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Atlas Case Study; Record Day For Alibaba

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Coming Up Roses

Six weeks after bringing it to market, Facebook is crowing about marketer migrations to its rebuilt Atlas ad server. 1-800-Flowers was the first marketer to switch to the new product a year ago, the company notes in a blog post. Read it. Speaking with AdExchanger, the brand’s director of online marketing, Craig Shiffrin, highlighted the platform’s cross-device chops. “One of the key elements we are most excited about is being able to look at the people based measurement outside of the cookie-based tracking solution,” he said.

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Yahoo Confirms It Will Buy BrightRoll For $640M

YaBrightYahoo will indeed acquire BrightRoll, a video ad network turned platform company, as TechCrunch first reported in October. (See the release).

The transaction, priced at $640 million, fires up Yahoo's ad tech strategy after a dry spell when the company's M&A was focused primarily on consumer-facing mobile platforms. It also provides a partial answer to those wondering how Yahoo would spend the $6 billion windfall from the Alibaba's IPO.

“Here at Yahoo, video is one of the largest growth opportunities, and BrightRoll is a terrific, strategic and financially compelling fit for our video advertising business,” said Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO. "As with every acquisition, we have been extremely thoughtful about our approach to the video advertising space.

This acquisition will accelerate the growth of both companies – we can help BrightRoll scale to even more advertisers globally and they can bring their tremendous platform offering to Yahoo’s advertisers. The combination builds positive momentum for Yahoo’s broader display advertising business in 2015.”

In announcing the transaction, Yahoo noted BrightRoll is on a 2014 revenue run rate of $100 million. The company claims to serve 87 of the largest US advertisers, 15 top agencies, 18 of the top 20 ad networks, half of the top 50 publishers and 350 video platforms. BrightRoll has been profitable since 2010, according to CEO Tod Sacerdoti.

BrightRoll, founded in 2006, is one of the last remaining “independent” video ads platforms serving both the buy and sell sides, recently bringing on Google’s head of platform sales strategy Bruce Falck as chief operating officer in July.

Since then, the company has been subject to debate whether it would IPO or if one of the big platform companies – Google, Adobe or, of course, Yahoo – would swoop in. But Yahoo seemed like the most logical acquirer, considering BrightRoll always intended “to build an alternative stack to Google” as Sacerdoti told AdExchanger in a July 2014 interview.

Meanwhile, Yahoo had struggled with its video offering. It failed to acquire DailyMotion and its rumored buy-out of online video service News Distribution Network never happened.

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Unilever's Viewability Definition; Private TV Exchanges

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Higher Standard For ‘In View’

Unilever wants to upwardly define the viewable impression. Ad Age reports that the CPG giant -- along with Mindshare/GroupM -- are insisting that an ad be 100% in-view before it is counted. That’s tougher than the industrywide Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) standard of 50% in-view for one second. "Unilever and GroupM are both organizations that actively participated in 3MS," bemoaned IAB’s Sherrill Mane. "It's really a shame, because you want to start somewhere and build, not say we did this hard work but I don't care.”

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MyBuys CEO Wants To Bring Personalization Across Paid, Owned and Offline Channels

Rita Brogley CEOMyBuys creates “recommended for you” modules on retail sites, but then it goes a step further: It buys display ads based on a user’s behavior or viewed products and sends triggered emails enticing customers to complete abandoned buys.

MyBuys’ expansion into paid media—display advertising—is now its fastest-growing line of business.

While it first got into managed display in 2010 with the purchase of Veruta, a demand-side platform (DSP), MyBuys has now set its sights offline, with the goal of using online ads and email to retarget customers who shopped in brick-and-mortar stores.

Projects like these are just starting to be tested, said CEO Rita Brogley. The former chief customer officer took the reins from founder Bob Cell this May.

Connecting offline and online is one of her main goals at MyBuys, since it will help retailers understand customer lifetime value across channels.

“We find that a lot of e-commerce teams feel like they’re not getting credit, or budget, for driving so many people to the store,” Brogley said. “That’s one of the drivers for this. We will be able to tell them the impact the site is having on store purchases and transactions.”

Brogley updated AdExchanger about her plans as CEO and what’s ahead for retailers as they shift into high gear for the holiday shopping season.

AdExchanger: How are you thinking about budgets for the days leading up to Christmas?

RITA BROGLEY: Budgets increase significantly for the fourth quarter. Sites are locked down, and we have clients [asking us to help] drive as many incremental sales as we can. They’re asking us what kind of campaigns they should be running and what products to promote. (more…)


Google Wants More Programmatic; Arbitrage Exposé

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Missing Pieces

Speaking to The Drum at the Web Summit in Dublin late last week, Google Global CMO Lorraine Twohill said the company wants to spend 60% of its digital marketing budget programmatically. “There’s things in programmatic that aren’t quite there yet,” Twohill said. “I really care about ads where people can play and engage so skippable ads, mutable ads; programmatic doesn’t support that yet. I care about cost-per-click, programmatic doesn’t support that yet. I assume all this will come, I think it’s inevitable, but until all those things are there it’s hard for me to get to 60 per cent but we’re moving as fast as we can.” Twohill didn’t offer a definitive timeline, but did say she believes that all advertising will become programmatic eventually. Read on.

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Havas Focuses On Integration; Twitter Can't Keep Up

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Havas Pushes ‘Integration’

Havas reported 6% organic growth on Thursday, with revenues hitting $555 million for 2014’s third quarter. CEO Yannick Bolloré was hesitant to touch on rival Publicis’ recent acquisition of tech-focused agency Sapient, but told analysts on the call, “We are pursuing a different strategy -- to integrate – because we believe the customer journey is not different in a digital world. We need to be able to deliver networks who are completely fluent in traditional, digital and mobile to meet our clients' expectations and so far we are very satisfied with the results of our strategy based on integration.” Ad Age has more.

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Kik Updates Promoted Chats With Keywords For Nuanced Native Content

kikKik, a messaging app geared toward millennials , is diving deeper into native advertising with a feature, released Thursday, dubbed Keywords.

The app, which originated in 2009 and has about 150 million users, first brought brands into the fold in August, with the launch of Promoted Chats.

“The concept with Promoted Chats was to give brands a presence on the platform, and to give them a chance to interact with their followers,” explained Paul Gray, product strategist at Kik.

More than 6.5 million Kik users opted-in to chat with the company’s brand partners and, since the product’s launch, Kik has sent more than 100 million brand-sponsored messages.

With Keywords, brands can further personalize chats with their followers through preprogrammed responses based on what they think consumers will ask. For example, 16 Handles, a frozen yogurt chain and an early Kik brand client, anticipated followers would likely ask about store locations. So the yogurt sellers used Keywords to set their chat responses to include location listings.

“Keywords makes the conversation more relevant and contextual,” said Athan Stephanopoulos, SVP of strategy and partnerships with publisher (and Kik advertising partner) NowThis. “Essentially, we can ask our followers to tell us what they want to know more about. Based on the keywords they send us, we’re able to surface up the relative content we produce that’s in relationship to what our followers want to have a conversation about.”

Promoted Chats reach 75-80% of Kik users, said Gray, compared to Twitter’s organic ad reach of 10% and Facebook’s organic reach of 2-6%.

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The Future Of IPG; Social Commerce Analyzed

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IPG For Sale?

The Wall Street Journal has learned that Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund, is pushing for board seats at Interpublic Group (IPG). Elliott owns a 6.7% stake in the advertising holding company and purportedly wants IPG to sell soon. Investors had pinned Publicis as a potential IPG buyer, but that seems unlikely after Publicis’ acquisition of Sapient. “Publicis—while not impossible that they might do something at some point in the future—is pretty clear in putting forward it’s not going to do anything anytime soon,” Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser told The Wall Street Journal. More.

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Ad Tech Is Growing; Rocket Fuel's Traffic Quality Tool

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Business Is Booming

Advertising technology is a standalone industry, and it’s growing. ABI Research projects that independent ad tech is on a $6 billion run rate for the year and it has shown 52% annual growth since 2011. “The moral may be similar to that told of Levi Strauss in the Gold Rush: selling tools to those hunting for gold can be a good and sustainable business,” said ABI research practice director Sam Rosen. ABI highlights the uptick in acquisitions by consumer platform companies (think Facebook/LiveRail, Twitter/MoPub, Yahoo/Flurr, and AOL/Adap.tv). “The real battle lines are drawn between the publisher’s in-house platforms, and those independents that will help brands, advertisers and agencies to navigate the complex landscape without putting all their eggs in one basket.” Read on.

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Livingly Media Wants To Do Social Media, Mobile Better Than Traditional Media Companies

livingly 1Last year, Livingly Media’s entertainment site Zimbio attracted 1 million Facebook referrals a month. So far this year, it’s 20 million referrals a month.

“Facebook’s recent changes have been very beneficial for us,” said CEO Tony Mamone. He co-founded Zimbio Inc. (now Livingly Media) in 2006, and launched StyleBistro in 2010. In 2012, the company acquired shelter site Lonny. The sites draw millennial women, to the tune of 25 million unique visitors a month.

Going from 1 million to 20 million Facebook referrals a year wasn’t just the result of Facebook’s changing algorithms. Livingly looked at what kind of content performed well on social media and started making more of it.

“What it looks like Facebook is doing – and as a publisher you have to guess, because they’re not as communicative as other ecosystems – is that they are prioritizing posts where people click off and stay on that content for a long time,” Mamone said.

Livingly excels in those areas. “Our average session time post-click is three to four minutes. People browse 15 pages, when the average in the categories we compete in is five,” Mamone said.

Livingly gets that engagement by creating interactive content, like trivia contests and name generators. Instead of static content like a TV recap, Zimbio might offer a quiz like “Which Scandal Character Are You?” The company has found that readers share content that asks for their opinion or allows them to express themselves.

The same testing process occurs in other platforms. On Pinterest, which does particularly well for content on Lonny and StyleBistro, the company learned that increasing referrals wasn’t about creating a branded page filled with the editors’ pins. Most referral traffic came through organic pins, so the company made it easier to pin content on the page. (more…)