The Year In Digital Advertising; Brand Safety Flubs Loom In 2018

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Happy New Year

To those of you who enjoyed some downtime over the holidays, welcome back to work. 2017 brought many changes to digital advertising, and AdExchanger has recapped them over the past week. It was a year in which brand safety dominated the industry discussion, programmatic auction dynamics were rethought, media M&A shifted into overdrive and agency holding groups felt real pain. What will 2018 bring?  

Take In Moderation

For one thing, more brand safety failures. ProPublica examined 900 Facebook posts flagged as offensive that passed the platform’s human and automated review. Facebook defended 19 of the posts on the grounds that some “criticism of public figures, religions, professions and political ideologies” can be distasteful without meriting removal. Still, that means 98% of the flagged posts should have been blocked. Facebook plans to double its 7,500 human content reviewers this year. “We must do better,” says Facebook VP Justin Osofsky. Read the full report. Many platforms have doubled down on human oversight, but it comes with its own downside. The Wall Street Journal writes about the trauma some Facebook moderators undergo monitoring what can be violent or horrific content all day.

The Bright Side

The Netflix original movie “Bright” is an important test. It’s the streaming company’s first $100 million production billed to compete with studio blockbusters. But it’s also an important test of how the advertising and entertainment industries evaluate streaming distribution. “Bright” was streamed 11 million times over its weekend release, according to Nielsen estimates. With an average ticket price of about $9, that would make “Bright” a $100 million box office smash. “But that’s not a valid apples-to-apples comparison,” writes Todd Spangler at Variety. Netflix didn’t prove it could motivate audiences to take a real-world action (like buying a ticket). And Nielsen’s metrics are far from foolproof. Nielsen’s Netflix audience numbers are pulled from a network of partner apps with access to user microphones in order to sell attribution services, like identifying  when “Bright” is playing in the background. More.

Listen In

Beyond Nielsen’s streaming audience metrics, TV audio-based attribution could be in for an interesting year. Smart-TV maker Vizio is ramping back up its data business selling content-recognition attribution, after facing an FTC fine and class-action lawsuit over its data collection practices [AdExchanger has more]. Alphonso, a startup pioneering app-based audio attribution technology, has a deal with Apple-owned Shazam to help it recognize content. Apple’s ownership of Shazam – and its ability to quash apps that have access to user microphones without any functional purpose – tees up the world’s largest company as the arbiter for a new breed of marketing technology. Read more at The New York Times.

Upward Mobility

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rarely pertains to advertising, but about once a year the agency releases numbers tracking the growth of wireless-only households (a crucial factor in how it distributes emergency response funding). The number of wireless-only adults is now 52%, passing into the majority for the first time, and a little over a third of children have landlines in their home. The numbers are skewed heavily by region and demographics. Two-thirds of Latino or Spanish-speaking people have mobile lines only, and whites are the only ethnic category where the majority still have home phones.

But Wait, There’s More:

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