2019.02.01 Last Week in Digital Media

An earlier edition of Last Week in Digital Media in an attempt to get your attention before the Super Bowl (or Superb Owl, as Google might have you believe). Here’s the news you may have missed:


  • Hulu is working on a new pause-based advertising unit available in Q2 of this year. The ad unit appears more like a banner, on the right side of the screen with Hulu taking steps to address concerns around viewability, user-experience, and brand safety. Charmin and Coca-Cola are early adopters of the ad unit.
  • After Buzzfeed’s round of layoffs it emerged that one of the top performing content areas on the site were quizzes made by an unpaid teen. While being critical of a site not paying a top traffic driver is fair, it neglects a broader issue which is the companies making the most money on the internet (Google and Facebook) are doing so by monetizing content contributed for free by others.
  • H&M has hired Cambridge Analytica whistle blower Chris Wylie. Wylie has been working for H&M since December, with his focus being on using data and AI to identify products consumers want. This may seem incongruous, but Wylie has been working on a PhD in predicting fashion trends.
  • Spotify is reported to be in talks to buy podcasting company Gimlet Media for US$200MM in an all-cash deal. This would be big news for podcasting. Gimlet Media stands out as it is a producer of original podcasts, this would give Spotify access to unique content that could be used to better acquire paid subscribers (early access to content) as well as new advertising opportunities.
  • Reminder. Google+ shuts down on April 2 and all content will be deleted. If you or clients are using (or used) Google+ and want to save the data, then you need to download it before April 2.
  • An advertising pitch deck from TikTok has been leaked. Digiday has published a copy of the TikTok pitch (paywall). The deck only has numbers for European users. Showing that Germany and France are the top markets with ~4MM active monthly users respectively. Overall, the user ratio is 54:46 (female:male). Ad products are: Brand takeover; in-feed native video; hashtag challenge; and Snapchat-style 2D lens filters for photos

There was a brief all-out war between Apple, Google, and Facebook during the week. While it didn’t impact advertisers or consumers, it has far reaching implications across everyone the industry when it comes to data, market research, and developing apps for Apple’s ecosystem. The following attempts to track and summarize the timeline of events, but to be clear there was no client or advertiser impact.

  • Facebook’s Q4 results were surprisingly good despite a year filled with controversy.  The decline in Monthly and Daily Active Users in the US has stopped and revenues were up. The full Facebook investor presentation (PDF link) has useful slides with all of the key metrics (2.7B people now use Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram). In the earnings call (PDF transcript) Facebook did warn of “headwinds that (Facebook) might face on targeting given the overall privacy landscape in 2019“.
  • Amazon’s Advertising business, reported in an “Other Revenue” category grew 95% to US$3.39B according to Amazon’s Q4 numbers.
  • Verizon’s Q4 results, on the Verizon Media Group side, saw revenue down 5.8% (pdf link) and that the content/media focus would be “super channels” namely Yahoo! Sports, News, Finance, and Entertainment.

Have a great rest of your week.