Day: November 1, 2018

Edo raises $12M to measure TV ad effectiveness

Edo, an ad analytics startup founded by Daniel Nadler and actor Edward Norton, announced today that it has raised $12 million in Series A funding.

Nadler and Norton have both had startup success before — Nadler co-founded and led Kensho, which S&P Global acquired for $550 million. Norton invested in Kensho and co-founded CrowdRise, which was acquired by GoFundMe.

Even so, ad analytics might seem like an arcane industry for an actor/filmmaker to want to tackle. However, Norton said he was actually the one to convince Nadler that it was worth starting the company, and he argued that this is an important topic to both of them as creators. (Nadler’s a poet.)

“Movie studios and publishers, they take risks on talent, on creative people like us,” Norton said. “We want them to do well … The better they do with the dollars they spend, the less risk averse they become.”

Nadler and Norton recruited Kevin Krim, the former head of digital at CNBC, to serve as Edo’s CEO.

Krim explained that while linear TV advertising still accounts for the majority of ad budgets, the effectiveness of those ads is still measured using old-fashioned “survey-based methodologies.” There are other measurement companies looking online; Norton said they’re focused on social media sentiment and other “weak proxies” for consumer behavior.

Edo screenshot

In contrast, Edo pulls data from sources like search engines and content sites where people are doing research before making a purchase. By applying data science, Krim said, “We basically can measure the change in consumer engagement, the behaviors that are indicative of intent. We can measure the change in consumer behavior for every ad.”

In fact, Edo says that since its founding in 2015, it has created a database of 47 million ad airings, so advertisers can see not just their own ad performance, but also that of their competitors. This allows advertisers to adjust their campaigns based on consumer engagement — Krim said that in some cases, advertisers will receive the overnight data and then adjust their ad rotation for that very night.

As for the Series A, it was led by Breyer Capital. (Jim Breyer has backed everything from Facebook to Etsy to Marvel.) Vista Equity co-founders Robert Smith and Brian Sheth participated in the round, as did WGI Group.

“For more than a decade I’ve watched the data science talent arbitrage transform industries from finance to defense, from transportation to commerce,” Breyer said in the funding announcement. “We needed someone to bring these capabilities to bear on the systemic inefficiencies and methodological shortcomings of measurement and analytics in media and advertising.”

On the customer side, Edo is already working with ESPN, Turner, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. I wondered whether some of the TV networks might have been worried about what Edo would reveal about their ads, but Norton said the opposite was true.

“I don’t sense that they in any way have trepidation that we’re going to pull their pants down — quite the opposite,” he said. “They are absolutely thrilled with our ability to help burnish and validate their assertions about the strength of what they’re offering.”

Heidi Klum just outdid herself (again) with her Shrek-inspired Halloween costume

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Heidi Klum is the queen of Halloween, and this year, she’s truly outdone herself.

The model and former Project Runway host has made an art of show-stopping Halloween costumes each year, from her Jessica Rabbit jaw-dropper to her insect alter ego to that time she cloned herself

And for 2018, Klum transformed herself into the supreme green Princess Fiona from Dreamworks’ classic animated film Shrek, with her boyfriend Tom Kaulitz as the titular ogre himself.

Heidi Klum and Tom Kaulitz dressed as Shrek and Princess Fiona. In the morning, they may or may not be making waffles.

Heidi Klum and Tom Kaulitz dressed as Shrek and Princess Fiona. In the morning, they may or may not be making waffles.

Image: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Read more…

More about Halloween, Heidi Klum, Halloween Costumes, Shrek, and Halloween 2018

U.S. declines in internet freedom rankings, thanks to net neutrality repeal and fake news

If you need a safe haven on the internet, where the pipes are open and the freedoms are plentiful — you might want to move to Estonia or Iceland.

The latest “internet freedoms” rankings are out, courtesy of Freedom House’s annual report into the state of internet freedoms and personal liberties, based on rankings of 65 countries that represent the vast majority of the world’s internet users. Although the U.S. remains firmly in the top ten, it dropped a point on the year earlier after a recent rash of changes to internet regulation and a lack of in the realm of surveillance.

Last year, the U.S. was 21 in the global internet freedom ranking — the lower number, the better a country ranks. That was behind Estonia, Iceland, Canada, Germany and Australia. This year the U.S. is at 22 — thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and the renewal of U.S. spy powers.

The report also cited “disinformation and hyperpartisan content” — or fake news — as a “pressing concern.”

It was only in June, after a protracted battle, that the Federal Communications Commission finally pulled the plug on the Obama-era rules that guaranteed the free and fair flow of internet data. Net neutrality — which promises to treat every user’s traffic as equal and doesn’t prioritize certain internet users or services over others — was dead. That was despite months of delays and a scandal that embroiled the FCC’s chairman Ajit Pai for allegedly lying to lawmakers over a falsified denial-of-service attack that he used to try to stifle criticism of his repeal plans. What did happen was an onslaught of citizens demanding that the net neutrality rules. But that was eclipsed by an astroturfing campaign that even used dead people to try to swing the decision.

What also dropped the U.S. a point was the near-clean reauthorization of the government’s surveillance laws, which passed with little debate despite a call for change. It was the first time to reel in the government’s spying powers since the Edward Snowden revelations a half-decade ago — but lawmakers buckled to pressure from the intelligence community, despite recognizing a long history of abuse and overreach by U.S. spy agencies.

Freedom House called the law’s renewal “a blow to civil rights and privacy advocates,” who advocated for change since long before Edward Snowden had a face.

A single digit drop in ranking may not seem like much, compared to the last-place contenders — Iran and China, predictably ranking in worst, but many see the U.S. as a beacon of free speech and expression — a model that others aspire to replicate.

As the report found, that goes both ways. The U.S. has its part to blame for the decline in at least 17 countries where “fake news” has been co-opted by oppressive regimes to justify crackdowns on dissent and free speech. The rise of “fake news,” a term largely attributed to Donald Trump — then a candidate for president — which spread like wildfire — and across borders — as a way to reject reported information or factual current events that were derogatory to a person’s views. In other words, it was a verbal hand grenade, lobbed whenever a person heard something they didn’t like.

Now, other regimes are cracking down on internet freedoms under the guise of fighting fake news. Philippines and Kazakhstan were both named by Freedom House as using “fake news” to restrict the internet by removing content and stifling the spread of views in the name of fighting misinformation.

While many might not care much for a country you know little about, it’s a reminder that the U.S. is still seen in high regard and other nations will follow in its footsteps.

Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, said that the U.S. government in particular should take “a more proactive role” in stepping up their efforts to maintain a free and open internet to prevent playing into the hands of of “less democratic governments looking to increase their control of the internet.”