Rubicon Project To Automate Direct Buys; The New York Times Isn’t Afraid To Try New Things

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Rubicon Project said it will launch automated private marketplaces to bring more automation and scale to direct buys. “It brings the scale and predictability of guaranteed buying, executed via private marketplaces, over the [open] RTB, Deal ID infrastructure that every major buyer and seller are using today, all within an automated workflow between buyer and seller,” said Josh Turner, VP of project management at Rubicon. More. Rubicon is under some pressure after the company admitted on its second-quarter earnings call that it had been “slow to react” to the header bidding trend [AdExchanger coverage].

Losing Upward

“The New York Times tradition is not to fail,” says assistant masthead editor Clifford Levy in a Recode podcast. “But I don’t think, in this new era, we can hew to that kind of tradition. We have to be willing to try new things, and if they fail, that’s fine.” It’s a lesson Levy learned from tech platforms, where revenue streams are often opened, tested, iterated and then shut down (if they ever leave beta). It may feel awkwardly #trendy for the Gray Lady to mail Google Cardboard VR headsets to subscribers or cyclically produce and shut down apps for devices, platforms and use cases that evaporate, but it’s what staying ahead looks like. More.

Watson’s Right Brain

Maria Winans, CMO and chief of commerce at IBM, has a third title: chief supervisor of storytelling. Huh? As the tech company creeps into agency territory, it’s acquiring rather than outsourcing more of the creative skills it needs to compete. One strategy: poaching Hollywood screenwriters from the lure of the big screen to use their talents for marketing. Of course, data will drive that storytelling – to an extent. “Data informs the story, how we talk to you, what we share and when we share it,” Winans said. “Ultimately, our goal is really to make an emotional connection, and we think we can do that better by being personal without, of course, being creepy.” We’ll see about that, IBM. More at Ad Age.

Zeta Raises

Little more than a year after Zeta Interactive notched $125 million in debt and equity funding [AdExchanger coverage], the mar tech company once known as XL Marketing has secured $45 million from FS Investments, GSO Capital Partners (owned by Blackstone) and others. Last year’s round was meant to spur organic growth and strategic investments, like the acquisition of eBay Enterprise’s CRM business and the $50 million purchase of Acxiom’s email services unit, Impact. Its most recent round will fund the integration of Impact and catalyze growth in the US, UK and other international regions. More.

Across The Pond

“There’s an obsession in Brussels with tracking and online behavioral advertising,” warns IAB Europe CEO Townsend Feehan in an interview with Digiday. “There’s even talk in Brussels over whether publishers have the right to refuse access of content to users who do not consent to the use of cookies. … Some regulators seem sympathetic to the idea that the internet is a special environment where somehow users have the right to free content.” SIlicon Valley giants are in the crosshairs of European regulators, but they’re certainly not the only ones under fire. More.

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