BrightRoll's DSP Grew YOY; The SEC Investigates Yahoo's Data Breaches

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BrightRollin’ On

Yahoo is still independent and still churning out earnings releases. The company’s Q4 disclosure includes one notable factoid on ad platforms: The company’s DSP, BrightRoll, grew 485% year over year in its “platform display” business. The revenue boost followed BrightRoll’s introduction of support for native formats on third-party (i.e., non-Yahoo) supply, the company said. Overall, BrightRoll revenue grew 122% on a GAAP basis. More in the earnings release. The bigger picture: Revenue ex-TAC was $960 million, down slightly from Q4 2015, and the company’s headcount contracted 18% to 8,500.

Too Big For Its Breaches?

Speaking of Yahoo, why did it take the company years to report two data breaches compromising billions of its users? The SEC is wondering the same thing. An investigation will determine whether Yahoo’s disclosures comply with civil securities laws, which direct companies to disclose cybersecurity risks as soon as they have an effect on investors. Companies get hacked all the time without materially affecting investors, but the Yahoo case is unusual in light of its pending deal with Verizon (which Yahoo still expects to close in Q2). “Here you are talking not just about the potential for a data breach, but a deal blowing up because of a data breach,” said cybersecurity consultant John Reed Stark.  More at WSJ.

Tronc Buys Spanfeller

Tronc, operator of a news network that includes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, snapped up Spanfeller Media Group. Politico reports, “Tronc gains TheDailyMeal.com, with its 7 million monthly unique visitors and some relatively small revenue, as well as the much smaller TheActiveTimes.com.” Read it. CEO Jim Spanfeller, something of an ad tech naysayer, will be GM of Daily Meal Ventures and an SVP at Tronc, which says it’s looking for more “strategic” digital and commerce acquisitions.

Earned Soup

The NBC “Today Show,” Vox and Campbell’s Soup released plans for a four-part branded content series. The videos will showcase Campbell’s products in popular recipes, and the content will live on Eater, Vox’s food-related site, and Today.com (it seems the “Today Show” won’t be airing the segments, which woud be the real prize), reports Adweek. Linda Yaccarino, NBCU’s chairwoman of ad sales and client partnerships, addressed her network’s nine-digit deals with Vox and BuzzFeed at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview last week. “The real strategy resides in the belief that marketers are having a more difficult time aggregating premium audiences and achieving scale,” she said.

Telco Dreams

Sprint acquired a 33% stake in Tidal, Jay-Z’s music subscription service. It’s another example of a telco hooking up with a publisher to expand its access to content and data, although it’s a first for the music streaming world. “Sprint shares our view of revolutionizing the creative industry to allow artists to connect directly with their fans and reach their fullest, shared potential,” said Jay-Z, who retains ownership of the company. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure will join Tidal’s board of directors. More.

New “Skills”

If you thought mobile app retention was tough, wait until you try building AI-assistant “skills” (which are like apps in the voice-activated world). A report from analytics firm VoiceLabs says 69% of Alexa skills have zero or one customer review and that a mere 3% of the voice features that do get enabled by users are still active after a week. “For comparison’s sake, Android and iOS apps have average retention rates of 13% and 11%, respectively, one week after first use,” reports Jason Del Rey at Recode. It’s a fledgling market, so don’t expect it to be “sufficient to build an ecosystem that will keep software developers engaged and lead to new transformative revenue streams.” Not yet at least. More.

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