Snapchat Stories Engagement May Be Losing To Instagram; Brands Have A Programmatic Talent Problem

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Too Big To Fail

Did Snapchat wake a sleeping giant? TechCrunch reports a drip-drip of alerts from analytics providers, social media influencers and agency talent managers who say Snapchat Stories engagement and content volume have fallen since Instagram rolled out its copycat Stories feature. This is partially measurement self-enforcing measurement. (Instagram “engagement” outstrips Snapchat because Snapchat doesn’t have comments or likes on posts and Snapchat exposes less about its audience to marketers.) Instagram pitches its Stories product as a more brand-enabled way to reach Snapchat-esque audiences [AdExchanger coverage]. But Instagram could be stealing more than just formats from its rising rival. More.

In-House

More brands want to bring media buying in-house, but the talent pool with programmatic skill sets is slim pickings. Ticketmaster had to move an executive from London to staff its programmatic team, and brands outside of the New York City area, where most ad tech talent lives, struggle to find people who can think through programmatic strategy. “We would not have been able to find the same caliber of talent locally, even though LA is the second-biggest city in the US,” said Gosha Khuchua, Ticketmaster’s senior director of digital and programmatic. For larger firms with multiple brands, integrating programmatic into the overall media strategy takes winning over executives across institutional silos. Then there are the cultural barriers. “If you work for a brand, you will likely be the only person versus working for an agency where you are surrounded by a group of ad tech people and learn more,” said Jay Friedman, COO of Goodway Group. More at Digiday.

Artificial, But Real

Artificial intelligence has quickly become “a core technology for companies such as Google, Facebook, Baidu, Microsoft and Amazon,” Altimeter Group analyst Susan Etlinger writes in a report. It’s a muddle at the moment because AI definitions aren’t well understood [more on that]. There’s “strong AI,” the kind of general intelligence moviegoers would recognize from sci-fi spaceship computers. What we (currently) have is “weak AI,” which is software that learns but is bound by a narrow task (like Google voice search or Alexa skills). And if you’re curious why ad platforms are so invested in AI, look at what’s easiest to replicate: “optimizing marketing budgets, reducing customer churn, predictive models for sales, adding intelligence and interactivity to knowledge bases/graphs, automating software development, medical diagnostics and even chatbot lawyers and ‘roboadvisers’ in financial services.” Check out the report.

Shutting The Set-Top Box

It didn’t take new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai long to reverse his predecessor’s unpopular proposal (at least, among the cable and MVPD set) to unlock the set-top box. The highly contested proposal sought to “democratize” the set-top box by essentially giving OTT device manufacturers easier access to cable content in the name of consumer choice. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler faced massive opposition from media companies and fellow government regulators, including Pai, who thought the initial FCC set-top box proposal would be a licensing, advertising and security nightmare for TV networks and distributors. More at Deadline.

Acxiom’s Solid Q

So it was a pretty solid 2017 Q3 for Acxiom. Read the financial details here. Amid the highlights: Acxiom expanded its partnership with DataXu, such that the ad tech platform can license Acxiom’s data for its analytics and TV solutions. Company CEO Scott Howe also extolled Acxiom’s acquisition of Arbor and Circulate (AdExchanger coverage), which has “materially strengthened” publisher relationships and has enhanced scale and improved match rates. Acxiom claims it can ID 190 million individuals in the US. Down the line, though, Acxiom noted its business model for publishers around digital data might change in FY 2018. “We expect our growth rate in digital data might slow,” said CFO Warren Jenson. “It won’t be north of 100% – it’ll probably be 15% to 20% next year.”

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