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.