Signal July 1: Selfie Selfie Selfie!

Snapchat is now valued at $800 million.

Snapchat is now valued at $800 million. But where are its sources of revenue?

In this week’s Signal: Why companies with no sources of revenue are worth billions; simple psychology could be the problem behind top-secret information leaks; the top 21 winners in Film and Film Craft from Cannes; Apple’s ads irritate viewers; Henrique De Castro’s ‘twinning’ ad strategy; shaking up ad tech might fix its problems; Randall Rothenberg’s rant against Mozilla; and more.

To the links …

Snapchat’s Complete Inability to Make Money is the Reason It’s Worth $800 Million  (Quartz) There are plenty of uncanny parallels between Snapchat, which is now valued at $800 million, and Instagram, which Facebook acquired for $1 billion. Writer Marcio Jose Sanchez lists them, and notes that the last one is by far the most interesting: Neither company has any sources of revenue at all. “It’s hard to see how a revenue-free company like Snapchat could be anywhere near an $800 million valuation were it not for the precedent of Instagram (and, some would argue, YouTube before it),” writes Sanchez. “Absent being acquired like Instagram, and with the constant pressure to eventually turn a profit, it’s hard to see how Snapchat could maintain that valuation for the long term.”

How Secrecy Can Distort Data (New Yorker) According to “The Secrecy Heuristic: Inferring Quality from Secrecy in Foreign Policy Contexts,” a new paper soon to be published in the journal Political Psychology, simple psychology could be the problem behind top-secret information leaks. Mark Travers, a social psychologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who wrote the paper with two colleagues, explains: “When we have a hard problem, we rely on easy-to-understand rules of thumb instead of grappling with it. Information quality is a hard problem, so we have a proclivity to fall back on secrecy as an indicator of quality. And sometimes that works for us. But sometimes it doesn’t —for instance, when people are too eager to classify documents because that makes them seem more important. Or when people want clearances because of an unquestioned intuition that the secret stuff matters more.”

The World’s Best Commercials, 2012-13 (Adweek) The Cannes juries are in, and Adweek’s got the top 21 winners in Film and Film Craft. After watching thousands of commercials, the Hegarty’s Film Lions jury and the Pytka’s Film Craft Lions jury awarded three Grand Prix, 21 Gold Lions, 38 Silver Lions, and 70 Bronze Lions.

Apple’s TV Ads Touting Company Values Flop With Viewers (Businessweek) I noticed these ads irritating smugness, thought to myself “well, that’s Apple,” and moved on. But this story confirms my initial reaction – the lowest scoring ads ever for Apple. Ouch.

Yahoo’s ‘Twinning’ Ad Strategy (Digiday) Wth a revamped sales strategy called “twinning,” Yahoo’s vision in advertising comes down to splitting the difference between the audience data side and the content side. “Yahoo hopes to position itself directly in the middle,” writes Brian Morrissey. “Yes, run ‘native’ ads with Yahoo that take the form of its new ‘stream ads’ format that takes the look and feel of editorial content, but pair those with audience-targeted banner buys.” Twinning was crafted by Henrique De Castro, who believes the industry “now realizes that content and context matter.”

Ad Tech Today Is a Dead End (Digiday) Paul Berry, founder and CEO of RebelMouse, touts that the current paradigm of advertising technology is fundamentally broken. Technology has tried desperately to send the perfect advertising message to the right person at the right time. Ad tech has used the concept of context to deliver, say, a Verizon ad to consumers when they’re reading about PRISM. But the problem is, it doesn’t work, claims Berry. “You are more likely to summit Everest than click on one of these ads that accompany this post you are reading.” But there is a way to fix it. “Everything we need to shift into the new paradigm is in front of us now,” he writes. “But like any paradigm shift, it’s going to come with massive turbulence and displacement.” Yup.

Ad Tech Isn’t Making Money (Digiday) Metrics like revenues, transactions and impressions served help ad tech companies look great in the eyes of investors and potential clients, but when it comes to answering questions about their profitability, those companies don’t say much. Why? According to Jack Marshall, it’s because “despite rapid growth, they continue to lose millions each quarter and to burn their way through VC funding.” But that’s not necessarily a problem. “Ad tech remains in its infancy,” he adds, “and most companies in the market are focused primarily on scaling their businesses. For them, investing in things like technology, sales teams and marketing is more important than near-term profits at this point in their evolution. It makes sense.”

Mozilla’s Kangaroo Cookie Court (IAB) Mozilla’s intention to block third-party cookies by default, has sparked the ire of IAB’s Randall Rothenberg, who writes, “It is not a clearinghouse for cookies — It is a kangaroo cookie court, an arbitrary group determining who can do business with whom.” Mozilla’s “Cookie Court” is, he says, “just another blatant attempt by a powerful tech company to destabilize efforts by multiple stakeholders to reach consensus about how lives and livelihoods should be aligned in the Internet era.”

Facebook’s Big Whiff on Traffic of Commercial Intent (Hunter Walk) Hunter takes us through his experience with Facebook ads in the context of what is obviously a commerce opportunity on the service. As he put it, Facebook “whiffed.”

Ad Viewability Debate Disrupts the Marketplace (AdWeek) We long for a solution to “viewability,” but let’s be honest. It’s not there yet.

FTC commissioner calls for way to ‘reclaim your name’ (ITWorld) The Do Not Track and privacy debates are increasing in vigor. This is one topic we all must lean into.

Signal June 24: Can You Feel The Real Me?

Brands explore tracking the emotional sentiment of consumers.

Brands advertising on AOL explore tracking the emotional sentiment of consumers. (Photo: CreativeCommons)

In today’s Signal: How do you feel? Brands want to know; on Instagram, size matters; Firefox to block tracking; tech ads from the 80s; Contently launches a new publication; social media and your insurance company; organizing, measuring and manipulating data; big companies experiment cautiously with native ads; defining premium inventory; and more.

To the links…

How Do You Feel About This: AOL Enables Brands To Track Users’ Unconscious Emotions, In Real-Time (Media Post) On June 14, AOL unveiled a new platform that enables brands to measure not just whether people are exposed to or even see their content, but how they actually feel about it. The platform, launching on AOL’s entertainment unit Be On, utilizes users’ own webcams to read their facial expressions while watching a brand’s video content in order to understand what their unconscious feelings are while exposed to the brand’s messages. According to MediaPost, “Be On CEO René Rechtman says AOL is already considering ways it could deploy the technology to track the emotional sentiment of its general users who want to opt into it. The initial goal, he says, is to improve engagement levels that users have with brands running video content on AOL, but over time he says it could be used to improve the overall user experience with any AOL or brand content.”

It’s No Accident Facebook Made Instagram’s New Videos Exactly As Long As a Television Commercial (Quartz) Facebook just added the ability to share videos on Instagram, opting for a maximum length of 15 seconds, which is nine seconds longer that what Vine allows. Big deal? Well, yeah, because those nine second mean that advertisers can drop in their short television spots without even modifying them.

Firefox Web Browser to Move Ahead Plan to Block Tracking (Washington Post) Despite strong resistance from advertising groups, Firefox is moving ahead with plans to allow hundreds of millions of browser users to eventually limit who watches their movements across the Web. “Firefox would still allow cookies if users were to give a Web site expressed permission,” according to the Post, “or if users were to visit a site regularly — as is common with shopping, social-media or news sites.” Randall Rothenberg, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, reacted by calling browser makers “oligopolies.” “There are billions and billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs at stake in this supply chain,” he said. “It should be done with stakeholders’ input.”

15 Hilarious Technology Ads From the 1980s (Mashable) A look down technology’s advertising memory lane. We can only wonder what we’ll be laughing at in 2050.

Content Marketing Gets Its Magazine Moment (PandoDaily) Contently has launched a new publication, “The Content Strategist,” aimed at brands, publishers, and freelancers, and promising “insights and analysis on brands, storytelling, and the future of content.” What does this mean? According to PandoDaily, “if you’re a journalist who cares about the increasing commercialization of the inverted pyramid, it’s a punch in the guts. If you’re a journalist who cares about making money, it’s an interesting sign of the times. The Content Strategist is essentially a signal that content marketing, in which brands act as publishers, has reached critical mass.”

Programmatic Buying and Content Marketing: Strange Bedfellows? (ClickZ) Our own Laney argues no, in fact, they are not.

Why Your Insurance Company Wants to Be ‘Friends’ on Social Media (Venture Beat) Basil Enan, the CEO and founder of CoverHound, discusses the value of your social media profile and activity to Insurance companies. “My insurance company will offer me a small discount for connecting on Facebook (Esurance already offers a “Like” discount in Arizona and Texas),” he writes. “Now that I’m connected with them via Facebook, they have access to lots of important data points.” Enan goes on to look at how the company might use those data points. It gets really interesting when he talks about how the content of your posts and check-ins could be used in the future to not only determine how much you pay, but also to determine fault in the case of an accident or to reduce fraudulent claims.

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How Brands Organize for Data (Digiday) Some of the most successful brands today are those creating digital marketing environments that are centered on data. Giselle Abramovich reports on how the environments of Mastercard, SAP and Conde Nast allow each of those companies to look beyond the horizon and be data gurus.

The ‘Big Data’ Fallacy (Digiday) Eoin Townsend, chief strategy officer for MediaMath, a digital media buying platform, talks about the problem with investing heavily in a data management platform to collect and store data. The drawback of having a big data strategy, he says, is that it’s based on a fallacy. “Big data is just regular data, and its something every business should already be built on. Successful online advertising is not about accumulating data, but actually doing something with it. The DMP and DSP are elements of a larger solution.”

New Ways Marketers Are Manipulating Data to Influence You (NYT Bits) Now that consumers have become used to retargeting — being followed around the Web by marketers — marketing companies are already focusing on the next generation of targeted advertising, one that collects and analyzes vast streams of data from social media, credit card histories and Web habits. Scott Hagedorn, the chief executive of Annalect, a data marketing company, said that the use of big data in digital advertising is “starting to get really prescriptive.” We have the data, he notes, but it’s about the processing power. “How you can manipulate the data — and what you can do with it.”

Pretty Much Everyone Is Doing Native Ads Now (Adweek) The Wall Street Journal, CNN and NBC are just a few of the companies experimenting cautiously with native ads on some properties. NBC, for example, is still looking for the right content and the right advertiser, but won’t  “force it in.” Peter Naylor, EVP of Digital Media at NBC News Digital Group, told Adweek, “the first rule is that there can’t be one user who doesn’t understand the difference between the editorial content and the advertiser content. The second rule is the editorial staff will never really be called upon to help create this content. Editorial will continue to create editorial—marketing and ad professionals will work on ad content.” The clear message: Brands are treading lightly.

Note To Publishers: Not All Of Your Inventory Is ‘Premium’ (Ad Exchanger) In the latest “Brand Aware” column, Bob Arnold, Director of Digital and Social Media at Kellogg Company, argues that “premium” inventory is in the eye of the beholder. “For me,” he writes, “the definition of premium inventory is ‘inventory that enables the highest probability to increase sales and long-term brand equity.’” Given that his is a high-level definition, he offers seven attributes that that he feels do and don’t make ad inventory ‘premium.’

Why Monopolies Make Spying Easier (The New Yorker) Writer Tim Wu believes that governments will always spy, but it’s the structure and design of information industries that make spying more or less likely. “These days, America has one dominant search engine, one dominant social-networking site, and four phone companies,” He writes. “The structure of the information industry often goes unnoticed, but it has an enormous effect on the ease with which the government spies on citizens. The remarkable consolidation of the communications and Web industries into a handful of firms has made spying much simpler and, therefore, more likely to happen.”

For Driving Engagement, Digital Video Ads Beat TV By a Wide Margin (eMarketer) According to a survey conducted by AOL Networks in April, almost 75% of marketing professionals worldwide plan to increase their spending on branded video content or video ads in the next year. “More than 50% of that group said that the added investment would come from TV and display budgets,” eMarketer reports. “Only 4% of respondents planned to draw back spending on digital video ads.”

Technology: The New Don Draper of Advertising (WSJ) Seems a fad, till it happens.

Signal June 17: Great Ads Are Hard To Do. Can They Be Snapchats?

IBM’s “People For Smarter Cities” ad campaign, created by Ogilvy.

IBM’s “People For Smarter Cities” ad campaign, created by Ogilvy.

In today’s Signal: Ads that are clever and utilitarian; Snapchat: more than just a novelty; the technologies behind the NSA’s data-collection practices; programmatic’s problems; publishers look for the mobile money; Google offers native ads through DoubleClick; the cost of Cannes; and more.

To the links…

These Brilliant Ads Don’t Just Pitch You, They Double as Benches, Shelters and Ramps (TNW) IBM’s “People For Smarter Cities” ad campaign, created by Ogilvy, will make you see ads in a whole new and entirely useful way way. By adding a simple curve to the design, the ads double as a benches, shelters and ramps. Clever!

Snapchat Hiring Massive Sales Team, Said To Be Raising $100M At A Near $1B Valuation To Pay Them (TechCrunch) Snapchat, a photo messaging app developed by four Stanford University students, is aggressively recruiting sales people from Stanford as well as USC for its impending debut of a monetization scheme. It’s raising $100 million at a valuation as high as $1 billion to pay those new hires and others, as well as buy more servers. While many wrote off Snapchat as just a novelty, it’s becoming more and more clear that it’s actually an important new medium for communication. But can they create a place for brands?

Under The Covers of the NSA’s Big Data Effort (GigaOm) We’ve been learning more and more about the NSA’s recently uncovered data-collection practices. In this piece, GigaOm’s Derrick Harris shares what he knows about some of the technologies underlying them, what the NSA can and can’t do with the data, and the policies that are in place. “The technological linchpin to everything the NSA is doing from a data-analysis perspective is Accumulo — an open-source database the agency built in order to store and analyze huge amounts of data,” he writes. “Accumulo is especially adept at analyzing trillions of data points in order to build massive graphs that can detect the connections between them and the strength of the connections.”

At Video Forum, Major Publishers Embrace Programmatic, As Buyers Demand Outcomes  (Ad Exchanger) Programmatic ad sales methods are becoming mainstream for major publishers that built their businesses on print and glossy magazine pages. David Kaplan covers how they’re addressing the problems that programmatic has forced on them, namely the struggle over developing a common metric, and how the values of inventory change when costs are shaved thanks to greater automation. “Those problems weren’t solved at the video ad services provider LiveRail’s Video Publisher Forum,” he notes, “but they did get a full hearing.”

What Cannes Really Costs (Digiday) Next week, more than 10,000 people will descend upon the French Riviera for the Cannes Lions festival. The festival celebrates the most creative work the ad industry has to offer. Jack Marshall breaks down the costs, from entry fees to yacht hires.

More Publishers Tap Responsive Ads (Digiday) As publishers across the board see more of their traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s now crucially important they find ways to better generate more revenue from those audiences. Say Media is selling responsive ad formats instead of device-specific ones in an effort to help publishers figure it all out. “The company launched new responsive ad units on its readwrite.com property this week to coincide with the site’s redesign,” writes Jack Marshall, “but it will eventually roll them out across its entire portfolio, which includes brands such as xoJane, Remodelista and Gear Patrol. The hope is that the large, visual units will attract dollars from big brands. Siemens is the first to buy them.”

From Legolas To Upfront Digital Media: Aiming At Programmatic Direct (Ad Exchange) Legolas Media has re-branded the company Upfront Digital Media, effective immediately. The company claims to be a cross-screen, multi-format programmatic direct solution, offering a mixture of digitally addressable targeting, which is popular in spot markets, while guaranteeing the reach and scale of upfront buys presented via an advertiser’s insertion order.

Google to Offer Native Ads on Publisher Sites (BtoB) Google has announced it will begin offering native ads through its DoubleClick display ad platform on publisher websites. The company is testing the ad units, which look like surrounding journalistic content but are actually sponsored by advertisers, with a handful of publishers, and will expand the service in the coming months.

Ernst & Young: Digital entertainment revenue to surpass ‘traditional’ media by 2015  (zdNet) A new report from Ernst & Young suggests that the entertainment industry is in the middle of a shift, projecting that digital entertainment revenue will surpass that of “traditional” media by 2015. “Interestingly, the report didn’t explicitly define ‘traditional media,’” writes Rachel King. “However, ‘digital media’ is easier to pinpoint as researchers reiterated advancements made by smartphones, tablets, and other online services. Analysts warned that entertainment companies only have a narrow window of opportunity to extend their lead — or catch up — with the digital transformation underway.”

AOL Chief Seeks Standards for Native Advertising (AdWeek) AOL CEO Tim Armstrong believes that the big roadblock for native advertising is its ability to scale. He believes that the publishing community must band together to create standards around native advertising. According to Armstrong, If a company can’t do it at scale, “it’s going to end up being too expensive to actually create native ads on all these different platforms, and that’s going to even lean more heavily into programmatic, because it can be done at a high scale.”

Sponsored Content’s Got a Cost Problem (Digiday) Compared to the low cost of most of online advertising, sponsored content is at risk of being just not worth the effort, even if it is more effective than old-fashioned banner ads. Adam Broitman, VP of Global Digital Marketing at Mastercard, and Ron Faris, CMO of Virgin Mobile, weigh in on the issue.

Signal June 10: WTF is Up With PRISM?!

The official seal of the National Security Agency.

The official seal of the National Security Agency.

In this week’s Signal: The NSA’s Prism program, questions about how it was reported, and reactions to it; advertisers’ social media content problem; Facebook’s new ad strategy; Launch founder Jason Calacanis on why he broke up with YouTube; Google’s decision to allow advertisers to run images with search ads; the next generation of mobile-first Web design; Gary Vaynerchuk’s new social media strategy; the NYSE’s ‘Big Stage’; why blogging and revenue-generation don’t have to be at odds with each other; and more.

To the links…

U.S., British Intelligence Mining Data from Nine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret Program (WP) Washington Post writers Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras sparked outrage with this report that the National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies. The program, code named PRISM, extracts audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets.

The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism (ZDnet) Well, the story certainly has spiraled. This piece notes how strongly our society, and in particular our journalists, want to believe that the government really is doing what we suspect they are doing. It documents how the Washington Post (and by extension, many other outlets) most likely didn’t get the story above right. I don’t believe we’ve even scratched the surface of “the truth” in this matter, but it’s a major win that we’re even talking about it as passionately as we are now.

“Direct Access” Is The Defining Phrase Of The NSA Scandal (BuzzFeed) The Washington Post’s initial report about PRISM, a massive NSA digital surveillance operation, alleged that it gave tech companies “direct access” to the servers of America’s largest tech companies. This particular detail, it seems, is one that these companies feel they can respond to — and they have.

What the …? (Google Blog) Larry Page, CEO of Google, and David Drummond, the company’s Chief Legal Officer, respond to press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. “First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers,” they write. “Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday. Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process.”

Tech Companies, Bristling, Concede to Federal Surveillance Program (NYT) Discussions between the government and tech giants have opened about developing technical methods to more efficiently and securely share the personal data of foreign users in response to lawful government requests. According to the Times, “In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it.” Since tech companies’ cooperation with the government was revealed Thursday, tech execs have called for more transparency.

Boundless Informant: The NSA’s Secret Tool to Track Global Surveillance Data (Guardian) The National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analyzing where its intelligence comes from. The tool, called Boundless Informant, details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks, raising questions about the NSA’s repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communications.

President Obama’s Dragnet (NYT) The New York Times editorial board believes that the Obama administration has now lost all credibility on the issue of phone data collection. According to the board, “Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. … Based on an article in The Guardian published Wednesday night, we now know that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency used the Patriot Act to obtain a secret warrant to compel Verizon’s business services division to turn over data on every single call that went through its system. We know that this particular order was a routine extension of surveillance that has been going on for years, and it seems very likely that it extends beyond Verizon’s business division.”

The Distasteful Side of Social Media Puts Advertisers on Their Guard (NYT) Advertisers are trying to figure out how to prevent their brands from appearing on social media pages that contain offensive content. The problem came to light last week when, after failing to get Facebook to remove pages glorifying violence against women, feminist activists waged a digital media campaign that highlighted marketers whose ads were found alongside those pages. Nissan and several smaller advertisers temporarily removed their ads from the site.

Facebook Changes Ad Strategy to Woo Madison Avenue (CNBC) To fix its problem of having too many ad programs which are complicated and confusing, and, as a result, discourage ad buyers from spending, Facebook announced that it will offer more solution-oriented programs. The goal is to help brands drive in-store sales, generate online conversations, drive app downloads, and improve brand awareness. With this new approach, Facebook is slashing the 27 ad products it offers to just six or seven over the next six months.

I Ain’t Gonna Work On YouTube’s Farm No More (Launch) Launch founder Jason Calacanis spent the last year as a funded YouTube partner and was one of the top 10% of content creators who had their deals renewed in ‘cycle two.’ But he turned down their money, and in this editorial he explains why. The bottom line, he says, is that “someone needs to create a viable alternative to YouTube, even if it’s the top 100 channels on YouTube getting together and creating their own product that lets content creators own the relationship with their users and advertisers.”

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Google Allows Advertisers to Run Images Alongside Search Ads (Biz Journals) Last Wednesday, Google announced that it would allow advertisers to run images alongside their search ads. Advertisers can choose the images to be displayed and send them in for review. The company emphasized the need for necessary rights to the images, and said that image extensions are running in English globally.

Native is the Only Advertising Solution for Mobile (Digiday) Patrick Keane, President of Sharethrough and a veteran of the consumer Internet industry, believes that the next generation of mobile-first Web design is about feeds and streams, not columns, banners and boxes. He touts that the user consumption paradigm on mobile is feeds, not banners, splash pages, pre-roll or other interruptive traditional IAB units. “Publishers are seeing that an average of 30 to 40 percent (and in many cases higher) of their audience and traffic migrate to the mobile Web,” he writes. “Interruptive traditional desktop advertising strategies are threatening to derail mobile monetization before it starts. Mobile will be part of the digital marketing mix only if the advertising is user initiated, and native is the best solution.”

Why Gary Vaynerchuk’s New Social Media Strategy Should Change The Way You Do Business (Forbes) Gary Vaynerchuk relaunched his blog on Wednesday, signaling that he’s going to become an even greater content provider. Forbes reports that he’s redeployed an employee at VaynerMedia, his social media consultancy, to “shadow” his life “by following him at conferences and key local events to record his remarks and turn them into social media content.” Vaynerchuk believes it’s only a matter of time before this arrangement becomes common, and cautions that throwing up your hands and saying you’re too busy just isn’t an option.

NYSE Jumps on Content Marketing Trend with New Site, The Big Stage (Adweek) The New York Stock Exchange has launched a standalone, photo-heavy site designed by Digitas and called The Big Stage. Visitors to the site can find videos, feel-good profiles, Q&As around NYSE-listed companies and their executives, and more. “Hard-hitting journalism it’s not,” writes Lucia Moses, “but with a small army of 10 behind it, The Big Stage is the latest example of how brands are putting big resources in the service of audience engagement, lured by the idea that marketers can be publishers. Indeed, Marisa Ricciardi, CMO of the exchange, called the site NYSE’s “first entree into brand journalism.”

Bloggers: Don’t Bet on Display Ads (Digiday) Oliver Deighton, Vice President of Marketing at VigLink, believes that display advertising won’t enhance blogs, but native advertising can. “There’s a simple truth about blogs,” he writes. “Readers rarely, if ever, come to one to be marketed to. … Ads are an interruption, a betrayal of the natural flow individuals expect of a well-written, informative blog. Yet blogging and revenue-generation don’t have to be at odds with each other. What many bloggers, online forums, product review sites and other “independent” sources of online content haven’t yet embraced is that the very thing people come for, credibility, is a trait that has economic value.”

Why Content Marketers Should Love Programmatic Marketing (Ad Exchanger) Chris Sukornyk, Founder and CEO of Chango, pens this latest “Data Driven Thinking” column about how programmatic marketing is quickly evolving beyond direct response. He looks at the two fundamental ways to use programmatic marketing for content campaigns: on-site content optimization and off-site content optimization.

eMarketer: Amazon Ad Revenues To Reach $835 Million This Year (Ad Exchanger) As our own John Battelle predicted in January of this year, Amazon is breaking out. Worldwide advertising revenue for the company will reach more than $800 million in 2013.

Twitter Ad Exchange Excites Media Buyers (Digiday) Jack Marshall asks five agency executives about the prospect of a Twitter exchange or retargeting product.

Facebook Is For Old People (Lefsetz) Every once in a while an article like this one comes around, touting that the young generation is technologically hip and that the gray-haired generation is stuck in yesterday’s Internet just waiting to die.

Signal May 3: My How Big You Are, Google!

Twitter plans ad exchange. (Photo: Courtesy of Mashable)

Twitter plans ad exchange. (Photo: Courtesy of Mashable)

In this week’s Signal: Google, global king of media; Twitter plans an ad exchange; Edelman’s new mantra; the disease of low-quality marketing content; tech startups help brands automate pieces of content; shedding a light on being kept in the ‘data dark’; the Economist dares you to “go deep”; New York Times to embrace new sponsorship opportunities; Eric Picard on fraud in digital advertising; and more

Google Ranks as World’s Largest Media Owner (The Drum) ZenithOptimedia’s Top Thirty Global Media Owners report ranks Google the world’s largest media owner, with media revenues of $37.9B. That’s 39 percent higher than nearest competitor DirecTV Group ($27.2B). According to The Drum, “it was found that Google alone accounted for 49 percent of the world’s Internet ad spend, Yahoo for six percent and Microsoft and Facebook both stand on four percent. It was the first time that Facebook and Microsoft have made the list, which was last published in 2010.”

Twitter Preps Ad Exchange to Rival Facebook’s (Ad Age) Like Facebook did with Exchange, Twitter is planning to let brands re-target people who visit their sites with ads. According to Ad Age, “Twitter would also like brands to buy directly on the exchange and has reached out to at least one, a multichannel retailer, per an executive familiar with the matter.” With an exchange, Twitter would benefit from advertisers’ growing adoption of display re-targeting and, more broadly, the practice of buying online advertising through exchanges via automated real-time auctions.

Show Me (a Little of) the Money (Edelman) Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, discusses the new mantra at the company, which is that the paid ought to support the earned and owned content, to make it work harder and more intelligently than a classic media buy that stands on its own. This means flipping the traditional model on its head. “Our advantage will never be scale in buying; rather we will have a more intelligent approach, a smart bomb instead of multiple bomber runs,” he writes. “But to do this, we will have to be given access to some advertising funds to be used at our discretion when a story seems to be taking off in popularity. We also need some money to initiate a surround-sound approach from conference sponsorship to proprietary content creation to online discussion moderation and aggregation of related content. So clients will have to entrust us with some of the paid media funds, then hold us to even higher standards for delivery of results.”

Cleaning Up Content Marketing (Digiday) “Low-quality content is a disease that has the potential to damage the effectiveness of content marketing for everyone, including the marketers who are executing it well,” writes Andrew Susman, president of content marketing management company Studio One. When a reader clicks on what looks like a promising link, only to find it is just a disguised marketing pitch, he’ll ignore anything that looks similar. That type of marketing “abuse” is degrading the effectiveness of the content tool. “Unfortunately there is no magical review board to provide a “seal of approval” for quality branded content,” Susman correctly states, “so it comes down to marketers and publishers respecting their consumers.”

Automation Comes to Content Marketing (Digiday) A number of technology startups are helping brands automate pieces of brand content. There are content creation companies, such as Contently and Percolate, and then there are distributors, such as Taboola or Outbrain; the latter let brands generate traffic to a brand’s piece of content via other sites. “The bet all are making,” according to Josh Sternberg, “is that some degree of tech is needed to make this scale.” But, let’s not forget that brands still need to create the content. And that takes humans, not machines.

If My Data Is an Open Book, Why Can’t I Read It? (NYT) Natasha Singer knows that her wireless providers — Verizon and T-Mobile — know all about her comings and goings and sell this info to marketers. So, she called to get this data for herself. But call-center agents told her that their companies don’t share customers’ own location logs with them without a subpoena. Singer then asked the same of other companies that gather data on her, and got similar answers. “Never mind all the hoopla about the presumed benefits of an ‘open data’ society,” she writes. “In our day-to-day lives, many of us are being kept in the data dark.”

The Economist Raises Eyebrows with BuzzFeed Ad (boing boing) The Economist is challenging what you know in order to expand your worldview, and it has enlisted comedian and actor J.B. Smoove to help take its message to the streets via  dare2godeep.com. Prepare to be schooled on the importance of going beyond the surface of the news.

New York Times Is Said to Consider More Sponsored Stories (Bloomberg) After10 straight quarters of declining newspaper ad sales, the New York Times is seeking new sources of revenue. Insiders say that outside execs, including BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, were invited to a series of meetings to talk about creating successful native ads, which often take the form of sponsored stories. According to Bloomberg, “annual advertising revenue has been cut almost in half to $711.8 million last year from $1.27 billion in 2006, before the recession and a proliferation of mobile devices crippled the newspaper industry.” In embracing new sponsorship opportunities, the Times will make it clear when readers are seeing an ad versus a regular story.

NYT Is Open For Programmatic Business — ‘Issues’ Remain (Ad Exchanger) David Kaplan discusses one particular challenge for the New York Times’ display ad business: programmatic media buying methods. He also talks about the hiring of ad veteran Matt Prohaska as programmatic advertising director at the company. “The NYT still regards exchange and automated media selling environments with a clear degree of concern but also considers them manageable and advantageous,” he points out.

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Which Type Of Fraud Have You Been Suckered Into? (Ad Exchanger) In AE’s latest “Data Driven Thinking” column, Eric Picard, CEO at Rare Crowds, discusses two major types of fraud taking place today in digital advertising and affecting the online display space: page fraud and bot fraud. “Page fraud,” he writes, “is clearly aimed at benefiting the publisher but also benefiting the networks. Bot fraud is a little less clear – and I do believe that some publishers who aren’t aware of fraud are getting paid for bot-created ad impressions.”

The Newsonomics of Climbing the Ad Food Chain (Nieman) Digital advertising is still growing (at a 15 percent pace annually in the U.S.), but not so much for publishers. The New York Times Company reported digital ad sales down 4 percent for the 1st quarter, while McClatchy managed a 1.5 percent increase in the first quarter. Ken Doctor asks and answers, How can news companies compete with the Googles and Facebooks for advertiser dollars?

Why Tumblr Was a Massive Steal for Yahoo (ATD) Adam Rifkin, CEO of PandaWhale, takes a look at five factors which might lead a big company to value Tumblr more highly than Instagram: the more specific the interest, the more valuable; readers are far more valuable than writers; valuable content is king; the closer to the point of sale, the more valuable; and, search is the best entry point.

Continued Growth of Programmatic Requires Changes on the Supply-Side (Media Post) The programmatic market has seen unbelievable growth over the past couple of years. The good news is that demand-side platforms have scaled and both supply-side platforms and exchanges have seen growth; the bad news is that the supply-side has become complacent, and the old formula won’t drive growth in the future. What changes are required to transition into the new world? Adrian Tompsett shares a starting list that will benefit buyers and sellers alike.

Digital’s Newest ‘Shiny Object’ is Native Advertising (Digiday) Gabe Rogol, VP of Media Sales at Demandbase, believes that native advertising is a tactic that has been oversold as a potential solution to display’s performance problem. “The obsession with native advertising stems from the false belief among marketers that display advertising does not perform,” writes Rogol. “Rather than a performance problem, display has a metrics problem.” Many marketers still judge display advertising performance by click-through rate, a fundamental problem in the industry, he notes. When marketers abandon their fixation on CTR and explore new technologies to measure impact, display advertising will become a critical piece of marketing.

Americans Spend 58 Minutes a Day on their Smartphones (ZDNet) Experian Marketing Services published a new report last Tuesday positing that the average American spends approximately 58 minutes per day on a smartphones. “Smartphone owners spend 26 percent of the time on their phones talking, with another 20 percent devoted to texting,” writes Rachel King. “Social media follows up at 16 percent while mobile Web browsing accounts for 14 percent of time spent.” Many more findings inside.

Report: Online Video Ads More Effective Than TV (Mashable) A new eMarketer report found that 75% of ad agency executives say that online video ads are more effective than traditional TV ads, compared with just 17% who say they are less effective. “The popularity of digital video viewing is helping drive the expansion of the online video ad market,” the report read. “Ad execs may be responding to U.S. consumers’ seemingly endless demand for online video.” Overall, research estimates that video views among Internet users grew by 23% this year.