"Kickback" Discussion Continues; FTC Focuses On IoT

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The Fee Abides

The “kickback” debate continues to burn as agencies and marketers butt heads over transparency on fees and services. Ad Age’s Alexandra Bruell finds that so-called kickbacks – or rebates – make sense to some considering the plight of the agency model. She writes, “One marketer who oversees his agency relationship said fees have come down to below 4% from 15% over the years. They were once much higher because media duties were bundled in with creative and production duties, and those businesses are more labor-intensive.” Read it.

FTC Doubles Down On Data

The Federal Trade Commission has set up a division under its Bureau of Consumer Protection that will focus on, among other things, the privacy implications of connected devices. In a recruiting blog post, the agency’s chief technologist defined the new Office of Technology Research and Investigation (OTRI)’s scope as “privacy, data security, connected cars, smart homes, algorithmic transparency, emerging payment methods, big data, and the Internet of Things.” Read it.

Activatin’ CRM Audiences

Salesforce.com marked the wide release of Active Audiences, a tool it has developed in beta since 2013. Active Audiences forges a tighter integration between some of Salesforce.com’s acquired parts – including social ad-buying platform Social.com and ExactTarget. Active Audiences lets marketers tap in to CRM data in real time and segment audiences for targeting on Facebook, Twitter and mobile apps via the Facebook Audience Network (FAN). Salesforce.com’s definition of “paid media” thus far has been social advertising via partner platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn. Salesforce.com is also connecting CRM data back to email and site-based messaging through ExactTarget. Are Google and virtually every other ad network on its bucket list? Time will tell. The blog.

Avalanche’s Je Ne Sais Quoi

Digital advertising’s hottest new format is an offering from Avalanche, according to the WSJ’s Mike Shields and Jack Marshall. The format was conceived by Velocity Made Good founder Chris Batty, who in a previous life worked in digital sales for Gawker Media and CNET. Avalanche has run 230 campaigns, and it worked with 30 publishers last year, including Vice. “[The Avalanche] delineates between editorial and ads, but puts them in a package that is less jarring,” commented VP Andrew Creighton. “That is important for sites with limited real estate.” The format is a notable development, as the industry struggles with the delineation of sponsored content. Read on.

SpotXchange’s Programmatic Forecast

Speaking to Beet.TV, SpotXchange CEO Mike Shehan predicts that SSPs and ad servers will go extinct in the next two years. According Shehan, the two are combining into one service, which he calls an “inventory management platform.” “When you think programmatic, a lot of people have a Pavlovian response and say, ‘That’s a race to the bottom,’” he said. “That’s totally inaccurate. … If you really harness this power of programmatic for the supply side, [publishers] can sell [their] inventory for a lot higher CPMs. But it takes a new way of executing and you can’t use your traditional ad servers.”

Gartner: Semantics Matter

Ad tech vendors and industry players are using the term “personalization” in misleading ways, writes Gartner veteran analyst Andrew Frank in a blog post. According to Frank, “personalization” practices are limiting marketers’ ability to de-identify consumers in order to adhere to privacy regulations. To cut through the confusion, Garter proposes the industry adopt “personification” in place of “personalization.” Read it.

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