What does best workplace even mean any more? Monday’s daily brief

Plus HBO Max blames the intern of course.

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Good morning, Marketers, and how do you like your workplace?

It caught my eye today that headless CMS and content business platform Brightspot had been named one of D.C.’s top workplaces by the Washington Post. What does that even mean these days?

Nothing against Brightspot, which I’m sure is a fabulous employer (a moment’s research shows they went remote during the pandemic and leveraged their intranet for collaboration purposes). Of course you can have a great work culture (or a terrible one) with a distributed team. But in the old days, great workplaces also meant ping pong tables, happy hour at the bar, free snacks and hammocks.

Didn’t they? Oh, and also unlimited vacation policies so you didn’t have to be there.

Kim Davis

Editorial Director


Apartments.com retools digital strategy for pandemic rentals and beyond  

Apartments.com is bringing back their Jeff Goldblum-led ads in a new campaign that engages renters on digital channels and through the company’s 3D tour experience.

“This is a big shift in our budget,” said Patrick Dodson, vice president of marketing for Apartments.com. “We quickly increased investments in online and streaming areas during the pandemic. And yes, we’re moving into lower-funnel engagement, tactics and messaging. We’re advertising our 3D tours directly. We need to educate renters, and the virtual experience is pretty much the real thing online.”

You might recall when Apartments.com first introduced Goldblum’s starring role as Brad Bellflower, inventor of the “Apartminternet” and an amusing dig at smug tech moguls. Back then, in 2019, Apartments.com’s percentage of marketing spend across all digital channels (including display, social, PPC, video-on-demand, streaming audio and so forth) was 55%. This year, it’s up to 70%.

“We saw the pandemic’s impact on media consumption with the rise of video-on-demand, also on Twitch with live streaming,” said Dodson.

The goal of the new $200 million campaign is to generate 1 billion visits and 20 billion impressions. This means breaking ground with younger renters, including gamers and students.

“With students, we’ve done a great job on the digital targeting with our paid performance marketing side using Amazon and Google and Facebook so we can reach the right audience and hit them with the type of inventory they’re looking at, through retargeting and dynamic ads, whether on a social media feed or even when Googling,” Dodson said.

Read more here.

How 33Across plans to make unauthenticated traffic addressable 

In a new report on the future of audience targeting, Forrester describes how known customers will be targeted in the third party cookie-less future: “To target known customers in a data deprecated world, marketers must unite their first-party authenticated and permission-based customer data with publisher data through a common identifier. Then they can target the overlapping audience within publisher environments. Use your DMP’s publisher connections or your relationships with identity-based providers, like Unified ID or LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS), to achieve this.”

In the fast-developing world of alternative identifiers, it should come as no surprise there’s already a different approach on offer — an identity graph embedded in the ad exchange itself.

The 33Across solution. “There’s no other SSP I know of,” said Eric Wheeler, CEO of 33Across, “that has embedded an identity graph into the exchange.” The graph, called Lexicon, was launched in the Spring. Here’s how it works. “One of the things we have is a publisher analytics offering called Site Control which we offer to publishers to understand how their content is being shared, on what platforms, and it’s a very widely used tool. It’s on over 800,000 publishers, 24 billion pages a month. From that, we already have a broad distribution of our Java script into these publishers.”

This gives 33Across an ability — analogous to Google’s FLoC — to see behavioral attributes of cohorts of readers, from the server-side, not the browser side. What Wheeler calls a “pub token” can be assigned within those cohorts. “It’s like a cookie,” he said, “but better than a cookie on a whole bunch of different levels. It’s a probabilistic identifier, it lasts for 14 days, it’s about 85% to 90% as accurate as a cookie, but you can’t identify a specific browser or a person.”

Why we care. So far, most (not all) alternative identifiers are grounded in some token of first-party data — typically a hashed email or a log-in. Some are interoperable, some aren’t. But no matter what the value exchange offered by publishers in return for an authenticated identity, a big audience of unknown users will continue to evade addressability.

The approach taken by 33Across is different, and promises, at least, to target audiences with almost the same effectiveness as third-party cookies. We’re watching to see if they come through on that promise. So far, they are reporting increased revenues among publishers using Lexicon.

Read more here

HBO Max blames the intern for its email blunder

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Was HBO Max teasing a new show when they sent out an email to all subscribers with the subject line “Integration Test Email #1” which read, in its entirety, “This template is used by integration tests only”? Would Email #2 follow, and would it reveal anything more?

Well, no, of course, it was a mistake. And HBO Max had a cute response to the avalanche of commentary the email provoked on Twitter. “We mistakenly sent out an empty test email to a portion of our HBO Max mailing list this evening. We apologize for the inconvenience, and as the jokes pile in, yes, it was the intern. No, really. And we’re helping them through it.”

Marketing ops pros took special delight in the situation. See what MarTech speaker and Verizon ops lead Helen Abramova said above.

Instagram rolls out Reel ads globally

Last week Instagram announced that Reels, its main competitor to TikTok’s short-form video, will be rolling out ads globally. Tested initially in select markets, all countries will now have access to the 30-second ad format. “Like Reels, the new ads will loop, and people will be able to like, comment on, and save them, the same as other Reels videos,” said Sarah Perez for TechCrunch.Brands currently using the Reels ads include big names like Louis Vuitton, Netflix, and Uber. The number of ads an Instagram user sees will vary based on how they use the app.

Why we care. “Like Instagram’s other advertising products, Reels ads will launch with an auction-based model,” wrote Perez. This format has implications for D2C and retail brands that often see success on Instagram due to the visual nature of the platform. This new global release comes around the same time as headlines about TikTok’s increase in ad prices. But with both TikTok and Instagram at over one billion monthly active users, it may be worth the investment in the new format.

Quote of the day

“I can see that the next email going out from HBO would surely have better open rates.” Swarnendu Dutta, Marketing Operations Specialist, Hippo Video

About the author

Kim Davis
Kim Davis is currently editor at large at MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for almost three decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Shortly thereafter he joined Third Door Media as Editorial Director at MarTech.

Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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