Ad Spend Pitfalls and Udio

Hello, everyone. We got to learn how hilariously inadequate cell phone cameras are for eclipse pictures on Monday. We’ll be ready for the next one in two years though (although we may need to travel to see it– you can drag the embedded map on this webpage around if you want to see its path of totality). We’re getting a phone-compatible zoom lens delivered in a few hours. We’ll let you know how well it works.

The Wall Street Journal published an article about the recent rise and general ineffectiveness of MFA sites yesterday. That acronym stands for “made for advertising.” They’re sites with incredibly generic content whose business model depends on arbitrage. The sites lure visitors by advertising whatever headline applies to the smidgen of regular content they feature, then eke out a profit by turning those page views into as many ad impressions as possible.

Roughly 5% of online advertisements ran through MFA sites in the beginning of 2020. As of last June, that figure had risen to 30%. That alarming explosion of wasted ad spend is the reason we decided to highlight this article. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) says that the best way to protect yourself from wasting money on your campaigns is to stick with their list of 100 trusted programmatic media sellers. You have to join their organization to get the list, but that could be worthwhile if you’re running an ad campaign and would like to stop squandering 30% of its budget.

It’s time to talk about something cool. An outfit called Udio gave music its “ChatGPT moment” earlier this week. Udio’s generative AI makes music on the fly. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be caught off guard by how decent it is, especially when you consider the fact that the software is a beta release. We asked it to generate “a song about a newsletter that needs to explain music created by generative AI.” It’s not the greatest track in the history of music or anything, but what it came up with wasn’t awful either. Listen to it. It sounds like the kind of song that could’ve gotten radio airtime whenever Enjoy The Silence was popular.

After you feed Udio a prompt, you can choose one or more musical styles you’d like the resulting output to sound like (jazz, arena rock, club, R&B, etc). From what we can tell, first drafts of songs are always 33 seconds long. You then have an option to extend it if you like what you hear. You can also choose to write your own lyrics or let Udio auto-generate them. The most popular trending song on Udio right now is called I Hate You With All Your Heart. The auto-generated lyrics are amusing.

You can see that thinks Udio is “the best tech on earth.” While his opinion is roughly as credible as Putin’s recent electoral success ( is an Udio investor), we do agree that Udio is impressive. We could keep telling you about it but the truth is you should start messing with it as soon as you’re done reading this newsletter. Experience it for yourself. There are no barriers that stop you from getting started. Just sign-in with your Google account, then enter a prompt at the top of the page. Enjoy.

We’ll have some Local Viking updates for you next week. For now, we’ll leave you with a few links to close out today’s newsletter. The first is an article from Glossy about Warby Parker using the eclipse as a marketing mechanism. The next article is about Rishi Sunak (someone apparently famous in The United Kingdom) ruining the cool factor of some Adidas sneakers by wearing them. Our third link is a Search Engine Journal overview of programmatic advertising basics. Finally, take a look at this Hootsuite guide to integrating WhatsApp into your marketing strategies.

Take care of yourselves out there. Have a great weekend.

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