🌯 Is Ad Tech Shifty Business?

AdMonsters Wrapper: The weekly ad tech news wrap up
This Week
May 09, 2022
Ad Tech Vendors Caught in the Gannett Web
Streaming Ad Spend on the up and up
Conde Nast Sees Major Highs
Did Ad Tech Firms Turn a Blind Eye To Gannett Funny Biz?
Remember back in March, when we reported on Gannett providing advertisers with inaccurate information for nine months? At first glance, one may perceive the distribution of that false information as solely the publisher's fault.

However, now we know that at least 15 ad tech companies had enough info to detect the error. So, who is really to blame?

According to reports, Gannett was giving out all types of false info within online ad auctions. They claimed the mishap was due to a long-lasting error, as this "mistake" lasted from May 2021 to March of this year. This affected billions of ad auctions, so it was a costly mistake.

Advertisers thought they were buying an ad on one Gannett site when they actually purchased space on another. Just messy. While the error was initially reported in March, we are now discovering that ad fraud companies like DoubleVerify, Integral Ad Science, and Oracle were all likely in the know but didn't alert Gannett or advertisers. Though at least one did confirm that the information was made available in their dashboards.

Even CafeMedia's Chief Strategy Officer Paul Bannister questioned "...why ad verification companies didn't catch this is baffling..." when the news first broke.

But it wasn't just the ad fraud companies who were possibly at fault here, even the SSPs and DSPs had enough information to know that the auction data was flawed. So it's still curious why not one of these companies reported or mentioned the discrepancy until the WSJ story broke in March.
Why This Matters
If you can't trust your ad tech firms, then who can you trust?

It's giving weird energy all around, but only further points to the layers of complexity within the ad tech ecosystem and lack of transparency all around leading to wasted ad spend.

This instance leaves some publishers and advertisers to wonder if other substantial discrepancies are left overlooked. While ads.txt has done wonders to limit the amounts of fraudulent third parties inserting themselves in the ad auction process, the Gannett debacle highlights the need for more checks and balances within the system to guarantee that both publishers and advertisers are in the know when such events might occur. In that vein, IAS is committed to providing pubs with some sort of mismatch alerting system.
Streaming Ad Spend to See Unprecedented Highs in 2022
During the pandemic, many of us enjoyed the luxury of enjoying daily home-cooked meals, steadily sipping homemade ginger root tea to keep our immunity up, and of course, watching Hulu, HBOMax, YouTube, and Netflix.

We were unable to leave the house, and most of us (especially if you are a millennial) had cut the cord, so CTV and streaming were all we had. So it's no wonder that advertisers are upping their ad spend to reach us where we are.

A recent video ad spend report by the IAB stated that between 2020 and 2022, CTV spend expected to more than double by 118%. Digital video advertising went up 21% in 2021, and experts predict it will increase by 26% in 2022 to reach $49.2 billion. Connected TV ad spend increased 57% in 2021 to $15.2 billion and will grow another 39% in 2022 to $21.2 billion.

"Digital video is a driving force for buyers and will continue to be in 2022," said Eric John, VP, IAB Media Center. "However, while CTV leads the substantial growth of digital video ad spend, the amount of dollars currently allocated to CTV is not proportionate to the amount of viewer time spent with the channel. The time is now for brands and buyers to follow consumer attention."

As SchoolBoy Q once said, "That part."
Why This Matters
Two things:
  • Ad buyers will need to be more mindful of where they are allocating their funds as the competition heats up. We have Hulu (with Ads), Peacock, and Paramount+. HBOMax and Disney+ both have ad tier models in the works, and even Netflix recently announced that they are looking to add an ad-supported tier. There are now a ton of services out there to consider.
  • The report put present CTV market challenges on front street, challenges like measuring incremental reach, managing frequency, and a lack of transparency and interoperability across publishers and platforms, to name a few. It also highlighted the "fragmentation of programmatic supply paths" as another bump in the road.
Condé Nast Digital Ad Revenue Soars After Years of Flatlining
Condé Nast's recent rise in digital revenue is a perfect example of when reinventing yourself goes right.

The digital media company saw their year-over-year digital ad revenue dollars increase 38% in 2021 and they say their investment in digital video is the reason why.

Despite that, they really used the downtime during the Coronavirus pandemic to hone in and focus on the consumer. Many of us know that the pre-pandemic Conde was always looked at as a brand that just couldn't get with digital transformation. Yet they did big things in 2021 and brought in nearly $2 billion.

“We were a magazine company for 100 years, but 2020 allowed us to really deepen our focus on the consumer and build that relationship with them, wherever they are,” said chief revenue officer Pamela Drucker Mann. “And now we’ve found that the more we meet the consumer, the more we’ve been able to meet the advertiser.”

Although2021 was a peak year in digital ad sales at Condé Nast, the company had seen digital ad dollars go up consistently over the past five years. They even saw double-digit figures from 2018 to 2021.
Why This Matters
There's not a doubt that digital video is a significant component in the future of ad revenue for publishers (which also means more moolah for ad tech vendors).

In 2020 Condé hired Agnes Chu from Disney + thus confirming the company's plans to "transform its intellectual property into original video content."

Condé Nast distributes their content schedule — aka Cultural Calendar — to advertisers for the year similar to how TV inventory is sold. And they also honed in on the first-party relationship that they have with readers to deliver a high value and highly engaged audience.
Around the Water Cooler
NBC Goes Self-service
Following in the footsteps of Hulu, NBC has launched a self-service programmatic ad portal for Peacock TV to provide full-funnel attribution metrics to advertisers. (MARTECH)

Apple's ATT Impact Study
Apple funded its own research of ATT's impact and Mobile Dev Memo's Eric Seufert provides eye-opening analysis of the report, stating: "I should note that I do not believe ASA revenue growth was Apple's primary motivation for ATT, as I describe here. IMO the impetus for ATT was a desire to a. hurt Facebook and b. re-assert editorial control over the iOS ecosystem." (Twitter)

Inside Elon Musk's Twitter
Inside Elon Musk's Twitter ad revenue will become less of a priority while data licensing will become more of a focus for the company, according to a pitch deck he presented to investors. (The New York Times)
Sweet Tweet
ZPD Is a Thing
*sigh* zero party data is officially A Thing isn't it?
Worth a Listen
What's Behind YouTube's Slowing Growth?
In this episode of Behind the Numbers, analyst Paul Verna discusses what to make of Google's Q1, as well as the future of the video streaming bundle and what kind of an impact the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery can have on the media world.
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