Situational awareness: Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe have finally been freed from a Myanmar prison after more than 500 days behind bars, Reuters reports.
New factors in the internet era — like virality, digital fundraising operations and activist digital media outlets — are increasingly playing a role in political persuasion advertising, but don't write off the old-school analysts just yet.
The big picture: When political analysts at the Cook Political Report rate an election as a toss-up or move it closer to toss-up territory, much more money flows into that race — especially on the House side, according to exclusive data from Advertising Analytics, a data firm specializing in media ad spending and real time ad detection that specializes in politics.
Details: In 2018, 40% of all spending on House races went to races that Cook labeled a "toss-up." By comparison, only 20% went to races that were ranked solidly Republican or Democrat.
Race ratings are often reinforced by positive media coverage and polling, as well as additional factors like FEC reports, ads and spending data, district and state demographics, past election results and interviews. The closer a race the Cook Political Report foresees as a result of those factors, the more money one can be expect will flow into that race.
Yes, but: Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, notes that the fundraising influence of D.C. analysts, while meaningful, has diminished over the past two decades.
Between the lines: Data from Advertising Analytics also shows that candidate spending over the past three cycles is increasing at a much higher rate than spending from issue groups.
Why it matters: The majority of traffic referrals to online media companies isn't from direct sources, making it critical for publishers to understand which platforms are most likely to elevate specific topics.
"It's all about aligning with algorithms that you like," says Neil Vogel, CEO of DotDash, an IAC-backed media company that was created through the rebranding of version of About.com.
Yes, but: Just because a topic isn't well-aligned on a certain platform, doesn't mean it can't or won't perform well.
Read the full story from Axios' Neal Rothschild and me.
Go deeper: Instagram is an engagement powerhouse
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is in talks with documentary filmmaker Rachel Lears about a new project that would chronicle the freshman Democrat's Green New Deal policy movement, two sources familiar with the project tell me and Axios' Alexi McCammond.
Between the lines: Lears is same filmmaker behind the new Netflix documentary called "Knock Down the House," which chronicles the campaigns of four women running in the 2018 midterms, including Ocasio-Cortez.
Yes, but: Sources say Lears is making the film independently, and it may or may not end up in Netflix's hands.
The big picture: Netflix and other streamers have been instrumental in driving forward a resurgence of news documentaries.
Our thought bubble: Audience demand for more documentary news programming on streaming services makes sense, given the fact that younger generations are tuning out traditional TV and thus long-form linear news programs like "Dateline" or "60 Minutes."
Despite the continued growth of subscription video services like Netflix and Hulu, free ad-supported video services are making fresh headlines.
Why it matters: Free, ad-supported video gives companies the ad inventory to sell digital TV ads, which are seen as a lucrative opportunity for whichever publisher can really master the technology.
Driving the news: Several video giants announced at NewFront presentations this week that they would be introducing more ad-supported free video options.
Between the lines: Altice USA, a regional cable provider, announced it was buying over-the-top business news channel Cheddar for $200 million last week. The company's co-president & CFO Charles Stewart tells me the acquisition isn't a streaming play, but an opportunity to bolster its news and ads businesses, since advertising is the company's fastest-growing revenue segment.
By the numbers: Advertisers expect to spend an estimated $18 million on digital video advertising in 2019, with $9.3 million allocated to original content, according to new research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Another big takeaway from NewFronts this year is that publishers are getting behind the "shoppable ads" trend that many tech platforms have been focusing on for the past two years.
Illustration: Rebecca ZIsser/Axios
The battle against ad fraud is actually improving, according to the White Ops/Association of National Advertisers semi-annual Bot Baseline report. The study projects that ad fraud losses will reach $5.8 billion globally in 2019, down from $6.5 billion for 2017.
Why it matters: The report notes that the 11% decline in two years is particularly impressive considering that digital ad spending increased by 25.4 percent between 2017 and 2019.
The bottom line: "We are seeing our founding faith turn into validated fact: the battle against fraud is winnable," writes author Michael Tiffany, the co-founder and president of White Ops.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Affiliate link marketing could soon go from a friendly and useful revenue tool for publishers to one exploited by Google and Amazon for their own ambitions, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes.
Why it matters: Affiliate links have become increasingly important for some publishers as advertising has become a less reliable revenue model.
Driving the news: Google is reportedly using publisher content with affiliate links to feed its own search and recommendation engine while also giving users ways to purchase the items through Google’s own retail partners, according to Fast Company.
Amazon, meanwhile, is offering to pay major U.S. publishers like the New York Times and BuzzFeed to expand their content with affiliate links internationally, Recode's Peter Kafka reports.
Yes, but: Amazon’s approach is especially reminiscent of a recent string of deals internet giants like Facebook and Twitter have inked with publishers to get them to produce video. Many of those ended abruptly and not well for publishers.
The bottom line: “The money guarantee with remain for a short time & go away, then it will squeeze you on terms, as usual,” tweeted Rafat Ali, founder of travel publisher Skift, about the news.
Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage
Working alongside famous fashion designer Zac Posen — General Electric, the 127-year-old manufacturing brand — helped to design model Jourdan Dunn's futuristic floral dress this year for the annual Met Gala.
The details: The dress was built in part by GE Additive, the company's advanced manufacturing unit, and Protolabs, an engineering production company that manufacturers parts.
Why it matters: GE continually makes headlines for its unique marketing stunts under Chief Marketing Officer Linda Boff. In 2017, the company projected custom animations of women from the STEM community onto the iconic constellations ceiling of the Grand Central Terminal.
Our thought bubble: This partnership brings a sense of relevance to a nerdy manufacturing brand from the 1800's, which is hard to pull off.