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ComScore Acquires MdotLabs To Fight Cross-Platform Fraudsters

MDotComDigital media measurement company comScore revealed a deal Monday to acquire MdotLabs, a cyber-security startup that uses statistics and machine-learning to fight online fraud.

Non-human traffic, click-farms and other "invalid activity" represent a $14 billion assault on the advertising industry and have spurred deals in online fraud detection, most notably Google’s acqui-hire of earlier this year.

MdotLabs was founded in 2013 and employs 12 – including three PhD scientists. This team, including cofounders Paul Barford and Timur Yarnal, will join comScore. MdotLabs clients range from Meredith Corp. to LiveRail.

Upon acquisition, comScore will integrate some of MdotLabs’ rules, techniques and technology into comScore’s digital content measurement tool Media Metrix and Validated Campaign Essentials (vCE – which measures the audience exposed to digital ads). ComScore said the deal is also about securing talent to aid in technology and product innovation in the continuing fight against ad fraud.

ComScore has additional incentive to ensure digital audiences are human: It’s planning a fall release of a Total Video Cross-Platform Planning System and Video Metrix audience-tracking tool.

“With our video launch, the television portion [will be] brought in and in order to have that comparability, you have to make sure the digital portion is all human because the television GRPs are,” said Anne Hunter, SVP of global marketing strategy at comScore.


Another Chapter For Triggit, As Facebook-Only DSP Pivots To Native

zach-triggit-fundingTriggit, known to many as the "Facebook-only" retargeting firm, is taking on native ads outside the Facebook platform.

The company is courting publishers with the promise to support their native advertising formats and bring the kind of in-stream ad experiences it has run in Facebook's news feed over the past year to a wider range of supply sources. Its pitch to those publishers, according to CEO Zach Coelius: "We can fill your remnant inventory at very high CPMs  $5 to $10 CPMs  and hit your revenue targets."

"Remnant" and "native" are not frequently found in the same sentence, but that may change as every publisher – from news organization to gaming app developers – climbs aboard the native gravy train and native advertising becomes a commodity.

After two years positioning around retargeting campaigns on Facebook and one year buying ad space in the Facebook news feed, Coelius said, "We wanted more inventory. So we're going to big publishers, saying we'd love to do news feed-type ads."

He says Triggit is ready to power hundreds or even thousands of distinct native formats of the sort that have proven effective for Facebook. But he declined to name publishers or advertisers involved in the test.


Ad Fraudsters Hit Vertical Vulnerabilities

david hahn integralAre you a technology or retail company? If so, you’ve probably got a bigger problem with ad fraud than your CPG or telco counterparts, at least according to Integral Ad Science’s Q2 2014 Industry Report, which includes information from the ad tech companies, exchanges and agencies it works with.

So why are verticals like technology and retail – where 17% and 14% of impressions are fraudulent, respectively– suffering more than CPG (6%) or telecom (6%)?

“Verticals tend to buy in different ways,” said David Hahn, Integral’s SVP of product.

Verticals with lower fraud rates tend to buy directly from publishers, where 3.5% of impressions are fraudulent, according to Integral. This compares favorably against exchanges (10.5%) and ad networks (16.5%).


White Ops And ANA Partner To See What’s The What With Bots

fraudisadiseaseThere’s a digital ad fraud outbreak – one that gobbles up roughly $14 billion in advertising spend and between 25 and 50% of ad spend per campaign. White Ops CEO and cofounder Michael Tiffany likens the landscape to a cholera outbreak. Bots cause their devastation in a certain corner of the web and move on.

White Ops is about to embark on a month-long study with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to try and determine the true extent of digital ad fraud among a representative selection of the ANA’s membership.

“If you look at different campaigns or networks, the range of bot traffic can be 1% or more than 90%,” said Tiffany. “It would be foolish to say something like, ‘Cholera is hitting one-fourth of households;’ that doesn’t make sense. The point of doing this study is to try and put some bounds around the problem in a definitive, measured way.”

Thirty ANA members across a variety of industries — including automotive, CPG, financial, retail, tech, and travel — have agreed to include White Ops tags in their existing digital media over the month of August in an attempt to get a read on the percentage of display, video, mobile, and social campaigns affected by bot fraud. Individual participants will get proprietary reports at the end of the experiment with information on overall fraud rate, fraud broken down by platform (desktop versus mobile), format, and channel (publisher versus network or exchange). The ANA also plans to aggregate the results and release them industry-wide around September or October.


Media and Marketing M&A Values Rise, Small Deals Abound

more-little-mergersInvestment bank Berkery Noyes’ first-half report for 2014 shows total value for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the media and marketing industry up on a half-year basis, from $45.8 billion to $49.8 billion.

Total value of M&A in the industry had a sharp 70% increase compared with the first half of 2013, which had a total value of $29.5 billion.

But the overall growth belies another trend: a shift to smaller transactions. The report – which includes known and projected transactions – showed 82% of all transactions for the half were in deals valued under $55 million.

The large share of smaller deals in the overall M&A landscape has been of concern to some investors.

A recent report by Jordan Edmiston Group (JEGI), an investment bank, saw deals of less than $50 million comprise 83% of total volume in the media, information, marketing and technology industries. JEGI said in the report that the share of volume for smaller deals suggests "that corporations and investors are vigorously exploring acquisition opportunities but remain cautious to ‘pull the trigger’ on larger transactions as they wait for a clearer picture of the economy’s direction.”


Matomy Rekindles IPO, Seeks $347 Million Valuation

ofer-druker-matomyThe on-again, off-again IPO plans of Israel-based Matomy Media Group are on again.

The performance-based ad tech company began three days of so-called "conditional trading" on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday in preparation for its official debut on Friday. It will seek to raise $70.1 million at a $347 million valuation.

Matomy previously attempted to go public, but scrapped those plans in April owing to what it called a "technicality" of London IPOs that requires a minimum of 25% of a company's shares to be claimed by investors in the European Economic Area.

At the time it also cited the worsening environment for ad tech IPOs, exemplified by pressure on the stock prices of Tremor Media, YuMe Rocket Fuel and others. The company overcame the former obstacle by  joining the London Stock Exchange's High Growth Sector, which doesn't require 25% EEA investment, according to a representative. 

"We were disappointed to have postponed our offer earlier in the year, but we are delighted to be announcing our offer price today with such strong investor support," CEO Ofer Drucker said in a statement. "We have continued to grow our business in the interim, including the recent successful acquisition of a majority ownership stake in the direct navigation Internet search company Team Internet."


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.


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."


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 (, 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, now head of 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.