Getting you up to speed with all the latest in the Catching up.
Firefox’s cookie offensive
Firefox’s latest update (version 69) will now block thousands of cookies on websites by default. Although the browser’s ETP (Enhanced Tracking Protection) has been available for a while, it will now automatically block more than 2,500 cookies on websites that capture the personal data of Internet users. Firefox will not block all cookies used by websites, but will screen out a few thousand cookies, including those used by major platforms (Facebook, Google), advertising services (Outbrain, Smart) or website traffic counters. Fortunately, a company in the latter category has the ideal solution for working with ETP and Safari’s ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention).
RTB back in the spotlight
Google’s RTB (Real Time Bidding) is under fire once again from Brave’s chief policy and industry relations officer, Johnny Ryan. Brave, the maker of the Chromium-based browser that rivals Google Chrome claims to have new evidence that the tech giant is continuing to leak personal information to advertisers – in clear violation of the GDPR. In an official complaint to the Irish Data Protection Commission (Google’s lead regulator in Europe), Ryan claims that Google’s ‘Push Page’ or ‘google_push’ user identifier acts as a workaround to GDPR restrictions. By using the identifier, companies can trade profile data with each other by cross-referencing the personal profiles of their data subjects.
This latest accusation is part of an ongoing enquiry into RTB. The UK’s ICO (Information Commissioners Office) published a report in June on the RTB ecosystem which found the ad tech industry to be “immature” in its application of data protection requirements. It also stated that “a single RTB request can result in personal data being processed by hundreds of organizations, each with their own privacy policies.” The investigation continues…
Minimum Viable (data) Products
Dat Tran, head of AI @Axel Springer dives into the world of MVPs and maps out how the concept applies to machine learning products. He describes the state-of-the art methodology of lean startups and how companies these days integrate the build-measure-learn approach, i.e. building products or services iteratively by continuously integrating customer feedback to reduce the risk that the product/service will fail. By applying this to machine learning, he identifies three major dimensions that are critical for a good MVP data product: a minimum viable model, a minimum viable platform, and a minimum viable (data) product.
Interactive GDPR fines
Empirik has released the first ever interactive Barometer detailing all the GDPR fines in Europe so far.
It’s a riveting read – 66 fines have been handed out since May 2018 to a total of just over €54 million and an average fine of €5K. February 2019 was a peak month (i.e. with the €50 million CNIL Google fine) and Germany has the highest number of identified sanctions per country. They’ll be updating it every month to display the latest GDPR developments – not forgetting that there are numerous cases that are ongoing and confidential. Stay tuned for more fines coming soon!
Don’t believe the hype
Google has been accused of spreading misleading figures and promoting its own interests following a series of blog posts over the summer. The tech giant has come under fire from publishers after it announced that they stand to lose 52% of programmatic ad revenue if they can’t use third-party cookie ad targeting. In a clear attempt to discredit Apple’s Safari browser anti-tracking update, Intelligent Tracking Prevention, Google was said to have taken the figures out of context and used them as a “weapon” to further its own cause. Although the estimated revenue loss from Apple Safari cookie restrictions has dropped, it hasn’t simply disappeared from publishers’ income. One ad ops executive commented – “The bigger concern is how Chrome will implement cookie-blocking for users. The hope is that by publishing the revenue-loss research, Google intends to still allow cookie-tracking and therefore limit the damage to publishers’ audience-targeting campaigns.”
The Yuka effect
French supermarket chain Intermarché is reformulating 900 of its products to get better ratings on Yuka. Since its launch in 2017, Yuka has had a profound impact on the marketplace. The application, which rates the health effects of agri-food and cosmetic products by ‘decoding’ product labels is used by nearly 18% of French shoppers. Intermarché’s product update mainly focusses on removing 140 notorious additives by 2020 including glutamate, titanium dioxide and magnesium carbonates. The goal? To gives its products a score higher than 50/100 – below 50 and the app automatically recommends better-rated alternatives.
The art of greenwashing
Hypocrites beware! While brands have the potential to make a big impact on sustainability, many have been accused of being ‘dark green on the outside and light green on the inside’. In other words, many businesses these days feel they have to tick the sustainability box, so they introduce a single marketing tagline or isolated eco-campaign. Indeed, Google made the news over the summer when it hosted a climate change summit on the coast of Sicily which was attended by countless celebrities who showed up in private jets and superyachts.
Allbirds CMO Julie Channing looks on the bright side – “the good news is the sustainability conversation is happening, [however] it requires a level of education to understand what’s good and not good, what’s authentic and what’s not”. The key for companies is to try to be greener on the inside than the outside. Walk more than talk!
See you next time on the Internets!