Publishers Say Companies Selling Contextual Ad Tools Are Scraping Their Data Unfairly

Ryan Barwick, Morning Brew:

Now that third-party cookies are dying and some ad dollars are shifting to contextual advertising — ads based on the content of the media, not on personal information — publishers want a (better) seat at the table and stronger terms as the industry adopts new technologies.

I think Barwick should have acknowledged this is a return to contextual advertising. That is how ads used to be sold on the internet.


Publishers have generally accepted that these companies will crawl their sites in the name of brand safety, viewability, and the like, but they haven’t agreed to let contextual vendors sell this data for targeting, argued Danny Spears, chief operating officer at the Ozone Project. And that’s in “direct competition” with the publisher’s own sales team.


More specifically, IAS, one of the largest ad verification companies in the world, has told publishers that it’s all or nothing — that a publisher can’t pick and choose how IAS scans a site or what it does with that data. “They won’t separate it,” said Reeves.

A disgusting practice, but an unsurprising one. Thousands of ad tech companies that were spawned in the anti-privacy heyday of the last decade need to justify their continued existence, if only in the shallowest possible way.