AutoUpdate: Why Facebook’s LiveRail buy is a really big deal

Plus: Brightroll challenges AOL, Google

Facebook buys one of the web’s biggest video exchanges


Facebook has taken its first major step into programmatic video — and it’s an aggressive one. This week it announced plans to purchase LiveRail, a large and successful digital video platform for publishers. LiveRail provides publishers with a packaged solution that includes a private video exchange, ad server, and audience extension, and competes with other video SSPs like SpotXchange and Tremor Video.

Although Facebook did just launch its own video advertising, it’s unlikely the company plans to repurpose LiveRail’s technology to sell its own inventory exclusively (the way it does on the Facebook Exchange). LiveRail has an active client base of major publishers, including Major League Baseball, ABC, Gannett and A&E Networks. According to comScore’s May rankings, LiveRail has the third-largest U.S. reach in digital video — larger than Google or AOL. LiveRail’s network is a significant chunk of its value, and it’s hard to believe Facebook would pay a rumoured $500 milliom just to shut it down and use the platform to sell 15-second newsfeed ads.

On the contrary, it looks like Facebook is going to finally begin building an external publisher network, starting with video. Until now, Facebook has taken only tentative steps towards selling other publishers’ inventory, preferring to focus on improving data and audience targeting on its own properties. But acquiring a fully-formed network could be a sign Facebook is beginning to include other publishers in its bubble of premium influence — just as Twitter did with its MoPub mobile network acquisition last year. If Facebook really is building a programmatic marketplace to rival Google and AOL, then the other publisher-side players had better watch out.
Read more at Ad Exchanger

Brightroll issues challenge to AOL, Google with ambitious hires

Not to be outdone, Brightroll — the second largest video platform in the U.S. by comScore reach, just ahead of LiveRail — has hired former Google and Twitter executives. Bruce Falck, Brightroll’s new COO, used to run Google’s own advertising platforms division, while new vice-president of global marketing Guy Yalif was Twitter’s head of product marketing. Brightroll’s also put together a big brand partnership with Subaru, which CEO Tod Sacerdoti says is similar to a partnership with Kellogg’s that’s been ongoing since last year.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Sacerdoti fired a shot across the bow of the big tech giants: “[Google is] trying to get getting more premium publishers… when it comes to [AOL’s], we are less threatened than we were the day before they were acquired.”
Read more at Media Post

TubeMogul updates IPO filing with $372 miiliom valuation

Still in video, TubeMogul (a demand-side platform that plugs into Brightroll and LiveRail for inventory) has updated its S-1 IPO filing, adding that it plans to issue 7.2 million shares at a price of $13. With 28.7 million common shares outstanding, that would value the company at roughly $372 million. The company plans to issue an IPO this year, but has not yet released a specific timeframe.
Get details at Ad Exchanger

Google’s “right to be forgotten” compliance off to a rocky start… which may be the point

BBC reporter Robert Peston received a notice from Google last week, informing him that a damning story he wrote about Merrill Lynch in 2007 — just before the financial crisis — had been removed from Google’s search index at the request of an anonymous EU citizen. The request was part of a flurry of “right to be forgotten” requests sent to Google after the European Court of Justice established in May that Google should remove old articles about individuals if they asked for it.

The news that Peston’s article had been taken down stirred accusations that Merill Lynch was using the new law to censor history (though according to Peston Merill Lynch didn’t have much to do with it, and it was only removed from searches of a particular commenter’s name). The furor led some writers of a more paranoid persuasion to speculate that Google is picking the most inflammatory takedown requests to comply with first, as a way to highlight the problems with the new law.
Read more at the Washington Post

Most brands and agencies think mobile lacks quality data

An Affable Media survey of brand marketers and agencies has highlighted a big piece missing in the mobile programmatic puzzle: reliable data. A significant majority of marketers surveyed (78%) said they did not believe that quality mobile data was available, with more than half (57%) saying they were unhappy with their mobile strategy. The good news? 89% said they would be willing to pay a premium for more accurate targeting.
Read about the study at Mobile Marketing Magazine

Google has a private ad exchange where you can buy mastheads

According to Adweek, Google has built a private exchange that sells masthead ads (tall top-of page banners that displace content) on selected premium sites like Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal and Us Weekly. Masthead ads, like page takeovers and other premium, non-standard ad spaces, are not typically thought of as “programmatizable” spaces — i.e. they’re too valuable to publishers to sell on an exchange — but this news shows Google is working to breaking down those walls. It’s also a sign of just how narrow and specialized private exchanges are getting.
Read more at Adweek

Big Deals

Acquisitions and partnerships shaping the industry

Around the Web

This week’s best features and opinion

  • Why Madison Avenue wants to swim in the dark pool (Media Post)
    A big feature on the shift from open to private exchanges, where advertisers and publishers negotiate programmatic deals behind closed doors. IPG Mediabrands CEO Matt Seiler says the shift isn’t really about ad quality; it’s big-time advertisers and publishers using their position to constrain supply and build leverage over one another.(Canada’s CPAX gets a mention.)
  • The End of the Beginning: Google’s ‘Android TV’ and the future of television (The Diffusion Group blog)
    Joe Espelien argues that Google’s Android TV launch marks the “beginning of mass-market consumer deployment” for connected TV. He notes that internet TV services from Apple, Amazon, Google and others are converging on a similar service model, signalling that the technology has reached maturity.
  • Native ad grudge match: Wired vs. The New York Times (Digiday)
    Measurement provider Nudge compares two recent Netflix native campaigns that caused a lot of buzz in the industry — the New York Times’ Orange is the New Black feature on women in U.S. prisons, and Wired’s investigation of changing TV viewing habits. See how the campaigns fared on viewership, social shares, and attention minutes.
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