Ben Young
Ben Young
August 23, 2019

One big thing
I’ve been thinking about Barbell strategy this week. When people invest short term and long term. Or a big consumer media company partners with a tiny company. Or the mix between high and low risk assets. It seems in a digital world, the middle is being squeezed out. If it’s sizable, it becomes a portfolio item in a bigger company. Otherwise its small and niche.

As it relates to readers, it seems to be an accurate analogy for the landscape. We have DTC companies expanding fast, now forming portfolios or getting snapped up. We have media companies with big portfolios of content or niche companies with deep content.

The middle has been disaggregated away.

Lastly, a reminder that I am holding office hours on Fridays during August and September. Sign up for a 20-minute slot to have a chat with me about trends, best practices, what we are seeing in the market and even do some troubleshooting.

Notable stories this week

  • How marketers are doing sponsored content on TikTok. And WeQ partners with TikTok to deliver branded content campaigns.
  • How adtech is solving the sponsorship measurement problem in eSports.
  • Apple takes extra steps to remove link decoration as a tracking mechanism between first-party cookie environments. A common workaround used. This probably also impacts every CRM/DMP that uses an ID in the URL, from say, email to the brand homepage, i.e cross-domain.
  • The Atlantic continues to invest in its partnerships with a new Head of Global Marketing.
  • In good news for content sellers, Netflix picks up a new CMO from BBC’s branded content arm (BBC StoryWorks), Jackie Lee-Joe. Expect more branded content?
  • In-game ads are increasingly becoming programmatic, Bidstack announced their integration with Unreal Engine. Enabling game developers to tap into programmatic inventory.
  • [Simon Green on the power of storytelling] “In 2009, a man named Rob Walker bought 200 ‘insignificant objects’ from eBay. This veritable jumble sale cost him $129; however, he soon sold the items for a total of $8,000. Walker achieved this impressive markup by asking 200 established authors to compose an emotional background story for each of the items; the stories were then attached to their respective products before sale.”
  • Behind the scenes on how Elite Daily is delivering 20m users on SnapChat last month. Using outsourced video production.
  • News Corp. is developing a news-aggregation service intended to take on big platforms.
  • Welcome to McDonald’s. Would you like a podcast with those fries?
  • [Long read] Matthew Ball on NYT, on how streaming video will soon look like the bad old days of TV.
  • How publishers navigate phony briefs – and the tie back to branded content.


  • Coveteur the fashion-focused branded content agency was acquired by Great Bowery, for ~$15m.

Campaign of the week

  • Department of Philippines on CNBC, a 2-part, fully immersive content experience exploring the depth of Visayas region through a dynamic page design that re-calibrates the order of content depending on the traffic driver used to direct audiences to the page. The second article is a journey through Camiguin island complete with authentic perspectives from local residents filmed across the islands.
  • An appropriately Scottish take on Scotland… by Scottish Twitter.
  • Submit your own and view the best campaigns of 2019.

DOT Philippines on CNBC

Smartest commentary

  • [On Twitters new buying threshold of 6 second views] “Social platforms have traditionally qualified at viewing of two or three seconds and 50% in-view,” …”This means a view is basically a user swiping through their feed, which means they aren’t going to recall your brand. Being able to buy and optimize on time is a much better option for brands using video so that they are only paying for people who are consuming some of their message.”Brooke Reno, Group Business Director, The Media Kitchen
  • “Many of my office hours are spent trawling through and assessing branded online video content. In no other medium is the divide between compelling and fruitless more pronounced.”Simon Green, Senior Content Strategist, DAC Group
  • ^ Barbell!


Oh, and don’t forget to nab a call with me during office hours here.




Measurement and intelligence for content-first brands.
Nudge is built by marketers and aims to serve brands investing in content-based media, across any category, looking to illustrate ROI, generate deep performance insights, and save time.