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Ad Networks vs. Ad Servers


When I was a kid, my Uncle Charlie used to have a series of silly questions that made no sense. “Which is further, Miami or by bus?” “Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” and my all-time favorite, “What’s the difference between a duck?” The answer to any of these questions was, “A violin, because a vest has no sleeves.”

To those of us who’ve been in the business awhile, the question, “What’s the difference between an Ad Network and an Ad Server?” is akin to one of Uncle Charlie’s silly questions. However, there is a relationship between the two and, for the purposes of this section of iMedia, it’s worthwhile to provide an overview of each.

An Ad Network is a group of Web sites which can be purchased through a single sales entity. It could be a collection of sites owned by the same publisher (e.g., AOL, CNN, Sports Illustrated, etc. are all owned by AOL/Time Warner) or it could be an affiliation of sites sharing a rep firm (e.g., Burst, HerAgency, Max each represent a collection of smaller “second tier” sites). In most cases, advertisers have the option to pick and choose from specific sites, to select a group of sites in a particular category or to run ads blindly across the entire network.

An Ad Server is a tool used by ad agencies and/or clients to facilitate ad trafficking and to provide reporting on ad performance. The value on the agency side is threefold:

  1. Rather than distribute copies of each piece of creative to each publisher on a media buy, agencies can send a line of code to each publisher that calls up an ad directly from the ad server each time an ad is scheduled to run. The agency loads the creative to the server once and can modify rotations or add new units on the fly without needing to re-contact the vendors.
  2. The ad servers provide a wealth of data including impressions served, ads clicked, click-through rate (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC). Most of the ad servers also have the ability to provide performance against post-click activities such as sales, leads, downloads, or any other site based action the advertiser may want to measure. Furthermore, some of the ad servers can associate these post-click activities not only with site visitors who came via click, but also with site visitors who were exposed to the ads, but did not click. This is commonly known as view-through data.
  3. The ad servers provide a consistent counting methodology across the entire campaign enabling the agency to gain an “apples to apples” comparison of performance across the entire media schedule.

Publishers and networks will also use ad servers to facilitate the serving of ads throughout their site(s).

It should be very clear from the above definitions that ad servers and ad networks are completely different things. So why the confusion?

With the exception of Atlas DMT, which was created by an ad agency, the rest of the ad servers were all designed by ad networks. The servers were originally used on the publisher side to distribute advertising across the various sites that made up a network. So, for example, DoubleClick was both an ad server and an ad network. However, the company has since sold off its ad network business perhaps sparing future generations from this confusion.

So getting back to the core question: What’s the difference between an ad server and an ad network? The answer, of course, is “a duck.”

Michael Comins is SVP, Director of Media Services for Insight Interactive Group (IIG). IIG offers a diverse line of strategic, tactical and technical interactive solutions aimed at online marketing for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. Its focus in the healthcare industry allows the company to enhance the impact of individual brand programs with a deep knowledge of both the OTC and pharmaceutical marketplaces.

Accountability has become a given in terms of what advertisers expect from media. But plenty of advertising continues to be planned and placed without much, if any, thought about how to know if it is accomplishing its ultimate goal -- namely, moving product.

The touch points of an advertiser's media must be identified as data. Who audiences are and what they do, as well as where advertising goes and what audiences do when they encounter it, need to be made machine-readable. While doing this casts much of human affairs and daily life experiences into the hard, institutional light of fluorescence, it does bring the marketer closer to the audience and allow a better grasp on what it is about advertising that sells product and what about it does not.

This means that before getting started with a medium, you must first articulate what that medium is supposed to do, and for whom it is supposed to do it. You need to articulate:

  1. What is the product or service?

  2. What is the audience?

    1. What about the audience do I want to know? What about the audience do I think I already know?
      i. Demographic
      ii. Psychographic

  3. What do I want the audience to do when it encounters my advertisement?

  4. What do I want the audience members to do when they get to my website (if I want them to come to my website)?

  5. What kind of value can be assigned to the people in the audience I reach -- and to their corresponding data points? 

Now, I'm not suggesting that the whole of advertising's task is only to accomplish selling at the expense of all else, but it's the ultimate goal, direct or indirect.

This sounds laborious. And it sounds like a lot standing in the way of getting a media plan off the ground. But trust me when I say that if you don't go through at least some of this before your planning (or concurrent with it), you won't learn what you wanted to know because you didn't articulate what it was that you wanted to learn, and you did not adequately prepare for the collection of the kind of data that will help you to learn it. Spending the time upfront will save you from wasting your money later.

Online media has been a two-way conversation from the beginning. The directness with which those conversations have improved over time and the means by which contact can be made have multiplied.

Many of us expect people to be available via BlackBerry, cell phone, home phone, and email. The companies that expect to have relationships with us should be, too.

When putting together a media or marketing plan, be sure you've enabled the audience speak and that you are equipped to hear. But also differentiate your placements accordingly. Some should be for talking, others for listening. Not all media vehicles or the environments within them are suited for each -- some are suited for both. For example, search or a resource tool is for talking; social networking sites are a great place for listening; a blog can be good for both. But the creative brought to bear will tease out which can be used for what. Few media plans are so huge that you can't determine which is which in time for a plan's launch.

Some products and services simply don't lend themselves to conversation, though every one of them should give it a go. But sometimes there isn't anything to say. While there could be a great deal to say about Staples as a resource, there probably isn't a lot to say about binder clips. And sometimes a comment doesn't always need a response. Like any conversation, knowing when to keep quiet is just as important as knowing what to say.

Today's media planner is surrounded on all sides by technology, technological advances, the hopes of technological advancement, and ceaseless professional blathering about better work, work product, and the life it leads to through technology.

The problem with working in a field reliant, in large part, on technology to make it go? The field itself is not one of technology. Media, marketing, advertising -- these are not technological endeavors. They are driven by and improved by technology, but they are not themselves technological. They are psychological, behavioral, and ultimately human goings-on.

Behavioral targeting can do some great things. And I truly believe it should be among the consideration set of tactics, if not a standard part of every media plan. But it is not what is going to win or lose the day for a media plan. Widgets and apps are cool. I find many to be fun and terribly useful. (Nationwide Insurance has perhaps one of the most useful I've seen -- and it's using mass media to promote it.) But behavioral is a targeting tactic used to extract more value from media; an application is a pull-tactic to elicit brand engagement. Neither of these are a media strategy.

The same can be said for tools that amass and process data. It's too easy for a media planner to miss the media opportunities that best suit a client because a particular vehicle's representation does not communicate with the agency through its third-party ad server's media console, where RFPs are collected.

Another example is creating your own audience ad network using data gathered from myriad websites to find prospects in "cheaper" locations. Yes, you can find less expensive media, but you bypass the consultative sales process and avoid interaction with a category or content specialist that might be able to bring you a media opportunity that goes far beyond simply achieving a CPM goal or a data point that might indicate proclivity to action. The client may miss the opportunity to develop a much deeper connection with a potential customer if all its planners are looking at is cost of media at an intersect with a calculated right time and place for interaction. Choosing the right time and place is only a necessary condition for a relationship to begin -- it is far from sufficient.

Many behaviors can be rendered as machine-readable data to be plugged into algorithms, but human motive remains simple, mysterious, and ultimately unpredictable. Love or money may be frequent motives for behavior, but it is not always easy to predict which one might instigate a behavior that might elicit the same results. 

A planner needs to see social networking as both a tactic and a strategy, and they need to know the difference between the two. Our industry is to blame for the ease with which the two can be confused. We are a business obsessed with finding the next eponym. Google, iPod, Facebook, and Twitter are all names of companies that provide services or enable action where that service or action has become named after the provider (e.g., "to Google").

Media planners can fall into the trap of thinking that only a particular vehicle represents the strategy of social networking because of how closely one is associated with the other. This can lead to overlooking, or forsaking entirely, different ways to enter communities. Consider Lotame and SocialVibe. Neither of them is, in and of themselves, a "social networking" property. Rather, they provide social network entry opportunities for advertisers.

Skittles.com's relaunch of its website a couple months back turned the homepage into giant virtual megaphone broadcasting any mention of the Skittle brand taking place over the web or through Twitter. By day two, it had turned into a Skittles complaint free-for-all, and the Twitter feed was disconnected from the page. This is an example of mistaking social media tactics for a social media strategy.

I've heard Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of the Geekfactory and Help a Reporter Out, put it this way: "There's Twitter, then there's Twittering. Two separate things. Twittering will survive. Twitter? Not sure." The distinction is important, and helps to demonstrate the difference between tactic and strategy.

It was a great meeting. The client clearly articulated its objectives. The agency had terrific ideas for how to communicate the brand and where that communication could best serve the message and its audience.

But then the media planning doesn't focus on any of it. The target is cross-tabbed against product category usage, and that's as far as it goes. RFPs go out to sites that show up on a run, and the only feature is total budget and CPM goals.

The end result is a plan that has no real connection to strategy and creative that doesn't ultimately sell the product.

As Greg March, GMD at Weiden + Kennedy, says, "You can have really creative, engaging, innovative ideas that are not creatively connected to your strategy. They don't sell things. You have to be all of those things plus tied into a good strategy based on research, product, and target, etc."

A lot of media planners get unduly focused on the CPMs of their plan. They are not to blame for this. Clients increasingly feature downward cost pressure as their goal when buying media, even if the primary goal is to communicate a value proposition and capture market share.

The reason a near obsession with price takes center stage in media planning is because it appeals to one of the two personalities the media planner is required to have: planning and buying. But only one can be dominant.

Unlike broadcast media, online, like print, is typically planned and then purchased by the same person. That means that a strategic, deliberate temperament needed for planning is followed by the direct, hasty, and often brash disposition of the negotiator. While clients certainly love good ideas and strategic thinking, those are less tangible and frequently go unrewarded. When a client gives you little time to put together a plan, and cost-cutting is its most frequently mentioned desire, the negotiating personality is going to come forward, taking over the process from the planning personality. Sure, there are those who can comfortably be both -- but given the realities of the time and space pressures in which the media planner must work, only the shrewd negotiator thrives.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing in all instances. But it can lead to the sacrifice of careful and considered media planning. It satisfies a short-term goal at the risk of neglecting a long-term one -- namely, the most effective media plan that can lead to building deeper relationships between a customer and a brand. In fact, the buying-centric approach doesn't take the brand into account at all. Instead of the planner getting good at solving the mystery of how to affect the client's business, he or she grows adept at quickly putting together the pieces of a media plan puzzle. These are not the same things.

Media strategies editor Jim Meskauskas is vice president and director of online media for ICON International Inc., an Omnicom company.

On Twitter? Follow Meskauskas at @mediadarwin. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Most consumers are savvy with privacy settings

The study revealed 60 percent of consumers know how to change the privacy settings on their web browser.

The 5 personas of your online customers

Consumers enjoy customized offers in return for sharing info and embrace "showrooming"

A majority of consumers (55 percent) appreciate it when companies tailor offers to them based on the information they share. Nearly half (49 percent) check prices on their mobile devices when in-store to make sure they are getting the best offers.

The 5 personas of your online customers

What does this all mean for marketers and advertisers?

The information uncovered by the Digital Sharing and Trust Project provides a new perspective about how retailers and marketers can target and engage with their customers -- online and offline.

Merchants must understand that rather than a timid and fear-driven population, consumers online are in search of value as well as utility and are capable by and large of judging for themselves their own risk tolerance based on the reward they're looking to receive. By better understanding why consumers want to share their information online in the first place, companies can be better prepared to engage with them in more meaningful and relevant ways.

Rather than seek to infer demographic delineations by correlating behaviors to other factors or try to obtain that information from other databases, retailers and marketers alike have the opportunity to profile consumers based solely on their behaviors online. Careful observation of buying patterns, triangulated with other data sources, enables merchants to gain greater efficiency by tailoring offers to specific segments.

For more detailed findings, visit the interactive website and research report, titled "Around the World in Five Personas," and take the quiz to find out what persona you most resemble. (But I bet it's an Open Sharer like me!)

Adam Broitman is VP of global digital marketing at MasterCard.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Trust and transparency

The Atlantic-Scientology debacle is the poster child of native advertising gone horribly -- no, hideously -- wrong. Under a small-ish "Sponsor Content" box, the site published a sunny and upbeat piece about the extremely controversial leader of the Church of Scientology: "David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year." An uproar ensued, causing the piece to be taken down in short order, and an apology was issued. In short order The Onion followed up with "SPONSORED: The Taliban Is A Vibrant And Thriving Political Movement."

In a further apology issued the following day, The Atlantic stated, "We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way."

What's a best practice in this area? Disclosure, transparency, and trust are non-negotiable. Period. And come on, we've danced this dance more than once: With search engine advertising, paid blogging, and word-of-mouth marketing. Do we really even need to have this conversation? Disclose to readers that it's a paid placement. Link to the relevant editorial policy. Create a channel for inquiry.

There. That wasn't so bad now, was it?

Strange bedfellows

The Economist teamed up with Buzzfeed to create a promotional listicle entitled "Dare2GoDeep," the stories behind the venerable publications' serious hard news and policy coverage. The piece, and indeed, the pairing, was widely mocked as "inane" and "cringeworthy." It is kind of hard to draw the line between one of the world's most respected news magazines and a website known for its lists of all things LOL and feline.


At the heart of native advertising is content marketing, which is soft, not hard, sell. Last holiday season, "A Gift Guide for Surviving Your Family at Home This Holiday" on Gawker Media read more shill than article. The body copy doesn't really deliver on the headline's promise, which feels bait-and-switch.

Collaboration and earned media

I hate to single out Buzzfeed again (the publication does so much native advertising so very well), but last August the site was involved in an imbroglio that should have been nipped in the bud rather than allowed to spiral into scandal. A conservative anti-abortion group published its own listicle bashing Planned Parenthood in Buzzfeed's then-new community section. The post violated Buzzfeed's community guidelines, yet it wasn't immediately taken down, causing a media, as well as social media, fallout. The Guardian followed up: "BuzzFeed is taking trolling to a new level by pandering to right-wing nuts."

Beyond social media fallout and bad PR

So there you are, the crash and burn scenarios. May they never happen to your native advertising campaigns. Other native advertising fails may not be as public in terms of flaming out, but they fall just as flat. First on the list are campaigns that contain no element of conversion. By "conversion," I mean there's no desired action for the consumer to take (e.g., visit a landing page, click something, download something, fill out a form -- anything). Limiting native advertising to branding or impressions is likely limiting it. And it also leads to subtle fail No. 2.

Lack of measurement/ineffective metrics

Yes, native advertising is new, and advertisers (as well as publishers and social platforms) are still determining how best to measure it and indeed, how best to use it and for what. That's no excuse to disregard metrics and KPIs. You can always change them later, but if you don't begin measuring meaningful elements from the beginning, you have no baseline from which to move forward. Too often, perhaps because there's a tendency for publishers to attempt to drive native campaigns without the involvement of agencies or other third parties, editorial metrics such as "time spent on page" become the de facto yardsticks for what should be deeper and more sophisticated looks at ad effectiveness.

Content portability

One of the big problems you'll be hearing about with native advertising is its lack of scale (meaning you can't take a custom execution for Facebook and move it over to Tumblr, The New York Times, or Twitter). Native means native to the publisher or platform, so one creative execution certainly doesn't fit all. But with a strong content strategy and "modular content" that can be broken into component parts, content can travel with a consistent voice, tone, look, and feel, making your brand integrate more easily and natively in different native campaigns.

Forgetting the social component

When was the last time you shared a banner ad? Right. That's exactly what I thought. It's different with native advertising. At least, it's supposed to be. Sure, the placement is paid, but the creative is content that's entertaining, compelling, edgy, educational, funny, and ideally, share-able. It's that share-ableness that can extend the reach of the campaign and greatly amplify the media buy. So don't forget to bake it in. We define "native" as paid and owned, but it's earned media that comprises the essential third leg of the stool to keep it on an even keel.

Integration and synchronization

Let's review what we've been discussing around native advertising: Creative, media buying, content strategy, measurement and analytics, social platforms, publishers, and agencies. Geez, there are a lot of moving parts here, aren't there? To get native right, all (or at least a lot of) these constituencies are going to have to work together and understand each other's roles. Collaboration must be incentivized, often across different departments, vendors, and media and agency partners. It's complicated!

The really good news is that when you solve that complication with training, clarity, understanding, communication, and agility, you'll not only be positioned for success with native advertising but also be better equipped to tackle digital campaigns across the paid, owned, and earned media landscape, which makes investing in disruption and complexity a worthwhile consideration.

Are you ready to go native?

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst, digital advertising/media, for Altimeter Group.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Businessman fail" image via Shutterstock.

When you understand your audience, you become a better marketer

By taking the time to uncover who your prospects and customers are, you're able to write content that resonates and makes a deeper connection with them, wherever they are in the buying process.

Here are some tips to hone your brainstorming.

Start with the basics
Take a discerning look at your best customers and see what they have in common. Distill this to some bare facts: age, gender, income, education, marital status, and anything else that helps you see your prospect. This is an exercise best done jointly by marketing and sales.

Get personal
To understand your key customer, you need to take a deeper dive into what makes him or her tick. So after you've completed the list of basics, get more specific with your persona creation by writing a few sentences on things like the following:

  • His or her likes and dislikes

  • His or her lifestyle and values

  • The issues that keep him or her up at night

  • His or her pain points and why they're pain points

  • The problems he or she's hoping you can solve

  • The outcome he or she's looking for (and do these outcomes match the problem?)

  • The factors that influence his or her decision-making process

  • What differentiators do you offer to meet his or her needs and why would they be important to him or her?

  • Historic interactions (or lack of same) with your content or process

Keep it fresh
As they say, fish and company both go bad after three days. Fortunately you have much more quality time to spend with well-crafted personas, but the point's the same: There will come a time when they need to be refreshed or tossed out completely.

Plan on reassessing your personas regularly, keeping an eye on things like shifting audience trends and adjustments in your business goals and strategies. Don't keep a stale persona around just to say you have one. It won't serve you or your prospects and customers.

Personas are critical to great marketing strategies, and the cornerstone to understanding your target audiences. And when you understand them, it's easier to create content that connects with them, which helps to enhance your value, and keep them as customers.

And customer is the sweetest sound (or name) of all.

Monique Torres is senior writer at Act-On-Software.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Red and white plastic name tag" image via Shutterstock.

Digg for sale

The rumor
Who's going to buy Digg? That questions was big news in 2008, back when many believed the news aggregator was worth as much as $200 million. And while many believed that Google had the inside track, the rumors were flying so fast and furious that Microsoft and even traditional media companies like News Corp and CBS were reportedly interested.

Where did those rumors come from? It's hard to say. But there's little doubt that the picture of Digg founder Kevin Rose on the cover of BusinessWeek a few years prior to the acquisition rumors probably helped inflate those valuations. After all, the copy read, "How This Kid Made $60 Million in 18 months."

The most outrageous marketing rumors

What really happened
It took a few more years, but eventually Digg was acquired, and as it turned out the company was actually sold to three buyers. The site and the brand were sold to Betaworks. LinkedIn picked up some of Diggs patents, including the IP that allows users to up-vote a story with the click of a button. And the Washington Post bought Digg's coveted technology team.

While the financial details of the deals haven't been fully disclosed, all three deals combined have been widely reported as valuing Digg at $16 million.

How old is Myspace Tom?

The rumor
Back when Myspace was the world's biggest social network, people were obsessed with a guy named Tom. OK, obsessed might be a little strong. But Tom Anderson was a big deal, and not just because he co-founded Myspace. Heck, you could say the same thing about Chris DeWolfe. But what made Tom, also known as "Myspace Tom," different was the fact that he was everyone's default friend on the social network. He was Myspace, and just like a lot of the stuff you could find on the site back then, Tom's profile wasn't 100 percent truthful. In fact, in 2007 there were rumors that Tom had lied about his age. (Gasp!)

The most outrageous marketing rumors

The rumor reportedly came from a Wall Street Journal reporter who was working on a tell-all book about the company. But the story began to spread when TechCrunch's Michael Arrington began posting about Tom's age, suggesting that he hadn't been a 20-something when he co-founded Myspace. (OMG!)

What really happened
Newsweek cleared the story up a few weeks after it began, and as it turned out, Tom was fibbing about his age. At the time of the rumor, Newsweek found that he was actually 36, not 32 as it said on his Myspace profile. Then again, at the time, a lot Myspace users were supposedly 99 years old, so maybe Tom's lie wasn't that big of a deal after all.

Publicis Groupe merger

The rumor
It's no secret that there's been a long-running trend toward consolidation in the ad agency business, so it's not surprising when some of the biggest names in the industry are rumored to be in merger talks. But as Ad Age put it, "talk of Publicis merging with a rival crops up on a yearly basis."

Back in 2006 and again last year, there was talk that Publicis might tie up with Interpublic Group. But the rumor that got everyone talking was the one that had Publicis linking up with Omnicom Group.

What really happened
Some rumors really do come true. In July, Publicis merged with Omnicom to form the biggest ad company in the world. And while some of us gawked at the $35 billion valuation, others immediately began speculating about what would happen next, like which CEO would dominate, how big clients would react, and what the deal was really about.

Anyone remember Microhoo?

The rumor
Poor Yahoo. The company has been on the ropes so long that just about every tech and business reporter out there has a portfolio of columns slamming the company. Of course, with that kind of long-term trouble comes a lot of speculation.

2006: "Microsoft may aim for Yahoo acquisition" 

2007: "How to structure Microsoft-Yahoo deal"

2008: "Microsoft bids $44.6 billion for Yahoo" and, a few days later, "Yahoo rejects Microsoft bid"

2009: "Is a Microsoft/Yahoo deal back on?"

2010: The industry takes a break on acquisition rumors to talk about Microsoft's search deal with Yahoo

2011: "Does a Microhoo deal make sense now?"

What really happened
OK, you've probably guessed by now that Microsoft didn't buy Yahoo. But hey, the way social media works these days, we're just one tweet away from getting that rumor back in the headlines.

Kiss me @ Chipotle

The rumor
Last Valentine's Day, rumor had it that if you kissed in front of Chipotle, you'd get a free burrito. The rumor went viral, but it wasn't true, according to the brand's social media team.

The most outrageous marketing rumors

What really happened
The Chipotle rumor might have actually been an honest mix-up because Qdoba, another quick-serve Mexican chain, really was offering a free burrito for anyone who kissed outside of its stores. But as Ad Age pointed out, it probably wasn't all that hard for people to believe the Chipotle rumor, given the fact that the brand really did offer $2 burritos to those who showed up at the store in costume on Halloween.

Most recently, Chipotle made headlines when it faked a hack on its own Twitter account. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised by any Chipotle rumors going forward. What remains a mystery is why anyone believes the brand.

Amazon's 3D smartphone

The rumor
Everyone knows that marketers who ignore mobile do so at their own peril.

Everyone knows that the future will be in 3D, even if some in the entertainment industry have expressed their doubts.

And even without a link, everyone knows that Amazon pretty much owns the online retail space.

Add all of that together, and rumors about Amazon coming out with a 3D phone aren't all that surprising. Outlets from CNN, to Engadget, to Adweek ran with the story, even though it was long on speculation and short on sources. And why not?

Amazon + Mobile + 3D = Huge!

What really happened
So far there is no Amazon 3D phone. But we'll believe it when we see it -- in 3D! Until then, there's this BusinessWeek report saying that such devices are possible (in the next decade, if the tech geeks get cracking).

Mashable for sale

The rumor
You've got to love SXSW. The festival has movies, music, hipsters, and -- this just in! -- tech rumors. Yup, last years, Reuters blogger Felix Salmon broke the news that CNN was in the market to buy Mashable for $200 million.

What really happened
Mashable is still owned by -- wait for it -- Mashable. And although Mashable boss Pete Cashmere denied the rumor, The New York Times confirmed that there were talks between the two companies. A few months later, Venture Beat reported rumors that a deal was back on, but at a much lower price.

YouTube's paywall

The rumor
The great thing about YouTube is that it's supposed to be free, right? And when the company launched premium content a while back, the thinking was that users -- and advertisers -- would get better content for the same low price. But then an unbelievable rumor started: YouTube was planning to put that content behind a paywall.

What really happened
The rumor took a while to unfold, but in the end it turned out to be true. In May, about five months after the initial reports, YouTube's blog announced that the company had rolled out subscriptions for some of its premium content, with prices starting at 99 cents a month. So much for a free YouTube.

Facebook is giving out your number

The rumor
Rumors spread pretty fast on Facebook, and rumors about Facebook spread even faster, especially if the content of those rumors suggests that the social network is violating your privacy, or doing something creepy or stupid.

Back in 2011, rumors quickly spread that Facebook was publishing user phone numbers.

What really happened
The rumors turned out to be a misunderstanding. What many users thought was a new feature in their contacts section was actually an old feature that allowed them -- and only them -- to see the numbers of their contacts. In other words, the information was on Facebook; it just wasn't public. Of course, Facebook had to do some serious damage control. But as usual, what looked like a Facebook-killer blew over just as soon as the next bright shiny object grabbed the internet's attention.


The rumors
Every company has its share of rumors. But Apple takes it to the next level. Heck, there's even a site called Mac Rumors! Meanwhile, The Huffington Post actually has a regular column called "This Week in Apple Rumors." And then there's Apple Insider, a site that claims to deal in "rumors and news on everything Apple since 1997."

Let's face it: There's a cottage industry of Apple rumors. And in the time that it took you to read that last sentence, odds are two more Apple rumors were born.

There are iPhone rumors, iOS rumors, and Apple TV rumors. There are so many rumors, in fact, that Wired ranked some recent ones from dumbest to most plausible. And not to be left on the sidelines, we've also reported our share of Apple rumors.

What really happens
So why do these Apple rumors persist? Well, it's a combination of high demand for news about the company and zero supply of information from Apple. But don't take my word for it: CNBC host Jim Cramer plainly admits that Apple is the easiest rumor target out there.

Michael Estrin is a freelance writer.

On Twitter? Follow Estrin at @mestrin. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Superstar with cocktail" image via Shutterstock.

An accomplished agency and media executive, Michael has more than 25 years of successful experience including stints with ID Media, Whittmanhart, NetPlus Marketing, Digitas, HookMedia, Media First International, J. Walter Thompson and Dailey &...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Liz Zedo

2010, March 29

Clification, finally! Thanks Michael. At ZEDO, inc (the advertising technology provider), we have multiple products and services inclusive of an ad server and also ad network. We treat them as different products, although both are used seamlessly together on our user interface platform, because each have users with such specific needs.

Learn more about ZEDO ad serving tools: http://www.zedo.com/product/adServerSocialMedia.htm

Learn more about ZEDO ad network tools: http://www.zedo.com/product/forNetworks.htm

Commenter: PAUL TURNER

2008, March 11

i looking for ad server put my website so people can pay fees put ads put my website . do you have program or video whatever..