Exchanges actually paid their publishers on time more often than not during the height of the pandemic.
It’s counterintuitive, but true, said Hanna Kassis, CEO and founder of OAREX, a company that helps finance publishers by purchasing their digital media and advertising receivables.
The economic environment is brutal. For example, hundreds of ad tech companies signed a petition in late March pushing for Google, Facebook and Amazon to offer more flexible payment terms during the uncharted territory of a pandemic economy.
But OAREX found that for the month of May, payments that were late by more than two weeks dropped to an 18-month low. The number of payments that were more than 15 days late declined from 23% to 13%.
Thanks for the PPP
Although businesses are struggling to stay afloat, they have a couple of semi-tailwinds blowing for them.
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Brand safety is always top of mind for advertisers. But it’s become more important than ever as issues from coronavirus misinformation to the ongoing Facebook ad boycott dominate industry headlines.
For Joshua Lowcock, chief digital officer at UM and global brand safety officer at IPG Mediabrands, the renewed focus is an opportunity for advertisers to hold platforms and publishers across the board to a higher standard.
“The challenges to Facebook are not unique to them,” he says. “We need to use this moment to hold all platforms more accountable, and really make advertisers think about what they fund and where their ads run.”
While a boycott may not do much harm to Facebook’s bottom line, it does increase pressure on the company to accept accountability – and make real changes.
“It shouldn't be thought of as a boycott for 30 days,” Joshua says. “These are ongoing conversations that need to be had with partners … every time you have a meeting. They'll never be perfect, but we can keep pushing them toward perfection.”
To help advertisers frame brand safety in the context of their corporate responsibility goals, UM introduced its Media Responsibility Principles in June, which break the massive issue of brand safety on the internet down into digestible pieces so brands can tackle it head on.
Joshua talks with AdExchanger from Manhattan, where he’s been riding out the pandemic since March. During the lockdown he kept busy by publishing a book based on the diary of a relative who was a prisoner of war during World War II.
“Reading about someone who went through an absolutely awful time has given me a great sense of perspective,” he said.
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On The Clock
Microsoft’s acquisition offer for TikTok has expanded to the app’s entire global business outside of China, including its operations in India and Europe, Financial Times reported. Previously, the takeover bid just covered TikTok’s business in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Talks between the companies about a deal, which must be completed before Sept. 15 or risk TikTok getting banned from the United States, are complex and still preliminary. Microsoft is reportedly doing its best to take a neutral stance when it comes to the ongoing controversy between the United States and China. But there are additional complicated issues to ponder beyond geopolitical tensions, including what it would look like to unwind TikTok’s technology infrastructure from parent company ByteDance. Here’s a silver lining, though: If Microsoft were to buy TikTok in India, it could revitalize the app in its largest market.
Travel advertisers showed a glimmer of confidence in May and June as they began spending again on marketing geared toward local travel and road trips. But spending has declined since the second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in Texas, Arizona and California surfaced in July, according to MediaRadar data. After cutting ad spend by 93% in mid-April to $4 million per week on average, travel brands quadrupled their ad spend to $11 million per week in June. The increase was driven by hotel brands, which spent $4 million per week on average, up from $1 million per week in April. But as cases rose, ad spend fell a second time. Spend from US Local Tourism Bureaus, for example, started ticking back down to slightly more than $1 million per week after hitting their highest numbers in three months in June at $2 million per week.
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Did you hear the one about Microsoft maybe buying TikTok? No, really, there’s a potential deal in the works.
Amid ongoing drama over TikTok’s Chinese ownership and threats from the Trump administration of a ban on the app in the United States, the technology company most associated with office software could become the owner of the social media app most associated with dancing, sarcasm and lip synching.
It’s a head scratcher, but the AdExchanger team mulls the rationale. (FWIW, I’d love to see Clippy do a TikTok dance.)
Next, the team dissects Facebook and Google’s most recent earnings results. Facebook won’t stop growing despite an advertiser boycott and gale force industry headwinds … but there’s a little something coming down the pike that Facebook actually is worried about: Apple’s IDFA restrictions. Dave Wehner, Facebook’s CFO, acknowledged to investors that the changes could have an impact on revenue this year and beyond.
And over at Google, ad revenue dropped for the first time in the company’s history. But take that with a grain of salt. As senior editor Sarah Sluis notes, “Everyone is seeing really big declines in their advertising business. In the case of Alphabet, a decline in their advertising business means that they’re actually flat, because they were growing so much before.”
Also in this episode: An examination of the in-housing trend, which is clearly here to stay. Sixty-nine percent of brands have either partly or fully moved their programmatic buying for display, video and/or connected TV in-house. What’s driving this activity? Tune in to find out.
Hypercasual dominated the mobile gaming charts even before the pandemic.
Installs of hypercasual games, characterized by extremely lightweight, free-to-play mobile titles, more than doubled between December 2019 and March of this year, according to joint research from Adjust and Unity. Once lockdowns started, the growth accelerated, with play sessions up by 72% in March.
But margins are razor thin in hypercasual gaming, and with IDFA restrictions coming next month in iOS 14, CPMs are set to nose dive.
Yet on Wednesday, Zynga said it intends to acquire Rollic Games, a hypercasual gaming studio based in Istanbul with more than 250 million downloads collectively across its portfolio.
Zynga will acquire 80% of the company for $168 million in cash at a $210 million implied valuation. The deal is expected to close on Oct. 1, and Zynga will purchase the rest of Rollic in installments over the next three years. This is Zynga’s second acquisition in as many months. It bought Peak Games, the maker of Toy Blast and Toon Blast, for $1.8 billion in June.
It’s great to have a scaled portfolio of gaming titles – but what about monetization in an environment where tracking is hobbled on iOS and performance can only be measured at the campaign level, rather than the user level?
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"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Kevin Krim, president and CEO at EDO.
Over the past several months, we have seen COVID-19 take a terrible human and economic toll and completely change our daily lives. For the TV advertising industry, the cancellations of major sports and other live events created their own turmoil, as TV networks and advertisers rely on these events to drive marketing performance through live sports’ immediate reach and strong viewer engagement.
Now, after four months without most sports, we’ve slowly and cautiously seen the return of the key leagues. It is not without risk for those involved, but sports-starved fans have been waiting with fingers crossed.
If major live sports continue to play safely, they will be more heavily watched and more valuable than before. This is evidenced by the performance of the sports-centric events that have taken place without live audiences over the last few months. When the NFL announced it would conduct its draft virtually, sponsors of the resulting TV broadcasts reaped the benefits with sports-hungry viewers. The 2020 NFL Draft drew a highly engaged 15.6 million viewers during its opening round, shattering the previous record of 12.4 million.
ESPN also found particularly strong success by moving up the highly anticipated 10-part documentary series “The Last Dance,” showcasing Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, from its original planned start date in June to April 19. According to the network, the documentary series averaged 6.1 million viewers during its Sunday night debut, making "The Last Dance" the most-viewed ESPN documentary ever.
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Google is building out its programmatic audio infrastructure.
On Thursday, the ad giant launched in beta a bunch of new offerings in Ad Manager and DV360 for programmatic audio buyers and sellers.
This is the first time Google is providing programmatic sales capabilities for audio publishers in Ad Manager.
“We’ve seen growing interest from our publishing partners to monetize their audio content,” said Carol Walport, a product manager for Ad Manager.
Google also launched dynamic ad insertion and forecasting capabilities for Ad Manager and a dedicated marketplace for audio ads in DV360, as well as an audio ad creation tool and brand lift measurement capabilities.
Google first launched programmatic audio buying in DV360 in 2018 (back when it was still called DoubleClick). This move into programmatic audio sales and enhancements to Google’s audio buying stack indicate that demand for programmatic audio inventory is growing, and that more publishers and brands are getting into the game.
“We’ve seen an increase in publishers making their digital audio inventory available in Ad Manager and embracing programmatic as part of that strategy,” Walport said.
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ViacomCBS’ advertising business fell 27% to $1.9 billion in the second quarter, as marketers pulled back during the coronavirus pandemic and golf programming was postponed.
“We believe Q2 was the bottom [for advertising],” President and CEO Bob Bakish said. After bottoming in April, each month in the quarter showed sequential improvement. The scatter market held strong, as did advertiser categories such as pharma, insurance and finance.
Plus, Pluto TV also returned to pre-pandemic growth rates and pricing in Q2, Bakish added.
Even as advertising fell, the pandemic offered a silver lining for ViacomCBS: an uptick in streaming consumption and subscribers.
Revenue from subscriptions and digital video ads increased 25% year over year to $489 million during the quarter. Earlier this week, ViacomCBS announced a unified buying platform for its streaming content, EyeQ, that will roll out this fall.
Pluto TV grew its domestic monthly active users 61% year over year to 26.5 million. By the end of the year, Pluto TV is aiming for 30 million monthly active users.
To fuel further growth, ViacomCBS is populating the platform with its content, from "South Park," "CSI" and "JAG" to a channel dedicated to "Star Trek" episodes. It’s also striking deals that will put Pluto TV on 80 million more devices, including TV manufacturers such as LG.
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