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Category: Commentary

Commentary; our thought leadership, newsletter notes and long form pieces.

Advertising claims

Edition #369 Regulators are not giving any leeway when it comes to the third dimension. And content marketing not just a pandemic trend.One big thingLaw firm Fenwick dug into the implications of advertising in the metaverse, “regulators emphasized that ads in the Metaverse must be truthful and not misleading even if the technological medium for delivery of those ads is nascent.”And it turns out, the metaverse literally adds dimensions to potential legal claims. “One unique issue about advertising in the Metaverse is the potential to make three-dimensional claims. A Metaverse application that purports to reflect how a real-life article of clothing would look could be found to make the claim that the article of clothing would fit as shown digitally if worn by the consumer in reality. This is a natural extension of the law as it has currently been applied to claims made in product images.”They also pointed to that disclosures must be made, even if ‘text disclosures’ are not available in that platform. It seems that there is no longer a this is a new place so you’re off the hook. As regulators are getting savvier and faster to deal with these same issues that pop up repeatedly on new platforms.Notable stories this weekContent marketing maintains momentum as pandemic restrictions ease. Why Manscaped is leaning into ads on Tumblr. NBCU leaning into new ad formats to engage viewers. Twitter announces Premium Content Partnerships at 2022 Digital Content NewFronts. And other NewFronts releases from LinkedIn, Meta, Pinterest & YouTube. What are the legal implications of advertising in the metaverse? Is a digital representation held to the same legal standard? Eddy Cue reportedly has bigger plans for Apple’s billion-dollar streaming and ads business. With no third-party accredited measurement, this year’s upfront season is a testing bonanza. Ads may come to Netflix by the end of 2022.Campaign of the WeekAnker with BuzzFeed. You should have a home energy kit - and this is the very first thing you should buy for it.  Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
May 13, 2022

Headless chickens

Edition #368 Fortune partners with SalesForce+ in this weeks edition, headless chickens & Roku ARPU.One big thingFor many in sales it feels obvious that when you’re having multiple conversations and the potential partner is really engaged, that you’re more likely to make a sale. Yet when it comes to this sort of engagement or touch points online it doesn’t feel the same. Conceptually people get it but it hasn’t quite clicked for many.RealEyes released a study this week and have identified where the tide is beginning to shift. 65% of participants in their study report that attention is a conversion stage in the sales and customer journey. That is a good sign. Rather than running around like headless chickens, using the signals consumers give us from their behavior is vital to understanding progress.Notable stories this weekTripleLift aims to insert itself into the CTV conversation using native ads. Brand Creator partnerships are prioritizing expertise and diversity over fame. Adland bullish on attention metrics, expects brands to pay. Attention increasingly is recognized as a business outcome in advertising. Twitter says it overcounted its users over the past 3 years. NBCU unveils self-serve programmatic ad manager.Deals/M&AMavrck raises $135m and acquires link in bio company Later. Vice is looking to sell its studio business. Roku & Apollo team up on Starz bid.Campaign of the WeekFortune & SalesForce, the Ecopreneurs. A video series on entrepreneurs focused on saving the planet. Also a lead in for SalesForce+. Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
May 6, 2022

Advertising Vibes

Edition #367 Goldman invests in tv measurement, Kevin Hart merges his companies and Spotify allows video anywhere.One big thingThe vibe around advertising right now is a bit weird huh. Elon Musk hating on it. Outcry about Netflix adding advertising. But advertising supports a healthy economy, aiding in product discovery. In a digital attention world, subscriptions have a stronger role to play. And with Netflix’s focus, it seems like most platforms are heading towards a hybrid future. Part subscription, part advertising. You choose. And that’s smart, because advertising makes content more accessible to all. And subscription provides reliable revenue. Spotify is maybe a good example of this with their subscription focused, advertising supported model. But you look at WPP, who is growing YOY, there’s a sign of creativity leading growth in advertising. And that’s exactly what’s needed.Notable stories this weekYouTube is testing ads on its short-form answer to TikTok, Shorts. Sharethrough hires a CMO. And founder Dan Greenberg and native advertising pioneer steps down after 14 years to work on something new. 👏 BuzzFeed arrives at upfronts with a vertical ad format, a creator network, and plenty of new programming. Spotify now allows all creators in select markets to publish video podcasts. Video can now be embedded off platform too. Study website Quizlet launches ad platform using native. The Ad Tech vendors helping programmatic go green. CNN+ shut down and subscription cost is driving cancellations. [Long read] How retail media ad platforms are rewriting the wallets garden playbook.Deals/M&AGoldman Sachs to invest $325m into tv measurement company iSpot.tv. Kevin Hart’s LOL Network and HartBeat productions merged and the combined entity raised $100m in investment. G/O Media buys Quartz.Campaign of the WeekMetlife with WSJ. Tailwinds for Emerging Markets. Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
April 29, 2022

Mailcrimp of Netflix

Edition #366 Netflix has executed flawlessly, Rolling Stone pivots to creators and Quartz takes down the paywall.One big thingNetflix announced they will explore ad-supported tiers. And to the contrary of headlines I think they have executed flawlessly in this regard. They have pushed the model as far as they can and now its time to adapt, to capture more market share. That’s probably not what you’ve read this week but that is objectively what they’ve done.That being said, it comes amidst chat and analysis that suggests their content isn’t cutting the mustard. Despite a spend in excess of $17b, they have content. But is it the best content? Are they squeezing as much as they can? As I tweeted, when the brief is to make the content spend work harder and smarter, that leads to an investment in data & analytics. We’ve found top performers spend as much as 20% of their budgets on this area, Netflix's total technology spend is 10%. Thus they are underinvesting as much as 4x below what they should.I wrote back in 2015 that ads were inevitable. Many did. But so this development many in the industry excited. The opportunity for brands, will be to attach to culture. Who will be the Mailcrimp of Netflix? What shows should brands support? Should they be brought to you by, or advertorials during the shows. Or regular ad breaks. Maybe you use it to highlight your own brand journalism.Time and time again, we’ve seen digitally integrated campaigns work better together. This could be an exciting new tool to add to the toolkit.Who loses out when Netflix does this? Well it’s likely they’ll test it in other markets. As they are doing with password sharing plans in LATAM. And in those territories there is less depth to the CTV markets, meaning local broadcasters will lose out, from their typically local OTT channels. It will also put pressure on the open CTV ad system, as people basically play musical chairs and move up the stack. Netflix will need to step carefully, having faced hurdles in the past with pressure from local broadcasters and state funding for local content.One thing that Netflix CEO emphasized is consumer choice. There will be subscription based tiers, and ad-supported. And I suspect that will filter through to whatever path they make. You choose.Notable stories this weekRolling Stone pivots to creators. Convo Ink launches attention measure for content marketing campaign optimization. Roku touts original content, brand studio ahead of NewFronts. An interview with European Branded Content marketplace, Getfluence. How native ad company MGID kept operating in Kyiv. Quartz is taking down its paywall. With more publishers expected to follow suit or some hybrid models this year. The different content personalities. How Tumblr became popular for being obsolete. CNN+ off to a tough start. Facebook is pulling back from its foray into podcasting. Web scraping is legal. And web browser Brave is rolling out De-AMP to help users circumvent AMP.Deals/M&AMusk unveils his Twitter financing.Campaign of the WeekNativeception. Sponsored newsletter company Paved with MarketingWeek.  Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
April 22, 2022

Snap Spotlight

Edition #365 Did paying creators directly pay off? A new native ad network and FOS.One big thingLast year Snap spent $250m on its Spotlight Creator Programme. You may recall, they would feature content on their Spotlight channel and make cash rewards to the creators. It appeared to be a defensive position against TikTok. But how did it fare?‘One year ago we launched Spotlight to lower the barrier to content creation and shine a light on the most entertaining Snaps created by the Snapchat community, no matter who created them,' -SnapThrough 2021, 12,000 creators have collectively been paid over $250m!. That would be an average of $21k each. Creators have quit their jobs, to pursue this. Which didn’t always work out when they couldn’t reliably recreate their initial success.Melles started posting videos in March and Snap, the company that makes Snapchat, sent him a message in April offering him thousands of dollars after one of his videos racked up 300,000 views in 24 hours. Melles got a $19,600 payment from Snap for the video, and he quit his Wendy’s job a few days later.But bumpiness aside, that is 12,000 content creators who have received tangible motivation to keep creating.So how should we think about success of this programme? Strategically it was aimed to protect against TikTok and keeping the best creators onboard. On a user basis, Snap ended the year with 319m DAUs, 20% year over year growth. An increase of 54m.Against a climate where TikTok grew 500m users. Did Snap win out? Not on the growth side. But maybe if they didn’t do this execution, they could have lost more?Their average ARPU over the past 12 months was $13.64 globally, so those 54m users could have contributed about $736m In revenues. Their stock priced closed 2021 at $47.03, against a price of $50.07 at the end of 2020. However the end of 2021 marked a decline in tech stocks.I think the real asset is the relationship they’ve built with the 12,000 creators. What can they do there, to help them grow? And to continue to push the boundaries on Snap. How can they help be the best Snap it can be? Those are the questions I think Snap should be diving into.A concerted effort to promote the best of Snap spotlight outside Snap would help remind users and get them to come back too. That would be helpful. I can't recall any creators off the top of my head.What can others learn from this? I do think this is a good model to learn from. You are not just paying the best advocates of your platform directly. But you are paying for new content assets. And also all the other content that is produced.Notable stories this weekPaved introduces the Paved Ad Network and Native Ad Editor, enabling newsletter publishers to monetize with premium native advertising. New creators should start with a newsletter in a Web3 world. How gated content and native advertising can work together. Radisson’s new hotel brand has a dedicated space for content creators. Google says it classifies AI-generated content as ‘spam’. Lightbeam.tv is coining branded video on demand as CTV ad spending grows. iHeartMedia is tripling its branded podcast content. All advertising looks the same these days. Blame the moodboard. Substack’s growth spurt brings growing pains. CNN+ launch may be off to a bumpy start. Google Search is falling behind. Is streaming just becoming cable again?Deals/M&AValidity acquires email campaign platform MailCharts. Congrats Tom! OpenWeb acquires AdYouLike for $100m. Congrats to both teams! Glip, a creator tool suite for gamers to create and monetize has raised $3m.Campaign of the WeekFront Office Sports with Fidelity. Rex Champman interviews athletes about their second acts. Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
April 15, 2022

Branded newsletters

Edition #364 Food content creators, new Twitter ad types and misleading numbers.Have any readers worked on a virtual world branded experience? Or could you connect me with someone that has? Things like Nikeland on Roblox. Would love a connect.We’re also going to restart small events in NY. Will share more details as they come in. If anyone wants to cohost, let me know.One big thingI’ve had a few ask recently on trends in branded content. And one that’s a bit of an undercurrent, is going wide and deep with newsletters to build strong engagement as part of a plan.Not necessarily branded content but a great place to distribute and bring niche audiences in to branded content.Platforms like Hecto, Paved, SponsorGap & SwapStack are reducing friction to finding and buying them. In general there is still an over index of smaller creators. And the need for more I guess, middle sized newsletters.An easy win for any newsletter, is to have an advertise page. In many lists for top newsletters to follow. Anecdotally 1-2/10 of newsletters have such a page.Notable stories this weekHow one FoodToker is making a career as a content creator. Product content: the missing piece of product-led growth. Web3 enables content creators to gain this new superpower. Twitter tests new interactive ad types. Byron Allen warns ad market of Nielsen’s ‘Monopoly’ amid lawsuit. How big audience numbers mislead you. WTF is the Digital Markets Act. [Smart take] On product.Deals/M&AKargo acquires Parsec.Campaign of the WeekKahlua Espresso Martini with Food52. Simple, instructional, can work across most platforms. Drives users into recipes on their website.  Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
April 8, 2022

Rebirth

Edition #363 The rebirth of native, spon-con standards and what $7m could get you.I’m looking for a writer to help with a regular piece each month. Sharing here in case any readers know someone who fits the bill.One big thingThis week we see Brian Morrissey call the rebirth of native advertising or primary engagement media as he calls it. In tandem The Cut dealing with journalists also doing their own branded content deals on their social channels. Both pieces are a must read.What they point to is the coalescing around direct commercial models and direct consumer engagement. Limiting of cookies is also forcing limitations on commercial models. And as The Cut shows, maybe you can’t work direct with the publisher, maybe you work direct with the journalists, ala talent, who has built their own brand. With the help of the distribution from the publisher.Of course, with more fragmented buys and relationships, it makes all the more reason to use measurement, that consolidates your performance in one place ;)But seriously, that is an emergent problem of more engagements like this. Standardizing performance. And ensuring that you are getting value. And finding pockets of opportunity. And that works both ways, for the buyer and the seller.Notable stories this weekThe rebirth of native advertising. The Cut confronts its spon-con standards. Outbrain secures Axel Springers business. Morning Brew tops 4 million newsletter subscribers as it looks to expand with M&A. LinkedIn Pages can now publish Newsletters. How Web3 changes the content model and Examples of ‘emoji’ marketing. Twitter’s working on collaborative tweets to facilitate new opportunities for creators. Freakonomics Radio gets its own SiriusXM channel. Meta shares new view of the ‘Wendyverse’ and branded content spaces in VR. What’s the alternative to spending $7 million on a super bowl ad. The FT launches FT Edit, 8 selected stories each day for 99p/month. Russian tech giants Yandex’s data harvesting raises security concerns. [Long read] You don’t know much about Jay Penske. And he’s fine with that.Deals/M&AMGID acquires Italian native advertising company Metup. Nielsen agrees to sell to consortium for $10b. Netflix acquires video game developer Boss Fight Entertainment.Campaign of the WeekAdWeek + Millions. The future is bright for brands that master sports advertising. Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
April 1, 2022
Cartier Women's Initiative with Forbes
Cartier Women's Initiative with Forbes

Found money

Edition #362 Found money, a creator tries to get fired by his brand partner and Buzzfeeds content biz continues to grow. I’m looking for a writer to help with a regular piece each month. Sharing here in case any readers know someone who fits the bill. One big thing Continuing last weeks thread on Owned stacks, Benedict Evans had a timely piece on unbundling advertising. Much of it we’ve discussed prior, but a nugget was that for… Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
March 25, 2022

Models

Edition #361 Data models, Windows 11 ads and no more IPs. One big thing Measurement is a hot topic at the moment, so I thought I’d share a snippet from an older post, on what leads to success. “McKinsey recently published new research findings, stating that organizations that deploy the most technology appear to be the most successful. At first glance, this might seem somewhat illogical (as adding more technology into current infrastructures lead to more complexities and… Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
March 18, 2022

Owned stacks

Edition #360 Native awards, Microsofts new ad religion and elephant growth. Congratulations to all the winners of the native advertising awards! Nice to see a few familiar names. One big thing Kevel (formerly AdZerk) has built a nice business, with a build your own ad stack type solution. And it seems, that Google is now gingerly testing this space with retailers. With the view of, in a privacy-centric world, centralized ad technology has less room to… Continue reading

Ben Young
Ben Young
March 11, 2022