Weekly News Roundup: The State of Time-Based Deals, Safari Cookie-Blocking Hurts Pub Revenue, More

Time Running Out on Time-Based Ad Deals?

On Tuesday, Digiday reported time-based guarantees have “hit a wall,” as the popular discussion in digital advertising has moved on to things like brand safety. Reading the coverage, though, it sounds like Digiday has reached this conclusion by talking to a publisher who’s seeing fewer time-based campaigns coming through the door, a publisher who’s satisfied with time-based ad sales at the moment, and a publisher who says it’s too soon to predict the future of time-based deals. If time-based deals are slowing down, though, I want to know: Does that mean their moment in the limelight is over, or that it hasn’t truly arrived yet? AdMonsters has been championing transacting on time, and other attention-based metrics, for a long time, and we’re holding out for them. The buy side is usually slow to adopt new approaches. New tech solutions that make the process more efficient—which time-based sales can really use at this point—may accelerate adoption. Our take is that where we’re at with time-based transactions is more a symptom of a slow ramp-up than of a quick death.

Artificial Intelligence’s Slow Burn Heats Up

This week, eMarketer released a new report, “Artificial Intelligence for Marketers 2018: Finding Value Beyond the Hype.” AI has been around for decades, in one capacity or another, and it helps people perform basic tasks on the internet constantly without the average layperson even noticing. But AI is a hot topic right now among marketers, and that’s a more recent and overt development. So why now? Well, it’s taken a while for marketers, broadly, to understand how it can work for them. We might suggest, in addition, that AI is hitting a certain scale and pricepoint where marketers can explore its potential.

Apple Cookie-Blocking Already Costs Publishers Big Bucks

Last month, Apple changed its policy for handling first-party cookies in Safari. At the time, I and a bunch of other people predicted the changes would create problems in mobile for publishers, specifically by pushing advertisers toward Facebook’s large logged-in audience. Digiday reported this week that some programmatic-heavy publishers have already been feeling the effects of the new cookie policy, and it’s hitting them right in the bottom line. CafeMedia’s Paul Bannister went on record to say his company’s CPMs in Safari are roughly 10% lower than what he’d expected for this time of year. Meanwhile, Ranker’s Clark Benson saw its yield on Androidincrease compared to Safari.

Video Distribution Works for GQ

GQ has been hard at work arguing a case against the old line that publishers can’t make money from distributing video on social media platforms. And evidently it’s paying off for them. Digiday details that video model this week, and summarizes it as: “Build something that works with GQ’s direct audience, then package it for its distributed viewers.” The strategy involves producing video series, and distributing them across GQ’s O&Os, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They’ve taken care to look at what lengths of video, content verticals, and metrics work best for which platforms. Over here at AdMonsters, we’ll be exploring video distribution strategies in our next playbook, “Building a Video Business.” For the interim, GQ’s story offers a compelling case study.

Senate Bill Demands Disclosure from Digital Political Ad Buys

A new bill was introduced to the U.S. Senate this week, with the goal of requiring more disclosures around political ad campaigns running on large digital platforms. It’s called the Honest Ads Act, and according to Recode, the proposed law would affect political ad buys of $500 or more on any digital property (i.e., site, social network app, ad network) that nets at least 50 million unique U.S. visitors per month in at least six months of any year. When a political ad buy meets those criteria, the platform running the ads will need to disclose data around who or what the entity buying the ads is, what audiences they’re targeting, and the cost of the ad inventory. In other words, if passed, the law would hold digital platforms to a similar standard that broadcasters and newspapers are held to, where political ads are concerned. The Honest Ads Act comes along following ongoing revelations in the news about the extent to which Russian agents had bought ads on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and elsewhere, in an attempt to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) sponsored the bill, with support from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Zombie Sites Ate Ad Spend from Major Brands

BuzzFeed reporters say they’ve uncovered an ad fraud scheme, in which ads from more than 100 brands ran on “zombie sites” populated with pirated content or gobbledygook. The scheme is described as a session-jacking redirect ploy, and BuzzFeed indicated all the sites implicated were running code from 301network, operated by Nashville-based marketing agency 301 Digital Media. The company’s CEO has denied knowledge of any fraudulent activity and stated the company is in the process of shutting down its ad network. It’s still unclear how wide-ranging this scheme was or is, but BuzzFeed claimed it’s possible bad actors could have pinched millions of dollars.