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 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.