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Taboola Acquires Perfect Market, Enters Programmatic Ad Space with Taboola-X

Taboola and Perfect MarketContent recommendation engine Taboola has acquired Perfect Market, which develops a publisher-side solution designed to improve engagement, driving traffic, and monetization. Taboola CEO Adam Singolda wouldn’t disclose the deal’s terms, though he said it was a mix of cash and stock.

With the acquisition, Taboola will change from being a content discovery engine to being a content and product discovery engine. “We work with thousands of publishers, and the industry is looking for more innovation around monetization across the board,” said Singolda. Taboola will answer those publisher concerns by integrating Perfect Market’s monetization product, Perfect Ads, into the Taboola platform. The technology will power Taboola-X, Taboola’s first programmatic ad solution, which will serve both the buy and sell sides. Since Perfect Market and Taboola have shared publisher partners before, that has "allowed both companies to collaborate on the potential value that can be created by having both products integrated on a page," Singolda said, and give the company a head start in combining the two technologies.

The Perfect Ads platform decides what sort of ad content to serve based on user signals, like how the user arrived on the page or device type.

“If someone is on their mobile device, it might be better to serve them an article recommendation, but if they’re on the desktop and came in through search, it may be right to serve them a product ad,” Singolda said.

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Fraud-day With Videology: “In Video, Clicks Are An Indicator Of Fraud”

fraudThis is the first in a series of interviews with vendors combating the problem of ad fraud. Other companies participating in this series include White Ops, DoubleVerify, Forensiq, Moat, PubChecker, Telemetry and Integral Ad Science.

Videology might not be specialists in ad fraud like White Ops or Integral Ad Science, but preventing and detecting it remains a top concern. At its core, Videology’s ad tech is designed to serve ads on behalf of its advertiser clients in display, online video and TV.

The company also has a product called Viewpoint, which tackles issues around viewability, brand safety and fraud. The company applies Viewpoint as a free add-on to clients running Videology’s media. It can also apply the technology as an additional security measure for clients doing prenegotiated direct buys or private marketplace deals.

But because fraud prevention/detection is not – in Videology product management director Quinn Sanders’ words – the company's “bread and butter,” it's in the process of evaluating third-party anti-fraud vendors to partner with.

“We’re looking to bring one vendor into the technology stack where we can offer a third-party pre-bid fraud- and bot-prevention solution at no cost to our demand-side clients,” Sanders said. He spoke carefully and declined to name exactly which vendors Videology was vetting.

“We want a third-party partner with a very good name in the space, where we would ask them whether every ad request we get has the characteristics of a bot or not,” he said. “And then we would decide whether or not to serve the ad based on the results. The additional peace of mind [for clients] is it’s not just Videology saying this is a safe impression and not a suspicious impression.”

Sanders spoke with AdExchanger about why fraud prevention is so much more difficult than detection, and the additional complexities video inventory brings to the table.
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LeadiD, A Tag-Powered Lead Tracker, Overcomes Publisher Reticence

leadidThis is the second in a series on evolution in the lead gen space. Read our earlier story on social media lead generation.

What’s in a lead? Between aggregators reselling leads, marketers deciding where to focus their sales efforts, and the myriad of marketing platforms supporting both, it can be hard to judge the quality of a lead that lands on a salesperson’s desk. Working towards a more transparent lead marketplace has required twisting some publisher arms in the case of LeadiD, which positions itself as a grader and tracker of leads.

The company offers a “technological platform that resides at the point of origin where (lead) data is being entered,” said Ross Shanken, founder and CEO. "We issue an ID that is unique to that point in time, to that event, and track hundreds of variables about the origins of that event – the who, what, when, where, why and how that data got entered in the first place

A LeadiD-provided Javascript tag embedded into a publisher site’s HTML will collect information at the origin of a lead, and send it to the company’s servers with a unique identifier. Information on that lead can then be accessed later on in the sales process, whether it is put on the market by an aggregator or used directly by a brand’s sales team.

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Salesforce Integrates More Of ExactTarget, But Paid Media Still A Hobby

salesforce-exacttargetMemo to marketing industry observers waiting for ad tech to merge with marketing tech: It's probably safe to go make popcorn, as this could take a while.

It's been a year since Salesforce.com acquired ExactTarget. On Thursday, the company hosted a press event in San Francisco to commemorate the deal's anniversary, using the occasion to show off some new capabilities in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud.

Specifically, users of the ExactTarget Journey Builder can more easily map interactions with customers via a drag-and-drop interface, and they can set up a greater variety of real-time triggers to respond to user actions. These triggers can include abandoned site visits, abandoned shopping carts, affinity changes and myriad other events tracked within the Salesforce system.

But all the new triggers presented were for direct-messaging channels, such as email, SMS and in-app push notifications.

Cookie-based retargeting? No. Upselling through CRM-matched display media buys? No. Paid media of any kind? Not so much.

Of course, the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud does have a paid media capability, acquired two years ago through Buddy Media and its Brighter Option subsidiary (rebranded as Social.com). But that tool set remains relegated to social channels, in particular Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Three big consumer platforms to be sure, but still representing a minority of desktop and mobile display ad space.

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ChoiceStream Raises $7.5 Million To Support Sales And Ad Tech Build-Out

Eric-Bosco ChoicestreamChoiceStream, which began as a product recommendation engine before three years ago shifting to programmatic ad tech, has raised $7.5 million in Series B financing from Fred Alger Management.

The financing will help ChoiceStream grow out its sales capabilities, with the remainder going toward the build-out of its demand-side platform (DSP)  technology.

CEO Eric Bosco said he believes ChoiceStream’s roots in recommendations, namely its “intellectual property inherited from the personalization business,” gives the company an edge in the crowded DSP space.

The DSP is also designed to serve dynamic creative in real-time, for instance letting weather forecasts influence which products show up in the ads.

Technologies from ChoiceStream’s other assets, like its survey site Pollshare.com, can also be applied to its DSP. For instance, Pollshare can be used to find hard-to-reach audiences. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts released coffee pods for Keurig machines and requested ChoiceStream  target Keurig owners – which is not typically captured through cookies.

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Crosswise Is The New Cross-Screen Kid On The Block

SteveGlanzMultiscreen tracking company Crosswise, which on Thursday launched its cross-device identification solution, doesn’t care about buying media.

It doesn’t care about creating segments. Basically, Crosswise CEO and co-founder Steve Glanz doesn’t care if you’re a man or a woman, how old you are or where you live — at least not as isolated data points.

“We’re not creating profiles of users, we’re looking for connections between data points,” Glanz said. “We’re trying to solve the problem of being able to identify users across devices employing a statistical or probabilistic solution.”

While that might ring a bell for anyone familiar with cross-device ad tech companies like Tapad or Drawbridge, Glanz said Crosswise’s product differentiates since it’s a “data-only” solution that isn’t interested in direct agency or brand relationships.

Glanz said Crosswise competitors are both technology providers and perform media services, creating a conflict. Crosswise, which has raised $2 million from several VC sources since its August 2013 founding, is by contrast a pure-play technology company. It hands the fruits of its data tracking over to demand-side platforms (DSPs), which then work with agencies and brands to buy the right media.

“Tapad and Drawbridge are great companies, but they’re also basically competing with every DSP and retargeting company,” he said. “They license their platform to ad tech companies and also try to sell direct campaigns to agencies and advertisers at the same time."

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Facebook Reports Q2, Mobile Grows To 62% Of Ad Revenue

q2-2014-fb-usethisFacebook reported second-quarter earnings on Thursday amid generally high expectations for the company's advertising business, especially as it pertains to mobile and video. Investors were not disappointed.

Facebook posted Q2 advertising revenue of $2.68 billion, a 67% increase from Q2 2013. Of that, mobile advertising is becoming increasingly important – it constituted 62% of Facebook’s total advertising revenue in Q2 2014, up from 41% in Q2 2013. Read the earnings release.

Ad prices spike, unlike Yahoo. On the company's earnings call, CFO David Ebersman said Facebook's ad volume fell during the quarter as a result of the rapid consumer shift to mobile (and, hence, news feed-only ad placements).

Meanwhile ad prices rose as well, driven by that very same shift to news feed inventory, which is more expensive. (Incidentally, it's exactly the opposite dynamic that Yahoo experienced in its most recent quarter; Yahoo's volume rose while CPMs fell.)

Ad prices are also rising for right rail inventory as Facebook pushes a redesign featuring more prominent ad formats within that real estate. COO Sheryl Sandberg added that these ads are getting higher engagement rates than their predecessors, and can be presumed to be more effective.
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LinkedIn To Acquire Bizo, B2B Display Ad Platform, For $175M

BizoLinkedIn will buy Bizo, a B2B display ad platform, for $175 million in cash and stock, the companies said Tuesday.

"It's exciting for us to bring Bizo's expertise and technology into our ecosystem," said Deep Nishar, LinkedIn's SVP of product and user experience, in a statement. "Our ability to integrate their B2B solutions with our content marketing products will enable us to become the most effective platform for B2B marketers to engage professionals."

The acquisition will be funded through a combination of cash (90%) and LinkedIn stock (10%) and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014.

Read LinkedIn's blog post and the press release.

LinkedIn is ramping up its marketing solutions. It hired longtime ad exec Penry Price as VP of marketing solutions, and recently outlined methods to monetize content with a premium business audience on its platform.

Bizo's acquisition should also come as no surprise. Founded in 2008 as a platform to enable B2B marketers to track and reach new business users, it's easy to see what made the company an attractive target this year. In Q4, Bizo cited revenue of $12.4 million at a $50 million run rate with media costs that average in the 35-40% range.

The company has also released numerous products and enhancements. Last fall, it launched Bizo for Marketing Automation, a product with a "multimillion dollar" trajectory, according to Bizo's CEO Russ Glass. Months later, Bizo released Multichannel Nurturing, a tool that promised marketers greater lead-gen capabilities across email, display and social advertising.

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Centro Hires A CFO And Looks To Investors

shawn-riegseckerIt's hard times for late stage advertising technology companies. Many public and private investors are gloomy on ad tech, and older startups needing new funds lately find themselves forced to choose between unattractive options, such as going public or raising money at a lower valuation, a painful event sometimes referred to as a "down round."

These are problems Chicago-based agency workflow platform Centro, which hired Michael Bruns as CFO this week, has been blessed to avoid.

CEO Shawn Riegsecker said this is due to Centro’s relatively low cash requirements to date. The company's only investments have been a $22.5 million Series A round completed in 2011.

But Bruns’ hiring shows the company has its eye on its future cash needs.

Bruns is well versed in SaaS-based companies, after running finance for two such companies and selling one of them (ClearTrial) to Oracle in 2012. Oracle, of course, is one of the top four strategic buyers in the ad tech space, alongside Adobe, Salesforce and Google – a fact certainly not lost on Centro management.  The company's previous CFO, Leo Brubaker, was named chief operating officer last year but the company has only just found his replacement.  According to Riegsecker, the hire was time-consuming since Centro needed someone experienced in public capital markets as well as in private fundraising.

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TubeMogul Prices IPO Shares Lower, Valuation Shrinks To $244M

tubemogul cashVideo demand-side platform TubeMogul priced the shares for its public offering Thursday, and the target price is significantly lower than the $11 to $13 per share the company previously specified. The company now expects to debut shares at a rock-bottom $7.00 to $8.00, according to an updated S-1.

The company had previously hoped to raise $93 million, but at the lower share price, it will more likely find itself raising around $47 million.

"TubeMogul will raise 38% less in proceeds than previously anticipated and will command a market cap of $244 million, down 38% from $394 million," said an item on Nasdaq.com. "The amended filing also includes $5 million of insider buying from Trinity Ventures, adding to the $20 million indicated by Foundation Capital. Insiders now have plans to purchase 53% of the offering."

The change comes amid significant investor pessimism around technology stocks and ad tech companies in particular.

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