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IZEA CEO On The Benefits, Pitfalls Of Native Advertising

IZEAIZEA, a company that connects social media content creators with brands, recently rolled out a cloud-based "Sponsorship Marketplace" to help advertisers automate content distribution and measurement. IZEA's network is comprised of over 50,000 registered advertisers and agencies. Some of the company's agency partners include Mindshare, Starcom, Initiative, Ogilvy and Hill Holliday.

Founder and CEO Ted Murphy spoke with AdExchanger about the state of native and social advertising, and the potential pitfalls that native approaches could present.

ADEXCHANGER: What are agencies and brands doing with paid social and native advertising?

TED MURPHY: We’re seeing a big move toward short-form content. Whether it’s status updates or short Vine videos, photos or Instagram videos, art of that is because there are more content creators out there and it’s easier to produce (short-form content) rather than writing long posts or making in-depth videos.

I think there’s a challenge that agencies and brands are dealing with. On one side, there’s the display network that can offer a huge amount of tonnage and really achieve ad rates, but at the end of the day the engagement is very small and there’s usually zero pass-along value. I think what brands are starting to recognize is that they’ll likely be paying higher rates to do any sort of sponsored content or native advertising, but if it is done in the right way they have the ability to take advantage of the sharability of the content created.

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Yahoo Moves Ahead With Tumblr Monetization Plans

YahooTumblrUpdated with comment from Yahoo Yahoo has been courting agencies for months, rumoredly circulating a blueprint to bring Tumblr sponsored posts off-site to Yahoo owned-and-operated properties, as AdExchanger reported in early May.

Yahoo has now emerged with those plans publicly, rolling out on Tuesday Tumblr Sponsored Posts through Yahoo's network, which the Internet company claims will reach some 800 million unique visitors monthly.

"Tumblr Sponsored Posts are now integrated and available through Yahoo Gemini, the industry's only marketplace where advertisers can buy mobile search and native advertising," Mike Kerns, SVP of homepage/verticals and Lee Brown, global head of brand partnerships for Tumblr, wrote in a blog post.

All Tumblr Sponsored formats including articles, videos and images, can be amplified off-Tumblr on Yahoo article pages, image galleries and in myriad other content streams on sites like Yahoo News and Yahoo Beauty.

It was high time Yahoo moved forward with monetization plans for its $1.1 billion baby Tumblr, industry insiders say. Although Tumblr undoubtedly felt the pressure to retain an ad-free user experience among its consumer base, market pressures demanded otherwise. With display revenue flatlining, company CEO Marissa Mayer heralded plans on Yahoo's Q1 earnings call to "monetize through native formats." Yahoo did not disclose Tumblr revenue, but did note a need to inject greater transparency into Tumblr metrics here on out.

"One thing we hear from advertisers is that they're looking for targeted scale -- the ability to reach a large, high quality and specific audience," Kerns said. He noted the 800 million unique figure associated with Yahoo O&O properties is not inclusive of Tumblr audiences. "When combined, advertisers have the ability to reach over 1 billion consumers across all screens."

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Magna Report: RTB Strong Even As Direct Deal Automation Surges

cannes-magna-spendAs agencies, media companies, and platform players converge on the south of France for the annual Cannes Lions festival, the overall state of their industry appears to be strong.

In its latest media spend forecast, Magna Global remains bullish on both total media owner advertising revenues and programmatic revenues. Meanwhile, total media spend will grow 6.4% to $516 billion in 2014. Of that growth nearly two thirds ($20 billion) will come in digital, especially social, video, and search.

Meanwhile, programmatic (both RTB and non-RTB) will reach $18.4 billion this year, about 3.5% of all ad spending. More than half of programmatic spend ($9.8 billion)  will be in the US.

The overall projections are in line with the IPG Mediabrands's media investment arm's previous projection, but there are some significant revisions in the details.

RTB stays strong. A recurring theme of late has been the automation of non-RTB inventory, and some have speculated that time-shifted impression buying will quickly eclipse real-time bidding as the engine of programmatic momentum. Magna appears not to think so, at least not in the US. It believes US programmatic spend will grow from $9.8 billion in the U.S. in 2014 to $17 billion by 2017. At that late date, well over half ($10.5 billion) will still be traded on a real-time basis. (more…)


Why AOL Bought Convertro And PrecisionDemand

TobyGabrinerFollowing its glitzy, star-studded digital NewFront in April, AOL got down to business.

It closed in on marketing attribution vendor Convertro the same day Google grabbed pure-play competitor Adometry in early May. Then it went shopping again, snapping up TV audience-targeting platform PrecisionDemand.

AOL’s acquisitive behavior is not entirely surprising. The company is constructing an end-to-end programmatic platform (Adap.tv, AdLearn Open Platform and AOL Marketplace are the first integrations) called ONE and CEO Tim Armstrong noted platform acquisitions come with the territory.

Toby Gabriner, former president of Adap.tv, now head of Adap.tv and ONE by AOL, discussed implications for AOL Platforms’ recent purchases.

AdExchanger: Why did you buy PrecisionDemand?

TOBY GABRINER: They certainly bring a strong capability in onboarding third party and first party data for doing much more granular and interesting targeting within the linear television space. They also bring a really strong technology platform that allows for the ability to do intuitive and non-intuitive planning. So you’d put in the audience you’re trying to go after and you can do much deeper audience segmentation analysis beyond just age and gender. What their technology can do is actually identify networks and programs that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being intuitive – and then the system can learn and optimize that.

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Programmatic And The Quarterly Budget Dump

budgetIt’s a tradition as revered as turkey on Thanksgiving and baseball in the summer: ad agencies dumping budget at the end of each quarter so they won’t lose it at the beginning of the next.

“There’s an artificial market dynamic that resets every month in programmatic where at the end of every quarter, we see a ton of demand and a ton of budget being dumped,” said Andrew Casale, VP of strategy at supply-side ad tech provider Casale Media. He noticed this trend again when he put out the company’s Q1 2014 report on the state of programmatic in the United States (download it here).

Additionally, a report from ad tech company Turn also noted spending spikes in March across telecom, travel and financial services verticals.

While quarterly budget offloading is not a new practice, nor is it one relegated to the ad industry, Casale is irritated that this antiquated tradition continues to infect the automated ad buying space.

“It goes against the progress of programmatic,” he said. “What we’re so excited about is we can optimize every conceivable element to make sure we’re maximizing the return on every dollar.”

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Under Centro’s Wing, SiteScout Touts Managed Services, Open Architecture

mattsaulsSince demand-side platform (DSP) SiteScout’s $40 million acquisition by Centro in last November, the company has evolved its business model from a pure self-serve platform to managed services.

Shawn Riegsecker, Centro’s CEO, hinted at the time of acquisition the company might acquire a data-management platform to extend its biddable media offerings. Matt Sauls, cofounder and VP of operations for SiteScout, spoke with AdExchanger about Centro’s work to help publishers, advertisers and developers action off of data more effectively through an “open and transparent marketplace.”

AdExchanger: How’s SiteScout since the acquisition?

MATT SAULS: Considering all of the trials and tribulations that any acquisition presents, it went in a really smooth manner and all of the leadership here remained and now we have just a much bigger force behind us. [We have] tons of support resources and a big sales organization who now has this product in their arsenal. Previously we were only doing self-serve, so now we’re able to do managed services, as well, which is a huge value for a lot of our clients in that they can potentially self-serve and have managed services, which allows them to scale and get more out of our products and services.

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Undertone Names New CEO

coreyAd tech company Undertone has promoted its COO Corey Ferengul to CEO, effective June 1.

He replaces current CEO and founder Michael Cassidy, who will move into a chairman role.

Cassidy has been at the helm of Undertone since its founding 13 years ago. "It's the right time based on where the company is," said Eric Franchi, Undertone cofounder and chief evangelist. He added this was not indicative of a broader strategic business change at Undertone. "Corey brings a lot of interesting things to the table."

Those things include Ferengul's professional background in helping grow large organizations (most recently at Rovi Corp.) and evaluating and executing mergers and acquisitions. He also understands technology and product, which adds new dimensions to the CEO role, Franchi said.

Undertone has grown up since its inception during the early days of ad networks. The company has been profitable since day one, according to Franchi, who pinned the New York-headquartered company headcount now at 325.

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CarsDirect.com Publisher Internet Brands Shakes Up Ad Formats

Jennifer ChauDigital publisher Internet Brands has seen a revenue uptick from a new ad unit implemented across some of its sites.

Since launching the so-called InFold format from ad tech provider Infolinks across its auto community and travel and leisure verticals, revenue in those verticals grew 2.5 times across Web and mobile, with CPMs increasing by more than 180%.

Based on the results, the publisher has plans to launch the unit across its health division later this year.

Internet Brands is a 16-year-old online publisher whose portfolio began with one website: CarsDirect.com. It has evolved from its roots in auto research to provide online media, ecommerce and community sites in multiple verticals. Its publishing brands also include FrugalTravelGuy.com, DoItYourself.com and other vertical sites geared to auto, home, travel and health topics.

Jennifer Chau leads business development for the company’s auto vertical division, which has more than 23 million unique visitors across a family of more than 300 websites. (more…)


Original Content, Digital Video Take Center Stage At AOL NewFront

AOLAOL CEO Tim Armstrong addressed a crowd of close to 2,000 media buyers at its NewFront Tuesday night with an exuberant, “tonight is about connecting content with distribution.” It’s clear, with AOL, that much of that connection will happen through video.

Ran Harnevo, president of AOL Video, talked up digital video and its intent to provide “one platform for premium content.” He added: “TV and video will become one…[we will be the] platform for creating, curating, programming, distributing and monetizing content.”

Susan Lyne, CEO of AOL Brand Group, said “the power of video to engage an audience is what drew us to television in the first place.” She referenced AOL’s recent homepage re-do and introduction of always-on video programming from the company and its content partners.

Measurement was also a focal point. AOL and Nielsen took the stage together to announce a beta test of gross ratings points (GRP) metrics to measure audience reach for all of AOL’s 16 original series.

AOL positioned this as an extension of Nielsen Digital Program Ratings, designed to measure the online impact of televised content. (Yahoo Monday night touted measurement, too, at its NewFront when it announced an integration of comScore validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) metrics with Yahoo’s ad server for video, mobile and display).

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Outbrain CEO: On (Rumored) IPO, Coming Wave Of Content Marketing Consolidation

YaronContent discovery company Outbrain has allegedly flirted with an IPO for well over a year now, with the most recent report claiming a target of around $100 million.

CEO Yaron Galai did not comment on a potential IPO, which is expected to materialize in the first half of the year. Instead, he focused his attention on the company’s historical and continued investments in building and acquiring for algorithmically fueled content recommendations.

The eight-year-old startup is among a string of Israeli companies that have considered public life on US-based exchanges. Others, like performance-based media network Matomy, looked to the London Stock Exchange before scrapping those plans due to what it said was technical issues.

Galai spoke with AdExchanger about Outbrain’s breadth as a publisher-centric content discovery network.

AdExchanger: What is Outbrain exactly?

YARON GALAI: We’re a content discovery platform. We help people discover what they should be reading or watching next. For many publishers, we power their entire content discovery experience. I like to think of this as powering the flipping of a page in a magazine – the equivalent of that on the Web.

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