Google-Admeld Approaches; Yahoo! Mulls Selling 20%; The Ad Exchange Problem

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Google-Admeld Approval Imminent

U.S. Department of Justice scrutiny is almost over for Google’s acquisition of Admeld according to All Things D’s Peter Kafka. Approval appears imminent, says Kafka, who writes, “It’s unclear whether the DOJ will impose any restrictions on the deal. But Web ad players, reading tea leaves and DOJ body language, are betting the sale goes through unhindered.” Read the leaves.

Mulling Yahoo!

The New York Times, among others, reports that the Yahoo! “sweepstakes” may be in the home stretch as offers for 20% of the company were being fielded from private equity firms as well as a consortium which includes Microsoft. Read it. This isn’t the end game for Yahoo!. A 20% stake bought by circling opportunists is one thing – but a real strategy going forward is another. The CEO role at Yahoo! awaits its next contestant.

Needing Ad Validation

On the Ad Ops Insider blog, Ben Kneen shines a light on Adobe’s recent announcement around its Ad Validation product and, in general, ad operations’ need for a bit of ad tech know-how. Kneen outlines the challenge to-date, “For every piece of creative or ad tag that comes in, publishers have to check the ad against their spec, running down a long checklist, gobbling up hours and hours of time ensuring that the marketer’s ad is in line with what the company’s predefined limits to protect the user experience on their site. The process is important, but so arduous, that plenty of publishers only check a handful of characteristics, if they have a QA process in place at all.” Read it.

The Ad Exchange Problem

Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) Ted McConnell reviews the ad exchange model on Ad Age. He sees a problem with inventory transparency: “Here we sit, with a miraculous ecosystem that can’t quite do what the marketplace needs. Exchanges have no clear way for buyers to bid on inventory quality based on the criteria that mean ‘premium.’ Would you buy a cantaloupe while wearing a blindfold and gloves? Buy impressions on blind exchanges, and that’s exactly what can happen.” He wants more data flowing to the buy side. See which data points.

Mobile-First Not First

Digiday’s Jack Marshall explores “mobile-first” publishers and whether they’re making any mobile ad dough or not. Marshall cites Pandora’s recent earnings report which is showing only “half of its advertising revenues comes from mobile, suggesting it’s essentially being propped up by other channels, such as online.” Read it. Data-driven, PC-based display media is a player here as Pandora told in 2009 when the music service signed on with Admeld for yield optimization services. Read more Pandora earnings discussion on VentureBeat.

Facebook Ad Data Debacle

The Telegraph reports, “The European Commission is planning to stop the way the website ‘eavesdrops’ on its users to gather information about their political opinions, sexuality, religious beliefs – and even their whereabouts.” All of this is in hopes of subverting Facebook’s efforts to target users with more effective, while some claim “invasive”, advertising. Read it. It may look like targeting for advertising on Facebook will take a hit. But, Facebook could require its users to accept new, updated terms and conditions that gives permission to use such data – or block the user from the site. What do you think most users will do?

Display Ads Reincarnated

Andrew Weissman of venture capital firm Union Square Ventures says display advertising is dead in a post on his personal blog. He reasons, “Web display ads are not web native; therefore they do not and will not work.” But he’s hopeful with what lies ahead saying that it “feels like we are about to enter a new, maybe a golden, age of Internet advertising and monetization.” He sees a new world of display ahead – but he doesn’t quite put it that way. Read what he does say.


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  1. “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” — The Advertising Industry

    This is the appropriate season for all good pagans to throw their strawmen in the river. This year I think we should throw in Andy Weissman’s.

    As an outspoken proponent of companies that work on the product/person matching problem rather than on the advertising medium itself, I don’t think I’m talking my book if I argue with the idea that advertising on the web “does not work.” Thirty billion dollars say that’s wrong.

    Not that it’s a democracy: what’s right is right, and time will tell. But hoping for advertising’s death is a negative soteriology. If web advertising is so bad it should be easy to find a way to do it better. Let’s talk about that rather than toll the bell for an industry with more lives than a cat.

    Andy’s real argument (minus the catchy “ads are dead” jingle meant to sell more blog posts) is that banner ads are stale and ineffective. He is right. So, two things:

    1. We need more innovation in the medium. Creating more ways to display ads–whether they are “StumbleUpon Paid Discovery, Twitter Promoted Tweets, Buzzfeed Social Content, Facebook Sponsored Stories… [or] foursquare for business” is a good thing (and yes, all those things are advertising.) Advertising has always evolved to fit the medium, although perhaps not as quickly as we venture capitalists would prefer.

    2. Advertising per se has always been the vocal minority of marketing. The internet has yet to catch up to this real-world fact. Companies like and Percolate (and, despite the haters, GroupOn) are leading innovation here, and there will be plenty more.

    I don’t invest in advertising companies, I invest in companies that figure out which thing is right for which person and vice-versa. But one of the ways this interest is expressed is through advertising, so I would love to see better internet advertising (as well as better internet marketing.) It should go without saying that better advertising needs to better meld with the viewer’s mode of media consumption (I mean, we don’t see magazine ads on TV, right?) If it needed saying, I’m glad Andy said it. But that doesn’t mean that advertising is dying, it just means that it’s evolving.

  2. Thanks G.

    And of course, you are right to note that nowhere do I say that advertising is dying; in fact the title of my post is the opposite. My point being that: maybe we are beginning to see some real innovation, in the form of better products for users and advertisers and web services, and that one way to make that leap is to recognize that the web display ad doesn’t work, because it doesnt actually reflect what users are doing on today’s web services. I’m not anti-advertising; indeed I have a vested interest in a bunch of these companies inventing a better way to do it.

  3. Andy–

    I saw Brad at an Internet Society event a few months ago and after I bent his ear bemoaning the slow pace of internet advertising innovation, he said something along the lines of:

    Adolescent web:
    Communication, not ads.
    Trust the medium.

    I nodded sagely and then went home and wondered what the hell he was talking about. I think I get it now.