Last Week in Digital Media (10/28 - 11/1)

Political Advertising, Google/Facebook Q3 Results, Streaming Wars, Google buys Fitbit, Data Protection & Sovereignty


Here’s your latest Last Week in Digital Media.


The debate about political advertising hit fever-pitch during the week. The opening gambit came from a Facebook OpEd on USA Today, defending their position and that “it shouldn’t be the gatekeeper”. Only to be overtaken by an announcement by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that they would end political advertising globally come November 22nd (joining Pinterest, LinkedIn, TikTok who have reached similar conclusions). This resulted in open challenges to Facebook to follow Twitter’s lead (#YourMoveZuck) but instead, Facebook publicly doubled down its decision to retain political advertising.

All of this is an issue now, and not 4-5 years ago because political parties are taking full advantage of all the digital tools at their disposal. It’s standard for political advertising in digital channels to have sophisticated tactics with highly precise and narrowly defined people-based segments. Political advertising has raised concerns about predatory and discriminatory use of data (ethical data use), what is a fair and reasonable audience size, and genuine concerns about how to manage privacy and sensitive information.

What does this all mean for marketers and non-political advertisers? If you exclude “fact-checking” and “misinformation” (to de-politicize the debate), all of the latter issues (ethical data use, audience size, privacy) should be of concern to those in the advertising industry. These are key issues we need to resolve and answer. As marketers, we are also in a position to set the agenda on the political advertising debate. The blending of misinformation, data, and money is weaponizing advertising in a way that not only puts both democracy and democratic institutions at risk but has opened the entire advertising ecosystem to criticism.

Over the past few days, I have had direct high-level conversations with senior people at each of the platforms, with industry groups, and directly with clients about concerns with political advertising. The conversation inevitably turns to “responsibility” - as everyone grapples with what is the responsible course of action. Expect “responsibility” to factor into a lot more conversations in the year ahead from how to collect and use data; to where should advertisers invest their money.

In regards to political advertising, the consensus across everyone I speak with is that this is an environment where regulators need to step in and provide guidance. We need this so that there is a consistent, transparent, and procedural fair processes for all: the public, political leaders, marketers, and even the platforms.

Now onto the digital media news you may have missed.


During the week several Q3 2019 results were released, so here are the highlights:



On a happier final note, there’s a challenge going around that started on YouTube called #TeamTrees with the goal to plant 20MM trees by Jan 1, 2020. The challenge started thanks to a YouTube Creator Mr. Beast and prompted by Reddit. #TeamTrees is legitimate and the money goes to the Arbor Day Foundation. Something positive to get behind given all the other noise in the world at the moment.

Have a great week and I’m always happy to hear from you.


PS. And a bonus! If you have an Android Phone, Google released an experiment called “PaperPhone” that makes a printable planner you can use each day to help ditch your phone. If you don’t have an Android phone (or even if you do) you can view a video of what PaperPhone offers here and Android users download PaperPhone here.