WPP Denies Break Up; Court Tosses Axel Springer Suit

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Business As Usual

WPP’s interim leadership is denying reports that it will break up the company as a result of CEO Martin Sorrell’s exit. “We don’t believe this makes sense,” co-Chief Operating Officer Mark Read told staff in a memo Thursday. “WPP is a great business with outstanding people, world-class agencies and most of the world’s leading companies as its clients and partners. Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.” But analysts are skeptical of WPP’s behemoth model and enticed by what shareholders stand to gain in the event of a breakup. Selling Kantar could return almost $5 billion in cash to shareholders, while separating the ad giant’s digital advertising, market research and other assets could raise its share price by 40%. “The problem isn’t replacing Martin,” Alex DeGroote, an analyst at London brokerage Cenkos, told The Wall Street Journal. “The problem is that the model doesn’t work.” More.

The Full-Court Press

The Berlin-based news giant Axel Springer had its case against Adblock Plus (ABP), the ad-blocking browser and app developer owned by Eyeo, thrown out by the German Supreme Court on Thursday. Axel Springer’s numerous assets include Business Insider and Bild, Europe’s highest-circulation newspaper. The decision overturns a lower-court ruling that said ABP’s paid whitelisting program is “tantamount to unfair competition,” Reuters reports. Springer will continue appealing the case to the German Constitutional Court, which oversees federal legislative affairs, on the grounds that ad blockers violate freedom of the press by upsetting the financial viability of news publishers. More.

Federal Toothless Commission

Google and Facebook are required to conduct third-party consumer privacy audits as part of the consent order each company signed in 2012 to satisfy charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission. But Megan Gray, a consumer privacy lawyer and attorney for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, published a white paper at the Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society that “contrasts the FTC’s high expectations for the audits with what the FTC actually received.” Gray’s analysis is based not on full data but on redacted documents made public by the FTC. Still, she argues that regulators give tech giants unreasonably long leashes. “These audits, as a practical matter, are often the only ‘tooth’ in FTC orders to protect consumer privacy.” Read the post.

It’s A Mobile World

Mobile will surpass TV as the leading medium for ad spend this year, eMarketer reports. Driven by display, mobile will account for almost 70% of ad spending in 2018, with a roughly 40% share of digital ad spend, the publication predicts. Mobile’s share of ad spend may reach about 48% by 2022. This year, mobile advertising will grow three times faster than overall media at 23.5% vs. 6.6%, eMarketer wrote. “Advertisers are pouring dollars into mobile due to growing mobile commerce activity,” said Corey McNair, forecasting analyst at eMarketer. “Conversions from mobile display ad placements have already surpassed those of desktop.” More.

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