Snapchat is a programmatic bargain

Credit: AdAge

This week, martech provider 4C published data showing that Snapchat’s ad units are currently some of the lowest priced across all social media platforms. This was quite a surprise to many marketers who remember that in 2015, a full screen video ad campaign on the platform had a budget-busting, non-negotiable $750,000 minimum.

The price drop can partially be attributed to Snapchat’s significant shift towards programmatic offerings. AdAge noted that “by the end of June, every type of ad product Snapchat offers will be available programmatically, through auctions, with ad targeting and measurement."

The shift to programmatic offerings — and the hope that increased demand will offset the price drops coming from increased liquidity — is the natural direction for all advertising platforms. Facebook’s evolution from premium — (anyone remember $25k minimums for sponsored groups?) —  to full programmatic mirrors Snapchat. Google AdWords, the king of programmatic, self-serve advertising, made the shift from a premium managed service offering to fully programmatic in 2003. And it only continues for each new media type - Just last week, Google announced that DoubleClick Bid Manager would allow programmatic access to SoundCloud, Google Play Music, TuneIn, and Spotify for audio ads.

Programmatic winners and losers

Who makes the transition to programmatic most gracefully? It’s all in the quality of data the platform offers. Without a unique behavioral or interest-based dataset, a platform effectively just becomes a place to retarget or get cheap reach —which is not a valuable resource that commands competitive ad prices. Search is one of the clearest behavioral expressions of intent; Facebook holds more behavioral and interest data than people sometimes share with their closest friends; and Linkedin contains more self-identified B2B prospective buyer characteristics than anywhere else.

Reddit’s niche communities (and new native video format announced this week) provide a hyper-targeted contextual environment. Pandora has been bulking up programmatic ad tech and now offers targeting info that even includes a customer’s preferred ad length.

And this data is not just useful for targeting — Pinterest’s new audience insights tool (rolling out to all advertisers this month) will provide valuable information about purchasing habits for market researchers. Brands will be able to tell, down to the exact shade of makeup, the products customers are most likely to purchase.

Amazon and Facebook: case studies in growth

Amazon’s transition to programmatic advertising (from solely a premium managed service) has been gradual, with more available ad options opening in tandem with more personalized information available to marketers. Teams are still available on hand to work with larger brands seeking to advertise on Amazon. Advertising’s now worth $2 billion to Amazon and is expected to start rapidly accelerating.

Further along in the programmatic lifecycle, Facebook’s rising CPMs (corresponding with doubts about it’s ROI) is causing some advertisers to diversify spend. Facebook’s announcement of new ad types for their classifieds-style Marketplace section last week may put further upward pressure on these prices in the next few weeks.

So what’s Snapchat’s secret data weapon? New buying tools around ecommerce, location-based advertising, and AR purchasing point to an interesting future. CEO Evan Spiegel has always considered Snapchat to be a “camera company” — which in the race for programmatic ad dollars means identifying the unique intent data associated with creating and receiving casual pictures in a consumer’s day-to-day.

The New York Times gets personal (at last)

Credit: The New York Times

The New York Times launched “Your Weekly Edition” last week, a new newsletter option that curates stories from it’s decades-sized archive of stories for individual subscribers. Our question is: What took them so long?

The Times’s overall newsletter subscription numbers (across 55 total newsletter options) are currently looking very strong. We’ve written previously about how name-brand publishers who are bulking up on subscriptions are playing catch-up in learning from successful subscription-based companies across subscriber acquisition, conversion, and retention. It’s only natural that they’re also leveraging data for personalization, like how retail darling Stitch Fix uses algorithms to serve their customers at every stage of the sales funnel. Why not the New York Times?

Great differentiated content is always monetizable. Legacy media companies can shift monetization strategies precisely because they have enough quality content going back decades to work with. NPR’s events business is expanding to appeal to individual show audiences (with premium entrepreneurial summits for How I Built This fans, for instance). And this is a global phenomenon — Columbia’s oldest newspaper, El Espectador, separated it’s La Pulla offering from the newspaper entirely. YouTube video hosts share the same stories as the paper, but with a more humorous tone to target a younger audience, with videos that regularly go viral.

The GDPR, growing anxiety over third party data, and clampdowns on that very data loom over many of these decisions. Publishers are aiming to provide offerings that feel personal to readers without the risk of violating their privacy. Context in advertising is becoming a more important strategy in a post-GDPR world that values data given legally and willingly. It’s becoming more prudent (and perhaps more effective) to personalize and target a person based on their individual interests or opinions or expressed behaviors as opposed to their demographics. The publishers with unique, differentiated content have the opportunity to do it right.

Branded content benchmarks for June 2018

We’ve just released the monthly update to our Branded Content Benchmarks, which aggregates branded content performance from across our entire network. (Check it out if you haven’t yet.) This data reflects the performance in the first 30 days in a content item’s life after being published.Usually when we talk about our Branded Content Benchmarks, we do so in the context of content categories, like “how does content about sports compare to content about business?” And “how much traffic should you expect from a content item about personal finance?”

One of the under-appreciated components of our benchmarks data is that we also create benchmarks by publisher “competitive set” — e.g. the publisher category, vs just the category of those aggregated content items. You can use our benchmarks to estimate what you can expect from a publisher in the News and Information vertical, and compare that against what you might expect from publishers in the Business and Finance vertical.

Here’s the data behind the 3 key metrics for June across 5 competitive set categories in the image above:

Page Views

  • Entertainment News: 14,419
  • Travel: 11,794
  • Lifestyle: 13,689
  • News + Information: 10,087
  • Business + Finance: 10,650

Social Actions

  • Entertainment News: 401
  • Travel: 439
  • Lifestyle: 444
  • News + Information: 463
  • Business + Finance: 433

Average Engaged Time

  • Entertainment News: 1:00
  • Travel: 1:16
  • Lifestyle: 0:53
  • News + Information: 1:16
  • Business + Finance: 1:03

10 more browser tabs to open

  1. Unilever’s over using agencies for consumer relationships.
  2. Profile: Shane Smith and the creation of Vice.
  3. Consulting firms are being taken seriously.
  4. … and they’re showing up at Cannes.
  5. 82% of surveyed marketers are increasing digital spending (especially in analytics).
  6. Brand safety’s a bigger concern than ever.
  7. Amazon buys rights to 20 Premier League matches in 2019.
  8. Would you watch an hour-long Instagram video?
  9. Facebook’s programming news for Watch (monetized with midroll).
  10. Instagram to launch a Discover-style video hub.

 Curated and published by Adam Orshan, Brit McGinnis, Janelle Elfar, and Matt Levin in New York City.

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