AdAge: Digital

Advertising Age - Digital
Advertising Age - Digital

Zuckerberg Warns Harvard Grads About the Technology Taking Jobs

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Harvard graduates that they need to help others find purpose in a world where machines are taking away some of the steady jobs and communities aren't as stable, leading to isolation and nationalism instead of people coming together globally to solve problems.

"When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community," Zuckerberg, 33, said in a commencement speech. "But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in a lot of communities has been declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void in their lives."

The social network Zuckerberg started in his Harvard dorm room now has 1.94 billion users around the world, large enough for the CEO to feel pressure about its impact on society. Zuckerberg has spent this year traveling around the U.S. to understand what people feel about Facebook and how they form connections with each other, after the country's presidential election revealed deep divides.

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Facebook Just Lost a Big Battle to Google for Publishers

Facebook hasn't lost the war against Google for publishers' content, but it looks like it's losing one fight.

The company said Thursday that it's created a software extension that lets publishers easily transfer content formatted for its Instant Articles to the No. 1 competition for mobile readers in a hurry, Google AMP.

AMP pages load near instantaneously, get prime real estate in Google search results, and have seen widespread adoption from both publishers and ecommerce players such as eBay and 1800Flowers. (Pages that load faster often lead to an uptick in sales.)

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The Washington Post Gets Its Own Reddit Page

The newsroom finally has a place on Reddit.

Reporters and publications have long lurked around the internet's so-called front page, looking for underreported stories and a place to put links to their own. Because one of Reddit's top rules is no self-promotion, they've mostly been considered spammers. But now a select few media partners have been given a pass.

The Washington Post is one of the first publishers to get a new profile page on Reddit, where it can freely post its own stories, ask me anything Q&As and all the dank memes it wants. Advance Local's Alabama site AL.com has a Reddit profile too, with a page for sibling NOLA.com in the works.

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What China's Live Streaming Crackdown Mean for Marketers

Chinese authorities are cracking down on live streaming platforms and video producers this week in a hunt for content deemed too sexy, violent harmful to youth or even superstutious.

The Culture Ministry there has said that it shut down 10 hosting platforms entirely. Authorities banned 547 live streamers and ordered 30,235 accounts to shut down, part of an ongong clampdown on the live streaming space.

There's big money involved in live streaming in China, with Credit Suisse putting the market at over $3.6 billion last year. Brands have been tapping into it too. Business intelligence firm L2 said that about 80% of beauty brands it tracked had used it last year.

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ZTE Taps Energy BBDO for Creative Following $900 Million U.S. Sanctions Fine

Two months after ZTE agreed to plead guilty and pay nearly $900 million for violating U.S. sanctions, the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer has hired Energy BBDO as its creative agency in the U.S., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The shop won the business after a competitive review, which was led by SRI, Ad Age learned. Representatives from Energy BBDO and SRI declined to comment.

ZTE, the fourth-largest mobile device supplier in the U.S., declined to comment on the new relationship with Energy BBDO or its U.S. marketing push, but a representative said via email that the company has "some great work and activities coming down the line."

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Kik App Debuts Digital Currency Amid Bitcoin Boom

Messaging app Kik Interactive is the latest and potentially most well-established company to delve into a quirky new form of driving business -- creating its own digital currency.

Kik, based in Waterloo, Canada, unveiled plans for an "initial coin offering," a process by which it sells tokens that can be used to buy services on its platform. The idea is that as more and more people use Kik, the value of those tokens, called "Kin," will rise in value.

Interest in coin offerings is high, thanks to surging prices of bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Called ICOs, they give a wide range of people the chance to invest in a company or any other endeavor early on. While unregulated, they have proved popular, with investors spending around $330 million on tokens over the past year, according to data compiled by cryptocurrency blog The Control. Earlier this month, cloud-storage startup Storj raised almost $30 million in five days via an ICO.

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Instagram Tests Direct Response Ads in Stories

Instagram is testing direct response ads inside its Stories section, allowing sign-up and app-install pitches, among other salesy formats.

On Wednesday, Instagram served an ad in Stories from SumUp, an e-payment device company, that prompted people to swipe up to sign up for its service.

Until now, Instagram Stories ads have only offered broad "reach" objectives for branding purposes and not more targeted marketing goals. It's experimenting with ads encouraging app installation, sign-ups on websites and other goals that are already part of the main Instagram ad offering, according to people familiar with the testing. Instagram Stories will eventually accomodate all the same marketing objectives that are available from buying ads in the main feed, they said.

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What the Industry's New Plan to Fight Ad Fraud Gets Wrong -- and Right

The Interactive Advertising Bureau's Tech Lab recently released a blueprint of sorts that, in theory, would prevent another Methbot from happening.

Methbot, of course, is the ad fraud attack from late last year that has been crowned by some as the biggest in history. (Others disagree.)

The IAB's effort, blandly dubbed "ads.txt," has been applauded by both publishers and ad tech vendors as a step in the right direction in the fight against ad fraud.

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Bad Locations: WaWa, Walgreens and Others Try to Clean Bad Map Data

About a year ago Amanda Hudson missed her Walgreen's health clinic appointment because Google Maps steered her to the wrong side of Grand Parkway in Katy, Texas. She complained in a Google review and gave the store itself a terrible review for good measure.

Far from an anomaly, her experience is an everyday challenge for marketers with numerous locations. It turns out that there's a lot of shoddy information floating around online maps, mobile apps and social pages.

"Incorrect data is always a problem," said Kyle Eggleston, a senior analyst on the Walgreens search engine optimization team. "It's a constant struggle."

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Grindr Gets Textual With New Editor-in-Chief

Grindr is signalling that it wants to get into the hard news business with an announcement this week that it hired an editor-in-chief for its online magazine, Into, which launched as a vertical on its site in March.

Zach Stafford will join the gay hookup app from Guardian U.S. and Out Magazine to lead a growing newsroom. And he's interested in more than fluff pieces on workout routines or Instagram "lewk" queens.

While lighter fare is certainly part of the plan, Stafford said he wants to focus on harder-hitting stories like articles about anti-gay laws in Rio De Janeiro, Stafford said.

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Mother's Day's Done but Mother's Day Ads Go On

Marketers never let a holiday go to waste. Nor do they easily let it slip away.

The week after Mother's Day included plenty of views for a pair of ads keyed to the holiday just past, LG's space-themed video and Lysol's "Protect Like a Mother."

The rankings by Visible Measures for the seven days through the end of Sunday, as always, reflect not only "organic" views initiated by consumers who want to watch the clips but paid views that surface as pre-roll or other ad placements online.

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Amazon TV Service Helps Starz, HBO Stand Out in Netflix Era

Media companies hoping to challenge Netflix and YouTube with their own online services are getting a huge boost from an unexpected source: Amazon.

For about a year and a half, Amazon's Prime membership service has been promoting subscriptions ranging from the well-known HBO and Starz to niche services like Gaia and Acorn TV, along with its own offerings including the award-winning comedy "Transparent." On Monday, the world's largest online retailer said the effort will expand to the U.K., Germany and Austria with 25 to 42 live and on-demand channels from its partners.

Amazon Channels is the closest TV viewers can get to the dream of a la carte TV, where subscribers pick the program sources they want instead of buying a bundle from DirecTV or Sky Plc that includes networks they never watch. The success of the initiative has surprised the Seattle-based retailer, which has put off plans for its own live service and is creating new channels focused on anime and Bollywood.

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Facebook's New Tool Lets Publishers Use Its Data to Sell Video Ads

Facebook is opening up its data for streaming video publishers to target video ads on their sites and in their apps.

A&E Networks, ESPN, Hearst Television and Scripps Networks Interactive are testing an automated system that lets marketers find their intended audience using Facebook data such as age, gender and location.

"It's a new tool that allows publishers to sell their ad space directly to advertisers using Facebook's 'people-based' system," said Brian Boland, VP of publisher solutions at Facbeook.

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Why the Chinese Will Pay for Content That Americans Won't

Back in early 2016, Li Xiang was just another overworked magazine editor in Beijing. Then along came an opportunity to produce a business newsletter on a brand-new app called De Dao. In just a few months that app, whose name means "I Get," had attracted millions of users looking for daily advice and to learn everything from music to economics. And Li? Within months, he had close to 100,000 subscribers paying about $30 a month.

It's the kind of story that couldn't happen in the United States, where many people believe content should be free. In China, meanwhile, companies and individuals alike have managed to monetize smartphone apps, making money from news, entertainment and social media -- by making people directly pay for it, instead of relying on advertisers. De Dao is just one in a whole economy of mobile apps where people like Li Xiang can make real money.

"In China, we don't really talk about advertising-supported models, whether it's on PC or mobile," says Jenny Lee, a venture capitalist at GGV. "There are very few startups that actually grow very big on the back of advertising. There's Baidu with search, but beyond search-based advertising, most of large internet companies in China actually grew or monetized by charging the consumer directly."

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How Google Plans to Kill 'Last Click Attribution'

Google says it wants to rid marketers of their obsession with the last click before consumers buy things. Instead it aims to provide insights about how earlier ad dollars perform in areas like TV, digital video, store visits and search.

The tech titan separately said it's capable of showing local store hours, directions and inventory levels immediately after commericals on YouTube. A test last year, Google claimed, motivated nearly a million people to visit Wendy's and place an order for a square-shaped hamburger. (Or some nuggs.)

The announcements were among a flurry made Tuesday in San Francisco at Google Marketing Next, an annual event to promote the company's plans for ad products, analytics and its DoubleClick ad platform.

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How Advertisers Could Be Hurt if Net Neutrality Dies

Net neutrality often remains relegated to conversations among policy wonks and lawyers. However, advertising and media execs have a stake in its fate. A rollback in net neutrality -- essentially the rules preventing internet providers from slowing digital content or charging for preferential treatment -- could be costly.

And yet last week, the Federal Communications Commission voted to do just that: The agency has officially begun to unravel Obama-era regulations on internet service providers in a move toward repealing net neutrality regulations.

If put into effect, the array of targetable consumer audiences scattered across smaller websites could diminish. Brands with any type of content, from ecommerce sites to brand microsites, could be asked to cough up payments to telcos to enable the quick access to their content they take for granted today. Digital ads could take longer to load.

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The Atlantic Goes Big on Takeover Ads as Other Publishers Push Back

When The Atlantic revealed its new website design last week, it did so with a big takeover ad from Sony.

It's a classic interstitial, or pre-stitial, ad that takes up the screen before a reader can get to the rest of the page. The Atlantic redesigned the site to capitalize on a surge in traffic, thanks to its hard-news edge and a captivating political climate.

The site is faster and stuffs more headlines at the top of the page. It has a widescreen video ad that enters into view as people scroll down screen. The welcome page pop-up ad is "visually arresting," said Hayley Romer, The Atlantic's publisher.

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Google Offers 7,000 Developers Free Home Devices in Pursuit of Amazon Alexa

Here is Google's vision for the future of computing: As you drive home from work, you tell your car, "Ok, Google," triggering the company's Assistant. You order food, the digital helper handles the transaction and makes sure it's ready when you arrive.

Right now, Amazon and its Alexa digital assistant are closer to realizing that goal, having cut a deal this year with Ford Motor Co. to let drivers search, shop and control other devices by voice from their vehicles.

That's just one of the ways Amazon is outpacing Google in the race to weave a digital assistant into consumers' lives. What's more, Amazon has a leading e-commerce business well suited to this emerging world, with a massive delivery network to speed orders to shoppers -- an area where Google has struggled. Amazon's Echo connected speakers, launched in 2014, have given Alexa an early lead by reaching millions of users at home, while Google's rival Home device only came out late last year.

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Republican-Backed Privacy Bill to Protect Restrictions on Sharing Browser History

Rep. Marsha Blackburn sponsored a bill Thursday that would increase restrictions on consumer data use by both internet service providers and so-called "edge providers" such as Google and Facebook.

If passed, the ''Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act of 2017'' -- comprising the convoluted acronym "BROWSER" act of 2017' -- would require ISPs or other digital players such as social platforms, digital publishers or mobile app providers, to obtain opt-in consent from people in order to use, disclose, or permit access to their sensitive information.

Blackburn's bill would require companies to provide opt-outs for use of non-sensitive data. Sensitive user information, according to the bill, would not only include financial and health data, but web browsing and app usage history. Such data is the lifeblood of digital ad audience targeting and has historically been treated as non-sensitive data by the digital media and advertising industries. The bill also defines "precise geo-location data" as sensitive.

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Depeche Mode Turns Over Its Facebook Page to Fans -- for an Entire Year

In order to get through her chemotherapy, cancer survivor Liz Dwyer wore the shirt of her favorite band, '80s synth pop icons Depeche Mode, every time she would go for treatment. "It would remind me of all the good memories and keep me feeling like I was alive again," she says in a video for the band, wiping away tears.

Hers is just one of the many stories now on the band's Facebook page, which Depeche Mode has turned over to a different fan to moderate -- every day, for a year. The idea is geared toward promoting the release of the band's 14th studio album, "Spirit," and the concert tour it began May 5 in Stockholm.

More then 3,000 people applied earlier this year after lead singer Dave Gahan posted a message inviting people to participate. Depeche Mode's management team has also helped secure celebrity fans' involvement. In addition to Dwyer, moderators have included a journalism student, astronaut Tim Peake, Tony Hawk (who brought in his friend Trent Reznor) and most recently Linkin Park. The band took over the page Friday, the day its own new album came out.

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Three Ways Alibaba and Tencent Are Courting Consumers and Marketers

Like the United States, China is seeing bidding wars erupt for streaming video, data picking winners and losers among marketers and online shopping reshape retail at a rapid clip.

That's the takeway from this week's quarterly earnings reports by internet giants Tencent and Alibaba, China's most valuable companies by market value and among the global top five for digital ad revenue, according to eMarketer. The behemoths have reshaped how China's consumers shop, keep in touch and entertain themselves.

Chinese consumers on the rise

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Slack's Head of Marketing Discusses Slack Etiquette at Slack HQ

Slack hasn't had a CMO since November of last year, when Bill Macaitis stepped down and moved to an advisory role within the company.

Although she does not carry the title, Kelly Watkins, head of global marketing at Slack, now makes all marketing decisions and reports directly to the company's CEO, Stewart Butterfield.

The workplace productivity messaging platform (which can also sometimes be a distraction) is valued at nearly $4 billion, and has snagged clients like IBM, Airbnb, Capital One, Dow Jones, Buzzfeed, NASA, Deloitte Digital and Ogilvy.

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A 'Contrite' Facebook Refunds Advertisers, Who Still Want Oversight

It wasn't much of a refund. But in this case it might be the thought that counts.

Facebook is cutting checks to advertisers after it found a flaw in the way it measures certain video. It's the first time Facebook has been public about a problem measuring ads that involved billing since it started disclosing such reporting errors last year. Previously the discrepancies affected unpaid posts.

Facebook said it found that over a period of about a year it had miscounted a specific type of video ad on its mobile website -- not in its app, where most people and brands use the social network.

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Big Tech Dominates Viral Video Chart

Three big tech companies muscle their way onto this week's video chart, with Google ("Answers Made Easy"), Pandora ("Sounds Like You") and Amazon ("Amazon App") claiming three of the top five slots. Other notable entries were Budweiser's Derek Jeter tribute "#ThisBudsFor2" at No. 1 followed by Hyundai's epic mini-film "Shackleton's Return," dropping to No. 2 from last week.

The rankings, as always, reflect not only "organic" views initiated by consumers who want to watch the clips but paid views that surface as pre-roll or other ad placements online. See who else rounds out the top 10 below.

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The FCC's New Take on Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know

The Trump administration's Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially begins the process of unraveling the Open Internet rules passed by the commission under Barack Obama. The FCC's rules on net neutrality dominated tech policy circles in 2014 and 2015, and 2017 is shaping up to be similar. Here are answers to your basic questions:

Wait, remind me again, what is net neutrality? The basic idea is that internet service providers shouldn't be allowed to treat traffic on their networks differently based on the source or type of content. Supporters of net neutrality think that there should be rules to keep, for instance, AT&T from providing preferential treatment to streaming video from DirecTV, which it owns, giving itself an advantage while harming other businesses and their customers. Another example of a violation would be if Verizon slowed down Netflix traffic until the company paid for speedier service.

What's happening today? At its monthly meeting, the FCC will vote to accept a proposal by Chairman Ajit Pai entitled "Restoring Internet Freedom." It's the first step in the commission's rule making process -- the document Pai is presenting is called a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or NPRM. In the broadest sense, these rules are intended to undo the 2015 rules. And while Pai has the votes to win today, undoing the rules will take awhile. Nine months passed between the time that Tom Wheeler, Obama's FCC chair, introduced his open internet proposal in 2014 and the vote on the final rules. As Pai said in a speech at the end of April, this is the beginning of the discussion, not the end. (UPDATE: The commission voted 2 to 1 to approve the notice. The next step, taking comments from the public, goes through July 17.)

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Research: Your Aggregated Consumer Data May Not Be Secure

Even anonymized and aggregated consumer data may not be as anonymous as people have been led to believe, according to new academic research.

Researchers concluded that aggregated data -- big batches of information on things like mobile devices' movements, compiled for use in summarized form -- can be unraveled to reveal the actual movements of specific individuals with about 73% to 91% accuracy, even from pools combining hundreds of thousands of users.

Companies that provide information to marketers about people's dining or shopping habits, for example, typically strip the data of personally-identifiable elements like names or addresses, then aggregate it before sending it off for use.

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A Look at Pinterest's Summer Pitch Deck To Brands

Pinterest has got its Memorial Day-through-Labor Day playbook planned for brands.

The search-and-save social site has been selling brands on $100,000 summer specials. A few Pinterest pitch decks, recently sent to agencies and advertisers, show the pricing and strategy it offers. (Click on the image at left to see the decks.) Pinterest is selling ads for Memorial Day, July Fourth, wedding planning, and home design.

"People are designing their lives for all moments on Pinterest, and brands have an opportunity to inspire and connect with people on the platform at those times," a Pinterest spokesman said in an email statement. "We work closely with our partners to leverage our insights and trend information to reach people when they are planning for a holiday or a big life event. We don't have additional comment on the materials."

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What Insiders Think of IAB's Plan to Swap 'Programmatic' for 'Automation'

The Interactive Advertising Bureau released a report Wednesday that attempts to rid the advertising world from the word "programmatic" and replace it with "automation."

Ironically, the news arrived on the same day as the IAB Programmatic Symposium.

"Instead of relying on the false dichotomy of defining overall buying and selling practices as 'programmatic' or not, IAB proposes a framework rooted in the digital supply chain processes that can (or cannot) be automated," the report said.

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A Dream Deferred: Why the Digital Ad Industry Struggles to Create a Standard ID

The digital ad industry has a dream. For years, players have longed for an identification system that might help companies compete for targeted ad dollars being swallowed by Facebook and Google, dominant platforms where users sign in and identify themselves. A new initiative -- led by Acxiom-owned LiveRamp and ad platforms AppNexus and MediaMath -- has garnered some buzz for promising to do just that.

The premise of a standardized ID system for the digital ad industry is simple enough: It's about streamlining the process that takes place behind the scenes before ads appear on a page, and improving the ability for ad tech firms and publishers to recognize users across desktop and mobile devices. If enough ad tech firms and other players adopt a common currency for consumer identification, the idea goes, they can achieve the scale necessary to compete with the giant walled gardens of Facebook and Google.

But corralling competitors to commit to work towards the common goal of a standard ID system is tough -- and getting them to agree on technical details is even tougher.

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FEP, DAI and SSAI? A Connected TV Glossary to Keep You Wired In

TV advertising is changing along with technology, which is giving everyone plenty of new terms with which to enlighten or obfuscate. Forget TV sets, for one thing. There are connected TVs, digital video players, smart TV apps, streaming devices and wired gaming consoles. Figuring out how to connect with TV viewers through all these prisms can confuse even the most seasoned media buyer.

"There are 600 classes of devices," said Eric Hoffert, senior VP of video tech at ad tech provider AppNexus. "The inventory is on the big screen in the living room, delivered digitally over IP. Publishers can activate their connected TV inventory on Roku, Android, Xbox, Apple TV."

As the ad industry takes on an ever more digital focus, even veterans of traditional TV need to know how to speak the new language, said Tal Chalozin, chief technology officer at video ad platform Innovid. "A lot of people are coming from broadcast TV and the terms are new for people," Chalozin said.

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