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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. Photo by Bloomberg.

Why Snap’s Wall Street Messages Need a More Realistic Lens

Photo: Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. Photo by Bloomberg.

As today was a rest day for big tech company earnings—Apple and Amazon are tomorrow—it’s worth reflecting on what we’ve learned in the past few days about the current turmoil in the digital ad market. One takeaway may be that investors don’t understand the ad tech world very well. Otherwise they would have divined ahead of time how Apple’s ad-targeting restrictions would affect the various tech companies. 

But that lack of understanding shouldn’t be a surprise, given the ad tech world’s insistence on using mind-numbingly opaque jargon that prevents outsiders from figuring out what’s going on. (How many people really understand what “header bidding” is?) For that reason, the more important takeaway is that some company executives—I’m looking at you, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel—didn’t do a very good job of communicating the potential impact of Apple’s changes, at least not compared to others, most obviously Facebook. As MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson put it last week, Snap “consistently downplayed” concerns about the impact, unlike Facebook.

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