2019.02.15 Last Week in Digital Media

Here’s your Last Week in Digital Media.


  • Interesting news in the world of AI. A little talked of fact is eCommerce websites typically price match using bots and AI (that’s why so many sites have you add to cart before you can see the price to try and game the bot-system). Research out of Italy shows that unconnected price matching AI can learn to collude and increase prices. That is, ask what checks and balances exist in the system to ensure that the best interests of consumers and clients are protected.
  • the UK Parliamentary inquiry into Disinformation and “Fake News” has published their final report. Among key findings, it calls for a mandatory Code of Ethics for tech. companies and states that it believes “Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws“. The report highlights some harsh truths for everyone in the industry, including that UK electoral laws are not fit for purpose when it comes to social media. A fact that holds true everywhere in the world.
  • there are multiple reports that Facebook is about to enter into a multi-billion dollar settlement with the FTC around Cambridge-Analytica and other data privacy incidents from 2018. This will be something to watch. It would give a preview of how the FTC views privacy, if there is a new consent-decree it would change how Facebook goes to market in advertising, and it will set the direction for how the industry uses data.Editorial Observation: The previously cited UK Parliamentary report notes on pp26, paragraph 76 “If (Facebook) had fully complied with the FTC settlement, (Cambridge Analytica) would not have happened“. If the UK Parliamentary report reached this conclusion, it’s difficult to imagine the FTC arriving at a different position.
  • the UK has published the results of a study into the future of journalism and news industry titled “the Cairncross Review“.  The full report is 157pp (pdf link) and is relevant to the ad industry as it calls out the reduction of supply in public-interest journalism as a “market failure” and questions whether the rise and power of Google and Facebook will require government intervention. While a UK-based report, the themes, and findings do resonate across countries given the challenges are common to news organizations everywhere.

Before I wrap this week, a brief housekeeping update. Due to weekend client travel, I may not be able to publish an update next week. I will try my best to find time to write an update and send a newsletter but ask for your patience if I miss a week.

Thanks for reading, I appreciate it and have a great week.