Impression Feast: How Food Publishers Handle The Thanksgiving Rush


thanksgiving bounty IIFor recipe sites, the days leading up to Thanksgiving bring a rush of users searching for turkey-basting tips and instructions for making stuffing and pumpkin pie. In the coming weeks, the winter holidays will bolster traffic even more.

These audience surges represent an opportunity and challenge for publishers as they try to maximize yield. Sales and operations teams must make sure their direct-sold campaigns deliver while optimizing monetization through programmatic channels. Helpfully, demand surges along with supply during this period. This is Q4 after all.

AdExchanger spoke with Epicurious/Bon Appétit, AllRecipes, The New York Times and Food52 about how they monetize during America’s most food-focused holiday.

Epicurious and Bon Appétit (Condé Nast)

This Thanksgiving will be Epicurious and Bon Appétit’s first grouped together in Condé Nast’s Food Innovation Group, a newly formed entity that leverages the combined scale of the two publishers. The goal for the group, officially formed in October, is to give advertisers a one-stop shop, said Craig Kostelic, head of digital sales for the Food Innovation Group.

The two publications combined had about 10 million unduplicated cross-platform uniques in September, according to comScore. That combined scale means bigger RFPs, Kostelic said. Advertisers can extend campaigns further through the Food Innovation Group Shopper Network, a web of food sites that reached 47 million unduplicated cross-platform uniques in October, again per comScore.

Maximizing yield required organizational changes within the group.

“We created an associate planning director that is a gatekeeper," Kostelic said. This person keeps the sell-through rate “on point” and focuses on ad products and inventory, he said. “Having someone who had been a planner, and not a business director, is a huge step forward.”

Programmatic selling occurs on a corporate level across Condé Nast, not at the magazine level. “We use their expertise to figure out what makes sense for CPM floors based on what we’re seeing from a direct standpoint, in order to yield the most revenue we can,” Kostelic said. Read the rest of this entry »

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What The Mobile App Industry Can Learn From King Kullen


josefmandelbaumddt"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 Josef Mandelbaum, CEO at Perion Network.

In 1930, Kroger Grocery & Bakery Co. store manager Michael Cullen came up with the idea for the model that would become the modern supermarket.

Instead of making daily trips to the grocer, baker, butcher and milkman, Cullen envisioned a "one-stop shop" for meat, milk, cheese, produce and bread that was almost entirely a "self-service" operation.

Stocking large quantities of food items would reduce prices, attract more shoppers and produce a stronger bottom line, he argued. When Kroger's ignored him, Cullen opened the first King Kullen Grocery Co. in Queens, N.Y., followed by an additional eight stores that generated more than $6 million a year in revenue (nearly $100 million in 2014 dollars).

Similar to the pre-Kullen’s shopping experience, the mobile app advertising industry is a broken, fragmented and complex ecosystem that makes it difficult for even the largest industry players to successfully execute a media-buying campaign.

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Time Inc. Picks Outbrain; Merkle Buys 500friends


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Time Inc. Recommends

Time Inc. has picked Outbrain to be the exclusive content discovery platform for its owned and operated sites. The multiyear deal is expected to earn the publisher an estimated $100 million. Read the press release. Time Inc. will also adopt Outbrain’s premium publisher network to drive audiences to its digital properties. Content recommendation can get a bad rap for spreading click-bait around the web, but Outbrain CRO Tom Foran says the company has purged some offenders from its customer base. "Low quality is in the eye of the beholder,” Foran told Ad Age.

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All In On In-House: Allstate Takes Its Programmatic Buying Inside


AllstateStarcomWhen it comes to digital media, Allstate is in good hands: its own. Starting in Q1 2015, the insurance giant will bring its digital media-buying function fully in-house.

Although Allstate will now take care of all of its own programmatic buying, its media agency, Starcom, will continue to take the reins on traditional planning and buying. Starcom will also continue to partner directly with Allstate’s longstanding creative agency, Leo Burnett.

But while there are a number of factors that led to Allstate’s decision, among them the cost efficiencies, prescriptive targeting abilities and greater transparency associated with programmatic buying, don’t lump Allstate in with the general in-house trend.

Allstate had its hand in programmatic from the early days of RTB, said Keary Phillips, Allstate’s senior digital marketing program manager.

“We began down the programmatic path before the idea of a trading desk even existed,” Phillips told AdExchanger. “It might have been in a managed service capacity, but we had direct relationships with programmatic providers.”

Until 2008, right when RTB was coming to the fore, Starcom – which has worked with Allstate in various capacities for more than 30 years – handled the brand’s digital media planning and buying, while OgilvyOne took care of its PR and direct-response acquisition. That year, Allstate decided to shift all of its digital DR work into Starcom’s camp. At the same time, the brand started getting its programmatic feet wet by forming direct relationships with several DSP partners.

As the years went by and Allstate’s digital marketing team cut its programmatic teeth Phillips realized that it was time to take a long view on where digital fit into the overall mix. Today, programmatic makes up about 70% of Allstate’s media plan, excluding search and big ticket traditional expenses like sponsorships.

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After $250M Injection, Campaign Monitor Gets Acquisitive


alexbardWatch out, Constant Contact and SurveyMonkey. A 10-year-old email marketing platform from down under is moving in.

A few months after raising $250 million from Insight Venture Partners – its first fundraising since the company was founded in 2004 – Campaign Monitor revealed Tuesday that it has acquired online survey startup GetFeedback.

It’s a homecoming for GetFeedback’s CEO Kraig Swensrud, who served as chief marketing officer for for six years. Campaign Monitor itself poached exec Alex Bard as its CEO in September.

You might call Bard something of a celebrity in enterprise and tech circles. After selling cloud customer service startup Assistly to for $50 million cash in 2011, Bard went on to lead the CRM giant’s $1 billion-plus Service Cloud business as EVP and GM.

Among Bard’s immediate focuses at Campaign Monitor is “aggressively” expanding into North America with the opening of the Sydney company’s US operations in San Francisco. When combined with GetFeedback, Campaign Monitor will have 100 employees total with “plans to double that this year,” according to Bard.

“The more data you’re able to gather and the more behaviors you’re able to collect, the more you see email become this CRM [platform], which is an area that’s really interesting for us,” Bard said.

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Undertone Zeroes In On Its Platform With Hiring Of Former Rovi CTO


undertone eric franchi george durdenWhen Undertone released its programmatic platform Virtuoso in September, the goal, according to co-founder Eric Franchi, was for it to eventually become the primary console of brands and agencies that want to purchase high-impact ad units, or ads that use unique formats designed to snag the audience’s attention.

The onetime ad network has hired George Durden as its SVP of technology to help facilitate this. Durden, who most recently served as Rovi Corporation’s EVP and CTO, will oversee all technological initiatives at Undertone, though his immediate focus is building out Virtuoso.

As AdExchanger previously reported, Virtuoso plans to add an enhanced data and analytics offering in 2015. This is one area where Durden’s experience at Rovi should come into play.

“Rovi, at its core, was a data company at massive scale,” he said. “The skills I established dealing with large-scale data systems and analytics will be important to what we’re trying to accomplish at Undertone.”
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Newcastle Brown Ale Dislikes Talking Bollocks


brett steen newcastleThis is how to make a beer commercial.

Combine gorgeous women, average-looking men, laughter, extreme close-ups of flowing beer, long shots of snow-capped mountains (optional). Shake it up and toss it onto an NFL game, preferably sometime during the first quarter when people are still watching.

This is also the antithesis of how Heineken-owned Newcastle Brown Ale, which late last year eschewed television advertising, approaches its video advertising.

During the last Super Bowl, for instance, it released online a two-minute-plus video ad starring actress Anna Kendrick ("I don’t think of myself as beer commercial babe hot…I mean, I'm hot. But approachable hot.”) that served as a send-up to beer commercial clichés.

And last week, Newcastle released two similarly irreverent videos starring actor Wil Wheaton.

Because of each video’s length, Newcastle tends to shy away from pre-roll.

We don’t want the construct of time to hold us hostage from a creative situation,” said Brett Steen, Newcastle’s brand manager. “We want the creative to breathe and get our message out and put out anti-marketing in a fun way, in a way that’s shareable. In a way that is entertainment and not just advertising.”

Newcastle, he said, targets males 21-29. It wants to be “the first really good beer for men when they’re coming of age and starting to have more disposable income.”

In other words, a significant step up from whatever they were swilling discreetly in their dorm rooms.

Steen spoke with AdExchanger.

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Every Day Should Be Black Friday


lunghuangnew"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 Lung Huang, vice president of digital advertising and global partnerships at dunnhumby.

Here it is: Holiday Season 2014. Already.

Before you could pry your sugary fingers away from the last piece of non-GMO, non-high fructose corn syrup Halloween candy, the nation of good and plenty fervently began convincing shoppers that it was time for holiday shopping.

Not in December. Not on Black Friday. Right. Now.

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday spending will reach $616.9 billion this year, a 4.1% increase over 2013. That means we will spend about $80 more this year for every man, woman and child living in the United States.

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YouTube Challenger; Programmatic Creative


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Poaching YouTube’s Users

Ex-Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has been working on a platform to challenge YouTube’s online video dominance. The video streaming service, dubbed Vessel, is staffed by a fleet of ex-Hulu, Netflix and Amazon leaders, and Ad Age reports that it could debut as early as this month. Vessel will offer both free and subscription-based access, with both versions slated to serve ads and work across apps, desktop and mobile sites. Naturally, there are possible ties to connected-TV services like Apple TV, Roku and Xbox. Purportedly, Vessel’s secret sauce will be signing YouTube creators to yearlong contracts that require creators to upload new content to Vessel and wait 72 hours before posting elsewhere.

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Adobe Chugs Along With Mobile Analytics Features; Location Tops The List



Adobe’s having a good couple of months.

Following Forrester’s high ranking of Adobe's enterprise marketing suite last month, the software company unveiled a series of mobile enhancements to the Adobe Marketing Cloud on Tuesday.

Adobe customers can now tap into in-app messaging capabilities and send personalized follow-up emails and other messages based on a consumer’s location. Back in October, Adobe rolled out support within Adobe Analytics for beacons to enable advertisers to track offline behavior and target consumers based on their in-store activity.

Location and micro-targeting are particularly tantalizing opportunities for retailers, said Jeff Allen, director of product marketing at Adobe Analytics.

“Thirty-four percent of consumers have received location-based promotions, but twice that number [70%] are actually open to receiving them,” Allen told AdExchanger, citing Adobe’s most recent Digital Index report, which also includes this stat: About 18% of marketers use beacons today, but that number is expected to double in 2015.

“One question I’ve been asking lately is around how willing consumers will be over time to let more proactive marketing vehicles into their experience with a mobile device, so I really like these stats,” Allen said.

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