Weekly Digital News Roundup: June 7-11
Facebook Simplifies Its Ad Offerings
- According to the Wall Street Journal, looking for more money from marketers, Facebook is trying to simplify its ads. At a press event at its Menlo Park headquarters Thursday, Facebook said it would streamline its ad formats and make it easier for companies to buy them. Among the changes, Facebook said it will make ad formats appear more visually consistent and create a more automated process for buying ads based around certain objectives.
- In the past, Facebook advertisers had to choose between a menu of 27 different ad formats, such as an “offers” ad to promote a deal. In this next phase, Facebook said the social network will automatically suggest ad formats it thinks best compliment advertisers’ objectives, such as driving customers to a sale.
- The changes reflect yet another turn in the evolution of Facebook’s advertising business, which is trying to be more appealing to advertisers as it faces scrutiny as a public company. It has put some effort into working with big brand advertisers, and released a slew of new ad tools (such as products to calculate the efficacy of ads and better target consumers).
U.S., British Intelligence Mining Data from Nine U.S. Internet Companies in Broad Secret Program
- According to the Washington Post, the National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track foreign targets, according to a top-secret document obtained by The Washington Post.
- The program, code-named PRISM, has not been made public until now. According to the document: “Collection directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” London’s Guardian newspaper reported Friday that GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, also has been secretly gathering intelligence from the same internet companies through an operation set up by the NSA.
- In a statement issue late Thursday, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said “information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats. The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.” Several companies contacted by The Post said they had no knowledge of the program, did not allow direct government access to their servers and asserted that they responded only to targeted requests for information.
Twitter Inks Deal with Ad Giant WPP to Expand Data-Driven Marketing
- According to Mashable, continuing its effort to rapidly scale its ad operations and expand its data for advertisers, Twitter inked a deal with WPP, one of the “big four” global advertising holding companies. According to a release from WPP, the deal will focus on tapping and interpreting Twitter’s data. The upshot for marketers will be more effective campaigns, according to the release. WPP’s global footprint will also help Twitter’s expansion into regions like Japan, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil, according to the statement.
- The announcement comes after Twitter signed a deal with Starcom MediaVest in April for “hundreds of millions” of dollars that will grant preferred ad slots on Twitter to clients like Procter & Gamble, Walmart, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.
- Many marketers will welcome the expanded data on Twitter. The company is seen as lagging behind Facebook in that regard. In recent months, Facebook has introduced data from firms like Datalogix, Acxiom and Epsilon that identify Facebook users (on a double-blind basis) by their offline buying habits.