Snap Offers Big Scale With 'Promoted Stories'; Net Neutrality Repeal Threatens Brands

The Paid Story

Snap launched a new ad format, Promoted Stories, allowing brands to push stories beyond their follower base to all Snap users in an entire country. The ads are a series of three to 10 auto-advancing videos that tell a long-form story and live on the app’s Stories page. Previously, Stories could only be viewed by followers of an account, so the feature marks the first time brands can reach a broad audience of non-followers through Stories on Snap. Snap launched the first Promoted Story ad on Black Friday with HBO, which urged users to stay in and watch Game of Thrones rather than go out and shop. For Snap, which is struggling to meet investor expectations, the new ad format will hopefully continue enticing buyers to spend. Recode has more.

Stuck In Neutral

The FCC’s move to pull net neutrality regulations, which prohibit internet-service providers (ISPs) from favoring their own media or tech with better data and bandwidth, could upend online advertising standards and the digital media ecosystem. Marketers, for example, might have to pay more for quality bandwidth, or could be pressed into buying media from companies owned by ISPs. Challenger brands and media startups will have more trouble competing with big companies that can afford faster delivery and enterprise deals with ISPs. “User experience is brand marketing, and speed is a big component of user experience,” says Barry Lowenthal, president of MediaKitchen Inc. “When you start to mess with user experience, you’re really going to create barriers for brands to compete.” Adweek has more.

Down The Tubes

YouTube is facing a second wave of brands suspending their ad campaigns on the platform, this time after news broke of lurid videos of children and equally troubling comments slipping past Google’s moderation. Companies from many categories – including the candy company Mars, HP, German grocery giant Lidl and the alcohol brand owner Diageo – halted YouTube advertising last week over failures with its brand safeguards. Google announced plans to toughen its oversight of children’s content. Its safeguards had relied in part on nonprofit groups and police to flag inappropriate videos for removal, instead of moderating in real time. More at Reuters.

Rip-Off Merchants

With 300 million shoppers dropping billions of dollars on Amazon from Thanksgiving through December, the black hats are coming out of the woodwork. Freelance developers in southeast Asian countries with sophisticated technology and low hourly rates rent mercenary armies of fake Amazon accounts to harry rival merchants with poor reviews or to endlessly click ads to drain search budgets. One group of ecommerce fraudsters bought the “Amazon” Google search term, drove traffic to a fake app download and tagged unsuspecting victims with expensive “anti-malware” subscriptions, according to a CBS report. "There’s blood in the water and everyone knows they can get away with it,” Chris McCabe, an ecommerce consultant and former Amazon merchant risk and fraud investigator, tells Bloomberg. “So it’s a free-for-all." More.

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