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Posts from the ‘ad tech’ Category

A Layperson’s Guide to GDPR

June 13, 2018




If you are a marketer, publisher or digital business, GDPR probably makes you shutter. For the rest of you, it probably makes you shrug. Let’s quickly break it down, in plain English.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new regulation governing data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU). It went into effect Friday, May 25, 2018. Its goal is to give citizens more control over how their data is used. In the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle, that’s a mission most people can get behind. But for marketers, publishers and vendors, it entails radical and expensive changes.

Even companies that are based outside of the EU have to abide by the new laws if they are offering good or services to EU citizens. That basically means every business in the world scrambled to become GDPR compliant.

What did GDPR change?

GDPR mandates that businesses be upfront about how they are using consumer data. If they are selling it to third-parties or using it for digital ad targeting, they need to tell you. Then, they have to obtain your consent. If a consumer doesn’t want their personal data used in a certain way, they can opt-out. GDPR also requires organizations that handle sensitive data on a large scale to appoint a data protection officer. Failure to comply results in massive fines, possibly as much as four percent of a company’s annual revenue.

There is a lot more to it then that. I have ghostwritten at least five articles about GDPR, but I still can’t pretend to know all the details. If you are really interested (or a masochist), read all about GDPR here.

To prepare for GDPR, companies leaned on their in-house legal counsel or hired outside experts. They often had to make massive changes to their privacy policies, compliance processes and in some cases, overhaul the way they use and store data, which can have massive implications for a business.

As a consumer, you probably noticed you received a lot of emails about updated privacy policies on or around 5/25, and that a lot of websites are serving popups with messages about how they use data.

What happens post-GDPR?

Execs around the world did a happy dance post 5/25. I don’t blame them, but at the risk of being a buzzkill, experts predict GDPR-related fallout as the industry adjusts to the legislation. Complaints have already been filed, and the finger-pointing has already begun. Some fear that GDPR will only strengthen the digital advertising duopoly, Google and Facebook, since smaller companies may not be able to afford the necessary changes, or to weather hefty fines.

Oh, and more changes are imminent. The ePrivacy regulation is in the works in Europe and US legislators are discussing the merits of the CONSENT Act, short for the Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions act  (Now doesn’t that roll off the tongue?)

So, there you have it–an abbreviated overview of every marketer’s least favorite four-letter word, GDPR.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Photo cred:


Why I Love Ad Tech Ghostwriting

July 13, 2017


My OdeTo Ghostwriting

I spent the morning analyzing my content creation and strategy business. I noticed that a growing percentage of clients are coming to me for ghostwriting. The bulk of them are in ad tech. They tell me it is challenging to find writers with the domain knowledge needed to pen a piece that is going to be bylined to a company CEO. I get that.

While I like to think I can write about anything, I find I can write better when I have a deep understanding of the subject matter. I have been writing about ad tech for the past five years. I think I offer a unique perspective because before I was writing about it, I was living it.

In 2012, I helped Mediaplanet, a global content marketing company, launch its digital strategy. Mediaplanet created supplements for major newspapers all over the world about niche topics, like diabetes or cloud computing. I had worked my way up from writer to global head of production. My boss and I were pumped when we were selected to lead the digital charge. We founded a new company called Conversionplanet, and I got to experience both the panic and the promise that accompanies launching a start-up. It was a crash course in business that covered everything from developing the product and pricing, to recruiting talent, to owning a P&L. (Today, that experience helps inform my writing about small business and entrepreneurship.)

Conversionplanet created niche content hubs and branded microsites. It was my first taste of the “continuous content conundrum,” i.e. how hard it is to create consistent content on a budget. We also had to figure out the best way to drive traffic, create an SEO strategy, package our advertising options and measure content performance.

I sat through a dozen or so pitches from ad tech vendors, all promising to help solve one of our many digital challenges. I was stuck by how complicated people made things. I’d reflect on the meeting and summarize it for my peers. It all sounded a lot simpler when I said it. On more than one occasion, colleagues commented that I was good at making complicated things easy to understand.

Conversionplanet was eventually rolled under the Mediaplanet umbrella, and Mediaplanet Digital was, and is, a success. I enjoyed the entrepreneurial journey so much, I wanted to do it again — but this time entirely on my own. I knew I wanted to help companies with content creation and strategy, but I didn’t anticipate that ghostwriting for ad tech clients would be such a big part of my business.

Today, I help ad tech execs write thought leadership pieces for publications like Ad Age, AdWeek, TechCrunch, AdExchanger, The Drum, Forbes and Entrepreneur. I feel privledged to speak with such brilliant and successful entrepreneurs about industry issues, from transparency, to ad blocking, to header bidding, to ad fraud, to blockchain, to IoT, and so on. I am tasked with presenting their perspective on complicated technology in plain English. (The writer in me also can’t help but try to make it sound pretty.) While you won’t find my name on any of these pieces, I take great pride in seeing them publish, and in helping industry experts present their ideas in a way that sounds like them, but better.

I love ad tech ghostwriting because I get to continually learn. It is a nice application of my content marketing background because I can help business leaders identify topics that interest their target audiences and editors, while reflecting their “corporate agenda,” sometimes less subtly than others. (For the record, I usually don’t pitch to publications. I leave that to the experts, like the folks at Blast PR, a partner of mine.)

But enough about me. What about you? Need some help translating the thoughts in your head into readable prose? Or maybe you simply don’t have time to put pen to paper. Contact JR Lisk today.

By Jacqueline Lisk

Naming a Tech Business? Read This First.

February 8, 2017


The ad tech space is notoriously crowded, which makes finding a good name particularly challenging, as well as important. JR Lisk, Inc. partnered with the naming experts at River + Wolf, a NY-based brand naming and writing agency, to write this piece for Medium on ad tech naming trends and tips. The article discusses three of the biggest trends in start-up naming and provides tips for entrepreneurs looking to snag a name that “satisfies board members, entices investors, attracts customers and maybe, just maybe, sounds like something destined for an IPO.”

We are also pleased to announce we’ve partnered with River + Wolf on a series of naming projects, including a high-profile assignment for a massive retailer.

Photo cred: HBO


What you don’t know about ad blocking

March 24, 2016



I can see all sides of the ad blocking conundrum. On one hand, we are fed up with obtrusive, irrelevant ads that interrupt our online experience. But then again, advertising subsidizes publishing. We need ads to monetize digital journalism. Plus, when used correctly, ads are a powerful marketing tool for raising brand awareness and driving conversions. But what I hadn’t thought about are the people and businesses behind the ad blocking solutions. Turns out, their mission isn’t always noble. It’s not just about protecting the user—it’s about profiting.

An increasing number of users are downloading tools that allow them to filter out ads. There are now more than 198 million people using ad blockers worldwide, and it cost the publishing industry nearly $22 billion in 2015, according to PageFair’s recent research. They are using this software because they’re concerned about privacy or security, or frankly, because ads can be annoying (enough with the pop-ups and auto-plays, people). I assumed the creators of ad blocking tools were akin to the protagonists in Mr. Robot—brilliant antiheroes brave enough to challenge the establishment. But at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) annual leadership meeting earlier this year, IAB President Randall Rothenberg explained that many of these ad blocking creators are for-profit companies that are using nefarious tactics to make a buck. They’ll actually allow publishers to pay a fee to circumvent ad blocking software, but if a digital site doesn’t have the means to “pay the toll,” they are out of luck! Rothenberg claims that this is actually a threat to freedom of speech and diversity. Slowly but surely, smaller, independent publications will be forced to close their doors (or laptops, if you will), and the only news sources remaining will be those with deep pockets. (Click here to read more about his speech.)

That there is a market for ad blockers speaks volumes about our industry, regardless of the intent of the software’s creators. (And hey, maybe there are some guys who are in this to improve and preserve the user experience. I can’t pretend to know everybody’s motives, but Rothenberg’s words resonated with me.) Marketers and publishers should see this as a wake-up call. We have to respect the user. We have to use the tools available to us (and believe me, there are plenty) to create relevant creative and to effectively target audiences so the right messages are reaching the right people at the right time.

By Jacqueline Lisk