ICYMI: The end of the world, brought to you by the ANA

It’s the weekend, again, people. Enjoy it while you can. But before you head out for an afternoon of revelry, sit back and enjoy some of the best stories from Digiday you might have missed from this week.


The biggest story of the week? You guessed it: the ANA’s report that rebates and kickbacks are widespread in ad land. Without naming names, the report said senior executives are aware of and, in some cases, mandated business practices that were not disclosed to clients. This included cash rebates based on media dollars spent and rebates as inventory credits.

Naturally, the agencies lashed back. In a memo, Publicis chief Maurice Levy said the report was an “unfair and unwarranted attack on the entire industry.” Omnicom called it “disappointing” in a statement and made a show about how its legal counsel tried to get more specifics about any information disclosed about its agencies. Ad tech companies were not left out, with the report shining a light on “service agreements” and “black-box deals.”

And yet, none of this likely to have any legal repercussions, experts say.

All of this is going to make for a very awkward — or hilarious — Cannes.


Speaking of ad land, GroupM isn’t down with ad reinsertion. The ad-buying giant, which controls roughly a third of global ad spend, will soon contractually require publishers to not reinsert any of its clients’ ads that are being blocked by users.

“It’s addressing the symptom, not the cause,” John Montgomery, chairman of GroupM Connect, told Digiday. “Let’s fix the user experience first, and then we can engage with consumers and tell them that we’ve fixed the UX, we made the experience as light as possible, and ask them to consider whitelisting [the site] or switching off the ad blocker.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Publishers, hurting from lost ad revenue, are exploring all available means to combat — or circumvent — ad blocking. Secret Media, a company that provides ad reinsertion technology, now has more than 500 customers, up from 15 in January. And not all of them are happy about GroupM’s stance.



Just like everybody else in media, the BBC is all-in on Facebook Live. Having experimented with the format for the past six months, the publisher has discovered a few key things, including:

  • Let the audience lead. It’s not TV, so don’t try to be. This means taking more of a freestyle approach and resisting a specific editorial plan. “You can’t go into Facebook Live with a detailed plan of how you want the editorial to go. If you do, you’ll lose the audience,” said veteran BBC presenter Ros Atkins.
  • Don’t be seduced by the high view counts, no matter what BuzzFeed is exploding today. It’s better to focus on how users are engaging with the content. That said, that’s easier said than done as Facebook still needs to find more detailed metrics around live videos.


Snapchat has more than 150 million daily users. And yet, publishers and advertisers still have difficulty getting ads to those users.

This is because Snapchat’s branded content rules are vague, at best, and the platform enforces them arbitrarily. “There doesn’t seem to be consistent guidelines about what can and can’t go into Discover. And what Snapchat considers branded or editorial content, it comes off as very subjective,” said one Snapchat advertiser.

This advertiser also claimed that some brands — depending on how cool they are according to Snapchat’s definition of cool — get a pass while others don’t. “Star Wars,” for instance, was ubiquitous around the time “The Force Awakens” premiered.


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