For Publishers, When It Comes To Display, Blame the Format, Not the Targeting

A controversial new study by Carnegie Mellon University found that digital publishers get roughly 4% more revenue for an ad impression that is cookie-enabled — or personalized — versus one that isn’t. That’s not much. And while the sample was limited — they only reviewed ads for one “large U.S. media company over the course of one week” — it highlights a question publishers have been grappling with for a long time. 

Is cookie-based ad-targeting worth it? Given the mounting costs of investing in data stack technology; reputation issues (the “creepy factor”) and regulatory concerns like GDPR and CCPA that publishers routinely face as a result of behavioral ad-targeting, is the value really there? And is it justified? The Carnegie Mellon findings suggest that the benefit is minimal. However, as I see it, publishers are focusing on the wrong issue.

Publishers (And Everyone Else), Beware Amazon

Amazon’s success comes at a cost for publishers. Its growth means that retail and CPG brands are shifting digital spend away from publishers, siphoning off a key source of revenue. How can publishers compete? Their survival may come down to better ways of monetizing existing channels like email, as well as more effective use of their greatest asset: first-party data.

The hope for publishers lies in email and the power of the email address. With email, publishers have a logged-in channel that’s virtually fraud-free. Email represents a direct relationship with the consumer and one that is detached from platform intermediaries that have unfairly claimed revenue and attribution from the rightful influencer: the publisher. And contrary to popular belief, email is still a channel where people spend over five hours a day. What’s more, email is impervious to subtle shifts of an algorithm that force a publisher to buy the right to reach people, as opposed to owning the relationship with those who have requested a publisher’s content in the first place. 

Years After YouTube-Driven Brand Safety Crisis, Consumer Concerns Remain

A whopping 60% of consumers surveyed by mobile ad tech firm AdColony say they still see content on Facebook that is damaging to brands, and 49% say seeing appropriate advertisements in proximity to harmful content negatively affects their perception of proper advertisers. That’s the most provocative finding from a survey that indicates the brand safety issue is far from resolved in the digital advertising ecosystem.

The Blind Spot in Facebook’s Vision of Privacy

Insofar as Facebook’s pivot to privacy fails to reward its users for the data that has made it one of the world’s most powerful and profitable companies, I see it as a modest change that is more reactive than proactive, more inevitable than forward-thinking. It is likely that Facebook is only beginning to lay out its moves on privacy, and more ambitious changes may lie ahead. But for now, when it comes to the most pressing, fundamental ethical challenges that are inciting political fervor and increasing the likelihood that serious regulation of Big Tech is on the way, Zuckerberg is dragging his feet. With visionaries like Lanier and Zuboff raising public awareness about Facebook’s business model, the truth may just catch up with him.

Walmart Mulls a Run at the Digital Ad Business

With reports percolating about Amazon’s increasingly clear emergence as a third party to Google and Facebook’s dominance of the digital ad market, the e-commerce behemoth’s old-school counterpart is reportedly taking a look at the action itself.

State of Hyperlocal: Early Returns From Street Fight’s Annual Survey

The early results of our annual survey indicate that suppliers of local marketing and commerce technology and services see their customers continue to increase spending on social media and mobile marketing — and their own investments are following the money.

Street Fight Daily: Snapchat Cuts Ties with Yahoo, Publishers Share Digital Advertising Strategies

A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology… Why Snapchat Axed Yahoo from Discover (Fast Company)… What’s Actually Working in Digital Advertising? 8 Publishers on How They’re Bringing in Money (Nieman Lab)… Yelp Is Using Image Search to Change How It Finds You a Bar (Wired)…

Study: Digital Ad Revenues Grow As Mobile Accelerates

Internet advertising revenues surged in the first half of 2013, reaching $20.1 billion on continued growth in the mobile sector, according to new study commissioned by the IAB, and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mobile revenues, which include both smartphones and tablet media, more than doubled in Q1 and Q2, growing from $1.2 billion in 2012 to over $3 billion this year…