You’ll never believe what this email thread says about the ad-funded ‘open’ web – TechCrunch

Among many claims over UK Edtech lobby group MOW’s website The ironically great thing is that “advertising funds the open web.”

This coalition of “marketers”, whose members are not being made public despite their widespread claims to love web openness – is not, says MOW, Google punished on its ranks of “top companies around the world” Of rain – recently complained to the UK competition regulator about the tech giant’s plan to phase out support for tracking cookies.

If you do not already guess that “OW” is an abbreviation of MOW, “Open Web”. Oka (Unknown) Marketers for an Open Web.

And today CMA Duly announced Checking out mountain view “Privacy Sandbox. “However, as of now, no conclusion has been reached on whether Google’s plan puts competition at risk.

In truth, various business models support open access to information on the Internet.

Wikipedia, for example – certainly the canonical example of the Open Web – relies on readers’ donations to keep the lights on as not-for-profit.

Whereas – on the basis of “exclusive access” – crowdfunding sites and subscription platforms such as Petron provide tools for regular monetary subscriptions from fans and backers to create subsets to unlock gated content.

But it’s worth noting how many online publishers have moved, to access (paid) content for free (ad-supported) content over the year (ad-supported), often in addition to running ads .

Whether it is Financial Times, New York Times, Telegraph or Business Insider, the list of pay-to-access news sites remains long. Consent flows (such as) that are asked to process visitors’ information to target with ads also show a lot.

TechCrunch almost joined the ranks of subscription publications Two years ago When we launched Extra crunch. The main TC site continues to be free to use ads and supported by us Event business. (NB: We are having events in 2021 Completely virtual – Which means, as a brief, bonus, they were never so open and accessible! “

So how are all these paywalls being thrown if advertising funds the open web, as the MOW claims?

The short answer is Digital advertising pays publishers so poorly that it cannot produce the content it needs at its level based on quality – thanks to innumerable edtech intermediaries, click fraud and the big two: Google and Facebook; aka, adtech duplex, which takes the lion’s share of revenue generated by digital advertising.

“We have found that middlemen (the largest of which is) Google) Occupying at least 35% of the value of advertising purchased from newspapers and other content providers in the UK, ”CMA reported last summer, in a major market study.

Consumers and privacy-haters who turn to ad blockers to avoid creepy ads prevent trackers from real-time tracking their digital activity, and this intel is systematically designed to score anonymously in an ad auction process. Who pass by Britain’s own data security regulator has said that this is not very valid, Here is another relevant factor.

Online advertising definitely makes some money. But is that some open web? It seems debatable on this point.

I bring all of this into the MOW story only to provide context for a chance description that I want to share – as it illustrates some of the issues in this high stakes such as those of publishers, digital marketing and EdTech players, and a handful. War between. Poor, frustrated eyeball of the average Internet user versus large (advertising) tech.

This is an important power struggle.

In the latest Internet twist, co-opting competition regulators threatened Internet owners to keep their personal information from exploitation (and broader security-related risks) to create barriers to pro-privacy reform is. Assuming that the CMA supersedes the naïve claims about what the suspect claims the ad does for the “open” Internet – when there is evidence of it Actually But one click and one paywall / tortuously long agreement to “share” your private data with hundreds of unknown firms.

The regulatory announcement today suggests that it is alive due to the laxity surrounding the privacy of Internet users and will take more than a superficial glance at that issue – though if the chief representative of ICO bats in the room for the interests of users Is, to adopt here, at least, in view of the later storey Reluctance to enforce the substantive law against adtech.

But here is tidbit – which comes through a PR agency that works for MOW. Earlier today I got an email thread cc’d in many staffers were discussing monitoring CMA news on behalf of their client.

I’m not naming the agency or anyone to include my blush, but in the thread – that starts with “FYI – CMA is about to announce a formal investigation at Google. We have drafted a comment which we will broadcast soon. “ – Employees may be asked to login to several newspaper websites and / or start a free trial to access the newspaper copy for free, without having to pay for a new subscription.

“Do we have an FT login? If yes, can you find [sic] The story he wrote for me only on MOW? Asks an employee.

Shortly afterwards there is a discussion on the Telegraph’s website about starting a free trial, as they talk about gathering relevant coverage in any document that is capable of tracking the development of MOW.

“You need to enter credit card details to start a trial” to warn an employee chips – before suggesting to another “to see if you find a way around it.”

This person goes on to say that “if you manage to find a way around it you will tell me.”

So, MMM, more ironically?

Showing a portion of an email thread showing MOV’s PR agency how to access news sites to copy to complete coverage on behalf of its client. Image Credit: TechCrunch.

In light of MOW’s advocacy for a “vibrant” ad-supported open web – meaning that its website is aligned with the interests of publishers, marketers and adtech providers, that is, not only with opaque adtech interests – it is a Sounds very relevant for the agency. Working for the industry group is seamless, to put it politely, being paid to lobby on behalf of Edtech, while paying for the relevant newspaper.

On its website, MOW argues that allowing Google to turn off third-party tracking cookies would be bad news for publishers as it said it would cut marketers’ ability to measure ad campaign performance on various sites – it Claiming that less effective advertising will result in lower returns and thus less cash remitted by publishers in the market.

although CMA Digital Marketing field’s recent deep dive study One industry found it so opaque and was snatched up with the black box algorithm that the regulator listed “lack of transparency” as a competition concern.

The report warns, “Platforms with market power have the incentive and ability to raise prices, for example, or to eliminate the quality and effectiveness of their advertising inventory.” “They can take steps to reduce the degree of transparency in digital advertising markets, reduce other publishers’ ability to display the effectiveness of their advertising, and make advertisers trust the information and metrics provided by those platforms Can force to do. And a lack of transparency reduces market participants’ ability to make the decisions necessary for competition. The main issue of all these issues is that competition has weakened and market confidence has waned. “

Given that overarching assessment, who would take the opaque coalition of marketers for it, which renders the current Internet’s current-gene cookie tracking irrelevantly valuable performance metrics?

Or that such privacy-hostile tracking is the only viable way to support the “vibrant open web”?

“The lack of transparency in the open market is particularly serious, where publishers and advertisers rely on middlemen to manage the process of real-time bidding and advertising, but cannot directly see what the intermediaries are doing. , Or in some cases, how much they do is being accused, “CMA goes further, intensifying their concerns about the extent to which the practices of border intermediaries stop. “Market participants such as newspapers and advertisers generally do not have visibility into the fees charged along the entire supply chain and this limits their ability to make optimal choices for buying or selling inventory, competition among middlemen. Reduces to. “

One thing is clear: To completely brighten the EdTech industry, a lot of disinfectant sunlight is required. And this clarification process will certainly demand substantial improvement.

There is no other way to preserve the web by refusing to change how things happen, claiming “as we know” is as ridiculous an idea as it is anti-innovation in spirit.

Returning to the frustrated email thread, we contacted MOW’s PR agency to ask if the account included expenses for relevant newspapers. It said that it would come out of the funds of a central agency. In addition – it is being investigated back on – the agency said it has in fact considered membership of newspaper sites.

The spokeswoman pointed out that the staff involved had not felt it at the time – in the heat of the “day-to-day PR” moment (and minimizing remote-working-impacted comings). And, perhaps, all those membership login screens as they throw up barriers to access the necessary content in the heat of the time.

This (senior) spokeswoman blamed herself for describing it as a “cock up” – including a “paywall workaround” request – to take full mea gupa Responsibility and emphasis on this has nothing to do with the MOW or MOW account.

But, well, if an agency working for an EdTech lobby group whose main claim is “Advertisements support open Internet ” Unable to access the online content required to do our work without a subscription, which tells us about how open the advertising industry is to the Internet Actually Funding now?