Ben Young
Ben Young
September 20, 2019

One big thing
Plucky companies are taking on the big guys, with Nativo launching their self serve branded content tool and Polar with Washington Post launching Zeus Prime, enabling buying direct social display from publishers. Both efforts show the commitment but also collaboration to bring new solutions to market. Hats off to all.

But the big guys aren’t slowing down either, with Amazon launching sponsored display as a stand alone self service platform. Letting advertisers retarget from their site to Amazon. This is the narrative of the space right now, cat and mouse.

Notable stories this week

  • The streaming battlefield is getting crowded, fast.
  • Washington Post launches Zeus Prime, a platform for any publisher to direct sell social display. This type of sell would fall flat just a few years ago, but in a privacy-first, heading towards cookie less, it’s suddenly a very compelling proposition. They’re guiding that pubs can sell at $10+ CPMs.
  • Marriott is starting to look a lot like a media company. Related from Keith Hernandez, to increase the odds that their content cuts through the clutter, marketing departments must act like media companies.
  • Ad Tech Vet Jason Kelly brings a programmatic mindset to the airline industry.
  • Facebook rolls out new tools for video content creators.
  • Porsche tests branded content on Twitch, a choose your own adventure for their new electric race car.
  • Mozilla is funding $20m/year for the next five years, to content creators and developers building on the web monetization browser standard for micropayments. This is exactly what will help kick this off, adding a tangible market around it.
  • Congrats to Quartz and Oppenheimer for their Digiday award. Here’s a peek at our Oppenheimer case study. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Publishers are beginning to find success selling brands on Instagram TV.
  • Google adding new link attributes for sponsored content.
  • Tubulur Labs aims to tame the Wild West of social video measurement.
  • BuzzFeed CRO moves to Spotify, signaling a shift to content sales and advertising.
  • RYOT Cofounder Bryn Moose launches new startup XTR, focused on documentaries, nonfiction tv-series, and branded content.


  • Salesforce Ventures invests $300m in Automattic, the company behind WordPress. 35% of the top 1000 websites run on WordPress.

Campaign of the week

  • Tiger of Sweden + Highsnobiety, with a sponsored series called Reference Point. A series that follows contemporary artists, taking a closer look at their inspirations and motivations. This particular installment is a conversation with New Yorker and photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz, chatting about his long term project based around a simple yet all-encompassing theme: water.
  • Submit your own and view the best campaigns of 2019.

Smartest commentary

  • “We've watched the CMO role evolve from magician to mathematician. I spend a lot of time sitting with CMOs of various companies and industries, and I really do think it's a blend of art and science that the most successful CMOs learn to balance. You need to have a deep understanding of the underlying mathematics and the data that's going to fuel success, but you also need a good dose of vision, risk-taking and a willingness to challenge the status quo.”Gayle Troberman, EVP & CMO of iHeartMedia
  • “Content creators may be digitally savvy but lack brand understanding.”Sanjay Bhargava, Times of India

Datapoints of note

  • Reddit is on track to double its ad revenue from $100m in 2019 to $200m in 2021.
  • Digital ad spend makes up 70% of Godiva's marketing budget.
  • For GiveMeSport, improved page speed, increased direct traffic 63%.


  • We’re hosting some informal drinks in NYC this month, lmk if you’d like an invite.




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