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Upworthy Sees Early Success With Its Socially Conscious Native Content

Ed Urgola UpworthyEarlier this month, Upworthy – a curator of socially-conscious content – revealed native content was outperforming editorial content. The data was striking: Branded content received 3.5 times as many views, 2.9 times more “Attention Minutes” (an Upworthy-developed metric) and three times as many social shares compared to its in-house editorial content. All this for a site that launched its first formal native advertising campaign in April.

“Most reactions to that are ‘What? How? Why?’ said Ed Urgola, director of marketing and communications at Upworthy. “We kind of thought to ourselves when we saw that for the first time. First off, the selection bias is high. We’re picking the right campaigns for the right brands, giving them TLC, making sure they’re framed up properly, and with the same curators that work on editorial working with brands.”

Selection bias aside, getting native to perform well is a challenge for any site. For Upworthy, the stakes are even higher. The site does not run display advertising, so the site is monetizes its content through paid posts.

That may be one reason why Upworthy made the source code publicly available for its new metric, Attention Minutes, intended to measure total engagement instead of clicks and page views. It’s a metric designed for native, not display. (more…)

Programmatic Consultancies Help Publishers Play Catch-Up

Matt ProhaskaJust because there’s a push to adapt programmatic strategies doesn’t mean everyone is equipped to handle them. Publishers, in particular, have lagged behind advertisers in embracing programmatic.

While agencies now have trading desks and brands like includes Kimberly-Clark, Kellogg’s, Procter & Gamble, Heineken and Mondelez International are taking it one step further, bringing programmatic brand in-house, many publishers are just starting their programmatic operations or have just dipped their toe into the waters. It’s a situation that’s led to the rise of a handful of programmatic consulting groups.

Last August for instance, two architects of IPG’s trading desk founded Unbound, which offers technology- and service systems-integrator services. And five months ago, Matt Prohaska reopened the doors of his consulting business, Prohaska Consulting.

“As the industry matures, programmatic has become part of doing business,” Prohaska said.


Defining Native Advertising Success At The Washington Post

wapo-andresenLike many publishers, The Washington Post’s Kelly Andresen grapples with success metrics for native advertising campaigns.

As director of ad innovations and product strategy, she has a front-row seat on her publication’s digital evolution and oversees teams that are dedicated to creating new digital advertising revenue, including native.

“When you move into content marketing, it’s a whole different conversation than standard display advertising," Andresen said. "A click-through rate is not going to tell you a story of how well your native campaign performed."

WaPo’s go-to native product is WP Brand Connect and Q4 of this year will bring its next iteration: a roll-out of the solution in all of the company’s mobile apps. It will build on what Andresen said has been a successful implementation for the company's desktop and mobile web properties.

Andresen discussed the latest on native at The Washington Post with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: What’s the biggest challenge in measuring native?

KELLY ANDRESEN: I think our biggest challenge is “How do you define success?” Right now, it’s different for every advertiser since each has different requirements in developing a content marketing campaign.

A metric like time spent on site or video completions might make sense to our advertisers. Or, their goals might be that they just want to get their message out there and raise awareness. So sharing metrics such as “How often did people share this?” and “How often did they ‘like’ it?” are probably much better measures for awareness and engagement.

In the end, it’s about how clients define success and how can we design a program and the metrics that help them understand what happened here and if they made a great investment. (more…)

Digital Advertising, Circulation Up But Profit Down For New York Times Q2


The New York Times' overall revenue declined .6% in Q2 year over year to $388.7 million; its adjusted operating profit declined drastically from $70.7 million in Q2 2013 to 55.7 million in Q2 2014. Advertising revenues were down 4.1% to $156.3 million year over year, fulfilling a Q1 prediction by CFO James Follo that such revenues would decline. Much of this was driven by weakness in print advertising which decreased 6.6% year over year.

Digital advertising and circulation stemmed the losses somewhat. Digital advertising increased 3.4% to $41.5 million from $40.1 million, and currently accounts for over a quarter of all advertising revenue.

The New York Times added 32,000 digital subscribers in the quarter, 39% more than the growth at the same time last year, for a total of 831,000 subscribers. That includes e-reader subscriptions as well as new products like NYT Now, Times Premier and NYT Opinion.

Growing digital circulation further is an area of focus. “We know that long-term digital revenue growth depends on the reach and depth of engagement of our digital audience…[we] believe we can significantly grow our digital audience, which in turn will contribute to improved digital subscription and advertising monetization,” CEO Mark Thompson said in a statement. (more…)

Harper’s Bazaar Pursues Shoppable Ads With Streamwize

Harpers and StreamwizeFor publishers, the holy grail is to “engage, interact, and convert without leaving site,” according to Gary Portney, founder of Streamwize. Advertisers get their conversion, and publishers keep their consumer on-site.

That’s why ShopBAZAAR, the ecommerce presence for fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, decided to license Streamwize’s “fractal content,” technology which creates browsable boxes on a website for deep in-page engagement with brands.

ShopBAZAAR is “a convergence of pure editorial content and commerce,” described Anne Welch, associate publisher and general manager for Harper’s Bazaar, who focused on the ecommerce site.

In the magazine, items tagged with a “B” signify they can be purchased on ShopBAZAAR. As part of an advertising buy, brands can purchase placements in the print magazine, the digital version or as dedicated boutiques on ShopBAZAAR. These “dedicated boutiques” are sold like advertising for a flat fee, not through a revenue-sharing agreement.

The women’s clothing brand J.McLaughlin was the first to try out the dedicated boutique using Streamwize. Compared to its boutique the previous year without Streamwize, average time on the J.McLaughlin page increased 36% year over year. The increase in page views per entrance, defined as the number of clicks after a user first engages with the Streamwize box, was 80%.


What Yahoo Stands To Gain When Flurry Bleeds Purple 

Mobile BlizzardYahoo has doubled down on its mobile bet, agreeing to buy mobile analytics and advertising company Flurry.

What does that mean for a company that less than a week ago reported disappointing earnings as it struggled with declining CPMs? A company that’s not yet even breaking out its mobile revenue in its earning statements, while calling it “meaningful?”

“Acquiring a mobile-first company that has really honed its expertise in mobile app marketing and analytics sends two key market messages," said Forrester analyst Jennifer Wise. "One, we’re serious about mobile. Two, we have best-in-class mobile app measurement, targeting, analytics capabilities.”

Flurry stands to be the second-largest acquisition so far in CEO Marissa Mayer’s reign. At an estimated $200 million-$300 million purchase price, it’s just a fraction of what Mayer paid for Tumblr, which came in at more than $1 billion, but far above the dozens of small acquisitions Yahoo has made, such as the mobile apps Blink and Summly.

From the perspective of CEO Marissa Mayer, the acquisition is the latest attempt to fulfill her promise to investors: that a turnaround for Yahoo won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.


How Mobile-First Publisher Quartz Measures Native Ads

Joy Robins QuartzNative advertising doesn’t fit into a 300x250 box. But as the category has taken off, so has the need to gather meaningful metrics in a manner similar to standardized display advertising.

So when mobile-centric publisher Quartz developed a special native ad campaign for US Trust touting the bank's sponsorship of the Aspen Ideas Festival, it also wanted to gather intelligence for its advertisers

At Quartz, an Atlantic Media-owned digital publication aimed at business influencers that launched in 2012, native advertising was always part of the plan. Designed as a “tablet- and mobile-first, desktop-second” platform, Quartz was also designed to carry just two ad formats.

One is “Engage,” a large, non-IAB standard banner that’s impossible to miss and often showcases above-average creative. The other is the “Bulletin,” a native ad format that borrows from Quartz’s editorial style, with interactive graphics and opportunities for engagement.

For the Aspen Ideas Festival/US Trust campaign, which was timed to the late June festival, Quartz created two different “Bulletin” units that showcased the credentials of the speakers.


Saving Content Recommendation From A Click Bait Fate

Neil Mody Oliver WellingtonIt goes something like this: While scrolling through the latest coverage on Syria, or doing research on a work project, you reach the end of an article, only to be greeted with the latest tabloid news about Kim Kardashian. With its teasing photo and promise of outrageousness, it takes all your willpower to resist. And you click anyway.

Over the past few years, content recommendation engines have exploded. Players include Outbrain, Taboola, AOL-owned Gravity and IAC-owned nRelate. Their widgets feature a mix of content from their own publishing network, links to other websites and links to advertorials or native advertising. (Read recent AdExchanger coverage of Outbrain and Taboola)

One reason these articles are so clickable is because they hide the fact that there is a transaction involved. Language like “We recommend” or “From around the web” obscures what’s going on. That skirting was enough to draw a ruling against Outbrain in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority.

There’s a growing realization that in order for the field to be sustainable, something has to change.


DoubleClick Puts Publishers, Advertisers On Level Viewability Playing Field

Sanaz Ahari DoubleClickPublishers using DoubleClick platforms will no longer have to rely on agencies to learn if their ads are viewable or not. Google has made its viewability product, Active View, available for publishers in addition to advertisers and agencies.

“We've been hearing from publishers that discussions about viewable impressions with advertisers lack transparency making it difficult for publishers to meet their client's expectations,” said Sanaz Ahari, group product manager for brand metrics at Google. “As in any market, information asymmetry causes unfair advantages. That's why we made the conscious decision to provide access to Active View metrics to everyone at the same time.”

The product will enable publishers to see viewability metrics in reports they pull regularly, “[giving] them a greater understanding of the viewability of their sites,” Ahari explained, adding that the integration ensures their metrics will be the same as the ones advertisers see. (more…)

Yahoo's Display Revenue Falls Again, And Marissa Mayer Is 'Not Satisfied'

marissa-mayer-no-satisfactionIn its second quarter, Yahoo sold 24% more ads compared to the second quarter of 2013, and yet the price per ad went down 24%, suggesting the company has been unable to stem the tide against declining CPMs. (Read the press release.)

CEO Marissa Mayer expressed disappointment in the company's display ad performance.

"Our top priority is revenue growth and by that measure, we are not satisfied with our Q2 results," she said. "Display remains an area of investment and transition. In Q2, we saw display revenue decline, further highlighting the fact that we need to work faster to ameliorate the negative trends. I believe we can and will do better moving forward," Mayer said. "Overall, I remain confident in Yahoo's future, our strategy, and our return to long-term growth."

While display media declined 8%, from $472 million to $436 million, overall revenue decreased somewhat less than that -- 4% year over year -- thanks to growth in mobile, native, and video along with modest increases in search.