Venture capital activity in AdTech reached $514 million in the last month across eleven funding rounds, signaling a strong foundation for 2016 as VCs begin to click open their purses.

The list of investments follows. 

My tendency is to caution VCs on the viability of many of the business models represented here.  As I click on the links to the funded sites, I find myself awash in homogenized, dull, often boring, sometimes confusing presentations of their offerings.

If a site is the face of its business, VCs need to take a hard look at their investments in businesses they are not qualified to vet.

Blippar has raised $54 million in a Series D funding led by Khazanah Nasional Berhad with participation from existing investors.
ZoomData has raised $25 million in a Series C round led by Goldman Sachs with participation from other investors.
Qubit has raised $40 million i a Series C funding led by Goldman Sachs with participation from other investors.
SproutSocial has raised $42 million in a Series C round led by Goldman Sachs with participation from other investors.
DataRobot has raised $33 million in a Series B funding led by New Enterprise Associates with participation from other investors.
Fuze has raised $112 million in a Series E round from Summit Partners.
Geofeedia has raised $17 million in a Series B funding led by Silversmith Capital Partners with participation from existing investors.
Hired has raised $40 million in a Series C round led by Lumia Capital with participation from other investors.
Snagajob has raised $100 million in a Series D funding led by Rho Acceleration with participation from other investors.
Curalate has raised $27.5 million in a Series C round led by New Enterprise Associates with participation from other investors.
YourMechanic has raised $24 million in a Series B funding led by SoftBank Capital with participation from other investors.


What follows is not only a security breach by hackers, it's a breach of faith and what I would consider negligence by the company and investigators that allowed this to go on for almost four months without alerting those affected.

21st Century Oncology, based in Fort Myers, Fla., operates 145 cancer treatment centers in the United States and 36 in Latin America.

The company, 21st Century Oncology Holdings is warning 2.2 million patients that health data and Social Security numbers were stolen from its computer network.

The breach, which was revealed on March 4, occurred last November and included the theft of patient names, Social Security numbers, physicians’ names, diagnoses and treatment information, and insurance information.

21st Century Oncology said it had to delay notifying patients until after an FBI investigation concluded in November. According to the hospital, intruders gained access to its computer network in October.

In a statement, 21st Century Oncology said, there is no indication patients’ actual medical records were accessed. “Upon learning of the intrusion, we immediately hired a leading forensics firm to support our investigation, assess our systems and bolster security,” said the hospital in a statement.

James Chappell, Digital Shadows’ CTO and co-founder, said hackers were most likely targeting personal identifiable information for resale on black markets. “The circumstances in these patients’ lives were already pretty tough,” Chappell said. “I’m surprised 21st Century Oncology weren’t better stewards of their patients’ data given their circumstances.”

“21st Century Oncology’s response really misses the mark,” said Ted Harrington, executive partner with Independent Security Evaluators, in an email interview. “They note in their statement that no medical records were lost. But patient names, Social Security numbers and other data were. These are some of the most important aspects of the medical record.”

21st Century Oncology is one of several hospitals have been increasingly targeted by criminals. Last month, the Los Angeles-based Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 in Bit-Coin to attackers that locked down access to the hospital’s electronic medical records system and other computer systems using crypto-ransomware.

Independent Security Evaluators concludes that hospitals desperately need to shore up their cyber defenses and are vulnerable to attack.

A good way to measure the health of the ad industry is to track the number of Mergers and Acquisitions taking place.

The good folks at GM Ryan International issue a monthly round up of M&A activity in the Media, Ad-Tech and ad world.  There were twenty-four acquisitions in March, pointing to healthy industry activity.

Although low to mid-market M&A activity could be losing a bit of steam this year, as cheap bank financing tightens dictated by fed activity, private equity firms appear to be sitting on capital they raised in the last two years.

The powder is dry.  Let's see what happens during this election year.

Nielsen acquires Pointlogic.
Outbrain acquires Revee.
Clickable acquires TalkWheel.
SugarCRM acquires Contastic.
Sprinklr acquires Postano.
Google acquires Pie.
YouTube acquires BandPage.
Amazon acquires Emvantage.
ASICS acquires RunKeeper.
Web.com acquires Yodle.
Amazon acquires NICE.
Everalbum acquires Pout.
Time Inc. acquires Viant.
Microsoft acquires Groove.
Merkle acquires dbg.
Apple acquires LegbaCore.
Microsoft acquires SwiftKey.

The Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert to payroll and human resources professionals to beware of an emerging phishing email scheme that purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees.
The IRS has learned this scheme — part of the surge in phishing emails seen this year — already has claimed several victims as payroll and human resources offices mistakenly email payroll data including Forms W-2 that contain Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information to cybercriminals posing as company executives.

“This is a new twist on an old scheme using the cover of the tax season and W-2 filings to try tricking people into sharing personal data. Now the criminals are focusing their schemes on company payroll departments,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

“If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”

IRS Criminal Investigation already is reviewing several cases in which people have been tricked into sharing SSNs with what turned out to be cybercriminals. Criminals using personal information stolen elsewhere seek to monetize data, including by filing fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

This phishing variation is known as a “spoofing” email. It will contain, for example, the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this variation, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and information including SSNs.

The following are some of the details contained in the e-mails:
  • Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.
  • Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary).
  • I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.
The IRS recently renewed a wider consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season and other reports of scams targeting others in a wider tax community.

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industry are engaged in a public awareness campaign — Taxes. Security. Together. — to encourage everyone to do more to protect personal, financial and tax data. See IRS.gov/taxessecuritytogether or Publication 4524 for additional steps you can take to protect yourself. 


What follows is authored by Bob Hoffman. It bears repeating here over and over again. Bob is author of the popular “Ad Contrarian” blog, named one of the world's most influential marketing and advertising blogs by Business Insider.  His recent book, "Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey" is a must read (buy it at Amazon). 

There's a restaurant in my neighborhood that's very popular.

You can go there any evening about 7 pm and I can predict with absolute certainty that every table will be occupied and there will be 80 people there. But I can never predict which 80 people it will be.

It's the same with toasters. I can tell you with absolutely certainty that tomorrow there will be 1,500 toasters sold in the United States. But I have no idea who will buy them.

Also tomorrow there will be about 500,000 t-shirts sold (I'm making these numbers up.) But who's going to buy them? No idea.

Marketers used to deal with these uncertainties in a reasonable but wasteful way. We would use experience and knowledge of the market to anticipate the type of person who would be most likely to eat at a restaurant, purchase a toaster, or buy a t-shirt. Then we would direct advertising at these types of people.

Because we used mass media, this media strategy had the disadvantage of being wasteful. Most people we reached would not be in the market for, say, a toaster.

But it also had three advantages: First, we would reach just about everyone who we thought would be looking for a toaster. Second, we reached an awful lot of people who we did not think were interested in a toaster, but were. And third, it reached just about everyone who would someday buy a toaster.

Advertising has changed. Now we believe we can predict exactly who will be buying a toaster tomorrow. We believe we can identify not just the most likely group of people, but the actual individuals.

All we have to do is follow them around the web and find out where they've been, collect the  data and soon we'll know when they're ready for a toaster.

The idea is to make individual targeting so precise that it replaces demographic likelihoods as the basis for media strategy.

So far this has been a spectacular failure. Each of us is currently inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of online messages a day -- banner ads, emails, social messages, etc -- that are assumed by  marketers to be particularly relevant to us and reflective of our individual purchasing needs and behaviors. We pay almost no attention to any of them. They are essentially invisible.

The math tells the story. A generous number for display advertising is that it generates 8 clicks in 10,000 exposures. A generous number for Twitter interactions is 4 engagements in 10,000. It's hard to get much closer to zero.

We are thinking like direct marketers, not brand marketers. We are ineffectually using "precision targeting" to try to engage the perfect individual, and by eschewing mass media we are harming our brand in three ways.
1. We are not reaching those within our target segment who are not active on line or whose data we haven't mined.
2. We are not reaching the unexpected toaster buyers, of whom there are legions. 
3. We are not building a brand. Mass media advertising may be "wasteful" by the nearsighted standards of digital and direct marketers. However, some very wise people have pointed out that the nature of what we call "waste" may, in fact, be the very stuff that brands are built on.
Think about it this way. In 2002, Apple spent tens of millions of dollars in mass media to advertise the iPod. There were hundreds of millions of people who were exposed to iPod advertising who had absolutely no interest in an iPod. After 14 months, advertising had reached hundreds of millions of people, but Apple had sold 600,000 iPods.

Many marketers would call the enormous amount of money that Apple spent promoting the iPod to the uninterested "waste." But was it?

Today hundreds of millions of people who had no interest in an iPod own iPhones. Isn't it more than likely that the iPod advertising of 2002 had significant impact on the iPhone buyers of 2007 and beyond?
  • Didn't it make the Apple brand more appealing?
  • Didn't it raise interest in mobile devices, particularly Apple mobile devices?
  • Didn't it set the stage for the phenomenal success of Apple in the mobile device category, that made Apple the most successful company on Earth?
Or think about it this way. Why have almost all the brands in your supermarket been built with "wasteful" mass media advertising and none with the "precision targeting" of online advertising?

Understanding business is understanding that markets don't move in straight lines, people don't think in straight lines, advertising doesn't work in straight lines.

If you're a brand marketer and you want to grow, you have two choices. Be wasteful or be invisible.


John Brennan, director of the notoriously secretive US Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) has said that no one is safe from hackers only a few months after his personal email account was breached and the contents leaked online.

"The cyber environment can pose a very, very serious and significant attack vector for our adversaries if they want to take down our infrastructure, if they want to create havoc in transportation systems, if they want to do great damage to our financial networks," he said.

When asked whether other nations have the capability to 'turn off the lights' of the US he said: "I think fortunately right now those who may have the capability do not have the intent. Those who may have the intent right now I believe do not have the capability.