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Chatvertising; Reddit's New Ad Biz

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A new wave of advertising may be upon us in the form of chat bots, writes WSJ tech columnist Christopher Mims. Services like WhatsApp and Facebook have been popular for quite some time, but new chat apps are cropping up, designed with brand engagement in mind. Kik is one such service, most popular among teens in the US. Four in 10 American teenagers are active on Kik, and these users are already "chatvertising" with a handful of brands like Moviefone and Funny or Die. "This is what native advertising in chat apps looks like," writes Mims. "And chat apps, we keep hearing, are the future of social media. Mark Zuckerberg, are you listening?" Read on.


Google To Buy Twitch; Advertisers Trading Desk Issues

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More Video Ad Inventory

Google is buying Twitch for $1 billion, VentureBeat first reported on Thursday. Twitch is an aggregation site for streaming video games in real time (think YouTube for serious gaming enthusiasts), where users can broadcast their desktop, Xbox One or PlayStation 4 sessions to online viewers. A quick visit to Twitch will either confuse or thrill you, depending on your interests. But the site is clearly ad-heavy already, and could be a major platform for Google’s programmatic video ad strategy. The San Francisco-based startup hosts more than 50 million monthly users, and the company has raised about $35 million to date. The terms of the deal and official purchase price were not disclosed. The acquisition further expands Google’s video ad inventory beyond YouTube.


LinkedIn Endorses Native; Yahoo Vocabulary Lesson

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LinkedIn Endorses Native

LinkedIn is growing its native ad strategy, with a new option for brands to personalize and test news feed content. LinkedIn's calling it "Direct Sponsored Content," and the offering aims to help brands improve the relevancy of their content. Brands can now bypass posting promotional content to company pages, and can publish the ads directly to the LinkedIn news feed. Also noteworthy, brands specify audience segments in order to send personalized in-feed messages. Read the post.


Geotargeting: Let’s Get Critical

lorrydestainville“Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lorry Destainville, product development director at Glow.

I used to be a geoskeptic. This is an industry term I just invented.

Advertisers used to approach me breathlessly thirsting for geotargeting across their campaigns. I’d ask them with arched eyebrow, “Why? In all honesty, I’m not sure I see added value in layering national campaigns with geospecific targeting.”

What I got to see next were several pairs of disappointed puppy eyes. The puppies wanted to geotarget.

So I asked myself: Why is everyone talking about geotargeting? It was time to dig out my scuba suit and deep dive into the hype.


Amazon Offers Self-Serve; AudienceScience Releases Supply-Side API

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Amazon Automates

Amazon debuted a self-serve ad-buying tool on Wednesday, and VivaKi is the first in training to trial the offering (although the Publicis-owned agency has yet to run a campaign). Amazon plans to extend the tool to "select" agencies, but for the time being it only has eyes for VivaKi. Amazon exec Seth Dallaire tells Ad Age, "We chose them as the launch partner for this exercise because we recognize they have a lot of experience in the programmatic media space.” Both Amazon and VivaKi declined to comment on a definitive timeline for extending the offering or launching the first campaign. Read more.


AOL UK Automates Reserved Inventory; SimpleReach Raises $9M

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Automating Reserved

On Tuesday AOL UK announced that “all reserved inventory” is available programmatically across its owned and operated sites available –through AOL's demand-side platform. This includes The Huffington Post, Engadget, Parentdish and more. AOL UK's managing director, Noel Penzer, said the decision reaffirmed the company's commitment to automation and signaled AOL UK's belief that programmatic advertising will continue to drive digital budgets. Read the press release. As tech gets commoditized industrywide, having exclusive access to inventory may be an increasingly important consideration in choosing an ad or marketing tech stack.


Omnicom Reports Strong Q2, With Assist From Trading Desk

Omnicomq2Agency holding company Omnicom Group reported Q2 revenues above analysts' estimates, due in part to growth in its programmatic buying unit, Accuen, as well as growth in the retail and telecom sectors. Its rival, Publicis Groupe, with whom it once planned to merge, had a weak quarter by contrast.

Omnicom’s global revenue increased 6.4% to $3.9 billion from $3.6 billion in 2013's second quarter, with domestic revenues hitting $2.1 billion.

Paris-based Publicis reported decreasing revenues of $2.37 billion, compared to $2.41 billion in 2013's second quarter. Analysts estimated that Publicis’ earnings would reach $2.53 billion, and the company said negative foreign-exchange movements had a large impact on its sales figures.

Omnicom’s Accuen unit is taking a portion of the media it buys and sells, which the company disclosed to investors for the first time. The company reported $40 million in growth due to its programmatic buying unit, but did not say what margins it takes.

“We’re taking a principle bet,” Omnicom CFO Randall Weisenburger said during the call. “We’re buying specific media and reselling that at hopefully an increased price in most circumstances, since our revenue is based upon the difference between the purchase price in media and the sales price. We then have to provide all of the services, all of the underlying technology, build the platform, do the insights and take all the risk.”


Verizon's Tracking Tradeoff; Purell Bets On Loyalty

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Verizon’s Tracking Tradeoff

Verizon made headlines on Monday with promises to upgrade upload speeds, but also announced an interesting development for advertisers. The company is launching a rewards program centered on tracking data, through which Verizon subscribers can earn points for every dollar spent on wireless services, including on Verizon products and gift card offerings. What's in it for Verizon? Subscribers will have to consent to releasing their location data, which is valuable information for marketers looking to serve targeted ads. Read more at the News & Observer. This is reminiscent of business models such as Enliken’s.


New Native Format For LinkedIn; Facebook Talks Video

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More Native

LinkedIn is coming out of stealth with a new take on native, and Mercedes is behind the wheel to test drive what is described as a new ad format. On Thursday, Mercedes introduced a contest via the professional networking website: “Unlike typical giveaways, users will not enter the contest on their own behalf, but rather will nominate someone in their LinkedIn network.” Read more via The New York Times. Success metrics for the campaign are unclear.


IPG Q2: Digital Spend Exceeds Network Spend For The First Time

IPGInterpublic Group (IPG) on Friday reported Q2 revenue increased 5.4% YoY to reach $1.85 billion.

IPG reported a 4.7% increase in organic growth, with organic growth in global markets exceeding that in the US. Net income hit $103.7 million, a notable increase from $86.1 million a year ago. According to the company, the quality of its agency offerings coupled with strength in high-growth regions to fuel performance in 2014's second quarter.

“Interestingly, this is the first time that digital has exceeded network spend," holding company CEO Michael Roth noted. "We forecast it to overtake all broadcast spend in the next couple years and obviously programmatic buying has something to do with that.”

Programmatic will continue to be an important part of how the company will approach buying, Roth said, particularly on the digital side.

“The efficiencies of automation and programmatic buying are here to stay,” he said during Friday morning’s earnings call. Whether this will translate into public or private exchanges remains to be seen, but he added, “It’s all about data and being responsive to reaching consumers in a more efficient way. We have to be able to invest in that, and we are.”

Programmatic helped fuel IPG’s growth and margins, he said, because it pulled the holding company up the value chain in how it’s able to advise clients.