🌯 PulsePoint Grab Gives Internet Brands In-House Programmatic Pipes

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This Week
May 06, 2021
PulsePoint Grab Gives Internet Brands In-House Programmatic Pipes
Apple Vs. Everybody: Part II
Around the Water Cooler
PulsePoint Adds Programmatic Pipes to Internet Brands’ Health Ad Arsenal
Two quick thoughts came to mind when we saw the news that Internet Brands was acquiring health-focused ad tech platform PulsePoint. First: Internet Brands wants to bring programmatic capabilities in-house. Second: Is Internet Brands, with its 250 million monthly uniques, and a variety of advertising offerings, now the 800-pound digital media gorilla when it comes to health content?

PulsePoint had a profitable business, including a publisher ad network with contextual and audience-based targeting capabilities, as well as a buy-side platform for healthcare brands and agencies. Those ad tech capabilities pair particularly nicely with Internet Brands’ flagship property WebMD, which the holding company acquired in 2017.

PulsePoint also has years of experience working with pharma advertisers, meaning the engineering, sales and ad operations teams are already used to jumping through opt-in, opt-out, privacy-sensitive marketing hoops. As Adexchanger notes, that expertise will help Internet Brands’ as a whole prepare for the “cookieless future.”
Why This Matters
The deal adds programmatic pipes to an already broad set of AdTech/MarTech solutions under Internet Brands’ health vertical umbrella, including a lead generation platform for eye care providers called iMatrix, an online reputation management service for doctors called DemandForce, as well as Sesame Communications, a healthcare-centric web design and search marketing firm.

What remains to be seen is whether and how Internet Brands will integrate these “privacy-centric'' programmatic capabilities into its overall advertiser pitch.

Many media holding companies have acquired ad tech platforms in the hopes of bundling great content with in-house targeting and media buying capabilities. It’s the hope and allure of creating a “one-stop” audience engagement shop. And while it works for some (think: Xandr’s value-add to WarnerMedia’s bottom line in Q1), other times, the execution falls far short of the vision (we’re looking at you Verizon/Oath/Yahoo).
Apple Vs. Everybody: The Saga Continues
Everybody hates Apple.

Well, at least that's how it seems, especially since the tech giant finally turned on App Tracking Transparency. Now it's as if wars that were raging for the past two years are finally coming to a head.

On one hand, we have the European Commission following up Spotify's claim that Apple abuses its AppStore prowess by charging app publishers an Apple Tax. The EU's findings are in, and they've found that the big Apple is in breach of EU competition law. If found guilty, Apple could be facing fines of up to $27 billion.

Then coming in from another corner with an uppercut to the chin, we have Epic Games with another charge of Apple conducting anti-competitive practices within its app store. Publicity stunt? Real deal? Who knows. So far, there have been enough twists and turns in the proceedings to turn it into a good old soap opera. Got your coffee ready? We love the episode where Apple's lawyer pointed out that Epic's store is a major money risk, so they shouldn't be complaining about losing money on iOS. Ouch!

And then there's Facebook, exhibiting some wildly weird behaviors since news of Apple's ATT first started backing them against a wall. Their latest moves include a "leaked" memo to advertisers detailing how the privacy change will negatively impact their business. But with their latest tactic, they're hitting below the belt, telling users that in order to keep FB free they must turn on ATT. If all the noise they've been making hasn't changed Apple's ways, maybe they're thinking that advertisers and consumers might make enough noise for things to change. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Why This Matters
Apple has used its dominance of the smartphone market to rule over app publishers for years. Sure, app makers could always go all-in on Android, where app makers have the ability to collect their own direct payments for subscriptions and in-app payments. It's also a place where cross-app tracking isn't an issue — at least, not for now. But would any app publisher who wants to be successful in the US really do that? Uh, no.

Up to now, most mobile publishers have accepted their fates, chalking it up to the luck of the draw. Sure there's been some blowback here and there, over the years. But now, with the launch of ATT decreasing publishers' ability to monetize their apps, the wagons are corraling and we can expect to see more app developers charging against that wall.
Around the Water Cooler
Here's what else we're reading and talking about...

There's gold in them thar connected devices.
As consumers continue to cut the cable cord and watch unprecedented amounts of content, CTV's rapid ascent is only growing. According to IAB, marketers cite audience targeting as one of CTV's biggest draws. Ad spend grew 22% in 2020 and is expected to jump 35% this year. Overall, eMarketer predicts spending will reach $13.41 billion.

The duopoly continues to dominate, even in the midst of a pandemic. The results are in and Alphabet had a healthy first quarter thanks to a boost in search and YouTube advertising. Unlike other media companies, that suffered greatly during the pandemic, Google remained strong even as the antitrust lawsuits rained down. But Facebook takes the cake, with its advertising business growing 46% YOY to $25.4 billion, driven by a 30% YOY increase in average price per ad served and a 12% increase in ad impressions. With those numbers, no wonder there's all of this hubbub over Apple's ATT initiative. It'll be interesting to see how things play out in another year, after all of the privacy changes really take hold across the advertising ecosystem.

OpenID comes to linear TV to target audiences and measure campaigns across screens. There's been a host of identifiers on the market, but there's yet to be one to legitimately connect digital and linear audiences. OpenID promises to make linear look a lot more like digital when it comes to measurement and accountability. Isn't it about time?
Sweet Tweet
Don't like IAP? Are upset about tracking and advertising rules changing on iOS? Let me present a solution: end your app. What are you really doing that couldn't be equally well accomplished by a website where you have greater control? If you don't have a good answer, end the app.
Worth a Listen
Brandon Pankey on Launching the APEX Video Network & Live Music’s Return
Live Nation Urban’s VP of Business Development & Operations, Brandon Pankey, talks about the post-pandemic return of concerts and music festivals and his recently launched APEX, a video-on-demand streaming service that will be music-centric.
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