Yahoo Has A Fraud Problem; Time Inc. Struggles With Video

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Yahoo Ad Fraud?

Sources tell CNBC that Yahoo has a fraud problem. “One company that used Yahoo's programmatic video ad platform said it discovered 30 to 70% of its ads were not running in areas where Yahoo was claiming they were,” Michelle Castillo reports. The main gripe appears to be that expensive pre-roll buys were actually running in banners, an age-old complaint in the programmatic video arena, but non-human traffic is also rife. There are harsh words here for Yahoo’s sales org too. One sports streaming deal “ultimately failed due to the ineptitude of the sales team, and major issues with [Yahoo’s] programmatic ad platform infrastructure.” Ouch. More.

Video Headwinds

On a related theme, the recent demise of Yahoo Screen was easy to frame as another wheel falling off a broken wagon, but it isn’t just Yahoo that’s tried and failed to crack the digital video code. A year after Time Inc. launched video hub The Daily Cut, “which figured prominently in Time Inc.’s pitch during the NewFronts in May 2014,” the property is seeing insignificant adoption, writes Lucia Moses at Digiday. Plenty of pubs are thriving on original video content (hello, BuzzFeed), but that success happens primarily on social media platforms, not owned-and-operated channels. More.  

Read My Lips

Apple raised eyebrows – both figuratively and literally – with the purchase of Emotient, a startup that analyzes facial expressions and emotional cues. According to the Wall Street Journal reporters who covered the news, it’s unclear how Apple plans to deploy Emotient’s technology (though the applications are fairly obvious, what with front-facing cameras on practically all Apple hardware). It isn’t a new field, as Google banned similar expression-reading software from any apps developed for Google Glass, and Facebook uses facial-recognition tech to identify users to tag in photos. More.

Stone (Cold) Tablets

The National Magazine Awards (the top prize specific to magazine publishing) cut its “Tablet Edition” as a category this year. The categories change fairly regularly, but “something about the end of the tablet category feels more significant, like a quiet acknowledgment of the industry’s failure to innovate,” claims journalism professor and former NY Mag editor Aileen Gallagher. But the message can also point toward an overeagerness to innovate, as many, many publications sunk precious engineering and editorial resources into tablet mags that folded up like a summer circus. Read on at Medium.

Early-Stage Doldrums (Cont.)

VC funding for private companies dropped sharply in the final quarter of 2015, reports Katie Benner for The New York Times (falling 30% compared to the prior quarter). After a decade of rising valuations, investors “were struck by how quickly the chill hit funding and deal activity,” said Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights. Until some unicorns manage to IPO, merger activity will rise and early-stage VC cash will remain scarce. More.

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