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Kraft On Digital; Instagram Debuts Video Ads

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The Kraft Of Digital

“We're not looking to drive down advertising costs per se. We're driving for improved advertising effectiveness,” said Kraft EVP and CFO Teri List-Stoll during the company’s quarterly earnings call. “We're also realizing meaningful efficiencies as we shift our spending to more targeted digital media.” Digital accounted for more than 35% of Kraft’s total ad spend in Q3, a 25% increase YoY. Read the Q3 earnings transcript via Seeking Alpha. The theme echoes CMO Denise Elsner’s recent speech at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference. Read Joanna O’Connell’s take.

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Yahoo Confirms Hire of Amazon's Lisa Utzschneider, Brody Named To Ad Tech Role

LisaThe rumors were true.

Yahoo confirmed Thursday Amazon's sales chief Lisa Utzschneider will, indeed, be out at the ecommerce giant at the end of the month and will join Yahoo as senior vice president of sales, America. She will report directly to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Prior to Amazon, Utzschneider spent 10 years at Microsoft, where she led ad development and strategy. Read the press release.

All Yahoo ad sales teams will report directly to Utzschneider, and Ned Brody has been appointed to the newly created role of SVP, Advertising Technology and Strategy from his current role as head of Americas. Ned Brody, according to a Yahoo spokeswoman, will report directly to Utzschneider and Scott Burke, SVP of advertising display and advertising technology, will remain in his existing role. So it looks like Yahoo essentially has two SVPs of ad tech now.

Amazon has confirmed to AdExchanger Seth Dallaire, Amazon's current VP of advertising sales, North America, will assume Utzschneider's position as global VP of sales.

"Lisa has a demonstrated track record as a leader and as a business builder, focused on creating and expanding sales relationships as well as scaling technological innovation," said CEO Marissa Mayer of the appointment, in a statement. "She brings unique strengths to Yahoo in terms of identifying new opportunities to maximize the value of advertising in a rapidly expanding and evolving media landscape.

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Northern & Shell Invests In Programmatic; IBM Integrates Twitter Data

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Publishers For Programmatic

Publisher Northern & Shell is investing heavily in programmatic, digital channels and its CRM systems, The Drum reported. “Everyone’s completely behind digital and programmatic within the business. There are a lot of new skill sets needed from traditional media, so there’s been a bit of a shift,” said Ben Hancock, Northern & Shell’s head of programmatic. “We’re making a huge investment in our own CRM platforms here – one of the most valuable things we have around is data, and it’s something we need to be careful with, a key strategy around our monetisation.” Though Hancock refrained from detailing exactly how much of its advertising is happening programmatically, he said the percentage is “significant.”

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Matomy Media Group To Buy MobFox; Marissa Mayer's Hiring Desires

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Buying Programmatic

Tel Aviv-based performance marketing player Matomy Media Group snapped up mobile programmatic ad platform MobFox for $17.6 million. “The impressive growth of programmatic and mobile advertising has made it clear that both will form an important part of the future of digital advertising,” said Matomy CEO Ofer Druker. Read the press release. The deal follows a stock sale giving Publicis Groupe 20% of Matomy. Pair with Publicis’ acquisition of ad platform RUN (AdExchanger story). Publicis, ad tech owner!

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ComScore’s Q3 Earnings Reemphasize Video, Cross-Platform Credo

SergeMattaComScore reported Q3 earnings of $82.1 million, a 15% increase YOY, and reemphasized its focus on cross-platform measurements.

ComScore added 43 new Media Metrix Multi-Platform clients in the third quarter and has 448 total customers running MMX, a platform it rolled out in 2013 that shows de-duped audiences across smartphones, tablets and desktop.

“Digital transforms the possibilities for the TV business,” said CEO Serge Matta, acknowledging the growing complexity of the marketplace. “We continue to expand cross-media operations, including our total video product and we are delivering private data to broadcasters today through our syndicated media product.”

Matta reaffirmed comScore’s interest in measuring multiplatform views of video consumption. It has integrated its Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) measurement tool with video ads platforms like BrightRoll, TubeMogul and DoubleClick/YouTube. ComScore also intends to roll out in 2015 an “in-home solution that will provide us additional data for over-the-top devices and other forms of media content flowing through the home.”

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Adsquare Raises $4.3M, Talks Cross-Device IDs And German Marketplace

adsquareMobile audience targeting firm adsquare has secured a $4.3 million Series A funding, led by Target Partners and existing investors. The Berlin-based company will use the money to fuel international growth with new offices opening in the UK and France, in addition to driving product development.

Two years ago, the founders built adsquare in response to what CEO Tom Laband describes as “a lack of targeting capabilities on mobile in the German marketplace” at that time. “Our targeting approach is about location,” he added, “and the idea is that location is a very good indicator of consumer behavior.”

Adsquare maps users across Europe and segments audiences into geographic sections dubbed "squares," each of which measures 50 by 50 meters. The firm uses 2,000 data points per square to derive the context of audiences within each geofence. The company then offers that data to a host of ad networks and advertising, supply-side and demand-side platforms for real-time audience targeting.

Adsquare is integrated with AppNexus and for the most part works directly with trading desks through the AppNexus console, but it also works with advertisers that have existing tech stacks in place, like Vodafone, Europcar, HRS and Deutsche Bahn. Before this most recent round of fundraising, the company had raised $1.3 million in seed money.

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Testing Location Data; Facebook And The Publishers

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Location-Unaware

Ad Age reporter Kate Kaye lets five consumer-data-gathering firms follow her every move for three weeks and found that location trackers were generally unable to lock down an accurate profile in that timeframe. "Because our algorithm requires a high degree of certainty before it associates a device with a household, it can take more time, and we simply didn't see your device often enough within the time frame of the test to be assured of a match," said Kirsten McMullen, chief privacy officer for 4Info, a participating firm. More.

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Circling The Data Wagons; Ad Committments Dropping For TV

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Circling The Data Wagons

Retailers are circling the wagons on their first-party, in-store data. MacRumors reports that pharmacy giants CVS and Rite Aid are preparing to block or are blocking near field communication capabilities that enable Apple Pay and Google Wallet in favor of its own proprietary digital payment system, CurrentC. Scheduled to launch next year, the new system is the fruit of a retailer consortium known as Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX. Mac-lover Jon Gruber proclaims from his Daring Fireball blog that the retailers’ efforts are doomed. DOOMED.

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Yandex Has A Strong Quarter; Meredith Sees Programmatic Benefits

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Yandex’s Strong Quarter

Russian search giant Yandex reported a solid Q3 Thursday, with revenue hitting $331.5 million, up 28% YoY. Display advertising accounted for 6% of total revenue in 2014’s third quarter, totaling nearly $20 million. O&O display revenue shrank 3%, but ad network revenue grew an impressive 19% YoY, and don’t forget the company’s acquisition of ad tech platform AdFox. More on that.

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Rubicon Accelerates Revenue Growth in Q3, Backs Away From Video

rubiconRubicon Project's stock rose over 20% in after hours trading following the announcement that the company posted a record quarter.

That's good news for a supply side platform that has struggled to educate Wall Street of its value. Rubicon Project hoped its IPO would give it a market cap of $671 million. The current market cap is little more than half that, $367 million.

"To say we’re doing education is a dramatic understatement for sure," CEO Frank Addante said. "This market is growing so fast, and it’s so dynamic, that the rate of growth is outpacing the rate of education."

A record quarter is still relative for Rubicon Project, which went public earlier this year. But the company showed strong growth both year-over-year and compared to Q2.

Third-quarter revenue rose 60% year-over-year to $32.2 million. That's 13% higher than last quarter, when Rubicon reported revenues of $28.3 million. That quarter also posted less growth, just 49% year over year.

The company's managed revenues, or amount of money flowing through Rubicon's platform, rose 43% year over year. Within that, RTB outpaced the growth of managed revenues as a whole, going up 75%. "Ongoing momentum in open RTB auction technologies" were among the factors contributing to a strong quarter, Addante said.

Within those managed revenues, mobile grew 300% year over year. Rubicon's product includes auctions and direct orders for mobile, both on mobile web and in-app. Through its partnership with InMobi, 60 DSPs now have access to InMobi's inventory. Rubicon said it plans to focus on native mobile in 2015.

Video is another story. After touting its beta video product last quarter, Rubicon apparently didn't like what it saw. It says it can't find enough quality video inventory to run through its platform. Addante expects slow growth for the time being.

"A large amount of today’s exchange video is substandard, and not acceptable," Addante said. "We will expect more measured growth until we see more quality video inventory." (more…)