Ari Paparo, CEO of Beeswax, is one of the most recognizable names in ad tech Twitter. His insightful (and often bitter) commentary makes it a must-read for those wanting an up-to-date comment on the area (see below).
The GDPR prison would be great. I would know everyone, we could all wear blue blazers in the yard, and in our spare time the inmates could get together to start an advertising network.
– Ari Paparo (@aripap) August 14, 2019
Before announcing that ComWays FreeWheel would buy his company soon, he took the time to speak with Adweek about what he thought was important over the past 12 months.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Adweek: So what was really important in 2020?
Ari Paparo: The story for 2020 was: Identity, Covid-19 and CTV, these are really the three things that really mattered.
You started by announcing Google Chrome [that it will pull support for third-party cookies in 2022]which was a shot over the bow of identity when nothing really happened.
It is mostly vaporware for the future with no real-time frame. It was enough to get people to make it the theme of the year. Then with Apple’s announcement in the summer [about severe restrictions to its mobile identifier in iOS 14]what was expected made it really clear that identity will be the most important factor for digital media.
Covid-19 apparently had a tremendous impact on people in a very short time in March and April and there has certainly been some panic and some layoffs, but most of these companies have been overly exposed to the travel industry, and many [in ad tech] had a very good Q3 and Q4.
We’ve seen CTV grow over the past few years, but 2020 was certainly a breakout year, and this is likely related to home-stay orders and consumers moving away from linear TV sources.
After Google confirmed that they wanted third-party cookies to be supported, and just before the global pandemic broke out, the IAB Project Rearc announced it would keep ad tech in a post-cookie world. What do you think?
I think the industry is a bit paralyzed by the confusing and half-hearted suggestions that Google keeps making [such as ‘DoveKey’ for its Privacy Sandbox scheme].
In fact, we have the greatest web browser that gives us vague deadlines and vague technical solutions to really big important problems, and that has just frozen everyone because they’re not sure how to behave.
You could make a very good comparison with Apple, which, while aggressive against our industry as a whole, has at least shipped products like SKAdNetwork that we can at least use today. That gives people a lot more security as opposed to pending proposals, which may or may not be published in two years.
While Google has a difficult position between regulatory concerns, privacy concerns, and business concerns, I don’t envy them.
Since Google’s announcement in January, there have been a number of “Independent ID” initiatives outside of Walled Gardens that you think are most likely to lead the way.
I think it’s very similar to what we had with header bids in ad tech a few years ago. They had all of these different companies that had their own solutions, but then Prebid happened and that was open source, and then it essentially won.
I think it’s a very similar dynamic now, and you have The Trade Desk with UDID 2.0, which seems to have some advantage as it’s one of the few companies big enough to do something like this. Basically there’s a bit of jockeying, but if companies make their ID offerings interoperable, they should stand a chance.