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Snapchat opens its advertising API to everyone

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Snapchat is going all in on automation.

More than a year after Snapchat’s parent company Snap officially launched its advertising API for approved developers to build software to programmatically buy ads on Snapchat, the company is opening up the automated ad-buying toolkit to all advertisers, agencies and third-party developers, Snap announced on Tuesday.

Through Snap’s Marketing API, companies can develop their own programs to buy and target Snapchat’s vertical video Snap Ads and Sponsored Filters. They can access the API — which is no different from the one previously only available to approved ad tech firms — and its corresponding documentation on Snap’s developers site.

“We’ve been listening closely to third-party developers as we transition Snapchat ad products onto our self-serve platform. Today we’re opening up our Marketing API to give every developer tools to build the Snapchat ad solutions that perform best for them and their customers,” said Snap’s director of revenue programs, James Borow, in an emailed statement.

For advertisers, the Marketing API removes the need to go through Snap’s direct sales team, pay for third-party software or manually place each ad buy using Snap’s self-serve ad-buying tool, Ad Manager. For agencies, it can reduce the reliance on outside vendors to manage clients’ Snapchat campaigns and increase their flexibility and control over those campaigns. And for developers, it can enable them to erect new ad-buying dashboards to serve more niche needs than what may be satisfied by larger, more general ad tech firms.

And for Snap, the Marketing API could further fuel its advertising revenue. Over the past year, the company’s ad revenue has grown in tandem with advertisers’ growing adoption of Snap’s programmatic tools to buy its ads. To that end, the recent loss of its global ad sales boss may not be such a hit to Snap’s business because of his focus on direct sales and the company’s growing emphasis on programmatic sales.

Last week, Snap said that 90 percent of the Snap Ads sold in the fourth quarter of 2017 were bought programmatically through its ad API or self-serve Ad Manager. The company is expected to double down on programmatic this year by making more of its premium ad formats available through its automated ad auction, Snap execs said during last week’s earnings call.

“The engine that drove the growth in the fourth quarter and will continue to drive our growth really is the auction platform. That’s really where things are heading,” Snap CFO Drew Vollero said last week.

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China marketing specialist Hot Pot hires Cat Navarro as Chief Operating Officer

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Hot Pot, the full-service China marketing agency, has hired Cat Navarro, a business transformation specialist of more than 15 years, as its first-ever Chief Operating Officer.

For the past five years Hot Pot has been steadily growing its business, but with the massive acceleration of Western brands entering the Chinese market and the prediction that China will account for 60% of all e-commerce by 2020, it has put in place ambitious plans to scale-up and match that expansion.

Cat’s appointment reflects the company’s ambition. Her responsibilities will include the dual roles of implementing and overseeing transformation strategies, growth strategies, management structures, operational duties and workflows as well as acquisition, retention and training of talent.

Cat has spent 10 years leading high-profile change programmes for large organisations (SITA, AMP) and Australian government bodies (police force, housing). She then transferred those skills to scaling early-stage London-based businesses such as Quill Content, Ometria and The Sandpit.

Jonathan Smith, founder and CEO of Hot Pot, said: “We are excited to be entering the next phase of Hot Pot’s growth. To successfully scale the business, we knew we needed someone to have the requisite attention to the granular details but also be able to deliver on our overarching strategic goals.

“Cat’s depth and breadth of experience allows her to do this. She is exceptional at putting the right structures in place, operates at pace, and has an absolute passion for finding and developing the best talent.”

Cat Navarro added: “Hot Pot encourages brands to throw away the rule book and do things differently when it comes to marketing in China, and I’m excited to bring this bold philosophy to my role. When scaling a business that’s niche or disruptive, you can’t just rely on what you know or how others do things. Doing that just puts you on the same playing field as everyone else.

“I’m also thrilled to be leading both operations and talent, because the two are so intrinsically linked. It’s great to work alongside a CEO who invests in his staff as much as he does in the growth and profitability of the company and its clients.”

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10 questions with… Anna Watkins, UK managing director of Verizon Media

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Verizon Media's UK managing director Anna Watkins.

What was your first ever job?
It would have been washing my dad's car to earn my £1 pocket money each week. Smart man.

Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Relatable.

Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
@POTUS is truly mind-boggling.

what is the highlight of your career (so far?)
Working with such a creative, inspiring and intelligent bunch of people every step of the way.

What piece of tech can you not live without?
It's baffling that I was born in London yet still seem to use Citymapper every day.

Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Adam Ant and Count Dracula (aged 7). I'm not quite sure what that says about me.

In advertising, what needs to change soon?
We need a truly diverse workforce.

If you could change anything about a social media platform you use, which one and what would you choose to do?
It’s more a question of changing myself – I need to flex my creative muscles if I’m ever to make more than one friend on Tumblr…

What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Scarface / Sign of the Times / War and Peace – delusions of grandeur, mine and theirs.

Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
The big awards bashes – it's like going to a series of weddings where you know half the guests.

The Drum's 10 Questions With… runs each week with previous entries available to view here.

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Mobile carriers end data sharing with location aggregators; should marketers worry?

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The collection and use of real-time mobile-location data has emerged as a critical piece of the larger data-privacy debate. A recent run of negative stories have conveyed the impression that location data usage by marketers is tantamount to spying on consumers.

We’re also starting to see lawsuits, like one recently filed by the Los Angeles City Attorney against the Weather Company, for allegedly misleading consumers about how their location data would be used. More suits will likely follow.

Carriers cut off data sharing. The negative coverage and exposure of some high-profile abuses have motivated major U.S. mobile carriers to cut off location data sharing with third party “location aggregators.” The latest to do so is AT&T, following a story by Motherboard that indicated carrier data was getting into the hands of unauthorized third parties — bounty hunters, in this case — and being used for legally dubious purposes.

As a practical matter, these moves are unlikely to significantly impact use of location data by advertisers on major platforms or in the programmatic ecosystem. AT&T owns AppNexus; Verizon owns Verizon Media Group (the rebranded Oath). Location data will probably still be available to advertisers on these platforms — they’re not “third parties.” (We’ve asked Verizon for clarification on this point and will update the story if they respond.)

Calls for more regulation or legislation. Location data are so valuable and widely available that abuses are inevitable. Some of these increasingly frequent reports are adding momentum to calls for federal data privacy legislation. The carriers’ decision to cut off location aggregators is at least partly an effort to preempt investigations and potentially forestall regulation.

Some location data companies embrace the proposition of clear regulatory or legislative guidelines, however.

For example, PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall recently told me in email: “I think that the California Consumer Privacy Act and hopefully a similar federal law (as a state-by-state patchwork of different laws would be good for no one) will not only give consumers protection and confidence, but will finally give the digital data and location data ecosystem a well-thought out set of rules and guidelines to adhere to. This will bring stability and predictability to the industry, and help weed out some of the “wild west” players that have had no interest in investing for the long term good of the ecosystem.”

Most location-data companies also say they adhere to ethical data-collection practices and are scrupulous about being “good actors” in the ecosystem. Some are vocal about the responsible and/or socially beneficial use of location technology. And some organizations (e.g., NAI) are seeking to enforce transparent and ethical data collection standards. Foursquare told me in email that their apps and partners seek opt-in consent for use of location data.

Why you should care. Location data is available from a wide range of sources in the market, including app developers and the programmatic bid stream. The loss of carrier location is not a significant blow to the ecosystem.

However it is reflective of a trend toward the tightening of access to location information more generally. While it remains to be seen whether federal privacy legislation passes in 2019 (multiple bills have been proposed), California’s Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect January 1, 2020. Other states may enact similar or more strict laws, which would lend further impetus to comprehensive federal legislation.

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