VC-Backed Media Falters; Airbnb Acquires Ad Tech Firm

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Airbnb has acquired ad tech startup AdBasis, which bills itself as a “controlled testing environment and analytics tool for companies to conduct A/B and multivariate tests on search, display & mobile ads.” But Airbnb doesn’t offer ad inventory. What gives? Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch writes that the tech could give Airbnb better analytics for its performance-based affiliate and deep-linking program, which directs people from partner media pages to an app download page or relevant listings. More.

Media Bubble

As many outlets covered last week, some next-gen media companies – BuzzFeed, Vice – are missing revenue targets. What’s going on? “We’re actually in the midst of a digital news media crash, only no one is willing to say it,” writes Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo. There are too many companies competing for the actual number of dollars available in new media channels, Marshall says, and for almost 10 years this untenable situation has been buttressed by venture capitalists betting on the assumption that online scale would lead to more defensible revenue models. But that hasn’t happened, and now “the real trap door is the withdrawal of ongoing re-investment which has created what amounts to a phantom revenue stream.” More.

Get The Message?

For decades, cigarette companies have had to pay for “corrective” ads that educate people about the risks of smoking. But those campaigns have applied specifically to print newspapers and network television. Now the nonprofit groups behind those campaigns, like the Truth Initiative, are pushing for digital media to get the same court-mandated consideration, according to The Wall Street Journal. Most people who pick up cigarettes do so in their teens or early 20s, so if the ads don’t run on digital they’ll miss most their intended targets. More.

Affiliate Purge-atory

Google’s Play Store temporarily suspended UC Browser, the browser download created by Alibaba-owned UCWeb. UC Browser is functionally the world’s largest ad blocker with over 500 million Play Store downloads, primarily in China and India. An email from the company to marketing partners indicates the issue stems from misleading download campaigns or fraudulent ad redirects, according to a story in Android Police. Indian government officials are also investigating whether the browser sends data on Indian citizens to servers in China, a “data theft” it’s cracking down on. UC says the problem is fixed, pending Play Store evaluation, though it remains unclear what triggered the app’s removal. “We have conducted an urgent internal investigation and fixed the problem,” says a UC spokesperson. “We will actively cooperate with Google Play for any concern caused by this unintentional error.” More.

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