Shopify Isn’t All In On Ads (Yet); Universal Music Joins The Media Network Parade

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Shopify Is ‘Just Browsing’ Ads

Shopify held its twice-annual road map update event this week. Shopify Editions, as the get-together is called, offered up a handful of tantalizing tidbits for industry observers awaiting news of a consolidated Shopify ad platform. 

In May, there was the launch of Shopify Audiences, which packages audience segments based on purchase intent signals across Shopify’s network. Shopify isn’t the ad platform; it pushes audience segments to Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, et al. 

It’s also increasing incentives for its Shop app, a stand-alone ecommerce service.

But Shopify has only tentatively waded into advertising and launching its own ecommerce marketplace. The Shop app, for instance, is framed as a personal shopping assistant, not an open ecommerce marketplace. 

There’s a reason Shopify is hands-off on advertising and has no private-label products. An ad platform is lucrative and the opportunity is ripe. Shopify collects payment data that makes the hearts of mobile marketers and DTC merchants flutter.

But Shopify is reluctant to step into the consumer decision-maker role. Because Shopify is the technology behind scores of fashion merchants, when the company carries each of their products in a marketplace or an ad platform, it must choose who gets customers and who doesn’t – and it’s not ready to do that yet.

Music To My Ears

Although Shopify is pumping the brakes on advertising, the rest of the world is diving in headfirst.

The latest ad platform entrant is music and entertainment company Universal Music Group (UMG), which is one of the “Big Three” record labels alongside Sony and Warner Music.

The platform, in beta until now, is called UMusic Media Network (UMN), and UMG describes it as a “media and data offering to uniquely connect brands and partners with exclusive media from world’s largest music company and most iconic and influential artists,” per the release

Warner Music launched an ad services business called WMX last November with a similar pitch. WMX inventory is limited. Although there’s not much O&O on offer, Warner Music sells through deals with YouTube, the biggie, and also Spotify.

But music ad platforms have something unique: They can promise access to artists through vlogs and music video integrations.

“UMG artists can create destination programming exclusively for brands, giving our partners the ability to hypertarget culturally relevant content,” said Richard Yaffa, EVP and leader of Universal’s brand partnerships group, which oversees UMN.  

The challenge will be to make the jump to always-on programmatic. Brand deals with artists require content production, human touch and services. 

Oh What A CrowdTangled Web We Weave

From July 2018 through April of this year, Meta raked in roughly $30.3 million from ads purchased by networks that have since been banned for coordinated inauthentic behavior, according to Wired.

“Coordinated inauthentic behavior” refers to networks of fake user accounts and pages that spread propaganda and misinformation, such as a fake news story from a shady site being shared across Facebook by bot accounts, to increase its organic distribution. Meta has compiled reports identifying these networks but doesn’t disclose related ad revenue from prior to the ban. Although $30 million over four years is pennies in the seat cushions by Facebook standards, it’s still not a good look.

In other Meta misinformation news, the company is winding down the social media tracking tool CrowdTangle with plans to scrap it entirely, Bloomberg reports. The CrowdTangle team was disbanded in 2021 and there are now fewer than five Meta engineers supporting the tool.

Meta execs have been trying to shelve CrowdTangle for years, since right-wing news stories are usually the best-performing items on any given day – a constant source of embarrassment to the company and fodder for negative stories in the press.

Meta says it will replace CrowdTangle with an “even more valuable” tool, whatever that means.

But Wait, There’s More!

Prebid, the independent org that operates header-bidding tech, has seen its ranks swell as publishers seek venues for technical shoptalk. [Adweek]

Google president Allan Thygesen talks Netflix rumors, cookies and TV upfronts at Cannes. [Ad Age]

More from The Goog: Google is paying the Wikimedia Foundation for better access to information. [The Verge]

Netflix confirms partnership talks for an ad-supported service. [WSJ]

Publishers grapple with the unfortunate fact that younger audiences avoid the news. [Digiday]

Horizon Media will test Comscore’s local TV measurement as a Nielsen alternative. [MediaPost]

You’re Hired!

Claravine hires Twitter vet Jackie Cooper as VP of customer experience. [release]

DISQO brings on Andrew Duke as VP of product. [release]

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