April 15, 2019 | by Alexian Chiavegato

AdTech Weekly Roundup

A look at how last week’s news affects mobile publishers…

Facebook to replace Exclude Categories with new brand safety ad filters
Marketing Land is reporting that at the end of May, Facebook will be rolling out new brand safety inventory filters for Audience Network, Instant Articles and in-stream videos ads, giving marketers’ streamlined control over content associated with their ads.

The new filters — which include “Limited,” “Standard” and “Full” inventory options — will replace Facebook’s five exclusion categories: Debatable Social Issues, Mature, Tragedy and Conflict, Dating and Gambling. Once the exclusion categories have been fully replaced by the inventory filters, selecting specific content areas to exclude will not be an option.

To give more context to how the filters work, Facebook said ads with the “Limited Inventory” option would not be placed by content where there is strong language, but the “Standard Inventory” filter means there could be a few instances of strong language — or the “Full Inventory” where there is no protection from ads showing up in content with multiple instances of strong language.

YouTube Changes Metrics to Reward Quality Content
YouTube, the world’s biggest video site, is changing the way it measures success on platform. According to Bloomberg, the Google division introduced two new internal metrics in the past two years for gauging how well videos are performing, but they are still deciding on how this new approach works.

One change tracks the total time people spend on YouTube, including comments they post and read (not just the clips they watch). The other is a measurement called “quality watch time,” a softer statistic with a noble goal: To spot content that achieves something more constructive than just keeping users glued to their phones.

The changes are designed to reward videos that are more palatable to advertisers and the broader public. Creating the right metric for success could help marginalize videos that are inappropriate, or popular among small but active communities with extreme views. It could also help YouTube make up for previous problems in curbing the spread of toxic content.

Just like other parts of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, YouTube, uses these corporate metrics for most business and technical decisions – including how it pays staff and creates critical software like its recommendation system. But the company has yet to settle on how the “quality watch time” metric works, or communicate how the new measure will impact millions of “creators” who upload videos to the site.

Marketers Reviewing New Technique to Share Consumer Data while Protecting Privacy
Digiday reports that advertisers are searching for ways to collect data on people without compromising their privacy. One of those alternatives has been called “differential privacy,” a statistical technique which allows companies to share aggregate data about user habits while protecting individual privacy.

Differential privacy is a process used to aggregate data that was pioneered by Microsoft and is now used by Apple, Google and other big tech companies. In a nutshell, a differential privacy algorithm injects random data into a data set to protect individual privacy.

Before data is sent to a server to be anonymized, the differential privacy algorithm adds random data into an original data set. The inclusion of the random data means the advertiser gets a data set that has been masked ever so slightly and, therefore, isn’t quite exact. The advertiser effectively gets approximations of the answers they need without compromising anyone’s privacy. For example, an advertiser viewing differential privacy data might know that 150 out of 200 people saw a Facebook ad and clicked through to its site, but not which 150 people.

New Pew Report Shows Social Media Use Remains the Same
According to Adweek, the latest Pew survey found that the share of U.S. adults on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest has remained more or less unchanged since 2016. Around 69% of U.S. adults say they still use Facebook, 28% visit Pinterest and 22% are Twitter users. Only Facebook-owned Instagram saw slight gains in that time period, growing from 32% to 37%.

The findings come as big platforms have faced a seemingly never-ending string of user controversies, from a drumbeat of headlines around Facebook’s data leaks, privacy scandals and fake news.
Americans surveyed in other Pew studies said they are concerned about these issues. Around six in 10 adults said they would like to do more to protect their online privacy, 72% think big tech firms actively censor political views with which they disagree and 59% said it would not be difficult for them to leave these sites.

But the data mismatch between people’s professed concerns and the steps they take to actually act on them is a common theme across Pew’s tech usage surveys, whether it’s internet privacy protections or online news consumption, according to report’s co-author.