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Weekly Roundup: Publisher’s New Revenue Stream, Uber’s Lawsuit, Clean Room, and More.

Adtech Weekly Roundup
“You have to have people who, from day one, understand how that works. They are usually people who have done this before.” 

Trading on the sell-side

Gone are the days when publishers relied completely on Google to get them the audience and revenue (via ads). At present, any premium publisher will have at least two or three revenue streams along with ads. For some, it might be subscriptions, for others, contributions. 

But, a new trend seems to gain traction among the publishers (especially the ones with established in-house teams and technologies). Developing a product for themselves and later selling it to other media companies on a Saas model. 

For instance, The Washington Post has an extensive platform for publishers ‘Arc’. By licensing the platform to other media companies, The WaPo expects to generate a revenue of $100 million this year. Similar, Chorus a CMS from Vox Media aims to capture the market soon and help the struggling publisher to hit the revenue goals. 

Though it is a reliable revenue stream for media companies, the art of selling the tech to competitors is quite difficult. From feedback to the roadmap, as a publisher, you are supposed to handle a lot of conflicts at every stage of the product. 

Print to Digital 

A few decades ago, established print media companies offered services like fulfillment, distribution, etc. to smaller peers. In fact, it still happens today. The same pattern is repeating itself in the digital era – where top media companies with the tech are licensing their platforms to help smaller peers. 

An uphill battle

But Digiday’s latest piece highlights the caveats involved in the process. 

– Talent

Apparently, you need to have the right talent to build and sell the products to your peers. In this case, publishers are finding it hard to build the sales team. After all, you’re selling a product to your competitor.

“You have to have people who, from day one, understand how that works. They are usually people who have done this before.” 

–  Trei Brundrett, COO, Vox Media.

– Product Development

With the increasing publishing clients, the seller needs to handle the influx of feedback and fix them while satisfying its own requirements. The roadmap gets complex every time a new customer gets on-boarded and the product team has to make some trade-offs. 

– Time to scale

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Publishers, specifically, premium media brands take time to switch products. 

Uber’s ad fraud lawsuit – II

This past June, we discussed Uber’s lawsuit against five ad tech vendors. At the time we wrote: 

“Uber, the recently IPO’d ride-hailing company sued five mobile advertising companies along with 100s of unknown third-parties for faking clicks, installs, or both on ad campaigns – ran on behalf of Uber….For a publisher or an advertiser, it all comes down to vendors they partner with. If you partner with the right ones, they’ll ensure you’re free from fraud by constantly tracking the supply chain.”

Last week, the company filed yet another fraud suit against Phunware, mobile development, and monetization company. 

“Guys, it’s that time of the month … no not that time. It’s time to spin some more BS to Uber to keep the lights on.”

– Email exchange b/w two employees at Phunware. 

According to the lawsuit, Phunware committed “multi-year mobile advertising fraud” and concealed their activities by communicating via “ephemeral messaging applications”, face-to-face, or by simply paying blacklisted sites and networks to not reveal any details about the fraud. And, Uber’s lawsuit says its CEO Knitowski lead the scheme. 

And, yes the lawsuit is essentially a continuation of the previous one filed by the ride-hailing company. Remember that we mentioned Uber is filing the suit against 100s of unknown vendors last time? Phunware is one of them. 

Ad fraud techniques

Phunware allegedly used click flooding (executing fraudulent clicks on ads without users’ knowledge on the background), forced ad redirects, implementing scripts to disguise placements of ads, paying blacklisted sites to run/redirect users to Uber app install page on app store/play store, etc. 

Takeaway:

You are seeing the fraud techniques in action here. Uber took years to recognize that the campaigns are flooded with fake clicks and engagements. Ad fraudsters have evolved with us, it’s time for us to be proactive and stop them before they siphon more ad dollars. Partner with the right SSPs/networks, monitor performance and execute ad fraud prevention solutions (if it makes sense for you). 

Meet, Amazon’s Data Clean Room.

Amazon has never offered impression-level data to advertisers. Now, it’s about to change with the company’s Clean Room extension. 

If you aren’t already familiar with the Clean Room concept, here’s a brief – Clean Room is a closed system popularized by Google/Facebook, where aggregated data is shared to the advertisers enabling them to analyze the performance of the campaigns. 

For instance, advertisers can access impression-level data and import other datasets (think CRM) to compare and draw insights. It remains privacy-safe by ensuring the data is aggregated (not matched to any user ids) and stays within the hub. Buyers couldn’t take any data out of the system. In other words, you can access and perform your analysis within the Clean Rooms. 

Amazon, with its growing ad business, struggles to keep advertisers with the data it offers now. But last week, AdExchanger reported that the company is working on its own data Clean Room service, similar to that of Google and Facebook. 

Amazon’s Clean Room

As per the source, Clean Room won’t include user-level data (as expected), however, it will enable buyers to run ‘cohort-level analytics’. An advertiser can see how the campaign is performing among at least 50 users with certain attributes. For example, the X campaign is getting a good response for Men aged 24 – 45 in specific cities. 

Takeaway: 

To be frank, Amazon is fixing its business to scale faster. As brands couldn’t forecast the LTV score of Amazon shoppers, they’ve resisted to advertise in the past. With Clean Room, now, they’re seeing a potential to get to that point. The interesting part is going to be how Amazon will handle advertisers competing with its own brand-labeled products. It can’t resist too much and at the same time, revealing enough will make it harder for the company to sell its own products. 

Simplifying content policies

Though most wouldn’t face any serious problems with Google’s content policies, vernacular sites have a hard time getting approved. As Google owns both AdSense and Ad Exchange, it is essential for any publisher to keep up with its content policies.

With the goal of simplifying things, Google announced Google Publisher Policies and Google Publisher Restriction. 

Google Publisher Policies: 

Publisher policies will help publishers understand the type of content that aren’t allowed to show ads from any of Google’s advertising products. 

“This includes policies against illegal content, dangerous or derogatory content, and sexually explicit content, among others.”

Google Publisher Restriction:

Publisher restrictions will list the type of content (such as alcohol or tobacco) that don’t violate Google policies but may not receive ads (bids) from advertisers. Advertisers who want to show ads alongside such content, can indeed, bid and ads will be rendered as usual. 

Moments that matter

Brian O’Kelley answers Questions from Senator Lindsey O. Graham (pdf).

More than half of login attempts on social media accounts are fraudulent – TechRepublic.

‘It definitely adds more complexity’: How life has (and hasn’t) changed at unionized digital media companies – Digiday.

As Data Sales Rise, Questionable Provenance Proves A Growing Threat – AdExchanger.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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