking directly to exchange4media on the hot-button topic of AI, especially in light of Google having just rolled out Bard, its chatbot competitor to the much vaunted, Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, Borgia said that it's still early days for Bard, and it's really too early to speculate what form chatbots in general are going to take, “much less the ad formats or the monetization models that will support such chatbots.”

“I will say that AI has been foundational to our ads business and for the last decade, and will continue to bring cutting-edge advances to our products, help businesses and users. When it comes to our ads, policies and enforcement, we've long used a combination of human reviewers and automated systems. Many of those automated systems are relying on AI and technology, but also trained by humans, and these helped us to better detect policy-violating content and remove it at scale,” he said.

Borgia concluded, “While I don't have specific comments on chatbots or Bard, I wanted to share that context because we do have extensive investments in artificial intelligence in general, and specifically for our business.”


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Is contextual advertising the best bet in the cookie-less future? 

Experts say aligning with first-data party and contextual advertising are best alternatives that marketers can adopt in the coming years

By Tanya Dwivedi | Mar 29, 2023 1:18 PM   |   6 min read

contextual advtg

As the world moves into a cookie-less future, advertisers and marketers have consciously started experimenting with new models of digital marketing. Unequivocally, contextual advertising has become a top-notch advertising tool ever since Google, The New York Times, The Trade Desk, and Oracle have started using it as a way to serve targeted ads without relying on third-party cookies. It is quite interesting to see Facebook working on developing ‘Facebook News Feed Contextual targeting’.

As part of the e4m TechTalk, Dimpy Yadav, General Manager - Xaxis India, defined how contextual advertising was re-emerging for delivering relevant and targeted messages to India’s audiences. Briefing in layman’s terms, is a form of targeted advertising in which ads are placed on web pages depending on the content of those pages, rather than the data collected from the consumer’s online behaviour. 

Besides looking more into the data and numbers available which are immensely circulated across digital platforms, we tried to find out what’s the way ahead for marketers after the death of third-party cookies? We spoke to marketing and advertising experts on how contextual advertising help marketers in the coming years and how marketers would compensate for the overall loss in revenue the brand suffers after the eradication of third-party cookies.  

Aligning with First-Party Data

As Google announced to phase out third-party cookies by 2024, the marketers have started looking for the best alternatives to target the consumers ahead. Discussing how first-party data can help marketers after the removal of third-party cookies, Siddharth Dabhade, Managing Director, MiQ India, said, “The AdTech industry has been preparing for this eventuality for years now as Apple, Safari, and Firefox have already disabled cookies. At MiQ, we innovate to build privacy-centric audience graphs that tie together multiple, holistic views of identity that are not only reliant on cookies.” 

Moreover, we’ve seen a lot of organisations using authenticated targeting approach by getting explicit consent from a user to use their data - this appears as a pop-up on the homepage or login screen and enables brands to personalise their campaigns for their existing users and customers by gathering first-party data.” Talking further in the discourse of other alternatives available so far, Siddharth shared how contextual and geo/location-based targeting is the way ahead for brands in the cookieless world.  

Commenting more on third-party cookies, Ravi Kumar, Founder, and CEO, MadHawks, said, “Third-party cookies limit your ability to control how and which of your information is used by the websites you visit. While large platforms such as Google and Facebook may have strict privacy policies and data-sharing controls for users, many unscrupulous websites can collect more information than users want to share. The removal of third-party cookies will only limit or regulate the flow of information between users and websites. The system will be replaced by a Google Ad Centre. The Ad Centre will allow internet users to choose which ad categories they want to see.”

Further mentioning some additional pointers to make targeting audience in a post-third-party-cookie world more interesting and effective, Rajeev Pandey, Director of Global University Systems, said, “Embracing data transparency and focusing on quality over quantity can bring more creativity in the content. Also, collaborating with partners to find innovative solutions can help the brand target the right audience.” 

Contextual advertising is the future

Discussing more on how contextual advertising can become the best alternative to third-party cookies, Mitesh Kothari, Co-founder, and Chief Creative Officer, of White Rivers Media, said, “Contextual targeting helps us understand the consumer sentiment and deliver content in a highly relevant environment. There are multiple advanced contextual targeting tools as well now that rely on technologies like natural language processing and image recognition that allows potential customer identification and pertinent content delivery.”

Following the McKinsey report on how the deprecation of cookies will lead to an approximately $10 billion loss in revenue, Siddharth further described how cookie depreciation will impact key brand metrics across channels, He said, “Virtually every channel brands use today will be impacted by the deprecation of cookies, including the measurement data. Household reach, IP-based conversions, footfall, incremental lift, ROAS, and CPA all currently rely on cookie-based attribution for measurement of the interlocking key between channels. A single solution to cookieless measurement is unlikely, Authenticated IDs, clean rooms, in-app measurement, attention, brand surveys, and TV measurement–is important to explore multiple solutions that solve for multiple identifiers and to continue to push innovation in measurement through strategic and collaborative partnerships.” 

He mentioned that contextual targeting is an alternative to demographic targeting that targets users based on their passions, habits, and interests. By targeting users based on interests, affinity audiences include users across demographics, making it more inclusive than demographic targeting. Girish Ramachandra, Founder & CEO, Shopalyst added that Brands will get access to newer forms of targeting on media platforms - which could be based on cohorts instead of individual identities. Targeting relevance combined with contextual personalization will be the cornerstone of success for brands.

Other alternatives

Apart from discussing various alternatives for the cookieless future, marketing experts focus on conscious advertising as an option ahead. Krishna Iyer, the Director – Marketing at MullenLowe Lintas Group, said, “In terms of traffic, conscious advertising can attract a wider audience that shares the brand values and beliefs. This can lead to more organic traffic and word-of-mouth referrals, as loyal customers share their positive experiences with others. As for conversion, it can help in two ways. Firstly, it can attract consumers who are more likely to convert because they share the brand values and are more likely to identify with the messaging. Secondly, by building trust and a stronger connection with the audience, brands can increase customer loyalty, leading to repeat business and higher conversion rates.”

Roshan Kunder, Head of Marketing & E-commerce - India at NAOS, Bioderma, added, “By incorporating conscious advertising practices into marketing strategy, brands can create more effective and impactful campaigns that not only resonate with their audience but also drive business results. Conscious advertising can be one tool in a brand's marketing arsenal to help them adapt to these changes and create more effective and impactful advertising campaigns.”

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IAS provides verification solution to Amazon Publisher Services Connections Marketplace

Publishers can maximize the value of their inventory using IAS’s solutions via Connections Marketplace

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 29, 2023 12:27 PM   |   1 min read


Integral Ad Science has announced its Publisher Optimization solution within the Amazon Publisher Services (APS) Connections Marketplace.

APS is a suite of cloud services that helps publishers build, monetize, and grow their digital media business. IAS is now the first verification provider accessible within the APS Connections Marketplace – a services marketplace where publishers can easily activate multiple technology solutions with little or no new development work, saving them time and resources and creating new revenue opportunities.

“IAS's presence within the Marketplace is an important step in addressing publishers’ needs to maximize inventory and increase revenue,” said Yannis Dosios, Chief Commercial Officer, IAS. “We are excited to open the door for publishers on APS to work with us to improve efficiency and yield by delivering advertisers’ KPIs for brand safety, ad fraud, viewability, and contextual relevance.”

With IAS Publisher Optimization, publishers can automatically optimize ad delivery down to the placement level for both direct and programmatic deals, and, as a result, increase inventory yield with greater alignment with their advertisers’ brand safety and suitability priorities.

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Bobble AI launches new platform - Bobble Super

The application allows users to purchase directly from an  AI-based keyboard

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 29, 2023 11:53 AM   |   1 min read


Bobble AI has launched a new platform - Bobble Super that allows users to purchase directly from AI-based keyboard, media networks have reported.

The platform allows access to a gamut of services like food ordering, ticket booking and gifting.

The application employs intent detection technology that maps user intents across their smartphone usage. This allows personalisation of product offerings and service recommendations.

As per Ankit Prasad, Co-founder & CEO of Bobble AI, the platform allows swift transactions for brands and business partners through non-intrusive prompts on the keyboard, similar to word suggestions.

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