Stockholm agency touts ad space on out-of-office emails

A Stockholm ad agency is using the occasion of an art director's parental leave to launch a service selling ad space on out-of-office messages.

On Monday, art director Gustav Egerstedt of the Saatchi & Saatchi ad agency started a nearly five-month absence to go on parental leave.

In an attempt to generate some revenue from Egerstedt’s extended time away from the office, the agency agreed to sell space on the art director’s out-of-office email to the B-Reel production company.

“This out of office autoreply is brought to you by B-Reel,” Egerstedt’s out-of-office reply reads.

“Gustav Egerstedt is on paternity leave and has sold his out of office space to B-Reel, the world’s leading digital production company.”

Saatchi & Saatchi copywriter Petter Dixelius told The Local that the agency first thought of the idea when planning for his colleague’s extended leave.

“We realised that on out-of-office message is a unique way to reach a niche audience,” he said.

According to Dixelius, Egerstedt likely receives “hundreds” of emails a day and selling ad space on his out-of-office reply is an “ingenious” and “simple” way to reach a targeted group.

Saatchi & Saatchi is hoping to expand the service by developing a web-based auction site where people could sell space on their out-of-office email to the highest bidder.

“We registered a domain last week and are now developing the site,” said Dixelius.

He explained that commercial considerations for the new site, expected to be launched before summer, weren’t the primary rationale behind the site.

“We haven’t even started thinking about that yet,” he said, when asked about how potential revenues would be divided.

Rather, it’s about developing a service that allows people deliver a message to a select audience.

“The message and target group will likely differ depending on what industry you are in,” he said.

“An engineer, for example, might be of interest to different companies [than an advertising executive would be].”

The out-of-office auction site would be open to companies as well as individuals, said Dixelius.

“A job seeker, for example, could pay a fee to get the attention of relevant people in their industry,” he said.

He added that people could also opt to use their out-of-office messages to promote the charity of their choice.

In addition, users will able to approve company or individual has the highest bid before a message is attached to their out-of-office reply.

“If I’m going to be out of the office, I may not be so excited about message projected by having my out-of-office message sponsored by Viagra, for example,” Dixelius said with a laugh.

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Google News to return to Spain after seven-year spat

Google announced Wednesday the reopening of its news service in Spain next year after the country amended a law that imposed fees on aggregators such as the US tech giant for using publishers’ content.

Google News to return to Spain after seven-year spat
Google argues its news site drives readers to Spanish newspaper and magazine websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue.Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

The service closed in Spain in December 2014 after legislation passed requiring web platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay publishers to reproduce content from other websites, including links to their articles that describe a story’s content.

But on Tuesday the Spanish government approved a European Union copyright law that allows third-party online news platforms to negotiate directly with content providers regarding fees.

This means Google no longer has to pay a fee to Spain’s entire media industry and can instead negotiate fees with individual publishers.

Writing in a company blog post on Wednesday, Google Spain country manager Fuencisla Clemares welcomed the government move and announced that as a result “Google News will soon be available once again in Spain”.

“The new copyright law allows Spanish media outlets — big and small — to make their own decisions about how their content can be discovered and how they want to make money with that content,” she added.

“Over the coming months, we will be working with publishers to reach agreements which cover their rights under the new law.”

News outlets struggling with dwindling print subscriptions have long seethed at the failure of Google particularly to pay them a cut of the millions it makes from ads displayed alongside news stories.

Google argues its news site drives readers to newspaper and magazine websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue and find new subscribers.