December 17, 2018 | by Alexian Chiavegato

AdTech Weekly Roundup

A look at how last week’s news affects mobile publishers…

Facebook relaunches search ads to compete with Google AdWords
It’s an ad duopoly battle. Facebook is starting to test search ads in its search results and Marketplace, directly competing with Google’s AdWords. Facebook first tried Sponsored Results back in 2012 but eventually shut down the product in 2013. Now it’s going to let a small set of automotive, retail and e-commerce industry advertisers show users ads on the search results page on mobile in the U.S. and Canada.

They’ll be repurposed News Feed ads featuring a headline, image, copy text and a link in the static image or carousel format that can point users to external websites. Facebook declined to share screenshots as it says the exact design is still evolving. Facebook may expand search ads to more countries based on the test’s performance.

“We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it,” Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani said in a statement. The reintroduction of search ads could open an important new revenue stream for Facebook.

Video Continues To Dominate, Some Publishers See Doubled Audience Numbers
The October 2018 Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report has been released, and it signals a continued positive trajectory for publishers’ video audience numbers.

According to the report, the video audience increased by 23.7% and mobile web increased by 5.6% across an audience of 1.8 billion for the 114 magazine brands included in the analysis. Video now represents 9% of the entirety of the Magazine Media 360° brand audience total, making it even with the web audience.

The continued ascent of video corresponds directly with the popularity of consumption over mobile devices by audience members. The increase was so significant for some brands they saw their video audience doubled or better, compared to the same month a year ago. Popular Mechanics, at the top, saw a staggering increase of 2,474%, while No. 2 Road & Track saw an increase of 1,252%.

This increase in audience numbers is echoed in a recent report from the IAB and PwC that showed an increase in online ad spending of 23.1% year over year. Mobile accounted for 63% of the $25.6 billion spent in the first half of 2018. According to the report, video remains the fastest-growing ad format, with mobile video ad spend reaching $4.2 billion in the first half of 2018.

Harmful gender stereotypes in ads to be banned in June
Advertisers will be banned from presenting gender stereotypes that “are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”, the UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice has announced. The new rule will be added to the broadcast and non-broadcast advertising codes on 14 June 2019.

The change follows a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the Advertising Standards Authority that found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults, and can be reinforced by advertising. The review was followed by a consultation on specific proposals, with the proposed restrictions supported by a majority of respondents.

Apple’s ‘Netflix for Magazines’ Getting a Chilly Reception
Apple is back with another idea that it says will help rescue the publishing industry — and getting a much cooler reception.

The tech giant is preparing to relaunch Texture, an app it agreed to buy in March that offers unlimited access to about 200 magazines. The company plans to make it a premium product within Apple News, which curates articles and comes preinstalled on iPhones, according to people familiar with the matter. A new version could be unveiled as soon as this coming spring, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.

Apple is trying woo newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times to join Texture and plans to refine its design, which currently creates an image of what magazines look like in print, the people said. The new approach is expected to look more like typical online news articles. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, declined to comment.

But some executives fear Texture could end up doing more harm than good. Their concern is Apple could steal their current subscribers, who would save money by reading articles on Texture instead. At $9.99 a month, Texture would be cheaper than an unlimited digital subscription to the New York Times — after introductory prices expire.

Verizon Takes $4.5 Billion Charge Related to Digital Media Business
Verizon Communications Inc. is booking a $4.5 billion accounting charge related to its Oath media business, conceding that the company’s bet on high-profile internet properties hasn’t worked out as planned.

The wireless giant spent more than $9 billion to create the Oath business by acquiring AOL in 2015 and then Yahoo in 2017, two web pioneers that were struggling to grow. Verizon hoped the combination would make it a more powerful force in digital advertising, but its share of that market has shrunk instead.

Unable to turn the tide, Verizon recently scaled back its internet ambitions. Executives are exploring ways to supplement weaker-than-expected advertising revenue and potentially wind down some AOL or Yahoo brands. The moves are part of a broader retrenchment in the digital media marketplace as legacy companies and once-hot upstarts alike fail to loosen the grip of Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google on both users and marketers. Several new-media companies, including Vox Media, BuzzFeed and Vice Media, have run into challenges meeting ambitious revenue-growth targets, due in large part to the punishing digital advertising market, The Wall Street Journal has reported.