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Airbnb’s Latest Acquisition Draws a Line in the Sand

A Big Year With Bigger Implications

It would be a tragic understatement to say that 2017 has been high-tension when it comes to online advertisements. With Google drawing the attention of regulatory bodies in the European Union and YouTube (a Google subsidiary) unintentionally setting its user base into a frenzy with the “AdPocalypse,” online advertisements as an institution has been run through the gauntlet this year. This week, things may have just gotten even more intense.

In the last few years, Google has been the unmatched champion of online advertisements. By not only acting as a middleman between advertisers and those selling advertising space but also getting their own share of the advertising fortune by means of their own media hosting websites, Google has kept a steady lead on the competition. It seems, though, that other companies might be stepping up to the plate in challenging Google on both online advertising fronts.

This week, Airbnb announced their acquisition of AdBasis, a company devoted to applying scientific study to the understanding of ads. AdBasis has made it clear that they hope to learn how to create and place ads in such a way that they outperform competitors’ ads. Demystifying and challenging Google’s algorithms, if successful, could be a paradigm shift for the web.

At the same time, huge changes are shaking up the world of online media, where online advertisements have been most successful. First, there was the closure of micro-vlogging website Vine, which resulted in a mass exodus of Vine creators to YouTube. The creator culture on each site was very different, resulting in sudden and major changes to the type of content appearing on YouTube. Likewise, Vine viewers followed their favorite creators to YouTube, changing the viewing trends on the site suddenly and drastically.

At the same time, a number of major advertisers were suddenly confronted with an issue that has existed in online advertising for a long time; the unintentional placement of ads on offensive or sensitive content. Coca-Cola was one of the most notable of such major advertisers who had previously not had any issues with ad placement. After a handful of high-profile PR issues regarding ads, Coca-Cola pulled their ads from YouTube as a platform, sparking the “AdPocalypse.”

Following the Coca-Cola ad pull, other advertisers made moves while Google scrambled to come up with measures to better vet videos. Innocent creators suddenly found themselves in uncharted waters. Where previously videos were rarely “demonetized” (deemed not suitable for advertising revenue,) many videos that did not seem to break any rules of YouTube were now being flagged. This caused an incredible uproar among YouTube’s top creators and also further changed the face of YouTube. Different types of videos were having success, and previously successful videos sometimes found themselves completely bereft of revenue (for YouTube and the creator alike.)

Now, at the end of 2017, the “AdPocalypse” still has not fully resolved, and many of YouTube’s previously most popular users have either changed their channels drastically in order to make a living, have migrated to other platforms, or have begun splitting their work across multiple platforms.

What Does This All Mean for Businesses Trying to Get Their Ads Seen?

The institution of online advertisements has undeniably changed, and, if it hasn’t affected your business yet, it is likely to in the future. With Airbnb taking serious steps to dive into deep analysis of the science of online advertisements and the landscape of popular media sites changing rapidly, the future seems to be a new frontier. This fact, though, should not be reason to panic.

The prevailing lesson from this year’s ad-based stress is that everyone, from content creators, to advertisers, to ad placement agencies, needs to invest more into the creation of deliberate ad strategies. For many years, online advertisements were so lucrative and views were so focused on viral media that companies seemingly couldn’t keep up. Ads went everywhere, little research was done, and this resulted in some haphazard decisions.

Businesses hoping to continue to enjoy the incredible effectiveness of online advertisements should invest in multi-channel ads, integrate multiple social media sites, and take the time necessary to research where their customer base is viewing. For an example of this in eCommerce, many variety box companies (like Loot Box, for example,) have seen much of their customer base migrate from YouTube to other video sites like Twitch, following creators who made the same switch. Having proper metrics in place on your company’s site and media profiles will allow you to make smart decisions about your advertising. Likewise, researching well the places your ads will appear is a valuable pursuit.

Keeping up with rapidly changing ad markets is much easier when you have the tools you need to measure, post, and connect. At, our team of professionals can help you build effective websites, media profiles, and more so that you get the most from your investments.


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