Amazon Challenges Google; Facebook Video Goods & Bads

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On-Site Shopping

Want to promote a product on that sells on a different ecommerce site? By Oct. 31 you’ll be out of luck, because Amazon is going to end that offering, aka its “Product Ads.” The Wall Street Journal speculates the move is a challenge to Google, which got information about Amazon users through those ads. But whatever Amazon’s reasons (and the retail giant, as usual, is staying mum), its decision to end Product Ads in favor of something called Text Ads is raising eyebrows, since Product Ads are pretty popular. Despite brand and retailer pushback, powerhouse digital platforms continue to find value in closing off their networks. Read more at Ad Age.

The Power And Problems Of Autoplay

Facebook’s foray into autoplay video has generally been a success, said Ben Winkler, US chief digital officer of ad agency OMD. But the social media giant still needs to figure out how to combine video with its existing targeting capabilities. Also, advertisers can’t control the context in which their video ads show up. “One bad content adjacency can scuttle an entire campaign,” Winkler said. With no tools in place to manage placement context, crisis management could continue to plague Facebook video advertisers. More via Beet.TV.

Podcast Upfronts Cont.

The IAB is planning a podcast upfront this fall, a first for the IAB, though not for the medium, the WSJ reports. In April, NPR, WBEZ and WNYC banded together to host a podcast upfront in an attempt to drum up advertiser interest, and with its upfront, the IAB is bringing podcast networks like Midroll into the fold. “Our aim is to test the market,” said Carl Kalapesi, VP of industry initiatives at IAB. “What we are really trying to do is educate and showcase great podcasts for marketers. A lot of folks in this industry have interest but haven’t taken the next step.” EMarketer predicts that ad spending on digital radio (which includes platforms like Spotify and podcasts) will grow 27.9% this year to hit $2.75 billion. More.

Pestilential Pirates

The Drum reports on results from a two-year campaign by the city of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) against ad-funded pirate websites. Illegal sites that provide content like TV, games and movies are funded by legitimate ads – sometimes tricking marketers into believe they’re buying premium ad spots. According to PIPCU, pirated content has dipped 73% as a result of the campaign. The $350 million at stake is a tiny fraction of what ad fraud brings in, but many security experts say plugging the easy leaks is a necessary precondition to comprehensive repair. Read on.

Built For Speed

Facebook and Apple claim they’re developing products like the former’s Instant Articles and the latter’s News app to provide faster load times for publishers. But those publishers aren’t exactly sitting on their rears waiting for others to build a better mousetrap. A spate of recent redesigns have focused on faster load times. Digiday covers GQ’s new site, which had been weighed down by redundant server calls and third-party tags and was publishing on multiple content management systems. For its efforts, GQ is seeing its return in the form of higher engagement rates and inventory value. More.

Honey From The Bees

Gawker has obtained an internal document detailing BuzzFeed’s finances from the past few years, something Andreessen Horowitz and NBCUniversal considered before investing in the media company. Considering its $1.5 billion valuation, BuzzFeed’s profits are fairly ho-hum – losses in the low millions switching to profits in the low millions in 2013. But the company’s revenue has been tripling every year, matched by investments in editorial. BuzzFeed’s multiples don’t compare to public media analogues like The New York Times, but upstart digital pubs are steadily gaining advertiser investments. More here.

New Toys For Developers

Mobile ad firm Opera Mediaworks expanded its offerings on Wednesday with the addition of a marketing automation platform designed to boost monetization for developers and drive user retention. The platform will integrate with Opera Mediaworks and AdColony SDKs, and offers developers analytics, A/B testing, advanced player segmentation and messaging tools to serve users digital and physical rewards in real time. According to Opera Mediaworks CMO Will Kassoy, the upgrade is about balancing new ways to drive user engagement while safeguarding user experience. The platform will go live this fall and will be more widely available to select partners by Q4 2015. Read the release.

MaxPoint Hurt By Advertiser Fickleness

MaxPoint, which helps drive in-store sales via geotargeting tech, posted ex-TAC revenue of $21.3 million in Q2, a YoY increase of 40%. Margins were 51.7%, in part due to softer pricing on the exchanges. Investors were concerned about Q2 underperformance, as some of MaxPoint’s 801 advertisers cancelled budgets or delayed spend toward the end of the quarter. CEO Joe Epperson said it wasn’t related to agency reviews, but rather advertisers’ shifting budgets and cancelled promotions. Unreliability: another knock on ad tech’s rep in the investor community. Read the release.

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