Signal 4.29: Does Privacy Sell?

Microsoft’s new ad campaign: “Your Privacy Is Our Priority.”

In this week’s Signal: Microsoft is all-in on privacy; the democratization of media; the RebelMouse mashup; riding shotgun on the native ads bandwagon; Tumblr launches mobile ads; IAB’s “Traffic of Good Intent” task force; an interactive look at some of the world’s largest and most interesting data sets; OpenCo celebrates innovative companies; is real-time marketing really real?; great content strategy must-haves; and more.

To the links …

With New Ad Campaign, Microsoft Bets The Farm On Privacy Issue (Ad Exchanger) Microsoft’s new ad campaign, “Your Privacy Is Our Priority,” features TV, radio, print and online ads that create an emotional connection based on the idea that even heavy sharers need some personal privacy. “Through modern tracking technologies such as cookies and beacons, a site could share your browsing history with others,” says the voiceover in one TV spot. “Microsoft is finding ways to give you more control over things you want private. That’s why we’ve added protection in Internet Explorer and included Do Not Track with the belief that one day it too will give you more control.”

The Platform Media Era (Digiday) Digiday spoke with John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks, a collection of tech and media startups, about the biggest trend he sees in the industry — the democratization of media. Borthwick discussed how media companies are addressing consumers’ shortened attention spans and how “big data” falls into the overarching theme of the democratization of media. He also talked about what the next 12-18 months could look like for digital media.

Rebel Mouse Adds Interactive Twist to Online Publishing (Upstart) RebelMouse is beginning to generate some buzz by targeting everyone from individuals who want a mashup of all their social media accounts to major publishers looking for new ways to interact with readers (and please advertisers). The company’s leader, Paul Berry, describes his project as a “technically ambitious” bridge that spans the “gap between Tumblr and WordPress.”

What’s the Fuss About Native Ads? (Monday Note) Frederic Filloux takes on the ensuing Web vs. Native controversy, which he calls “a festival of fake naïveté and misplaced indignation.” Native Advertising is just another term for advertorial, and publishers have been in a constant the tug-of-war with their sales teams — the people who want ads to appear next to editorial content to provide good “context.” In this piece, Filloux focuses on legacy media brand Forbes. Forbes has not only jumped on the native ads bandwagon, but also industrialized the concept by creating BrandVoice, which allows marketers to connect directly with the Forbes audience by enabling them to create content (and participate in the conversation) on the brand’s digital publishing platform.

Tumblr Launches Mobile Ads Today In Big Revenue Push (Ad Age) In a big about-face for a company that once publicly eschewed advertising, Tumblr launched mobile ads last week, placing ads that look and feel like regular posts on the blog network. Users of Tumblr’s iOS and Android apps will see up to four ads per day. The ads will be differentiated with a dollar-sign icon with beams shooting out of it, just as they are in the two existing placements.

IAB to Rally Industry Against Bogus Publishers and Bots (AdWeek) The Interactive Advertising Bureau has established a task force called “Traffic of Good Intent” (TOGI) to take on the robots and shady characters who are stealing millions from advertisers. Task force leaders are our own John Battelle, who has blogged extensively on the rise of fraud in the online ad industry; and Penry Price, president of the data-driven ad targeting firm Media6Degrees, which has also been vocal about weeding out unscrupulous publishers.

Speaking of good intent …

We’ve Seen This Movie Before…On Traffic of Good Intent (Battelle Media) In light of his seat on IAB’s “Traffic of Good Intent” task force, John Battelle provides a history lesson on fraud, from click fraud in the early days of search to how it has migrated to the open ecosystem of programmatic display today.

Suspicious Web Domains Cost the Online Ad Business $400m Per Year (AdWeek) Mike Shields continues his coverage of ghost sites —“seemingly innocuous content pages responsible for massive amounts of traffic on various ad exchanges but exhibiting little evidence of actual human audiences” — by unearthing still more suspect publishers. Experts say it’s impossible to catch all the offenders, especially since many are said to originate from outside the U.S. So, containment, Shields believes, is the more realistic goal.

Information Revolution: Big Data Has Arrived at an Almost Unimaginable Scale (Wired) “The past two decades have seen a nuclear explosion in the collection and storage of digital information,” writes Joanna Pearlstein. “In 2012, 2.8 zettabytes — that’s 1 sextillion bytes, or the equivalent of 24 quintillion tweets — were created or replicated, according to the research firm IDC.” There are hundreds or thousands of petabyte-scale databases today, and Wired has compared their size to what existed two decades ago. Here’s an interactive look at some of the world’s largest and most interesting data sets.

Brands Get Nervous About Data Ownership (Digiday) Because CEOs are now frequently being asked what their big data strategies are, and CMOs are being pressured to turn the volumes of information their companies collect into business insights and smart marketing strategies, brands are starting to panic and to question where their data lives, who has access to it, and what exactly it’s being used for. Many are turning to their agencies with concerns that their data is being used in ways they didn’t approve and perhaps don’t fully understand. One of the things adding to the anxiety is that data is a very broad term that can mean just about everything.

How Do You Make a Dent In The Universe? On Being An “OpenCo” (John Battelle) John Battelle writes about the idea behind OpenCo. “At the core of the OpenCo idea are innovative businesses that are rethinking industries and trying to make their own particular dent in the universe,” he explains. In the past decade, Battelle and his co-founder Brian Monahan noticed the rise of a class of companies that are about more than making money or finding an exit —they want to make some kind of change in the world. OpenCo’s mission is to identify and celebrate those companies by ‘opening up’ the traditional conference model and getting people out into the cities, walking from company to company to soak up the culture and see founders in their native environments.


35 CEOs, CMOs, VCs and media leaders in two days of unscripted conversation. (Recently added: Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann.) Come to the CM Summit to join the conversation about “Bridging Data and Humanity.” New York City, May 21-22. The only conference this year curated by your faithful correspondent.

Also, if it suits your information consumption goals, sign up for Signal’s email newsletter or RSS feed on the Signal home page (upper right box).


The Real-Time Marketing Myth (Digiday) Digiday’s Brand Summit was held early last week, and marketers in attendance agreed that people often focus on the flashy outcomes of social media rather than the long, hard labor of raising the metabolism of marketing internally. “The real struggle brands face isn’t tweeting; it’s organizing,” writes Giselle Abramovich. “When you think about it, real-time marketing isn’t real time at all, since companies are planning ahead to prepare for any anticipated conversations that may happen around an event or even a post that a brand makes.”

6 Essential Truths and a Piece of Advice for Content Strategy (ClickZ) Federated Media’s digital and print content strategist Mary Gail Pezzimenti discusses the six must-haves behind a great content strategy, focusing on producing quality content and distributing it to the right, most passionate audience.

Why Brands Struggle with ‘Real Time’ (Digiday) Digital media is moving faster than ever and lots of brands struggle with responding quickly, especially at the pace of platforms like Twitter. Deciding when to act on events is tough but can be extremely rewarding. Digiday spoke to Cecelia Wogan-Silva of Google’s independent ad agency relations team; Sam Niburg, Sr. Associate Brand Manager, at Campbell Soup Company; and others about the things that hold them back from operating at top marketing speed.

Fast Company Puts Twist on Advertiser’s Content (Crain’s) The fast-growing trend of content marketing is taking a new turn with a content partnership between a Fast Company website and the advertising and marketing agency Ogilvy & Mather. Starting next week, Ogilvy will have its own microsite connected to Co.create, the business magazine’s stand-alone entertainment, technology and marketing website. The Ogilvy channel—to be called Content & Pervasive Creativity—will feature videos and blogs supplied by the agency’s executives and clients around the subject of content marketing, says Chief Marketing Officer Lauren Crampsie.

How To Steal Some Of Microsoft’s 76% Ad Tech Market Share (Ad Exchanger) Last week, as part of Ad Exchanger’s “Data Driven Thinking” series, Chris O’Hara, Chief Revenue Officer at NextMark, discussed Microsoft’s impact in the ad tech space as it pertains to Office tools, specifically Excel. Excel has been powering digital media planning since its inception. “While innovative companies have challenged the dominance of these systems in the past, early efforts fizzled,” according to O’Hara. “The complexities of modern digital media planning, combined with the reluctance of agency planners to change their behavior, have hindered innovation. Looking at past and current “systems of record” for media buying, it’s no wonder planners are scared of change.”