Ben Young
Ben Young
April 14, 2023

Edition #400

We hit our 400th edition! Wow, thank you. A note from me and the regular stories, from Instagram to Weather channel and streaming/search data.

I thought I’d share more on why I continue to justify the time to do it and some of the behind the scenes.

This newsletter has grown and evolved so much over the years. Initially it was just a recap of notable stories in the native advertising space, as there was no one doing it. Then over time it expanded to pick up programmatic / branded content / marketing & media. As they all grew & intersected.

In time, I added more commentary (like this) up the top, highlighting different points of view. Preparing each edition is a big ask, it takes time. I do have some tricks to make it easier, but ultimately it requires time and attention. I thought for this edition I’d share more on it.

The first is, I am the founder & CEO, so my time is precious. Continuing to devote the time to do this, is a big ask. But it pays off a few ways.

  1. It keeps me fresh, and with a broad view of what’s happening across the market.
  2. This keeps me informed for our product strategy, working with partners and internally.
  3. By now, I have this big library of knowledge and datapoints, so can speak to and know a lot about what’s happening in the industry – and what has been happening.
  4. The newsletter brings us new business, fact. It also builds our brand, so when we pitch, there is some preference there.
  5. It keeps me sharp.
  6. It helps me meet new folks too, when we have a story, I often ping the person/folks involved and let them know.
  7. I pass on relevant stories to friends & colleagues, as well as, push some to sales, let’s get a meeting with them.
  8. Reporters read it – and reach out for comments, I get event invites. And companies do pitch us, or send over stuff to be included.
  9. It’s neat to have a place, where it’s a community, not just us, but the industry to cover topics. Sometimes we can cover stuff that wouldn’t be sourced well enough for a reporter to. Or likewise, give more attention to something that’s been overlooked.
  10. Builds a bank of content, which we can pull from.
  11. It gives me marketing ideas too, and helps keep our own strategies informed.
  12. I would do this informally anyway, so a little extra work, helps turn that effort into a tangible output, which delivers on all the above. Win/win/win.

So yes, it does take time, but I skin the cat a few ways, which helps provide a return. Personally it’s a great exercise too, to try and sort through, what are this weeks stories telling us, or what’s not being covered as much as it should be.

A downside is, it does use up time I might have used for other writing, so tend to do less guest edits etc.

Your feedback is also a delight, I keep a folder with all the nice notes that come in. Contently was nice to give the newsletter a shout, a CEO making the time to do it. Some say the ultimate test for content is if someone would pay for it, don’t worry we’re not gonna charge, but would you pay for this newsletter?

What about AI? Ghost writers? Well, you’ll never know! I have had guest edits when I’ve been away. During the week, any good stories, or tweets or nuggets, get dropped into a Slack channel. Then on Thursdays, I open all the stories up. Combine with a search on Google News. Then read through, and those which I think make sense, drop into the newsletter.

I have had assistance in pulling together stories, but it ended up being too time intensive, versus just working through it.

First off, it goes into a template I have in TextEdit, where it gets written. Then it gets loaded into WordPress, scheduled. And then into MailChimp. This process, means it gets reviewed twice, which helps catch mistakes (not always) but helps proof it by design.

Tools wise, upgrading to the M1 Mac made a difference, when I have 50 or so tabs open to read through them. And FlyCut, lets you ‘store’ copy/pastes and navigate between them. I use this to copy the stories across into the template. Makes it a lot faster.

A tip, I copy/paste the content from top to bottom. But add the links from the bottom up. This helps catch errors. It’s a trick I use in reading legal docs too, read them backwards first. And I proof read on my phone, as that’s how most read the newsletter.

I think every CEO should do a newsletter, or a blog, or some form of direct comms with the market. For public companies this is the quarterly reports, for Buffett its his annual letter. But it’s an exercise I’m grateful for, and unbelievable that it would ever get to 100 editions, let alone 400. 🙏

Maybe use this as a prod to get your CEO to do one 🙂

Notable stories this week


  • Group Black Co puts in a $400m bid to acquire Vice.
  • Recurrent sells Saver to an investment group led by Kat Craddock.
  • IBM explores sale of Weather business.
  • Vox to spin out NowThis News as an independent operation.

Campaign of the week

  • Understanding megatrends can take the fear out of the future. Bloomberg with Mubadala.
  • Henley & Partners with Bloomberg. Secure Your Family’s Legacy through a Portfolio of Alternative Residences and Citizenships.

View all 2023 best campaigns.

Smartest commentary

  • “You can call me streaming, you can call me connected TV, you used to call me over-the-top, but the truth is we’re TV… It’s the best of TV, so it doesn’t really matter what you call it. It’s just a superior video product.”Peter Naylor, Advertising, Netflix

Datapoints of note

  • Insights from Vidmobs video ad report. +54% lift in engagement rates with 7-15 sec video duration. +102% lift in view through 25% with high text contrast. +175% lift in view through 25% when showing a person in the opening quarter. +33% lift in click through rate when offer includes ‘Get a Quote’. +17% increase in click through rate when featuring brand logo in the opening 2 sec.
  • ^ From the same. Branding. It is crucial to feature your brand’s logo or name consistently throughout the marketing funnel, including during conversion stages. A notable 17% increase in click-through rate has been observed when incorporating the brand logo within the initial two seconds of content.
  • TV streaming drives an increase in search behavior. Roku TV streaming ads lead to a 9% increase in brand searches per user and 11% increase in clicks per user.
  • ^ Cross-channel exposure increases engagement. Exposure to Roku ads lead to a nearly 18% increase overall in click-through rate on the Microsoft Audience Network.
  • ^ Exposure to the Microsoft Audience Network and TV streaming exposure drives an 11% increase in searches and a 10% increase in clicks.
  • 69% of marketers reportedly set to increase spend on content in 2023.

That’s it for this week.