Ad arbitrage sites use deceptive formats; NPR sells its podcasting app

Here is the recap of today’s AdExchanger.com news… Want it by email? Register now here.

Upselling

Advertising arbitrage – buying web traffic and then selling that inventory on a website for a price higher than what it was originally paid for – is universally maligned, but also remains a lucrative strategy. Enterprise data software company DeepSee released a report showing how many arbitrage sites differ in their display of content when it comes to accessing websites from a paid link versus a direct link. Direct visitors, for example, would see an ad-free single-page format above the waterline (an indicator of quality content). Meanwhile, those who click on the same page through a paid link can see a loaded slideshow format that loads and reloads the page, often with many ad spots above the fold. The crooks do this to avoid the wrath of the SSPs, who may have policies against the “hyper-active” version of the sites. But SSPs have employees who control the editors themselves (i.e. they visit the site directly and see the blank version). “This gives the illusion of quality, when the most clicked links are actually filled to the gills with ad units that refresh aggressively,” the report says.

Deep pocket

Automattic, better known as the owner of WordPress, has announced the acquisition of the Pocket Casts podcasting app. NPR, majority owner of Pocket Casts since 2018, bought the app since January, The edge reports. Automattic hasn’t explained how it plans to topple Pocket Casts from a loss-making company. (The app reportedly cost NPR $ 800,000 last year.) But Automattic has strong distribution channels and can handle a short-term loss better than NPR. Automattic’s WordPress is the go-to content management system for the web, and the company is prioritizing new content creation channels, such as audio streaming and mobile apps. Aside from the deal for Pocket Casts last week, Automattic acquired the Day One logging app a month ago. There was also the 2019 Tumblr flea market pickup for $ 3 million. Automattic raised $ 300 million in late 2019 from Salesforce Ventures, the company’s VC arm, so it may have some ammo left.

Customer feedback

Amazon has introduced a new advertising referral program that offers bonuses to brands who run campaigns from Amazon and bring back sales to the Amazon site. On average, bonuses are worth around 10% of sales generated from non-Amazon ads, according to Amazon. Seller Central blog post. In some ways, this is a natural next step in the evolution of Amazon’s referral program. They removed third-party affiliate vendors last year, preferring the network of direct sponsorship programs with publishers. Amazon now offers similar commissions to sellers who use its advertising platform. It should also be noted that a benefit from Amazon DSP is that brands can use Amazon buyer data to target the web without selling on Amazon. Financial, insurance, or auto companies don’t do business on Amazon, but advertisers often choose between their own e-commerce site and an Amazon storefront. This bonus is intended to encourage these advertisers to refer traffic to Amazon.

But wait, there is more!

Catalyst and Xaxipublished an omnichannel study report.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta is targeting companies that do not comply with the state’s Global Privacy Control tool. [Digiday]

The White House said Facebook continues to drop the ball on its handling of disinformation. [Business Insider]

Civil rights groups are lobbying lawmakers to “clean up” Facebook. [Bloomberg]

Juul’s $ 40 million settlement in North Carolina for allegedly targeting underage consumers could change the way e-cigarettes are marketed. [The Drum]

You are engaged

The IAB Tech Lab has hired Anthony Katsur as its new CEO. [WSJ]

WarnerMedia Ad Sales has appointed Laura Dames as Executive Vice President, Marketing, and Andrea Zapata as Head of Research, Data and Insights. [release]

Omnicom has appointed Karen van Bergen as Director of Environmental Sustainability. [CampaignUS]

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