AOL Gets In With Agencies; Facebook Wants To Get Real-Time

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Agencies On Board With Armstrong

Though Google hasn’t been keen on making music with agencies, AOL seems to be hitting the right notes. As AOL repositions as an ad tech and media company, a handful of agency execs tell Digiday they’re swayed by the company’s offerings. Those include a programmatic ad platform as well as a slate of original video content featuring talent like Steve Buscemi and James Franco. But questions remain. “Will they start prioritizing their own publishers and content in a way that both increases costs and decreases transparency for buyers and advertisers?” asks Josh Engroff, Media Kitchen’s chief digital media officer. Read the full story. Meanwhile, AOL’s Dan Ackerman, programmatic SVP of Adapt.tv, tells Beet.TV that TV ads could be 10% programmatic by 2017. Watch the interview.

Game-Time Decisions

Facebook’s adopting a Twitter-like ad strategy this Super Bowl Sunday by selling ads that target people based on the posts they make in real time. Twitter, for its part, is staffing “war rooms” for its Super Bowl advertisers. These “unplanned” ad strategies are growing this year, according to Twitter’s director of US brand strategy, Ross Hoffman. "There is a lot more fragmentation," said Dionne Colvin-Lovely, director of traditional and emerging media at Toyota. "TV is an important media; it's not as dominant. We need to make sure we have a strong presence online and in mobile. It's more complicated now." Reuters has more.

Hulu’s View

Remember how some publishers weren’t thrilled about the industry’s fixation on viewability? Well, Hulu is just fine with it – the video site has profited from building in viewability parameters, Hulu SVP of ad sales Peter Naylor tells The Wall Street Journal. Of course, Hulu’s business model is a bit unique. Its videos don’t autoplay and it sells 30-second ads, so it doesn’t have a problem meeting advertisers’ viewability requirements. (For the record, the MRC’s baseline recommendation is 50% in view for two consecutive seconds.) But Naylor is empathetic. “It’s an incredibly challenging time to be a publisher,” he said. “Over the last few years, we’ve seen agencies deal with this push from ad agency procurement departments. It’s become the golden age of accountability. Now you’ve got all this complexity, and viewability is just another thing on the list.”

Waterfall Debate

Responding to Beeswax CEO Ari Paparo’s AdExchanger column questioning the existence of publisher waterfalls in the efficient world of RTB, Datacratic software engineer Nicolas Kruchten demystifies the practice. Publisher waterfalls happen because of RTB’s second-price auction, in which the top bidder only pays the amount of the second-highest bid. Publishers end up feeling they’ve left money on the floor. With a waterfall, publishers have more control. They can slowly lower the floor price if impressions aren’t selling. Kruchten is cool with this in theory: The top bidder gets the impression for the price she wants and the publisher gets a little more money. “On more practical grounds, however, it’s clear that running multiple auctions for the same impression is inefficient, and has non-zero costs which could well outweigh any benefits,” he concludes. Read on.

Thinknear And Mopub Partner

Thinknear added native mobile ad formats on Thursday through a partnership with Mopub. Thinknear specializes in location-based mobile advertising and works with clients like BlackBerry, 1-800-Flowers, Walmart, UPS, KIA, McDonalds and Southwest Airlines. "Native advertising is increasingly more important to the digital ad ecosystem, as native ads see much greater engagement," said Thinknear President Loren Hillberg. "This partnership enables us to connect an emerging ad format with the proven benefits of location targeting that we have been consistently delivering to our clients for years." Read the press release.

Kik Dreams Big

Mobile messaging firm Kik aspires to be the “WeChat of the West,” according to CEO Ted Livingston. It’s made strides towards that goal by hitting 200 million registered users on Wednesday. “When I read pieces about David Marcus [head of messaging products at Facebook], or I see what Snapchat is launching, everybody is moving toward this ‘chat as a platform,’” Livingston told Re/code. “We’ve been doing this longer than anybody and it’s now a race to get to the finish before anybody else. And we’re racing some of the top companies in the world.” Read AdExchanger’s Kik coverage.

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