A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words; App Store Search Ads Get Exploited

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Worth A Thousand Words

As digital media gets more visual, image-based content has been endowed with new data and targeting features. Packaged-food brand Ripple Foods partnered with image recognition vendor GumGum to target ads against photos on a site. “People are used to scrolling and consuming visual content on their social feeds all day, so it makes sense for brands to be there,” said Ripple’s digital marketing manager, Caitlin Maddox-Smith. Coca-Cola worked with image recognition startup Cluep to serve ads next to images of iced tea and competitors’ drinks. “Having access to such granular data is extremely valuable from both an insight and a targeting perspective.” says Richard Lee, CEO of image recognition startup Netra. More at Digiday.

App Black Hats

“Turns out, scammers are abusing Apple’s relatively new and immature App Store Search Ads product,” writes developer Johnny Lin in a Medium post. Malicious developers are making near clones of expensive, legitimate apps (ironically, many of the fake apps offer mobile security add-ons), and are then promoting their versions. Some obviously terrible apps are among the most profitable mobile properties in the App Store, like “Mobile protection :Clean & Security VPN,” the 10th top-grossing app, which brings in about $80,000 per month despite a number of red flags. Lin writes, “Many regular users probably don’t even know they’re clicking an ad. At the least, Apple should review ads for potential fraud before running them.” More.

Hearing Is Believing

Apple introduced new podcast analytics that could be a big boost to producers. Previously, podcasters knew if a file or season was downloaded but had no insights into listening habits. “This has the potential to dramatically change our perception of how many people really listen to a show, and how many people skip ads, as well as how long a podcast can run before people just give up,” writes Apple observer and podcaster Jason Snell. Apple also announced HomePod, its high-end, Siri-enabled home speaker (i.e., Apple’s version of Amazon Echo), and a new round of investments in Apple Music as the world’s biggest company assembles the pieces to dominate the next age of audio.

Driving Budgets

Facebook is gunning for the auto industry’s ad budgets. At the fifth annual Facebook Automotive Summit, COO Sheryl Sandberg stood on stage with General Motors CEO Mary Barra in Detroit to talk about the synergies between Facebook and the auto industry. Despite lacking a direct path to purchase, Facebook lets automakers and dealerships better target users to generate leads. A Cadillac ad on Facebook, for example, generated 42,000 leads that led to 450 car sales, Bloomberg reports. The auto industry, a big spender on TV advertising, is using products like Facebook Live to showcase new vehicle unveilings. “These are real, legitimate business partnerships now,” said Blake Beers, Facebook’s manager for the US auto industry. More.

Apples & Oranges, Bulls & Bears

A tough report from the Japanese investment bank Nomura sent Snap’s share prices about 25% below its IPO benchmark. To be fair, Facebook faced similar cynicism after its public offering. But that’s the beginning and the end of the similarities between the companies’ respective positions. The investment bank Piper Jaffray echoed the bullish consensus on Facebook with an analyst note predicting 200% revenue growth in the next five years. Snap, meanwhile, is plagued by a flood of “shorts” as Wall Street bets against its growth.

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