Sunnier Side of the Office

Amazon Advertising Is Now Worth $2 Billion

Amazon has been around since 1994, but it’s only in the last couple years that its ad business has come front and center in the industry as it gains more and more ad revenue from marketers. Although it has a ways to go before it rival Facebook’s ad dollars, and even longer to catch up to Google, it’s made a massive jump recently.

Last week the company reported its quarterly earnings, with “other” revenue — which the company says “primarily includes sales of advertising services” — growing 132% year over year to reach $2 billion, according to Digiday.

It’s the result of a big effort on Amazon’s part to grow its ad business. “The company has been running a series of attribution tests to see how its advertising stacks up against the Facebook-Google duopoly…It’s also been testing application programming interfaces for the Amazon Advertising Platform with a small group of agencies, as it plans to let marketers manage their programmatic campaigns on their own,” according to Digiday, which has been chronicling the changes Amazon is making in its ad push.

How Your Data Is Used at Music Festivals

By Coltin Chapman

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) wristbands have become the norm at festivals across the country – from The Governors Ball in New York to Outside Lands in San Francisco, RFID bands provide more than just easy access in and out of a festival.

As a customer, to register your wristband you must enter your email address and opt-in to have your data shared. By wearing your band throughout the festival, you are having your purchases and geo-location tracked.

Geo-location data is used to help with crowd control and employee placement, while purchase history is used to target users with ads after the festival, based on products they purchased while attending. Festival sponsors can use the data collected to re-engage with consumers after they leave the event.

By tracking this data, Live Nation and AEG hope to use it to better the overall festival experience. By monitoring crowd flow, purchases, and offering engaging brands sponsorship opportunities, RFID technology is aiding in enhancing the music festival experience for festival goers and brands alike.

YouTube Will Sell Ads In Its Live TV Service

YouTube will sell ads in its live TV stream, a move that comes as the Google-owned video service works to compete more for TV dollars and give advertisers more ways to reach people on larger screens (versus mobile screens and laptops).

According to Ad Age, “Like traditional pay-TV operators, YouTube has two minutes of local ad inventory per hour on each network that it can sell. So far YouTube has let the networks themselves sell that two minutes. Now YouTube will start selling the time as part of its Google Preferred package, which aggregates the top 5 percent of YouTube content for advertisers. It won’t necessarily sell all of it, depending on the terms of its deals with networks it carries.”

There is a caveat, however: Advertisers won’t be able to buy the inventory as a standalone, nor can they add it as part of their Google Preferred package, notes Ad Age. Instead, “YouTube will create a lineup of content for advertisers based on their demographic buy or affinity buy that could include YouTube TV.”

While over-the-top streaming services are growing their ad inventory and offer a way to reach people who aren’t paid-TV subscribers, it’s worth noting that traditional TV still gives advertisers much more reach. Read more at Ad Age.

This Week in Social: Celebs, They Use Instagram Just Like Us

By Melissa Santiago

The best thing about celebrities on social media? Other than Beyonce’s weekly elaborate outfit documentation, it’s the way celebrities interact with each other on social media via comments. In case you don’t have time to closely follow every pop, movie, and reality star across all platforms, Comments By Celebs is out here doing the work so you don’t have to.

Whether you thrive on celebrity gossip or just love a witty, timely, relevant come back, Comments By Celebs is here for you. The patron saint of pithy social retorts is undeniably Chrissy Teigen, and Comments by Celebs regularly pays homage. The account also has a fondness for streetwear’s new sweetheart, John Mayer, and there have even been (unsubstantiated) rumors that he is the one behind the account.

During a time when most of us have questioned if social media will eventually be what brings down modern society as we know it, it’s a breath of fresh air to see celebrities’ witty replies to their families, friends, and colleagues and remind us all that our online experience is what we make of it.



Sunnier Side of the Office

Study of Influencer Spenders Finds Big Names, Lots of Fake Followers

A recent study by Points North Group found that many big-name brands partnered with paid influencers who had a hefty fake-follower presence. Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, had two brands ranked among the top 10 in using paid influencers with fake followers.

The data show, according to Ad Age, “that Pampers and Olay ranked No. 4 and 10, respectively, on the list of brands with the most fake followers among their paid influencers last month; Pampers with 32 percent and Olay with 19 percent. Topping the study’s list: Ritz-Carlton, with a whopping 78 percent of fake followers for its influencers.” 78 percent!

Ad Age also noted that as the number of big marketers enlisting paid influencers grows, so do questions about measurement. “Reach numbers used to measure influencer campaigns often come from raw follower counts, without regard to how many followers actually saw posts—or were real.”

Indeed, going after reach and only reach is not recommended. When assessing the value of paid influencers, it’s important to factor in how much genuine interaction these influencers are receiving from followers. Even then, brands and agencies must weed out bot accounts that are created to post comments in an attempt to feign engagement.

We asked Jessica Bedussi, our community strategist for Audi, about the M/H approach to working with influencers on behalf of clients. “Big numbers are vanity metrics, whether that’s followers or video views,” she said. “What’s most important with influencers is less about the number of followers and more about their ability to change behavior within a very specific group, even if that group is much smaller. It’s about finding ways to measure effectiveness rather than just looking at a big follower count.”

Facebook To Show Pre-Roll Ads in More Places

Facebook will expand its pre-roll ad format, offering advertisers more places on the platform to run ads.

Facebook announced the news Friday in a blog post about “best practices and updates on video and monetization.” Pre-roll ads, which are ads that run ahead of videos, are a format once banned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself, according to Ad Age.

Facebook last year started testing pre-roll ads in Watch, its new video hub with serialized programming. The pre-roll ads will not appear in the Newsfeed (Newsfeed and Watch are separate tabs within Facebook), which is where the majority of people spend their time on Facebook. Still,  “Earlier this year we began testing pre-roll in Watch,” Facebook said in the blog post. “We have seen promising signs, so we are expanding testing to places where people seek out videos, like in search results or on a Page timeline. For example, if a person searches for a show, a pre-roll may play when they select the episode to watch.”

As Ad Age reports, pre-roll ads are not a well-liked ad format among internet users, and Zuckerberg for years wanted to avoid them because of their low-quality user experience. From Ad Age: “However, Facebook had begun inserting ‘mid-roll’ ads into videos as part of its program to help media partners make money on its platform. Media partners are more interested in pre-roll because viewers are more likely to see the ads; with mid-roll breaks, viewers might bail before getting to the commercial.”

How To Turn Every Branded Snapchat Selfie Into a Potential Purchase, Video View or App Download

By Alice Whitehead

Snapchat, the market leader in augmented reality lenses, announced it is launching Shoppable AR Lenses that allow advertisers to add a “Buy,” “Watch” or “Install” button to branded lenses — turning every branded Snapchat selfie into a potential purchase, video view or app download.

More than 70 million people play with Snapchat Lenses every day, resulting in 250 million AR Snaps daily. This scale and reach, combined with Shoppable Lenses is a great way for brands to drive real and measurable ROI, whether that’s through sales, downloads, or video views.

Since launch, Adidas has already created a Buy Shoppable AR Lens for its Deerupt running shoes; the Lens takes users directly to the product page on the Adidas website to purchase the shoes.

Clairol and King are utilizing the Install Shoppable AR Lens to drive app installs of their games, and STX Entertainment are launching with the Watch Shoppable Lens to promote its new Amy Schumer movie, “I Feel Pretty.” That Lens drives users to the full-length trailer.

We are looking forward to seeing how performance looks for these launch partners and to see how other brands will adopt this new Snapchat feature.

This Week in Social: The Return of Kanye’s Twitter Scripture


By Jessica Gaylord

Do you remember the simpler times, when Kanye West would tweet regularly about silly topics like the conundrum of waking up on a plane next to a water bottle that doesn’t belong to you?

Unfortunately, we’ve been deprived of Kanye’s bizarre and sporadic inner thoughts since May 2017, when he appeared to deactivate his Instagram and Twitter accounts. In fact, he’s been largely under the radar after a high profile mental breakdown in the fall of 2016, which resulted in the cancellation of his Saint Pablo tour.

Luckily for us, the rapper’s one-year Twitter hiatus officially ended on Friday, April 13. He’s been pumping out nearly ten tweets a day, ranging from philosophical musings to Yeezy fashion line updates to gushing about driving his Tesla.

Some speculated, and rightly so, that Kanye’s prolific return to Twitter was just a stunt to promote upcoming music releases. These suspicions were confirmed when he tweeted about two albums set to arrive this summer: his own album, slated for release on June 1, and another album created with fellow rapper Kid Cudi and other artists on June 8.

As of the writing of this post, Kanye is still going strong and will undoubtedly keep us all guessing as to what he’ll tweet about next.


Sunnier Side of the Office

Comcast Will Include Netflix Subscriptions In Its Cable Packages

Comcast Corp. last week announced it will add Netflix to subscription packages to its cable services.

The move, according to Bloomberg, gives “the world’s largest streaming platform another way to boost its viewer base in the U.S., its biggest market.” Bloomberg also reported that Comcast customers, who can already watch Netflix shows like “House of Cards” or “Stranger Things” using the Comcast X1 cable box, will now be able to pay for it directly through a Comcast bundle.

Cable companies like Comcast have been concerned about so-called cord-cutters who eschew traditional cable packages in favor of streaming services like Netflix. Cable companies like Comcast previously viewed streaming services like Hulu and Netflix as threats to their business, but a move like this shows Comcast is embracing them and integrating them into their platforms as a way to retain customers.

The partnership could also be beneficial to Netflix, which operates on subscriptions and does not generate ad revenue. The U.S. is its largest market and the company is facing slowing subscription growth there; many of its new customers are from overseas.

Also last week, Spotify and Hulu introduced a combined subscription that reduces the monthly price of using both, a promotion designed to draw new paying users to the music and video services, according to Bloomberg.

Will Live TV Streaming Inventory Be Available in 2018?

By Arthi Veeraragavan

Last year, Hulu and YouTube launched live TV. In their launch year, both stated their intent to eventually sell ads against the linear streams.

For brands, reaching consumers via live streams could be significantly more cost efficient compared to traditional TV buys, and therefore may be a game changer. However, potential reach within Live TV streaming will be a determining factor in how brands move forward once the inventory is available. The latest figures put Hulu Live TV at 450,000 subscribers, and YouTube TV at 300,000.

Both providers have grown their user base through free trial offerings. However, with cancellation requests at the conclusion of the trial period, it’s difficult to predict future audience sizes.

While neither company has stated how the inventory will be sold, Digiday writes, the offering can be pooled with on-demand inventory. This could help brands test live linear stream advertising, while still providing them with ample reach within the platform.

Industry execs predict live TV inventory to be part of the 2018 NewFronts. If this happens, we will look for Hulu and YouTube to address the following:

  • Scale: How will both companies build the scale necessary for brands to reach a wide audience?

  • Model: Will Live ads be available as a standalone ad buy or will they be sold along with on-demand inventory?

  • Technical Obstacles: Will the technology be in place to ensure seamless ad integration?


Audi is a Finalist in the Art Directors Club Awards


Proximity alert. #AudiA5 #Cabriolet

A post shared by Audi (@audi) on

We’re thrilled to announce more of Audi of America’s work is being recognized, this time by the Art Directors Club! M/H and Audi are finalists in the Photography category for an Instagram series where we take Audi to the Mars Desert Research Station.

The work is part of our broader strategy to make Audi’s Instagram a story-driven and visually appealing channel. We like to call it “car porn with a plot.”

Automotive photography often sticks with the same backdrops: the summertime convertible shoot, the beach balls, coastal highways, the wind in your hair. It’s been done. It rarely sticks with you. We wanted Audi to be memorable, so we captured a series of photographs featuring the A5 Cabriolet for Audi’s Instagram in a surprising place.

We needed a unique location, so we chose one so otherworldly that you’d want the top down to take in the vastness of the breathtaking landscape. We went to Utah’s Mars Desert Research Station to tell its story of scientists investigating what it would take to live on the Red Planet — with the A5 in each picture.

Congrats to the team!


Coachella? Never Heard of Her


INDIO, CA – APRIL 14: Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend 1 at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018 in Indio, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Coachella )


By Jessica Gaylord

It was the yodel heard ‘round the world. Or, at least, around the Internet. Mason Ramsey, the 11-year-old whose yodeling session at a Southern Illinois Walmart went viral earlier this month, performed at music festival Coachella this weekend. There was nowhere to go but up for the young singing sensation, who reportedly just rode an airplane for the first time en route to appear on The Ellen Show.

 But the true star of the show was Beyoncé, whose Coachella performance collectively shook the Internet this weekend. Beyond blowing up Twitter, Beyoncé also made history by being the first woman of color to headline the festival, which her fans have now appropriately dubbed “Beychella.” A surprise performance with husband Jay-Z, a dance-off with sister Solange, and the highly-anticipated Destiny’s Child reunion were intertwined with her Historically Black College and University-themed set.

If you weren’t able to attend in-person or missed the live stream on YouTube, there’s no shame in enjoying it vicariously through Adele and Rihanna.

Sunnier Side of the Office

Zuckerberg Will Testify Before Congress This Week

After weeks of being in the hot seat, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday to issue “a broad apology for letting the website be used as a conduit for fake news, election meddling by foreign entities, hate speech, and privacy abuses,’ said the New York Times.

Indeed, in his testimony published today by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Zuckerberg said: “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.” (Read the entire testimony here.)

This comes after news via a whistleblower that data firm Cambridge Analytica used personal Facebook user information, taken without consent, for voter targeting purposes. Original articles said that it affected some 50 million users, but last week, Facebook said that number has increased to 87 million.

While Zuckerberg’s testimony is important, it’s also important to remember this has created a media frenzy, and there are underlying issues from which this stems. Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, tweeted, “All the core problems come from lack of any real regs or enforcement on Americans’ personal data, complete lack of transparency in online political ads/targeting, and role of dark money. Rest of issues are derivative.”

Other related headlines from the last week:

Ad Age/Bloomberg: Facebook suspends data firm Cubeyou amid privacy scandal

CNet: 6 questions Mark Zuckerberg still needs to answer

Bloomberg: Facebook moves to get ahead of Congress with issue-ad change

Ad Age: Facebook reveals new verification process for large Pages

Instagram Limits Access to User Data

By Ben Shapiro

Last week, Facebook quietly made a change to limit how often developers can use the Instagram API to collect data on the platform’s users. According to recode, the move appears to be in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The implications for developers include a reduction in rate limit. Rate limits refer to the number of times per hour an outside developer can “call” the Instagram API for updated data on Instagram users. Following the change, many developers saw their rate limit suddenly drop from 5,000 to just 200, while others were cut off from making these calls completely.

The API change also removes developers’ access to user follower lists, public comments, likes, and searches.

Developers and marketers have therefore lost a valuable source of customer data. This presents a significant hurdle for developers that rely on a constant stream of consumer feedback, such as those who focus on customer service. Marketers, on the other hand, will have to make targeting decisions with less information than they are accustomed to. Ultimately, these groups will be forced to adjust to this change by becoming more intelligent about how they gather, analyze, and use customer data.

However, we expect Facebook to provide tools and resources to make this transition as smooth as possible. Maintaining faith in Instagram is too important for the social network to leave advertisers and developers to grapple with the impact of this change on their own.

M/H and Audi are Webby Finalists!


We’re thrilled to announce that we’re finalists for two Webby awards for our Audi work in two categories.

Driver’s Test:

Our work with Audi and Spider-Man has been named a finalist in the Film & Video/Branded Entertainment/Short Form category.

About “Driver’s Test”: Audi’s continued integration with Marvel reached new heights with the Spider-Man: Homecoming Film. Our challenge was to authentically weave Audi into the Spider-Man world. We honed in on the Audi brand’s innovative prowess and new AI features and helped bring them to life in a hilarious story that could excite a range of Marvel, Spider-Man, and Audi fans alike. A-list talent included Spider-Man himself (Tom Holland) and comedian/actor JB Smoove.

Vote for Spider-Man “Driver’s Test” in the Film & Video/Branded Entertainment/Short Form category here.

Think Faster

Think Faster has been named a finalist in the Advertising & Media/Branded Content/Automotive category.

About Think Faster: Think Faster, the world’s fastest AMA, is a live episodic content series that features culture’s biggest names as they answer questions submitted via Reddit. Taking place at over 130 MPH, Think Faster transformed one of the most popular online interview formats, the Reddit AMA, into a live broadcast event.

To vote for Think Faster in the Advertising & Media/Branded Content/Automotive category, go here.

Living The American Meme

By Melissa Santiago

This week was a great one for memes and in case you don’t have time to keep up with all the memes, we understand — and we’ve got you covered.

1. If you don’t love me…

This meme gained traction with a K-pop star, built on Justin Bieber fandom, and reached total self-awareness from an unlikely source, 90’s pop star, Mariah Carey.

2. American Choppers and the subtle art of civil debate also emerged as an unlikely meme hero this week. CNET reports, “it all began with a March 26 tweet from @_ericcurtin that has so far gotten 55,000 likes and 17,000 retweets.”

As memes continue to dominate social media conversations brands and celebrities are finding ways to join the conversation while remaining self-aware and Monterey Bay Aquarium nailed it with this post.

3. Bonus meme round! We’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to the viral sensation known as “Yodeling kid.” While it’d be great to have an explainer for this, it kind of defies all explanation and most of social media is totally here for it.

Audi Work Nominated for Webby Awards


Our work with Audi has been nominated for two categories in the Webby awards!
Vote for Spider-Man in the Film & Video/Branded Entertainment/Short Form category:

Vote for Think Faster one for Advertising & Media/Branded Content/Automotive:

Sunnier Side of the Office

M/H Wins Multiple Shorty Awards for Audi Work

We are thrilled to announce we’ve won a few honors in the Shorty Awards, which recognizes the most influential, popular and culturally relevant brands, organizations, agencies, campaigns and influencers across social media.

Spider-Man: Homecoming/Audi: “Driver’s Test”

Our work for Audi’s partnership with “Spider-Man: Homecoming” was named best in the Auto category and was also named a Finalist and Audience Favorite in the Entertainment category.

Our winning short film, “Driver’s Test,” features a 15-year-old Peter Parker about to take his driver’s test — but he gets a little help from Audi’s driver-assistance technology, letting him stay one step ahead of his driving instructor, a new character we created for the video, played by comedian J.B. Smoove.

Millions of views came from 30 countries in addition to the U.S., helping to push “Spider-Man: Homecoming” to the top 5 of the international box office for 2017.

Lauded as “so authentic it felt like a deleted scene” by Marvel, and Audi fans alike, our short film garnered 159,000 likes on Youtube, making it the #1 most liked piece of content Audi has ever created. For more on our strategy and execution, visit the entry on the Shorty Awards site.

Audi: “Think Faster – World’s Fastest AMA”

We also won a Gold in the Emerging Platform category for Audi’s “Think Faster – World’s Fastest AMA.” We were a Finalist in the Auto – Online category as well.

For the launch of Audi Sport in the U.S., we had to demonstrate performance in a visceral way that went beyond traditional car advertising.

The perfect platform was Reddit. Why? It already has a native beloved format — the Reddit Ask Me Anything — and we could innovate with it by creating a speedy live broadcast for fans.

So we created “Think Faster – World’s Fastest AMA.” Taking place at 130 MPH, each 30-minute episode transformed the popular online interview format, the Reddit AMA, into a live broadcast from the passenger seat of an Audi. Guests so far have included Elizabeth Banks, Issa Rae, Adam Scott and Olivia Munn. For more on Think Faster’s strategy and execution, go here.

Congrats to the team!

Google Acquires Tenor

By Katharine Painter

Last week Google acquired the popular GIF search engine Tenor. The four-year-old company has more than 300 million users and 12 billion searches per month. It also powers GIF keyboards across smartphones and within social messengers like Facebook Messenger.

Many brands have already created and distributed GIFs as organic content because it allows them to express a shareable message by using text and multiple images. In 2017, Tenor released its first sponsored GIF, and since then, has had partnerships with brands like Dunkin’ Donuts, Sprint and KFC. These partnerships allow branded GIFs to appear in relevant searches.

By acquiring Tenor, Google plans to incorporate GIFs into Google images and the Gboard, a keyboard extension that can be added to a smartphone. These incorporations will vastly extend the daily usage and reach of Tenor’s platform.

If advertising opportunities remain the same on Tenor, partnerships will now allow brands to reach a larger group of people at multiple touchpoints. Ben Clarke, co-founder of The Shipyard, predicts “GIFs will become a part of the normal fabric of search,” which “could reinject some personality into digital ads.” Brands that adopt GIFs will have a new way to reach their consumers in a more authentic and engaging environment.

Your Weekly Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Update: Third-Party Data Edition


News continues to come out in the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge news from two weeks ago, which revealed via a whistleblower, the New York Times and the Observer that Cambridge Analytica used personal Facebook user information, taken without consent, for voter targeting purposes. There are still too many articles and hot takes to link to here. So we’re focusing on one aspect this week: third-party data.

Why? Because Facebook said it was shutting down Partner Categories, which allows third-party data providers to offer their targeting capabilities directly through Facebook. The company said that the move will help improve users’ privacy. According to Ad Age, these providers include “Acxiom, Oracle Data Cloud, Experian, Epsilon, and others. These data providers have some of the deepest insights into consumer behavior across the world—information on what people buy, where they shop, what kind of cars they drive, health profiles, incomes, family makeup—and they are integral to the entire digital ad ecosystem.”

Though we have yet to see how this will play out for Facebook in the long term and what else the company will do to tighten up its platform, it’s not the end of Facebook by any means. Forrester said that people prophesizing Facebook’s doom are overreacting, and Ad Age reported that marketers are very likely to keep their ad spend there.

For an overview of third-party data and the hurdles facing that space, read eMarketer’s report from last week.

And to read an interview with Mark Zuckerberg on Vox, go here.

This Week in Social: What is r/CircleofTrust?

By Melissa Santiago

This year, r/CircleofTrust emerged on April 1. The subreddit warned users, “This is your circle. You only get one. Share it wisely.” If one chooses to set up their circle, they set a “key” or password and share their circle and its key with others. The only catch? Make sure you trust those you let in. Once someone has access to your circle, they can choose to join it or betray you. Once you’re betrayed, your circle is broken and will no longer function.

If the thought of destroying someone’s circle by betraying them gave you a rush, please know your name will be flagged a known traitor. At the time of writing this, the subreddit has been marked as private to so the moderators can fix some bugs. Create a circle if you dare, but choose carefully who you invite to join your circle.

Sunnier Side of the Office

The Latest on the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Controversy


Last week we wrote about the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story, which, as predicted, has produced too many follow-up stories to count.

A quick recap: The New York Times and the Observer (sibling of The Guardian) published stories about Cambridge Analytica, on account of a whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, who had worked at the data firm. Cambridge Analytica “used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements,” according to the Observer. At the time frame in question, Cambridge Analytica was headed by Steve Bannon.

This data harvesting happened through a third-party app in which hundreds of thousands of Facebook users were paid to take a personality quiz and agreed to have their data collected for academic use. The problem with that, according to the Observer, is “the app also collected the information of the test-takers’ Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions-strong. Facebook’s ‘platform policy’ allowed only collection of friends’ data to improve user experience in the app and barred it being sold on or used for advertising.”

What’s new this week? A lot. For one, Mark Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday after a 5-day silence. From the Guardian: “‘We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,’ Zuckerberg wrote. He noted that the company has already changed some of the rules that enabled the breach, but added: ‘We also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.’”

Today, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed it was conducting an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices and “is focused on whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handling of personal user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without users’ knowledge,” according to a person familiar with the matter.

On the advertiser front, Facebook has been communicating with the marketing industry “to tell them it is working to audit all apps on its platform and reassure its users that their personal data is being protected,” according to the Wall Street Journal.


Conde Nast Bids Adieu To NBCUniversal and Vox Media

By Zuli Mohammad

After less than a year of working together, Conde Nast announced that it has left its partnership with NBCUniversal and Vox Media. The partnership worked to bring Conde Nast’s data platform ‘Spire’ and Vox and NBCU’s advertising platform ‘Concert’ together.

Concert, which was formed by Vox and NBCU in 2016, combined premium digital inventory and audiences from both companies’ digital assets. By layering on Conde Nast to this partnership in 2017, Concert was able to reach over 200 million consumers and 99% of millennials in the U.S. across the three companies’ digital networks.

Three campaigns ultimately resulted from the partnership with Conde Nast. The overall goal, General Manager Ryan Pauley told Digiday, was “to take these to market, and then the partnership would end.”

While Conde Nast has yet to disclose why they left the partnership, they mentioned that they will look to utilize Concert again under the right circumstances. Vox and NBCU will continue to work together on Concert, which has tripled its sales from 2016 to 2017 and is on track to double sales in 2018.

While Conde Nast’s involvement with Concert didn’t last long, publisher partnerships similar to this are important and continue to grow as they can work to create reach and scale equal to the likes of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google. Additionally, partnerships like these work to create more room for contextually relevant and brand-safe environments for brands to live within.

As these types of partnerships continue to grow it is important that publishers focus on not only hitting the right target audience, but also on providing insights that will help measure and meet campaign goals.

HQ Trivia Lands Warner Bros. and Nike Ad Deals

Popular live game show app HQ landed its first sponsorship deal, Ad Age reported yesterday. The partnership, worth $3 million, will include the promotion of three movies, starting with Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One.”

If you’re not familiar with HQ, it’s an app that hosts live game shows twice a day, with a jackpot that varies in size. There are 12 questions, and as soon as a player gets one answer wrong, they are disqualified. (HQ’s most popular host, Scott Rogowsky, is pictured above.)

Nike yesterday was promoting a partnership with HQ on Twitter, and MacRumors reports that with Nike, HQ will have a surprise third game today with a $100,000 prize and a sneaker giveaway, billed as “a prize that money can’t buy,” according to a HQ spokesperson.

This Week in Social: Elon vs. Facebook, Instagram Changes, Wendy’s Fire Mixtape

By Melissa Santiago

This week on social media was relentlessly eventful. Aside from social movements, political news and various scandals, the internet continues to deliver some light-hearted moments. While the former is very important, it’s also important to look to the latter and rally around a few things that can unite us and momentarily lower our collective stress level, so please enjoy.

1. Elon Musk deletes SpaceX & Tesla Facebook accounts. It seems based on his tweets Elon wasn’t aware the Facebook pages existed, but after some prompting from random people on Twitter, the pages were gone on Friday. Elon’s tweets about deleting the pages don’t explicitly mention the #DeleteFacebook movement, but those calling on him to delete the pages referenced the hashtag. After both pages had been deleted, he added, “looks lame anyway” in reference to them.

Thoughts and prayers to the social media manager who set up and managed those pages — and the massive panic attacks they have most likely experienced since Friday morning.

2. Instagram’s new algorithm will favor more “recent” posts. After users voicing their complaints about the randomness of the Instagram algorithm and seeing posts several days after they’d been posted, Instagram has announced they will make some changes.

3. Fast food Twitter beef continues, now comes with mixtapes. Move over Burger King, there’s a new burger royalty—at least on Twitter. Wendy’s is aiming to dominate all other fast food burger chains on Twitter between being a major part of the most retweeted tweet to date, to flirting with Moonpie, to dropping mixtapes full of diss tracks firing shots at competitors last week on Twitter. Wendy’s social media team is on fire and challenging the popular notion that large brand social accounts are manned by “interns.”

Sunnier Side of the Office

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

Surely by now, you’ve heard about the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story. As I’m writing this there are almost too many new stories to keep up. More news will keep coming out of this in the coming days and weeks, but here’s a recap of how this news cycle began late Friday.

On Friday night, Facebook posted a statement saying that it had suspended Cambridge Analytica, the data and voter-targeting company that the Trump campaign used for the 2016 election, after discovering it had harvested user data, even though it told Facebook that the data had been destroyed.

That post was to get ahead of news coming out Saturday, when the New York Times and the Observer(sibling of The Guardian) published stories about Cambridge Analytica, on account of a whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, who had worked at the data firm. “used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements,” according to the Observer. At the time frame in question, Cambridge Analytica was headed by Steve Bannon.

How’d Cambridge Analytica get that data? Through a third-party app in which hundreds of thousands of Facebook users were paid to take a personality quiz and agreed to have their data collected for academic use. The problem with that, according to the Observer, is “the app also collected the information of the test-takers’ Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions-strong. Facebook’s ‘platform policy’ allowed only collection of friends’ data to improve user experience in the app and barred it being sold on or used for advertising.”

The New York Times reported that some of that user data can still be seen online, indicating that there was indeed a breach of data privacy. The New York Times also said that “the breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.”

There are too many articles to link to at this point, but here are a few key ones:
For more on Wylie, the whistleblower, go here.

On MondayFacebook said it hired a digital forensics firm to conduct an audit of Cambridge Analytica to see if the Facebook data obtained by CA still exists.

Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth wrote a post  Monday addressing the issue. Facebook security chief Alex Stamos plans to step down after disputes with policy executives.

Time will tell how this all shakes out, but one outcome could be U.S. regulation for the social platforms as it relates to user privacy and data collection.


Programmatic Audio Expands in 2018

By Coltin Chapman

We’re just three months into 2018, and the programmatic audio landscape has already changed. Pandora is the latest to offer programmatic audio, following Spotify, which started programmatic in 2016, and iHeartRadio, which has offered it since 2014. Advertisers will be able to leverage all 2,000 of Pandora’s proprietary audience segments when buying media programmatically, allowing for more in-depth targeting and audience breakouts.

This growth within the audio market has caught the attention of the Media Rating Council (MRC), which works with the industry to establish accreditations for audience measurement services. The MRC noticed a spike in audio related media earlier this year and worked with 66 audio partners to create standards for the growing medium:

·      Audio Ad must be played with the audio player in a non-muted state and at a non-zero volume.

·      Ads must be filtered for invalid traffic using the MRC’s Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines Addendum.

·      Ad must play for a minimum duration of two continuous seconds.

Pandora entering into the programmatic audio market gives advertisers the option to extend their audio media buys to a broader audience. Brands will also have a larger incentive to purchase programmatic audio thanks to the MRC’s recent audibility standards, which ensure that their audio impressions are fraud-free and brand safe.

Getting Lucky with Lyft

We’re thrilled to partner once again with Lyft for a project where we brought the luck o’ the Irish to riders over the weekend. Users who opted in to ‘Lucky Mode’ in eight cities were picked up in a gold-wrapped car with a gold treasure chest waiting for them in the back seat. If they found the lucky key before the ride ends, they kept the treasure. In Boston, that treasure was tickets to see the Dropkick Murphys.

See more at Ad Age’s Creativity.

This Week In Social: March Madness Madness

By Melissa Santiago

NCAA Bracket season is here once again. Every year approximately 70 million people fill out NCAA March Madness brackets. The money wagered amongst friends, coworkers, and online is estimated to total over $10.4 billion.

Part of the bracket appeal is Cinderella teams, which are low-ranking teams who go on to win games against top-tier teams. A new Cinderella story emerged on Friday when the University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers, the No. 16 seed and underdog, beat No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers. Twitter users came out in full force to launch the Retrievers into momentary internet fame.

This marks the first time a 16-seed has ever beat a 1-seed team and is being called the second-greatest upset in NCAA history. What did this win mean for 70 million brackets? The NCAA reports Friday’s upset means there are no more perfect brackets left.

Sadly, UMBC was knocked out the tournament on Sunday night after a loss to Kansas State, but have secured their place as one of top two Retrievers in basketball history.

Getting Lucky With Lyft

We are pleased to partner with Lyft to pull off the largest Mode they’ve executed at this scale on a single day.
Users who opt-in to Lucky Mode will be picked up in a gold-wrapped car with a gold treasure chest waiting for them in the back seat. If they find the lucky key before the ride ends, they keep the treasure.
Lucky Mode is live for two days in 8 markets: SF, San Diego, Orange County, Phoenix, Chicago, Northern New Jersey, Boston, and Miami.
And did we forget to mention that we also partnered with the kings of St. Patty’s Day, THE Dropkick Murphys?
Read more about Lucky Mode: and take a look at the promo video we created below.



Sunnier Side of the Office

Facebook To Launch News for Watch

Facebook is prepping to launch a news section for its Watch platform, according to Axios. The social network has reached out to both legacy and digital news publishers to test a daily video feature.

As we’ve written about a few times, Facebook earlier this year announced sweeping changes to its newsfeed algorithm in which it would de-prioritize publishers’ and brands’ posts in favor of posts from users’ Facebook friends. At the time, Facebook said it was trying to combat passive engagement and encourage more meaningful engagement.

“While executives have said they don’t know exactly how they will measure meaningful engagement through comments and shares, creating a news product that’s native to the platform and includes content from vetted publishers will hopefully drive less passive engagement and curb the spread of misinformation on its platform,” said Axios.

This move comes after a year in which Facebook was forced to acknowledge the spread of fake news sites on its platform. As Axios wrote this could be an opportunity for the platforms to guide users to credible news sources, especially during a breaking news cycle.

Creating Balance: The Future of The Economist‘s Readership

By Arthi Veeraragavan

The Economist announced it is actively pursuing an audience that they believe will allow them to increase their global readership: women.

Recent figures put subscribers at 1.4 million, with the gender split heavily under-representing women. Currently, less than 30% of subscribers are female.

To balance this figure, the publisher has partnered with Ipsos, a leading market research company, to conduct an analysis of how various audiences perceive nuances in language style. The purpose of the research is to help increase relevancy amongst women, with the publisher’s EVP of Circulation and Retail Marketing stating, “There are societal elements that people have that mean they perceive communications differently, and we’re adjusting that to improve our relevance among female prospects.”

While it will take time to balance out The Economist’s current gender split, if successful, brands will have a greater opportunity to reach their target audience through the publisher. Additionally, language research could become a tactic leveraged by more publishers that are looking for ways to increase relevancy amongst specific demographic groups.

Networks Are Removing Clutter To Improve TV Viewing

Digiday has a good overview of TV networks cutting down on their ad loads as they work to adjust to consumers’ changing viewing habits.

Fox Networks Group plans to cut advertising on its networks to two minutes per hour by 2020. NBCUniversal said it will reduce the number of ads in its ad pods by 20% and the total ad time by 10% on more than 50 original prime-time programs across its networks. Turner has also made some announcements in this space for TruTV and TNT.

As Digiday points out, these moves are the exception at this point, as TV national ad loads are still on the rise. But these announcements illustrate how networks are realizing that because of the rise of Hulu, Netflix and video-on-demand services, tolerance for ad load time is decreasing.

“The average episode of NBC’s ‘The Voice’ is watched for 35 minutes on live, linear TV,” said Digiday. “That jumps to 43 minutes on connected TV devices and 48 minutes on digital video recorders. With video on demand, time spent is at an average 51 minutes.”

Even with the decrease in ads on network TV, media companies may be able to charge advertisers more, as less commercial time makes the inventory more scarce, and therefore ad rates could actually go up.

This Week in Social: AI With a Side of LOL

By Melissa Santiago

Machines listening to our conversations and mining them for data is not breaking news, but like something straight out a dystopian thriller, Amazon’s Alexa home devices have reportedly been emitting laughter, and people are not amused.

According to The Verge, “Alexa seemed to start laughing without being prompted to wake. People on Twitter and Reddit reported that they thought it was an actual person laughing near them, which is certainly scary if you’re home alone.”

After people started sharing Alexa’s creepy laughter on Twitter and reddit, many owners of the devices opted to disconnect theirs.

Amazon has acknowledged the issue and says it has a fix for the problem: “In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are changing that phrase to be ‘Alexa, can you laugh?’ which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance ‘Alexa, laugh.’ We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to ‘sure, I can laugh’ followed by laughter.”

Seems like an easy problem to solve, but raises the question, why would Alex need to be programmed with laughter? I mean, whatever — as long as she doesn’t start responding with, “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”