AppNexus Raised $31M; Slate Is Kicking Its Facebook Habit

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On The Up

AppNexus raised $31 million in a round led by News Corp and Yahoo Japan, Business Insider reports. WPP’s investment is thought to have come with minimum spend guarantees, though there’s no confirmation the same is true for News Corp. Unruly, a video ad tech company News Corp. acquired last year, will place its vertical video inventory on AppNexus’ exchange. More. It’s worth noting that last year News Corp. disclosed a significant stake in Rubicon Project, which competes directly with AppNexus. And like Rubicon, AppNexus is expected to ride the wave of ad tech IPOs [AdExchanger coverage].

Seller’s Remorse

More than once, publishers have gone all-in on Facebook without pausing to think. “There was a traffic gold rush, and we participated in it,” according to Slate editor Julia Turner, who’s actively working to wean Slate off Facebook traffic. “This year, when the algorithm seemed more fickle, we began to feel there were diminishing returns.” Digiday reports that Slate is kicking its Facebook habit by optimizing toward loyal reader preferences instead of traffic. Meanwhile, Ad Age writes that a growing number of publishers are rethinking their Facebook Live strategies. “We don’t think volume is the play,” says Bleacher Report President Rory Brown. “Our theory is the real winners in Live will be the brands that create premium content.”

Neural Nets Unite!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the rage again. But this time, the effort has some serious research and financial resources behind it. Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft have banded together to form a “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society.” (Say that ten times real fast.) As per the release, the members “will conduct research, recommend best practices, and publish research under an open license…” It’s strictly a research outfit; the consortium will not lobby governments or try to define policy around AI. Read more. Meanwhile, Salesforce has made its own heady investments into AI with Einstein, which also has a research unit attached to it.

Algo Next

ProPublica reporter Julia Angwin is investigating the algorithms that define the digital economy. After dissecting Amazon, she has turned her attention to Facebook. “Facebook offers advertisers more than 1,300 categories for ad targeting – everything from people whose property size is less than .26 acres to households with exactly seven credit cards,” Anwin writes. If Angwin’s name is familiar, that may be because she created The Wall Street Journal’s “What They Know” series. More.

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